From the Editors 29 (2011)Engineer and Editor Juan Hart Moved El Paso Forward 29 (2011)Elizabeth Garrett: Songbird of the Southwest 29 (2011)A Passionate Life: Josephine Clardy Fox 29 (2011)Forgotten No More: Korean War POW Tells Story of Survival 29 (2011)Janice Woods Windle Treasures Family History 29 (2011)Andy and Syd Cohen: The Men Behind the Name 29 (2011)Leona Ford Washington Preserved Black History 29(2011)Ingeborg Heuser Brought Professional Ballet to City 29 (2011)Lee and Beulah Moor Left Legacy of Love 29 (2011)
From the Editors 28 (2010)Chasin’ Away the Blues: Texas Sunday Legislation 28 (2010)Simeon Hart Pioneered Local Industry 28 (2010)Felix Martinez: Southwestern Renaissance Man 28 (2010)Teresa Urrea: La Santa de Cabora Inspired Mexican Revolution 28 (2010)Utopia in Mesilla: The Shalam Colony 28 (2010)Stahmann Farms Produce Pecans on Two Hemispheres 28 (2010)Betty Mary Goetting Brought Birth Control to El Paso 28 (2010)Maud Sullivan Made El Paso Public Library a Cultural Center 28 (2010)Lucy Acosta’s Legacy Continues in LULAC 28 (2010)Belen Robles: Voice for the Latino Community 28 (2010)Toltec Club: Of Ghosts and Guests 28 (2010)
Strong Women Building a Strong City -- From the Editors 27(2008)Notable Women of El Paso 27(2009)The Chew Legacy: The Story of Herlinda Wong Chew 27(2009)Desert Nightingale: Louise Dietrich 27(2009)1909-2009: YWCA Celebrates 100 Years in El Paso 27(2009)Mabel Welch: El Paso’s First Female Architect 27(2009)Myrna Deckert Remains Modest About Achievements 27(2009)Suzie Azar Still Reaches for the Sky 27 (2009)The Moocher: Callie Fairley, First Woman Vice Detective in El Paso 27(2009)Alicia R. Chacón Came to Politics Naturally 27 (2009)Rosa Guerrero: Cultural Dynamo 27 (2009)
From the Past to the Present -- From the Editor 26 (2007/08)Yandell Boulevard Named for Prominent El Paso Physician 26 (2007/08)Japanese Immigrants Came Slowly to Borderland 26 (2007/08)World War II Affected Japanese Immigrants 26 (2007/08)Living, Breathing New Mexico Ghost Town: Hillsboro 26 (2007/08)Canutillo Developed from Land Grant 26 (2007/08)Rómulo Escobar Zerman: Juárez Agronomist and Teacher 26 (2007/08)El Paso Mayor: Tom Lea Jr. 26 (2007/08)Ted Karam: Lebanese Immigrant Lived American Dream 26 (2007/08)Publication Credits 26 (2007/08)
From the Director 25 (2006)First El Paso Protestant Church: St. Clement's 25 (2006)Bowie High School: Always a Bear 25 (2006)Golden Gloves Grew Out of El Paso's Love of Boxing 25 (2006)LULAC Fought Hard to Guarantee Rights 25 (2006)El Paso Women Gained Power in LULAC 25 (2006)McKelligon Canyon: From Cattle to Culture 25 (2006)Tortugas Celebrates Virgen de Guadalupe, San Juan 25 (2006)Bataan Death March and POW Camps 25 (2006)Bataan Survivors Recall Horrors 25 (2006)Anthony Family Had Five Sons in World War II 25 (2006)Sober on the Border 25 (2006)Clyde W. Tombaugh: Farm Boy Reached for the Stars 25 (2006)A Taste of Southwest Wine 25 (2006)
From the Director 24 (2005)From the Editors 24 (2005)Gypsie Davenport and May Palmer Ran Infamous Brothels 24 (2005)Pioneer Attorney William Burges Tackled Unpopular Issues 24 (2005)Richard Fenner Burges: Renaissance Man 24 (2005)Charles Kelly Wielded Power with Political 'Ring' 24 (2005)Tom Charles Wanted World to Know White Sands 24 (2005)Dripping Springs has Rich History 24 (2005)Thomas B. White Directed Innovative La Tuna for 19 Years 24 (2005)Cowboys on the Range --- Missile Range, That Is 24 (2005)Ranchers vs. the Feds: The McNew Saga 24 (2005)Mexican Repatriation in 1930s 24 (2005)White House Department Store 24 (2005)Thomason Hospital Celebrates 90 Years 24 (2005)R.E. Thomason Shaped City, State, Nation 24 (2005)
