Monday, July 11, 2016

From the Memoirs of Federico Ronstadt

This post continues with the story on Concepcion Suastegui, sister of my 5th-great-grandfather Pedro Suastegui, and her family in Tucson, Arizona. Young Federico Ronstadt was sent to Tucson to apprentice in the wagon and carriage shop owned by Concepcion's son Adolfo Vasquez and son-in-law Winnall A. Dalton. His memoirs were turned into a book, Borderman, Memoirs of Federico Jose Maria Ronstadt. In the book he recalled many experiences living in the household of Concepcion Suastegui, who he referred to as "Tia Chona". One such passage described how he was set up to marry Josefa Vasquez.
Photo from P. Rosas, Josefa Vasquez about 1882.
"The unmarried daughter of Tia Chona, Josefita, called 'Via' by the Dalton children, was taking piano lessons all the time and making some progress. I was called regularly to help her read her music and practice flute and piano music. She was an entirely different type from her sister, Mrs. Dalton, both in looks and disposition. Mrs. Dalton was beautiful and sweet while Josefita was short, inclined to be stout, rather determined in manner and at times of violent temper. However, she had been carefully trained by her mother. In Tia Chona's traditional Spanish custom, her daughters had never been permitted to go any place without a chaperon or to meet young men, go to dances or parties unless their mother would take them. Josefita had never attended a dance or met any young men."

"Tia Chona, poor soul, in her motherly affection for me encouraged my association with her daughter. I was asked to take her to the theatre and to drive her out in the evenings and Sundays as often as Tio Adolfo's buggy and horse were available. She showed me more regard than she had ever had for anyone, and it was perhaps the natural thing for me to develop an affection for her, particularly as I had no time or opportunity to see or associate with other girls. She was a good girl for all her difficult disposition and could have made a good wife to a man fifteen years older than I was. I was eighteen and she was about twenty nine."

"It was a great mistake of my Tia Chona to have ever entertained the idea that I might become her son-in-law, and when I realized it, my situation became extremely difficult. I never dreamed of getting married for many years. I knew that I would have all I could do to support my parents and brothers, and when the possibility of my friendship for Josefita was first suggested to me as being more serious than I had ever considered it, I felt as if my world was coming to its end. I did not have the courage to oppose the well expressed wishes of Tia Chona and Josefita that I should think seriously of getting married."

Federico Ronstadt decided not to marry Josefa Vasquez. "I felt very sorry for Tia Chona and for realizing that I would lose the love and motherly affection which she had given me all the years that I had lived in her home. I was also deeply concerned about what Mrs. Dalton would think of me."

"Tia Chona waited for me at the morning hour when she knew I would pass by her house on my way to work to tell me how sorry she was for her daughter's outburst of temper and begged me not to stay away from her house on account of it. She told me that as far as she was concerned it had all been a mistake and to forget about it. I was touched very deeply for this as I loved Tia Chona almost as if she had been my own mother. I knew how proud she was and what it was costing her to talk to me in that way, but I also knew I could never go back to her house."

"The first time I saw Mr. Dalton, I spoke to him about this matter, hoping that he would not blame me much. He did not hesitate to tell me that he was glad for my sake and that he and his wife, Mrs. Dalton, whom I also loved dearly, had never approved of it. This was a great relief for me. I called on Mrs. Dalton and she was as gracious to me as ever, but as her sister and Tia Chona were always near her I knew Mrs. Dalton was embarrassed and I did not see her again for several years."

Josefa Enriquita Vasquez never married. She was an accomplished pianist in Tucson and inherited property from her mother Concepcion Suastegui. Josefa later invested her money in mines in Arizona. She died on 5 February 1933 in Tucson.

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