The story of Tucson goes in tandem with immigrants who came here and made good.
One of these immigrants was Carlos Croella Jácome. Born in Ures, Sonora, Mexico in 1870, his family was not wealthy. In the late 1870s, they moved to Tucson. His future wife, Dionícia Germán arrived in Tucson with her mother in the early 1880s.
When Carlos was nine, his formal education ended and he began working as a laborer at the Placita de San Agustin. He caught the attention of Isadore Mayer who hired Carlos to work for him at Mayer & Brothers Dry Goods Store. Starting out as a cash boy, his next step was to clerk at L. Zeckendorf and Company. The Zeckendorfs were connected to the Steinfelds, another illustrious Tucson family. Carlos and Dionícia married in 1889. They moved in with her mother at 271 North Stone Avenue. The house still stands today.
It was this background and hard work that propelled Carlos to his future success in business when 15 years later, Carlos joined forces with Loreto Carrillo. The men opened La Bonanza in 1896. Next was Jácome and Manzo, formed with Genaro S. Manzo.
By 1913, Carlos was on his own and in 1928, he incorporated Jácome’s Department Store. Carlos remained lifelong friends with his previous partners while running a very successful department store that was well known to Tucsonans and Mexicans who came to enjoy what Tucson had to offer.
Carlos became a U.S. citizen in October, 1894. He was always active in the community and political affairs and was a founding member of Alianza Hispano-Americana. This organization provided services to the Spanish speaking population. Carlos represented Pima Count at the Arizona Constitutional Convention in October, 1910. Statehood came for Arizona in 1912.
The department store stood on the site of the plaza from 1951 to 1980. Much of Carlos’ success in business and in the community was his ability and willingness to work with others. Where most would have seen competition, Carlos has the foresight to see cooperation as the way. He was even able to get his business rival, Harold Steinfeld, to build and lease a store to him to create a downtown hub that benefited everyone.
A column was erected in the plaza in 2004 to honor this family and their contributions. The ideals of community involvement and personal service can seem old fashioned in today’s world, yet we all seem to value these things and want to see more of them in the world.
When visiting the plaza, stop for a moment to view the monument, read more about this family and their contributions to Tucson. We’re a richer town because of their contributions.
The plaza is now the site of the Joel D. Valdez (Main) Library. The memorial is closest to Stone and Pennington, right across the street from Ike’s Coffee Shop.