Atanacia Hughes, early Tucson history
Last month’s blog featured Sam Hughes, an original Tucson, AZ pioneer settler. This month we feature his wife, Atanacia Hughes – originally Atanacia Santa Cruz. Her family lived in Tucson when it was still part of Mexico. At the time of her birth in 1850 the area now known as the Presidio historic neighborhood, was a military garrison housing approximately 300 people. Indian raids were not uncommon in those days.
There were no schools or churches at that time so young women learned to sew, and keep house, but not much else. Atanacia Hughes’ parents died when she was very young and she lived with her sister. In 1862 at the age of 11 years & 7 months, Atanacia married the 29 year old Sam Hughes. The huge age difference was not a problem legally or for them and the marriage endured for 55 years until Sam’s death.
According to Hughes family members who stayed at Sam Hughes Inn Bed & Breakfast for a reunion years ago, at the time of their marriage, Atanacia Hughes didn’t speak English and Sam didn’t speak Spanish. During their long marriage she is reported to have given birth to fifteen children, eight of whom survived. Twelve of these children lived long enough to have been given names.
Atanacia Hughes died on November 12, 1934 and is buried in Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson.
The Sam Hughes family home is still located at 223 N. Main St. at Washington Street, close to the Tucson Museum of Art. Its exterior is exactly as it was when the Hughes family lived in it although the insides are now apartments.
If you take the walking tour of Tucson, pick up a walking map called “The Turquoise Trail” at the Visitors Center at 100 S. Church Street. The Sam Hughes house is listed on the tour although there is no sign in front of the property.
Sam Hughes Inn Bed & Breakfast was named for Sam Hughes (the pioneer settler) and the historic neighborhood it resides in. Visitors here can find information about the life of Sam & Atanacia Hughes as well as photographs of them. Just as the University of Arizona is an easy walk from Sam Hughes, the Arizona Historical Society is also a short distance away and contains many artifacts from the Hughes life in Tucson.