Postcards from the Past Editor's Column 23 (2004)From the Editors 23 (2004)Solomon C. Schutz Helped Bring Law and Order to El Paso 23 (2004)James Gillett Showed Courage in El Paso 23 (2004)Jim White Explored Carlsbad Caverns for Years 23 (2004)Ben Lilly: Mountain Man of the Southwest 23 (2004)Aldo Leopold Proposed Land Ethics 23 (2004)Escontrias Ranch: A Link to Hueco Tanks Park 23 (2004)Hueco Tanks is Site of Controversy 23 (2004)Marcelino Serna Became World War I Hero 23 (2004)Sam Dreben Soldiered All Over the World 23 (2004)Kern Place Neighborhood: The Man Behind the Name 23 (2004)Farah Manufacturing Now Just a Memory 23 (2004)Texas Knights of Columbus Began in El Paso 23 (2004)
Look for Us on the Web - Editor's Column 22 (2003)From the Editors 22 (2003)Victorio Fought to the Death for Homeland 22 (2003)O. T. Bassett and Charles R. Morehead 22 (2003)S. H. Newman: Pioneer Newspaperman Fought Vice 22 (2003)Elfego Baca Lived More Than Nine Lives 22 (2003)Woman's Club Has Long Served City 22 (2003)Cathedral's Beauty Pleases 22 (2003)Albert J. Fountain's Achievements Eclipsed by Mysterious Death 22 (2003)Albert B. Fall's Career Ended in Disgrace 22 (2003)Cloudcroft Baby Sanatorium Saved Many 22 (2003)Dale Resler Worked Hard for El Paso 22 (2003)Price's Dairy Still Family Owned 22 (2003)Woodlawn Bottling Brought Pepsi to Town 22 (2003)Union Depot Witnessed Growth of El Paso 22 (2003)
We're Now on the Web --From the Editor 21(2002)From the Editors 21(2002)Downtown Opium Dens Attracted Many 21(2002)Juneteenth Celebrates Freedom for Texas Slaves 21(2002)Black Cowboys Rode the Trails, Too 21(2002)Ku Klux Klan Had Short Life in El Paso 21(2002)Mining Became Big Business in Southwest 21(2002)Smeltertown Still Exists in Memories 21 (2002)El Paso Played Important Role in the Mexican Revolution 21 (2002)Pancho Villa Led Northern Forces in Revolution 21 (2002)Soldaderas Played Important Roles in Revolution 21 (2002)Pershing, Villa Forever Linked to Columbus 21 (2002)Cristeros Became Mexican Martyrs 1926-1929 -- 21 (2002)Houchen Settlement House Helped New Arrivals 21 (2002)Otis A. Aultman Captured Border History in Pictures 21 (2002)
Hot Springs Have Long HistoryThe Building of a City -- From the Editor 20 (2001)From the Staff (Volume 20)Pat Garrett Enjoyed Controversy 20 (2001)Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire Terrorized Town 20 (2001)History Reveals Rivalry of Madams Etta Clark and Alice Abbott 20 (2001)Kohlberg, Krupp, Zielonka Became Business and Civic Leaders 20 (2001)Olga Kohlberg Pioneered Many Local Organizations 20 (2001)Henry Trost's Architectural Legacy Lives On 20 (2001)Sunset Heights Preserves History 20 (2001)Adolph Schwartz Built Local Retail Dynasty 20 (2001)Zach T. White Brought Progress to El Paso 20 (2001)Masons Became Leaders in Texas, El Paso 20 (2001)Smallpox Epidemic Showed Need for Hospitals20 (2001)El Paso High School Remains Classic 20 (2001)Bhutanese Architecture Distinguishes UTEP Campus 20 (2001)Elephant Butte Dam Solved Early Water Problems 20 (2001)
Pioneer Ranch became Concordia Cemetery 19 (2000)El Paso Grows Up 19 (2000)From the Staff 19 (2000)Chinese Immigrants Helped Build Railroad in El Paso 19 (2000)Volunteer Fire Department Grew into Professional Company 19 (2000)1880s Brought First Theaters to Town 19 (2000)Sisters of Charity Began Hotel Dieu Hospital 19 (2000)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso Into a Health Center 19 (2000)First Public School Built in 1884 19 (2000)Enigmatic Olivas Aoy Began School for Mexican Children 19 (2000)El Paso Public Library Began Modestly 19 (2000)Jesuits Continue to Influence Area 19 (2000)Sisters of Loretto Have Long Tradition in Southwest 19 (2000)Mormons Found Sanctuary in Mexico in 1880s 19 (2000)Mennonite Colonies in Mexico Accept Change Slowly 19 (2000)Flu Epidemic of 1918 Hit El Paso Hard 19 (2000)Early City Planners Saw Future in Scenic Drive 19 (2000)Prohibition Stimulated Economies of El Paso, Juárez 19 (2000)
