Digital Newton, Kansas

History resources digitized by the Newton Public Library

Delores Vasques Interview
Collection: Oral History


Newton, Kansas - History


A turn of the century family from Mexico in Newton Kansas.


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas


Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas




Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas


Copyright 2015 Newton Public Library. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission. To request permission, contact Newton Public Library, 720 N. Oak, Newton, Kansas 67114. Phone: 316-283-2890; Email: Please credit Newton Public Library, Newton, Kansas as your source.





The transcript has been translated to English.



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Newton Public Library, Newton Kansas, “Delores Vasques Interview,” Digital Newton, Kansas, accessed October 18, 2017,

A.W. Holt


Mrs. Leonardo (Delores Vasques) Estrada
(Mother - Virginia Reina)


20. APRIL, 1977 INTERVIEWER: A.W. Holt Also: Mrs. Pat Estrada
Mrs. Belen Terrones
INTERVIEWER: Today is 29. April, 1977. Mrs. Leonardo Estrada
narrates. This is Ann Holt. Mrs. Estrada, when and where were you born?
MRS. ESTRADA: I was born on the twelfth of March, 1903. San
Francisco Del Rincon, in the state of Guanajuato.
INTER.: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
MRS. E.: Two. One girl and one boy.
INTER.: What were your brother and sister named.
MRS. E.': The girl was named Juana and my brother was named
INTER.: And when did you go to school?
MRS. E.: I went to school in San Francisco del Rinc6n for six
years. At twelve years of age, I finished going to school. (I took) arithmetic, geography, history and cooking, food preparation and sewing.
INTER.: And what was your favorite class?
MRS. E.: Cooking and sewing, and geography. Everything stirred
me a lot. In Guanajuato, which is the capital of all the state.,
INTER.: The University is there.
MRS. E.: Yes, the university is there.
INTER.: Would you tell us about your father?
MRS. E.: Oh, he was from the ranch. He worked with orchards.
81- 3810 
He died in 1910.
INTER.: And the orchards, there were three?
MRS. E.: Three orchards and they remained in the family
with my mother, with us, and they were what maintained
us, selling all the fruit that was gathered from the orchards
Limes, guavas, avocadoes, pomegranates, citrons, lemons (Later she mentioned tunas, or prickly pears). We had some hours of
water that came from a spring they called them "eyes" of water,
and it took six hours to irrigate the orchards.
INTER.: What did your mother do?
MRS. E.: Oh, she she sewed for other people by machine. She
had a Singer sewing machine and she sewed dresses, blouses, everything that they requested her to make. She was a seamstress.
INTER.: Oh, she still lives in San Francisco del Rincon.
MRS. E.: But--yes, she lives: in San Francisco, but he (father)
was building the orchards, where the ranch is.

