November 14 , 2017Look Ups
Return to Research Index
Return to WPA Index

Recorded by Romelia Gomez, Field Reporter

Dona Isabel Hernandez lived in Bisbee in or around 1896, having come here with her family, consisting of her mother, brother, and two sisters, from Arizpe, Sonora. Isabel herself didn’t stay here long, but was sent back to Mexico to live with her grandparents, who were old and feeble. When they died she came to Bisbee to stay with her family, living with them here for a short length of time, after which they all moved back to Mexico, not returning to Bisbee until 1911.

Mrs. Hernandez doesn’t remember much about Bisbee in 1896, except that it was almost uninhabited except for Chihuahua Hill, Brewery Gulch, and the business section of the town. All the rest was a wilderness, the hills being covered with brush and mesquite and veyota trees. Isabel’s brother worked in the smelter and her mother took in washing and had boarders. They lived on Chihuahua Hill right above a hotel which was named “San Jose”. Her family, as well as every other one in Bisbee, bought their water from “aguadores”, who delivered to them a bag of water every other day, charging $ .25 for it. If you had the ready cash you paid then and there for the water; if you didn’t, you paid them at the end of the month.

Isabel Juarez (for that was the family name) never attended school in Bisbee, and cannot understand or speak any English at all, but her younger sister went to Central School during the short time they lived here. Central School was then a shabby, one-room little building. This sister and the brother who worked in the smelter reside at Glendale, California.

Isabel’ s family, being of Catholic faith, used to attend services at the little Sacred Heart Church, to which all Catholics went, there not being any other Catholic  church in town. A priest came from Fairbanks about every two or three months to perform the services here, and the little church had no regular pastor then. He rarely stayed more than fifteen days in Bisbee on his trips here.

For recreation the only dances she attended were a few at the Opera-House, where skating parties were also held sometimes. She was never much of a pleasure-seeking person, knowing little of what went on outside her home and having few friends in town, because she didn’t like to go out much.

When the smelter was moved to Douglas the Juarez family moved to Douglas, and from there to Agua Prieta, Sonora, where they put up some sort of business establishment of their own. Here Isabel married and had four of her six children. Then in 1911, when Agua Prieta was threatened by the revolutionists, many of the people there slipped across to the U.S. and among these were the Hernandez’. Since then they have established legal residence here and have made Bisbee their permanent home. They lived on Chihuahua Hill for many years, only lately having moved to Opera Drive, where they now live in a nice-looking house. There are two sons and two daughters living here with Mrs. Hernandez. One of the daughters is a widow, with one little son. The others are unmarried. The boys are at present out of work, but had been doing mine and lease work. The two Hernandez sisters are well-known among Bisbee Mexicans as good seamstresses. They always have quite a bit of sewing to do and charge good prices for their work. At present they are supporting the entire family and have a little room on the bottom floor where they do their work. There is a married daughter living in Zacatecas Canyon (Mrs. Narciso Rodriguez) and a married son in Mexico.

Mrs. Hernandez, who is 66 years of age, doesn’t believe in any kind of superstitions at all. She goes out very seldom now, as her health is poorly, and there are many steps to be climbed by her home.

USGENWEB NOTICE: These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain written consent of the archivist or submitter.

Cochise County AZ Gen Web © 2017 - All rights reserved