“Felicísimo López was born in Quito on August 6, 1847, the
fourth son of Don Mariano Auz and Doña Dolores López, both of
At the Colegio de los Jesuítas, he studied Latin under Don Buenaventura Proaño, and Humanities under Padre Herzáez;
he then entered the Facultad de Medicina in Quito, and received his MD degree in 1872. (I have all his diplomas.) In 1873 he moved to Jipijapa to set up practice:
two years later he married Francisca Romero and they had nine children, not all of whom were born in Jipijapa, however. In this town, birthplace of the straw hat,
without giving up his practice, he opened and ran a shop, as do many doctors on the coast, doing retail and wholesale business.
In 1882, news came that General Veintimilla, in violation of the Constitution, had declared himself Jefe Supremo de la República.
López was so outraged that the same day he enlisted as a ‘medic’ with the patriotic forces that were already forming to oust the dictator… (the political turmoils went on for some time, and a man named Jose María Caamaño was named Interim President)… when Caamaño was elected President in 1884, he adopted a policy of terrorism against the insurgents; this obliged López to join the revolutionary forces which were under the command of General Eloy Alfaro, and the decisive defeat suffered at Jaramijó in 1885 forced López, now ‘Surgeon General of the Revolutionary Forces,’ to flee to Peru.
It wasn’t until 1888, when Antonio Flores was elected President, that a general amnesty was declared and López was able to return to Jipijapa and his family…
“It was then that the Bishop of Portoviejo, Peter Schumacher,
began to accuse and denounce López in his sermons and pastoral
letters… in 1889 the family moved to Chone, where Dr. López set
up a new practice and began to write articles to ‘El Horizonte’
and the ‘Diario de Avisos,’ large newspapers in Guayaquil, in which,
among other topics, he criticized the actions of this representative
of the church. This led to a judicial action against López and his
In 1892, he and his family moved to Guayaquil, where he again set up practice and continued his journalistic and political work. In 1894 he was elected Senator for the province of Esmeraldas, but was denied, unconstitutionally, his seat in the Congress because he was an excommunicant.
“After the political transformation of 1895,
, he was named Colector de Rentas Fiscales (roughly tax-collector), a position he held until 1900; he was elected Delegate to the 1896 convention for the province of Manabí (where Jipijapa is), and went to Quito [taking Nana with him, against Mamita’s strenuous objections, so that she could meet her relatives; the idea came from his brother Francisco, Malvina’s father. It was on this trip that Nana met Papa.] At the beginning of 1900, Alfaro, now President, named López Consul General in New York.
In October of the same year, he was named Minister Plenipotenciary before the government of Venezuela, and was given an honorary decoration by that country (Condecoración de Segunda Clase del Busto del Libertador). He was later sent in the same capacity to Nicaragua, and subsequently recalled to Ecuador as first Minister of Education and later, of the Interior, which latter position he resigned in August of 1901, returning to New York.
“In March of 1906 he was again named Consul in New York, which
position he held until in 1911 he was summoned by Alfaro to Quito
to be Minister of the Interior again… he was there for the 1911
revolution…. After January 28, 1912 (when the clergy and the
Conservatives staged a bloody coup in which Alfaro and other
Liberal political figures were massacred) Dr, López’s life was in
danger, and when it was safe for him to leave his hiding place,
he left Ecuador permanently and settled in New York, where he
died on December 15, 1917. He is buried in Evergreens Cemetery,
There are other data: he was thrice a member of the City Council of Jipijapa; a member of the board of the Quito-Guayaquil Railway; Ecuadorean Charge d’Affaires in Washington; a delegate to the International Conference on Industrial Property Protection held in Washington in May, 1911; and finally, a member of the Venezuelan Academy of History. In 1901 and 1910 he declined his nomination as candidate for the office of President of Ecuador.”
He wrote a number of books and pamphlets, articles, etc., of which the most important are: the first complete Atlas of Ecuador, published under his supervision while he was Minister of Education; Historia de una excomunión en el Ecuador, New York, 1909, and Virutas, New York, 1908. Virutas means wood shavings, or chips; for Chirstmas 1905, López received from his son Miguel Angel a diary, and every day he wrote down a thought, imitating one of his literary heroes, Victor Hugo; the book is a charming collection of pensées ranging from the philosophic to the purely anecdotal. For our purposes, perhaps his greatest contribution to humanity was Nana, who encarnated the ideals of personal integrity by which he lived.
[This biographical sketch was extracted (translated and edited by me) from “Personalidades Ilustres de la Medicina Nacional” by Luis A. León, an article which appeared in 1951 in Papeles Médicos, the organ of the local (Quito) equivalent of the A.M.A. It was just one of the many times over the years that someone has taken an interest in Felicísimo López’s life and has written on some aspect of it. There is a town called Puerto López somewhere on the coast of Ecuador, and in the early 60’s, Eloísa, who was then living in Quito, was present as Guest of Honor, as López’s only surviving child, at a gala in his honor at the Quito Press Club’s Hall of Fame, for which she supplied some material. Professor Justino Cornejo of the Facultad de Historia de la Universidad de Guayaquil did a monograph on López around the same time. The list goes on, and will probably continue to do so, since López’s excommunication and subsequent expulsion from the Ecuadorean Senate made quite a cause célèbre; he is something of a hero in the history of civil rights in Ecuador. Since illegitimacy is not a particularly heroic condition, when Eloísa was approached for biographical data for this article, as well as all the others, most probably, she gave as Felicísimo’s father’s last name López. As a perusal of the charts that preceded these ramblings will show, his name should have been given as Mariano Auz. This worthy was a priest in the monastery-church of La Merced. He was famed a very learned man (the earliest family member who is recalled as possessing this very family trait) but extremely conservative and pious. Piety among clerics in Ecuador then, as elsewhere and at other times, was a rather relative thing, and many priests had children; some openly maintained homes, or some sort of family establishments. (Curiously enough, the same didn’t apply to nuns; if they violated their vows, they were discreet about it.) One of Nana’s neighbors in Jipijapa, when she was a little girl, was a priest named Ontaneda and his family. Mariano Auz, Father Mariano Auz, had by Dolores López five sons (chart 5); there was also a much older half sister, on whose side I don’t know, named Rosario Daste, though the last name Daste, rather than López, would suggest that Father Auz had known other ladies previously, since hijos naturales, especially when they were also hijos sacrílegos, were almost always given their mother’s last name. All five brothers loved Rosario Daste, who was like a second mother (I know nothing at all about Dolores López, when she died, how, etc.) and who was lamentably killed by a stray bullet in some remote political skirmish in Quito. The family lived in la Casa del Cebollar, named after the hilly street on which it stood, and which once ended in a large field planted with onions. It was still standing in 1959, when I saw it and took a couple of pictures of its thick walls, but it was no longer owned or lived in by anyone related, and the neighborhood was in the most obvious state of irreversible decline. The piety and intelligence of Mariano Auz were, according to Nana, unfortunatley accompanied and surpassed by an inhuman paternal severity which can only be described as sadistic. Felicísimo told of a room in this house, completely empty save for a large stake firmly embedded in the middle of the floor. The slightest real or imagined infraction by any of the five sons was instantly punishable by being tied to this post and thrashed. (One wonders whether Rosario Daste ever got the treatment as well.) Auz was a Dominican, and the picture I have of him, and will hopefully be able to locate, shows a face one would not relish meeting in a dark alley. Miraculously, the boys survived all this and came out of it with an eduring distaste for any sort of paternal physical abuse and a great appreciation of the duties and responsibilities of parenthood vis-à-vis the love of one’s children.]
