Jose Matias Morena II: "Take good care, dear one. of the expected baby"
San Francisco, Nov. 4, 1863
My very beloved Chanita,
It has been twelve years since we were married and I have been reminiscing about you and the wedding. Do you remember how chiflada (scatterbrained) you were that day? Do you remember that you danced a great deal? Do you remember the toast that Francisco Rodriguez wrote?... I also remember that it has been two years since you celebrated the first ten years of your marriage in Guadalupe [Baja California]. I hope to return to celebrate the second ten years by your side and that of our beloved children. Then we will tell them that we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary. Matias and Dolores will dance, and you will be a little old, and I will still be young and handsome....
His father married a local woman and changed his name, Joseph Matthew Brown, word for word to Jose Matias Moreno.
Matias Moreno was a businessman in northern Baja California in the 1850s and 1860s. From his ranch in the Guadalupe Valley near Ensenada, he was forced to travel constantly to make a living for himself and his wife Chanita Lopez de Moreno. He was so much in love with his wife that he dreaded these departures from her. Often on the road in dangerous and troublesome times, he survived the separations through letters that were delivered by ship, horse, friends, and, occasionally, even enemies. Some of his love letters to her, and her answers back, were found a few years ago in a closet in Point Loma. Translated from the original Spanish, the 82 letters tell of their children, their daily lives, their hardships, and their love. We know the married love of today to be fragile: kept and unkept promises, unknown challenges. But what of married love 150 years ago?
Chanita. short for Prudenciana, was descended from a leatherjacket soldier who may have arrived in San Diego as early as 1769 with Junipero Serra
Moreno was half-English, the son of an English whaler shipwrecked in Baja California in the year 1800. His father married a local woman and changed his name, Joseph Matthew Brown, word for word to Jose Matias Moreno. The English father became a Catholic and settled down at San Antonio in Baja California. His son and namesake, Jose Matias II, was raised in part by a Dominican Catholic priest, Gabriel Gonzalez, in Todos Santos, Baja California. While young and hotheaded, Jose Matias II joined Father Gonzalez in an insurrection against the commandant of Baja California in a battle at Todos Santos in 1842. Convicted for insurrection and sent to prison at Mazatlan. Jose Matias was released, moved to San Diego, and met Chanita.
Dolores Moreno - one of the three children (of 16) who lived to adulthood
Chanita. short for Prudenciana, was descended from Ignacio Lopez, a leatherjacket soldier who may have arrived in San Diego as early as 1769 with Junipero Serra. Ignacio's son, Francisco, came with the Anza Expedition in 1774. Francisco's granddaughter was Chanita's mother, Juana Lopez of Old Town San Diego; Chanita's father was the powerful General Mariano Vallejo. Her parents never married, but letters from Vallejo to Chanita show that she visited his home and gave evidence of his love for this "natural" daughter. Born in Old Town in 1832, Chanita was a tiny woman with a fair complexion and large, hazel-colored eyes like Vallejo's; late in life, she was remembered as being immaculately groomed, wearing embroidered lace blouses with a hat and gloves to go visiting. Descendants recall her speaking Spanish quickly with a high voice and moving lightning-fast around a room.
Chanita is thought to be the first person to notice U.S. soldiers marching up to Old Town with a U.S. flag in 1846. She ran to the plaza warning everyone she could see that "a million gringos" were coming. She remembered standing with the Machado children on the roof of the Machado de Silvas House at Old Town's Plaza and watching the U.S. forces marching into the square. She remembered dancing shyly with U.S. military captain John C. Fremont at Old Town’s Casa de Bandini and how he asked her to please drop the caption and just call him “John."
There isn’t a lot known among Moreno descendants about the meeting of Jose Matias and Chanita. Obviously she was chiflada at their wedding in Old Town in 1851. Jose Matias had been secretary to Don Pio Pico, the last governor of Mexican-era California. During the U.S.-Mexican War, Jose Matias ran and hid (once hiding in a bed dressed as a woman at Mission San Luis Rey), as Zorro-like he fled south to Baja California for safety. During the final days of the U.S. attempt to take Baja California, Jose Matias was arrested at the Battle of Todos Santos and imprisoned again at Mazatlan until the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848. He may have met Chanita sometime after the U.S. takeover, since he had family and business dealings in San Diego.
