Beginning and History
In January of 1691, at the request of the O'odham (Pima) Indians of the Santa Cruz River Valley, Jesuit Father Eusebio Francisco Kino established the mission of Tumacacori, dedicated to Saint Cajetan (San Cayetano). The Pima rebellion of 1751 briefly caused the abandonment of the mission, as the native governor of Tumacacori, Felipe Huvuacam, gathered his people and fled to the Santa Rita Mountains. They returned a few months later, eventually moving the village from the east side of the river to this site. In 1756, the mission was rededicated to Saint Joseph (San Jose).
Mission San Jose de Tumacacori was abandoned in 1848. The continuous threat of attack by Apaches and other indigenous uprisings, combined with recurring epidemics of measles, smallpox, and other diseases, were major factors in the abandonment of communities throughout the region. Other events, such as hard winters, the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the banishment of priest and other Spanish-born residents brought on by Mexican independence in the first decades of the 19th century, as well as the war between Mexico and the United States in 1857, also contributed to the turmoil.
Church and Community
The first Jesuits celebrated Mass in a small adobe house. In the mid 1700's they began to use a newly constructed church, but the expulsion of the Jesuit fathers interrupted the evangelizing work of the mission until the first Franciscan, Juan Crisostomo Gil de Bernabe, arrived a year later. In 1807 Tumacacori's native governor, Juan Legarra, traveled to Arizpe to secure the title to the mission lands from the commandant of the Internal Provinces. Construction of a new church, the one that we have today, was begun about 1800. The community began to use the new church in 1822.
The mission was much more than a church. It included farmlands, fields, grazing land, and orchards as well as workshops and housing for the community. Conditions, cultures, and life have continued to change with the passage of time. Today, Tumacacori is under the protection of the United States National Park Service which conserves the site for the enjoyment of its visitors.