Sunday, July 17, 2016

Josefina's World

The main area of El Rancho de Las Golondrinas
was originally a rancho for trade 15 miles south
of Santa Fe in the late 18th century.

It was restored and opened as living history museum in 1972. 
Author Valerie Tripp came here and used El Rancho de Las Golondrinas 
as a model for the life of Josefina's family.

In the below illustration, Josefina and her sisters walked down the hill
to wash laundry in a stream. There is a hill with a dirt road
beyond the ox carts. The hill in the illustration is in the real setting.

The books about Josefina contributed greatly to my understanding 
of New Mexico history during this time period.

I have had my Josefina for 19 years. She has never been taken out
until I took her to El Rancho de Las Golondrinas as the most
beautiful and accurate companion doll I have brought here
to share the history and the connection to the Josefina story.

The entry gate to the main rancho is the zaguan.
The main rancho is from the late 1700's. It is set up with the walls
of the rooms in a square. It is set up as a protection against intrusion.

El zaguan gate has a smaller gate for people to use
in entering the plaza. The larger gates open to allow animals
or even ox carts entry into the protected courtyard
during times of intrusion or need.

Josefina and her family greeted her aunt, Tia Dolores,
and her grandfather, as they returned from Mexico City.
Josefina's mother had died, and her aunt came to live in the
Santa Fe area with her family after living in Mexico City.
They were welcomed home to the area 
in front of the rancho zaguan gates.

When we went into the main courtyard area,
we saw the ox cart in front of the larger building
not connected to the rooms in the flat roofed building.
This building is now used as a chapel.

Next to the chapel, is the horno.
They had heated the ovens up and were getting ready
to bake bread. 

Green chiles were heated in the horno
while there were still ashes in it from the fire used to heat it up.
The two volunteers cleaned out the ashes from the fire
from the second horno.

To the side opposite of the chapel there are more rooms.
The torreon is a tower that was used as a watch tower.
There are very few locations that still have a torreon.

Josefina posed on the ladder in front of the building.

The ladder inside is the ladder to the inside of the torreon.
Visitors do not climb up the ladder, but can see the inside
of the torreon from below.

We visited the kitchen behind the hornos.
It has a shepherd's bed. It is against a fireplace.
When lambs were born early, the shepherd could
bring them to the shepherd's bed to keep them warm.

Local trade included trading for pottery by the Pueblo people.
Pottery is now used for a decoration or an art collectible,
but it was originally a container used for water, liquids, or foods.

We walked outside of the door behind the horno
on time to see the volunteer cooking bread. She was flipping
bread over to finish baking it.

In a room near the hornos, there is an altar
for families to pray and worship at home
within their faith. Retablos of saints are on the walls.

The trunk that was used to design Josefina's trunk
is near the altar.

I have Josefina's original trunk.

There is a fireplace in almost every room.
They were used for cooking and for warmth.

The fireplace used in the room with the altar
is very similar to the fireplace in the illustration
that was of her grandparent's house.

There are clothes over the trunk against the back wall
used as a model for Josefina's trunk. 
I asked a docent to remove the clothes
while I photographed the design on the trunk!

On a second walk through, I listened to a docent
talking to a visitor. He was really interesting! One thing I
mentioned and visually talked about were the weavings on the walls.
The wool was spun and dyed with natural dyes, and these rugs
were made in a traditional style.

One thing he mentioned is that there is not much furniture
in the older section of the main rancho. There are benches
built into the wall. The benches are bancos.

Josefina and her grandmother sat on the banco
when Josefina needed to share important information.
Her serape and another weaving were behind it.

The weavings are beautiful hanging on the walls.
Tia Dolores gave Josefina a necklace with a weaving
in the background on the wall.

So where did the weavings come from? The looms, of course!

One loom in another room is the Navajo loom.

Josefina learned how to weave on a Navajo loom
with a Navajo woman who worked at her rancho.

On the other side of the rancho square
there is a later home owned by a daughter once she had
grown and married.

This small house is called the Baca House.
The year is set is around the 1820's, which would
place it in Josefina's time period.

There is a bedroom on one side of the Baca House.

Josefina's writing jar has a feather like those in the window.

