Letter to his brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. Durango, August 1, 1731 (Neg. 51866-51867)
(This and the subsequent letters were written after he had already left Europe and was approaching his ultimate area of activities for the rest of his life, the Pimeria Alta)
Neg. ASM 51866
Highly Noble and Honorable Brother,
Although I intended to give an in-depth report of my very tedious travels, I will need to hold back my quill and save my intention for a more conmfortable time. The reason for this is that the Honorable Bishop, in his great diligence and desire to help the heathens to their salvation, has not allowed me more time. The highest priority is for me to find the equipment to build houses and churches. Moreover, the local high officials leave me little quiet to complete the daily duties which require me to pay visits, and therefor seem to shorten my time, although not without the help of my companions.
The Juncker Brother will have received in the meantime a letter from Havana, an island at which we arrived after our voyage from Cadiz to Veracruz, then another one from Mexico, as I hope, from which he will have learned how things have developed until the current time. From Mexico City, from where we departed on June 17, up to here in Guadiána, where we arrived on July 19, I have been, God be praised, rather lucky and unlucky. Lucky because . . . .1 A strike from my mule above the knee which destroyed my pocket watch, which has created a great nuiscance for me (there is no clock or clock maker to be found out here), has made me incapable of riding, and necessitated sending for a coach, or forlon, from Sacatecas, the next city over, so that I could travel further.
I have arrived here in good health, and other than when bending my foot, I don’t have any more pain, which will go away in time as well. On the trip I left one of my companions, Father Ignacius Köller from the Bohemian province, in Sacatecas because of persistent diarrhea, from which he had suffered since we had left Mexico City, but until now he had not been able to fight it. For this reason, upon the order of the Honorable Bishop [Neg. 51867], Father Caspar Stiger from our province joined us.2 He got lost on his way up here by chance, and this, as I can only speculate, not without special arrangement by God, although he had been ordered to go to another mission near Caretschiki. Here he was ordered by the Reverend Father Rector and the Honorable Bishop to travel [with me] to the new mission, which gave me as well as him great comfort. Upon our arrival, Reverend Father Rector picked us up with a coach with six mules that could not have been painted more nicely. Tomorrow the Honorable Bishop will accompany us in the same way [with a coach] for a while on our way.
The remaining trip will last for 400 to 500 hours from here. And since the passage is unsafe because of the wild Indians, the protection of the soldiers will not fail to be there or on the way. The Honorable Bishop takes great care and has real concern for us. And he does not blink an eye [?] to pay the amount of 800 thaler to procure necessary things. It must be known that those things that cost in Europe, in Germany, half a gulden, here costs 4 to 5 thaler. Another good friend whom I have met at another Jesuit colleague, upon the recommendation of Father Antonius Baltasar, is a professor of Philosophy, who by way of one of his friends gave me most generously a horse, a mule, two travel boxes, an aroba or 25 pounds of chocolate, a few plates of tin, as well as a few other minor things I have not neglected to share things with him that the Honorable Mother and the beloved siblings have sent me. I also gave gifts to the Honorable Bishop and others because gifts are as necessary as they are pleasant for these people here. Everyone wants to receive gifts, although they do not carry any titles.
I do not know how soon I will be able to follow this writing with another because the journey is long, there are hardly any messengers, and the amount of work is huge, until I find table and place to write. But my eagerness and dutifulness will not be lacking to send soon a very detailed report. I would be extremely delighted if these few lines will reach the Honorable Mother, Juncker Brother, the most beloved siblings, and all the other relatives in the best health. I recommend myself to them all most dutifully and wish that they do not forget me in their holy prayers. I am also thinking of them. May the Juncker Brother keep me in his highly treasured favors and may the Honorable Mother and all the others accept my most friendly greetings.
Guadiána in America, August 1, 1731.
The Highly Noble and Honorable Brother’s
most humble brother
Philippus [sic] Segesser S.J.
Letter to his brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. Without place or date [written on the trip to San Ignacio 1731] (Neg. 52015-52016)
Neg. ASM 52015
Highly Noble and Honorable Brother,
With these strange lines I give to understand, what I would especially like to make known to my Honorable Mother and Juncker Brother [particularly] so that not everything will be announced to everyone because it is of no importance. At first I thank you for the immensely proven diligence of motherly, brotherly, and all other dear siblings’ love. God will repay all of you a thousand times. I would like to wish that I could come up with something desirable [as a gift] in this land, because I do not live in a city.
There is nothing special or rare except for a parrot, whom I look after. He is also talkative and a good whistler. I would like to wish that he could display his capability in the father’s house. Because this cannot be, I hope to hear what everything costs, along with the little case that is coming for me. With the money it is best to adjust things. In particular, because I live in the mountains and in the wilderness, where a lot of wild animals are caught, and then also because occasionally some bezoar stones have been found and brought to me for purchase. I have already collected a few (may the Juncker Brother keep this for himself) and await a good opportunity to send them. In this land there is a good fruit which is very useful for different medicines. It is named gogófen and looks like an acorn but is not so round and has the taste of of a hazelnut.3 It is also very oily.
A merchant had suggested to me that I collect this fruit, because in Rome some priests greatly demand it. With this fruit and opportunity I will make sure to send safely some of it and of the other things mentioned above. Please forward the attached letters to the correct places because I know well that the letters cost a lot. I hope that they will reach the addressees, if necessary with some help [from you].
Besides, when another good opportunity arises to send me something arises, [I would appreciate it], because in this land there are few books and the living conditions are very bad. Therefore it is a pity what happens with the Carthusian pictures because they shrivel in the great heat. I have also not had the time to apply little tablets [pictures?] on them, although the Spanish people who live in this part of the world greatly appreciate them. If you have some stitched work, it would be of great demand here among the noble people. Small scissors and small knives, pins and needles, and for me white stockings out of linen thread would be appreciated. Those out of wool do not send because the cockroaches ruin everything. Please let me also have some socks out of the same thread. The heat is so great that one can hardly stand to wear a thin shirt or a thin summer coat. I have certainly seen some who have taken those off.
If there are some Salzburger child figurines, may they be little tablets with a saint [image] on it or other figures out of wax, or similar wares, everything would be well invested here, such as rosaries from the St. Brigit sisters, Roman indulgence pennies, etc. etc. The cut-out pictures are also very valuable and so the scapular. Some curiosities out of glass, like the coffee cups, are very rare here. Then any embroidered chalice cloths, if they are not already too refined, serving as models to be replicated here, would be very lovely, or any other goods.
