The Caviglia Family

by Mary Kasulaitis

Bernardo Caviglia arrived in Arivaca in 1887. He was born in Genoa, Italy, and had come to America in 1876 with several other Italians. After spending some time in Nevada and Leadville, Colorado, they settled near Tombstone. Bernardo told the story this way: “Of course we had to travel through a very bad Indian country where we heard of three men having been recently killed but the Indians did not bother us. One Indian was even so kind as to take me up behind him on his horse and ride me for a short distance. He wanted me to get on in front but I objected. We were walking and driving a couple of burros in front of us with our blankets, etc. Guess the Indian just wanted to see if we had any money or not and when he found that we had none he decided he had allowed me to ride far enough.

“We threw in our lot with five or six Italian farmers from California who were supplying Tombstone and the country between there and the San Pedro River (with vegetables) . . .We had a few cattle too. We were on the roundup in 1883 when Geronimo was out on a raid and several Mexicans were killed just across the line. Never had any of my stock stolen either by Indians or rustlers but had a man come into my house and steal some money and a pistol. Have a good idea who it was but that did me no good, things went on just the same. . .”

Bernardo moved to Arivaca in 1887. He first homesteaded in the canyon where Arivaca Lake now lies. Nicknamed Bartolo, the mountain behind the lake and a well are named for him. (There was also a Bartolo Avancino, who had lived with Bernardo)

In 1893 he married Pastora Vega of Oro Blanco. They had one son, Angelo, who was born in December of 1894. Pastora died in childbirth. Bernardo said, “We had only been married 10 months and 12 days when his mother died and I have been a widower ever since.” He purchased the Rita Mora homestead above Alamo Park, east of Arivaca, and lived there for some time. Bernardo started a store in Arivaca, in what is now the Culling residence on Main Street. He was a frugal and careful man, and at the time of his death owned many parcels of land in Arivaca valley. Besides those properties mentioned, he owned the Calera Ranch, about four miles north east of Arivaca, and several in Tucson, including the Parkview Hotel. In an interview with Mrs. George Kitt in 1928, he said, “Arivaca is not as it used to be. When I first came there were lots of ranches around but now they are all eaten up by the big companies. We manage to make a pretty good living though and when I get real tired of the store I lock it up, put the key in my pocket and come to town.

Bernardo died August 6, 1932 and is buried in the Arivaca cemetery. The rest of the family carried on.

Bernardo’s brother, Angelo, had come to San Francisco and had a nightclub there. In the 1906 earthquake he lost everything and soon found his way to Arizona where he had bars in Bisbee and the Clifton-Morenci area. He died in Pirtleville in 1941 and was buried in Douglas.

Bernardo’s son Angelo followed in his uncle’s footsteps and constructed a bar and cafe on the corner where Arivaca Road meets the Fraguita Road. (Lately the corner house renovated by Nell Smets.) Known as Caviglia’s Cafe, it was built only after the teetotaling Bernardo had passed away in 1932. Ray Caviglia remembered that Jose Garcia (Chochi) built the cafe and remodeled the house to the east.

Angelo Caviglia entertained the whole territory. He had tardeadas and horse races, dances and barbecues. Armando Membrila recalled a typical activity: “Whenever they had a fiesta they had horse races at Alamo Park and everybody would go to Alamo Park for a barbeque and the horse races. There was a straight stretch of ground where they used to race. In fact, Arthur Noon’s horse raced against Caviglia’s horse one time. Caviglia had a beautiful horse. They called him El Vallo because he was a light tan. Arthur had a horse called El Rentito because he was a black horse, a beautiful horse, and they raced. In fact my sister Martha’s boyfriend, was the jockey for Arthur’s horse. His name was Lorenzo Bareda. Anyway, Arthur’s horse lost badly. El Vallo was a real good racehorse. He was long and sleek and El Rentito was just a little cowpony. I guess Arthur Noon just put him up there to give the people a race. Because he lost by about five or six horse lengths. El Vallo raced quite a few different horses and he always won. He never lost. They took real good care of him. He was just a real sleek, long racehorse. He ran against other horses until they all decided they couldn’t beat El Vallo so they quit racing him because they had to bet money, you know. And El Vallo was just too good of a horse. I remember that particular race because my dad got real enthused about it and so did we. Most of the times when there was a feast day like Día San Juan they would have a barbecue or something.” People came from Sasabe and Buenos Aires, Ruby and Amado to party with Angelo.

Angelo also maintained the Calera Ranch, assisted by his Encinas cousins. He also built the reservoir at milepost 3 on Arivaca road, known as Caviglia Tank.

Angelo had married Luz Encinas from Oro Blanco. They had seven children. Around 1940, when Arivaca appeared to be on the downswing, Angelo decided to sell out. He moved his family to Tucson where the prospects appeared better. There he opened another bar.

Angelo and Luz’s son, Ramón (Ray) married Diane Aguirre Hamilton of Tucson. Diane was the great granddaughter of Pedro Aguirre, who was one of Arivaca’s founders and who built the old School. Diane was very involved with historic preservation in Tucson, but passed away of cancer in 1994. The Caviglia-Arivaca branch of Pima County Public Library is named in her honor.

Ray Caviglia passed away on June 20, 2005. Ray had always been very interested in Arivaca history and helpful to those who listened to his stories about growing up in Arivaca in the 1920s and 30s. His surviving children are Ron, Gary, Debbie and Cathy and many grandchildren. His sister Bernardina and his brothers Simon and Arthur have also passed. Brother Albert survives them.

Ray and Diane Caviglia interviews, Armando Membrila interview, Arizona Historical Society biofiles

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