Huerfano County, Colorado
Oral Interviews

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Theresa Garcia

Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Whit Bartholomew
Interviewed by Julia Romero
Date of Interview - 7-6-1979

Theresa Garcia
Date of birth - 1-7-1896
Parents - Catedario Garcia and Manuelita Garcia
Maternal grandparents - Pedro and Gabriela Garcia
Ethnic group - Spanish
Family origin - Talpa, Colorado
Location of first family settlement - Farisita and Gardner, Colorado
Photos and artifacts - photo of grandfather, age 90 when photo was taken in 1943-1945, family photo

Where I was born. First, I was born in Talpa, Colorado in the year 1896, January 7, and my fathers name was Catedario and my mother Manuelita. My father was born in Rio Grande and my mother, in what we knew as Conejos. My grandfather always used to help us very much, with everything, and we were very poor, but we had enough to live. My father, that I remember never went to work. We always lived, on what we made on the ranch. And when I grew up I used to help him hoe, because we had much that had to be hoed. We harvested bush beans, seeds and alfalfa. He would gather it and he would sell it, and with that he would pay the bills from the store. And that's the way we lived and maintained. He maintained a large family. We were 13 in the family. All of us were together and happy. My mother, too, was happy. She was sick. She was sick all the time and I had to take over. I was the third one in the family. I had a brother that was named Guillermo who is still alive. Second was Otoniel Garcia, but he died. And me, I was third. Then I had a sister named Neamie, Avela, Manuelita, Victorina, Anna Marie, Gabriella, Mari, Pedro, Nestoria, Acencion and another Pedro because one had already died. We had always been raised poor. For Christmas, we were always poor. We used to make luminous lanterns, that was our big entertainment. My mother used to make us “empanaditas” and she would save them until Christmas day arrived. We were very happy making luminous lanterns. We didn't have a church because the priest would only come once a month from Walsenburg. There was no function in the church for Christmas. When we were all grown we used to make bread. Mother had to mix 50 lbs. of flour, to make dough, and we put it in the oven outside. We would have for the whole weekend, and we would have lentils and beans to eat. When father killed an animal, we would dry the meat and that's the way mother would save it. Mother would mash it and she made soups and she made chile. That way she made it last. We could never eat meat like we wanted to eat it.

Always, in early morning, about three in the morning, we would get up and start to hoe in the summer. There was no water to irrigate from the well. We had a well with a barrel. There were times in the summer we could have a cow for the milk. Then me and my grandfather would go look for the cow, because there were no fences. The cows would go far. He and I walked where there were many snakes, and I had much fear of the snakes. My grandfather used to say to me “Pray Hits, so the snakes won't bite you. We would go along praying the rosary, looking for the cows and the calves to enclose them for milking the next day. I killed many snakes, but I didn't kill rats, because I was afraid of them. I had much fear of rats. That's the way it went. My grandfather would haul wood and chop wood, that was his work. The shoes, when I would wear them out, he would soften and peel the hides. I don't know how he would do it. He used to peel it and make us moccasins, because we didn't have money. We were very many.

The ranch was in what was called Farisita. It was in between the lines of Gardner and Farisita, My father used to say we were in between. When we voted, we could in one place as well as in the other, And that's why, they said because we were in between.

Then we grew up, I grew up and got married, I married when I was 20 years old. For my wedding we didn't make anything of a celebration, or nothing. When we went to the church, we went on a cart with horses. Then to live our lives, to make a good house, we had to make adobes. My husband and I, raised and made a house. I think it took about 2 years. Between the adobes and the house, we had to go to work. We had to go to the Valley in the summer. He used to go make contracts for hay. There wasn't much to make a living. Then they used to get orders from the mines, but not steady. They would get them sometimes. That's the way we went on, to make a little more, to continue living. The house was all made, when my husband got sick, and he died in 1919.

I was left with three small children. They were Pablo, Luis, and Jose Medina. They killed Jose Medina in the war. After the war was over, they were clearing a place and there were enemies there in that place. I don't remember in what year that was; I don't want to tell a lie.

After that I was widowed and I got married again. From this marriage, I have three daughters and 2 sons. Escolastica, Beatrice, Linda, and one named Theresa, who is now dead, She was the last, and Candido and Francisco, they are the ones that are Garcias. I went through hard times, also when I was a widow. My husband had good property, that is true, and he used to plead with me before he died, that if I was alone, for me to sell it. But seeing that I had the family, I thought a little. I thought, if I sell it and the money runs out pretty soon, then how was I going to do it. And I had already went through so many hard times. We had gone through so much to do everything that we had done before. Then I thought of continuing to run the place. I ran the place for 7 years alone. In that time the children had grown some and they helped me in that last year. One day we were fixing a place by the river, where it was taking the dirt. There I just about drowned, and one of my sons really felt bad, and he argued with me, and he made me leave the ranch.