[Neg. 52016] The Juncker Brother should mention these things as well as the others to my beloved siblings and friends, so that they will remember and put these items together to be sent to me if an opportunity should arise. I would like to express special gratitude to the College of Lucerne (I do not doubt that they are responsible for it) for the rich chasuble and all its attachments. This would also serve well in my church or in that of another people, wherever the holy Xaverius is a church patron, and wherever I will soon reside, both here and there, as the time [of the year] requires.
Would the Juncker Brother send the letter for the Father Rudolph wherever he might be at this time? And by the way, friendly greetings and my eternal thoughts to all the known Honorable Fathers, as well as to Lord Troxler and Lord Scholler, and so also convey my regards to my master composers at the court. I employ from time to time some of those arias out of sheer boredom.
To Francisca, if she is still in the service, or should come to the house, I also send my greetings, as well as to the Honorable Baumwart on the Gütsch,4 should she still be alive. Saint Xavier’s rip I have found.5 And finally, to all and everyone, if they ask about me, especially the Honorable Sister-in-law, to all my eager students and to my nephew Jost Heinrich I send my thousand recommendations and friendly greetings, with the pleading that all and everyone would think of me, and when that silver colored carrier [the moon] will pass, remember the most loyal servant and father who is circling in the silver mountains [God?], as I remember Him as well when I look at this night light so necessary for me (during the day the heat is so strong that one cannot travel). I hope that my dear friends then remember me at that moment. Would the Juncker Brother show the longer letter that I also wrote for the others to those whom I have already pointed out in the same.
When the little daughter begins to produce samples of her lace needlework, I would like to have some for the alba [alb] and the altar cloths or also for the white choir vestments etc.etc
[Next follow letters to the brother from May 1, 1733, May 7, 1734, then from October 12, 1734, then from September 10, 1732 (so at least in the folder). Only then we find the following letter.]
Letter to his brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. San Ignacio de Caborica, probably 1731, no date or location (Neg. 52018-52019)
Neg. ASM 52018
Dear Juncker Brother
That what I did not want to write in the bigger letter, so that it does not get in the wrong hands, I am writing to those alone at home, and it is not necessary to relate everything to the others because the Juncker Brother can get the other letter copied. He can send that copy to the present Father Provincial whose name is also included, and then send it afterwards through the Father Rector to Augspurg or where he, the Father Provincial himself might be at that time, and this after you have assessed whether the longer letter would please him more or not.
I hope the graceful God will keep everyone in good health, from the Honorable Mother and Junker Brother down to the last one, which would be my comfort. When the Junker Brother writes or has something to send me, he should recommend himself to and send such to the Lord Don Phelipe de Anassa in Cadiz, insofar as this then will be delivered to me more safely than through our Jesuit delivery system, which in many cases such as this small item cares very little. As already mentioned, until now, there has been no letter from the Juncker Brother.
I am sending this letter also through a lord who was with me during these days and who will travel to Mexico. He promised me that that this letter will be delivered to Spain by way of his well known friends, and from there to Lucerne, although he thinks that the mail has to be paid in Spain. This above mentioned Lord Philip de Anassa has a brother here who is the Capitan de esta Pimería alta [Spanish: the Captain of this Pimería Alta]. The latter is my best beneficiary who presented me with many gifts for my new mission and provided groceries. As long as I have been in my mission, he has [regularly] written to his Honorable brother in Cadiz that he should support my case in the best possible way. May I request from the Father Provincial that he send me the history of the province, which the late Father Agricola had begun to write, etc.,6 apart from other (Neg. 52019) small books, which could be delivered to me securely through this opportunity.
What I have requested from the Juncker Brother to have sent to me, I await to receive with the greatest desire. The Juncker Brother should not forget to deliver the shotguns, and perhaps one for the small birds built in the same manner, which would be very useful here insofar as the the same birds as in Europe, like the finches, are found here, particularly small pigeons, which no one either catchs or eats. Could the Juncker Brother also send me a little mold with a strong bottom or something like that where small pellets can be poured in. Here there is as much lead as silver. If the Juncker Brother could try to get some Grania Sancti Pauli,7 would help me and others, since I was already bitten once by an alagran [Spanish: scorpion]. I would also need wax to read for the Mass [hence candles], since there is little of it in this country and is very expensive. You do not need to send wicks here because such can finally be found at least in Mexico, even though they are very expensive. It would be more very helpful to get the mentioned scapulars and rosaries from the sisters of the St. Brigit Order, and some of the Roman sanctity tablets [?],which I request in particular. And if I might have forgotten the carnation8 seeds in the register [list] of the many things, would the Juncker Brother send me such because they do not know anything about these flowers here.
Forgive me, Juncker Brother, for the urgency, but whom else do I have from whom I can request something that I desire, or from whom I can hope to get something, except for my own family. Incidentally, although I am quite satisfied with the will of God, I find myself in a rather tiresome place, where I need lots of patience. If I were to let things just go by, and only attended people on their sick bed, though it would be a good deed, etc., [it would not meet my own expectations]. God will predetermine everything, but I must confess that it is a little hard on me, as you can easily imagine, because my intentions do not develop well. How are the Honorable Mother, the Lady-in-law, Juncker Brother’s wife Barbara, Ma. [?] Anna, Elisabeth, Honorable Francisca in Hermetschwil, Honorable Sister of Rothausen, Honorable Aunt at the Ursula Sisters, Honorable Aunt at Bruch on the Sursee [convent in Lausanne]. How is the Juncker Cousin at the cathedral [Canon], Juncker Brother of Hochdorff, Father Henricus, Father Carl, Juncker Cousin Rusconi? All my brotherly greeting―also to the Francisca and Honorable Bauwirt, and the small Nephew.
[The next letter was not included in the transcription housed in the collection held by the Office of Ethnohistorical Research at the Arizona State Museum, but it is included in the transcript kept in the Staatsarchiv Luzern. It easily proves to be one of the most important documents written by Segesser, shedding much light on how he approached San Xavier del Bac, what preparations and items were necessary, and how he wanted to set up his mission with the help of items to be shipped by his family to the New World. My translation is based on the transcription held in Lucerne and on the original in the Archive which I have carefully compared throughout to verify the correctness.]9
Letter to his brother brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. San Xavier del Bac, December 15, 1731
(No copy in the ASM; see footnote)
Highly Noble and Honorable Juncker Brother, etc.
