From their humble roots as Mexican immigrants working in the fields around Roswell, in 65 years the González family has grown to around 60 or 70 folks working in professions ranging from to geology, to law, to graphic design to audiology.
And if you attended public schools in Roswell, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve had a González as a teacher, because so many of them have gone into that profession.
“Almost half of us have been teachers over two generations,” Melinda González said.
This year, the Merced and Francisca González family will be honored at the 37th annual Heritage Dinner sponsored by the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico board of directors.
The event will be held Aug. 7 at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds. The cocktail hour with live music provided by Hot Club on the Pecos begins at 6 p.m. The silent auction also starts at 6 p.m. and the dinner starts at 7 p.m.
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Peppers Grill & Bar will cater the dinner.
The Roswell Daily Record recently interviewed four members of the family, Melinda, Danielle, Isidro and David, who all indicated they were a bit surprised they were picked as this year’s honoree family.
But according to Amy McVay-Davis, it was actually a no-brainer because not only has the González clan established such a huge legacy in Roswell and beyond, but several members are big supporters of the Historical Society.
“We are looking forward to this wonderful event and so excited to have the González family not only be the honorees, but showcased throughout the evening,” she said. “They will be featuring their many talents and treasures and helping from ushering, to the MC, to singing the national anthem, doing the invocation and presentation, designing all the artwork from the printers to amazing pictures of them over the years since being in Roswell.”
Board President John LeMay agreed.
“We try to make the Heritage Dinner different each year,” he said. “For instance, a few years ago we focused on artists by honoring Kim Wiggins and Dorothy Peterson. Last year we honored a historic business in the form of SPS. This year we wanted to honor a single family rather than a business or profession. The Gonzálezes are a huge family that have likewise made a huge impact on the community. They are also great supporters of the museum. David narrated our historical video, and Isidro and Melinda González do a wonderful job of helping with our school tours, to name just a few of the ways they help out.”
But it’s not just the adults in the family who are involved with the Historical Society. Prudence, who’s only 7 years old, gives public tours of the museum.
Danielle, who is a graphic designer, produced a hardcover book about the family’s history called “Never Forget Where You Came From.”
The interviews were conducted by Isidro, a retired teacher, who translated all of the recordings from Spanish to English.
Born in Mexico, Isidro said the first family members came to New Mexico in 1953 and ‘54 through the Bracero Program (from the Spanish term bracero, meaning “manual laborer” or “one who works using his arms”), which was a series of laws and diplomatic agreements beginning in 1942 between the U.S. and Mexican governments to bring farm workers to the U.S.
“Their were five kids with their mother, one of the sisters stayed behind,” he said.
The interview with Merced was taken in 2001 in Roswell.
“When I started my life, it was a difficult life, as my mother would say,” Merced said. “She (my mother) was abandoned. Her life was very difficult and we had to lament that suffering.”
Francisca said this in 2001: “(about the Mexican Revolution) … my grandmother would tell us that when he came (Pancho Villa), everyone would start saying, ‘Here comes Pancho Villa.’ All would hide them in rooms and lock them up, so that the Villistas wouldn’t find out that there were girls there in the house.”
“It is important to know your background and where you have come from to fully appreciate the life you have now,” the 20-something Danielle wrote in the beginning of the book.
Though she is an accomplished artist and designer, Danielle said her minor in college was history.
“We have a lot of roots here,” said David, who was the first González to be born in America. “We were raised to love where we are and call Roswell home.”
Vistas editor Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or email@example.com.