The young couple, he 32 or 33 and she 19, settled down happily at the Casa de Lopez in Old Town. Now housing the Rockin' Baja Lobster restaurant on Twiggs Street, the house was originally located to the west, where I-5 runs today. Within 20 days of their wedding, Jose Matias was called away to join the San Diego Fitzgerald California Volunteers to ride through the San Diego backcountry looking for the Indian leader Antonio Garra. Garra had been named in an investigation of an Indian rebellion against excessive U.S. taxation. Released from the Volunteers just 55 days later on January 17,1852, Moreno spent the next 17 years of his life on the road between Mexico City, Mazatlan, Baja California, San Diego, and San Francisco trying to provide for his family as a merchant, translator, and contact between U.S. and Mexican businessmen. After a period as the political chief of the frontier (jefe politico de la frontera) from March 11, 1861, to April 25,1862, at the former Guadalupe Mission in Baja California, he tried farming, ranching, mining, mercantile interests, and stock brokering to make ends meet.
Chanita’s and Jose Matias’s love letters to each other, so full of domestic, economic, and sometimes international news, ended up in the Point Loma collections of descendants Helen and Beverly Long. With the help of California State Park historian Ron Quinn, they were given to the Huntington Library in San Marino, where they were considered by some to be the collection of the decade. These treasured letters, carefully translated by the late Robert and Helen Long, reveal the daily life, tragedies., love, and intimacies of a frontier couple. He writes to her from Mazatlan the year after their wedding:
Mazatlan, June 9, 1852
My beloved wife. Prudenciana.
In spite of how hard I tried. I was unable to leave Lower California in less than three months, hut I have the satisfaction of knowing that my trip and sacrifices have been fruitful.
On the eighth of May I sailed from La Paz for this port where I arrived the thirteenth and I have been here ever since. The object of my coming here to Mazatlan was in the hope of taking advantage of the passing of some ship, but my luck is so had that to this day not one has passed. No one has heard from you. I received just one letter from Rodriguez....
I suppose there is nothing new in your state of health and that I will have the pleasure of finding you well, as well as my cousin, and Piedad. Take good care, dear one. of the expected baby. Do not get sick and have him arrive early.
I hope you have not wanted for necessities. I have great confidence in Aguierre, Rodriguez, and Estudillo and that they have seen to it that you have everything you need....
You know that sailboats wait forty days to leave for San Francisco and the accommodations are terrible, to the extent that someone has died on the various boats for the lack of essentials. For this reason. I have decided to wait for the steamer. It is better to wait there than to spend that time on the sailboat....
Chanita. I have missed you. Everyday I pine for you and every day I love you more....
Your loving husband,
Jose Matias Moreno
Los Angeles. April 11, 18S3
It is seven in the morning and I am waiting for the stage for San Pedro where the Ohio should he arriving from San Diego. I shall board it for San Francisco. I am fine and I am happy to know that all is well with you.
Be sure to take care of my namesake (Jose Matias III) and give him some big hugs and kisses for me....
I shall be in San Diego soon. God willing, and I hope to find you well with all the family.
See to it that you do not want for anything. You are to ask for what you need.
Do not forget that I am all and always yours,
Jose Matias Moreno
San Francisco, April 23, 1853
My dearest wife, Chanita.
I arrived without mishap on the fifteenth and here I shall remain. I am sad that I am not at home, but I console myself with thoughts that you, the cuesito Jose Matias III], Piedad, my cousin Juanita, Antonio, and in general, all those at home are well
I am completely occupied, thus it was impossible for me to leave on this ship, but I believe I will be ready when the Ohio or the Sea Bird come. Take good care of yourselves and do not worry about me.
Above all. do not go hungry, you are to ask for what you need at my compadre Rodriguez's house.
I am sending a cradle for the cues. When I go I shall take him a little wagon and what you asked for....
I am sending you 100 oranges.
I close with best regards. Do not be sad; take your exercises, take good care of yourself, and do not scold Matias without good reason. Tell him not to forget his Papa. Cheer him up by saying that I am going to bring hull many little things.... l am the one that loves you from the bottom of my heart.
Jose Matias Moreno
San Juan Capistrano
Sept. 8. 1858
Dear Moreno (never to be forgotten by your Cues),
I take my pen to greet you with love that is due you together with all your cuesitos that love you and that, along with their Mama, do not forget you for a single moment.
