Street Smarts: Ochoa led freight business, large store

2012-12-18T00:00:00Z 2014-07-02T15:35:43Z Street Smarts: Ochoa led freight business, large storeDavid Leighton For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 18, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Estevan Ochoa learned about the freighting business as a child, and used that early knowledge to build a successful career.

Ochoa, who was born in 1831 into an affluent Mexican family, would go with his brother's wagon trains from Chihuahua, Mexico, to Independence, Mo., over the well-worn Chihuahua Trail.

In his late 20s, he established a mercantile business with Pedro Aguirre in Mesilla, N.M. Not long after the business dissolved in 1859, he moved to Arizona.

In 1864, he formed a partnership with Pinckney R. Tully, initially in Tubac, then four years later in Tucson.

As was common with most leading businessmen of the day, Ochoa was heavily invested in the freighting business. His wagons transported merchandise from Yuma; Guaymas, Mexico; and other locales. Throughout the 1860s and 1870s, wagon trains provided the only way to move cargo to Army posts, ranches and mines.

His firm also was the proprietor of one of the biggest stores in Tucson, offering everything from wagons and harnesses to boots and shoes.

He also invested in mining and sheep raising.

In the 1860s and 1870s, he served in the territorial legislature. He also served as justice of the peace and city councilman, and was elected mayor in 1875.

Ochoa was a Republican and a loyal supporter of Govs. Richard McCormick and Anson Safford. He worked with both to sponsor legislative measures intended to lessen discrimination against Mexican Americans in the Arizona Territory. He also was a strong supporter of education.

He was married in 1871 to Altagracia Salazar. The following year his son, Esteban, was born. The elder Ochoa died in 1888 in Las Cruces, N.M.

His legacy lives on through the street that bears his name, south of Broadway between South Church and Scott avenues. More importantly, it endures in his descendants: Steve Ochoa IV, a motivational speaker at Canyon Ranch; Pete Ochoa, known for his piloting exploits; and Stephen Ochoa V, co-owner of Frost Gelato Shoppe.

Corral Street, which sits just south of Ochoa Street off Stone Avenue, is named for the corral that existed there. It was originally the U.S. Army Quartermaster's Corral and later became the Tully, Ochoa & Company's corral.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com

Sources: Special thanks to Jonathan Mabry and Jennifer Levstik of the city of Tucson Historic Preservation Office Interview with Steve Ochoa and Pete Ochoa (descendants of Estevan Ochoa) Thomas Sheridan, "Los Tucsonenses: The Mexican Community in Tucson, 1854-1941," The University of Arizona Press, 1986 "Plaza of Pioneers," Tucson Museum of Art, 1982 Frank C. Lockwood, "Pioneer Portraits: Selected Vignettes," University of Arizona Press, 1968 "Old Tucson fast disappearing - will be perpetuated in the names of city streets," Tucson Daily Citizen, June 21, 1919

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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