An estimated 70 people attended Saturday’s commemoration of the start of the Mexican Revolution hosted by the Douglas Historical Society (DHS), at the Douglas-Williams House Museum on D Avenue.
The event featured an appearance by the Douglas China Poblana’s as well as talks from Douglas Ward 3 City Councilman Donnie Huish and Irene Rios Figueroa, an author and professor at the Colegio de Sonora, Hermosillo. Both men talked about the revolution and its impact on the Mormon refugees.
A performance by the Ballet Angeles de Agua Prieta was scheduled but canceled at the last moment.
The Mexican Revolution, not to be confused with the Mexican War of Independence, lasted approximately 10 years, beginning on Nov. 20, 1910.
According to local historian Cindy Hayostek, every November the DHS selects an event to commemorate the start of the Mexican Revolution.
“The theme we picked this year was the Mormon exodus out of the colonies from Sonora and Chihuahua to Douglas and what happened because all those Mormons came here and many ended up staying here.,” she said.
Professor Figueroa has written a book called “Colonia Morelos”, which is on sale for $30 at the Douglas Williams House.
Huish spoke about what many of his ancestors did once they got here. He called his presentation “Colonia Morelos to Douglas: A story of the Huish family exodus.”
“Today I would like to speak about my ancestors, who found themselves in need of refuge in the summer of 1912 at the time of the Mexican Revolution,” he said. “My grandparents, Jesse and Katie Huish, had to seek refuge in Douglas just two and a half years into their marriage. My great-grandfather, Lorenzo Huish, along with his family also sought, and received, refuge in Douglas.”
Huish later said some 450 members of the Mormon Church fled to Douglas in 60 lumber wagons. Upon arrival at Douglas, the refugees found that the United States government had furnished them with tents and supplies. A tent-town was set up in the area which is now Joe Causey Park on 15th Street. The city supplied water free of charge and offered the children to attend public schools. The federal government offered free transportation to anywhere in the United States where the Church members might care to resettle. Many took advantage of that offer, but Jesse and Katie wanted to make Douglas their new home.
“They were always grateful to the loving community of Douglas for the kindness they offered them in their time of need,” Donnie said. “To this day, Douglas has offered its kindness to numerous people seeking a peaceful place to raise a family.”
The Haymore and Haynie families followed and in 1932, a formal Church building was erected on the southeast corner of 12th Street and C Avenue. The building still stands. The members used that building until the current structure was built in 1972.
“I think the lessons they learned from being refugees, being accepted and welcomed in Douglas, permeated throughout their life,’ Donnie said. “I always found their home to be a refuge for me from the difficulties of life, always feeling loved and protected. I am reminded of this as I pass by their homes on Fifth Street. I am reminded of this as I visit their gravesites, along with many other family members, at Calvary Cemetery.
“I imagine that most people would not describe Douglas as a place of refuge, but my family has always seen Douglas as a community of caring, loving individuals and families. A place where you would want to raise a family, surrounded by good, God fearing people. A place that honors veterans and loves their country. A place that rallies around someone in need. A place that believes in Christian values. Yes, a place of refuge.”
The Douglas Williams House is open Wednesday and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. and by special appointment.