Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Esther's Passport

In yesterday's post, I introduced Maria Esther Suastegui, half-sister of my 4th-great-grandfather Pedro Suastegui. Esther applied for a US Passport on 22 April 1921 in order to travel to Europe on the RMS Aquitania with her daughter Anita C. Post. The passport was granted on 29 April 1921, fairly quick turnaround by today's standards.
Source: NYPL Digital Collection. RMS Aquitania.
This was their second epic voyage to Europe, after an earlier trip before the outbreak of World War I in 1914. I will have much more on that trip in another post. So far I have been unable to locate an earlier passport for Esther's trip in 1914.

Esther's 1921 passport application provides a wealth of information. She said she intended to spend up to two years abroad, visiting Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland and Gibraltar.
Source: Ancestry. US Passport Application, 1921.
The second page of Esther's passport provides her personal description. She was a short woman, only 4'11". She said she was 62 at the time, but this is incorrect as she was born in December 1857. A friend, Frank Ewing, provided a statement that he had known her 38 years (since 1883), and confirmed that she was the wife of a native-born citizen.
Source: Ancestry. US Passport Application page 2.
Esther sought a special amendment to her passport in March 1922 at the American Consulate in Madrid in order to visit Germany. Included was also a sworn statement from her husband, James H. Graham, that he was born in Genessee County, New York on 1 August 1845, he married Esther S. Monson at Nogales, Arizona on 25 July 1903, and Esther S. Graham was the same person as Esther S. Monson.

According to a news article published prior to their trip, Esther's daughter Anita Post was doing a one year sabbatical in Spain, and Esther was going to join her there. Anita was a Spanish professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Anita's passport application indicated she planned to spend 15 months abroad.
Arizona Daily Star, 11 Jun 1921.
In addition to being a highly regarded language professor, Anita was a prominent soprano soloist in Tucson. This clipping from the Arizona Daily Star shows that Anita also taught vocal classes at the University of Arizona.
Arizona Daily Star, 27 May 1921.
It must have been quite an experience for Esther to travel around Europe while Anita took classes in languages, and voice lessons in France, Italy and Spain. The first half of their trip Anita was in Madrid, and it looks like they took regular excursions to surrounding countries. During the second half of their trip Anita focused on vocal training.

In August 1922, Esther and Anita departed Cherbourg, France for the US aboard the S.S. America. On the departure from Southampton, England on 17 August 1922, Esther listed their last address as 6 Haymarket in London, this is right around the corner from Trafalgar Square, next to several theatres.
Source: Ancestry. UK, Outward Passenger Lists.
Anita returned to teaching at the University of Arizona in time for the start of the fall semester in September 1922.

Esther regularly traveled to Tucson to visit with Anita during her years as a professor at the university. They vacationed together often to California. Esther made her last trip in August 1929, when she went to San Diego, California.
Arizona Republic. 11 Aug 1929.

Esther died on 6 September 1929 in San Diego. She was 71 years old.
Arizona Daily Star, 7 Sept 1929.
Before focusing solely Anita's story, I will return to their earlier voyage in 1914 to Europe. This will give an opportunity to revisit Esther's experiences with Anita and learn more about their first-hand observations on the developments in Europe during the early days of the war.

I am really impressed by how far Esther was able to go from growing up in Magdalena, Sonora in the late 1850s, arriving in the US at an early age (between 13-17 years old) after the Civil War. She owned her own property and managed homes in the pre-Statehood days, when this may have been a rare occurrence.  After surviving the tragic loss of her first daughter and husband, her children grew up to be successful and travel the world. Esther was able to see so much of Europe at unique times in our history.

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