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Contributed by Postal History Foundation
Rosa Ronquillo Rhodes (1894-1982) was the postmistress on a ranch in Redington, Arizona (Pima County) from 1922 to 1936. Of Mexican descent, she was the first child in her family to become literate, and held a position that was central to the ranching community in which she lived. This collection of photographs, postcards, and postal documents portray her life as a postmistress, as well as offering a glimpse into ranch life in rural Arizona during that period.
The youngest of twelve children, Rosa began to ask her father if she could go to school at the age of six. None of her siblings had attended school and her request was denied. Her father believed that women were supposed to marry and raise a family, and there were always plenty of chores on the ranch to keep her busy. One of her main tasks as a child was to carry water from the river and to boil drinking water to ensure safety.
At the age of twenty, still eager for formal education, Rosa began volunteering at the local school doing odd jobs, such as cleaning desks and chalkboards for the teacher, Esther Heilert, who taught her to read. Rosa eventually moved to a school on the San Xavier Indian reservation, where she lived with a teacher named Mrs. Herndon while completing her studies. Mrs. Herndon was a highly influential person in Rosa's education, and is responsible for teaching her arithmetic. Rosa's stay at San Xavier was cut short by her mother's illness, which necessitated her return to Redington.
In Redington Rosa befriended Postmaster Norman J. Roberts and his wife, and upon his retirement in 1922, he recommended Rosa to fill the position. The post office served as a sort of community center in those days, as there were no stores in town in those days. Because she was bilingual, as well as literate, she regularly assisted people to fill out forms and order items from catalogs. In 1930 Rosa Ronquillo married William Rhodes, who worked at the local Carlink Ranch. They had both been previously married and they had four children: Fidel, Berta, Ruben, and Frank.