Monday, July 31, 2017

Maria Esther

Source: Ancestry. Maria Esther Suastegui, US Passport application, 22 Apr 1921.

Last week I started to recount the family of my 5th-great-grandfather Francisco Suastegui. While looking into information on Maria Engracia Suastegui, sister of my 4th-great-grandfather Pedro Suastegui, I found articles and references to Maria Engracia's half-sisters Maria Esther and Mariana. They had a close connection to Maria Engracia, and I thought their stories were worthy of remembering here on the blog. Perhaps there are descendants of Maria Esther Suastegui who may stumble onto this information.

Maria Esther Suastegui was born on 27 December 1857 in Magdalena, Sonora. She was a daughter of Francisco Suastegui and his second wife Concepcion Menendez. She was baptized on 14 February 1858 in Magdalena, Sonora. The baptism record misspells her mother's name as Mendoza.
Source: FamilySearch. Mexico Catholic Church Records, Image 102.
Maria Esther moved to the Arizona Territory sometime between 1870 and 1874. Just before her 20th birthday, she married Albert Gallatin Post on 20 December 1877 in Yuma, Arizona. He was a school teacher in Yuma, originally from Essex County, New York. Maria Esther and Albert had three children:
1. Mary Post, born 7 January 1879, died in May 1886
2. Asa Francisco Post, born 4 October 1881 in Yuma, died on 30 April 1966
3. Mariana Anita Calneh Post, born 7 January 1885, died 10 September 1938 (named after her grandmother Calneh Ames Post).

After the birth of their first child, Albert became the manager of a fruit and vegetable stand attached the Yuma Post Office. He sold that business in August 1879. He later became manager of a general store in Yuma, and was appointed to the Board of Supervisors for the county in the early 1880s.
Arizona Sentinel, 8 Feb 1879. 

In the 1880 US Census, the family appears in Yuma, Arizona. Maria Esther's sister Mariana was living with them. This arrangement provided the connection between Mariana and Albert's younger brother Garland Post.

In 1884, Albert and Maria Esther hosted the wedding of Mariana and Garland. The wedding was described in Arizona Sentinel newspaper, and I will share a copy of the article in my follow-up post on Mariana.

Albert became ill in 1885, very likely from liver cancer, and died on 2 April 1886 while seeking treatment in Tucson. The Arizona Sentinel ran a lengthy tribute to him the following day. The tribute also provides more color into the character of Maria Esther, as she cared for him in Tucson while other family watched their children back in Yuma.
Arizona Sentinel, 3 Apr 1886.
Maria Esther must have been a very strong woman. After the death of her husband, she lost her daughter Mary one month later. She took the proceeds from Albert's estate and bought a 160 acre ranch homestead in the Mohawk Valley near Yuma in 1890. It is interesting to see two of her future husbands (Peter Munson and James H. Graham) served as witnesses on her homestead claim:
Arizona Sentinel, 18 Oct 1890.
Esther married Peter Munson (often spelled as Monson) on 28 December 1890 in Yuma County, Arizona. Peter was a Swedish immigrant and land owner in Mohawk Valley. In August 1891, he took Esther and family to San Francisco. Munson later planted a vineyard and an orchard on his homestead.
Arizona Sentinel, 9 Jan 1892.
In 1892, Peter became a foreman with the Southern Pacific Railroad. Esther delivered a son, John Peter Munson, on 5 September 1892 while the family was in Los Angeles, California. Esther made regular visits there in 1893, 1894 and 1896 while the weather was hot in Yuma. She clearly enjoyed visiting Los Angeles and its seaside resorts. Perhaps this is something that was passed down from her father Francisco.

In 1895, Esther took a lengthy trip back to Mexico to visit family. A recap of the trip made it into the Arizona Sentinel, and it provides useful detail on connections to other members of the Suastegui family. Magdalena was the town of her birth, so it makes sense she would take her children there. The article says she was the guest of an uncle in Imuris, but I cannot tell who this might have been. The brother in Nogales was likely her half-brother, Jesus Suastegui.
Arizona Sentinel, 27 Apr 1895.

Esther divorced Peter Munson sometime before 1900. She appears as divorced in the 1900 US Census in Yuma, her occupation was a landlord. According to articles in the Arizona Sentinel, she owned multiple homes in Yuma as early as 1892 and made regular improvements to these homes on her own.
Source: Ancestry. 1900 US Census, Yuma, Arizona.

Esther later moved to Imuris, Sonora with her former neighbor from Mohawk Valley, James H. Graham. Graham was a prominent land owner in Yuma and at the time was working for the Sonora Railroad in Imuris. She and James were married in Nogales, Arizona on 25 July 1903. News of their wedding appeared in the Yuma newspaper in April 1904.
Arizona Sentinel, 27 Apr 1904.
To put the location in perspective, below is a map showing the current routes between Yuma, Arizona and Imuris, Sonora. I have also extended the map to show Los Angeles and San Diego, regular places where Esther and James visited.
Source: Google Maps.
In the 1910 US Census, Esther appears with husband James living back in Yuma, Arizona. She maintained her own occupation as a landlady of her rooming houses. They were still living in Yuma during the 1920 US Census with Esther's daughter Anita Post, who was then a language professor at a state university.

To take the story further, I need to write about Esther's daughter Anita, her work as a language professor, and her extensive travels. Anita's travels provided an opportunity for Esther to see the world outside Arizona, California and Sonora. As a frequent traveler myself, this part of the story really held my attention. Esther applied for a US Passport in 1921, but this was not her first trip outside North America. The passport application itself deserves its own post.

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