La Cremeria – Creamery Village – Four Peaks History
Our building’s neighborhood, the Creamery Village, is chock-full of small businesses, long-time residents and college students alike. But it looks very, very different from when our building was erected. The surrounding area was known by another name back then – La Cremeria – thanks to the work ethic, kindness and pioneer spirit of one woman: Manuela Sanchez Sotelo.
The Old Creamery Building was constructed next door to what was then known as the Sotelo Addition. It was a 160-acre swath of land owned by Sotelo, whose roots can be traced back to soldiers and settlers from Spanish Sonora who located to Tubac in the early 1800s. In fact, the
Sotelos were recorded as the first Mexican family to settle Tempe when they arrived in 1870.
A man named Winchester Miller – one of Tempe’s original settlers and Sotelo’s son-in-law – helped Sotelo manage her property after the death of her husband, Tiburcio. Miller was one of the creamery’s first employees.
Anyway, Sotelo was a very savvy ranch manager, business woman and an excellent neighbor to boot. After dividing her land, she gave some of it to family members, sold parcels to Mexican families immigrating to Tempe and, most importantly, granted some of it for the use of a canal
that funneled water to the Charles Trumbull Hayden’s flour mill on Mill Avenue.
Thanks to her knowhow, Sotelo quickly became a prominent figure in the community. She acquired properties all over the Valley and was a shareholder of the growing Tempe Irrigating Canal Company, which is now part of the Salt River Project – the original McKinney-Kirkland
Ditch dug in the early 1870s still runs along 8th Street to this day. But where Sotelo really made an impact was teaching her fellow community members life skills, such as can fruits, cure meats and administer first aid; key skills in a growing frontier community.
Speaking of teaching, Sotelo was also one of the earliest proponents of a teaching college founded in 1885 known as the Territorial Normal School. She believed so earnestly in its mission that Sotelo donated money to fund the school’s land purchase and was part of a group that would choose the school’s original site, located about a mile west of our 8th Street pub.
Most people today know that school by a different name: Arizona State University, one of the nation’s largest public universities.
Sotelo was 82 when she passed away at her Tempe home in 1902. Many of Sotelo’s descendants, including at least one granddaughter and many great-grandchildren, along with dozens of other Mexican students in the early days, would go on to graduate from the Territorial Normal School (not to mention the thousands of young people now graduated by the school annually). These teachers moved all over the state, carrying with them the education they obtained in Tempe, practically next-door to the Sotelo addition.
It’s impossible to measure the impact these teachers – and the lessons they taught – had on the state. But it’s quite another story to see how the lessons of one savvy, hard-working woman helped found an entire community, a community we’re proud to call home.
Join us for our Historical Beer Dinner on Nov. 9th – Purchase Tickets at www.FourPeaksGrub.com
Learn more at Arizona Women’s History Alliance and BarrioZona