Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SPANISH AND MEXICAN LAND GRANTS IN TEXAS


ABOVE: The house I imagined on the West Texas Spanish ranch. The image is actually a residence in San Miguel, in the mountains in the interior of Mexico.

MEXICAN AND SPANISH LAND GRANTS IN TEXAS

During the Eighteenth Century, Spain ruled Texas, and during the Nineteenth Century, Mexico ruled. Both of these countries issued hundreds, if not thousands, of land grants. Spain granted land to build towns around missions, which were actually forts, and granted thousands of acres for ranching. Mexico followed the same pattern until Texas won its independence.
Research found on the internet describes a dizzying number of grants, large and small, urban and country, along with often vague genealogies of families associated with the land.
With this information, I loosely based my first novel, ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS, on a ranch which was an old Spanish land grant owned by the fictional Spanish Romero family.
Rafael Romero, the father, married a half-breed woman whose father was a Comanche warrior and whose mother was a Spanish lady. Together, they had one child—a son named Ricardo.
In 1880, Ricardo Romero travels by train all the way to the East Texas town of Nacogdoches. His mission is to purchase twenty blooded mares and one fine stallion from the ranchers of that area, who were known to have the finest horseflesh a man could buy.
While there, he becomes acquainted with a beautiful Anglo woman, Miss Cynthia Harrington, the daughter of the richest man in town. They marry, and he takes her home to the ranch on the far Western edge of the Texas frontier.
Excerpt:
Ricardo Romero knocked three times on the massive door of the Harrington residence. Maria answered, looked at him, sniffed with her chin up, and asked with one raised eyebrow. “Yes?”
“I need to see Miss Cynthia. Now, please.”
“Yes, sir, follow me,” she answered only somewhat meekly.
While he waited in the parlor, Ricardo thought through his plan once more. Was this the right thing to do? His schedule was to leave in three days. Would that be enough time? He paced back and forth in front of the large front window, hoping Mr. Harrington would not come home. All he needed to do was convince Cynthia, and he believed he could. The biggest problem was his family and other situations waiting at the ranch.
He heard her approach and spun on his heels. There she was, pale but beautiful, sad but strong.
“Cynthia?”
“What are you doing here?” She cocked her head to one side. He thought she’d been crying, at least sometime during the previous hours.
“Will you sit here beside me?” He swept his long arm toward the love seat.
She sat and he sat beside her. “Cynthia, I have news. And I have a proposition. Will you hear me out?”
Turning slightly toward him, she leaned forward in curiosity. “What do you want, Ricardo?”
“I want to ask you to marry me. Three days from now, if you will.”
She gasped and pulled back. “What?”
“I ask for your hand in marriage,” he said as he studied her light blue eyes, so wide with surprise. She had not turned from him yet. “The marriage proposal you received yesterday will be retracted soon, before the afternoon is over, I’m certain. So, I ask you to marry me instead, but not a month from now—in three days.”
“Why three days?” she asked with surprise in her voice. “And how do you know Harris will retract his proposal?”
He almost laughed. She asked why so soon, not “why on earth” would he ask in the first place. Then, she asked about Newton.
“Believe me; Harris Newton does not want to marry you, now. Because you were out on the road with me all night. He will retract his proposal.”
“Well, then, why should I marry you in three days?”
This was a good sign, a good sign, indeed. “Because I’m going home, and I want you to go with me—as my bride. Will you, Cynthia? Will you marry me?”
She was speechless, but she did not reject him out of hand. After some moments of heavy silence, she asked. “Where exactly do you live?”
He breathed a sigh of relief. “West of San Antonio, on a very large ranch.”
“Why are you here in Nacogdoches? I’ve often wondered.”
“To buy blooded mares to add to our herd.”
“Our. Who else?”
“My father. He and I ranch together on property that’s been in his family for generations. He and my mother live there, but it’s a very large house, and an enormous operation. It takes all of us and many vaqueros to keep things going. My father is aging, so I am mostly in charge.”
“A ranch? I know nothing of ranching or the West. I would like to live in a city. But you live…”
“Not far from San Antonio,” he hastened to say. “But it is far enough away that we only go twice a year for a holiday.”
She lowered her head and looked at her hands. “I don’t know. That seems far out of my realm of expertise. I’m not certain I could do that.”
“Answer this, Cynthia. Would you rather live here until your father finds another husband for you, or would you rather make your own decision? I’m giving you a choice.”
At that moment, they heard heavy, hurried footsteps on the porch. Both knew it was the master of the house. Just as he opened the door, stepped in, and turned toward the parlor, Ricardo gathered Cynthia into his arms. He turned her just so, placed his lips on her soft, feminine ones, and kissed her with all the passion he could muster. For good measure, he moved one hand to one breast. Instead of fighting, she responded as though she hadn’t heard her father.
“Cynthia Louise Harrington! What the devil are you up to?”
Ricardo and Cynthia pulled back, but they did not jerk apart. Instead, they gazed into each other’s eyes and parted slowly. Without caring if the man was in the room or not, Ricardo placed his palm on her cheek, and kissed her on the other, ever so sweetly and gently. Before he let her go, he whispered, “Will you marry me?”
She nodded and whispered in return, “Yes, I will marry you.”

TO: Rafaelo Romero. Double R Ranch. Rico Springs, Texas
FROM: Ricardo Romero
Arriving home STOP Twenty mares STOP One stallion STOP One bride STOP

Trailer: All My Hopes and Dreams.


The title of this novel is ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. The e-Book release is November 21, and the print will be available February 22, 2009.
Thank you for reading,
Celia Yeary

13 comments:

Lauri said...

Your books sounds wonderful, Celia!

Congrats on the release date and best wishes for many, many sales!

Interesting post about the land grants, too!

Cheers,
Lauri

Tanya Hanson said...

Congratulations on this wonderful book. So tomorrow's the big day. May all your hopes and dreams come true!

Your post is most interesting and reminds me of our region's historical landowner, Don Olivas.

Cheryl said...

Celia,
Congrats on your release date tomorrow. I know you are excited! Loved the excerpt--Ricardo sounds like my kind of guy.
Cheryl

Loretta said...

Loved the book trailer, made more interesting by reading the excerpt from your post. Gorgeous book cover.

MaryF said...

Very cool, Celia! My family can trace back to one of the "Old 300" who came with Stephen Austin, and I'm writing my first historical set in that time period.

Off to get your book!

MaryF said...

Blast, I thought it was the 21st already....

Linda LaRoque said...

Interesting post, Celica, but I loved the excerpt and trailer. Must read All My Hopes and Dreams.

Linda

Diana Castilleja said...

The book excerpt is wonderful. Congratulations on your first release!

Mary Ricksen said...

I wish you the best of luck Celia, and I love the name of your book.

Romance Author said...

Interesting information and intriguing excerpt.

Celia Yeary said...

Oh, thank you all--such sweet comments. I savor each one. So, to Lauri, Tanya, Cheryl, Loretta, Mary F., Linda, Dianna, Mary R., Romance Author, I do appreciate your best wishes. Celia

Anne Carrole said...

Great excerpt Celia--congrats on release!

Debster said...

Great post Celia, and the book trailer is beautiful.