The Editor's Column : The Building of a City 18 (1999)From the Editors 18 (1999)Magoffinsville Had Lasting Influence on El Paso 18 (1999)Town of El Paso Grew from Pioneer Settlements 18 (1999)Downtown El Paso Is Monument to Anson Mills 18 (1999)1848 War With Mexico Created Southwest 18 (1999)Colonel Doniphan and Volunteers Won Battle of Brazito 18 (1999)Gadsden Purchase Clarified U.S. Boundaries 18 (1999)Early Fort Bliss Occupied Pioneer Sites 18 (1999)Henry O. Flipper Paved Way for Integration of Military 18 (1999)Buffalo Soldiers Defended Western Frontier 18 (1999)El Paso Was Midpoint of Overland Mail Service 18 (1999)Salt War of 1877 Divided Southwest Residents 18 (1999)Geronimo Led Final Fight 18 (1999)Apache Indians Defended Homelands in Southwest 18 (1999)Texas Rangers Helped Keep Order on Frontier 18 (1999)Sarah Bowman and Tillie Howard: Madams of the 1800s 18 (1999)El Paso Grew Up with Arrival of Railroad 18 (1999)
Aztecs Ruled Complex, Rich Society 17 (1998)From the Editor 17 (1998)Aztec Beliefs Helped Conquer Mexico 17 (1998)Cortés Created New Order in Mexico 17 (1998)La Malinche Remains Controversial 17 (1998)Cabeza de Vaca: Travels in Texas 17 (1998)Estebán Furthered Legend of Cíbola 17 (1998)Coronado Searched for Cities of Gold 17 (1998)Oñate Conquered Desert to Explore Southwest 17 (1998)Festival Celebrates Oñate's Historic Arrival 17 (1998)Fray Garcia Left Great Legacy 17 (1998)Franciscans Brought Catholicism to Area 17 (1998)America's First Highway: El Camino Real 17 (1998)Pueblo Revolt Brought Tiguas South 17 (1998)Tigua Indians Survive 300 Years of Ordeals 17 (1998)Area Missions are Part of Living History 17 (1998)San Elizario Presidio Protected Settlers 17 (1998)Ethnic Terms Can Cause Confusion 17 (1998)
Oasis Restaurants Symbolized ‘50s Teen Scene 13 (1995)‘50s Cars Changed American Lifestyle And Image 13 (1995)Chevy Bel Air Charmed 1950 Car Buyers 13 (1995)San Jacinto Plaza Remains Heart Of Downtown El Paso 13 (1995)Smokey Bear: A Legend Is Made 13 (1995)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assaults 13 (1995)Company E Survivor Recalls Days As Prisoner Of War 13 (1995)El Paso Red Cross Essential to War Effort 13 (1995)World War II Took its Toll On The Home Front 13 (1995)Civil Air Patrol Protected Border During World War II -- 13 (1995)Quickie Divorces Granted in Juárez 13 (1995)Atomic Bomb Developed In Southwest 13 (1995)Former Crew Members On B-17s Remember Tough Times 13 (1995)Vintage Warplanes Keep Past Alive 13 (1995)The Cavalry Bugler: Essential To Horse and Man 13 (1995)Sun Carnival 1936 Style 13 (1995)H. Arthur Brown: El Paso Symphony Guru Of The ‘30s -- 13 (1995)Swing Music Helped Dispel The Blues Of The ‘30s and ‘40s -- 13 (1995)The General Store: A Hidden Treasure Of The Past 13 (1995)
Change on the Border 15 (1997)From the Editor 15 (1997)Latinos Work To Change Stereotypes In Hollywood 15 (1997)Cesar Chávez: Simple Man, People’s Hero 15 (1997)Shelter For Farm Workers Becomes Reality 15 (1997)Women’s Shelter Helps To Heal The Pain 15 (1997)Home Schools Become Popular Alternative 15 (1997)Renovation May Revive Downtown El Paso 15 (1997)Title IX Changed Women's Sports 15 (1997)Special Olympics Shine In El Paso 15 (1997)La Fe Clinic Serves South El Paso 15 (1997)ASARCO Works To Clean Up Its Act 15 (1997)A Growing Phenomenon: Single Fathers 15 (1997)Stepfamilies Become More Numerous 15 (1997)Teens Rebel Against Authority 15 (1997)Comics Retain Popularity 15 (1997)Tom Moore And Archie Have Timeless Appeal 15 (1997)