Thanks to God, there has been nothing of importance since we arrived here, and I hope that you are well. too....
With the bearer of this letter. I am sending as a present, a play-shirt of indiana [a cloth], and for Jesus two colored ties for the road and a tie-pin that you are to wear in my name.
Cues, there is nothing more to tell you. nothing more than that we are all well at this moment. The children are asleep, but before they went to sleep. I told them I was going to write to you and they told me to send a thousand regards and Carmelita [his daughter] said to send a thousand kisses to her Papa....
Prudenciana Lopez de Moreno
Life on the frontier between California and Mexico in the mid-1800s was difficult. In spite of shipping lines, supplies were scarce and hard to come by without gold or commodities of exchange. The Moreno letters often include lists of much-needed supplies.
...In a box bearing your name. I am sending you the following: 50 oranges, 25 apples. I can pineapple. 4 lbs. different candies, and 2 big apples — one for Dona Rosarita and one for you....
...l am including a bill of lading for articles of food that are going on the boat. The freight and drayage is paid for from San Francisco so that they will take them from the dock to the house. I am sending the trunk in which there are shoes for you. the children ...l am sending a little piece of cheesecloth, all your jewelry is fixed and I am sending you a locket which contains a lock of my adored Carmelita's hair. The rest, besides the locket, is in the trunk. I cannot do more. There is another package that contains some Indiana.... There is also a panorama viewbox that the Mexican consul gave me. I am sending Matias a little suit and some earrings to Doloritas (their daughter].... I am sending Dona Pancho a hat that I think she will like. It is the latest style.... Don George will bring the little cape you sent to he dyed. Matias's music box is fixed and so is your watch....
August 13, 1861
.. Thank you for the two melons, the tomatoes, vegetables, and chiles that you sent me. Everything was very good. The jam I am eating with caution, because the jar broke and it is full of bits of glass. I am afraid that I might cut my intestines....
.. .If by chance you are afraid and you do not want to be without window locks, ask Mr. Schiller to have them fixed for you, that is if the hinges are already there.... The panes are smaller than the windows, that is to say, narrower. The glazier made a mistake in the measurements, but he made some strips of wood to nail against the frame and thus, corrected his error....
Money was always in short supply. In Mexican California business had been done by oral agreement, but when the United States took over California, commerce was complicated by different customs and languages. Moreno suffered from corrupt business partners who kept him away from family and his San Diego house for long stretches at a time.
San Francisco, Dec. 24,1862
My very dearest Cuestita,
As I have informed you in my earlier letters, I stayed here trailing for Salvador Viliareno to arrange his business so that we might go to La Paz together. We thought of going on the steamer Oregon that leaves here the 27th of the present month for Baia California ports, hut today, we decided to embark on the brigantine Seva that leaves here tomorrow at noon and will leave us at Cabo de San Lucas....
It has not been possible for me to obtain money. Even though I have many friends, my character does not permit me to talk to them about it I do not have the courage to do so even though I believe the old proverb that saw “The child who cries is the child who gets fed."
I beseech you to suffer with patience the poverty of your Cues. He loves you and the cuesitos very much, and I hope they are happy and that you found them well on your return.
Tell Mr. Luis Rose not to worry about the money I owe him. I shall soon send him some money from La Paz even if I do not send all of it. Assure him for my part that he will soon have his money. Tell him that he knows that among the Yankees of San Francisco it is not easy to obtain money, but that I have some in La Paz and he will receive some. Tell him not to worry, that I will not cheat him. and that I hope he will continue to give you meat....
Later he writes to her about U.S. national politics;
My very dear Chanita.
... The Civil War in the United States is stronger each day. The war between Mexico and France and the bankruptcy that each day attacks some houses of commerce in this country, no matter how small, make all negotiations almost hazardous, and the hope for all this is in doubt. Thus, it is that when I think I am going to complete my business some obstacle arises and as I have to help resolve it. I have to wait and I have to be patient. I tell you this so you will not be angry over my absence. Be patient, try to be happy so that I might find you well in the company of our children....
Sept. 16, 1863
I assure you that I shall soon leave here because it seems that I am now arranging a matter that for the deceit of a damn Yankee has driven me crazy and has made me lose nearly a month and a half. Nevertheless. I believe that things are better now. I am also putting the finishing touches on another matter in which I have become involved I think that I will go on the first trip the Senator makes to San Diego. I do not want to go by coach, because from what you tell me there are bandits on the road between San Juan Capistrano and San Diego. ..
