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The Story of Casimiro Guerra Jr.

Forming a Family in the Mexican-American community of San Antonio, Texas


Arturo Cuellar AG

Casimiro Guerra Jr. was born in Grayton, Texas on 1877. He was the fourth child of
Casimiro Guerra Sr. and Manuela Delgado. He studied until the 5
th
grade. It is probable that the
need to help support his parents caused him to discontinue his schooling. Child labor was
common practice in that era, and many children needed to work to help the family economy.
However, Casimiro Jr. preferred to be a painter instead of keep working constantly as laborer on
different jobs. His older brother Santiago or James Guerra was a painter too and most likely
introduced him to this occupation.
In 1899, Casimiro Jr. was 22 years old, and his formal occupation was painter (1). He
lived with his parents and siblings at 493 Leigh Street, in the west side of San Antonio, Texas.
That area was known as the Mexican-American Barrio because most of the Hispanic/Latinos
were pushed to live in that area (2). This barrio was a relatively small geographical area; the
population there was significantly increased due to natural fertility and the arrival of new
immigrants to the city. The activity in the west side was very similar to a Mexican or Latin
American city, the plaza was a singular market full of merchants (men and women) who spread
little tables on sidewalks to sell all kind of products such as: fruits and vegetables, candy,
flowers, rebozos, huaraches, sombreros, guitarras, piatas, live birds in wicker cages, rustic
wood toys, kitchen utensils like pots and jars, deliciously prepared Mexican food, aguas frescas,
spices, condiments, and all unimaginable hot dishes. But the selling of Mexican food did not
restrict itself to the plaza; some brave vendors took tacos, enchiladas and other traditional
Mexican dishes and offered to them to gringos outside the barrio borders. Years later, the
children of these vendors established lucrative restaurants of Mexican food and Cantinas not
only in San Antonio, but in the whole state.
During the next year, Casimiro Jr. was 23 years old. He married Manuelita Camargo, a
beautiful Texanita who was born and lived in the barrio too. They made their home at 214
Devine St., just around the block of his parents home. Casimiro Jr. wanted to start his own
painting business. The growing and dynamic city was demanding more skilled workers.
Commercial buildings, schools, hotels, restaurants, houses, and all kinds of new construction
buildings started to emerge in the Old San Antonio de Bejar. The way of thinking of Casimiro
Jr. was not coincidence, as explained in research carried out by George J. Sanchez,
Acculturation of Mexican-American people occurred primarily within the confines of the
working class, often in the barrios in which they lived(3). How many times Casimiro Jr. must
have thought about and discussed the idea of his own painting company with his parents and
older brothers, his friends, and his wife? It will not be easy, he must have heard many times.
However, Casimiro Jr. had a dream: he saw himself as a business owner. The process of
acculturation that Mr. Sanchez mentioned above had begun in Casimiro Guerra Jr. and his
siblings. He started to change his name (and he started my headaches too) from Casimiro Guerra
to C.B. Guerra (The B. is for Bernardino) (5). I dont know from where he took the name of
Bernardino. No evidence was found yet about the origin of this middle name.

