The American Civil War concluded on May 9th, 1865, and the O’Reilly family, totally settled in their new home, lived a few blocks away from O’Reilly’s Hardware Store. In 1868, news came about the start of an independence movement in Cuba. William’s worries about staying in Cuba were vindicated. Months after the event, they read the news that Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a sugar planter, and a graduate of Havana’s Seminary of San Carlos, freed his slaves on condition they join his rebel contingent.
“He has declared Cuba’s independence against Spain,” said Alejandrina, reading from the Spanish-language Key West newspaper, El Republicano. “What is that going to mean to Armando and the girls, and the older people who still live and work at Comecara and La Mathilde Belford?”
Cespedes’s cry for liberty from Spain caused Maximo Gomez, a native of Santiago de Cuba, to join Cespedes’s war against the Spaniards. Masses of free mulattoes and blacks, rural and urban whites of many classes, and runaway slaves joined the liberation army. Even some of the workers at the family’s two plantations joined the cause. The main warfare, confined to the eastern half of Cuba, meant men like Armando were greatly affected