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)
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Cleofas Calleros Made Local History Important

Article first published in Vol. 30, 2012.

By Ben Balusek, Vanessa Dunsavage and Luis Ramirez

View pdf version

Cleofas CallerosHe was afflicted, as many of us are, with the pride of the Spaniard, the stoicism of the Indian, and the Mestizo temperament which results from both. A man who had been self-taught, who had been befriended by humble folk, businessmen, generals and at least one Pope, he was punctilious in dress and manner.” These words by his nephew, Jesus Ochoa, reflect the respect and affection in which Cleofas Calleros, noted historian and social activist, was held at the time of his induction into the Hall of Honor of the El Paso County Historical Society, an organization which he helped found.

Cleofas Calleros was born on April 9, 1896, in Río Florido, Chihuahua, Mexico, to Ismael Calleros and Maria del Refugio Perales de Calleros. The family moved to the city of Chihuahua when Cleofas was six months old. In August 1902, when Calleros was six and a half years old, his father was exiled to El Paso, Texas.

Image caption: Cleofas Calleros was made a Knight of the Order of Isabella the Catholic by Spain for his work on Spanish history in the Southwest. (Photo courtesy of the El Paso County Historical Society)

In a 1972 UTEP Institute of Oral History interview by Oscar Martinez, Calleros stated that his father was contracted to bring building materials to El Teatro de los Héroes in Chihuahua. As he was delivering two loads of glass to the theater, an employee of the Mexican governor told him to deliver one load of glass to the Governor Luis Terrazas’s “palace-to-be,” and to deliver the other load of glass to the theater. When Ismael Calleros refused to comply with the corrupt governor’s plans, he was exiled from Mexico and his wagons, mules and horses were seized.

He was placed on a train coming to El Paso and was ordered never to return to Mexico. A week later, Ismael Calleros sent a letter to his family telling them he had found a new job and advised them to come to El Paso. The family, including Cleofas, brother Martín, sister Rita and their mother, came in October 1902 and moved into a house on South Tays Street in the Segundo Barrio, according to Fred Morales, author of a biography of Calleros. The elder Calleros worked at the El Paso Dairy located at the end of present-day Cotton Street.

Cleofas witnessed parts of the early years of the Mexican Revolution since he lived in downtown El Paso, just blocks from the Mexican border. Morales stated in his book History of Jake Erlich and Cleofas Calleros that Calleros saw many of Pancho Villa’s rebels at Sacred Heart Church, where they worshipped. Calleros also visited the rebel camp of Francisco Madero near ASARCO numerous times.

The younger Calleros attended Alamo School and then Sacred Heart School. He graduated from the eighth grade as the class valedictorian in 1911. In the interview with Martinez, Calleros said that by graduation, he had “already finished algebra, commercial arithmetic, commercial law, physiology and physical geography.”

According to Morales, Calleros took a bookkeeping course at El Paso’s Draughon’s Practical Business College, with the rest of his education obtained on his own, through reading and correspondence courses.

The major reason Calleros did not continue on to high school was one that prevented many in the United States from attending high school in the early 1900s: the need to work and help their families. Throughout his youth, even while studying, Calleros aided his family by working. His first job was with the El Paso Dairy, his father’s employer. The El Paso Times reported that Calleros also worked in the Ellis Brothers Printing Shop after school. It was here that he learned how to bind books by hand. This technique stuck with Calleros and became very useful in the future.

In 1912, Calleros began working for the Santa Fe Railway. He began his career with the railroad as a messenger boy, working seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m, using his own bicycle and earning $30 a month, which Calleros said in the Martinez interview was “very, very good money.” At 17, the young Calleros was collecting waybills for goods for the railroad, including those from Francisco “Pancho” Villa, whose headquarters were in the Toltec Building. Morales wrote that the rebels paid in gold, a weight under which the boy staggered.