INTER.: What else do you remember from your childhood? Early
impressions. How was your house and the city and the people and....
MRS. E.: Oh, all the people were good, but the bad was the war
that there was, and afterwards, the epidemic of sickness that
arrived. That was what made us suffer so much influenza, that
arrived in ’18. of people. They carried cartloads that
went to a ravine, there at San Francisco. They carried all the bodies in a cart of the city. Yes.
INTER. : When did you marry?
MRS. E.: I got married in 1918. My husband was named Leonardo
Estrada. My father-in-law went to my father, in the same year that we married, for us^ and started with us from there for Newton. And here we are, still here. My father-in-law died in 1930.
We left for San Francisco del Rincon, in the native land of his also, and we returned the same year of 1930.
INTER.: There was much terror during the first days of the
revolution, wasn't there?
MRS. E.: Yes, the revolutionaries gave us many scares when they
entered the town. We were here when the war ended, but because of that, we were better off being here than there, because here we did not have such fright. Yes, I took fright a lot when I
had gone to the town square with a woman and her daughter. I had left with her. I was carrying corn that my mother had loaded me with, and when they all entered shooting, then we ran and I was throwing all the corn from fright and crying and vomiting, much terror. It was the worst scare I ever had in my life. I think I was ten years old. Yes.
INTER.: So young.
MRS. E.: Yes. My brother left there for here in the United
States at ten years of age. He came with other people and he would give water to the labelers. It was his work that they gave him because he was so young when he came, yes.
Well, nothing but these scares when they entered and they fired shots in the plaza at times, when we were buying something, and there were scares, so that we ran and hid ourselves.
INTER.: What was Newton like when you arrived here?
MRS. E.: It was pretty and I did like it because there were some good friends of my father-in-law, and that is where we arrived when we came from Mexico to their place. And they really treated us very well, but I had, it grieved me to be here and to leave my mother and my sister in San Francisco. Yes. But she also came herself after we had come here.
She came with my sister. She arrived here, here at my place in 1921. My brother left for Kansas Bluff [Iowa] and that is when he came for my mother who was with us here in Newton.
And he carried them to Kansas Bluff. He went there with his family, and he had come with his wife.
INTER.: When did your first child arrive?
MRS. E.: In 1919, my first child arrived. In 1919, The
second (female) died at three months and then my second daughter was born in '20. And the third was born in '22. And the fourth was born in '24. And in 25, my first boy was born, the first male child, Joaquin. After that, in '27, was born another of
my daughters. And in ’28 in '29, another of my girls was born.
Yes. And in'30, another girl was born.
INTER.: What are their names?
MRS. E.: Oh the first was named Dionisia. The second, Claudia.
The third, Maria and the fourth, Margarita. Joaquin, the first male child, and the other girl, born in '27, who was Martina. Martina. And in '29, in '28, Cecilia was born. And in '31, Natalia was born. And in '33, another of my boys,
another male child Francisco. And in '35 another girl was born, whom we named Jennie. And in '37, another boy, was born, who was Pedro. And in 39, another girl, who is Josefina. And in ’42, Salvador, another male child, was born. Yes. And in '43, the youngest was born, Lorenzo. Yes. Did I not say the name of Salvador?
INTER.: Yes.
MRS. E.: The youngest of the family (Lorenzo). With all those two
died, they are fifteen in number. And twelve are still living. Because three of my girls, the female children, were the ones who died. And seven girls are living right now. And this year, the one born in '20 is going to be 57. She is the oldest.
INTER.: All are married?
MRS. E.: All. All got married. Yeah. All. (I have) fifty
grandchildren and fifty five great grandchildren.
INTER.: Yes? Congratulations.
MRS. E.: Thank you very much.
INTER.: And can you tell me something of their childhoods?
MRS. E.: Well, what I can say is that they gave me some good
INTER.: One must have a sense of humor!
MRS. E.: Yes, they gave me some good scares. I asked God to
permit me to rear my children, and God granted me the permission.
INTER.: What did your husband do?
MRS. E.: Oh, he worked on the Santa Fe. He says that in ’19 when we arrived he entered the Santa Fe, the Roundhouse. But now there is no Roundhouse--it is the Santa Fe. But they always went on cleaning the trains. It was their work to clean the trains.
INTER.: And did the trains arrive on time?
MRS. E.: Yes, yes, they arrived on time.
INTER.: How many hours a day did he work? And what, more or
less, was the salary that he earned?
MRS. E.: Oh, he earned very little on the when he began 
working, but still in ’39, they gave him very little in the check.
It paid them very little. Yes, the salary was very little. But,
but every day, he worked from eight until (pause) it was eight
hours that he worked four o’clock, it would be, right? Such that
at two years, one year and a half before he died, was when he stopped working, because he was sick. He began in ’19 until ’58. Yes, because he died in ’59. He had cancer of the lungs.
INTER.: What were your neighbors like when you established a life
in Newton?
MRS. E.: Oh, they were Mexicans, too, when we lived on Fifth Street
