In this country, the United States of America, people come from many different backgrounds and cultures. We speak many different languages, eat all kinds of foods, and we all look very different from one another. I consider myself lucky. I have family roots in two cultures. Half of my roots are in Mexico and the other half are found in the Kansas prairies. Both sides of my family tree are grounded by strong women.
My great grandmother Ramona was a very brave woman. After her husband died in a coal mining accident, Ramona gathered all five of her children and took them from Mexico to the United States. She wanted to keep her children safe and did not want her sons to grow up and find work in the dangerous mines of Mexico.
Late one night, Ramona took here family to the edge of the river that formed the border between Mexico and the United States. Under the cover of night, Ramona paid someone to row her family across the river using only candlelight. They made it across safely and even though she didn't know anyone in the United States or speak the English language, my great-grandmother managed to find food and shelter for her family. When Ramona's children were old enough to work, they did not go to the dangerous coal mines in Mexico. Instead, they opened barber shops and restaurants in the United States.
My other great-grandmother was named Carmen. She too was a strong woman. Carmen grew up in Texas and her ancestors lived in a place that was first named "The Wild Horse Desert." Ancient stories say that a man named Captain King led 120 men, women and children from Mexico to this special desert land in the United States.
Over time, their new land became the largest ranch in the world. They called it King Ranch and they had 75,000 herds of cattle and nearly one million acres of land! King Ranch also was known as the birthplace of the American cowboy. Many of my great-uncles were vaqueros (Spanish for cowboy). They lived and worked on the open range, taming wild horses and roping cattle.
I feel lucky to have such strong women in my heritage. My great-grandmothers are wonderful role models who have taught me a lot about who I am and where I come from.
Where do your ancestors come from and what were they like?
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Links to Other Dispatches
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Irene - Wait, this isn't Beverly Hills 90210!
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Teddy - You can't stop LOVE!
Kevin - Trailblazing around the world!
Becky - But Great Grandma, that's the Titanic!