[Both Proaño and Hernáez were renowned educators of the time.]
[Quito was full of doctors, and Felicísimo’s brother Carlos wrote from the coast and suggested that the privince of Manabí, rural and still backward, needed doctors.]
[“Panama” hats are really made in Jipijapa. They became very fashionable here after the Panama Canal opened up new avenues of trade. I don’t think Ethel Merman would have signed a contract to sing in a musical called “Jipijapa Hattie.”]
[Jipijapa (Hee-pee-háh-pah) is a town, and a small one at that, but it’s situated at a main crossroads point… the road is still too primitive to merit the term highway junction. Felicísimo ran a sort of general store to make ends meet in this semi-arid tropical backwater.]
[Sounds familiar. Jefe Supremo was one of the official titles of the president, though not necessarily indicative always of an electoral victory. I think Franco was styled Jefe Supremo del Estado Español Generalissimo Francisco Franco, etc.]
[He was there three years, and was friendly with the intellectual circle of Liman society and Peru in general, among whom Ricardo Palma, famous Peruvian short story writer, à la Mark Twain. He also managed during this time to father a son by some tapada; he brought the boy back with him in 1888. Mamita, who had always taken a dim view of Abuelito’s political heroism (or heroics, if you please), took even greater umbrage at having to raise this unanticipated addtion to her own brood. His name was Carlos, and was described to me by Malvina, (through whom I first heard of his existence) as being very dark, but the image of Felicísimo. He never really felt comfortable with Mamita, though the children liked him (why not, after all?) and called him ñañó, roughly, “little brother,” affectionately. When the family moved to Guayaquil, he moved out on his own, dropped out of sight, and I suppose got married and had a nice life. I shall always find it curious that neither Nana nor Eloísa ever mentioned him to me, since they never scrupled to tell me about similar cases among their uncles, and about Auz. I suppose, if the story is true, and why would Malvina invent such a whopper, if such it is, that Nana felt it might tarnish the idealistic image of Felicísimo she was handing down. Personally, I find it reassuring to think that the idealist was also human. At any rate, as the Italians say, si non è vero, è ben trovato… if it isn’t true, it makes a good story.]
[But, in 1887 a disasterous fire had devistated the town; there were three victims: an old maid and her neice, and Rosario Romero, Nana’s grandmother. More on this incident elsewhere.]
[This need a footnote. Abuelito was a feuilletiste in true 19th century style. In places where not too much happens, newspapers carried more features, articles, essays, reviews, etc. This was in the days before advertising covered 80% of a newspaper’s space. Communications then were bad, and intellectuals exchanged their opinions and ideas in essays which were frequently cast in an epistolary form to the Editor, or in the form of a dialogue. In one such exchange, Abuelito signed with the pseudonym “Zisca,” and a friend of his always used “Athos.” Some of these were long Letters to the Editors expressing political opinions. If the powers that be disagree with whatever one is saying, they call it propaganda. Ecuador was almost a theocracy at this time; all civil records were kept by the church, which was also the only tolerated religion; ecclesiastics sat in the National Assembly, and there was no lay education; all schooling, such as is was for the masses, was under the control of the church. It was all very corrupt and oppressive, and people could be sent to prison for anitclericalism, which was judicially punishable as heresy. (Did you know, for example, that as late as 1875 a village priest in Peru burnt an old woman as a witch? Admittedly, an extreme example, but it gives an idea of the times.) In some of his articles, López criticized Bishop Schumacher for several abuses, among which the most resented was his prohibition to the local peasants against holding market on Sunday. Schumacher was German, one of many foreign clerics the Curia imported to fill higher ecclesiastical positions; most of these clerics were ignorant of locally senctioned customs. Schumacher’s idea of the Sabbath was more Baptist than Catholic (or more Methodist, or Calvinist, whatever… i.e., the seventh day all you do is go to church) and failed to take into account that his abrogation of the customary Market-on-sunday-in-the-plaza tradition imposed great hardship on the peasants, who now lost a day’s work, and under pain of mortal sin, let it be added. When Schumacher, in the same newspapers and from his pulpit, cited passages of Scripture to validate his position, López, who had after all studied with the Jesuits, was able to reciprocate in kind and totally refute the bishop’s point. Wonderful book, the Bible; one can make it say exactly what one wishes. At any rate, this went on for a while, until López made the fatal tactical error of referring to the church as a “Christian sect,” which is, after all, what it is. But in those days is was the Holy, Roman and Apostolic Church, officially so, and Schumacher jumped at the opportunity of ridding himself of another “liberal Masón” via a Bull of Excommunication, so aptly termed. He declared López an excommunicant “vitandus,” which means that not only is he deprived of the sacraments and God’s love and all that, but all faithful who deal with him incur mortal sin. López was a doctor amidst superstitious rednecks; it ruined his practice. But not everybody was peasants, and popular opinion was strongly behind López. A group of Liberals in Portoviejo, capital of Manabí, spread printed copies of Schumacher’s Bull on the ground between the church and the rectory one rainy day so that he would have to grind his words into the mud as he went to say Mass. There was, however, a lot of rednecks, and López’s life was, strictly speaking, in danger.]
