Father Font and Pitiquito

Translated and Edited by Phil Valdez

Fray Pedro Font was born in Gerona, Cataluña, España in 1738 and died in Pitiquito, Sonora, la Nueva España on September 6, 1781. At the time of his death he was 43 years of age and had served 18 years as a missionary. His name first appears at the Colegio de la Santa Cruz in Querétaro and was well versed in the sciences of mathematics and geography. With his gifted voice he excelled in the schools choir and later wrote books which can still be seen at the College. The mathematician and reader of latitudes was then assigned to Sonora where he served exemplary and honorably. It was during this time, when assigned to San José de Pimas, that he was appointed to be chronicler and cartographer of the Juan Bautista de Anza Colonizing Expedition. After completing the epic journey, finding himself without an occupation, he retired to the pueblo of Santa Maria Madalena, which was attacked and burned on the November 16, 1776. This village was a visita de la misión de San Ygnacio. Here Font says “I saw myself dead in their hands.” but miraculously he escaped, and ended up at la Misión de Tubutama, where on May 11,1777 he finalized his magnum opus. Perhaps the best diary ever written about what is now the American Southwest. From here forward we have little on the feisty padre other than he must have left Tubutama and gone to Pitiquito sometime in 1778. By 1779 he was already assisting Padre José Matías Moreno in his ministry. By 1780 he was the Pueblo’s minister and by 1781 he was making entries in the book of records. Note the years 1779, 1780, and 1781 on the short list below.

Father Font arrived in the Americas on the ship, Jupiter, and its manifesto list him as being 24 years of age, medium size body, round face, bearded, signs of baldness, and black hair.


Templo de San Diego del Pitiquí  Image by Phil Valdez, Jr.

The church of Pitiquito is situated on a hill that runs from the northeast to the southwest which originally divided the town into two communities. El Barrio de Arriba y El Barrio de Abajo and faces the sunset, in which direction, the first community was built. The current church was built, adjacent to the Jesuit church and its lands, which had been used as Franciscan cemeteries. This can be read from the documents left by the Franciscan Padres.”

Doctor Benjamín Lizárraga García, rubrica


Having had their beginning, with Father Diaz, the Franciscan padres had served in Pitiquito for 73 years, and were in residency in the following order. Father Font was a Franciscan.


The altar where Padre Font is buried. Image by Phil Valdez, Jr.

1768 Juan Díaz
1769 Jose Soler and Juan Díaz
1770-72 Juan Díaz
1773 Ambrosio Calzada y Juan Díaz
1774 Ambrosio Calzada
1775 Ambrosio Calzada y Jose Moreno
1776-77 Jose Moreno y Ambrosio Calzada
1778 Jose Matías Moreno (?)
1779 Jose Matías Moreno y Pedro Font
1780 Pedro Font
1781 Pedro Font y Joseph Nicolás de Mesa
1782-83 Antonio Ramos
1784 Florencio Ibarra y Antonio Ramos
1785 Antonio Ramos
1786-87 Francisco Moyano y Antonio Ramos
1788-94 Antonio Ramos
1795 Angel Alonzo
1796 Angel Alonzo y Andrés Sanchez

The following four entries (a,b,c and d) reflect the work of the meticulous Font, during the last few months of his life. As you will note they are signed with that undeniable Font signature. Entry (b) and (e, no image) will be transliterated for those who do not comprehend the Spanish of the 1700’s, with (e) being translated into English. The style and spelling will be left as is and not modernized.


Entry (b) reads thusly and is the marriage of Andrés and María Loreto

The transliteration:
En este Pueblo de San Diego del Pitiquí a veinte y dos de Marzo de mil setecientos ochenta y uno haviendo precedido las tres amonestaciones que manda el Santo Concilio de Trento inter Missarum solemnia en tres dias festivos gue furon Domingo segundo y tercero de quaresma, y dia de San Joseph dia onze, diez y ocho, y diez y nueve del mismo mes y no haviendo resultado impedimento alguno; Yo Pedro Font Ministro de dicho Pueblo, certificado de la libertad y soltura de ambos contrayentes, pregunté a Andrés Soltero, Indio Nijora de la Nacion Jamajab, situada en el rio colorado, y a Maria Loreto Soltera, India Nijora de la Nacion Cajuenche, situada en el rio colorado ambos avecindados en esta[este] Pueblo, su espontanea voluntad para contrer Matrimonio, y cerciorado de ella por palabras de presente, y de su mutuo consentimiento, los junté en Matrimonio in facie eclesiae, y en el mismo dia recibieron las bendiciones nupciales. Fueron testigos de este Casamiento, Miguel Mendoza, y Dona Josepha de Mendoza, y otros varios Indios y vecinos del mismo Pueblo; y para que conste lo firmé.
Fr. Pedro Font (rubrica)

Entry (e, no image) reads thusly and is the marriage of Nicolas Espinoza and Maria Gertrudes Parra.  It is Font’s final entry and is dated August 27, 1781, he died on September 6, 1781.  Nine days after he made his last entry.