Calleros worked hard and fought to obtain jobs that were above the standard for Mexican immigrants or nationals. Calleros told Martinez that working for the railroad was not easy because Mexicans were usually not found in higher positions and both he and two other Mexicans were called “greasers” and “dirty Mexicans,” and members of the KKK and Masons tried to get them fired.

The Selective Act of 1917 began drafting young men to serve in World War I, and Calleros lied about his age and citizenship to be a part of it. He served with Company E, 315th Supply Train, 90th Division and became a quartermaster sergeant. He took part in the battles at St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne in France, where he was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart. He also served as a part of the occupation of Germany until 1919 and was a member of the U. S. Army Officers Reserve Corps until 1938.

Ochoa related that during his time in Europe, Calleros was able to take a trip to Spain to explore the archives housed in the University of Salamanca. While reading the codices of the Indies, “he realized for the first time in his life that historians often wrote with a less than accurate perception or knowledge of the facts: he had come face to face with the de-hispanization of history and his interest in setting the record straight was to remain, as his avocation, his prime concern for the remainder of his life,” according to his nephew. The history of the Southwest, Texas, New Mexico and Mexico would fascinate him and be the topic of lifelong research.

On April 25, 1918, Calleros married Benita Blanco, who was born in Chihuahua and had immigrated to the United States in 1905, three years after the Calleros family came to El Paso. Cleofas and Benita Calleros became naturalized citizens the same year. They had one daughter, Margarita, born in 1926.

After World War I, Calleros continued his education by studying law and interstate commerce and receiving certificates in both from LaSalle Extension University in 1920, as well as studying and becoming certified in “boys’ guidance” by St. Edward’s University in 1924. He would later receive an honorary master of fine arts degree from New Mexico State University and an honorary doctorate in history from the University of New Mexico for his research and publications.

Calleros became the Border Representative of the National Catholic Conference Department of Immigration in El Paso. During his 42 years as welfare director and social worker, Calleros helped handle more than one million immigration cases dealing with passport problems, U.S. citizenship and permanent residency with very little help. Calleros aided members of religious orders expelled from Mexico when the country began persecuting the Catholic Church after the Mexican Revolution. He also worked to return many American citizens who were “repatriated” to Mexico by the US government during the Depression.

A devout Catholic, Calleros not only worked for the Church officially for many years, but also toiled for the institution in his time off. Morales wrote that Bishop A. J. Schuler named Calleros to a committee overseeing the building of the magnificent Cristo Rey statue on the top of a mountain overlooking Texas, Mexico and New Mexico. Calleros directed the building of the road to the top of the mountain and the feeding of the volunteers who did the work. He directed the first procession up the mountain in 1939.

Calleros was involved with numerous organizations through the years, many of which he was either the founder or co-founder. He was the founder of the El Paso’s Boy’s Club and was a Scoutmaster of Troop 11 of the Boy Scouts. He was a co-founder of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Chihuahua State Historical Society and the Western History Association.

Calleros was awarded the Daliet Award for the years 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928 for his research and writing on the Texas Knights of Columbus Historical Society for the Texas Centennial. At the time of the awards, Calleros was district deputy and grand knight for the Del Norte Council 2592, Knights of Columbus, having been a founder of the first chapter in Texas. 

He shared the Award of Merit, given by the American Association for State and Local History, with the El Paso Times for a series of 215 articles that dealt with West Texas history. These articles became the foundation of the book Calleros wrote, in collaboration with Marjorie F. Graham, entitled El Paso, Then and Now, a book originally planned to be seven volumes, recording the history of El Paso from 1536 to 1896. To satisfy the requests from readers for a book chronicling events from the time of their parents and themselves, the 1890s, Calleros began with volume seven, published in 1954. Unfortunately, only one volume was realized and dealt with life in El Paso in 1896, reflecting the splendid modern 1890s.

By 1926, Calleros was a notary public and had begun offering free citizenship classes at St. Ignatius Church, something he did for 50 years. Calleros worked with several day nurseries as well as with Sacred Heart Orphanage and the St. Joseph’s Clinic and Maternity Home, the El Paso Child Welfare Board and the El Paso Health Commission. Besides his interest in the history of Catholic sites and organizations, he was greatly concerned with issues of undocumented immigrants or “illegal aliens” as they were known in his day.

