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San Antonio Ranch

A 1905 picture of a teacher and students at the San Antonio Ranch schoolhouse.

A 1905 picture of a teacher and students at the San Antonio Ranch schoolhouse.

One of Arizona’s oldest and most enduring families, the Sosas trace their genesis to Jecori, a village on the banks of the Yaqui River between Cumpas and Oposura, Sonora. There, in 1746, Jose Maria Sosa was born.

As a young man, Sosa became a Spanish presidial soldier. In 1774, his name appeared on the roster at Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac, the northern most outpost of Pimeria Alta – for a while, at least. Two years later, after Spanish authorities determined that defending Tubac against Apache attacks was impossible, the presidio was relocated even further north to Tucson. Sosa was, of course, included in the transfer.

In 1798, he was listed in presidio records as married and the father of four children. His wife, Rita Espinosa, came from one of Tucson’s most affluent families.

Beginning with Jose Maria, the Sosa family transcends the Spanish, Mexican and American periods in Arizona history. One branch ventured east and settled in the San Pedro Valley.

In 1845, Antonio Campa Sosa was born at Tubac under the Mexican flag. His citizenship changed to American after the Gadsden Purchase, and his place of residence shifted to the San Pedro River Valley about the time the railroad arrived in southern Arizona Territory.

In September 1880, Antonio Campa filed a homestead claim on 160 acres near Redington. The government uprooted him a few years later when it was determined that his claim infringed on one filed earlier by Nabor Pacheco. Yet another claim was located and filed, and Sosa got on with the business of ranching and farming.

Married three times, Antonio Campa fathered 23 children – five by his first wife who was killed by Apaches; four by his second wife; and 14 by his third wife, Maria Jesus, to whom he was married 37 years.

In time, Antonio Campa increased his personal holdings and appropriated large swaths of public grazing land. A dozen family members settled adjacent land and the patriarch’s San Antonio Ranch supported a thriving village.

He was approaching 60 when, in 1903, he made adobe bricks and hauled lumber from Benson to build a family chapel. Like his ranch, he called it San Antonio. Father Henry Granjon, pastor at Tombstone and later bishop of the Tucson diocese, officiated at the dedication.

The ranch schoolhouse, pictured here about 1905, was built in 1901 and was originally located on the nearby Pool Ranch. The teacher, whose students are posed about her, may have been Jennie Wilson Pool.

Antonio Campa and son Manuel served on the board of School District 24. When the building was abandoned, it was moved to Antonio Campa’s ranch. Later, when the number of nearby families increased, the school building was moved to Cascabel.

In 1911, Manuel was shot and killed by an unknown assailant. His body was buried where it was found. Thus evolved the Sosa family cemetery – today, the single remnant of the San Antonio Ranch. Antonio Campa was buried there when he died in 1915.

- W. Lane Rogers. Photo courtesy of the author.

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