Muniz & Careaga Family

Reynaldo & Pauline Careaga
Picture taken at 130 S. Delaware St, 1940s
Courtesy of Mollie Careaga Muniz

The Careaga family settled in Chandler in 1922 when Bartolo Careaga was employed by Dr. Chandler.  Bartolo and his wife Rosa Navarro were both born in Sonora, Mexico, the state which borders Arizona.  Bartolo was a blacksmith by trade. He worked the copper mines, shoeing the mules, which were used at the mines to extract ore prior to the use of mechanized vehicles.  As a young couple with two children, Bartolo and Rosa moved to Arizona from Sonora, living in various locations in Arizona before settling in Chandler.

Bartolo and Rosa raised ten children in Arizona including a nephew, Abelardo Navarro. Their children were:  Carmela, Jose Maria, Nancy, Frances, Rosario (Chalo), Reynaldo (born in Phoenix 1913), Victor, Philomena, Maria Jesus, Rose, and Salvador.  Bartolo and Rosa Careaga bought a home at 130 S Delaware St in Chandler in the late 1920’s.  Bartolo passed away in January 1961 and Rosa Careaga lived at the family home until her death at age ninety-three in 1979.  The youngest daughter, Rose, lived in the home until the City of Chandler purchased the property in the late 1980’s to build the new Fire and Police facilities along Delaware Street.

During the Great Depression, work was scarce. In order to make the $10 mortgage payment each month on the family home, it required the work of the entire Careaga family. Three of the Careaga sons, Rosario, Reynaldo, and Victor—and the nephew, Abelardo-- served in the armed forces during World War II. All returned home to marry and raise families of their own.

Reynaldo married Pauline Valenzuela of Chandler in 1941 and lived in Chandler until 1966, when they moved the family to Esparto, California. Reynaldo and Pauline had thirteen children, two of them still living in Chandler, Reynaldo Careaga Jr. and Mollie Careaga Muniz, a retired City of Chandler employee.  Reynaldo Sr. worked as a laborer for Bogle Farms around Chandler doing various jobs—irrigating alfalfa and cotton fields, working at the mill that processed the alfalfa for animal feed and the cotton gin in Ocotillo.

The Careaga family was the first in the neighborhood to have a television, which all of the neighbor kids would go over to watch.  The family held big birthday parties, and everyone was invited.

Chandler of the 50’s and 60’s that Rey Jr. and Mollie remember was a town where the central square was the main business and entertainment district.  In addition to several clothing stores, including J.C. Penney’s, there were two movie theaters “downtown” which they attended almost on a weekly basis.  The little league baseball games were a great source of entertainment in the spring and summer.  The games fostered a great sense of community as each team was sponsored by a local merchant whose name was prominently displayed on the team shirts.  The Maxwell Days held each spring “downtown” brought the shoppers out to see what bargains were available on the sidewalk in front of each store.

For the Careaga Family as well as for most Mexican-American families in Chandler, St. Mary’s Catholic Church provided spiritual support from baptism to the grave. While their father rarely attended church, their mother attended faithfully. She would sit right up front and make the children do likewise. Rey and Mollie joined the Catholic Youth Organization.  Hundreds of baptisms, first communions, confirmations, weddings and funerals took place at St. Mary’s, then located on the northwest corner of Chandler Boulevard and Colorado Street. Now passersby see an empty lot; but it is full of memories for many long time residents.

Rey and Mollie remember one community activity in particular. After the death of someone in the neighborhood, the community would gather in the person’s home for nine days following the death.  Mourners recited the Rosary and said many prayers.

As kids growing up in cotton growing country, Rey and his brothers as well as many other Hispanics residents picked cotton to help support their families.  The contractors would drive around the Hispanic and Black neighborhoods and provide a ride in their trucks to anyone wanting a job picking cotton.  Besides picking cotton, there were jobs harvesting hay, working the cotton gins and other farm work that were done primarily by the Hispanic farm workers. Through their work, they made important contributions to the economy.

Over time, Chandler has changed.  Not all the long-time families have stayed. The city has grown fast.  Much of the area that was once farmland has been industrialized. Rey and Mollie miss the sense of community that once existed in their old neighborhood.

Biographical Research and Biography Submitted by Paul Brown

Rosa Navarro Careaga and Bartolo Careaga at 130 S. Delaware St., early 1950s