Jesus Maria Salazar-Proctor-Elias (1873-1958)

What we do know

Jesus Maria Salazar was born in Mexico and lost her parents at a young age. On her daughter’s birth certificate, it is stated “mother birthplace: Hermosillo, Mexico”. [1] She went by Jesus, Jesusita, Jesusa, Chuyita and Chu. Chuy being a Spanish nickname for Jesus. Most items have her birth year as 1873 but others as 1871-72. Her exact birthday was not known, but it was usually celebrated May 6. She celebrated her 80th birthday in 1951 per Wielang source. She was a green thumb with a love of flowers.

She was adopted by Jose Salazar (1840-1885) and Teresa Leon Salazar (1841-1907) and lived with them in their Tucson home and on their ranch 27 miles south of Tucson (La Tesota). Jose and Teresa had 5 children; Jose jr, Francis, Pedro, Ramona, Alfred along with Jesus.  Jesus attended St. Augustine school in Tucson. Her adopted father Jose Salazar died suddenly in April 1885, Jesus losing yet another guardian by the age of 12. Jose’s probate papers: ” …children of the deceased and your petitioner except Jesus who was adopted by your petitioner and deceased as their child.” [2] NOTE: This could be the same Salazar’s who had a wagon train that freighted goods to and from Arizona, California and Mexico per AZ newspapers.

On November 5, 1888 she married Charles Anthony Proctor at St Augustine’s Cathedral in Tucson, AZ. CAP knew the Salazars and worked on the La Tesota Ranch. The Proctor’s and Salazars were also neighbors in Tucson.  After the wedding, CAP and Jesus lived in Canoa. CAP and Jesus had four boys and two girls. Charles Roque born in 1889, George Manuel in 1892, Henry Patrick in 1895, Frank Martin in 1897, Lucinda in 1903 and Marybelle in 1906. In the early 1900s, she moved with CAP when he worked at the Yuma territorial prison. She shared time between Tucson, Sopori, La Tesota and Box Canyon ranches by 1913.

Occasionally, ranch women saw some perks not common to women at that time. Yet, it was usually due to the dangerous and isolated conditions their husbands and family endured. In 1895 Charles A and Jesus exchanged a bill of sale for the Four Bars brand, (Cuatro Rayos) including all cattle and horses in his possession.  In 1914 she registered to vote in the Sopori precinct, Santa Cruz County with her son George. Her height is given as 5’10” but that was an obvious mistake, they most likely meant 4’10” as she never reached 5′.

Jesusita and 4 boys

At some point, Jesus begins an affair with Sopori neighbor Tomas Elias Jr. Elias Jr. was a younger, bigger guy and had some run ins with others locally. [3] Elias Jr. had threatened CAP over a water dispute. Jesus asked Elias Jr not to and saved her lover from killing her husband, no doubt she had some personal strife going on. A couple weeks before Charles died (1913), Jesus overdosed on laudanum and was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital by Charles. She recovered and returned to the ranch. Still things were not right; Charles was found dead in suspicious circumstances a couple weeks later. [More on Charles’ death]

The boys suspected that Elias Jr and their mom had something to do with their fathers (Charles) death. Jesus didn’t end the relationship with Elias Jr. It picked up and the family situation became more tense. She did not tell her family and quietly married Tomas Elias Jr in Nogales, AZ on September 10, 1915. Elias Jr was shot multiple times on the Sopori ranch on September 13, 1915 by two Proctor boys.  Frank testified later at the trial, “Went in through kitchen. Inside I walked ahead, saw Tomas Elias there, near a table, in a sitting position. Elias made as if to grab me, and made as if to get his gun; I drew my gun as quick as I could, fired several times and turned and ran.”

Jesus hired an attorney to fight against her two sons and ceased contact with all sons. She kept the sisters away from their older brothers, even the ones not involved. Frank L Proctor, who was living in California at the time, came to town and hired lawyers for his nephews, George and Frank. The law firm of Duffy and Purdom, assisted by Tom Richey, began gathering evidence to present a self defense case. People testified that Tomas Elias Jr. was known to be aggressive and violent towards the boys.  On November 6, 1915, George and Frank Proctor were declared not guilty and set free. Jesus wore black the rest of her life.

Jesus lived on the Sopori more a few more years. She became involved with Robert Catlett but ended up suing him for alienation of affection in 1930 and won. She didn’t get her requested amount of $50,000 but all property liens were payed. [4] In 1926 Jesus sold the Sopori ranch to Arthur Lee and moved to Tucson with her daughter, Mary on N. 6th Avenue. She rented out of her Tucson properties for income and took in a boarder after WWII, Fredrick Wielang. Fred was a widowed veteran with a young daughter in California. Fred married Mary and his daughter came out to Tucson. Jesus died December of 1958 in her Tucson home of a blocked intestine.

Her relationship with her children was forever changed in 1915. Jesus insisted Mary had little contact with her brothers. Lucinda became an intermediary between the “boys” and “girls”. Although Lucinda was also warned against her brothers, she had a relationship with all. Among the boys, Charles R had the most contact with his mother but in a measured fashion. George M would later secretly meet with Jesus at McLellan’s and have ice cream. This all seemed to be kept from Mary. Henry P felt his mother “turned against us” and avoided her at all costs. Frank M  – little to no contact.

She is buried at Evergreen Memorial Park in Tucson, AZ. Her headstone, J. Proctor Elias, is next to Charles A Proctor.

What we have been told

“It is suggested that her parents were killed by Indians or that they went someplace and failed to return. Left in the care of an older, married sister, she became ill, likely including diarrhea. Jesus was very young, perhaps two years old or less. The sister’s husband wanted the child out of the house and the sister went to Teresa and Jose Salazar and asked them to take her.” – From memories of what they heard as children, Adela Valenzuela Avila and Lucinda Proctor Gillespie as related to Mary L. G. Peterson in the 1980s. Adela is a grand daughter of Teresa & Jose Salazar.

“I vaguely recall Lucinda telling me that a man came to Jesus’ door sometime in the 1940s, wanted to talk with her, saying that he was her brother. She refused to talk with him and closed the door in his face. Lucinda heard the man at the door say he was her brother Soto from Magdalena. This occurred while she was living in a house in the south part of Tucson (6th Avenue). I remember staying for a time at that house with her. ” – Mary L. G. Peterson

“Her last name was Valenzuela but the Salazar’s raised her. She was down from Hermosillo. She was down there many years with the Salazar’s raising her. There was an old man that claimed he was her brother.” – Henry P. Proctor 1977

On an audio recording in 1987, Francisco B. Valenzuela also thought she was a Valenzuela prior to being adopted by the Salazar’s. FBV was Henry Proctor’s brother & father-in-law. Jesus was also listed as a witness on his marriage certificate to Juana Maldonado. “La Chu’s name was Valenzuela.” Did they think this because Jesus’s sister married a Valenzuela (Zenon)?

Attended St. Augustine school until age 10; had to leave school when Jose Salazar died. – Lucinda Proctor Gillespie and Adela Valenzuela Avila

While working on the Tesota Ranch, CAP became ill and Jesus nursed him to health.

[1] – Marybelle Proctor birth certificate

[2] – Jose Salazar’s probate papers page 2

[3] – Arizona Daily Star – 05/30/1914

[4] – Tucson Citizen 10/15/1930