Herculano Garcia and Blasa Bento were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in September of 1899, Carmen. Carmen was the first born of this happy couple who lived on the El Relampago (Lightening) Ranch south of Weslaco in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Carmen was born on this ranch and lived there with her 3 sisters and one brother. Blasa, who was half Italian, died when Carmen was 14 years old.
Soon after Blasa’s death Herculano re-married. Carmen and her siblings then moved in with their uncle, Policarpio Cano, her father’s half brother. In just her teens, Carmen was responsible for the care of her brother and sisters there in Weslaco. She worked very hard on the farm. She raised chickens and hogs, milked cows and tended a garden. From the milk she made cheese and butter. Unfortunately Carmen never had the opportunity to go to school; she had to teach herself to read and write.
Carmen had one son, Raymundo Jimenez. She raised two nieces and two nephews, Victoria and Reyes Cano and Jose` Cano and Gregorio Garcia. One of her sisters had twelve children, which Carmen helped to raise. She also raised the daughter of Jose Cano, Dolly Cano. Her talents as a great cook, excellent gardener and seamstress came in very handy in raising hers and her extended family. When speaking to her family they will quickly say that Carmen’s life was devoted to her family and that her strong faith in God kept the family together.
In 1935, Carmen moved to Mission with her son Ray, then 12, nieces Victoria (16), Reyes (15) and nephew Jose` (17), nephew Gregorio (14) and Dolly (1). They all worked on the farm. Gregorio enlisted in the Army in 1939. Ray dropped out of school in the 9th grade to do the farming.
In 1949, Carmen moved to West Texas at Aiken to live with Ray and his wife Juanita and family. When Carmen lived in the Aiken area, during the 1940’s and 50’s, she had prayer meetings and singing in her home for the migrant worker families in the area. Being a devout Catholic, she loved spreading the word of God, especially to the migrant workers. Family members remember many times when Carmen’s prayers helped them through troubled times. Whenever there was trouble, they prayed.
In 1956, she moved back to Mission where she lived until 1988. While there, she was a member of her church’s Altar Society. She used her talent in crocheting to make linens for the church. In 1988, she lived in Plainview with her son’s family until 1998. There, she became a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Carmen’s also proved to be ahead of her times in many ways. Her talents included the use of herbal remedies to treat minor ailments. She treated young and old from the surrounding area. She also gave “therapeutic massages” (before they were called therapeutic). She was known as a “curandero,” a healer.
Carmen is the matriarch of a family that loves her more than words can express. She now has 1 son, 6 grand children, 6 great grand children, and 11 great great grand children who treasure her.