Lucia is known to be one of the first women in Arizona to challenge a predominately wealthy Arizona Statesman. She was an Apache fighter and a writer of the Howell Code for custody of her children.
Kidnapped by the Apache, Lucia eventually escaped and was rescued and forced into sexual servitude by “King” Samuel Woolsey. She was ten years old. Woolsey took her to his Agua Fria ranch.
In February 1867 at the Agua Fria Ranch and hot springs, located just above the Gila River never Hyder, AZ, Lucia gave birth to a baby girl named Clara. In 1869 Lucia bore Woolsey a second child, a girl they named Johanna Conception Woolsey.
On May 27, 1871, 4 weeks before his only son was to be born, Woolsey married Mary Taylor at his Agua Fria ranch. Even though Woolsey already had two young girls by the Yaqui sex slave and still another child weeks away from being born, Woolsey never considered them his legal children or heirs to his estate.
Lucia fought for her children by filing a suit of habeas corpus for their custody through a Yuma proxy. Though the judge ruled that they were too young to leave their mother, he approved the Woolsey application for indenture and guaranteed the girls would serve their father once they reached a “suitable age”. When Clara was 13 and Johanna was 10 he took them away from Lucia and placed them under the care of the Catholic Church using indenture as a way to sever the bond of affection between mother and children.
Almost fifteen years after he had abducted Lucia and just six months after he had taken her daughters from her, the Colonel suddenly died of apparent heart trouble.
The girls remained at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church near Yuma, but Lucia once again fought for them under the Howell code. Woolsey’s death constituted a forfeit of a $1000. bond he had signed in 1871 that required him to provide for the girl’s sustenance while they were under his custody.
The payment of bond, of course, helped Lucia find lawyers willing to assist her. The former legislator’s widow challenged her husband’s legitimate family but lost. The payment was made under the provision that “no acknowledgement of the legitimacy of any children” was intended.
As Lucia carefully found her way through the Arizona’s legal system to serve her daughters’ interests. Lucia, now twenty six, showed the same fortitude that she displayed at age ten when she escaped her Apache captors. Lucia managed to regain custody of her children within a year.
In 1880 when the census came to her door, the Yaqui woman claimed Mexican ethnicity for herself and her children, ensuring that none of them would be bound by discrimination under the Howell statute on minor Indians . They would be listed as white on the census. Lucia claimed she was a widow. The Martinez family was again intact and looked remarkably ordinary on paper.