Structure of the Porifian Nogales Society


From itīs beginnings, the Nogales society is characterized by their close links, not only familiar but also economical, even though the Sonoran society (and even more the Nogales Society) was much less monopolistic that those from other regions of the country: Here, no family will control the land as happened in Chihuahua, nor trade as in other parts of Mexico. However, the Nogales Society adopted the culture of extended families. In Nogales, as Stuart Voss wrote: you will find representatives from the notable families that were so not only in the local level, but also in the Districts as well as the State. the beginning of Nogales:

The notable families from the porfirism in Nogales were:


Manuel Mascareñas Porras, son of Cayetano Mascareñas (born in 1814 in Chihuahua) and of Guadalupe Porras (born ca. 1832). Cayetano was a politician, military, poet and Governor of Durango when the French arrived in 1864. He fought against them, while his son Manuel, who was born on October 23, 1848 in Durango, would marry in Guaymas on March 23, 1873 to Luisa Navarro Montijo, daughter of Cayetano Navarro (who was the Prefecto of the Guaymas District) and ofTrinidad Montijo.

The sons of Manuel and Luisa were: Manuel, born in Guaymas on February 6, 1874, Alberto in Guaymas on March 10, 1876; Guillermo in Guaymas on May 18, 1877, and María Luisa.

Manuel Mascareñas Porras would move to Hermosillo, where he associated in a commercial business with Rafael Ruiz, and when Nogales was born, he ended his association with Ruiz and acquired Santa Bárbara, moving in 1885 to Nogales.


William Barnett, an Englishman born in Cornwall in 1832, was brought by his parents, John Barnett and Rebecca to America, to Virginia, where they established a transportation company.

From there, William separated from his family and came to Hermosillo, Sonora, around 1850, where he married Juana Sanchez. She was a sister of Delfina and Amparo Sanchez, who married the brothers Richard and Manuel Johnson, as well of Refugio Sanchez, married to Jose Maria Miranda.

William Barnett and Juana Sánchez, established a store in Villa de Seris, near Hermosillo, and by the middle of the 1860´s they had adquired La Arizona Ranch, and would keep acquiring nearby ranches, among others: La Morita, Planchas de Plata, Las borregas, Viacrucis, Jotaiqui, La Plomosa, Tinaja Colorada, etc.


Two brothers, Próspero and Aurelio Sandoval, born in Guaymas and sons of Jose V. Sandoval, who had been Guaymas Mayor in 1856, established the first Customs Agency in Nogales, on December 5, 1884, and their family businesses would extend not only throughout Sonora but also in the United States, in Arizona and California.


The Elias Family represent in Nogales the Rancher dimension of Society, that is the precapitalist sector.

This family was related to the Aguirres, a family who owned a transportation company by mules throughout Northern Sonora and Southern Arizona. They were related to Mariano Samaniego, a rich rancher from Tucson. They would also relate to the Romeros, who was a family that established along the Santa Cruz River in colonial times.


The Joffroy family, although originally from Europe, by the time of the Founding of Nogales had been in this region for some time. The grandfather of Alejandro, Lorenzo Joffroy, had married in Sonora to Margarita Islas, and their son, Luis, who was born around 1846 and married to Maria Marquez, would father Alejandro among other sons. Alejandro was born in Ures on April 23, 1874. By 1880, the family had moved to Magdalena, where Luis would work as a lawyer, and by 1895 they were living in Nogales, where he owned a store in Planchas de Plata.


The brothers, Enrique and Agustin Donnadieu, arrived to Mexico from Barcelonette, France. By 1890 they were living in Nogales, where they opened the store "La Ciudad de Mexico." However, differently from many other young men from the same region in France who came only for a few years, they decided to stay in this town, where they formed their families.

