New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum Home Page

Marquez, Consuelo

About | Story: Catching and Cooking Turtles | Abstract


Discusses parents' immigration from Chihuahua, Mexico, to the United States. Father worked as a farm hand and itinerant produce peddler. Mrs. Marquez married a farm worker from Stahmann Farms and after leaving there in the late 1940s; they worked on several farms in the San Miguel area. Discusses some Mexican American traditions, foods, and use of native plants.

Interviewee Consuelo Marquez, female, born in 1908
Date Range 1907-1998
Date & Location December 12, 1997, January 16 and March 17, 1998, Mrs. Marquez' Home, San Miguel, N.M.
Project Farm and Ranch Folks
Region Southwest New Mexico
Number of Tapes 4
Transcribed March 24, 1998
Download Abstract

Story: Catching and Cooking Turtles

Jane O'Cain: Well, you know, last time we talked a little bit, we didn't make a tape of it, and you were telling me an interesting story of how your dad cooked turtles. Consuelo Marquez: Turtles. He, and then he told me, a small one. But I don't know how he cooked it because they ...

JO: The big ones?

CM: The big ones. This size.

JO: Like a ...

CM: Like a plate.

JO: Like a plate. Oh, that's the size he was looking for.

CM: And they call them ecotejas. He used to get them, those animals had their home in the rivers, where everything is water. They set their nest in the sand. But it's a good meat. They are so strange and afraid of people, but my father did this way. He caught the ecotejas and put it in this way.

JO: Between his feet.

CM: He thought, the animals thought that he was alone. My father, before that, he put a string into his way. When he came out with his neck to see who was there my daddy caught the neck.

JO: With the string.

CM: With the string. That's the way he could get it. And then straight from there he built a little house, we weren't living here so, the ecotejas ...

JO: Yes.

CM: ... and in the stove, in the oven.

JO: Into the oven it went.

CM: He would. So, good meat.

JO: What did it taste like?

CM: Well, it had two savors. A little sweet and a little vinegar and had two tastes.

JO: So, now, he would put the shell and everything ...

CM: Uh huh.

JO: ... right into the oven.

CM: The animal.

JO: Yes, the whole, the shell and everything.

CM: The whole shell. Everything. And then when it was all right, ready to get it out, he took it out and with a fork, all the meat.

JO: Took the meat out and ...

CM: Uh huh. You could see a little house would, it was empty.

JO: Yes. That's interesting. Have you ever met anyone else that cooked turtles that way, or was that just your dad's, uh ...

CM: I don't know, but that's the way he did.

JO: He did that.


Tape 1, Side A

Father, Cruz Maya, and mother, Josefa Provencio Maya, emmigrated from Juárez, Mexico to Clifton, Ariz. in 1907 with two children.

Consuela Maya born in 1908 in Clifton, Arizona.

The family moved to San Miguel, N.M., in approximately 1916 after Mrs. Josefa Maya witnessed the death of her 4 or 5 year-old son in Clifton.

Cruz Maya found work on farms in San Miguel, and a friend provided a small home for the family.

There was no cotton being grown in San Miguel at the time Mrs. Marquez arrived; grains, fruit, and vegetables were the main crops. Her father would take a horse-drawn cart and peddle vegetables around northern New Mexico every winter for three months.

School in San Miguel. Teacher bi-lingual.

Discusses important man in San Miguel, Don Luciano Rodriguez. She stated he was a "political man". His daughter was Sophia Waldrip of Las Cruces. Rodriguez would allow credit at his store until bills could be paid after the harvest.

Consuelo's mother died about the time Consuelo finished the 8th grade. She didn't get to attend high school, but stayed home to take care of her younger siblings. Her father built an adobe house in San Miguel for the children to live in.

Tape 1, Side B

Her father, Cruz Maya, would preserve vegetables and fruit and sell it out of a horse drawn cart in the northern towns of N.M. He would leave every November and be gone for three months.

Discusses dances and other leisure time activities when she was a teen-ager.

During the Depression [?-she thinks it was earlier than 1932] the people of San Miguel were given boxes of food to feed their families. States that there were no jobs, everyone lived on their "little place". No electricity to homes in San Miguel. They used lamps or candles. Family did not subscribe to newspapers or magazines.

Begins discussion of an "ordinary" day (cooking, washing clothes) in the mid to late 1920s.

Tape 2, Side A

Her mother used to cook outside on an open fire using "two sheets of metal".