Life on the Border: 1950s & 1960s --14 (1996)From The Editors 14 (1996)A Baseball Team By Any Other Name 14 (1996)Drive-In Theaters Appealed to all Ages 14 (1996)El Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations 14 (1996)Barbie Doll Revolutionized Toy Industry 14 (1996)Rabies Took Bite of Sun City 14 (1996)Rabies: A Deadly Virus 14 (1996)Border Patrol Used Variety of Methods to Control Immigration 14 (1996)L. A. Nixon Fought Texas Voting Law 14 (1996)Douglass School Served Black Community Well 14 (1996)Thelma White Case Forced College Integration 14 (1996)Steve Crosno: An El Paso Original 14 (1996)Rock 'N' Roll Defined Teen Culture 14 (1996)A Shopping Mall by the People for the People 14 (1996)Chamizal Dispute Settled Peacefully 14 (1996)Turney Mansion Becomes Work of Art 14 (1996)First Hispanic Mayor Elected in 1957 -- 14 (1996)Flower Children Chose Alternative Lifestyle 14 (1996)
Three Decades of History 12 (1994)From the Editors 12 (1994)The Plaza Theater…Here to Stay!? 12 (1994)El Paso Broadcasting: The Stories Behind the Call Letters 12 (1994)Alphabet Agencies: FDR's Brainstorm 12 (1994)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio 12 (1994)Hobo Sign Language Targeted El Paso 12 (1994)Self- Sufficiency Key to Farmers' Survival During Depression 12 (1994)Hanna's Story A Holocaust Survivor Remembers 12 (1994)Former Members Recall Life in Hitler Youth 12 (1994)German Prisoners of War Interned at Fort Bliss During World War II -- 12 (1994)German POWs Remembered at Fort Bliss 12 (1994)One German POW's Story 12 (1994)Ration Books and Victory Gardens: Coping with Shortages 12 (1994)Women Changed Wartime Work Patterns 12 (1994)Bracero Program Hurt Domestic Farm Workers 12 (1994)San Pedro Pharmacy Retains Look of the Past 12 (1994)Teenage Fashions of the Nifty Fifties 12 (1994)Rebel Image of Motorcyclists Set in 1950s -- 12 (1994)
Border Customs and Crafts From the Editor 10 (1992)From the Editors 10 (1992)King on the Mountain 10 (1992)Piñatas! 10 (1992)How to Play the Piñata Game 10 (1992)Out of a Cotton Boll Bloom Beautiful Crafts 10 (1992)Cotton Boll Entertains Too 10 (1992)Hands That Create Art and Soul 10 (1992)La Charreada - Mexican Horsemanship 10 (1992)Boots - A Family Tradition 10 (1992)Some Boys Still Grow Up to be Cowboys 10 (1992)Boot Capital of the World 10 (1992)The Magic of Mariachis 10 (1992)Ballet Folklorico - High School Style 10 (1992)New Generation of Mariachis 10 (1992)The Lady is a Bullfighter 10 (1992)The Midwife: Choices for Border Women 10 (1992)Retablos: Echoes of Faith 10 (1992)Tigua Indians: Dancing for St. Anthony 10 (1992)The Aztec and the Miracle 10 (1992)A Hispanic Girl's Coming of Age 10 (1992)Art - Low and Slow 10 (1992)Wedding Traditions on the Border 10 (1992)
Border Food Folkways From the Editor 9 (1991)From the Staff 9 (1991)Tortillas: Border Staff of Life 9 (1991)The Booming Tortilla Industry in Mexico 9 (1991)Where's The Beef? In El Paso! 9 (1991)How Do I Love Thee, Piggy? Let Me Count the Ways! 9 (1991)Tamales By Any Other Name Remain The Same 9 (1991)Rio Grande Thanksgiving 9 (1991)The Tigua Indians: Food for Thought 9 (1991)Corn: The Golden Gift from Our Ancestors 9 (1991)Border Pottery - Function and Beauty 9 (1991)Holy Hot Mole! 9 (1991)Looking Back at the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Men Behind the Chile Pepper 9 (1991)Hot Peppers : They're Not Just for Eating 9 (1991)Food, Spices Double as Folk Cures 9 (1991)Weeds or Edible Desert Plants? 9 (1991)Cactus: It's Good for You! 9 (1991)Day of the Dead Celebrates Spiritual Tradition 9 (1991)Nutricious, Delicious Beans 9 (1991)Menudo Makes The Big Time 9 (1991)Mediterranean Cuisine: Old Tradition, Fresh Idea 9 (1991)Lenten Foods: From Fasting to Fabulous 9 (1991)Tarahumaras Rely on Nature for Food 9 (1991)Tempting Sweet Breads : Pan de Dulce 9 (1991)
