The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 513
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Arizona Historical Society, 1996. Pp. xxix+61. Maps, introduction, notes,
references. ISBN o-910037-37--X. $65.00, cloth.)
This handsome little letterpress volume brings together ten previously unpub-
lished "business" letters and reports written between 174o and 1751 by Jacobo
Sedelmayr, Bavarian-born Jesuit missionary to the Pimeria Alta. They are skillful-
ly translated into English (from Spanish, German, and Latin), liberally annotat-
ed, and ably introduced.
The introduction presents these rich little pieces as helping to fill a wide gap
in the history of southern Arizona and northern Sonora from Eusebio Kino's
death in 1711 to the Pima Revolt in 1751. They do yield news from the 1740s
for historians of the region, but there is more. They offer a remarkable glimpse
of one prominent protagonist in the Jesuit mission enterprise in northern New
Spain, the growing conflicts with royal governors there in the mid-eighteenth
century, and Spanish-Indian relations.
Sedelmayr emerges from these writings as a busy man with the heroic ambi-
tions of a sixteenth-century missionary. He looked out to a splendid horizon of
unexplored territory and new mission opportunities more than to the slow,
meticulous work of face-to-face instruction and sedentary labors. He repeatedly
begged off writing the corrected history of the Pimeria missions his superiors
wanted. "My health is not very good," he explained ("I do not have time for such
nocturnal studies, and when I write at night I become dizzy .... My head is al-
ways too feverish and this becomes worse when I write" [pp. 16, 36]), but he al-
ways seemed to find the energy for another expedition or another sermon. Not
all Jesuit missionaries in the Pimeria, much less the greater Borderlands, were
like Sedelmayr. In his 1751 visitation of missions in the province of Pimeria Alta,
he appraised various fellow Jesuits as lazy, or melancholy, or overly conscien-
tious, or slow to learn Indian languages, or habitually drunk. Judging by the
Rudo ensayo written by Sedelmayr's contemporary and nearest neighbor, Juan
Nentvig, these men may also have understood their immediate surroundings
and neophytes better than Sedelmayr did.
Bernard L. Fontana remarks in his introduction that even though four of
these documents date from early 1751, Sedelmayr offers no hint of an impend-
ing Pima uprising. If not, perhaps the sunny outlook of this inveterate explorer,
evangelizer, and preacher in search of "docile and humble" Indians (p. 21)
blinded him to harsher reality. But there are suggestions of trouble in these writ-
ings: of "arrogant" Pimas (p. 44), "fickle" Indians (p. 43), dangerous Apaches,
apparently unprovoked Indian attacks, impetuous missionaries, and uncooperat-
vive or contemptible royal governors. And Sedelmayr noticed the irony of Span-
ish horses (that formerly caused Indians to flee in fear) becoming a source of
grave danger to the missionaries and soldiers: "Today they [the Pimas] see them,
however, they are so anxious to get them that they seem to lose their judgment
and be blinded by desire" (p. 30).
Southern Methodist University
WILLIAM B. TAYLOR
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/591/: accessed December 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.