[López left the extremely documented and complete account of it in his Historia, which was published in Spanish, and copies of which are in the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. Having frittered away a number of years in my youth in studying Hispanic literatures, I feel qualified to venture an opinion. He has very fine style; in the pensées, (Virutas), he tells anecdotes that I heard from another first hand source, Nana, so I’m familiar with the details and can concentrate on the presentation. Very nicely done, warmth, taste. In the political writings, the rhetoric is very nicely constructed, and one gets the impression of great honesty. Too bad he never did fiction per se, or wrote on international rather than just local affairs, of limited transcendence.]
[After a political scandal à la Watergate involving the sale of the use of the national flag for a ship of the navy of a country then at war with someone else, there was a revolution and the Liberals were swept into power by popular election. The new President was Eloy Alfaro, for whom Eloísa was named, and who was Victor’s godfather. It began an enormous social revolution, but not a bloody one; a good comparison, up to today at least, might be Spain after the death of Franco. Sweeping reforms at all levels were implemented.]
[López wanted his younger sons (Miguel Angel, Aquiles and Samuel) to be educated in the U.S., a country whose estensible political and intellectual freedoms he greatly admired. He asked for the job, and got it. It was a sinecure; his ministerial and diplomatic activities were more important. He, Nana, Papa, Victor (aged 8 months) left Guayaquil on February 1, 1900 and arrived in New York on the 14th. In those pre-Canal days, one sailed to the west coast of Panama, took a train across, and boarded another ship on the Atlantic coast. They arrived at night, and in those happier and more trusing days, foreign diplomats had courtesy of the port, and one just gave the number of one’s entourage, perhaps the names, somebody wrote it down, and that’s that. Nana used to say that there was no record of her being in this country until FDR days and the Alien Registration Bill. They never became citizens, Nana and Papa; about Papa, I don’t know, but I’m sure it was like Nana. She was proud right down to her last day of her still valid Ecuadorean citizenship. She never wanted to come here, never liked the idea, and used to bemoan her abject decline, which would have been impossible in Ecuador. She was right, too. The party spent that first night at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the Waldorf of its day, at 23rd Street. Abuelito and Papa want to the Metropolitan Opera to see Carmen, with Calvé, I believe, and Nana was left to the baby and the whoosh-whoosh of the ladies' long skirts in the hallway. The rest of the family, including Mamita and Malvina, sister-cousin Malvina (Dolores), see chart 5, came a year later, Malvina to enter that Fall the Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a normal school. Aquiles was 13, Miguel 15, and Sam 8.]
[In his absence, Papa was Acting Consul. It was a comfortable situation, and to the advantage of the Ecuadorean government, because they were both good, efficient civil servants, and they were honest. It’s too bad they were, in a way, because a Consul can get graft if he wants, and there’s always someone who wants to give you money in return for some favor. They never got anything off the top, as it were, because there was nothing left when the revolution curtailed their regular salary, and that was the beginning of the end. Neither of these two gentlemen was equipped to handle any other kind of job. Victor was 13 (1912), Miguel was back in Ecuador, Aquiles I think in Argnetina, and Sam was 21. And later that year Amalia, Papa’s mother, died, requiring his immediate return and protracted stay. Insult to injury: Eloísa had a boy friend, American Protestant type doctor. Eloísa was very beautiful as a young woman and retained it into her eighties and death. But when the good young doctor learned that López was no longer a real-live furriner diplomat, he stopped calling. The cad.]
[Of rectal cancer. He was in full control of his faculties, and had all his teeth save one wisdom tooth, and all his hair. The cad. I have the deed, someplace, to the plot, which also contains Mamita and Sam.]
The running quotes at the end of this section I translated and heavily edited from: Orígenes del Ecuador de hoy: García Moreno by Luis Robalino-Dávila; Quito, Talleres Gráficos Nacionales, 1948, pp. 3-12. This is a biography of Gabriel García Moreno, who was a President of Ecuador in the 19th century. An extremely able administrator, and probably honest, he was ruthless in his attacks on his opponents, and his politics were somewhat to the right of Ivan the Terrible. He was also a religious fanatic, and during one administration changed the name of the country to the Republic of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and gave it as a fief to the current Pope. It was he who was largely responsible for the importation of foreign clerics mentioned earlier. He was finally assassinated in 1875 on the steps of the Palacio de Gobierno in Quito, to the great relief of many. All this is germaine only because he was alos Mamita’s uncle.
The García Morenos were of the “aristocracy” of Guayaquil, very rich, very conservative, and very Catholic. Juana Mercedes Moreno Morán de García Gómez (chart 4) was carried every day to Mass, in her very old age, on a sedan chair by four servants, and Manuel Ignacio, Gabriel’s brother, was a preist. Sent to a parish in remote Jipijapa, he took along one of the family servants, a girl named Rosario Romero (Mamita’s mother), and before you knew it, they had five children: Pedro Alcántara, Ignacio, Tomás, Francisca and Mercedes. At some point, he left for another see and Rosario and the children stayed. Again, per custom, the latter took their mother’s last name. Pedro Alcántara had a homonymous son who died at age 17 in a revolution; Tomás married and lived in Guayaquil; Ignacio went to Guayaquil too, and was supposed to come visit the family in Brooklyn around 1908, but vanished without a trace after sending a cable saying that he had arrived in Panama; and Mercedes had two daughters by as many men and died in Guayaquil during an epidemic of bubonic plague in 1913. One of these daughters was Rosario González (she did take her real father’s name, as did her half sister Rita Alencastro), who in similar fashion had a daughter named Delia Maruri. Nana and Lola kept in touch with Rosario until her death from cancer in 1960 or so. Delia married a man named Eduardo Rossi Guerra, they had a few children, some now married; they live in Guayaquil and are very nice middle class people.
