Article first published in Vol. 21, 2002.
By Ruth E. Vise
For the past three years, students in my Research and Critical Writing classes have chosen to research various aspects of the Mexican Revolution. Pancho Villa topped the list of popular topics. Dozens of students explored facets of Villa's life, military career and the countless legends that have grown up about him.
Related articles include an exploration of the Cristero movement following Mexico's crackdown on the Catholic Church, a story on female revolutionaries known as soldaderas, and one on the early Houchen settlement house established to care for young Mexican immigrant women. Our back cover story discusses Otis Aultman, the photographer noted for recording many of the battles of the Mexican Revolution.
Other articles pertain to the 1860s, including one on Juneteenth, the Texas holiday celebrating the news of freedom for its slaves, arriving two years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. We also salute the black cowboy, a topic largely ignored in a state with a great cowboy heritage. Other stories include one on El Paso's opium dens and another on the brief influence of the Ku Klux Klan on the city.
We feature articles on mining in the Southwest, including El Paso's Smeltertown. I was born in mining country, Silver City, N. M., and raised in Central, now known as Santa Clara. Most of my friends had family working for Kennecott Copper Corporation. Their good paying jobs enabled several generations to own their own homes, send their children to college and maintain Grant County's economy. I went to college on a Kennecott scholarship. We were all affected by the ups and downs of the mining industry.
This year, former Borderlands students, Vanessa Mendoza and Christina Díaz, prepared historical markers for two El Paso locations under a grant obtained by Dr. George Torok and supported by Borderlands. Way to go, ladies!
Editors Kazstelia Vásquez and Gretchen Dickey proved themselves over and over this semester, as they tracked down elusive sources and historical photos. Both are outstanding students as well as wives, mothers and leaders in their community. Thank you, Gretchen and Katie, for your hard work and exceptional good humor as we worked. I will never forget you.
Thanks go to my colleagues and faculty editors, Joe Old and Robert Yarbrough, for their sharp eyes and advice. I thank Monica Wong, Northwest librarian, both for her unfailing help to all my students throughout the year and for her enthusiasm for Borderlands.
Thanks to my daughter who has always been my biggest fan. Congratulations on doing so well your first year at NMSU, April.
This issue is dedicated to Dr. Carroll Nardone, my friend and former colleague at EPCC, and now a professor at Sam Houston State University. Thanks for serving as my first faculty editor and for always believing in our project. Congratulations on receiving your Ph.D. from NMSU, Carroll.
Congratulations on your retirement from UTEP, John O. West, friend, colleague and the department head who first hired me to teach in El Paso!
Thanks to you, our readers, for writing and calling each year with your comments. Enjoy this year's issue!
Image caption: Ruth Vise, Director EPCC Borderlands Project, NW Campus
By Kazstelia Vásquez and Gretchen Dickey
I was honored and flattered when Ms. Vise asked me to edit this issue. The knowledge and experience I've gained far exceeded my expectations: I have discovered that history is exciting and even more so when one finds unexpected connections to it. Through the research by Borderlands students, I became familiar with important regional history and stumbled upon a direct link between my family and the villistas.
While researching Pancho Villa's last years, I came across the name of General Alvino Aranda, my great-grandfather, and one of Villa's generals. In his book "The Life and Times of Pancho Villa," renowned historian Friedrich Katz writes that Mexican President Obregón appeased Villa by giving land to him and his men. Villa left General Alvino Aranda in charge of the town of Pueblito, where my mother, Castelia Cooke, was born. To find these facts in a book written by an expert on Mexican history thrilled me.
Thank you, Ms. Vise, for seeing in me the capability to accomplish this challenging mission. Your trust and encouragement gave me the confidence to set higher goals for myself. I hope be as passionate and to give of myself as you do when I am a teacher. Through you, I also discovered English literature (and tea) with their sweet rewards.
I will always be grateful to Matthew, Jonathan and Marissa, my children, and my beloved husband, Eddie, for giving me the time and space necessary to fulfill my editorial duties. Like a gardener tending flowers, Eddie has given me the space to grow, nourishing me when I needed encouragement. Without his support, my passions would wilt and die.
I also thank my mother- and father-in- law, Rosemary and Alonzo Vasquez, who encouraged me, suggested valuable sources and provided Sunday dinners, followed by great conversations on my work.
Kazstelia Vásquez, Editor
2002 Borderland staff, from left to right: Katzstelia Vasquez, Editor; Ruth E. Vise. Director & Faculty Editor: Gretchen Dickey, Assistant Editor. Photo by Kim Prieto
Words cannot express the great pleasure and honor it has been working with the Borderlands staff. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. Although my job as assistant editor has come to an end, the real fruit of this project has only begun.
My family has been in El Paso since 1905. My maternal great-grandmother, Mrs. Guy Hallett Johnson, served as president of the El Paso Community Concert Association, determined that El Paso would enjoy music and culture. The El Paso Historical Society inducted her into its ranks posthumously in 1986.
Her daughter and my grandmother, Hallett Mengel, helped establish the El Paso History Club. She edited the private papers of distinguished El Pasoans, sifting through old books and papers for details on the city's early history. Perhaps in editing Borderlands articles, I have looked through some of the same historical papers.
After researching the history of the El Paso area, I have a new love and respect for this region. I don't know when the transformation occurred, perhaps during one of my late night excursions to an area library or while rummaging through old photos, but it did happen. I wish this for you, our readers.
I will always be grateful to my mentor, Ms. Ruth Vise, for giving me this opportunity. My hearty thanks to Leon Metz for graciously answering my many questions by phone. Thanks to my friend Kimberly T. Prieto for taking pictures all over town and to Terri Smythe for her invaluable advice. A big thanks to my husband, Gary, and my children, Hallett, Zach and Riley, for their patience and support.
Gretchen Dickey, Assistant Editor