The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring 1973, Volume 19, Number 2
James E. Moss, Editor
David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
Foundlings on the Frontier. Racial and Religious Conflict in Arizona Territory, 1904 1905. By A. Blake Brophy. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1972. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. Notes. 129 pages. Softbound. $3.95.
Foundlings on the Frontier recounts a bizarre example of injustice toward Mexicans in the Southwest. The episode began when forty light-skinned children, who had been sent from a Roman Catholic orphanage in New York, arrived in the mining community of Clifton-Morenci, Arizona Territory, in 1904, where they were to be assigned to Mexican-American foster parents.
Entrusting light-skinned children to parents of Mexican descent aroused the indignation of Anglo-Americans in Clifton-Morenci. The Anglos formed a vigilante group and took the newly-adopted children from their “half-breed” parents by force. Neither the Mexican foster parents nor the New York orphanage was able to get the children back from the Anglo families who had seized them. The Arizona Supreme Court, in a popular decision, pronounced that a mistake had been made in the first place, by giving the children to the Mexican miners — termed by the court, “degraded half-breed Indians.” The orphanage never recovered the children.
A. Blake Brophy’s short narrative of this lamentable incident is well-documented, lively, and sensitive, apparently reflecting the author’s experiences as both historian and journalist.