Aguilar and Munoz Family

The Aguilar history in Arizona goes back to 1914. When Modesta Aguilar Munoz was only forty days old, her parents, Justo and Rita traveled by railroad from Mexico to southern Arizona. Justo, Modesta’s father, had worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The family, which included Modesta and her brothers, Juan, Miguel, Refugio, Tony, Jose, and Frank, and her sisters, Catalina, Maria Luisa, and Carmen came to the Bisbee area.

In the Bisbee area, Justo worked for the mine. He developed asthma and decided to stop mining. The people in Bisbee collected money to help the family in their travels. In December of 1921, the Aguilar family traveled north by horse-drawn wagons for a week, and stopped in Chandler. They intended to go to California, but never left Chandler.

Upon arrival in Chandler in 1922, they lived in a tent camp owned by the Chandler Improvement Company, located between Washington Street and Arizona Avenue. The family lived there for one year, then moved to company homes on Hidalgo Road. The family bought four parcels of land for $25.00 each. The majority of the residents were people of Mexican decent. She describes those neighbors as really friendly and very helpful. Everybody treated each other like family, and neighbors knew each other. 

Justo and Rita had citrus trees, a big vegetable garden, and pigs. They enjoyed the lush green valley, cotton fields and hay fields around them. Modesta and her family members found work among these fields--picking cotton and baling hay allowed them to make money to contribute to the family. Modesta remembers how much fun and work the traditional tamalada involved, when her dad killed and dressed a pig for tamales. Most Mexican families attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church and they danced at the Baltizar dance hall on Saragosa Street, owned by Angela Carreaga’s father. 

The Great Depression hit a lot of people. There was no work available and so food didn’t come easy, but her family didn’t really suffer because her father kept a large garden, as well as chickens and pigs for food. World War II had a great effect on Modesta and her parents, due to the absence of her brothers Frank, Joe, Cuco and Tony. They worried because Frank and Joe were in the middle of all the war action. One was in Germany and the other in the Pacific Islands.

Modesta attended Cleveland School in Chandler, and stopped going to school after ninth grade. She met her husband Ramon Munoz during her school years, but they began dating years later when they met at a Christmas party. They were married in 1936. She and Ramon had three children: Roy, Virginia, and Tencha. Modesta worked in different jobs, such as the Styrofoam Cup Company and the Lazy Lodge. The Munoz family lived on Kesler Lane in south Chandler, some of the best years of Modesta’s life. 

Modesta remembers fondly her Kesler Lane neighbors on whom she could rely. She enjoys her family, especially the six grandchildren, eight great- grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren and one great- great-great grandchild. She has been a member of the Senior Center for many years. Out of six brothers and four sisters, she, at 91 years young, is the sole survivor of that generation of the Aguilar family

Rita and Jose Aguilar, 1920
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.80


Tony Aguilar and unidentified friends during World War II
Chandler Museum Collection, 2005.38.81