Saturday, August 17, 2013

Genaro Acosta-St. Johns Pioneer & Builder

When I first started my inventory of the files in the archives at the Museum - one of the first things I came across was an excerpt/photocopy from the book "A History of Arizona's Counties & Courthouses" - John J. Dreyfuss, Editor.  The pages about Apache County's courthouse has been copied, but in the same file someone had inserted this handwritten paper:

As I read it - my interest was immediately aroused - who was this "Genaro Acosta" - I don't recall ever hearing the name?  And then I filed that little tidbit of information away in my mind.

But as I continued my researching in early St. Johns/Apache County newspapers I kept coming across an "ad" - or as they were called at that time "professional cards" for Genaro:
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 30 Apr 1914

And naturally my interest in this gentleman grew!  I HAD to know more!

So I spent some time online - looking at early St. Johns newspapers, and exploring Ancestry Library Edition to try and find out more about him.  And I'm so glad I did!   On Ancestry I was able to find a photo of him!  Always so happy to find a photo because the person becomes that much more 'real'!  (And he's SO handsome!!)

Genaro Acosta

I also found the following information on Ancestry:

"Genaro Acosta also built St. Peter's R. C. Church in Springerville and in Concho, AZ; the R. C. Church and courthouse in McNary, AZ; and the St. Francis [Roman Catholic] Church at the Whiteriver Mission on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona."

White River Mission - Genaro Acosta Contractor-1922

Another exciting little tidbit I came across - IF I am interpreting it correctly - led me to discover that I possibly lived for 22 years in a house built by Genaro!!
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 8 Feb 1917

As I researched him I also learned a little about his father - Lazaro Acosta.  Lazaro was a very educated and talented man.  He worked as the Editor for the Spanish Section of the St. Johns Herald and Apache News for some time:
St. Johns Herald & Apache News-13 Dec 1906

 Another little snippet about Lazaro: 
St. Johns Herald & Apache News - 19 May 1910

And I read somewhere (can't find the reference at the moment) that Lazaro also wrote a biography of Father Pedro Maria Badilla - another early Apache County Pioneer:
Father Pedro Maria Badilla

Genaro and his family eventually settled in Holbrook, Arizona and that is where he & his wife are buried.
Genaro & Faustina Acosta Headstone - from


  1. Wait, is the Lazaro mentioned in the printed snippet Genaro's brother? Going by dates, it couldn't be his son Lazaro (in 1910, Genaro would be only 32 himself, so he couldn't have a son who was married).

  2. No the Lazaro mentioned is Genaro's father. He named his son after his father.

    1. Duh...maybe I should READ! Thanks again for posting such great stuff!

  3. This is a great article on Genaro Acosta. My Grandfather's house was built by him.

  4. hello, i had to establish a gmail acct just to respond to your research re genaro and lazaro acosta, my grand father and great grandfather respectively. should you have questions about either contact me and i can tell you what i know. what is your name and how may you be contacted?
    please contact me at this address:

  5. Wow, this is so very interesting and important to me and my family! Thank you so much for sharing this with my parents, Benny & Nora Acosta. My name is Vince Acosta Sr. Lazaro was my Great, Great Grandfather; Genaro was my Great Grandfather; Clement Acosta was my Grandfather, whom I loved and knew very well. (Loved by many, as we have a large family.) I can now share this with my 3 children so they may learn more about their ancestry. My 16 year old Son Vincent Jr. will be very interested to read this! My family and I were raised in St. Johns. My Dad, Benny Acosta designed and built the home we grew-up in. (As his Father Clement Acosta did for him and his brothers & sisters in Holbrook, Az.) The home I currently reside in now, was designed and built by my Wife and I. It's so neat to see Carpentry & Contracting passed down from generation to generation...

    Thank you so much for researching and sharing this Jay and Richard!! (I believe your name is Jay right?)

    Vince Acosta Sr.

  6. Hello Richard & Vince! Descendants of of Genaro & Lazaro! So glad that you enjoyed the post! I have had fun researching these ancestors of yours! I was glad to find so much out about them and hope to learn more. My name is Dolly, by the way, a volunteer at the Apache County Historical Society Museum. :) The username on here is actually our "cattle brand" from when I was growing up on a ranch in this area! It is a J with an A laying on its side - "J" lazy "A" - i just turned it into a username. :)

    1. Oh and if either of you are interested in a copy - I also found Genaro & Faustina's wedding announcement in the St. Johns Herald Newspaper. :) let me know.

    2. I would very much like a copy of the wedding announcement in the St. Johns Herald. In addition I'd like to comment on the photo of the White River Mission. My grandfather Genaro Acosta was the general contractor who built the mission church, which was the first Caholic Church on the Apache Reservation at White River. The St. Francis Church was blessed and dedicated June 1st, 1924. The photograph was taken in 1922. Standing before the church are my mother Bertha and her sister Pilar (Pearly), who is the taller girl. The three women standing center are Genaro Acosta's sisters Irene A. Gallegos, Maria A. Saavedra, and Lupe A. Duran (not sure which is who). I do not know the identity of the woman far left, but the boy standing beside her was named Alfonso.
      With respect to the handwritten note: all of the info concerning the Acosta family is correct with one small exception. Faustina Gutierrez was indeed Genaro's wife, however her maiden name was not Baca, it was Apodaca, which was her mother's line (Librada Apodaca) and her father was named J.Clemente Gutierrez.