and already on the street where we used to live, but it was another house, on another that is in front. But they were all good to us. Because, well, at the time, there were houses that they rented out to Mexicans with families. And because of that, there were Mexicans there close to us.
INTER.: What were the names of some of them?
MRS. E.: Oh, what is the name of the husband... Abrahan Rodriguez.
BELEN TERRONES: The Reyes were here then?
MRS. E.: Yes, they already lived here on the street where all
your husband's family, the Terrones, live. Your father Cecel also
lived on Second Street, didn't he? (Pause) We lived he lived
two houses on the other side of us.
INTER.: That is, Antonio Gomez.
MRS. E.: Yes, with his wife, who was Irene, Irene Gomez.
INTER.: Father Schaeffers, what was he like?
MRS. E.: With us who were already here, they made the church of
Our Lady of Guadalupe on First Street, that remains, that remained
there, adjoining the houses of the Ranchito (the houses referred
to earlier, rented to Mexicans with families). Unhuh, yes. Two of my girls were baptized St. Mary's, in the church of St. Mary. Then the rest attained baptism at Our Lady of Guadalupe that we had, that they built on First Street. He (Schaeffers) was not with the church then.
B.T.: Do you remember? Three Mexican fathers ? Father MufToz.
Father Eugenio.
MRS. E.: Yes, Father Eugenio. Then, my oldest girl was already
six, and we had to gather flowers in the month of May, in order to
offer flowers, in the month of May, to Our Lady. It was the custom that they carry flowers to the Most Sacred Virgin.
INTER.: What type of flowers did they carry here?
MRS. E.: Oh, very pretty ones. One would be walking, joining
together at houses, buying them, but they did not give them away as gifts, because they were for Our Lady.
INTER.: (Did you bring special foods here to Kansas?)
MRS. E.: There was everything that one could want to buy here. Yes.
INTER.: Of the food?
MRS. E.: Yes. Beans, chilies, potatoes, noodles, flour and rice.
Everything that had everything that one needed. Sancho peppers.
And all that.
INTER.: (I asked her about ^t lie children played.)
MRS. E.: (We didn't have the funds) to buy them many toys or all that one would want to buy them because it was very little that my husband earned from the work, and all, all of us were alike, all the people and....
INTER.: It takes more imagination.
MRS. E.: Yes. What we bought for the boys were marbles. And for
the girls, some lambs that jump and games that they could play.
Yes, also, and the tops for the boys. Yes. And they enjoyed themselves a lot. Yes. And I bought the girls dolls and small pieces of cloth that they bought that way from remnants they sold so that the girls could make dresses for the dolls. All went to school, all.
INTER.: And when was it that they were speaking English?
MRS. E.: At school. But they knew purely Spanish because I spoke
purely Spanish. But they entered school and that is when they learned English. All my boys and girls know Spanish.
INTER.: I am glad.
MRS. E.: Yes. Of those who went into the service were Joaquin,
and Francisco, Salvador. Lorenzo was in the how was it where
Lorenzo went?
INTER.: (I asked her about religious festivals.) 
MRS. H.: And that one that they were accustomed all the time was
of the twelfth day of December, that is the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the saint's day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
INTER.: What was Mass like then?
MRS. E.: The Mass that they said was the Mass at six in the
morning to sing "Happy Birthday" to Our Lady.
INTER.: And processions?
MRS. E.: Yes, processions also. There was, from the Ranchito,
Amador Cardenas, Antonio Gomez, Cuellar and
B. T.: Luz Porras. Do remember Luz Porras who was here then?
MRS. E.: Yes, Luz Porras. Avila. Cistos Avila. Arellano.
INTER.: The residents who were here when she (Mrs. Estrada) and
here husband came.
MRS. E.: It made me feel bad that I could not speak English if I
couldn't make conversation with, yes, with the women who arrived of these Americans.
INTER.: And what did you do to combat this?
MRS. E.: I looked for someone who knew English, also, so she could
interpret for me. When we went to the town to buy something that I needed, yes I needed to carry along someone who knew English. Ah yes. In order to be able to live with so many members in a family, one needed credit in the stores. And they gave us credit and we paid each payday, one part. And so we were making payments from payday to payday. I didn't think that I was going to have so much family.
INTER.: And also that Newton would be growing so large?
MRS. E.: Yes.
B.T.: It has grown a lot, hasn't it, since the time when you came
MRS. E.: Oh, yes, uhuh, and all the family everyone is now big
and very hard workers. The oldest is Joaquin, who was in the service
he went to Germany. He was in Germany. When, later on, the peace
• they made peace in '45. Then he came back and that was when he entered the work at the Rail Mill. It was in '45. That was Francisco. He went to the Navy, and he remained four years in the
Navy, and he is now living in Wichita, on the same work that he had in the Navy, with airplanes. Beech, unhuh, yes. He went into the Air Force. How do you say that (in Spanish)? Salvador.
Salvador entered the service of the Air Force. Yes, and he came back. He completed his four years and he returned to study in
Wichita. The work of painting artist. And now he is an artist.
Four years of study in the college in Wichita.
INTER.: This is changing the subject, but how was the climate in
Newton? Was it very different? Did you have to get accustomed to the climate?
