Do we wonder what Mexicans are doing here “in America?” Like every stitch of the quilt comprising the United States, the answer is multifaceted and each taken as part of our fabric. Take Don Jose Berryessa, who owned an eminent estate in southern California which flourished in Spanish, then-Mexican territory. In the mid-1840s, John C. Fremont was authorized to prepare California for takeover of the “Mexican Cession.” One day, Berryessa rowed along San Francisco Bay in search of his son who, he heard, had been arrested. Disembarking from his boat, he met Fremont standing with U.S. army officer Kit Carson. Berryessa inquired of his son. Carson turned to Fremont and asked what he should do. Fremont responded, “Shoot him.” And he did.
The Berryessa family estate still flourished for many years. It is now an important California State Historical site.
One of the Berryessa grandsons found his way to Utah, working the railroads. He married a Mormon woman and they had a daughter. This girl grew to become a branch in my daughter-in-law’s family tree. She married a fellow of Swedish heritage and we know that at least one of their progeny moved back east.
Due to recent events, I fear when I take my tow-headed grandsons to Walmart. But I don’t fear as much as other grandmothers in our current climate. I don’t fear as much as other families that my fair-haired son and daughter-in-law will be zip-tied and whisked away, leaving sobbing children anguishing at their school curbside. The muse of history is trying so hard to breathe right now, recognizing the current administration for the terror-inducing, soulless and vindictive reign it has become.
Cindy Whitman, Glens Falls