La Mesa de Cartujanos originated in 1697- but did not reach acclaim until it was purchased by my third great-uncle Don Santiago Vidaurri in the mid 1800’s. La Mesa was bought originally as a hiding place for cattle and horses. Back then a man was not considered rich by how much money he had, but by what he owned in livestock. Don Santiago did not only keep his personal livestock there, but also that of his son in-laws Don Patricio Milmo O’Dowd and that of his army. He ended up falling in love with the place and had a home-built.
His last request was to be buried there, with his beloved wife under the capilla. The stipulation being that La Mesa is in possession of a descendent, it was his desire and final wish.
Su deseo era que se lleven sus restos a Monterrey, y que el y su amada esposa sean removidos a La Mesa, y depositado alli, en una capilla modesta y sencilla, que se fabricara en caso que vuelva a poder de la familia dicha Mesa ~
Don Santiago had been a man of detail, who left specific instructions as to the materials that were to be used in building La Capilla, and its dimensions. He used the simplest of materials and design for he was a simple man who’s occupation had been one of fearless General and powerful Governor.
The love of land is something that was imbedded into Dn. Santiago’s sub consciousness since the early stages of infancy he was the second great-grandson of Don Jose Vasquez Borrego. Don Jose was an early pioneer who amassed a latifundio that consisted of nine Haciendas/Ranchos that spanned four of the Northern Mexican states and what we know today as South Texas. This is why our family is known as Los Vidaurri y Vasquez Borrego de Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas y Texas.
Having been there myself I understand how my uncle fell in love with La Mesa. It is a place where silence and solitude are the best of friends. A magical place that’s only sound in the evenings is of the crickets singing their lullabies. A wondrous place where Jupiter is found nestled amongst the millions of stars that gather around La Mesa in the evenings. For my uncle it was also the feeling of being safe, of being closer to heaven.
The marriage between my uncle Dn. Santiago Vidaurri and my cousin Dona Juana Maria Vidaurri Borrego produced three children: Indalecio, Pudenciana y Amelia. In General Slaughters account of tio Santiago’s execution he states that he left Indalecio money and a gift of equal value to Pudenciana, Amelia was not mentioned.
Entonces me dijo en donde encontraria el poco de dinero que tenia, y me ordeno darle a Indalecio, dijo algo sobre que habia dado a su esposa alguna cosa de igual valor ~ J.E.S
La Mesa today is owned by descendents of Dona Pudenciana Vidaurri and Don Patricio Milmo O’Dowd. Their marriage produced six children: Sara, Santiago, Pudenciana, Patricio, Leonor y Jose.
Leonor Milmo Vidaurri married Frank O’Hart Kilgallen; this union produced two children: Leonor y Patricio– Leonor married Dr. Alfonso Eduardo Guerra and their marriage produced eight children: Alfonso Jr, Nora, Maria Josefa, Maria Beatriz, Francisco, Maria Elisa, Patricio and Maria Guadalupe Guerra O’ Hart. Leonor was also the keeper of the family secrets, and the owner of the historical archives that were confiscated by the state of Nuevo Leon- they were to be kept from public view for the first one hundred years after Dn. Santiago’s death-something that did not occur.
Pudenciana Milmo Vidaurri had been a lively and vivacious young woman. She married Prince Albrycht Wocjciech Radziwill in 1896, however before they could conceive a child the prince met with a premature death due to illness, Pudenciana had been madly in love with her husband and inconsolable, she never remarried.
Santiago Vidaurri Milmo was an adventurous young man, who believed in modern convention. The legend at La Mesa is that one rainy evening he and his girlfriend chose to go down la cuesta on horse back. His horse slipped on rocks and fell; landing on top of him, crushing his body. They brought his body back to La Mesa where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He left no natural children. His request was to be buried alongside his grandparents, as a child he never tired of listening to the many tales of his illustrious grandfather, El Caudillo del Norte. His girlfriend never recovered from his death and never married.
Jose Milmo Vidaurri was murdered at La Hacienda de San Juan near Ciudad Victoria, Tamualipas. He also never married and left no descendents. Jose had been the youngest of the boys and had been doted on by his older brother Patricio.
Patricio Milmo Vidaurri married Laura Hickman Morales. Their marriage produced five children: Patricio, Jose, Tomas, Josefina and Laura. Patricio married a descendant of Juan Zuazua and from this branch, we have Milmo Hernandez. Jose married Barbarita Garza Madero; from here, we have the Milmo Garza Maderos. Tomas married Berta Zambrano and from this marriage, we have Milmo Zambrano and Milmo Santos. Laura married Emilio Azcarraga Vidauretta; from this branch, we have Azcarraga Milmo. Josefina married Eduardo Mascarenas – from this branch we have, Mascarenas Milmo.
