Catholic church: Santa Marian Lourdes
Yigo is the island’s largest and most northern village, encompassing thirty-five square miles. On the map the village looks like a triangle that stretches from Pati Point to Ritidian in the North and from Ritidian to the coast near Pagat.
Yigo is the home to Andersen Air Force Base and has secured access to the beaches of the village. Yigo has numerous housing subdivisions that have sprung up in the last three decades, but it still retains a rural feel thanks to its large open spaces and dense forests supported by some of the richest soil on Guam. Like all northern Guam villages, it sits on top of the Northern Aquifer, which supplies about eighty percent of the island’s drinking water supply.
During ancient times, Guam’s Northern coast was home to a large number of villages. Evidence of latte dwellings also point to a significant population living in the Mt. Santa Rosa and Mataguac areas. During the Spanish Chamorro Wars in the late seventeenth century, major areas of settlement included Hanom, Tarague, Hinapsan and Upi. Hanom, a fresh water spring on the coast south of Mt. Santa Rosa played an important role as a refuge for the Chamorro resistance during the Spanish-Chamorro Wars. In August of 1679 Spanish forces along with their allies from Nisihan defeated the Hanom Chamorros. The battle was described as “one of the fiercest which had taken place in the Marianas.”
By the early eighteenth century the population of Guam had been greatly reduced by war and disease and all remaining Chamorros from the northern part of Guam were relocated to six church-centered villages in central and southern Guam (Hagåtña, Agat, Umatac, Merizo, Inarajan and Pago). However, the area remained open to hunters and fishermen.
During the nineteenth century wealthy residents of Hagåtña began to acquire large areas of land in this fertile part of the island. The rich soil proved excellent for cocoa which was used to make hot chocolate, a popular afternoon drink for Hagåtña residents. Other agricultural products that the area was known for were coffee, avocado, citrus and copra. The area of Upi, now Northwest Field, was particularly important for its cattle ranches while several wealthy landowners established copra plantations along the Northern coast and in the area of Yigo proper.
By the early years of the American administration, some Chamorros chose to settle permanently in Yigo and surrounding areas. In 1912 the first school opened for grades one through four. In 1919 the U.S. Government authorized land use permits for up to twenty-five years to attract more farmers to the area. In 1920, Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel was erected so that the people of Yigo would no longer have to make the long journey to Hagåtña each week for mass.
The new village of Yigo was highly self sufficient because of its excellent farm lands. However, people still had to travel to Hagåtña to buy household goods. In 1925, Jose M. Torres solved this problem by building the first village store. Torres was a copra trader and would accept coconuts in exchange for groceries. By 1940, Yigo and surrounding areas were home to about forty families spread out over large distances.