Though married to an ardent “free-thinker,” Francisca (Mamita) retained her Catholicism more or less active, until her death at 90 of natural causes. She was an intelligent but not an educated nor enlightened lady; nor was she a lady with whom one might deal flippantly. When someone affectionately called her Mama, she would say something to the effect of, “Don’t call me mama; I’m not your mother.” Later, when she had warmed to the person, the greeting was “Hello, my son.” She never saw a movie, for superstitious reasons. All in all, she didn’t have such an easy time of it; first there were Felicísimo’s idealistic peradventures, which left his wife and children in desperate straits; then there was the revolution in 1912 and all that meant; all her five sons died before she did and she had money worries all her life. The picture shows her at age 51; she was thought to be a great beauty in her youth, because of her fine delicate features, which were her García Moreno legacy. She looked very much like her dictator uncle, whom she probably never met. Her father probably left home (rectory) when she was very little.
Francisca’s mother, Rosario Romero, lived with her daughter and son-in-law in Jipijapa. She took care of the children while Mamita’s time was taken up with running the store during Abuelito’s exile, (1885-88). In 1887, when Nana was ten, some kids were playing with matches, and the better part of the town, which was all cane and straw, went up in smoke. So did three ladies: an old maid and her niece, and Rosario Romero. Nana recalled the catastrophe vividly all her life. As the flames inexhorably approached, Mamita and Rosario Tomero were trying to save as much as possible from the store. Mamita went to find a wagon and Rosario took the children to a surrounding hilltop and told Nana to make sure none of them moved from the spot until her return; she was going to find Mamita. When Rosario returned, she was naked save for a petticoat someone had given her, and burnt all over. Nana said Rosario said nothing until she saw Mamita and told Nana to call out. When Mamita saw Rosario, she called for help, but since Abuelito, the only doctor, wasn’t there, all that could be done for the poor woman was to apply linseed oil with cotton to her burns. She died in agony that night. The story goes that when she returned to the store, she saw that the family’s goat was still tothered and desperately trying to free itself, since the thatch roof of the stable was ablaze. Taking pity on the animal, she went over to untie it and the roof caved in on her. When they managed to pull her out, all her clothes had been burned away.
There are some interesting details about Rosario Romero: She was mestiza, like just about everyone else in town, but was very dark, and clearly of a different ethnic mixture than anything common in the region. Also, according to Nana, she spoke Spanish with a slight accent. Guayaquil was an important seaport (despite its inland position on an estuary), so Rosario could have come from just about anywhere Spanish or Portuguese were spoken.
Now for the quotes from Robalino’s book. Please bear in mind that Robalino is obviously enamoured of his subject, and talks about these remote forbears as if they had as many quarterings as an Austrian Archduke, and as if Guayaquil were the Byzantium of South America.
“Miserable Castille, one powerful… Castille of grey rocks… dusty Castille covered with saffron plants… this was the native land of Don Gabriel García Gómez… Villaverde del Monte is three leagues from Soria… a poor village of 53 souls (1948), though the entire parish has 250… a poor place, but in a land of epics (this is, after all, the land of Don Quixote)… here was born Don Gabriel García Gómez October 2, 1766, who was baptized the 13th. He was the legal son of Don Diego García Yanguas and Doña María Gómez, natives and residents of Villaverde. His paternal grandparents were Don Juan García Yanguas [I think there’s another shady parentage here… these two men shouldn’t have had the same maternal last name Yanguas, but…] and Doña Josefa Martínez. This lady was born March 27, 1652, the daughter of Don Alonso Martínez and Doña Catalina Escribano, baptized ‘privately’ that same day ‘because of necessity’ [no idea what that means]; her godmother was her grandmother Doña Ana de la Orden, ‘due to the lack of a godfather’ [that sounds clear enough]. Don Gabriel García Gómez’s maternal grandparents were Don Juan Gómez and Doña Cecilia de la Orden, which shows that his parents were interrelated. His godfather was his maternal grandfather Don Juan Gómez, and the certificate was signed by Father Manual García Aragonés (probably another relative)…. His parents were married [hooray] by Father Joseph Cueto, priest of Cidones, November 22, 1762… there were in all probability more younger siblings… one came to Mexico and was the founder of the family that eventually produced the famous historian García Icazbalceta…. The origins of these families are very old…. They were, probably, poor hidalgos who had just enough land to keep them fed…. He studied in Cádiz at the home of his uncles Don Juan Simón and Don Melchor Martínez de Aparicio, who had some commercial enterprises in that port city of Spain. The Martínez de Aparicio traced their family back five generations; they were Lords of the House of San Bartolomé del Cerro in Sotillo (Soria) and proved their nobility before the Tribunal of the Royal Chancellory of Granada and were granted a Royal Provision on March 22, 1776. They requested and were granted by Don Ramón Zazo y Ortega a charter with their coat of arms on August 27, 1778… [He then goes on with some lengthy details about these Martínez, which don’t really concern us here.] And one fine day in 1793 while Spain and all Europe were shuddering with fear at the news which kept coming from France [the French Revolution, Napoleon, etc.]; urged on by the fear that the Terror would cross the Pyrenees, and helped financially by his uncles in Cádiz, he bought goods for trading and boarded ‘Nuestra Señora de las Nieves,’ a frigate which was leaving for the colonies… a Spaniard newly arrived from Spain was in those times superior to the creole, contaminated now by the tropical laziness of the climate [Guayaquil is not what one might term a tropical paradise] and perhaps even by some shadowy mestizaje of his ancestors. The creoles who had not intermarried preferred, naturally enough, native Spaniards for their daughters… add this fact to Gabriel Barcía Gómez’s natural good looks, industry, references and ambition, and it is not hard to understand why the Regidor Perpetuo del Cabildo de Guayaquil (the local potentate), Don Manuel Ignacio Moreno y Sylva Santistevan, and his wife, Doña Manuela Morán de Butrón y del Castillo should heartily approve of the interest the young man took in their daughter, Juana Mercedes…. The Regidor de Guayaquil was the son of Don José Ignacio Moreno and Doña Ana Manuela de Sylva Santistevan y Larralde, whose good lineage is evidenced by his permanent position as Regidor… [there follow some more lengthy details about these good people.] Juana Mercedes was born in Guayaquil in 1780 and married Gabriel García Gómez in 1797; they had twelve children. The eldest, Josefa Dominga, born in 1798, died at 47; Concepción, at an early age; Manuel Ignacio followed the ecclesiastical career [this was Mamita’s father]; Mercedes, dead at 18; José, died young; the second José studied Catholic liturgy, but later married María de los Angeles Mateus y Vásmezon [not a Spanish name] and lived to be 71; Carmen, no data; Miguel, one-time Governor of Guayaquil; Pedro Pablo, landed gentleman and businessman; Fernando, no data; Rosario, likewise. The youngest was Gabriel García Moreno.”