Border Customs and Crafts II From the Editor -- 11 (1993)From the Editors 11 (1993)The Best Little Asaderos in Texas 11 (1993)Glass Work Disappearing on Border 11 (1993)Cockfights Legal in Surrounding Areas 11 (1993)Local Craftsmen Keep Art of Saddlery Alive 11 (1993)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers 11 (1993)Chile Ristras Brighten Border Homes 11 (1993)Magoffin Home Preserves El Paso's Past 11 (1993)Bavarian Custom Celebrated in El Paso: Oktoberfest 11 (1993)Munich on the Border 11 (1993)Santo Niño de Atocha Called Miracle Worker 11 (1993)Lenten Customs Vary 11 (1993)To Ask is to Receive 11 (1993)Border Maintains Tradition of Posadas 11 (1993)A Visit from Three Kings 11 (1993)Matachines: Soldiers of the Virgin 11 (1993)Dichos Are an Intricate Part of Mexican Culture 11 (1993)Cultural Superstitions Affect Behavior 11 (1993)Que Onda Homeboy! Why Do We Talk Like This? 11 (1993)Traditional Hispanic Children's Games Disappear 11 (1993)
El Paso Women to ResearchEl Paso Women to Research (by name)El Paso Men to ResearchEl Paso Men to Research (by name)
From the Editors 30 (2012)From the Editor, Credits and Contents 30 (2012)Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter 30 (2012)Woodrow Wilson Bean: One in a Million 30 (2012)David L. Carrasco Gave Back to Hometown 30 (2012)Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important 30 (2012)Robert E. McKee: From Rags to Riches to Philanthropy 30 (2012)Kate Moore Brown: A Woman of Many Firsts 30 (2012)Fun in the 1890s: The McGinty Club 30 (2012)
Borderlands Web Issue From the Editor 31(2013/14)Acknowledgements 31(2013/14)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 31(2013/14)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 31 (2013/14)Harvey Girls Changed the West 31(2013/14)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 31(2013/14)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 31(2013/14)
Borderlands 32 Tolerance. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 32(2014/15)Henry Kellen Created El Paso Holocaust Museum 32(2014/15)Bicycle Padre Still Working 32(2014/15)El Paso Connections: Ambrose Bierce: writer 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Bobby Fuller, Rock Icon 32(2014/15)Mysterious Deaths: Tom Ogle, Inventor 32(2014/15)Jake Erlich: A Big Man in Many Ways 32(2014)Harvey Girls Changed the West 32(2014)
Borderlands 33 Service. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 33(2015)Nothing Is Impossible: Major General Heidi V. Brown 33 (2015)Local Latino Soldiers Receive Medal of Honor Decades after Heroism 33 (2015)Vernus Carey: Mr. YMCA 33 (2015)Will the Real Leon Blevins Please stand up? 33 (2015)Carrie Tingley Hospital and the Couple Behind It 33 (2015)Mother Praxedes Carty: Serving God by Serving Others 33 (2015)
Borderlands 34 Inspiration. From the Editors and Acknowledgements 34(2016/17)Building Bridges Instead of Walls: Temple Mount Sinai 34 (2016/17)Ruben Salazar: A Bridge Between Two Societies 34 (2016/17)Luis Jimenez: Art Creates Dialogue 34 (2016/17)Richard "Tuff" Hedeman: The Michael Jordan of Professional Bull Riding 34 (2016/17)Rescue Mission of El Paso Provides Food and Opportunity 34 (2016/17)
35 From the EditorsArea Missions Are Part of Living History (with 2017 update)Downtown El Paso is Monument to Anson Mills (with 2017 update)Chihuahuita in the 1930s: Tough Times in the Barrio (with 2017 update)The Magic of Mariachis (with 2017 update)New Generation of Mariachis (with 2017 update)Looking Back at the Chile PepperMen Behind the Chile Pepper (with 2017 update)Hot Peppers: They're Not Just for EatingEl Paso Trolley First to Connect Two Nations (with 2017 update)Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe Serves El Paso County (with 2017 update)Tuberculosis Turned El Paso into a Health Center (with 2017 update)El Paso's Company E Survivors Remember Rapido River Assault (with 2017 update)Company E Survivor Recalls Days as Prisoner of War (with 2017 update)James and Joseph Magoffin: El Paso Pioneers (with 2017 update)
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Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch: Love, Loss and Laughter

