The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996 Page: 293
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"Mother Lane" and the "New Mooners "
should either die while the other survived, they would try to communi-
cate with each other. "They were so very ill, her sister promised her 'if
you die, come back and talk to me, and if I die, I'll come back and talk
to you.' And it turned out her sister died. And she claimed that her sis-
ter gave her these powers by coming back and telling her what to do."3
After the death of her sister, Mercedes Pefia began to have frighten-
ing experiences. She heard her name called, although she could find no
one who spoke. In a dream one night, she was told to leave a piece of
pink paper and a pencil on a table. She did as instructed and when she
awoke the next morning there was a message on the paper telling her
not to be afraid. It told her that her sister was trying to communicate
with her, and she would have "a great something from God to be able to
help other people. In other words a gift from God. So, from then on she
just started falling into the trances."' She discovered that she had the
God-given gift for healing (el don) shortly thereafter when she removed
a needle from the knee of a friend.5
Mercedes's family moved to the United States in 1898, shortly after
the death of her sister. More than one child may have died in the epi-
demic, because of the family's twelve children, only five were living in
191o, when the family was first listed in the census. The Pefias lived at
803 Lincoln Street in Laredo. Rafael Pefia was 60 years old, had been
married to Manuela Barrera (50 years old) for thirty-six years, had
twelve children, and was the owner of a grocery store. Mercedes was list-
ed as 22 years old, although she was actually 25 years old. She was single,
a saleslady in a dry goods store, spoke English, and was able to read and
write. She had an older brother, Jos6, a 34-year-old journalist; a younger
Industries, 1938), 47; Ramon Garcia interview, Aug. 9, 1973, South Texas Oral History and Folk-
lore Collection (STOHC), STA, Lillion Luehrs interview, July 27, 1973, STOHC; Antero and Ra-
mon Garcia interview, July 1, 1993, STOHC.
9 Luehrs interview, July 27, 1973. Often curanderos first begin to practice after they themselves
or a family member becomes extremely ill. Don Pedrito first treated himself, and while he was
sleeping a voice told him God had given him the gift of healing. Ruth Dodson, "Don Pedrito
Jaramillo- The Curandero of Los Olmos," In Wilson Mathis Hudson (ed.), The Healer of Los Olmos
and Other Mexican Lore (Dallas. Southern Methodist University Press, 1951), 12-13. Tereslta had
a dream or vision in which a voice told her it was God's will that she cure the sick. Holden, Teresi-
ta, 59-60. El Nino Fidenclo (Jose Fidenclo Sintora Constantlno) believed he was visited by Jesus
Christ and told how to heal his sick younger brother. Barbara June Macklin and N. Ross Crum-
rine, "Three North Mexican Folk Saint Movements," Comparative Studies in Social Hstory, XV
(Jan., 1973), 90-92. "The term shaman, Siberian in origin, is widely used to describe the type of
curer who is 'elected,' who suffers serious illness, and who (usually) maintains close contact with
his spirit familiar, in the Siberian variant being possessed by the spirit as he cures." George M.
Foster and Barbara Gallatin Anderson, Medical Anthropology (New York: John Wiley and Sons,
1978), 105-107, lo8 (quotation), log.
4 Mr. Garcia remembered his mother, Mrs. Lane's cousin, telling him this story. In oral history
interviews twenty years apart his account remained remarkably consistent. Ramon Garcia inter-
view, Aug. 9, 1973; Antero and Ramon Garcia interview, July 1, 1993.
5 Essle Maude Gilbreath, "Some Superstitions and Folk Tales of the Kingsville Mexicans," 47.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996, periodical, 1996; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/m1/355/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.