Bartolomé Saenz

Nuestro Padre San Ignacio de Cuquiárachi


Ginny Sphar

Father Bartholomé Sáenz was at Caborca from November 29, 1748, until July 10, 1749. In the summer of 1749, Father Garrucho was called upon to calm a distraught brother. The ill-disposed natives of Caborca had all but unnerved Father Sáenz. Actually, Father Tello, who replaced him, was killed by his Indians.

Sáenz was sent to Guevavi where his superiors hoped that “being in the company of Father Garrucho, who has a light hearted disposition, he might put aside all of his apprehensions.”[1] Father Sáenz apparently was to have been installed at San Xavier del Bac in April 1749, but when the military escort was denied, the plan fell through.

Father Sáenz was doing so well at Guevavi that Father Garrucho considered leaving him there while he went off to alter the course of the empire. The war loving Yumas had not exactly made Father Sedelmayr feel at home on the Colorado in 1748.[2] Yet he resolved to go back. This time he planned to take Garrucho. Everything was in order to make the trip but the acting Governor denied the military escort. The soldiers, he claimed, were needed in the war against the Seris and the Apaches.[3] So the restored Father Sáenz was not left alone at Guevavi. He stayed until the fall of 1749. After leaving Guevavi, he was assigned to Cuquiárachi.

In the fall of 1756 an Indian-hunting force led by Captains Bernardo Bustamente and Gabriel Antonio de Vildósola were combing the previously unexplored territory to the east and along the upper Gila in search of Apaches. Riding with the expedition was Father Sáenz, who seven years earlier “full of apprehensions” had sought temporary asylum with Garrucho at Guevavi.[4] Sáenz wrote an account of the expedition.

Father Sáenz was one of about 50 Jesuits who heard the decree of expulsion read at Mátape, east of present-day Hermosillo. Ahead of them was months of confinement at Guaymas, the disease-ridden voyage on the Gulf, and the death march across Mexico to Vera Cruz. As they toiled up the road from Tepic to Guadalajara at least 20 died. Among those was Father Sáenz.

[1] Roxas to García, Arizpe, August 8, 1749; AHH, Temp., 278. Sáenz had accepted Caborca on November 29, 1748, and had given it up on July 10, 1749. Entregas; WBS, 1744, ff. 271-72, 295-96. He was apparently to have been installed at San Xavier del Bac in April 1749 but, when a military escort was denied, the plan fell through. Arriving at Guevavi during the summer he seems to have remained in the salutary company of Father Joseph until fall. Shortly thereafter, he was reassigned to Cuquiárachi. Father Salvador Ignacio de la Peña also was assigned to San Xavier, it appears, but before he got there his mission was changed to Cucurpe. Father Thomás Miranda to Balthasar, Ures, June 16, 1749; ibid. José Rafael Rodrígas Gallardo to Ortiz Parrilla, Mátape, March 15, 1750; AGN, Historia, 16.

[2] Sedelmayr mislabeled an account of his trek to the Yumas “Entrada á la nacion de los Yumas Gentiles el ano 1749, por el mes de Ott.e y Nov,” Tubutama, January 15, 1750. Original manuscript in APHS; translation in Dunne, Sedelmayr, pp. 55-64. He actually made the trip in 1748. In 1749 his plans to go again were thwarted as described above. Furthermore, he admitted that for six weeks during October and November 1749 he was flat on his back with un tabardillo recio. Sedelmayr to García, Tubutama, January, 1750; AGN, Historia, 308.

[3] Ibid. Rodríguez Gallardo to Ortiz Parrilla, March 15, 1750.

[4] Sáenz to Balthasar, Cuchuta, March 6, 1757; BNMex, 197/875, translated by Kessell as Spaniard and Apache on the Upper Gila, 1756: An Account of the Bustamente-Vildósola Expedition by Father Bartholomé Sáenz, S.J. (Santa Fe: Stagecoach Press, in press).

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

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