Sara Milmo Vidaurri’s first marriage to New York banker Eugene Kelley did not produce children neither did her second marriage to Harold H. Reeder of New Orleans. Family history mentions that Harold was so enamored of La Mesa that he asked Sara to leave it to him in her will. Fulfilling a family legacy, Sara left La Mesa to her three nephews: Patricio, Jose y Tomas Milmo Hickman.
The caretaker of La Mesa for over a decade was Patricio Milmo Hickman- he stayed behind while his younger brothers went away to college. Jose and Tomas after finishing their studies went to work for their brother in-law, Emilio Azcarraga Vidaurretta. The boys never forgot their duty to their legacy; they periodically sent money home to help with the maintenance of La Mesa.
Patricio loved ranching so much that he dedicated his whole life to it. My opinion is that Patricio Milmo Hickman knew first hand how expensive it was to run the ranch at La Mesa- as much as he loved it; he also realized it was a financial burden. He knew that it required more than heart. He finally retired his branding iron and sold his portion of La Mesa to his brothers, Jose and Tomas Milmo Hickman.
Jose Milmo Hickman was a country boy at heart- he never forgot his first love, it was important to him that his children become familiar with the place of his childhood. One summer when the children were old enough-they embarked upon the journey to La Mesa.
The family took a train to Monterrey from Mexico City- where they arrived the following morning. At Monterrey, they changed to a train named “La Marrana”. This train made several stops to Laredo, TX via Villaldama, Bustamante and Lampazos. The train stopped at Villaldama, where the children remember eating lunches of cabrito, sold by the local vendors through the windows of the train.
At Lampazos the family was met by two peones, in two old Ford pick up trucks- there they were taken to El Cargadero-the down part of La Mesa. Once they reached el cargadero, they each mounted a donkey/mule and began their climb up la cuesta- ninety minutes later their ten-day vacation began. For Alberto Milmo this vacation would turn out to be unforgettable, today he is the majority owner of La Mesa, and through Alberto and his wife Liz, La Mesa will one day become a modern oasis in the sky.
Tomas Milmo Hickman yearned for the country and retired early in his career. He returned to his first passion- La Mesa, where his nephew Patricio Milmo Hernandez taught him how to fly. There was not much of an age difference between them, with Tomas having been the youngest of the Milmo Hickman’s. In his last will and testament, he bequeathed his portion of La Mesa to his two sons’: Lorenzo y Tomas Milmo Zambrano.
There are many fond memories of being at La Mesa for the Milmo Hernandez’s- of the endless foot races that ensued as the young girls Consuelo and Laura race to see which of them would be the first to reach the top of la cuesta.
Patricio Milmo Hernandez was a boy of ten, when he climbed La Mesa for the first time- without informing his parents; he set off on his first adventure. This adventure started in Lampazos and consisted of a childhood friend and a canteen of water. The boys had no idea as to the length of the journey and were not prepared. Halfway to their destination they realized they were out of water. Lucky for them that en route to La Mesa was a deserted ranch with an abandoned well. This well provided two scared little boys with the amount of water that was needed to complete their journey.
For Patricio Milmo Hernandez seeing La Mesa for the first time- was love at first sight. From that moment on it was his dream to one-day reach La Mesa by plane. His dream turned into reality at the age of nineteen. Patricio also engineered the runway/La Pista, where new generations of Milmo Vidaurris arrive by air.
There are stories of ghosts at La Mesa- there is one room in particular where the doors and windows open on their own. Where the sound of moving objects can be heard throughout the silent hacienda.
A re-counted story of Consuelo Milmo Hernandez is of playing inside the capilla as a child. It was growing dark and soon the shadows began to descend upon the church. A shining light entered the capilla lighting a way for Consuelo and her friend to see their way back outside. It scared the girls so much, that they ran all the way back to the hacienda. When they got back they retold their tale to their parents, but the adults were busy and dismissed their story as child’s play.
This same shining light has been seen many times throughout the years, roaming around the hacienda, from room to room. Making its way back outside into the vast land, that surrounds the house. I am of opinion that this shining light is my uncle, ensuring that all is well into the night.
There is also the ghost of a man, dressed in white. These sightings have both taken place at Rancho Encinas and La Mesa. He is either seen walking or riding a black horse. Having the privilege of seeing the family photos, I am of opinion that this ghost is of Patricio Milmo Hickman, who could not be separated from his beloved Encinas and La Mesa, even in death.
