The labor Manuela went through for the birth of her tenth child nearly killed her. The child fought for his life – he would not be denied, Francisco was born. He was named after Juan Antonio’s father. He had the same cleft chin and wavy hair of the Vidaurris – but his character was mine. Since he was able to utter the word “Mama” the world Manuela lived in solely existed for him. I saw myself in them – the reflection of character. She recognized this and smiled, “Was I like this?” She asked after a restless night with the child. “Worse” was all I could say, she smiled noticing the twinkle in my eyes.
How we all loved it when the child slept, he looked like an angel – but awake he was the living terror. He was beautiful though, especially when he was in a rage. Those big green eyes flashing in anger – but when he was sweet there never was a sweeter boy. He was loving, thoughtful and kind. Francisco was affectionate, often leaning against your shoulder or falling asleep in your lap.
Temper tantrums often occurred when the child was not given what he wanted, he had no concept of the word “No” -but because he was so good-natured the majority of the time all was forgiven – you seemed to understand that he was having an off-color moment. The servants were instructed to never say” No” to him or to wake him from a nap.
Margil was three years old when Francisco was born – he reminded me of Juan Jose with that same calm and dutiful disposition. Margil had a soothing effect on Francisco and seemed to be the only person Francisco minded. All Margil had to do was pat Francisco on the head and sing him a lullaby and the child quieted down.
Manuela felt that the children should attend public school, Francisco who would not be separated from his brother was allowed to take part. Hand in hand the two walked to school every morning, and went over Margil’s assignments in the evenings.
There was a toy that Francisco was fascinated with – it was a ball on a string that moved up and down. He was determined to bring it to school. If a lesson became boring Francisco pulled out the toy only to have the teacher confiscate it – this resulted in an emotional scene where the teacher refused to give it back. Margil realized Francisco’s naughty behavior and did his best to subdue his brother – but he was unable to convince the teacher of giving back the toy.
Everyday after school Francisco insisted on getting a new toy – and the only way to silence him was to give him what he wanted. And everyday at school the toy was taken from him, this went on for weeks – until one day I allowed the boys to play with my wooden toy soldiers. Watching them I realized how smart both boys were, especially Francisco – he would have made a great general.
Francisco was often naughty – but not so much in action as in verbally saying things for shock value. The child loved hearing his name spoken out loud. It was not his ego that rejoiced in hearing his name but the exasperated tone in which it was said. This caused the child many moments of laughter. Once he said something outlandish and before I could respond he did, “Francisco de Vidaurri”.
Manuela’s health after Francisco’s birth was never the same – she took ill. She died the year Margil turned nine and Francisco six. I was devastated – my little girl left me. It is always difficult when your children die before you. This was also during the time that Jose Fernando was not on speaking terms with me – I for the first time in my life was completely alone – the worst kind of loneliness is not feeling understood.
I went to Juan Antonio to ask him to allow me to raise Margil y Francisco. I timed my arrival just before dinner – this way I would spend the night and hopefully bring the children back with me the following morning. Once dinner was over I brought up the subject. He was gracias and agreed. The only condition Juan Antonio made was that the children use their surname of Vidaurri – and I made sure they were provided for in my will. All my grandchildren through Manuela would inherit entailments of El Alamo and Dolores – with Jose Fernando inheriting San Ygnacio and Corralitos. Margil was the last Vidaurri to live and work on Dolores. He abandoned Dolores after his eldest son was murdered by the Indians. This left him despondent to ranch life. He built a stone tower named “El Toro” yet this stone tower was not enough protection. It was safer to live in town – he moved his family shortly after to Laredo.
Juan Antonio brought the children to live with me – home was El Alamo. This is where Mama was raised I told them, I took them to La Mesa and showed them the spot where Mesilla’s killed the wild boar. The children were fine during the daytime – but it was Francisco that had the most difficulty – Margil understood that Mama was in heaven; Francisco believed that her place was here with him.
The first night was the hardest – Francisco started crying in the middle of the night.
It broke my heart – this child that seemed indestructible had a weakness, I feel that this loss at such a young age is what softened him. It was during this time that the child and I bonded – he began to look for me as he once looked for Manuela.
Margil by instinct knew that he needed to be the caregiver and help Francisco grieve.
“Do you want me to sleep with you Fran?”
Francisco nodded and moved over to make room for his brother – this became their sleeping arrangement for several years until Francisco felt he was no longer a baby.
He began having nightmares and often awoke screaming. As he grew older he remembered his nightmare of a tall distinguished man being led to a middle of a plaza – forced to kneel, loosely blindfolded and shot in the back by fifteen soldiers. He had the same recurring nightmare for the rest of his life. Maybe this is the reason he stayed out of politics, a premonition.
The children resumed their routine, and soon things became as normal as they could – because things would never be the same.
Francisco loved riding – he preferred being out doors. Classes bored him and would have resulted in expulsion if it were not for the fact that he was my grandson. Margil was an easy child – eager to please. They were extremely close, often telling each other their deepest thoughts. I never heard them argue or say one mean thing to each other.
“Margil, promise – you will never leave me.”
“When we grow up and have children, let’s marry them to each other.”
“You are silly” said Margil laughing.
“I’m serious, promise Margil.”
“Alright” Such were the conversations of children.
I employed a nana for the children – Maria Gertrudes. The boys became attached to her; she was their only other female influence besides Manuela. Maria Gertrudis was a beautiful girl and became engaged. On the day of her departure, as she was leaving Margil ran to her crying begging her not to leave – she comforted Margil promising to visit often. She looked all around for Francisco – he was nowhere to be found. Walking out to her carriage she ran into Francisco playing ball outside. “Sweetheart, aren’t you going to give me a hug goodbye?”