MRS. E.: Yes, it was much colder than right now. Much snow.
INTER.: Had you seen snow before coming here?
MRS. E.: No, in Mexico, there had not been anything of snow. Just
hail and downpours, but also winds that arrived. Floods. Each year, at the time of the waters, that is, from the rains, there had been floods there in San Francisco. Also, there were other great scares that we endured. The water hit the houses, and one left the houses so as not to be there in the water.
(She talks of her youngest son.) His four years also, Lorenzo (Larry), the youngest, his work is of dressing hair. How is that said?
INTER.: Stylist?
MRS. E«: Yes. Claudia, Marfa, Margarita, Martina, had, they were
working in Wichita, on the airplanes during the time of the war, that was in *53, they hired girls and women to do the work because there were no men. All were in the war. And they worked there something like
three years. the war, they employed them. And then, they took
more men to work.
(When asked about some hobbies ) I wove things for my tables, the divans
That is what I wove then. And now I knit sweaters, cushions...
INTER.: Things for the kitchen?
MRS. E.: Yes. The school but the first, we did not have the money
to give them to finish them in school. They left school and worked.
And Maria, yes, she graduated. And Joaquin didn’t finish school.
Claudia arrived to the tenth grade, and Joaquin to the eleventh.
And now not any more after the eleventh. (Several daughters) good
work in the hospital as a nurse (Bethel).
INTER.: Were there many teachers who knew Spanish in the schools?
MRS. E.: No more than pure English. They had a get together as if
they were Girl Scouts with Miss Thomas. That was Claudia, Maria,
Margarita, Martina, Cecilia, Natalia. They were with her. (Ms. Thomas-]
who was going to help me every day. Yes. And Miss Thomas was the one
She meant to say Miss Kannapel (Catherine Westerhaus), she later explained.
who was going to help me in ‘37, to take care of me. Who went to clean me everyday. That was born my boy, Pedro. Yes. She helped me with Pedro, with Josefina. Now with Salvador and Lorenzo, I went to the hospital, because then the doctors did not leave to go to the houses. Yes. At- first, yes, they left to the homes. Yes.
That was Nicha, Claudia, Marfa, Margarita, and Joaquin. There were men who knew about midwifery, yeah, those who came to take care of me to see me when my girls were born. Of the rest, then the doctor came--of Pedro and Pancho (nickname of Francisco) and Salvador.
It was Dr. Grove. He is still living. With Lorenzo, I had to go to the hospital because doctors didn't make house calls. And my doctor, the doctor of them then of Lorenzo and Salvador was Smith.
PAT ESTRADA: And mine's the biggest. (In English) [She is married
to Larry Estrada]
MRS E.: Yes, when I went to the hospital was when they weighed
them when they were born. Salvador weighed seven pounds and a half and Lorenzo, the littlest of the family, weighed nine and a half pounds. And before that, they didn't know how much they weighed.
They alleviated me at home.
MRS. E.: (Here she tells a story about her brother and a cat,)
--to leave for the outside to urinate, there at the ranch. [He began to yell or cry, scared, and it was that he looked towards the orchard, but in the dark the eyes shone. Yes and he thought it was the devil and then he went inside and cried and cried and when my father got up from sleeping, he sat one of us down on each leg and he began us praying. And we remained [until] asleep. Those were the frights that I carried. Because of this, I didn't want to be at the orchard. I attended more with my dear little grandmother. My mother's mother.
INTER.: What did your grandmother do?
MRS. E.: My grandmother worked at the church, making meals for the
fathers of the church. It was her work. There wasn't any corn then that-there just wasn't any, then at that time. She, what they gave her when she left from work there, of the church for us to eat.
The little (bocad ? tos) sandwiches that they gave her. I never went to mass without praying when I saw all the children in the arms of the virgins that were around the church-all the children that they had in their arms. My godmother told me that it was because I was going to have so much family. Yeah (in English). Yes.
BELEN TERRONES: And you had itl
MRS E.: You know it That he put much family, that God commanded
us to have so much family 1 said to him, "Good, well if God
demands it of us, what are we going to do?"
— JL- -~i ■ .. J
INTER.: That all of your children have their birthdays in all the
months of the year.
MRS. E.: My children have their saint every month of the year.
INTER.: Thank you, Senora. Thank you for everything. [I asked
her what she had wanted for her children in terms of happiness in life, what advice she gave.]
MRS. E.: All my children, that they be good companions, good company
and that they have good thoughts and that they be good, and do good unto everyone.
No, but it was he who looked after Joaqim (in Walton). And he worked there with him when he began to work there on the track (railroad). Seventeen years old.
INTER.: Don Pablo Llamas.
MRS. E.: What is his name? Pablo Llamas (looked out for the younger
Mexican-American men. Was a mayordomo. she explained).
INTER.: [I asked about her French ancestors, about whom her
daughter-in-law had told me.] Vasques is from the French.
MRS. E.: I believe they came to Mexico many years before I was born.
For that reason I have only heard conversations that the French had gone.
INTER.: Ancestors. One of them was French.

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