Before I begin with my report, I would like to extend my greetings first to the Honorable Mother, who is hopefully in good health, and to all other most beloved siblings, to the Most Reverent Canons at the cathedral, the Honorable Mayor in Surfen, and to all other beloved relatives, especially to those from Cousin Joan Baptist’s family, etc.
After I had written during my voyage various letters from different places to the Juncker Brother, I do not doubt that he must have clear and precise news of what has happened with me so far. In the meantime, since my departure from Spain, I have not received any letter from my dear relatives―not even by the help of the Virgin Mary, of whom I am thinking, however, every day, and to whose protection I submit myself all the time―except for a letter by the honorable Father General and another by the Father Provincial, who wishes to send his regards through me to the Honorable Mother and the Juncker Brother. I hope that you [the brother] have extended my regards to the nephew and fulfilled his wish. These letters have been handed over to me by chance over a pretty long distance here in this land, at least more or less, and I have immediately responded to them.
Now I am reporting to the Honorable Brother that I have arrived here in completely good health, very near to my mission, because now I am missing only seventy or 80 miles, or ca. hundred hours. Here they do not know the system of counting in hours, and when you ask how far it is to this or that place, then they point with their finger to the sky and say, the sun will be located at that angle when you will arrive, etc. Now I am staying in the mission of Saint Ignacio in Pimas Altos or Pimería alta run by a Father missionario called Father Augustin de Campos. He is a Spaniard and perhaps a friend of His Excellence, the Honorable Ambassador Señor Don Felix Cornejo, who resides in Cucera. Father [Augustin] has started this mission 39 years ago and kept it with great troubles and much work quite well until today. So, I am staying with this Father because he can instruct me now in the Pima language which he has learned better than anyone else, and in which he is regarded a master by everyone.10 It is only regrettable that now in his old age he rather talks in Spanish than in Pima, and that he lets me work here many days, even weeks on end, completely alone, since he is traveling in the meantime in other reductions, partly in business, partly in order to lure the wild barbarians from the mountains. Only recently he arrived here with a new group, whom he all feeds.
The place to which I have been ordered by the Father Visitator is called the valley of San Xavier del Vac,11 or the Saint Xaver del Vac,12 a name which a Father Missionarius had assigned who died ca. 20 years ago at a place three hours away from here, as an 80 years old man and at whose grave I recently offered Mass. He came from our province and was called, as the Indians tell me, Father Cino; he is said to have originated from Trento, a man whose indescribable effort and labor Father Augustin and everyone else in this country could not, as far as they knew him, praise enough. He was the very first who entered into this very remote region, he baptized many heathens, and showed other [missionaries] the way where to go and search for lost souls.
This valley where I am supposed to go, that is, the valley of Saint Xaverii del Vac, is very extensive and large, and is located pretty much to the north, and is, as the Indians tell me, very cold during the winter. From here it is at least 70 to 80 hours away, where I am supposed to build a house and a church. Beyond that is a region and Montaña [Spanish: mountain] which so far none of us [Jesuits] has traversed, although Father Augustin has gotten around much. But the Indians say that there are many people to be found, who are supposed to fall to me, God willing, and if I will have the [necessary] health.
It seems to me that I am much closer to my fatherland than you might think because I have travelled more than 700 hours from Mexico, and then the sea is very near to here both in the west and the north, the air and the weather very similar, except that it does not snow so often, although there is enough ice during that time of the year. The soil is good to grow what and much grain, which, however, is not well compatible with my nature [health] until I will be more used to it. If we are hence to find our end point, we might actually reach a landscape that is more similar to a European one. But more about that later.
In the meantime I must write about other things because I do not have them [available here]. I need them urgently, and have to beg you to get them for me. If I become too cumbersome to my Honorable Mother and the Honorable Brother in that regard, would you please remember that I am of the same blood as you and therefore turn to so confidentially to my next blood relatives. Moreover, this will make come true the prophecy of my Honorable Mother. She once said at an occasion when we were still younger, the Honorable Brother had hardly reached the age of six and always wanted to go with me and the Honorable Brother Jost Ranutij,13 wherever we had gone (but we did not [want him to come along] because he was still too young: Let him come, they will be happy one day when they can count on his favor, etc. And really, now I recognize that it has come true, so my Honorable Mother’s and the Honorable Brother’s grace are my greatest hope and my consolation. However, may you be able to assist me in any way over such long distance in anything? I at least answer: yes, I hope so, they will not deny me from the distance what I would surely have gotten from them if I were near them.
What is my request? Answer: a couple of things that I urgently need to establish a household, since I have nothing else but what I wear, apart from a few linen clothing and those things that the Honorable Mother and the others had sent me to Genoa, then those alms that the king had granted me, like to any of the missionaries, which comprise 300 and 50 thaler. The 50 thaler had been added because of the great distance, they serve to pay for necessary travels and have already been spent in Mexico. If you want to know what for, I will give you a little account so that you see how one travels here in this country.
First, I bought a mula (that is a mule) to ride on, which cost 60 thaler, without saddle and bridle. Saddle and what else is necessary: 15 thaler (I use thaler because one thaler counts here as much as one peß [peso?], which is the common currency here). Further, I bought three other mules to carry the matras and the other chests that contain necessary church objects which the king procured for me for a new church, that is, two [mules] at the price of 60, whereas one [mule], which is not as good, for 25, plus the necessary transportation saddles. What was added to the costs during the journey does not belong on the accounting list because other donors provided it. For a servant with his mule for the way up to Gundiána, that is about a third of the way: 40 thaler. For the other servant together with a mule from there up to San Bonaventura (he went, so to speak, two thirds of the way with us since the rest of the way we went from house to house, that is, we went with servants, whom we had requested from good people, and who did hard labor for us (if you may call it that): 80 thaler, an amount which the other Fathers and companions shared and which has to be paid in total [?]. In total that is already 280 thaler. The pedujas, or travel chests, made out of animal skin, cost 23 thaler; chocolate, which is so necessary for the journey (after all, the servants also want to drink twice a day, that is the custom), and a couple of other things: two better arrobas (the arroba is 25 pounds): 24 thaler; two lesser [arrobas] for the servants: 14 thaler. Two arrobas sugar which is needed for the chocolate, hence also necessary: 8 thaler and a half; for the blankets (that are necessary) to cover everything and to protect from the rain: 15 thaler, then ropes and cords which are necessary at such occasions: 3 thaler; then other things I cannot remember and that had to be bought by necessity, such as the shoe horns for the mules, which cost 6 thaler in Mexico, 19 and a half in Ciguagua (because they are more expensive here, like everywhere else). Altogether: 103 thaler.