As the last of all these details, it should be mentioned that Doña Juana Mercedes, of sedan chair fame, lived to be 91 and was all her life a “Tory;” after Ecuador gained its independence from Spain in 1822, she continued to hang the Spanish Royal Flag on her door every Independence Day (August 10) until her death. Like Mamita, her granddaughter, she was longlived and feisty.
N.B. Last year Enid and her husband Aurelio came to San Francisco and I met with them; we took a sightseeing bus around town, despite the unfortunate rain and fog. At one point Enid buttonholed me and said that Aurelio, who among other things has been a history teacher, and a Spanish Literature teacher at some midwestern college here, thought Garcia Moreno was the worst thing that ever happened to Ecuador, and would I please not blab any of these scandalous genealogical details to him. I agreed.
Having some time ago set down numerous details of some of our progenitors, I should now show you their children. The preceding picture was taken in Brooklyn in 1911, the last year that all surviving family members were together. At some point I’ll sort things out and send pictures of the two missing brothers [I’ve found them and include them herewith], but for the time being, this précis: to the left of Felicísimo is Eloísa (see charts for dates, etc.), who never married and died childless. Standing above her is Miguel, who mever married but was the father of Enid, Olga, Ulises, Alicia, and two others who died in childhood. Miguel was the only son to go back to live in Ecuador, settling in Guayaquil; when he died in 1935, his cousin Malvina adopted his children and brought them to Quito, where Olga and her family live still. Enid lives in Guayaquil, and Ulises in New York state, West Hempstead, I believe. Alicia, who was brought up not by Malvina, but by Miguel’s “wife,” a lady named Enid Espinosa, who lives or lived in Loja, in Ecuador, may or not still be alive in Mexico, where she was the widow of a military man of some sort of rank. Miguel refused to accept her as his daughter, though she was of all the children probably the one who looked most like him.
Back to the picture: standing next to Miguel is Dolores (“Lola”), who married a German named Frank Zilker, from Munich. They had one daughter, also named Dolores, (“Lolita”). Zilker was a widower with three children, one of whom was the wife or girl-friend of a man named Malcolm Stevens, whose sister Ruby eventually became… Barbara Stanwyck! The girl, Elizabeth (“Sissy”), eventually died of TB, and Stevens eventually changed his name to Stanwyck. Lola and Zilker didn’t make it as a marriage and she finally left him in New Orleans, where, I think, he died in the mid-forties. Fate is funny; somehow, in a trunk of old papers from Glenwood Road, I found, and still have, Barbara Stanwyck’s elementary school autograph book from Brooklyn. I guess I should send it to her before either of us dies. Wonder what she’d say if I asked her how her brother Mal was.
In the picture again… standing above Mamita is Aquiles. In New York, I believe, sometime around 1911, he married an American girl named Bessie. They had one son, Robert (“Bob”) López, who if still alive now (1983) is about 71; last I heard he was living in LA, divorced. He had some kids too. Aquiles and Bessie didn’t make it as a couple either, and went their separate ways. Bessie remarried, a man named Joe Cohen, who was involved with the movies somehow, as was his stepson Bob López. I remember seeing the name in the credits of some films, I think Paulette Goddard’s deathless impersonation of Jezebel was one of them. Something in the technical aspect, cameras or film. Bob visited his cousins in Brooklyn in 1939, and took several very fine family shots. Judging from the pictures, Bob looked a little like Mamita. Aquiles left New York and finally wound up in Buenos Aires, where he was one of the editors of a paper called La Nación. He was a man of some prestige and a bit of a man about town. (At this time Eloísa and Mamita were living with him.) Too much town, too much high life and champagne and tuxedoes; after a party one hight in 1929, he was in the back seat of a car, being driven home by some friends. They noticed that he had stopped talking and turned around to find that he’d just plain dropped dead of a heart attack. Mamita and Eloísa came back to Brooklyn, where she died in 1940. Eloísa finally went back to Ecuador in 1960 or 61, and died in Quito in 1965.
To the right of Mamita is Samuel, the youngest of the family. He served in the Canadian forces in Europe during WW I, and wound up living in Maracaibo, Venezuela in the twenties. There he married a girl whose name I forget now; her last name, though, was Villanueva. She was very dark, I’ve been told; they came to visit NY on their honeymoon. Her family didn’t like Sam, and the feeling was mutual. I think this was in part because the girl wasn’t very healthy and her parents had hoped she wouldn’t marry. But she did and they had a daughter, Margarita Cecilia, born around 1924. Sam worked for some oil company and was in NY on business alone when he got news that his wife had died. When he went back to Maracaibo he told his in-laws that he wanted to go back to NY and take the little girl with him, to which they were adamantly opposed. So opposed, in fact, that they took the little girl and skipped out, vanished. Sam was never able to find them and eventually died in Brooklyn in 1933.