He just stood there staring at her; he gave her a simple wave of his hand goodbye – almost like a dismissal. I could see the tears forming in his eyes, the tears he held back. He wanted to desperately run to her like Margil – but did not. Weakness was not a virtue, we both knew that. But at that moment I wished we had been more like Margil.
The years passed and I became old and sickly. Jose Fernando and I made peace, but things between us were never the same, he never looked at me with the same look of trust. But there was love and as I wrote out my last will and testament, I stipulated that he was to continue caring for Margil and Francisco. He agreed
Jose Fernando took over their education and made sure they learned French – all the men in my family learned French; it was what gave us that je nais se qua.
Jose Fernando felt estranged from everyone – except for his wife and the family he was building. He could not help but fall in love with his little brothers – especially Margil who was so easy. Margil formed the bridge between Jose Fernando and Francisco often playing mediator when arguments brewed. Margil seemed to be a combination of both dynamic personalities – he upheld family duty, honor and tradition as did Jose Fernando and had the fiery temperament of his younger brother. The only difference was that Margil knew how to exercise control.
Francisco was becoming uncontrollable for Jose Fernando in the aspect that he was a womanizer like his uncle Fernando. This was the main issue between them – Francisco fell in love with the daughter of the mayorodomo of Encinas. Her name was Rosa – a beautiful girl. Jose Fernando was opposed to the match and forbade Francisco to see the girl. Francisco began to see Rosa in secret, and was expecting the birth of his first child.
Francisco made arrangements for the baptismal of the child – which they named Pedro Jose after Juan Antonio’s brother. Fernando paid the priest performing the ceremony to list the child as a bastardo – knowing full well the stipulation in my will forbidding all bastardo children inheritance. He was getting even since his children were not provided for in my will.
Margil tried to run interference for his younger brother – but failed. Jose Fernando found out about the birth of Pedro Jose and was beside himself that a Vidaurri child was listed as bastardo and berated Francisco for not handling the situation better – it was one thing to disobey but another to not take full responsibility.
Francisco set up house with Rosa and had two more children by her; another boy named Francisco Antonio and a girl.
Jose Fernando following my instructions arranged for Margil to marry cousin Josefa – Bartolome’s daughter with Alexandrina.
I expressed my wish to Jose Fernando that I wanted an allegiance with the Villasenor family – Maria Angela was not of age and this gave Francisco the time to sew his wild oats. Maria Angela was a beautiful girl, with almond-shaped eyes, and a smile that lighted up a room.
Jose Fernando arranged for a meeting of the minds with Francisco and as usual had Margil around for interference. This conversation was delicate and in order not to alarm Francisco took place on horseback.
The conversation started with a discussion of Margil’s upcoming nuptials – which led right into Francisco’s.
“Maria Angela is not of age at the moment, but she will be in two years.”
“What are you implying Jose Fernando”
Margil jumping in on Q stepped into the conversation “Looks like you will be joining me in wedded bliss little brother.” Jokingly patting Francisco on the back.
Francisco allowed himself to be cajoled into the conversation – into the reality of family duty and the role he would play. “I have two years Jose Fer – leave me alone until then.” He through his horse into full gallop
Time passed quickly and Rosa dela Cruz took ill. Francisco had taken responsibility for his children, he proved to be a good father. The marriage arrangements were made and a date was set. Maria Angela was a shy and timid girl – a proper little lady worthy of the Vidaurri name. Francisco was relieved that she was uncommonly pretty – and was actually looking forward to getting married.
They came back early from their honeymoon- word reached them that Rosa died. Maria Angela insisted on returning – she knew Francisco did not want to be separated from his children. Francisco was ready to have the children live with their maternal grandparents – Maria Angela would not hear of it and insisted the children live with them. With this action she secured a place for herself in Francisco’s heart.
Jose Fernando became Acalde of Laredo, TX for two consecutive terms 1777-78 as did Margil in 1814. Francisco preferred a life out of the limelight, he sought peace. He out of all my grandchildren was the most humble, and sentimental. The irony was that it will be through Francisco that the Vidaurri name would become imbedded into Mexico’s history – through Francisco that my dreams and ambitions materialized. It is my belief that the dreams and ambitions of a family become the finger prints on the souls of its descendents.
Francisco named his first child with Maria Angela – Juan Jose; he was followed by Francisco, Jose Antonio, Pedro Jose and Juan Antonio. His seven sons grew to become extremely close, with the older brothers watching out for the younger ones. Francisco ensured that all his children receive the same education, even the girls. He felt that a proper education would place them on equal footing.
Pedro Jose proved to be a studios child – favoring world history and its relationship with Spain. He enjoyed the tale of the twelve apostles – especially that of Saint James or Santiago Matamoros. The peaceful apostle who became a fierce warrior. The adage was that if Santiago was with you then so was God.
Pedro Jose was realistic and knew he would not inherit a portion of my latifundio. He was proud and did not ask for help from his father or his various influential relatives. He secured a place for himself in the army and was stationed in Lampazos de Naranjo, Nuevo Leon. Not having the burden of marrying for prestige, he married for love. He married a young Indian maiden named Maria Theodora Valdez. He named his first child – Santiago.
Note: Atanacio L. Vidaurri became acalde of Laredo in 1895.
Atanacio c. Vidaurri confederate Lieutenant in the War Between the States and acalde of Laredo- 1899.