As political chief of Baja California Norte, Moreno was responsible for the army stationed at the old Guadalupe Mission just north of Ensenada in Baja California. Decisions he made were sometimes unpopular with the rank and file. His decision to chase runaway soldiers and an ongoing fight with Feliciano Esparza, who attempted to take over the government of Baja California after the death of Governor Jose Castro, gave Chanita, alone in San Diego, great fear as she tried to keep up with the border gossip.
On February 24, 1863, Moreno writes that he has bought for 3000 pesos the former Guadalupe Mission, a beautiful tract of land that included an orchard and houses. Obtaining this land, which had been seized from luan Bandini of Old Town San Diego when he supported the United States in the U.S.-Mexican War, was a major step in the life of the Moreno family. The river lands and grasslands were the envy of many wagging tongues up in San Diego. It became the Moreno family stronghold.
San Diego, June 30, 1860
My dear Cues,
The 31st Don Jose Espinosa arrived and said that you were well. We are well and we could he happier if it was not for the gossip of Candido Arnahar. The first of the month they let loose a bomb when they arrived. They said that Feliciano Esparza had arrived with his four cholot that obeyed him. and now Moreno would be wiped out. Between Esparza and Dona Felipa [Crosthwaite], they have me exhausted. I have no life left....
August 1, 1861
My Moved Chanita.
.... Do not believe any of the gossip that is going around San Diego nor pay any attention to Candido Arnabar's tongue. He is like a vegetable monger and everyone knows him. Leave Julio and Vicente Romero and Quintana, who want to assassinate me, alone. They will expire at any time. They await Feliciano Esparza in order to again do his misdeeds. I wish that he would return.
Nov. 20. 1861
My dear Chanita,
...As you probably know by now, we caught the soldiers that deserted. I was ready to shoot the ringleader. I do not understand how the lieutenant has turned so soft. At last they have deported Campos, the rancher, and Guera to the south of Baja California. They leave today.... Do not worry about me nor pay any attention to what they say about Feliciano Esparza. I have men and plenty of lead with which to receive them....
Dec. 28, 1861
...Your cuesita is a little thin because of stomach trouble and from hearing all the malicious talk about you.... I just cannot live in this town especially with the ytitda (silly talk| of Juan Machado. He has raised such a scandal here. So it has been here, but enough of these tales...
March 16, 1862
.. .The Yankee Scott that lives with Don Rufino in San Quintin [Baja California] together with Bautista Espinosa got drunk at one of the ranches. They played around with the Indians and they wanted to take the women from there and it all resulted in people being wounded and killed. I shall probably have to execute three or four people in a few days. [These] people, who have helped the infamous Esparza, are the ones who have caused these misfortunes. The American Scott is without shame....
Feb. 8, 1862
... Do not worry about what they say the Yankees will do at Fort Yuma. If anything endangers San Diego. I shall come for all of you....
Dec. 24, 1862
.. .I know that Feliciano Esparza has arrived in San Quintin. Do not go there to be killed along with the curses ...
Chanita worried about Moreno, and he worried about her and the children. Little medical care existed in Old Town except for the traditional curandera (curing woman) who relied upon her knowledge of herbal medicines and her experience with things such as childbirth to heal people. Chanita was famous in the Guadalupe Valley for stitching up a man whose wife had cut him with a machete in a domestic fight. He would show his scar to anyone who cared to look at it. Chanita often recommended medicines whose Spanish names are not easily translated into English, medicines such as sanco, pionla. salvia (sage), chuchupate, and semillas de cana China.
Adobe housing was bad in the rainy season, as evidenced by Moreno’s letter to Chanita from Old Town, written Oct. 8,1858:
My beloved wife. Chanita,
Perhaps by now the news has reached you of the bad storm that we had here the first of this month. At eleven in the morning a frightening wind began to blow so strongly that it was impossible to walk along the street without danger of being tossed into the air. The dust was so intense or thick, one could not see one's hands. The wind lasted for about five hours without letting up.
Two hours after starting, the wind had blown off all the roof of our house:... There was not a single board or nail left on the top of the house...in a moment I saw myself looking into the open air without being able to evade the misfortune.