Family Relationships

Alberto Mascareñas (son of Manuel Mascareñas, owner of Buenavista and Santa Barbara) married to Eloisa Ramirez, daughter of Cirilo Ramirez (who had been Secretary to Governor Ignacio Pesqueira and Interim Governor of Sonora); his brother Guillermo married to Delfina Paredes (also related to the Pesqueira family); while Manuel Mascareñas Jr. married to Margarita Miranda, niece of Juana Sanchez, who was the wife of Guillermo Barnett (owner of La Arizona).

One of the sons of Guillermo Barnett, Enrique Barnett Sanchez, married to Maria Luisa Pierson (daughter of Jose Pierson, owner of Cibuta and the Terrenate flour mill); while Alberto Barnett Sanchez married to Virginia Gaxiola Lucero, related to the Elias from Northeastern Sonora.

The Proto family were related to the same Elias family, to the Maytorena and Joffroy.

These family relations were also reflected in the local economy. The principal haciendas within the municipality: Santa Barbara and La Arizona, didn´t compite among themselves as, besides their owners being related, their geographic market was different: along the Santa Cruz River, and the Altar District respectively, and because their production was different.

The other great local economic activity, Customs Broker Agencies, didn´t compite either among themselves. There was one owned by Prospero Sandoval (married to Guadalupe, sister of Cirilo Ramirez) and Aurelio Sandoval; another by Cirilo Ramirez (married to Catalina Maytorena), and another whose owner was Alejandro Joffroy (married to Aurelia Maytorena, sister to Catalina).

The local commerce was already internationally established by then. The population of Nogales Sonora bought most of their food and clothing on the US side of the border, at La Iberia, owned by the Escalada Family, while the European luxury items were sold on the Mexican side by the French Colony, either at La Ciudad de Mexico of the Donnadieu Brothers, or La Moda, owned by Leon Horvillieur, who had originally been established in the Camou building (located in front of International Monument No 122), and who would move in 1899 to a brick building who was built to that end.

At the time of the beginning of the revolution, the Municipality had four Haciendas: Buenavista, Cibuta, La Arizona and Santa Barbara. There were also five ranches: Agua Zarca, Destiladera, Promontorio, Viacrucis and Planchas de Plata. All together, they employed around 100 workers who received $1.50 in daily payment.

All of these Haciendas and ranches were devoted mainly to cattle raising, while agriculture was distributed as follows: Santa Barbara and Buenavista, irrigated by the Santa Cruz River, produced mainly cereals (wheat and corn) and vegetables, while La Arizona produced vegetables, soap and canned fruit (in 1895 it produced 3,500 cans of peaches, 1,500 of apples, and 200 of pears, besided canned condensed milk). To the South, Cibuta produced vegetables and cereals.

Nogales had, in 1910 a population of 3,856. There were 44 KM of streets in town, none of which were paved. The Telephone company had around 40 subscriptors, and there were two grammar schools in two contiguous buildings, with a student population of 128 girls and 112 boys. The town had 600 homes made with different materials, as well as 20 public buildings. There was an office of the Banco de Sonora, and three hotels: El Moderno, Paris, and Sonora. There was also the International Club, as well as factories of sewing machines, of wheat pastas, matches, clothing and shoes. Besides there was the American Clothing Store, owned by Luis B. Fleischer, and two smaller soda drinks bottlers.

In the haciendas and ranches within the municipality, there were 9,000 cows, 700 horses and 300 sheep.

The best census of Porfirist Sonora was made by Ramon Corral, in 1895. According to it, Nogales had then 7 unemployed men in an "economically active population" (that is the total of adults) of 729 men. That means there was a very small unemployment rate.

In other words, there wasn´t lack of employment, and the salary conditions were better than in other parts of Mexico: The first Minimun Wage Law established by the revolutionary government in Mexico, established $1.50 as the Minimum Wage. However, as I said previously, this salary had been established locally since the Porfirism.

The real reasons of social unrest which would eventually bring the mexican revolution were, locally, different. We will deal with them, however, when the time comes.