The transliteration:
En este Pueblo de San Diego del Pitiquí a veinte y siete de Agosto de mil setecientos ochenta y uno haviendo precedido las tres amonestaciones que manda el Santo Concilio de Trento inter Missarum solemnia en tres dias festivos que fueron dia doze Domingo, dia quinze la Assumpcion de Maria Santisima y dia diez y nueve Domingo y no haviendo resultado impedimento alguno; Yo Pedro Font Ministro de dicho Pueblo, certificado de la libertad y soltura de ambos contrayentes, por declaracion de Testigos que en particular llamé, que fueron Christoval Daniel y Christoval Ortega; pregunté a Nicolas Espinoza, hijo de Valerio Espinoza ya difunto y de Maria Loreto Diaz, casada en segundas nupcias con Joaquin Ussarraga vezino del Presidio de Altar; y a Maria Gertrudes Parra, hija de Juan Leopoldo Parra, ya difunto y de María Justa Martinez, viuda y avecindada en este Pueblo del Pitiquí, ambos de razon y tenidos por Españoles ó reputados por tales y solteros los dos, y vecinos del mismo Pueblo, su espontanea voluntad para contraer Matrimonio; y certificado de ella por palabras del presente, y de su mutuo consentimiento, los junté en Matrimonio in facie eclesiae, y en el mismo dia recibieron las bendiciones nupciales. Fueron testigos de este Casamiento Don Ygnacio Xavier Mendoza y Doña Josepha Mendoza y otros varios vecinos del mismo Pueblo; y para que conste lo firmé.
Fr. Pedro Font (rubrica)

The translation:
In this Pueblo of San Diego del Pitiquí, on August 27, 1781, having published the three conciliar banns in solemn mass, on the three holy days, as ordered by the Council of Trent, which were the twelve Sunday, the fifteenth day of Assumption of Saint Mary, and the nineteenth Sunday. And no impediments having resulted, [including] the declarations of the witnesses, Christoval Daniel and Christoval Ortega, I Pedro Font Minister of this Pueblo, was then satisfied with the liberty of both parties to marry. I then asked Nicolas Espinoza, (son of Valerio Espinoza, now deceased, and Maria Loreto Diaz, now in her second marriage to Joaquín Ussarraga of the Pueblo del Altar, and Maria Gertrudes Parra, daughter of Juan Leopoldo Parra, now deceased, and of Maria Justa Martinez, widow, and resident of this Pueblo of Pitiquí, both people of reason, single, said to be Spanish or thought to be, and residents of this Pueblo) of their spontaneity to enter into matrimony. Satisfied with their responses and because of their mutual consent. I then joined them in holy matrimony. Witnesses to this marriage were Don Ygnacio Xavier Mendoza and Doña Josepha Mendoza and several other residents of this same Pueblo, and in witness thereof I sign it.

Fr. Pedro Font (rubrica)


Templo de San Diego del Pitiquí, Documentos Para La Historia, Benjamín Lizárraga García, M.D. Font’s burial page 191.

José Velásquez, Saga of a Borderland Solder, by Ronald L. Ives. Ph.D.

El Borrador, or field notes, that Font wrote while on the journey of the 1775/76 colonizing expedition. On deposit at the archivo general de la Orden Franciscana (Roma) M/62: Mexici Missiones II. fols 177r-257r, which have been transliterated, by José Luis Pérez Serrano.

Diario del Capitan Fernando Xavier de Rivera y Moncada, by E. J. Burris O.F.M.

The Anza Letters, by Phil Valdez Jr. http://www.theanzaletters.com

The Glossary of Christening and Marriage Entry Phrases
At the archives of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, Ca

Death registry of the apostolic college of Santa Cruz de Queretaro, Franciscan Missonaries in Hispanic California, 1769-1848 Maynard Geiger, O.F.M.

Personal exploration of Santa Maria Madalena, now Magdalena de Kino, Misión de San Ygnacio, Misión de Tubutama, and Font’s burial site at el Templo de Pitiquito, Sonora, Mexico, and personal interview with the late Benjamín Lizárraga García M.D.