Article first published in Vol. 30, 2012.

By Rachel Murphree

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Jenna Welch and Laura BushLaura Bush’s father, Harold Welch, enjoyed telling how he met his future mother-in-law in Canutillo, Texas.  Jesse Hawkins was laying bricks with mortar she had mixed herself and Harold thought, “I am marrying into a family whose women can do anything!”

Jessie Hawkins helped her husband build houses on Nuway Drive and run their businesses. Jessie was one in a line of women who learned to survive tragedy, longing and hard times with grace, dignity and laughter and passed this legacy on to their daughters. They were self-sufficient women who enjoyed gardening, artistic creation, reading and children, although they often weren’t blessed to have the large families they so desired.

Image caption: A framed photograph of Jenna Welch and her daughter Laura Bush is in the library named for them. (Photo courtesy of the Jenna Welch-Laura Bush Community Library, El Paso Community College, Northwest Campus)

Jessie Laura Sherrard came from a large family on a farm in Arkansas so remote her granddaughter Laura Bush wrote in her memoir Spoken from the Heart that “no one bothered to paint the houses; they simply left the wood to gray, swell, and shrink under the cycle of rain and sun.” Having lost her only son, Jessie’s mother was pregnant at 42 with her seventh daughter when her husband took a shotgun out to the field and committed suicide. Jessie’s widowed mother had to raise her many daughters singlehandedly, changing the farm into a dairy so as not to have to plow and plant the land. She was a strong woman who triumphed when faced with adversity. 

Jessie was only nine years old when her father killed himself, and at that early age she drove the dairy truck to help support the family. It was a hard scrabble life. She learned the circumstances of her father’s death only as an adult. As Laura Bush wrote, “You might talk about the wind and the weather, but troubles you swallowed deep down inside.” She was writing of her own mother, Jenna Hawkins Welch, but dealing with tragedy was a legacy passed down through the generations.

Hal and Jessie Hawkins and their only daughter Jenna moved from Arkansas to East Texas to Canutillo in 1927 for Hal’s health. He was one of many WWI soldiers whose lungs were damaged from being gassed in the war and who believed the dry air out west would be a miracle cure.

Hal and Jessie bought seven acres along Highway 80 (Doniphan Drive) between Canutillo and Anthony. They started a lumberyard and built a tourist court next door for friends to run. When their friends gave up on the business, Jessie and Hal Hawkins took it over. The Nuway Auto Court was the only one between El Paso and Las Cruces which in those days was a very long stretch of desert.

Tourist, or motor, courts were a new phenom­enon. This was during the Great Depression when the dry winds and endless drought created the Dust Bowl in the once fruitful Midwest, and so many family farms were lost. People from Oklahoma and other states packed up their belongings to head out west in search of a better life. The tourist court was a cluster of tiny one-room buildings surrounding a single bathroom shared by all. It was quite primitive but strategically placed right off  Highway 80, the main road to California before I-10 was built in the 1950s Eisenhower era. The Hawkins family also ran a small store to provide staples for travelers.

After a while, her father saved up enough money for the couple to build a small subdivision on Nuway Drive, including the house in which they eventually lived. The auto court and lumberyard have been torn down since, but Nuway Drive remains. In an El Paso Inc. interview, Jenna Welch said of that time, “I’m sure my parents just held on by their .ngertips in those days. But I guess they didn’t take time to feel sorry for themselves. If they did, I wasn’t aware of it.”

Hitchhikers often came through, stopping at the auto court for a quick shower. Her father frequently gave them baloney and cheese sandwiches. When freight trains came by, Jenna and her good friend Mary Elizabeth Bowhay would count how many men were riding on the boxcars.

Jenna remembers her childhood fondly, despite hard times. Because she was an only child, she eagerly played with the children of the neighborhood and children whose families were traveling through. They hiked to the sand hills and foothills of the mountains or down to the river, looking for arrowheads. Welch remembers when the channels were built to keep the Rio Grande from flooding, and the earth-moving equipment looked like a huge dinosaur that the kids would play on. She remembers the wonderful smell of freshly cut alfalfa spreading all over the valley, and that the cantaloupes grown in the Upper Valley were even better than Pecos cantaloupes.

Jenna’s favorite subjects were English and reading. She went to school at the tiny Lone Star Elementary, which ended at grade seven, as did all elementary schools in Texas, and that was as far as most children in Canutillo went. She stayed out of school for a year or so, and when a bus was available to take her into El Paso, she went to and graduated from El Paso High School.

Jenna remembered going on special trains to far away towns such as Abilene to watch the football teams compete. Her parents couldn’t come as chaperones because they had their businesses to run, but other parents came. On weekends she would stay in town with her friend Mary Liz and go to picture shows at the Plaza and the Ellanay theaters.

