FIRST EDITION FOREWORD
A few years after the turn of the present century, a small town in southwest Texas claimed as one of its residents an old Mexican by the name of Don Francisco Calistro del Arocha, who made his living repairing watches, mending trinkets, and doing odd jobs about the town, according to his physical and mental fitness and the demands ofthe townspeople for his services.
Don Francisco was born at Matamoros in the Mexican province of Tamaulipas, of proud Spanish parents who had moved there from San Antonio in the province of Texas shortly before the revolution of 1836. They saw to it that he obtained such education as the parochial schools and the seminary at Matamoros afforded. When he became of age, he located in Texas.
Always haughty and boastful, Don Francisco claimed membership in that secluded little band known as "Las Inteligencias" : hence , it is not surprising that the other Mexicans in the Texas town shunned him, or that the Americans failed to accept him into their society. To show his utter indifference to both elements, he persuaded a young American woman to marry him after he passed the age of sixty.
Each Wednesday afternoon Don Francisco assisted the editor of the local newspaper in printing and mailing the paper to its two hundred or so subscribers. At other times, when needed, he would treadle the old Gordon job press, clean rollers, and sweep the floor, all the while regaling the editor with fabulous stories about the deeds of his great- grandparents, Francisco Arocha and Juana Curbelo, who came from the Canary Islands as original settlers at Villa de San Fernando, now San Antonio, in the Spanish province of Texas. He told many stories which he alleged were contained in a batch of old letters written by his forefathers and still in his possession. These included tales about the voyage of the Canary Islanders to America; how his Most Catholic
Majesty, King Philip V of Spain, sent the colonists across the Atlantic in one of his finest ships; how the King paid all the expenses of the voyage and gave them a year's subsistence free, as well as land and live stock. These were bountiful gifts, Don Francisco declared, but they were insignificant when compared with the high honor conferred by order of His Majesty upon his ancestors and their descendants in perpetuity by making them citizens of noble birth. According to the old Mexican, this act established his incontestable right to use the title, "Don," before his name.
The plausible stories of the proud old Mexican helper fired the young editor, then in his late teens, with determination to write a story about early San Antonio. Fate intervened, however, and the editor, who happens to be the author of this work, two years later engaged in another line of endeavor, to which he has since devoted his time and talents. This circumstance has delayed completion of the task for nearly forty years.
For pleasant diversion the author has endeavored over the years to develop this story from the faded notes he made of Don Francisco's tales and from the masterly works of such eminent historians as Mattie Alice Austin, Hubert H. Bancroft, Herbert E. Bolton, Carlos E. Castaiieda, I. J. Cox, William E. Dunn, Elizabeth Howard West, and others.
Many of Don Francisco's stories, without doubt, are based on tradition, fiction, or "old wives' tales." They are interwoven with historical facts throughout this work and serve to fill in many gaps that records thus far available to the author have failed to supply. The author finds himself, therefore, in a predicament not unlike that of a paleontologist, who, desiring to reconstruct the skeleton of a prehistoric animal without the benefit of all the bones, relics upon his knowledge, imagination, and estimates of the size and importance of the missing parts to develop what he believes is a fair representation of the object of his efforts.