Roadside accidents were common:
Juarez (Sauzal). Jan. 14, 1868
I have Just arrived and I all but died on the road about one hundred paces Mow where Bonifacio's lime kiln is. The horse turned with me and he caught me underneath and fell on my back and side, but I got up all right. Benancio thought I had broken my ribs and my legs. As the horse fell on me. he heard them crack. The spur hit me in three places and cut my left thigh. I assure you I am all right....
Disease was prevalent in the port town. Ships arrived from all over and diseases spread from settlement to settlement:
Los Angeles. April 11.1853
My beloved Chanita,
...I learned today that in Los Angeles there are two families with smallpox. You will remember that I sent some vaccine with Mr. Aguierre. See to it that those who have not been vaccinated are vaccinated. if there is vaccine. Above all. ..be careful.
...If you are afraid of the smallpox maybe the San Juaneflos could take you to San Diego to see if Doha Josefa and Don Felipe Crosthwaite want to take you to Mission Vieja and you stay there with them.
La Paz. Feb. 24. 186)
My very dear Cuesita,
By the last steamer that arrived at this port the eighteenth of the present month, I received your dear letter of December 28th and another from Don Agustin Mansilla dated January 7th. They leave me very contented because I know that you and my dear children are in good health. I know that you are in San Ysidro, and I am happy because that way you will evade the danger of the smallpox in San Diego. This had me worried and now I am more calm. Take good care of the children, see that they do not stay in the sun too much, that they bathe often and eat fresh food. A tight hug to each of them....
Tuberculosis was a worry on the frontier:
San Diego. Aug. 22, 1863
Don Juan and Rosario Aguierre are here. They came from the ranch because Don Juan became quite ill. It seems that in the last few days he felt better, but this was but a passing thing, because today he is very ill and according to Don Clementino's opinion, he has lung trouble and he will probably be declared tubercular. We, for that reason, are being very careful. Frankly, I am very afraid of that disease and more so because of Matias and Doloritas who for one of their age it is very dangerous.
I pray to God with all my heart that He keeps them sale from harm... Lola | Doloritas) sends in the petals her loving and innocent regards (his young daughter pressed some flower petals into the letter]....
Much as Chanita feared that Moreno would he murdered while away on business, it was the death of the children that occupied her soul the most. Family records show Chanita bore 16 children of whom only 3 lived to adulthood: Jose Matias III, Dolores (Doloritas), and Mateo Rafael. Current genealogies list a fourth child, Manuel Constantino, who lived to a marriageable age. The children's deaths often came when Moreno was away on business and not able to comfort Chanita. With this understanding, his constant questions as to the children's health take on more meaning.
San Diego, June 10, 1861
My dearest Cues,
This is merely to greet you and to tell you of Carmelita's health. The doctor of this little town came to say that at about midnight or one o'clock we could lose the child. He said that he had done all he possibly could to save her and now it is impossible to heal her. She was getting better, but she had another lung attack and there is not a single hope for her. He said it is the same disease as the boy's. The doctor told me the reason for the children's illness. I shall explain it to you when you come. I remember the advice you gave me and with that I have the strength to suffer all this. You do the same. You remember, too, that we still have two to care for. The padre sent word this morning that you were to think this way, too. should the child die, which I expect will happen momentarily.
If you cannot come send word as to whether I should bury her (right away) or not.
Regards to all that are there with you.
Prudenciana L. de Moreno
La Paz, April 6, 1863
My very dearest Cuesita,
It is with such a broken heart that I can barely write to you. It was on Palm Sunday that I received your letter of Feb. 21st in which you told me of the death of our beloved Constantino, which occurred on the 6th of that month.
God is Holy and just and we should be patient with all that He does. He gives us life, through Him we exist, and He alone has the right and the power to take us to His Glory. I have faith in His actions, and that same faith makes me certain that heaven is the mansion of the just and of the angels. Constantino has gone to heaven to sing OhSanna [Hosanna]to his Divine Creator at the side of his four brothers and sisters. Yes, he it also in the great beyond, and it is certain that his suffering parents remain on earth with a broken heart for the death of them all. They will speak to God on behalf of those of us remaining here on earth. Constantino came to remove the bitterness with which my life was filled. God will help us....
La Paz, May 25, 1863
My very dear Cuesita.