He was too frightened to continue and I left it. After that I moved to Gardner, because my first son got married and he stayed on the ranch. I went to Gardner. I was there when a priest needed a woman, as a cook, in the North. And the priest that was there in Gardner. Then there was a priest that told me he needed a woman who had already left the ranch, and left her family, who was not occupied, to go see him, to see if I could learn. I didn't want to go. It seemed to me that if I went too far away. I guess I thought I couldn't live. I went as far as California, serving as a cook. The priest that was in Gardner was Jose Perez and the other was Jose Jose. I stayed for 20 years there. From there I came and stayed here, and here I am.

When my son left the service, the last one, Francisco, he was alone and he didn't have anyone. He started to work in Pueblo, and then I went with him and stayed there for 5 years. After he got married, the priest heard that I was alone again, and he called me. Then I went. There were many priests. There were times when I had a table of 6 or 7 of them, because they arrived to do some function or celebration, things like that for the Bishop. I had to have a lot of people there. And then too, I used to watch the church. I took care of the church. The church of St. Anthony in Knotts City, California, but I stayed at the one In the North too. I stayed a little, a few days, at one in Pueblo, with one priest because the Bishop wanted a woman who could assist a priest who was sick. It had to be a woman who knew and had experience, in caring for priests. I was, then they came to see If I could go. I stayed something like a year with him. They finally took him to the North. Then I was unoccupied. I went back again. It wasn't so much that I liked it, but they were always calling me, and I couldn't tell them no. It seemed funny for me to say “no” and that I couldn't go I have 3 sisters that are in the religious order Sister Valentina, I have a dead sister, Sister Manuelita, Sister Pedra and Sister De Chantel. There are four and one daughter of the order of St. Frances. She is now here in Pueblo. I don't know of anything else I can remember. I don't know what else.

Julia: How did your father cure leather to make moccasins?

Theresa: He would put water there and mix ashes, and I don't know if he put some lye. I don't know what, but he would put the hide and watch it until the hide would soften. When the hide softened, he would throw it over something like a bar, and with something like a stick, a wooden spoon, he would scrape it like that, scraping it until it was all peeled. Then he would leave it to dry. I don't know what he would put on it, because it stayed good to be sewed. All that we made, and we made strips, they made many things. They made things for rifles, or too, like they used before, pants of leather. All those things were made of leather. The chamois too, were made of deer hide, deer that they used to kill, that was much softer. I never saw how they did that. They made jackets of chamois from the deer.

The cow hide was used for moccasins, before the people lived cheaply. There was never a candy, there was never anything, only what was made in the house, and it was very good, and was made very few times.

About entertainment, I don't remember that we had any entertainment, but some people always had. They played, I don't know what they played, but they played something. It wasn't cards either, I guess it was dice. I don't know what they played. I used to hear my grandfather talk about the Indians playing when they had arrived, I never saw games, I don't remember. I never saw the Indians. I guess there weren't any more, I guess there was some, because I used to hear that Indians used to live here. I never saw them but my grandfather talked a lot, it seems he was in a war. I don't know in what year that was. Never did I have or never did I go to school. I never had anything like that because I always worked. When I would work, and work like that still, I never went to school, never had a day in school. It's always been pure work.

When I got married to my first husband, he would go to work. He then said, I had to write to him every day and he left me the book where I could see the words and that's the way I learned. That is why I still can't read. I can write by seeing the letters. To read too, I have to follow the letters.

When we used to get sick, or coughs, or colds, they had pale'o. They called it pale'o. It was dried. I was very young and don't remember, but they would make a tea and give it to us to drink. Also, when we had fever, they would boil sabina branches, they used to say. They would give us baths and a vapor, and put us to bed with that, they would take the fever away.

The chickenpox was always cured at home like that, or measles. We always had cures. There were never any doctors. Always like that with remedies, like pale'o and spearmint, and like the tea. Because that is what they gave us, and they would bathe us. We never had a medical person, nothing.

When I had the children, always I had all of them alone. I assisted myself, alone. I always had them on the floor, and was able to care for them right. Then I would go to bed with them.

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