Mesa Family

Margarito Mesa was born in 1903 in Durango, Mexico, and Librada Moreno Mesa was born in 1901 in Sinaloa, Mexico. The couple married in the late 1910s and came to Arizona around 1918. They had eight children between 1923 and 1939: Margarita, Bernie, Joe, Willie, Mary, Felix, Paul and Librada (Chayo). The family moved from Phoenix to the Goodyear/Ocotillo area in the mid 1930s. The family worked in many cotton and farm fields. The children were raised in the Goodyear area in an area called Camp One, where most of the Mexican workers lived. The Camp is now the site of Snedigar Park and the old Compadre baseball stadium.

The children attended the old Goodyear School and became friends with the Felix family. Willie Mesa remembers the four school classrooms that held more than one grade per room, and that they had to use outhouses for restrooms. He recalled swimming in the Goodyear canal, which was “deep, nice, cool, and clean.” He also remembered watching cowboy movies at the Rowena Theater for the admission price of eleven cents, and that the town’s public swimming pool was segregated.

The Mesa family also traveled to different farming areas in the Valley, where they lived in migrant camps and worked. They lived in Gilbert, Eloy, and in a small farming town in the west Valley called Marionette. Much of the family eventually settled in Chandler. Margarito passed away in 1944. The oldest Mesa boys left high school early in order to make ends meet for the family.  Willie recalls, “We just had to make it on our own. We had to support ourselves, we had to support our younger sisters and my two younger brothers. We all had to work.” He remembers picking 450 to 500 pounds of cotton a day, starting at 6 a.m. He could earn about $15 per day.

Willie remembers the Chandler area back in the 1940s: “It was nothing but agricultural land. You could see the mountains. The skies were nice and blue, and clear, and there was no smog. Once in a while you’d see the dust when a dust storm came by, but that was about it. You could get up in the morning and go for a hike, and see all the way to the Superstition Mountains…. It was all flat land, desert land of the Indians.”

The Mesa siblings grew up and married, and had children of their own. The family includes 21 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.