The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

The Farias Chronicles: A History and Genealogy of a Portuguese/Spanish Family. By
George Farfas. Illustrated by Jack Jackson. (Edinburg: New Santander Press,
1995. Pp. xiv+294. Prologue, acknowledgments, maps, illustrations, intro-
duction, epilogue, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-935071-11-3. $50.00, limit-
ed.)
What a delightful surprise to open a book such as this, expecting to find a de-
tailed genealogy meaningful only to a particular family, and to discover instead
tales of castles, pirates, adventures in the South China Sea and the Texas fron-
tier, along with names like Vasco da Gama, Antonio L6pez de Santa Anna, Ricar-
do Montalbin, and Federico Pefia. George Farias has certainly done his
homework in providing the appropriate historical background for the genealogi-
cal details of the several branches of the Farfas family tree. This makes for inter-
esting reading for anyone intrigued by the history of Portugal or the
Mexican-American borderlands as well as members of the family.
In the introductory chapters, Farfas provides a concise background in Iberian
history: Who were the Iberians? Why were the histories of Spain and Portugal so
closely linked? How were they different? What role did the Greeks, Romans,
Visigoths, and Moors play in the cultural evolution? In order to provide essential
background material on the borderlands, Farfas consulted several historical
works, including such classics as Herbert Eugene Bolton's Spanish Exploration an
the Southwest 1542-I7o6 (1916) and Felix D. AlmarizJr.'s Tragic Cavalzer: Gover-
nor Manuel Salcedo of Texas, 18o8-I 813 (1971).
Farfas certainly exhibits his skill as a genealogist, providing examples of exten-
sive searches in family and public records dating to thirteenth-century Portugal
and Minho province. Located within the excellent collection of family pho-
tographs of several generations are some of this region of Portugal and the ruins
of the Castelo de Faria provided by son Thomas C. Farias, who also wrote the
epilogue to the book based upon travels in his ancestral homeland.
Farfas's intent in writing this attractive volume was to instill within his children
and future generations the importance of family and a pride in the accomplish-
ments and adventures of their ancestors. Perhaps some day Lauren Ashley
Bryant, Sara Alexandria Farfas, or another member of their generation will be
inspired to continue the saga. For now, their grandfather has provided an ad-
mirable reference.
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville DIANE REID ELLIOTT
Jean Laffite, Prince of Pirates. By Jack C. Ramsay Jr. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1996. Pp.
x+2o9. Illustrations, preface, appendices, endnotes, bibliography, index. IS-
BN 1-57168-029-2. $21.95, cloth.)
Jack C. Ramsay Jr., a historian and retired Presbyterian minister, has produced
a readable account of Jean Laffite's life. Unlike so many other books abut the ro-
mantic figure, Ramsay's study makes an effort to sort myth, legend, and fact; at
the same time he relies too much on secondary manuscript accounts in various
archives. He uses all of the older standard sources, but where new evidence is

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed August 30, 2014.