The seventeenth of this month I received a letter from Don Eduardo Vischer dated the second of this same month in which he included two of yours, one dated March eleventh and the other the twenty-fifth of April. Both letters were a great satisfaction to me and at the same time a great sadness because in one you remind me of the death of our beloved Constantino II. I have sent letters to you before in response to this lamentable news. I have told you, and today I repeat, this is the fifth child that death has snatched from us. I am a Christian and I have a great deal of respect for Divine Decrees and God being omnipotent. I cannot but obey humbly His dispositions. At times I despair. I blame God. but then I see that I have blasphemed and I repent. I ask His forgiveness, beseeching Him to take His ire from our house. I also pray that He will do His will. I hope that you will agree to the Will of the All-Powerful, knowing that our five dead children whose innocent souls form a hierarchy among the Angels that sing in Heaven the "Oh Sanna in the Highest" to the Creator.
San Francisco, Oct. 1, 1863
My dearest Chanita,
Wednesday at nine-thirty in the evening. I received your lovely letter dated Sept. nineteenth. I was very happy for the good health of you. the children and that of the rest of the family. Give them all a big hug, and tell my cousin Juanita that I expect to find her well. Ask her if she is not tired of being ill and not to be silly. Life is very short, and it is not good to be worrying the few days that we are on this earth. I beseech you not to dwell on those who have died. To die is as natural as being born and God. who is the author of all creation, has determined these things, and His supreme judgment we cannot comprehend. It is true that we should feel for those who have lived among us, that we have esteemed and that have left us with fond memories while we finish our walk through this valley of tears that they have left behind and, by the grace of God, have passed on to a better life among the blessed. What is Life? Death fondles us and we are like a flash of lightning that runs through the air and just for an instant leaves but a feeble ray where it has passed and is erased. Such is our life which God deposits in His sacred tabernacle for its divine end.
Jan. 6. 1861
...I have not said anything about the children. They, like you, I carry in my heart without being able to forget you for a single moment. I go in confidence that you will not take your eyes off my cueses and that my beloved Matias. Dolores, and Carmelita II will not forget their Papa and again, I beseech you not to leave them for a moment. I am soul-sick for my adored Carmelita, Constantino, and Antonio Francisco even though they are among the choir of angels. I do not know why, now more than ever, awake or asleep, they do not leave my thoughts. They watch over me....
For Moreno, the end came November 30,1869, at the Guadalupe Rancho. He had had a stroke in Mexico City and the family had gone to get him. Another stroke followed at Guadalupe. He was buried on the Guadalupe Mission grounds by Padre Antonio Ubach, the most famous of the Old Town padres, who happened to be traveling through. Chanita lived until her late 80s and died in Los Angeles in 1920 on the stroke of the New Year. In her later years, she would recall all this for her grandchildren and preface her stories with "Cuando yo era feliz con Moreno" or “When I was happy with Moreno.*
Married love is such a fragile thing: kept and unkept promises, unknown challenges. They never had money, they never had health; they were never together; but they had love, a love that through their letters has lasted ISO years and in their letters will last forever. Time stands still where love resides.
The Moreno Love Letters will be one of several topics discussed at the Literary History of San Diego's third symposium. Writers of the Mexican Rancho Era (1820-1846), to be held at the Penasquitos Ranch House on Saturday, December 12, 1998, from 1:00 to 5;00 p.m. Part of a yearlong series on famous writers of the San Diego-Tijuana area, these symposia are jointly sponsored by the Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the California Council for the Humanities. Future symposia include writers of the American Empire Period (1846-1900) to be held at the San Diego Chinese History Museum on January 9 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., writers of the Golden Era (1900-1929) to be held at the Coronado Public Library on February 6 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m., and writers of the Modernist Era (1930 to present) to be held at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library on March 13 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. For information on these free lectures, contact series coordinator Charles Best at Bargain Bookstore at 1053 Eighth Avenue, San Diego CA 92101 or call him at 619-223-3418 or 619-234-5380.
— Therese Adams Muranaka
Therese Adams Muranaka is a California Stale Parks archaeologist working in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. She first saw the Moreno Letters while researching the history of the Russian Colony of the Guadalupe Valley in Ba/a California. Tracing back its even earlier residents, she came across the Moreno Letters. Moreno descendant and translator of the letters Helen Long became her baby-sitter and taught her children to cheat at poker. Dr. Muranaka would like to thank retired State Park Historian Ron Quinn for his care and concern for the collection and for arranging the letters' preservation at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.