According to the records found in this genealogical research, Casimiro Jr. or C.B. Guerra
started their own business with his older brother Santiago or James Guerra. The name of the
business was C.B. Guerra and Brothers, a contractor painting company that also offered
installation of wall paper and small repairs. This small company was started in a very difficult
time for Mexican-Americans to open their own businesses because white people still believed
that Mexicans and other minorities were only useful for unskilled labor. It was not easy obtained
his first contract, but quality and service made the difference.
The Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, as in the rest of New Spain up until then,
was the center of activities and social life. The cathedral of San Fernando de Bexar, as well as
other parishes in San Antonio, was the undisputed center of reunions, meeting, and traditional
celebrations, of which the most important was El dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe on December
12
th
(Almost all Mexican-Americans had an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe in their homes).
On January 17, Tejanos observed the blessing of the animals in honor of the feast of San Antonio
Abad, protector of Animals, this celebration was originated in Spain. El dia de la Candelaria
or Day of Purification is celebrated each 2
nd
of February. Many saints, such as: San Pedro, San
Antonio, San Juan, San Patricio, and Santiago Apostol had their own celebrations too. Christmas
time included Pastorelas and Posadas. Spring was a time for La Semana Santa when
Mexican-American communities celebrate the death of Christ. Beyond holy days, other family
celebrations took place, including: Christenings, first communions, XV year celebration (Girls),
marriages, etc. were held during the whole year. The family of Casimiro Guerra Jr. was
devotedly Catholic. He and his siblings were Christened and married in the Catholic Church. His
christening godparents were his aunt Trinidad Guerra II and his wife Luisa Herrera. The Church
marriage of Casimiro Guerra Jr. and Manuelita Camargo was celebrated in the Cathedral of San
Fernando by the Reverend J. Roberts. The witnesses were; Alfred Hummerst and Lotis Hummist
(Not related).
However, the twentieth century brought winds of change and new ideas in the second and
third generation of Mexican-Americans in the city of San Antonio, Texas. The great majority
didnt attend mass as often as their parents and grandparents did. According to Arnoldo De Leon,
Tejanos as before took from it (Catholic Church) what they liked and rejected other things.
Many continued holding their own views on such issues as birth control and extramarital sex,
attended church irregularly, and as before, continued as nominal Catholics (154).
The family of Casimiro Jr. or C.B. Guerra and Manuelita Camargo grew with the birth of
their daughters; Beatrice in 1902 and Mamie in 1905. To avoid confusion in reference to the
people involved in these events, the spellings of the names have been standardized as Casimiro
Jr. for C. B. Guerra or Casimiro Bernardino Guerra and Manuelita for his wife Manuela
Camargo or Maggie Guerra. The small business grew too, his brothers Antonio and Jose or J.D.
Guerra came to work with him, and the company moved to a larger space (6). Unfortunately,
during that time Casimiro Jr. lost his older sister Ursula due to health problems. The U.S.
government was still building and expanding military bases in the city of San Antonio, Texas.
That brought more business to C.B. Guerra and brothers, who enlisted in the military services as
required by law (7). Many Mexican-Americans served in the U.S. armed forces during WW I.
This helped in some way to change the perception of some Anglos to Mexican-Americans.
However, the great majority maintained a negative image of them. As a response to these
attitudes, some WW I Mexican-American veterans began to demand their full rights as citizens
of the United States.
The city of San Antonio, Texas was the home of the first and greatest Mexican-American
organization, when a group of these veterans and some friends joined together and founded The
Sons of America their goal was to assist the Mexican-American community in achieving
acculturation, and integration through political action. Unlike the Sociedades Mutualistas, the
Sons of America turned to English rather than Spanish, and strongly urged its members to learn
English and to become U.S. citizens. The Sons of America discussed the problems of Mexican-
American community not only in the city of San Antonio, but in all Texas and all the United
States with other Mexican-American organizations. The main concern was the necessity of unify
all organizations in one to better coordinate efforts, after many meetings, discussions and
negotiations the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was created in February
1929. LULACs mission is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political
influence, housing, health, and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.
1919 was the last year of Casimiro Jr. and his family living in the city of San Antonio,
Texas. They decided to move to the city of Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. I didnt find
the reason yet, but possibly a family decision to start the contractor painting company by himself
in other place. The same year, a new member came to Guerras home in Brownsville; Eduardo
was born in 1919 and was a great joy for whole family. Also, the youngest son of his dear sister
Hilberto Lozano went to live with Casimiro Jr. and his family. Hilberto was very helpful; he
learned and worked with his uncle in the new company C.B. Guerra, contractor painter, in the
city of Brownsville, Texas.
Casimiro Jr. and Manuela had no more children, but their daughters were married in the
following years and they helped raising their children. Now as grandparents, other considerations
were made and for some time Casimiro Jr. and his wife received and supported in their own
home, the families of their daughters Mamie Longoria (Guerra) and Beatrice Asseo (Guerra). (7).
Casimiro Jr. and Manuelita raised their family during the hard times for Mexican-Americans in
the United States. However, they pushed their children to grow taking advantage of the
opportunities to success that LULAC and other organizations opened for them. They established
their own family in a respectful environment where Mexican and American cultures mixed every
day.
Casimiro Jr. was dead in the city of Brownsville, Texas on 1 Jun 1960 due to
arteriosclerosis problems, nine years later his beloved wife Manuelita, was dead in the city of
Maracaibo, Venezuela.

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