El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750 Page: 27
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Amusements for the patrdn class reflected the tra-
ditions of its wealthy Spanish and Mexican forebears.
When families from nearby ranches visited, the men
and women gathered into separate groups to talk and
to enjoy one another's company. The men also engaged
in races, cock-fights, gambling and dancing. The best
race horses in the region (both Texas and Mexico) were
brought to these celebrations, and large sums of money
were wagered on races, as well as at gaming tables
Dances given by the ranch owners were the social
events of the year. They were the only form of amuse-
ment shared by men and women of the landed aris-
tocracy. Ladies, glad for the opportunity to show their
finest apparel and charms, arrived in family coaches es-
corted by mounted riders. Music for these dances was
provided by orchestras, which played mostly waltzes,
polkas, and schottisches. The dance was often followed
by a midnight dinner, where fine wines were drunk and
toasts offered (Gonzalez 1930).
There were clear gender roles in this early Span-
ish and Mexican society. Women in both social classes
had similar roles within their own families. They were
homemakers, spiritual guides, and healers; in addition,
among the patron class, they were responsible for their
children's educations. The duea patron'ss wife) had
women from the pe6n class to help with much of the
housework. While pe6n women might have work as-
signed to them on the hacienda, their primary task was
to care for their own families. As homemakers, they
cleaned house; prepared the meals; tended the garden,
chickens or domestic animals; made clothing; cared for
the children, and made various decorative objects for
the home (Graham 1985, GonzAlez 1930).
Inasmuch as medical doctors were scarce in the re-
gion, even people on the large ranches had limited
access to their services. Both social classes relied pri-
marily on folk medicine passed from generation to
generation by word-of-mouth or example. Common
ailments-headaches, stomach aches, and fevers-as
well as more serious illnesses, were treated with reme-
dios caseros (household remedies) made from a wide
variety of medicinal herbs, many of which continue
to be popular in the twentieth century. Of particular
interest are the various "folk illness syndromes" preva-
lent in the region which are not recognized by today's
medical experts. These include susto, an illness com-
mon to children and caused by extreme fright; empacho,
caused by blockage of the digestive system; nal de ojo,
a childhood illness caused by an adult looking at them
in excess admiration; and caida de la mollera, or fallen
fontanel, when the soft spot of an infant's head sinks in
too far, thought to be caused by jarring, bumping, or
dropping a child. It was not unusual for a mother who
diagnosed her child as having one of these illnesses to
seek assistance from one of the local healers, even if
she was familiar with the appropriate ritual treatments.
Medical care at this level was almost exclusively the
domain of women (Graham 1985).
Parteras (midwives) delivered most of the children,
having learned childbirthing skills through apprentice-
ships. Bad bruises, sprains, or even broken bones were
treated by the sobador(a), a folk chiropractor who re-
lied extensively on massaging. Much rarer was the
curandero(a), the folk healer par excellence, who not
only knew the many medicinal herbs and the vari-
ous ritual cures, but could treat major life-threatening
illnesses as well. Thought to have received a don ide
Dios (gift from God) to heal the sick, they were the
only ones believed capable of curing cases of illness
caused by brujeria, or witchcraft. Don Pedrito Jara-
millo, who lived on the Los Olmos Ranch in Brooks
County, was for years the best-known curandero in
South Texas. He had a large following until his death
in 1907. Many people still seek his healing powers by
visiting the shrine built over his grave near Falfurrias
Most ranches were visited only once a year by the
missionary priests (usually Oblates in South Texas)
sent from the communities along the Rio Grande to
hold mass and perform the various rites and cere-
monies-baptisms, quinceateras (the coming-of-age
celebration for young women when they turned fif-
teen years of age), weddings, and sometimes funerals.
One such priest was Father Joseph Marie Closs (known
as Father Jos6 Maria), who for fifty years served as
The Ranch in South Texas
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Graham, Joe S. El Rancho in South Texas: Continuity and Change From 1750, book, 1994; Denton, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc28328/m1/39/?q=el%20rancho: accessed August 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.