I photographed Josefina while there were visitors
listening to the docent in the kitchen. I love the stripes in the rugs
and the stripes in Josefina's skirt!

They also had a banco on the wall. There is a
wooden door against the wall. This space is an early
refrigerator to keep food cool.

The kitchen in the Baca House is particularly
important to Josefina's story.

This kitchen was in the illustration in the Josefina story.
Her oldest sister worked with other employees
to prepare food in the kitchen.

Josefina learned how to prepare food, too!

Near the Baca House, there is a stall with sheep.
The sheep gathered in a group while a worker
came into their stall and put food and water in their food containers.

Josefina's story was different in that it was focused on goats!
Her family had sheep out in fields, but Josefina ended up
with a baby goat!

We walked around to the outside of the rancho to see the torreon
where Josefina and her sister had watched from upstairs
to see their grandfather's arrival from Mexico City.

We also stopped by the ox carts that her grandfather
would have used when traveling as a trader between
Mexico City and Santa Fe.

We then walked down a trail to see the rest of the property.

This acequia is on the registry for historic places. It is
an irrigation ditch used to water fields in our arid environment.

There is a field next to the acequia.

When we walked along the road, there was a large
cottonwood tree. White, fluffy pods were being blown
by the wind off of the cottonwood trees.

Another field has newer trees growing along the edge.

After walking down the dirt road, we arrived at the Mora House.

The Mora House is an adobe house from the 1840's.

There was a train line into New Mexico, and the culture
had access to goods shifted into what was used in the United States.

Josefina giggled when she heard the docent talk about
how people went to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

Josefina looked into a mirror on the wall!!!

Wow! Surprise!

The Mora House had some interesting buildings in its area.

A smaller house is "grandma's house".

It has an adult bed and a child bed in it.

There was also an area for food preparation.

There was also a house for "grandpa". I assume that both
of these houses were intended for a single grandparent
whose spouse had died so they lived in their own space
on the property with other family members.

Grandpa's bedroom had a mat on the floor as a bed to sleep on!
It also had a carving for creating a saint used in the faith
of the people in the region.

Grandpa was able to work on skills that were of value to him.

Our next stop was at the mill with the water wheel.

The inside of the building is an operational mill.
I love the water wheel at the mill!

The last building we visited was the one room school house.
It is next to a field that has burros in it.

The school house was brought up from Raton, New Mexico.
It was busy when we visited it by the early afternoon!

There is an extra room created in adobe and the area
for dye at the edge of the school building.

Several women were in the area where they demonstrated
dying wool with natural plants.

We followed a group as they went to the room near the
one room school.

This type of building and school may not have been
available during Josefina's time. Schools in Santa Fe in the 1820's
were private or specialized schools, not public schools.

Tia Dolores taught Josefina at home. The desk and book
in this illustration were in Josefina's original collection.

After our visit to the rest of the property,
it was time to return to the upper level.
The below building is an administrative building.

We visited the gift shop near the entrance.
They have had a Josefina on display for years.
The mini dolls and books they sell are current items.

We rested, and cooled off.
Is there anything else to visit here?

Nope. Josefina had a thorough day at
El Rancho de Las Golondrinas!

Adios! New Mexico is a place of work and play!
It is time to rest and cool down!

Meet Josefina Video by American Girl:


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. what a great post, Tracy! I loved seeing how the Rancho inspired parts of her story. I love the character of Josefina - even having never been to New Mexico!

    1. Thank you! I have enjoyed El Rancho de Las Golondrinas for many years. It was a wonderful twist on my adventure to have Josefina. Some people said, "There is Josefina!". I was able to say, "Yes!". I also enjoyed connecting her illustrations to an actual place that is not in other areas of the country.

    2. This was a wonderful and educational blog. I think the original American Girl stories were very acurate in historical detail. I have Samantha from the original Pleasant Co. You did a lovely job connrcting the actual place with the illistrations in the books.

    3. Thank you! The research done by the authors for the Pleasant Company characters was incredible. I read the Josefina books before I moved here. The Josefina books provided a significant understanding for the history of New Mexico. As far as the photos are concerned, it was enjoyable and important for me to connect the illustrations and setting in Josefina's books to the actual location. It is a location that many people may not have seen, but still exists in this living history museum.