There is another legend that has turned into folklore through the passing of time- the story of the buried treasure. They say that Don Santiago had forty mules brought to La Mesa- each carrying a basket filled with gold. The family through the generations has tried locating this buried treasure, but they come up empty-handed. I am of opinion that the shining light would lead us to the treasure, if we had the courage to follow it.
La Mesa is located in Candela, Coahuila- it stands one thousand six-hundred and fifty feet and is approximately forty thousand acres; it is described as an elevation from the earth. La Mesa can be reached by plane or several hours by mule, making many of Don Santiago’s descendents expert pilots.
La Mesa is also the home to a diversified menagerie of animals. The many animals that live on La Mesa are: rabbits, wild hogs, rattle snakes, black bears, coyotes, fox, owls, road runners, pheasants, antelope, cows, horses and the ducks that make La Mesa their home during the winter.
My absolute favorite animal at La Mesa- besides the puppy was the wild Turkey that chased Karen dela Pena and me during our morning walk. Karen and I to this day- still get a huge laugh out of the morning’s adventure.
One of the many highlights of my visit was when Cousin Alberto and Liz took us on a partial walk down la cuesta. It was thrilling to stand at the edge of La Mesa- next to the rocks made of sillar. The legend is that tio Santiago placed his flag in-between those rocks as a message to the Apaches letting them know he was in residence. The flag was saying “I am here, come up if you dare?”
Farther north of the hacienda is El Alamito- a fortress made of sillar. Los Vidaurristas used the fort as a shield against the Apaches. Near the fort is the lake, scattered all around it are several peach trees, the family believes they were planted by tio Santiago, the trees have been there since before anyone can remember.
The mountains to the south of La Mesa are called Los Pajaros Azules- Liz Milmo mentioned that if one were to get lost at La Mesa, not to panic but to walk towards the mountains- they would lead you back to the hacienda.
Across from la capilla is the canyon, to reach the primitive animal drawings- a person has to go around the canyon and then climb down by the use of rope. With the passing of time, many workers commissioned to work at La Mesa vandalized it due to ignorance. However, this vandalism can be rectified with the modern technology of refurbishing; something that I hope will happen in the future.
One controversy surrounding La Mesa is that most historians are of opinion that the correct name for La Mesa should be Catujanes, for the Indians that lived in the region. However the actual name given to La Mesa by tio Santiago was Cartujanos, this is only something that the immediate family would know. La Mesa is also registered with the Index Mundi as Cartujanos- the correct name is La Mesa de Cartujanos.
Algunos historiadores dicen que el nombre de la mesa debe de ser Catujanes, porque asi se llmamban unos indios que habitaban en la region. Pero nosotros desde que se compro La Mesa se llamaba Cartujanos. Y a mi me parece que se oye mas bonito y mas fuerte este nombre. Por lo que se a mi respecta yo siempre la voy a seguir llamando Mesa de Cartujanos. ~ Alberto D. Milmo Garza Madero
Today there is a new generation of Milmo Vidaurris at play- creating childhood memories of tribal dancing out in the rain. They are the Milmo Garza twins: Elena y Mateo. One of their favorite past times occurs in early December- it is called the gathering of the cattle. The children love to watch the cattle jump into a tub filled with water and splash about with unbridled abandon- creating a beautiful splash of water. The twins also enjoy camping outside with their father- listening to his gentle voice as he explains to them all about the moon, and the stars.
I enjoyed my visit to La Mesa, my cousin Alberto and his wife Liz were the most charming of hosts. It was a pleasure for me to have a tour of the hacienda and have them share their family stories. The memories of the Milmo Vidaurris are what make La Mesa so valuable; they are what nourish and keep the memories of El Vidaurrismo alive.
I am grateful for the experience of seeing first hand the beauty and the wonder of our family’s history. However, most important was being able to pay my respects to the man who preserved our family’s honor, to the man who led our family out of the darkness and into the light- to my uncle Dn. Santiago Vidaurri.
Verbal conversations with Patricio, Consuelo y Laura Milmo Hernandez.
Verbal conversations with Alberto & Liz Milmo Garza (Madero).
E-mail correspondence with Patricio Guerra O’ Hart.
E-mail correspondence with Alberto Milmo Garza (Madero).
Verbal conversations/ E-mail correspondence with Jose Felipe & Karen dela Pena Vidaurri.
“Don Jose Santiago Vidaurri Borrego y Valdez” written by Anita Rivas Medellin.