If you add all up, what remains for shoes and clothing, for travel food (this all had to be acquired in Mexico)? And if the bill is bigger than the given alms, then think of that what helped us [Segesser], namely what the generosity of the Honorable Mother’s and the most beloved siblings had contributed, what God may recompense them thousand-fold. After this accounting, which explains enough how little has remained, that is, nothing, I may certainly be entitled to beg and request? Yes, that is it what the following is aiming for. However, I do not ask for money, but items tantamount to money. I would not request those if all that were available in America that will be useful and very necessary for my household. These are things that seem to be contemptible and hardly worth to be shipped over such a distance. Nevertheless, I do not request them not without good reason.
Although one might think that a missionarius should ignore such matters, you must not forget that the Indians, when the Father missionarius does not help them with food and clothing, all escape back into the mountains and the caves, where they have been called and lured forth with great trouble. But how will that what I have requested help the Indians? Answer: One follows from the other. For instance: I request a scythe. With this I can make hay because grass is growing in great quantities here. The cows eat hay, so they can be raised in the shed (otherwise, if kept on the field, they stay wild). These provide me with milk, the milk in turn makes cheese and butter (truly, a very appropriate discourse for me!), for the cheese and the butter I can barter for other parcels of land, clothing, salt, spices, etc., as here in this land items are bartered, item for item. So, when I urgently plead with you, then for objects that I can barter here best with. Other barter with wheat and corn [maize], everyone barters as he can so that he can maintain a mission.
Therefore I beg the Honorable Mother, the Honorable Brother, and the many friends to send me as soon as possible the following items listed below in a well-kept container. [The list] does not contain everything what I am looking for in these land, otherwise I would not cause you all that trouble, but look rather for money than for other things.
First, would the Honorable Brother send me the weapons of our coat of arms, that is, three or four Seges or scythes, then ca. 6 sickles because here the grain or grass is pulled out of the soil only with bare hands or with knives. Would he also add for one of the seges a handle as a model, because here they cannot create anything without being able to see it. For the sickles I will certainly find a good use. For a new garden I need a little weeding pick, and since the Honorable Brother in Hochdorff will help me with that, I am asking for 2 such weeding picks, one larger, one smaller one, then ca. 6 pairs of Schlengel [perhaps wooden frames?] for hanging up the skin covers substituting for windows. Since there is no glass here, the air flows pretty much [freely] through the room, wherever there is a little opening. Most [houses] have, instead of a window, space for a door which stays open day and night without an [actual] door. I really live in such a domicile, and the chest is not even good enough as a table to write this [letter] on.
May the Honorable Brother not forget and take the trouble upon himself to go the a saw mill and copy on an extra piece of paper how it has been built, especially that little iron wheel that pushes the wood in front of itself. Would the Juncker Brother please have such a wheel get made, plus the necessary iron part or pins that hold the wheel on the inside so that it does not move backwards. Then send this piece of paper to me with a clear explanation nof the whole construction, because this thing will be very useful for me. Here there is nothing of that kind, and when you want to have a little board, then two have to saw a tree apart with great effort. [I know], what I am requesting is really a strange matter.
Further, would the Juncker Brother send me two or more wooden clamps which the carpenters use when they glue the boards together. One at least complete so that I can put and glue together the others [after this model —here with a drawing by Segesser], which would, if being shipped whole, take too much space. They have roughly that form [allegedly a drawing on the margin, but that is not in the original].
Without seeing them, the Indians cannot make any thread. Now on to the household items. First, would the Juncker Brother send a little butter barrel, as big as the chest will allow to pack, or put better: a butter churner in which the fresh butter is made; a bigger one can be made here, after the little one has been seen. Further two chopping knives, a little frying pan, roughly of the size as those out of brass used at fairs in which they tend to roast the almonds; a little grill on which you can cook roughly as much as the head of a wee goat; one or two skimming ladles, a deep soup ladle out of copper; a little roast spit, as long as it might fit into the chest [?], with a curved handle so that a black Indian [?] can replicate it more easily, of that kind with which you barbecue the larks, and as you can see drawn on the margin; then a few more wooden ladles because here you cannot find either the wood or the craftsman for such things.
Here in the silver mountains there are hardly any silver spoons among us Fathers Missionaries, such as [illustrated] yesterday when I was called to Hímuri to another Father to discuss some business with the Honorable Capitan of this Pimería alta. We four at at the table had not more than two spoons, one fork, and one knife, the little salt was in a broken husk of a fruit. A Dios.
One thing I would have almost forgotten: for the scythes and sickles we also need a whetting stick [stone?] and a hammer so that you can sharpen them. Hence I am also requesting that. Item. verum hoc soli Domino Fratri commendo, ne vanitatis me arguunt imprudentes, si audirent. velit mihi sclopetam fortem ad jaculandum scilicet lupos, leones, cervos, etc., quorum hic copia ait, mittere, tum ut in periculis me defendam, tum ut aliqoties [when I am in danger, I defend myself, and then, like the others] if I catch a little venison in the wilderness or on a long journey. You can find those also among the others, but still, sub rosa. prudenti satis [Latin: in secret (through the rose, or flower, an idiomatic phrase here): a word to the wise is sufficient].
The pipe can be taken out of the stem and kept well in the butter churner, together with the stem, the wiper, the clams, etc., so that nothing can be damaged.14 That what I have underlined the Juncker Brother should, after he has read it, delete it so that no foreign eyes can see it. In the meantime, while the Juncker Brother will be busy procuring these mentioned items, would the Honorable Sisters please collect in a bag seed of hamp, flax, white and yellow turnip, red turnip, fennel, anis, and caraway, each in a separate bag [note the contradiction!] and give it to the Juncker Brother, well dried and fresh to be packed. The Jesuit gardener might perhaps be helpful in those matters. Moreover, would the Honorable or Mademoiselle Sister Elisabeth write down for me recepies for some meals.
