Texas: Her Refuge
The Texas Story Project.
I talked to my grandmother, Mary Hope Garcia, and asked her to tell me what she experienced while living in Texas. After hearing many of her stories, I realized that her life revolved around one specific member of her family. That person was her aunt, Carmen Devora. I then asked my grandmother if she could tell me more about Carmen. That is how I learned how she and her family fled from their home in Nadadores, Mexico to Eagle Pass, Texas in response to the Mexican Revolution.
Carmen Devora was born on July 14, 1908 to Manuela Moran and Fidencio Devora. Then, on October 1918, her family received word from a family friend that they were no longer safe if they stayed on the little farm that they owned. At the age of 5, Carmen, her parents, and her brothers Anastacio, Enrique, Jose Maria, and Lorenzo were forced to leave their home. They travelled to Piedras Negras, Mexico where they lived in a cardboard house. Then, they entered the United States through the port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas. There, the family stayed for some time until they were put on a train that took them to a small town called Falls City, Texas.
Falls City is maybe five minutes away from Poth, my hometown. While I was familiar with Tia Carmen’s story of fleeing Mexico and arriving in Falls City, I had assumed that that was the end. Then my grandmother started to tell me about their lives in Falls City. Once the train ride was over, farmers were waiting for them. The farmers would go up to the families and give them a tarp to use for a tent. Those farmers would take the families to their ranches and have them live in the brush with only their tent for a home.
My grandmother talked about how Carmen and her parents were living out in the wild. The farmer that took them in lived next to a creek so that was where Carmen’s family set up camp. They were forced to relocate many times due to constant flooding. During that time, Carmen had a new baby brother named Gaspar. Grandma paused to tell me that this was why Tio Gaspar would call Falls City his “little town.” He had always thought highly of Falls City and was proud to call it his home. While Carmen, her mother, and siblings were working on the farm, her father was taken to help build the Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio in 1917. A few years later, Carmen’s parents decided to move back to Eagle Pass.
Once they were back in Eagle Pass, Manuela and Fidencio were writing to family members back in Mexico. They let them know that they were safe and told them about their experiences in Texas. They had left out that they were planning to go back to Piedras Negras and eventually move back to their home in Nadadores. After living in Eagle Pass for a few more years, the Devoras moved back to Mexico. There, Fidencio and Manuela learned that their home had been destroyed during the revolution. After trying to rebuild, Fidencio and Manuela were convinced by their families to go back to Texas and resume their lives there.
They travelled back to Falls City and continued to move around to Wilson County to Atascosa County. Later, my great-grandmother Maria Magdalena Devora was born around what is now Sutherland Springs. By then, Carmen and her brothers had all settled around Falls City and an even smaller community called Three Oaks. There, the family raised turkeys, chickens, and cows to sell for a living.
Many years later, Anastacio, Magdalena, and Carmen together bought a piece of land that was located just outside of Poth. This was where they built a small house where the three of them lived. Anastacio passed away leaving the land to Carmen and Magdalena. Later, Magdalena had a daughter named Maria Esperanza Devora. This is my grandmother, who lived in the house with Carmen and her mother for a few years until her mother decided to move back to the farm in Three Oaks. Then, when my grandmother turned thirteen, Magdalena passed away. My grandmother then went to live with Carmen.
Many years later, my grandmother married Francisco Garcia and they bought the small plot of land from Carmen. There, my grandparents lived in the house with Carmen who helped my grandmother raise my aunt and two of my uncles while my grandfather worked in Converse. My grandparents later built a house next to Carmen’s where they raised my mother and her younger brother. By then, Carmen had begun to get sick. She moved in with my grandparents so that my grandmother could help take care of her. The house that my grandparents built would later be the place that I call home. Carmen lived with my grandparents for many years. Then, at 89 years-old, she became a U.S. citizen. Carmen Devora passed away in April 1999 at 91 years old.
Megan Garcia is from Poth, Texas. She is a political science major at St. Mary's University.
Posted March 22, 2018