Sunday, March 7, 2010

Waybills to Jesuit Treasures in Southern Arizona (Part 1)?

(Tumucacori Mission, Arizona.)

This post is the first in series on possible waybills to Jesuit treasure troves in southern Arizona:

The "Intellectual" Arm of the Catholic Church

There was hardly a time during their adventures in the New World when the Spanish explorers, conquistadores, and colonistas were not accompanied by Catholic priests of one order or another. More often than not these religious were of the Franciscan order, although the Jesuit order was also in large parts of the New World, at least for a time.

Treasure Hunting

The Jesuits were, above all, considered the "intellectual" arm of the Church due to their high level of education and their capacity for rational thought. In many instances Jesuits served as teachers or professors in the higher institutes of learning of the day, infusing students with their special brand of Catholic theology while simultaneously taking a rational and scientific approach toward both the spiritual and the physical worlds. (Note: I myself was taught by Jesuits for nearly 2 years and can attest to the high level of educational achievement they require. Best teachers/professors I ever had, bar none. J.R.)

This rational, questioning attitude on the part of the Jesuits did not always go ever well however, particularly when the Spanish monarchy perceived it as rebellion against the status quo. Afraid that the "poison of free thought" would be spread throughout the New World by the Jesuits, in 1767 King Carlos III of Spain forced the Church's hand on the issue and had all of the Jesuits sent back to the Spanish homeland.

Waybill to a Jesuit Treasure?

It is no secret that the Jesuits had access to large amounts of gold and silver while they were in the American Southwest, particularly in what is now southern Arizona. This included not only mines and raw ores, but crudely cast bullion bars and gold and silver coins. They were allowed to take none of this with them when they were driven out of the Southwest and the New World at large, and herein lies the crux of the matter.


Recently I came across this account from an old Jesuit document that may point the way to the La Purisima Concepcion (The Immaculate Conception) Mine, one of the richest lost mine legends in the entire Southwest. Pay attention to the particulars here:

1. "Go straight and true through the pass of Los Janos, south 3 leagues (Note: About 9 miles. J.R.). from the mine of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe). This mine (the Guadalupe) is but one league from the big gate of the Mission de Tumucacori (Tumucacori Mission)."

(Note: Tumucacori Mission lies along the highway between Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Mexico. The Mission is closer to Nogales though and is a popular tourist stop for many travelers and touristas. J.R.)

2. "From there go to another paso (pass) called Agua Hondo (Deep Water). To the south from this pass lies a creek that empties itself on the desert near the village of Santa Cruz."

3. "The mine lies just east of Agua Hondo and near the banks of the creek. Here you will see many arrastres and patios for crushing the ore. Above these lies a tunnel 300 varas long (Note: Over 800 feet. J.R.)."

4. "In the rock above this tunnel is carved the name of the mine, the words 'La Purisima Concepcion.' The mouth of the tunnel is covered by a door of cooper fastened with a large iron lock."

5. "To the west of this tunnel is a crosscut nearly 100 varas long. The ore here is yellow in color and bears four fifths silver and one fifth gold."

6. "Fifty varas south from the mouth of the mine will be found many slabs of silver and some of gold. These weigh 25-250 pounds each."

Aside from this written account, other evidence suggests that this lost Jesuit mine of great wealth lies in a narrow pass somewhere between the western end of the Pajarita Mountains and El Ruido. Please take note here that the old Tumucacori Mission site and adjoining area is now part of a National Historic digging there please.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "5 treasure Hunting Pitfalls to Avoid (Pitfall 2)"

(c) J.R. 2010

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