I do not need any for cakes since I probably still have the Honorable Mother’s letter in which she gives me good instruction, but certainly for other dough products, such as rice, pies, almond tarts, gingerbread, marzipan, rabbit ears, priest caps, biscuits, almond donuts, and others, such as sugar rose, etc., then also add some baking molds out of wood or terracotta, also some to make gingerbread.
Indeed, these are many things, but nothing without a good purpose, as I will explain in longer letter and as you will understand. These earthly things are necessary here to win over souls. I beg the Honorable Mother for muscat oil which has partly given me back my health, partly has kept me healthy, whereas my two companions [fellow missionaries] who also travel to new missions, which are, however, a good distance closer [more to the south], have been dangerously ill (that is, the one, without me knowing how he is doing now). All this the Honorable Brother may pack in a chest, address it to Genoa to that lord, whom Lord Juan Phelipe de Anssa (who is a brother of the Honorable Capitan of these lands and who will be inclined to help me as a merchant of Cadiz) will indicate to the Honorable Brother in a special letter. If he might not write, then ship the chest to him with the request to forward it as soon as possible to his Honorable Brother in the Presidio de Fronteras a Pimeria alta. After all, the Honorable Capitan assures me that this is the safest and fastest delivery. This lord is almost our father here who procures for us what can be found in this country and what is necessary for us. He is like a county governor in place of a king here in this land. The address of the mentioned lord is simply: A mi Señor Don Juan Phelipe de Anssa D. g. m. a. en la Ciudad de Cadiz.
Herewith, with the full confidence in the brotherly love and help, and in that of the most beloved relatives, I conclude, as I have started, with a filial greeting to the Honorable Mother from San Ignacio, December 15, 1731. A happy blissful new year!
Your Honorable Brother’s
most loyal brother
Philippus Segesser de la Compania de Jhs. Missio de S. Xav. del Vac en Pima alta.
P.S.: Would the Honorable Brother forward the letter that is attached to this one to the Father Provincial, if he is still in this position, via the Father Rector? If he no longer holds that position, would you take a new envelope and send it to the mentioned Father Rector wherever he might stay now? Everything what the Juncker Brother will spend for the requested items I will certainly recompense him and the others in time and to the degree as the mission is making progress, and this in a way that is very well known to me.
P.S.S.: I have forgotten one more thing. Would the Honorable Brother send me one or two covers for my pocket watch? It will be of the size as the one that the Juncker Brother had received from the Honorable sister. Since I am missing such cover, [my watch] has already broken twice, and you can neither find a glass nor a cover in Spain, because I have looked for one there as already. My recommendations to the beloved Honorable Wife, greetings to the Nephew, and tell him he should come and see me in his vacations.
On an attached sheet [?; not identifiable in the file, but here translated from the transcript in the Lucerne State Archive]:
If the Juncker Brother has not yet sent the requested items, would you please add also: 6 scissors to shear sheep, of which I have half a dozen. Item[Latin: also] good, strong, round and flat crow bars, ca. half a dozen, of every kind, also smaller ones.
Item [Latin: also]. A dozen whetting stones.
Item. 2 or four hatchets or picks.
Item. 2 gardening knives
Item. 12 small pie moulds.
On a second sheet (PA 437/587, No. 3) the letter continues:
(Neg. 52018) Although I thought to have written down everything, many things are still lacking, but hopefully I will not forget anything. Could the Juncker Brother send me a carpenter’s plane iron (whatever it is called), or a round plane, which is needed for the first stage to clean the board; and another one that makes a smooth piece, as they are needed to make tablets, etc. Then also a small fretsaw. Different types of small nepperlein or drills; two or four clean and somewhat thick glass bottles, so that they cannot break easily, serving to carry the wine and water for the Holy Mass; and a bigger and also strong bottle to carry along for the baptism water, which for first time yesterday I needed on the way to a sick Indian whom I had to baptize.
Each needs to be equipped with a good screw lid. One sugar scale, if available with yellow [brass] weights. And if possible, a gold scale, also with the weights. A smaller garden shovel; a flat iron at least with two stones [for keeping it hot]15; one or two kitchen funnels; a kitchen syringe; a baking form [?], if you come across one incidentally, one smaller trowel to spread the butter cream; a roll of the good black lighter;16also Salui or Salbina [sage] leaves a good bag full, and if seeds are available, then also the seeds, and so as well from mint. A few sun-dried plums, with the seeds; some freshly harvested walnuts and hazel nut; chestnuts with their spiny cupules to seed, even if such fruits will not grow. I know well that twigs would be needed [to plant trees], but we will attempt what can be attempted, etc.
If a baking form for the rose cakes can be found, then the Honorable sister should write to me how the dough is to be made for it. Also, would the Juncker Brother [please] write in detail how cheese is made? How to get the sourness or keslup [rennet], and when it is to be poured into the kettle. How much, one or two spoons full and when the salt is to be mixed with the cheese, etc. Therefore the Juncker Brother should send me also the cloths that are needed for this. One or two hoops, which can be made soft with water, so that they can fit into the box, according to the length etc. One or two ladles with which the cheese will be taken out with. Some rolls or those yellow brass objects which one needs to sift the milk or to clean it.
All that I really need because I cannot get it here. But it is not necessary that the Juncker Brother inform others about this cheese making business, iam intelligit me [Latin: as he will certainly understand me].17 We are from Helvetia etc. If I can produce some cheese, I will soon be able to improve my mission, etc. Would the Juncker Brother put everything on one bill? Everything that cost money should be orderly (pointed out) displayed,
The payment, as I have written on the margin, will surely come upon opportunity with great thanks. And the Juncker Brother therefore should not doubt that. Whether it is in Munich, or in the Mexican province, in Munich, Rome or elsewhere, wherever the costs occur, all the expenses will exactly be paid.
Therefore, [Neg. 52019] the Juncker Brother will not miss one heller. My brother’s love and agility, and also the ease with which I can present my requests to him, are the reasons why I desire [these things] from my beloved friends. I will briefly summarize my writing to list what is desired so that the Juncker Brother can see easier what is asked for:
3 or 4 Sythes or Seges18. – A handle, etc.
A hammer and whatever is necessary for whetting.
6 couples of ordinary pegs [?] for the window frames together with the hooks and locks, etc.
