National Hispanic Heritage Month – Estévan Ochoa

During the course of the 19th century, businessman and politician Estévan Ochoa was among the Hispanic Americans who helped pioneer and sustain vital transportation services in what is now the southwestern United States. Ochoa was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, in 1831. His family’s enterprises included a freight-hauling business on the Santa Fe Trail, a major transportation route between Santa Fe (the capital of the Mexican territory of Santa Fe de Nuevo México until being acquired by the United States in 1846 as part of the territory of New Mexico) and Independence, Missouri. Ochoa took part in his family’s horse-drawn wagon runs along the Santa Fe Trail, and in the process, he learned a great deal about potential freight opportunities throughout the region.

After the Mexican-American War, Ochoa ended up leaving Chihuahua to settle in the new U.S. territory of New Mexico. One of his subsequent business ventures involved helping to establish a freighting and mercantile firm in the then-village of Mesilla (likewise a part of present-day New Mexico). One of the firm’s earliest initiatives entailed having a large convoy of wagon trains deliver supplies to Tucson, which was still part of the territory of New Mexico at the time. Ochoa eventually moved to Tucson and made it his home.

After the Mexican-American War, Ochoa ended up leaving Chihuahua to settle in the new U.S. territory of New Mexico. One of his subsequent business ventures involved helping to establish a freighting and mercantile firm in the then-village of Mesilla (likewise a part of present-day New Mexico). One of the firm’s earliest initiatives entailed having a large convoy of wagon trains deliver supplies to Tucson, which was still part of the territory of New Mexico at the time. Ochoa eventually moved to Tucson and made it his home.When that portion of the New Mexico territory was claimed by the Confederate States of America (CSA) in 1861, Ochoa remained a loyal citizen of the Union. He refused to swear a loyalty oath to the

When that portion of the New Mexico territory was claimed by the Confederate States of America (CSA) in 1861, Ochoa remained a loyal citizen of the Union. He refused to swear a loyalty oath to the CSA and was therefore compelled to leave Tucson on horseback with only a couple of saddlebags and a rifle. Ochoa then made a grueling journey of 250 miles to reach Union troops stationed on the Rio Grande.

After the Union regained control of Tucson, Ochoa returned there and resumed his freight-hauling operations in what was now part of the newly created territory of Arizona. Ochoa’s firm ensured the reliable delivery of goods to and from the region, serving as a crucial link between Tucson and the outside world throughout the 1860s and 1870s. The firm also ran a stagecoach line directly connecting Tucson with both Yuma and Santa Fe.

Along with coordinating these transportation enterprises, Ochoa served as mayor of Tucson and a member of the House of Representatives of the Arizona Territorial Legislature. He died in 1888 at the age of 57.

For more information about Estévan Ochoa, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estevan_Ochoa

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