Discusses the poverty the family faced when they first moved to N.M. But felt the family was better off in the United States because of the violence in Mexico.

Discusses her father's horses, Chello and Lupe, and the produce business.

Describes a wild plant used as shampoo or detergent for fine clothes.

Cleaning the church, using white sand to pack on the dirt floor, and white sand to clean the walls.

Tape 2, Side B

This side of the tape is blank.

Tape 3, Side A

Her father built an adobe shed, filled it with sand, and replanted vegetables there in the fall, so they would have vegetables to eat during the winter months.

More about food preservation: chili, corn, fruit, fish, tomatoes.

Discusses home remedies. Potatoes were used to treat fever. Sunflowers, rosebuds, and other flowers were used to treat illness. Rosebuds were steamed and given as a drink before and after baths.

Discusses 1918 influenza epidemic, none of her family members became ill, but other people in San Miguel died from the flu. Her mother's belief to avoid infection.

Childbirth in Mrs, Marquez's time—she was assisted by women friends. Women would be given an herb drink (she does not know the herb). Women stayed at home for forty days after childbirth to avoid contagious diseases.

Her husband's family came to Stahmann Farms from Bernalillo. She states husband Tomas was born at Stahmann Farms in 1903, as was his older siblings [Stahmann Farms was established in the Mesilla Valley in 1926].

Tape 3, Side B

Houses were provided for the workers on Stahmann Farms. Her parents-in-law lived there until they died.

When Mrs. Marquez went to Stahmann Farms in 1938, they were still clearing the land. She remarks that there were many chickens and horses being raised. Her husband took care of 60 horses and trained them as workhorses.

Discussion of Stahmann Frams continues, she believes it was after 1938, when Mr. Stahmann began to bring families from Mexico to work on the farm. In the later 1940s Isabel Aguirre states there were 3 or 4 families living on the portion of Stahmann Farms where they lived.

The commissary building served as a store, a dance hall, and later as a church. Discusses commissary management; it was understood that they were to make their purchases only at the commissary. Credit would be issued at the commissary for the number of hours that had been worked in a week. Mrs. Marquez's brother, Reyes Maya, owned a store in San Miguel. She states the main reason they left Stahmann Farms was because of the issue of being required to shop at the commissary. Her daughter defends the practice followed at Stahmann Farms in regard to requiring purchases at the commissary. Discussion of housing on Stahmann Farms and at Salopek Farms.

Mrs. Marquez's husband earned $9.60 per week for many years, regardless of whether he was working with the horses or clearing land.

Mayordomos were in charge of the work at Stahmann Farms. A conflict arose over working on Sunday until 12:00, because the men missed mass. Consultant states this was another reason they decided to leave Stahmann Farms.

Tape 4, Side A

Mrs. Marquez's father would catch and cook ecotejas (turtles). Also would cook large worms found in the root of mesquite tree. And water worms that were caught in the river after water releases from the dam were stopped.

Discuss her mother's gift of a rosary, and the custom of arras.

Discusses festivals sponsored by Mr. Stahmann on San Ysidro Day (patron saint of agriculture), every May 15th.

From Stahmann Farms in 1949[?], Mr. Marquez went to work at the Lewis Farm (the family lived in Consuela's brother's house in San Miguel). Lewis raised cotton and Mr. Marquez was the mechanic and drove heavy equipment.

Tomas Marquez left Lewis Farm after about three years and went to work at Salopek Farms because the salary was higher. The family lived in housing provided by Salopek.

Roberto Rodriguez was the Marquez's next employer. He raised cotton and sheep.

On the Longino Farm, the last place Mr. Marquez was employed, they raised cotton, alfalfa, and vegetables for family consumption. Longino brought in 60 or 70 Braceros to pick cotton. Marquez worked at Longino's Farm from 1957-1967.

After retirement from farm work Mr. Marquez did lawn care.

Mrs. Marquez stated that she was happy at most places they worked. Her husband did not like working seven days per week, however. They heard about jobs by word of mouth. She doesn't remember people getting laid off from the farms. The farmers would sometimes give jobs to the people just passing through who needed money to move along.

Stahmann would give a bonus to his workers every year. Stahmann would provide for all his workers' families at Christmas.

Discusses learning to play piano. She traded housework for her lessons from the music teacher. Isabel and Conseulo discuss changes in the style of music. The first instrument Mrs. Marquez had was a harmonica.