There is an anecdoe to Sam López’s life and death. He suffered from a mild form of epilepsy; you’d be talking with him and he would occasionally drop off into a little mumbling or silence for a few moments and then come right out of it. This condition, which was probably responsible for his being in the Canadian forces rather than the American, became more pronounced as he grew older; it would happen with increasing frequency and for longer periods. He was diagnosed as having a benign brain tumor and decided to have surgery. Some might say the risks, even in this country, were great in the thirties, but I guess the increasing inconvenience was worse, so he was operated on and died of complications. The anecdote is this: the afternoon before the surgery he and Papa, his brother-in-law (Víctor Manuel Pazmiño, for you younger ones), were sitting on the porch swing talking when the Shakespeare clock on the living room mantle struck, and struck, and struck, over and over until it went sproing and stopped. Since the clock had run perfectly ever since Felicísimo and Francisca had bought it in 1900, 33 years earlier (it was part of the home furishings of the outgoing Ecuadorean Consul General, and I have it now), it seemed not unusual that it should break down. Nana always said that this extraordinary coincidence was an omen that was ignored, and I think she was right. She told me that she had taken it to a couple of clocksmiths, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. It didn’t run again until 1969, when I had it repaired in Boston. It still ticks and chimes on my mantle now, but several years ago the strike mechanism went awry, and now it’s anybody’s guess how many times it will strike every half hour. I find this perversely humorous and have yet to have it looked at.
And that brings us to the upper right hand figure in the picture, Nana, Lelia, who deserves a book in her own right. She married Papa in Guayaquil in 1898; there were eight children, the Pazmiño López family of chart 1. I should mention that in Latin America it’s the custom for people to use their mother’s maiden name after their father’s family name, much as it was the custon in this country years ago to use this same maternal maiden name as a middle name, cf. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ulysses Simpson Grant, etc. I’ve followed this custom for this essay, to keep things straight. I should also mention that whereas in the US cousin is used for just about everybody besides siblings and nephews, etc., in South America a different system prevails. For example, Stella Pazmiño Disosway’s children Kenneth and Linda are first cousins to Grace Pazmiño Ganley’s daughter Joan, as they are to me, son of Lucile Pazmiño Dudley. Linda’s children and Joan’s are second cousins to each other, but to childless me they’re first cousins once removed, as I am to them. Joan’s daughter Leslie’s children are first cousins twice removed to Kenneth, Linda, me, etc. And Leslie’s grandchildren would be thrice removed, and so on. In Latin America, a different terminology is used, whereby Joan’s children and Linda’s are my nieces and nephews en segundo, “second nieces,” and I would be their tío en segundo, “second uncle.” Another example: Lolita is Grace’s first cousin, right? Lolita is therefore tía en segundo to Joan, (first cousin once removed), tía en tercero (twice removed) to Leslie, and tía en cuarto (thrice removed) to Leslie’s children, and so forth. Not too confusing, if you think about it, and all it is is a different way of describing that kind of family relationship. In Ecuador one would say all these people are uncles, nieces, etc.; here one would term them all cousins of some sort since even the distinction between first and second cousins is almost beyond grasp. And as a final example of the American system, to confuse you all, I can mention that since Lolita and Grace, (and Stella and Albert, etc.) are first cousins, then Dennis is second cousin to Joan (and to me, and Laura Lou, and Georgiann, etc.). Dennis lies in the same relationship to me and my first cousins as do the childen of Olga, Ulises, Bob López, not to forget whatever children that long lost daughter of Sam López might have had.
But now I have to jump back a bit to Ecuador because so far I’ve only written about Nana’s line and that’s only half the story. Some details must be given about the Pazmiño side, and the best character to begin with is his mother, Doña Amalia Hurtado.
But before I do that, I must first comment on the pictures of two young men, set in ovals, and printed by Bauland’s of Brooklyn. These are two López Romero boys who had died before the 1911 portrait was taken; theyu were Estenio and Ulises, and you can see where they fit on the appropriate chart, No. 1. Somebody must have taken earlier photos to have these made from them; I would assume that it was Mamita. There isn’t too much to tell about them, since they died so young. Estenio was Nana’s favourite brother and Abuelito’s favourite son; he had the same high ideals and liberalness of thinking that was so characteristic of that family, and was moved by patriotism to go off and fight with liberal revolutionary forces, dedicated to the overthrow of some dictator (not García Moreno, another one) before the final victory of Eloy Alfaro and the Liberals in 1895. Unfortunately, he got shot and died on the battlefield. Mamita was dead set against the idea, but there was no discouraging him. Heroic deeds, yes, but living is nicer. remember, Mamita had had to deal with a lot of misery while Felicísimo was exiled, and now she loses her first son. Hard.
Ulises died as a result of some violent intestinal infection that struck him and Eloísa when the family was living in Guayaquil. Eloísa got better, but as some will recall, always had some sort of trouble with her digestion. I don’t remember any stories about him, though I’m sure Nana or Eloísa had some to tell me. I find the resemblance of Estenio to Nana very striking, but that’s because I’ve seen so many pictures of Nana when she was a yound lady. As I continue to go through my closet, I’ll xerox some of the better ones.
I should mention that those of you who don’t have any direct memories of Nana or Lola, say, i.e., Linda’s, or Joan’s younger kids, could get the impression from the reproductions that these people were more darkly complected that they really were. Lola nad Aquiles were nicknamed the “negritos” by their siblings, but for the most part, despite the strong Indian features, notably the shape of the eyes, both sides, López and Pazmiño-Hurtado were quite fair, very “white” looking, if you will. Many of the pictures have darkened with age, and xerography, while cheap, isn’t the best kind of reproduction. As for the true ethnic or gene background, I can say this: it’s predominantly white, with a strong Indian strain and just a little bit of Black, this latter bit of spice being the legacy of the formidable looking lady whose tale I’m finally getting to, as follows.
Amalia Hurtado (Donoso) and Francisco Mariano López
This redoubtable looking but very good lady was Papa’s mother (and Malvina’s too) and was born in Quito in the late 1830’s or early 1840’s. Her mother was named Dolores Zambrano and was the wife of Joaquín Donoso Baen [sic, actually Donoso Ortiz] (Chart 2); but this gentleman was not her father. That distinction belongs to a man whose last name was Hurtado and who was the 19th century equivalent of a Fuller Brush man, travelling from town to town selling hardware and dry goods. Doña Dolores probably asked him in to show his wares one day and got more that she perhaps (only perhaps) bargained for. Anyway, thence Amalia, who fits into forth place among the legitimate and not so so children of Donoso and Dolores Zambrano (their names were Camila, Modesto, Teresa, (Amalia, and) Adela). I have a whole list of names of the descendants of these worthies, but there has been no connection for decades, so really, why bother?
