“That year I got 160 acres of land” (Tafolla)

In the same year, the war broke out between the United States and the Confederate States, and when the army was set to march out of the state of Texas, Sergeant McDonald deserted, came to where I was, and sold the cows. […] That year I got 160 acres of land, which was the amount the state of Texas was granting to every citizen who was a head of household. I built a ranch on a particular branch of Privilege Creek which is called Bear Creek. I lived there for some time with my brothers-in-law, who’d come to live with us there in Bandera County. J.P. Rodríguez had established a ranch on the main branch of Privilege Creek approximately two miles from mine.

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 63.

Land: Tafolla qualifies for headright land 1861.

“Mama, is Mexican Jim sure enough White?” (Tafolla)

When the townspeople heard that there was a Mexican boy in town, they came to see me out of curiosity and everyone was talking about “the Mexican boy.” Dr. F.T. Matthews was a fine Christian gentleman and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He taught a Sunday school class and was a real gentleman in every sense of the word. Some of the people who came to see me expressed surprise and would say, “He is nearly White” [sic. in original] while others would say, “He’s as White as anybody.” The doctor would reply to them, “Of course, he is White.” Since there [24] was still slavery at the time, the Whites would not associate at all with the Blacks and considered it a degradation to even sympathize with the Negroes. I remember that Mrs. Matthews’ daughter asked her mother one day, “Mama, is Mexican Jim sure enough White?” and her mother answered, “Daughter, James’ blood is as free from Negro blood as yours is.”

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 23ff.

Context: Tafolla is still young, looking for odd jobs in Columbus and Talbotton, Georgia.

“I saw a Negro man who was a quadroon. He looked like a Mexican, so I spoke to him in Spanish.” (Tafolla)

Finally, I arrived at a barbershop where I saw a Negro man who was a quadroon [negro cuarterón]. He looked like a Mexican, so I spoke to him in Spanish, but he didn’t understand me. However, he took me by the hand to a house where there was a Mexican woman. He told her to ask me if I wanted to live with him, and that he would teach me the barber trade. I explained to the Mexican lady how it was that I had come to St. Louis. She asked the Negro to leave me there, and said she would see that I got to the place where I belonged. And then she advised me not to associate with Negroes and sent me to the hotel with an American boy. Mr. Matthews was very worried and had been looking for me.

Santiago Tafolla, A Life Crossing Borders: Memoir of a Mexican-American Confederate. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press. Edited by Carmen Tafolla and Laura Tafolla. Translated by Fidel L. Tafolla. 17.

Context: Tafolla is a young orphan, recently ran away from a bad foster home in New Mexico. Now traveling with an Anglo caravan into St. Louis.