Page 154. " What more than the wind's whim whether the faltering dome should prove sanctuary or sepulchre to a deranged old anchorite? "
Anachoreta (The Anchorite), by Teodor Axentowicz (1881)
Public Domain The Anchorite (1881), by Teodor Axentowicz - Credit: National Museum, Warsaw

An anchorite is a type of religious hermit, specifically referring to holy men who were willingly walled into small cells which were attached (‘anchored’) to a church or oratory. Free from the distractions of secular society, the anchorite could fully dedicate his life to prayer and asceticism.

Anchoress was the name given to women who practised this form of religious seclusion.


Page 159. " He passed through the town of Tamichopa which was levelled and burned by the Apaches on the day before Palm Sunday in the year seventeen fifty-eight "
Apache warrior Yenin Guy (c. 1903)
Public DomainApache warrior Yenin Guy (c. 1903) - Credit: Edward S. Curtis

The first Apache raids on Sonora appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. In the 1750s, the fiercest of all Apache tribes, the Chiricahua, began hunting and raiding along the mountainous frontier regions of both Sonora and Chihuahua.

As the end of the 18th century approached, the Apaches represented a major threat to the continued Spanish occupation of Sonora and Chihuahua, forcing the abandonment of many Spanish ranches, farms and mining centres throughout Chihuahua. Apache raiders also took a toll on many indigenous tribes within the area, displacing or assimilating many of the peoples. As a result, the Opata Indians, who controlled the major river valleys of Central Sonora, found it necessary to join the Pimas in forming an uneasy alliance with the Spanish against the Apaches.

This alliance was not able to save the Opata village of Tamichopa, however. Located on a plateau on the north side of the upper Rio Yaqui, a few miles from Bacerac, the village was abandoned after its destruction by Apache raiders in 1758.

Page 159. " in the early afternoon he entered the town of Bacerac which was the old town of Santa María founded in the year sixteen forty-two "

The settlement of Santa María de Bacerac was actually founded in the year 1645 by the Jesuit missionary Cristóbal García in Opata Indian territory.

Since 1493, the Kingdom of Spain had maintained a number of missions throughout Mexico, in order to spread the Christian doctrine among the local natives and facilitate Spanish colonisation.

These missions were particularly needed in Sonora, populated as it was by a number of disparate ethnicities which meant the Spanish could not simply co-opt one empire for domination purposes as they had done with the Aztecs in central Mexico. In addition, there was fierce Yaqui resistance to European intrusion on their lands.

Jesuit priests began to work in the Sonora area in the 1610s. They initially worked out a peaceful compromise with the 30,000 Yaquis allowing for the establishment of more than fifty mission settlements in the Sonora river valleys, before moving onto Opata, Pima and Tohono O’odham territories. Spanish exploration and missionary work was sufficient to consider the territory part of New Spain by 1637.

Page 160. " the clay olla hanging there in the darkness to cool the water in the night "
Native American ollas (Typical olla used for cooling water at botton left)
Public DomainNative American ollas (Typical olla used for cooling water at botton left) - Credit: New International Encyclopedia

An olla is a ceramic jar, usually with a short wide neck and a wider belly. They can be used for a number of purposes, from cooking soups or stews to water and food storage.

Clay ollas have been used for centuries by Indigenous peoples of the Americas as a means of keeping water cool. When an unglazed olla is filled with the water, the water permeates the clay walls of the vessel, causing the olla to ‘sweat’. The evaporation of the sweat cools the olla and its contents.

Page 161. " By noon he was in Colonia de Oaxaca "

Founded in 1892, Colonia Oaxaca was the sixth Mormon colony built in Sonora and Chihuahua towards the end of the 19th century.

In 1905 the town was devastated by flooding, and the settlement was abandoned. Most of the colonists relocated to Colonia Morelos or Colonia San Jose.

Page 171. " East and to the south there was water on the flats and two sandhill cranes stood tethered to their reflections "
Sandhill cranes
Creative Commons AttributionSandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) - Credit: Dawn Huczek

The Sandhill Crane is a large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia.

Billy will later witness the cranes making their annual migration south for the winter, where the birds form flocks of over 10,000 in their wintering areas.



Page 175. " and descended into the San Simon Valley "

The San Simon Valley runs through the northeast corner of Cochise County, Arizona, and continues into southwestern New Mexico.


The San Simon Valley (Cochise County, Arizona)
Creative Commons AttributionThe San Simon Valley (Cochise County, Arizona) - Credit: Karen and Brad Emerson