Predictably, Hurtado wasn’t seen again; it was known of him, though, that he was from the coastal province of Los Ríos, where blacks constituted a large part of the population. A footnote: in the Andean regions, places of very high altitude… Quito 9500 feet…, there are very few blacks. There is every tint and hue and whatever of white and Indian, but there are almost no blacks. Amalia is quite different from all the other Donoso children, who are, from the pictures I’ve seen and two first cousins of Papa’s, nonagenarians both, whom I met in 1969, almost all white. The picture of her shows her in old age; in an 1860’s tintype I saw in Quito, a hoopskirt and ringlets enhanced the figure of an extremely handsome and attractive young lady. It wasn’t a beautiful face, but it was very striking. Insofar as one can trust appearances, she was the source of the curly hair and the "Pazmiño" forehead. Everything I can remember being told about this lady by Nana or Malvina points to a very loving but definitely no-nonsense kind of lady, with a shrewd business sense. I have always thought it highly deplorable that this most desirable attribute didn’t come with the forehead.
At any rate, sometime in the 1860’s she met and married José Manuel Paz y Miño, who was considerably older than she; they had several children, most of whom died in infancy. Those who survived were three; Diocelina, Rosario and Víctor Manuel (Papa), who was born posthumously in 1871. (I don’t think that’s correctly used, but anyway…) This Paz y Miño belonged to one of the oldest and richest families in Quito, about all of which more later, and he was not in the best of health; I’ve been told that he had kidney trouble or liver problems, I don’t recall which; I’ve also learned that this was quite common in those days before that water purification plants made things a bit nicer. Or that might have been someone’s euphemism for boozers. No telling at this point.
It should be mentioned that these Donosos, Paz y Miños, López, Dálavos and so forth families were all more or less neighbors in Quito; societies were more structured then. Everybody went to the same churches, theatre, events, etc. and everybody who was anybody know everybody else. There are virtues and disadvantages in that, but that’s the way it was. When Dolores Zambrano died in 1869, Felicísimo López and his brother Francisco were both witnesses to her will. People got together, played cards, danced, acted as eachother’s doctor, lawyer, etc. Amalia and the López brothers had in common a great love of learning and education; books that belonged to these people that I saw or have myself reveal fairly active though circumscribed tastes, with a penchant towards history and natural sciences and a good deal of current European philosophy. One can only partially underestimate the smallness of numbers of similarly inclined people in mid 19th century Quito. It is therefore easy to understand how the still young Amalia, wife of an older and semi-invalid man, could choose no more apt person as her second husband than Francisco Mariano López who was in case I’ve not mentioned it before, the older brother of Felcísimo. Of this second marriage there were three children (see chart 2), of whom Malvina alone survived into modern times. Malvina was an interesting lady, of whom more later; she was also the last of her generation and line. In genealogical terms, she’s double related to us (except of course to Lola’s descendants) because she was Papa’s half-sister, and therefore aunt to Stella, George, etc., and Nana’s first cousin. In accordance with the system I tediously tried to describe earlier, relatives on both sides nicknamed her “la tía universal.” It was she who after the death of Miguel Angel López brought up his children, as mentioned earlier, and it was she, in Quito, who was one of the three old lady sisters group in Quito, i.e., Diocelina, Rosario and Malvina. To complete the picture a bit, Diocelina married a man named Trajano Hurtado (no relation to the aforementioned travellin' man) and they had a bunch of children, of whom the youngest was Enrique, whom some of you will remember. Rosario was first married to a Danish pharmacist named Emil Stahlschmidt and there were two children, Lucila and Guillermo. Stahlschmidt died, also of liver/kidney/booze/shortness of breath, and Rosario later remarried; his name was José Dálavos and [they had] three children: Homero, Edma and Amaya. Some will remember meeting Homero; Edma was very nice, never married, and was a great friend and frequent visitor with Malvina and Enid. Amaya married a Chilean and lives or lived there; she had a son named José with whom I exchanged a couple of letters in the early 60’s. But there are more interesting aspects to all this.
I’ve seen a picture of José Manuel Paz y Miño in Quito, a large framed mezzotint kind of thing at Enrique’s house; he looked like Andrew Jackson with a beard, a white beard, a long white beard. The kind of beard that no one of predominantly Indian, or if you wish, Latino, ancestry could raise. In short, a white man, probably “pure,” much like the Guayaquil grandees I mentioned in connection with Mamita. Amalia, it will be recalled, was probably half white and half white-and-something, so that’s the statistical side of it. I say all this is a purely statistical sense; I’ve often heard people say “I’m one eighth Apache,” or “one sixteenth Micmac…” no, really… and it points out a cultural difference we here have with Latin America. The mixing and blending in some areas of the societies there isn’t retraceable, nor noteworthy, nor really paid much attention to. It just is. While the Spaniards did awful things in South America, they didn’t exterminate the native population as other Europeans did in North America. In broad terms, colour probably increases or decreases according to social class, and not unfamiliarly so. One can picture the chagrin of some Yankee worthy at seeing his daughter marry one of those (Fill in your own) fellas. It all has to do with how long one had been around and more of less in control of things. José Manuel had many brothers, and there are Paz y Miños in Quito, and Pazmiños in D.C. and elsewhere, and when Rosario Paz y Miño v. de Stahlschmidt, later de Dávalos died, two Paz y Miño cousins paid their respects, but there has never been any contact with any of those families, either on Papa’s part or that of any of the Hurtados, outside of courtesy calls at wakes, etc.