Jenna attended the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy (now UTEP) for two years and studied journalism. She was so nervous to ask her father for the $25 semester tuition that she waited until the last possible day in 1939. As Laura Bush wrote, “It was a bleak seven years into the Great Depression, and twenty . ve dollars was a signi.cant sum. There were women who took jobs making sandwiches in soup kitchens just so they could be guaranteed one meal a day. Education was a luxury.” Welch didn’t ask her father for further help with her college fees.

Jenna couldn’t afford the bus to ride the 14 miles into town, so she lived with a family in El Paso and took care of their daughter in exchange for room and board. Once she chaperoned the child from New York all the way to Aruba on an oil tanker, an exciting adventure for a girl from a small farming community. Somehow, she managed to gather the money needed for her train fare to New York. She was brave and self-reliant and knew how to make her own way.

With the U.S. involved in World War II, Jenna decided to leave school to earn a living. The number of women working outside the home increased during the war as women were needed in the work force to do the jobs men had been doing previously. She was hired by the Popular department store downtown to work in its advertising department. Welch said, “It was a wonderful education. It was the biggest department store in the area. In fact, the wife of the president of Mexico would send up there for clothes.”

It was there that a co-worker pointed out a friend on the street, “Oh look, there’s Hal.” Jenna looked out the window to see Harold Welch for the .rst time, the man who would become her husband. He too had left college, working as a loan officer and then district manager for Universal CITI Credit in El Paso, supporting his widowed mother.

At that time, ladies and gentlemen would dress in their finery and pay the six cents to walk across the bridge to dine and dance in elegant Juárez. The first club at the base of the bridge was the Tívoli nightclub, with exotic shows and dance floor with orchestra. Jenna and Hal had Boquilla black bass for dinner there, and the next morning, the gossip column of the newspaper published the comment that Jenna Hawkins had been seen dancing with a handsome stranger at the Tívoli.

Hal volunteered to go to war. While he was on leave, the two continued dating. They were married at a chapel on Fort Bliss in January 1944, and shortly after, Hal was shipped off to Europe with the 555th Battalion as a master gunner. While they were separated, the two wrote letters, Hal confessing that he would like to have a baby boy when he returned.


Jenna Welch and FriendJenna continued her job at the Popular and lived with her lifelong friend Mary Liz, whose husband was also at war. Jenna’s rent payment enabled Mary Liz to keep her house with their two children instead of moving back home with her parents. Every night after dinner, they would write letters to their husbands. For fun one day they snapped pictures of each other in a bubble bath in a claw foot tub. Hal held on to his the entire two years he was away.

When he returned, Hal found a coworker had become district manager at his firm, so he chose to move to Midland. Laura wrote her mother learned how to fight the Midland wind and dust. The area was completely different from the farm valley she grew up in with its cantaloupe and smells of freshly cut alfalfa. Laura was born a little more than nine months later.

Image caption: Jenna Welch, right, and her lifelong friend Mary Liz Bowhay recall their years spent in El Paso. (Photo courtesy of El Paso Community College)

Jenna Welch was an only child because her mother had lost two other babies who were “born too soon,” although it just wasn’t talked about. She deeply missed having siblings. Laura Bush wrote, “When I was growing up, [my mother] would say with a wink in her quick, witty west Texas way that she would have been ‘insulted’ if her parents had had more children.” Perhaps Jenna framed her feelings in the situation for her daughter because she herself lost three babies, born too soon, and both mother and daughter keenly felt the loss of these children.

Laura Bush’s memoir begins with a chapter on the birth and death at three days old of her brother, John Edward, and how difficult it was for her parents. The remote, tiny medical clinic in Midland, Texas, of the 1940s did not have any of today’s inventions and processes such as incubators or drip lines that enable premature infants to live. He was buried in an unmarked grave with other premature babies who didn’t live. Jenna had a very dif.cult pregnancy carrying Laura and would go on to lose a daughter named Sarah Elizabeth when Laura was eight and another boy when Laura was 13.

These deaths and the subsequent lack of other children in the house had a central importance in the Welch family, even though Laura never saw her mother mourn. Laura wrote, “Now at ninety, when she cannot recall someone she met the day before, she remembers those babies. She sits in her green chair in her plain Midland living room and says, ‘We would have had two boys and two girls if they had all lived. It would have been quite a family, wouldn’t it? I sure wish one of those little boys could have lived at least, because my husband wanted a boy so bad.’”

