Women & Kinship

Carla Gerona

In 1801 the Spanish governor of Texas interrogated Nacogdoches citizen Gertrudis de los Santos and her husband Antonio Leal about Santos’ mala amistad (bad friendship). Under questioning, Santos admitted to being a mujer fragil (fragile woman) because she had slept with her husband’s business partner. Next the governor asked her husband what he knew about the matter. Leal stated that Santos took “care of [his partner’s] personal assistance, and whatever other things he needed,” but he “did not know what other things his wife did.” He had been trading with the Tonkawa when she perpetrated her mala amistad. As it turns out, Santos’ lover was the famous Irish-American horse trader Philip Nolan.


Despite scant sources, this paper attempts to recover the worlds of Santos and the other women of Nacogdoches, Texas at the end of the eighteenth century. While Leal claimed that he did not know what his wife was up to, historians know even less about Santos and the other women of East Texas. By looking at Spanish government records and putting the accounts of the few women who appeared in them front and center, this article begins to shed light on women’s lives by mapping the ways kinship worked on a distant Spanish frontier with neighboring indigenous, French, and Anglo villages. Because the Spanish-American women of the borderlands lived in this world of intersecting cultures, there was a great deal of intermarriage and other forms of sexual interrelations, across race and ethnicity — some voluntary and others not so voluntary. Santos offers just one example in this essay about the women of borderlands Texas.




 “Women and Kinship in Spanish East Texas at the end of the Eighteenth Century” in Women of the Iberian Atlantic

Citation and Praise

“Women and Kinship in Spanish East Texas at the end of the Eighteenth Century,” in Sarah E. Owens and Jane Mangan, eds., Women of the Iberian Atlantic (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, November 2012), 101127.

Women of the Iberian Atlantic was Awarded the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women’s 2012 Best Collaborative Project Award

This website was designed by Hayden Gregg and Carla Gerona

10 + 13 =

Carla Gerona

Email : cgerona@hsoc.gatech.edu

Telephone : 404-894-2601

Office Address :

School of History and Sociology

221 Bobby Dodd Way

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

%d bloggers like this: