Harriet Torres

B. 1 Oct. 1909
Faywood, NM
D. 28 Dec. 1966
Los Angeles, CA


Enriquita “Harriet” Torres was born on the family farm on October 1st, 1909 in Dwyer New Mexico (later changed to Faywood, NM). Harriet spent the first 14 years of her life on her mother and father’s homestead which had  lots of cattle and other animals. Upon school age, Harriet attended a nearby 1-room school taught by Maude McSherry. Many pupils were siblings and cousins from the local area. As her sisters and brother’s grew older, Harriet’s mom encouraged the children to westbound to establish a life of their own. It was around 1923 when Harriet went westward. She was about 14 she arrived in California. She made the journey with family that were neighbors.

Harriet went to public school first and then to a boarding school by the name of Forsyth Boarding School. Minnie and Mom were sent there because there were too many at home. It was a good school and the meals were included. Mom was happy being there, but Minnie wanted out. Aunt Esther thinks she graduated when she was around 17. She worked for about a year (job unknown).

Aunt Esther was asked, “who paid for school,” she laughed and said “I did.” It was very difficult for Aunt Esther when Grandmas sent the family here because she had to work to support the family. She also said the boarding school wasn’t expensive.

Grandma’s family was living in some courts in Boyle Heights where my dad also lived. They were owned by a relative of my dad’s(aunt of his). This is where my mom and dad met. Dad’s family were very strict and he wasn’t allowed to do much. Dad and Mom were about 18 years old when they met.

They married when mom was 18. She was the one and only one to have a big wedding out of all the siblings. The wedding took place at Santa Isabella Church (Soto and Whitter Blvd). Aunt Minnie was the only one actually in the wedding. The reception was given at home. However, the dance was at a hall. Aunt Esther was giving the family full support and help pay for mom’s wedding.

A few tidbits that Aunt Esther told us:

Aunt Annie wwas the first to come to California, then Aunt Dora, and Aunt Esther. Lucy was the last to come.

Esther turned 18 after being here two weeks. She was full support of the family. Sisters were always upset with Lucy because she was a taddle tale.

After mom’s wedding, Esther said, why am supporting the entire family. She finally married at the age of 22 and didn’t tell grandma Andrea for five or six months. She was afraid! Her husband’s family were after her to come and live with her husband. She finally did. They didn’t have much time together. He passed on after three or four years of marriage.

A few of Harriet's children. Right to left: Gloria, Fernie and Yvonne Castaneda. (Rear) Virginia Saldana with Minnie Luedeman. Montebello, CA, circa 1976.

A few of Harriet’s children. Right to left: Gloria, Fernie and Yvonne Castaneda. (Rear) Virginia Saldana with Minnie Luedeman. Montebello, CA, circa 1976.

Yes your right, I believe my mom was the only one that had a drivers license. She would always give her sisters rides to various places. After mom passed away, Ida decided to get one too. Mom’s dream was to become a nurse. After all the kids left the house, she enrolled for her classes and they told her should wouldn’t make working and going to school. She fooled them. When she was working 2 jobs, she saved a man’s arm when he caught it in a cutting machine. She put a tourniquet on it thus saving his life and arm. This was before she went to nursing school.

We were all so proud of her when she graduated. She was a Vocational Nurse. Our mom was an amazing lady.


Submitted by Daughter Yvonne Castaneda-Sprague

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