1 little sawmill wheel
2 chopping knives
1 little frying pan
1 or 2 ladle skimmers
1 lard skimmer
1 deep ladle out of copper, to hand out the soup
1 roast spit
1 small saw
1 or 2 cake servers
1 baking mold for a rose cake, out of iron,19 if it does not cost too much
1 plane with two knives
1 curved plane or scratch plane
a small plane for wooden frames
1 shovel for small work in the garden
Would the Juncker Brother cover everything that is out of iron with tallow, or, even better, cover it with chalk.
Tools out of iron [cont.]
2 little ladles
1 little roast spit
1 sugar scale
1 gold scale, if it is not too expensive
1 kitchen syringe
1 ladle to melt lead in it
1 strong but small shotgun, etc.
1 small butter churner
some wooden ladles
some baking moulds for gingerbread
2 spoons for the cheese [production]
1 or two round frames for the cheese
some cloth or the yellow brass sifter to clean the milk
1 or 2 covers
for the pocket watch
2 or 4 glass bottles
1 larger one for ca.
one quart in measurement
several molds out of clay
several cloths for the cheese
black [gun] power
2 bags for the powder
white turnip seed
yellow turnip seed
Bavarian turnip seed
red turnip seed
salfi or Salbina [sage ]
Give me recipes for:
sugar-coated almonds (forgot it again)
how to make cheese, etc.
If my dear sisters remember anything else, please let them add it here.
Letter to his brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. San Xavier del Bac, June 8, 1732 (Neg. 51922-51924)
Neg. ASM 51922
[No. 10, 11, or 13]
[Neg. 51922] I hope that in the time that I am writing this letter, various others that I had sent to my Juncker Brother, either via Rome or through other opportunities, and especially the one that I last wrote in Santo Ignacio, where I had to stay for half a year until my two companions had recovered from their long lasting sickness. That letter was delivered through Honorable Capitan of this Pimería, then through his acquaintance in Mexico City, then from there it was sent to his Honorable Brother in Cadiz, and then got delivered at home. All these letters will sufficiently indicate how much I am constantly thinking of my family, how I pray every day that they will be received by the Honorable. But since I cannot communicate this personally, the beautiful night light, the moon, will have to do it, which so often rises to remind my dear friends that Father Philippe sends his greetings to all of them and begs them not to forget him.
If there is, by chance, an eclipse, or a moon darkness, think that it might not go well with me because this pleasant messenger hides. In truth, there is much bitter sweat because I live in a country where you cannot find a similarly rational person around you for miles. There are plenty of heathens, innumerable ones, whom you would regard, if the Christian faith would not allow it, not as people but as irrational animals. Although there are some who had been baptized as small children by Father Kino, pious member of my province who was born in Trento, and by another Father, Augustin de Campos, a Spaniard, who [now referring to Kino again] traversed wide lands, I find in them no other Christian sign than falsified names which they received during the baptism.
They cannot remember anything else and call themselves now Cósua, instead of Joseph, or Mánal, instead of Maria. The main place where I am staying mostly is in a valley that extends 60 leagues in the length but much more in circumference. It is a very hot place, although in winter, as the Indians say, it becomes very cold because it is situated toward the north [Neg. 51923]
One cannot find a single rock in the dirt, but it is not too sandy either and has a very good pasture for cattle on the sides where the little bit of water flows, which is used to water the fields and which is used by the folks. There are therefore (the water) a lot of fights, and I, because I am far from there, am confronted with an uncomfortable situation. In the meantime, I have built a hut made out of dirt and straw, where I live and give Holy Mass, as soon as I will have the wax candles.
My jurisdiction reaches one and half a day, concerning the ground before me and behind me. I have found until now no end [of this region]. And the last place known, which is 5 to 6 days far from here, which is called Casas Grandes [plural!] or big houses, from which the most important person of this part of America called Montesumma is said to have descended from. The time and health are mostly guessed, the inhabitants of this land support themselves with what they harvest. Because this land is full of mice, these serves them instead of larks. This folk are very lazy to work, suffers great hunger, therefore I must give them food to eat all the time, when they work for me. The food consists of Turkish corn [maize], which they call in Spanish posolé. I must always be careful that they do not take the hot corn out of the kettle with their bare hands. They are clever in stealing and do not think badly about it because they do not know what is good or bad, since they live like animals. The people, women and men are brown-skinned. Concerning their clothing, they are covered just with rugs, which they make out of cotton. The small children run around as nature has made them [naked]. I hope with time to teach them some decency. But at the present I have to work with myself, since I in fact wear scraps which I have received more than three years ago as new in Munich, and I have worn them daily on this journey.
I did get another dress in Spain, which I cannot use during the construction, instead it only serves the same way as the coat of the holy hermit served Saint Anthony. If this one rips [wears out], where would I find another one in such distant lands. Enough of this, it would be better to report from here to Rome etc. It appears that this part of the earth has until now been the residence of the living Satan, although I do not find any particular superstition here. However, here are many who have their dialogue with the devil who appears to them in different shape, once in that of a wolf, then in that of an ape, often as a black moor, etc. He instructs them how they can harm people and kill them. One of these devils has killed more than 40 people in the winter in my mission. The devil puts a horrible material into their mouths or stomach, which the devil’s servants [these are now the Indians] copy by blowing it through a certain feather-pipe into the bodies of those whom they want to harm, without being noticed. Those then die after few days with great pain, because there are no remedies to be found here. I have seen it all with my own eyes and stood next to the death beds of many, as I will later describe it in greater detail.
Every night my Indians tend to repeat their immense screams, dances, and singing until the early morning so that I cannot find any restful sleep, or find a means to stop such things. After all, it is necessary to win over these minds with love step by step so that they, tired of the Father, do not attack and kill him, although such a death would be more desirable if I imagine that I will not receive any more good in my present life. After all, where does one find another existence in these countries? By and by one makes progress Herewith I report to my Honorable Mother, to Juncker Brother, to the dearest siblings, to Honorable Canon of the cathedral, and to all my relatives that I am truly located in a arduous part of the world, and this as most unworthy servant of the mission in the Pima vineyard of the Lord, master builder of a new place out of straw and clay, guardian, repair man, cook, shepherd of sheep, goats, and cattle, sacristan, and Christian teacher or instructor of the heathens.