On February 22, 1954, Calleros was knighted by the Spanish government into the Order of Isabella the Catholic. The El Paso Times reported that “Calleros was awarded the decoration, one of Spain’s highest, in recognition of his writings in early Hispanic history, especially the earliest exploration-missionary period in the Southwest.” In 1961 in honor of his work with the Knights of Columbus, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He was awarded the Rose of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the Archbishop of Mexico in 1963.

One of his greatest works was a true labor of love for Calleros. He co-authored with Angel Alcazar de Velasco a massive book all made by hand using 14th century methods and a 17th century Gothic type. Entitled Historia Del Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and published in 1959, the book observed the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Mission of Our Lady Guadalupe in Paso del Norte (Juárez, Chihuahua) by Fray de San Francisco y Zúniga in 1659. It took seven years to complete the book, and Calleros suffered a heart attack while working on the tome. All of the copies were bound in authentic Mexican calf leather and were embossed with 23 carat gold from Germany. One copy was hand printed on authentic vellum and presented to Pope John XXIII. Five copies were done on silk.

Forty copies were printed on parchment paper with Roman numerals. Another 40 copies were on parchment paper with embossed printing. Three hundred copies were on Florentine paper with Arabic numbers. Each page had a different border and no words were hyphenated. The renowned El Paso artist José Cisneros supplied 12 drawings for the book. Calleros told the El Paso Times that the book was a “dream come true” for him.

Morales reported the book was financed by the Ponder, Morgan and Momsen families of El Paso. Calleros gave a parchment copy of the book to fellow Texan and former Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. A copy was also given to President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic to be elected to the US presidency. The majority of the copies were placed in museums, libraries and universities across the globe, including one in the El Paso Public Library and another in the New Mexico State University Library, the latter given by R. E. McKee. The El Paso Library copy is now located in the Meadows Library of the Museum of Art.

In 1970, Calleros donated his personal collection of books, documents, manuscripts and personal papers, some of which dated back to 1663, to the El Paso Public Library. Calleros told the Times, “The City of El Paso has been good to me. With the help of its people, I have acquired this collection and I want to give it back to them.”

His collection of National Geographic magazines which he personally bound with many unique bindings was a part of the collection donated to the library. He had 110 volumes of the magazine dating back to 1907. He bound each volume in a different material, including animal skins and pelts, fabrics, stones, paintings, wood, maps, X-ray negatives and feathers. The magazine dedicated a page to him in the March 1962 issue, showing him with his collection.

Cleofas Calleros died on February 22, 1973, at age 76. He was buried at Fort Bliss National Cemetery with military honors. His daughter, Margarita Blanco, donated another collection of personal papers and photographs to the Special Collections Department of the University of Texas at El Paso Library. In 1977, Calleros was inducted into the El Paso County Historical Society’s Hall of Honor. In 1992, West Eighth Street was renamed Calleros Court in the Chihuahuita Historic District by the City Council of El Paso.

In his interview with Oscar Martinez, Cleofas Calleros decried the use of the word “Chicano” in the 1960s and 1970s as the civil rights movement grew, first in the West and Southwest and then nationwide. However, he sympathized with the aims of the Mexican American movement to receive equal opportunity in all phases of American life and to be recognized in American society for their contributions.

Calleros wrote about the local Tigua Indians and was honored by them; he wrote the history of El Paso’s missions long before city leaders decided they should be maintained and publicized as tourist attractions; he recorded the history of both civil and religious organizations; he wrote and gave speeches in both Spanish and English about El Paso and Texas but also New Mexico, Mexico and Spain. A community activist for decades, he worked with countless community and religious organizations throughout his life, founding or co-founding many of them. He fought against discrimination his entire life, trying to make El Paso a better place in which to live, all the while making a living by helping immigrants to this country become productive citizens, just as his family and he had.

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