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Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes  (b. 1850, d. 1934)
Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes Former Hughes residence
Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes lived in early Tucson when it was Mexican territory and later when it became part of the U.S. When she was a girl, she married an American, Samuel Hughes, and together they raised eight children. Their marriage is representative of the common inter-marriage between Mexican women and American men. Her home, which is still standing, is typical of early residences in the downtown Tucson area.

Region: Tucson and Southern Arizona
Theme: Women in Domestic Life

Atanacia Santa Cruz was born in 1850 and lived in the Presidio during her early years. The Presidio was a military garrison, inhabited by about 300 people during her youth. Atanacia had little opportunity for formal education because no religious or public schools existed in Tucson. She learned how to sew and became an expert seamstress, making her own clothing and quilts. She watched the Presidio shift from Mexican to American control after the Gadsden Purchase transferred southern Arizona to the U.S. in 1854. A few years later, the first overland stage arrived in 1857.

Atanacia lost her parents as a girl and lived with her sister. In 1862 she married Samuel Hughes when he was 29 years old and she was nearly 12 years old. Sam Hughes became Tucson's first booster, helping to build churches and schools while also engaging in several businesses, working as Adjutant General of Arizona, Tucson councilman and a mine owner. Atanacia and Sam had fifteen children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. They brought the first Singer sewing machine to Tucson from San Francisco, after a trip there. Their marriage lasted 55 years, until Sam's death in 1917. Atanacia lived into her eighties, dying in 1934.

Their former residence is still standing at 223 N. Main Street. It was at first a small adobe building but expanded as their family did. Today it is a series of garden apartments that you can walk to or drive by. For more information about Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes, consult files at the Arizona Historical Society in Tucson.

This site is on the AWHT Tucson Walking Tour which begins at the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House. Brochures/maps will be available in May at the Tucson Visitors' Center in La Placita at 100 S. Church Ave.

Photo Credits:
Atanacia Santa Cruz Hughes (#18880) - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson
Former Hughes residence - © Peggy Price, photographer

 

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