This place is located in the main mission de San Xavier del Bac, as the Juncker Brother will have already learned from a previous letter, and as you can see from the attached piece of paper, which I include because a Jesuit, unknown to me, has sent it from a city in Mexico, three days of travel away from her, although neither I nor the Father Provincial had known where I might end up later, especially since this arrangement had been made by the Father Visitator of the Pimería alta half a year later, without him knowing anything of that piece of paper, since I had not seen that Father Visitator until then.
With this piece of paper follows another one which will explain my request that I wrote from San Ignacio and which might not yet have been met. I beg the Juncker Brother to rush to fulfill my wishes since I do not find anything here but Heaven and earth, etc.
My most humble recommendaton to my Honorable Mother, the siblings, and the Honorable Canon at the Cathedral, and to all my dear relatives. To my dear brother and his most beloved wife as usual from San Xavier del Bac, June 8, 1732.
The Highly Noble and Honorable Brother’s
in the heart most submissive brother,
Philippus Segesser S.J.
Letter to his brother Ulrich Franz Joseph Segesser. San Ignacio de Cabόrica, September 10, 1732 (Neg. 51925-51930) [contemporary transcription by another hand]
Neg. ASM 51925
Highly Noble and Honorable Brother,
Before I begin to write, I must remind the Juncker Brother that I live in another land, and therefore already have the habit to include foreign words and foreign hand writing because I have often to do the grinding work of a secretary and have to write much daily in a foreign language. If therefore foreign letters get mixed into this letter, which really happens against my own will, such as the letter x in the Spanish language which is used instead of the Latin ‘r,’ like in the word ‘Praenobilis,’ [Highly Noble], which looks more like an ‘x’ than an ‘r.’ Or if I write half an ‚o’ instead of the dot over the ‚i’, as we do in the German language on the ‘u’, as I can see in the other word that I have used above, so instead of ‚ich’ [German: I], as I wrote, of if I write half an ‘o’ above the letter ‘I’ instead of the dot, as we do in the German language on the ‘u,’ as you can see in the other word above, and if many other problems occur, I hope the Juncker Brother will attribute this to the new habits. However, I make every effort to practice my first language as well as possible.
Since I have departed from Spain, I have not received a letter from the Juncker Brother. One, of which the Honorable Mother reported, was delivered to me in my mission San Xavier del Bac to my great comfort.21 May God grant the Honorable Mother and all the most beloved relatives and friends, both within the Society of Jesus [Jesuits] and outside, happiness, good health, and His divine blessing. I hope that if the fleet will arrive safely, also to receive news how things stand in my dear fatherland and in the most beloved province, what changes have occurred in the meantime. The Juncker Brother knows well how much I desire to hear of that. In the meantime I sent home diverse letters from various locations and by diverse opportunities.
I hope that it will not be a problem to pay the additional costs for the mail. From here to Spain all letters are delivered free of charge, both on land and on water, which is the reason why I wrote several letters, since I have good reason to suspect that some will get lost. In this way one or the other will reach you, my relatives at the most beloved location. I also hope that my letters will be pleasing to you, although they cost a bit more insofar as in each letter, as I believe, special topics have been addressed. The present letter is being sent from the mission San Ignacio de Pimeria alta.
There are several locations, both in Pimeria bácha [baja] as in Sonóra, Sinalóa, or other countries, with the name of San Ignacio.
I am presently stationed, as I have said already in the last letter, in the mentioned mission San Ignacio which the old missionary Father Augustin de Campos, as I have said already several times, began in this region, and who [Neg. 51926] therefore can and must be called Fundator. The reason why I am staying here is, first, the decision by my superiors. After all, both here in Europe as well as in America every member of the Jesuit Society has to observe the commands of the superiors, even if one might have found something more necessary and better, because obedientia plus est quám victima [obedience counts more than being a victim]; note well victima, because in this part of the world one can easily get into the hands of the wild Indians, who care for nothing else but to hurt the converted Indians, to murder the foreigners, and thus they lead their own lives because apart from stealing they have nothing else to do [?]
The other reason for my stay here is Father Augustin himself who in truth needs a companion, partly because of his health and old age, partly because of the people here so that they get the proper teaching both in temporal and in spiritual matter insofar as a missionary has to take care of everything. Moreover, the Father does not want to have any other companion than me because he knows that I have inherited my Honorable Mother’s nature [character] and strive in every respect to fulfill the office of a medical orderly. I have to try to chase away the mosquitoes and flies all the time. Further, the Father recognizes well that I can and must have patience with the old man, senectus est mirabilis [old age is admirable], and this is true. Not to forget, three boys who have served the Father so far have fallen sick as well, apart from many other Christians and Indians, who all need care.
So, there is enough to do everywhere. Many sicknesses arise due to the fruit because since there is a shortage of food and the Indians suffer from hunger, they do not await the time when the fruit have ripened. Instead, they eat them when they are still mostly green, as soon as they have developed just a little. Another sickness results from an excess of blood, as I can clearly recognize from the rotting corpses, which causes me not little disgust, insofar as I have to assist those who are dying, of whom there are many. But who can do blood-letting here [he uses two different words for it here]. I myself would have a need, but we are in America where you cannot find that what would be necessary. God must help, and so the holy sign of the cross.
The Father tries hard to convince the Superiors to make me stay here in this mission not only until his death, but also afterwards, and that another missionary Father will be sent in my place to the mission of San Xavier del Bac. But I do not know whether the Superiors will be pleased with that idea. In the meantime I must take care of everything and expect what decision will be made. At least my Indians desire to have me here. Only last week they sent here two of the nobles [Neg. 51927] to fetch me, but I sent them back, promising them firmly that I would get to their place soon, after I had given each of them as a gift a rosary out of glass and a kitchen knife, along with some tobacco, all things that are appreciated here more than anything else. I have the firm intention to travel there as soon as my old Father will feel a little better, in order to take care of things there.
I will give orders to the soldiers who guard my huts and their contents, and will also give comfort to the old man [Father], although the way [to the Indians] and back comprises more than hundred and twenty miles. I have also the intention to visit the distant peoples of this part of the known world, to instruct them as much as possible in spiritual matters as far as possible on that occasion, to baptize who requires it [babies], and help those who are going up to Heaven. Altogther, the Juncker Nephew Joan Baptist could help me in striving to gain access to Heaven.