As an only child, Laura spent a great deal of time with her parents, especially her mother, who introduced her to literature at an early age and read Little Women to her at age seven. Jenna loved books on nature and the Southwest and she read constantly to Laura, borrowing their books from the Midland Library. Laura wrote, “And she read to me, her voice weaving its spells of character, plot and place, until I too yearned to decipher the fine black letters printed on the page.”

Like her mother, Jenna was handy around the house, more so than her husband who could design house plans and supervise workers as a developer in later life, but didn’t do the manual work. She painted, reupholstered chairs and replaced countertops. She cooked three full meals every day and filled the house with laughter, dispelling the potential sadness and loneliness caused by living far from family in what Georgia O’Keeffe described as the “terrible winds and a wonderful emptiness” of the Texas plains.  Laura wrote of her parents even in their later years, “They were happy.  No sadness unraveled their happiness.”

As a self-taught naturalist, studying wildflowers and birds, Jenna taught her daughter to appreciate and enjoy nature. Because Midland is in a migratory path, the opportunities for bird watching were abundant. She became a member of the Audubon Society and was active in the protest against DDT in the 1960s because it was weakening egg shells and endangering bird species. Jenna passed on her skills and passions to her only child, engaging her in the natural world and the intellectual and creative world of literature.

Jenna encouraged Laura to be self-reliant and make do. Her mother would pack a “solo picnic” for Laura to take to the empty lot on their street that functioned as a park. Their wide circle of friends who were also transplanted to that harsh region of the state eventually came to feel like family for Laura. Still, she keenly felt the loss of siblings on trips especially, for her parents had each other and she was in the back seat alone. She taught her dolls to read and write because she had no siblings to teach. As early as six years old, Laura would travel on the train by herself from Midland to Canutillo to stay with her “Grammee” and “Papa” (Jessie and Hal Hawkins). Some of her best memories occurred in El Paso and cause her to love this region to this day.

Grammee was unlike any other grandmother or mother that Laura knew. They all wore dresses and aprons. Jessie wore pants, big hats and long sleeves to protect her arms from the sun. Laura wrote in her memoir, “Grammee was a collector too, her house and garden an artful arrangement of what man and nature left behind.” She grew pomegranates, desert plants and a wide swath of daffodils.

The bulbs that started the garden came from her mother’s farm in Arkansas. When Jenna and Hal moved to Midland, Jessie dug up bulbs for her daughter to transplant at her new house. The young family moved a lot in the early years, and Jenna would dig them up each move and replant them. When Laura married, Jenna continued the tradition, “appearing on [her] doorstep with one hundred bulbs, the offspring of that long-fallow Arkansas yard, four generations removed.”Laura Bush speaks of her youth in El Paso

These long summer weeks that Laura spent with her grandmother in the magical valley surrounding El Paso had a tremendous impact on her. There was a bond between the two women, at opposite ends of their lives, possibly made all the more special by the losses Jessie suffered in having an only daughter and granddaughter. Jessie sewed beautiful matching dresses for Laura and her dolls, sending the clothes on the mail trains to Midland throughout the year. When Laura visited, she made doll furniture with her grandmother and fell asleep holding her hand in the warm summer night.

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Like her mother before her, Laura would play with the kids traveling through the auto court and those who lived in the neighborhood, enjoying the wildness of the desert they didn’t have in their suburban neighborhood in Midland.

While neither Jenna nor Hal Welch finished college, they valued education, and sending their daughter to college was a priority. Choosing a professional career as a Southern woman was relatively new, but because of her upbringing, Laura became a teacher and librarian, working with disadvantaged minority children.

Children came late to Laura and George Bush. In fact, they were starting the adoption process when Laura became pregnant at age 34. The pregnancy was dif.cult and carefully monitored because of the family history of miscarriages, and twin daughters Barbara and Jenna were born prematurely at Baylor Hospital in Dallas where they could receive neonatal care. As they grew and the family moved away from Midland, the twins would visit their grandparents one at a time so that each would know the pleasures of being an only grandchild, and at home, an only child.

Jenna taught Laura to love reading and libraries, and her work with children has given her a great sense of accomplishment. She has been able to work with education and children both as the First Lady of Texas and of the nation. That is why the city/ college partnership library at EPCC’s Northwest Campus, located in Canutillo, Texas, has honored this mother-daughter team by renaming it the Jenna Welch and Laura Bush Community Library. The pair has visited several times, sharing their love of reading and education in various events.

Jessie Hawkins and Jenna Welch overcame loss and tragedy to create lives filled with laughter and learning and passed that on to Laura Bush. It is a matriarchal legacy of self-reliance and determination that has no doubt been passed on to Laura’s daughters.

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