Whereas there is a strong family resemblance between the children of both Amalia’s marriages, there is no trace of that face (José Manuel) in anybody descended from Papa known to me, and I’m the only person now living who had met almost all of them. While Papa resembled both Diocelina and Rosario, he was most like Malvina and her brother Julio. Nana told me that when Ann’s mother met Malvina, she was taken aback by the overpowering resemblance to Papa; she of course knew them both in old age and at a span of years, but it was probably very striking throughout their lives. Papa was ten years older than Malvina. I don’t know when Amalia married Francisco, but I do know that it was a very happy marriage until her death in 1913. I believe what the people who knew them told me about them. Papa’s surviving correspondence with Francisco is very warm, even in terms of the flowery style of the times. No “step” seems to have preceded either the “-father” or “-son” in their relationship. Nana also recalled Francisco, her beloved tío Pancho, with the greatest fondness, perhaps despite the fact that it was he who caused her first meeting with Papa. He was, like his brother Felicísimo, a free-thinker, a Liberal, etc., etc., etc., and had done his part to achieve the triumph of Alfaro and the Liberals in 1895, for which he was rewarded with some appointments; he was the Postmaster General for a while, and Minister of this or that at one time. By training, he was a lawyer (cf. the reference to his being present at Dolores Zambrano’s testamenting in 1869) and consequently had a good income. Amalia had inherited some property from Paz y Miño in the city, plus a small estate named Carretas (carts) just outside Quito, so she was rather well-off in her own right, which was to cause a rather nasty and prolonged family squabble over her will, which in turn required Papa to return to Quito in 1913. It was with the small legacy he received that Papa made the downpayment on 2114 Glenwood Road when he returned to Brooklyn in 1918. And thereby hangs a tale whose raison d'être is to explain the great paucity of contacts between the Pazmiño kids in Brooklyn and their many Hurtado and Stahlschmidt and Dávalos first cousins in Quito.
From all these antecedents, and familiar with the predilection for intermarriage, legitimate, on both sides of the family, and after many hours of perusal of the accompanying and many, many other photographs, my intuition comples me to declare that almost certainly Papa was not the son of José Manuel Paz y Miño, and that his stepfather was also his natural father, that he was therefore full brother to Julio and Malvina and consequently first cousin to Nana in blood as well as name. I first reached this conclusion years ago and asked Nana about it a couple of times. I never really did get a definite answer one way or the other, but I recall that Nana only gave a semi-“Bah” about it once, and another time she just smiled and shook her head. The following pages show most of the people mentioned above, so you can pore over the pictures and draw your own conclusions.
Notice how all Amalia’s children have her distinct rather wide mouth; notice too the very dignified oval portrait of Diocelina, dated August 1, 1897 in Quito, and how very much she reminds one of Stella. One can see a clear relation among Diocelina, Malvina, Víctor, Julio and Doña Amalia, but although Rosario has the same mouth and curly hair, the rest of the face says something else enitrely. (The smaller photo of Rosario was dated August 21, 1897, in Quito.) The photo of Julio César has a note on the back to the effect that he died in Guayaquil on June 8, 1896 at the age of 17, so please correct my erroneous entry on chart 2. He died of yellow fever, and Nana recalled that when the doctors wanted to administer enema to him to clear out his system (I presume this was a contemporary practice) he refused; she attributed his death to this decision and I think it coloured her medical philosophy forever. The four pictures of Víctor Manuel show him at various stages; the first is dated Quito, December 20, 1895, the second Brooklyn, March 10, 1902; the third and fourth, also from Brooklyn, were probably taken in 1918 and 1943, the year before his death. Notice how black his hair still was; when I last saw Malvina she was 88, and much of her still abundant hair was still if not black, very, very dark grey. Unlike Víctor, and later on his son Víctor, she never had recourse to that gallant but unconvincing expedient of trying to deny baldness by letting the hair get long on one side and then raking it over the top of the head. (I remember once riding on a roller coaster with Víctor, who was of course holding his hat in his hand, and having to stifle my laughter at seeing all this long hair flapping in the wind, but only on one side. It would have been unspeakably deflating to mention it at the time, but it was funny.) And lastly, the picture of the five young ladies was taken on October 30, 1898, and Nana herself wrote their names down. When we would look at these pictures and others, she would always say how careless it was of people not to write on the back who the person(s) in the picture were, just in case. A game for you all: of these ladies, two are sisters-in-law, two are half-sisters, three are sisters, and four are first cousins. Can you identify them all?
Sometime around 1910 Malvina married a man named Humberto Egas, who was from Guayaquil and belonged to a family that were friends of Felicísimo and Francisca. The marriage was childless and a flop, and they divorced. But they were still married when Doña Amalia died in 1913. She left a substantial estate, and quarrels arose between Diocelina and Rosario and their families on one side, and Malvina and Humberto and the widowed Francisco on the other. Papa, who had been living in Brooklyn since 1900, went back to Quito to join in the fray and stayed for five years, leaving Nana and the children in the utmost penury. He wanted Nana and the family to go back with him, but Nana refused, in part because of the embarrassing nature of the trip. In 1912 the Liberals and Alfaro fell rather catastrophically; Alfaro and many other government officials were killed and mutilated, and it was some time before things settled down. By the time of Amalia’s death the Conservative government in power had offered amnesties and free passage back to Ecuador to all those expatriate nationals who had been connected with the preceding regime. The newspaper social columns, which still tell of people coming and going today, would carry a notation to the effect that so and so had just returned under the government’s repatriation/amnesty policy, which Nana thought would be too humiliating. She later regretted this; in her last years, when the poverty had become grinding, she would often tell me that she had never wanted to come to this country in the first place, that the idea was Abuelito’s and Papa’s and that in any event they had never intended to stay in New York permanently. She was proud that she had never become a citizen; I remember typing a letter for her to some Guayaquil postal official, in which she complained about a letter of hers to a cousin that had been “lost;” in it she described herself as ``una ecuatoriana ausente de mi patria durante muchos años." It was at the time 60 years since she had left Ecuador.
I think when Papa came back in 1918, it was very much against his wishes and judgement. But he did and that’s why we’re all here. And all that is part of the next chapter aka the Pazmiño López family. The initial photographic documentation whereof follows herewith.
One final note: Doña Amalia’s portrait, sent to Papa and Nana, is inscribed thusly (I translate): “The original (of this picture) loves you argently and wishes you prosperity in the course of this miserable life. Quito, August 6, 1908.” When I read that to Nana, she laughed, and said that Doña Amalia was being sarcastic, that she had a sense of humour about life.