As before, we have a great heat, and so a drought because it [normally] does not rain for months, but now in the current month the weather here is very dangerous. We have repeated downpours, which certainly make the earth turn green [with growth], whereas afterwards it will be bone-dry [?] and without grass. Now, however, everything swell up [in the riverbeds or washes] like in Europe in Spring, which makes it dangerous for the travelers because the creeks swell high up and there are no bridges in this country. [There is no need for them] because the Indians do not ruin their clothes [they do not wear any] although they wade through such creeks. Even more damage cause the heavy rain showers because they easily penetrate the roofs of our living quarters which are made out of nothing but earth. Since we have to live in such muck,22 all our things are also in danger to get wet [ruined]. If you wonder why we do not take more precaution, I answer as follows: we build many houses basically out of air [because we have nothing]. When we approach our task, there are no picks, no hoes, no hammers, no saws, indeed, not even the necessary wood or proper stones. There is no stone available far and wide proper for sharpening a knife, although there are enough mountains in the entire Pimería, as well as the entire ameríca.
Moreover, at this time of the year there are many dangerous and poisonous vermin, mosquitoes and flies without end. Here are toads as big as a fully grown royal hare, or küngelein, as it is called at home, although one of them frightened me not little recently [Neg. 51928] which hopped around the altar during my Mass. Then there are more snakes, vipers, alagran [scorpions], poisonous and spiders than you can fend off, so I can never sleep safely. Everything comes to life around the bed at night. There are countless rats and mice. Two dangerous wounds from a poisonous scorpion bite in two of the feet [of some of the people there] I immediately healed these within days with the gracia Sancti Pauli although they were already greatly swollen up and filled with pus.
Above I mentioned that apart from this month or water time [monsoon] everything is expensive and dry, so [you might wonder], is there no food in this country? Answer: God be praised, the Father Augustin had harvested five to six hundred mütt [bushel] wheat and several mütt23 wheat. That is, they were ripped off the stock by the Indians’ hands since there are very few sickles to be found. Moreover, the Father has a most delightful and large garden, perhaps a quarter of an hour in length [walking], with plenty of grapes growing there to make enough wine for the offering of Mass. Would God give that wax would also grow there. We would collect it every day. There are various types of peaches, diverse types of figs, pomegranates, kütten [cotton], sugar cane, melons, Sandiás, pumpkin, etc. etc., everything in great quantities.
I only regret that I cannot eat anything of it because these fruit immediately cause me discomfort, although others eat of it totally safely and with pleasure. The next month we will harvest the Turkish corn, or maize, as they call it here and in Spain, at least thousand or more bushel, since the milpa or fields, are doing very well. We also hope to harvest several bushels of frijol, or beans, everything food for the Indians and for our nourishment. Hence, not everything has to be expensive and dry! However, apart from the planting, everything stays true what I have said above. hoc opus hic labor. [this work requires labor]. It is necessary for the production of this essential food that the people or the main place of the mission settle near a constantly flowing water so that through the help of our industriousness and labor everything can be irrigated and watered at the convenient time, which requires, however, a lot of heavy work. For that reason the horse is constantly saddled so that the Father can look around in all places to observe whether the Indians do their jobs or not. Mind you, if the Father does not supervise everything, it all fails. The Indians do not care. The Father does not find many reliable servants who would take over this worry from the Father. Only today I sent away [fired] a young guy [Neg. 51929] who did not steal little from my old Father. There are many like him who act like the [mountain?] lions who show up often (one Indian from this mission had killed one only a few days ago and brought it here. They are called tigers, wolves, coyotes, which are a little smaller than the wolves and are of the type of foxes and hurt the cattle on the fields. So, these local wolves rob and steal wherever they can, and there is no opportunity to hang those.
It might sound harsh, yet it is true: I live in a country where there are neither laws nor kings, and even God is not known here. Therefore there is much work to shape the heathens and also those who are already converted into a form. In fact, the Spaniards, that is the Capitan huius profidii totius Piméria alta [who controls the entire Pimería alta] together with some neighbors marched out against the wild heathens who just last week attacked some soldiers in their sleep and killed them. These Indians are called Seris, others de las Bócas, and others are called Tiburónes, who are mostly defected Christians who want to live only their own freedom and rather suffer from hunger in their mountains than to work in the community. For that reason they organize raids from time to time and rob everything which they encounter.
They steel horses, mules, oxen and cows, they kill more than just a few people; hence they cause great damage, burn down at night the huts of the Indians, in which many have already burnt alive. They live from what they conquer. Against these, as I have said, the Spaniards marched into the mountains in order to find them and to eliminate them because those had received many times the royal favor in vain. We expect here these days the desired return of this campaign. There are, however, much worse enemies in this country who are called apázaes [Apaches], of whom I have already written previously and of whom I will, if my work and time will permit me as much, and as I have it in mind, report more about in my expanded letter. This is the reason [for the lack of my time]: when I have to travel only a half day length, several armed soldiers have to accompany me who can protect me in the case of an emergency.
I can hardly travel from one tribe to the other, that is to those who belong to the mission, because everywhere there are enemies. If they murdered me, it would not even serve for martyrdom because such enemies know nothing of faith [they would simply kill out of hostility, and not for religious reasons]. But they simply do not want to tolerate foreigners in their land, they live by themselves for their freedom, and approach everyone with their hatred and sharpen it. Irrespective of all that I go there with God’s protection [Neg. 51930] where I am being called, be it far or near, just as the emergency requires it, and so far always without running in danger, which I attribute to the eager prayer of my dear relatives who are never going to forget me, just as I beg all my Highly Honorable friends in my most beloved and highly esteemed province to think of me in their holy sacrifices and prayers, so that God may keep me in response to that for a long time and with the desired results in these lands.
After all, although I am the least useful, my early death, like the death of the other few companions [the other missionaries] who live in this vast land, would cause not a little loss. Within these ten months that I have lived in this country I have learned so much of this rather difficult language with the help of God that I [could] give my first sermon in the open church on the feast day of the Holy Father, and since then three more, hoping for the good use and comfort of the Indians who expressed their thanks and said: the Father has made a good beginning.
Friends, this paper is running out.24 Be well, most beloved Honorable Brother, and this all the days. et die omnibus, omnibus salutem plurimam. de San Ignacio nuestro Pactne en Piméria alta [Latin: My best greetings to everyone from San Ignacio] nuestro Pactne en Piméria alta [Spanish: our Saint in Pimería alta] Septiembre 9, 10, 1732.
Phelire [sic] Segesser S.J.