Key West Cubanitas Are Avenged

In 1870, another incident occurred in Key West that indirectly touched the family. A famous journalist, Gonzalo Castañon, owned a pro-Spanish newspaper in Havana, La Voz de Cuba. Castañon penned vile editorials on Cuban women and their lack of morality in Key West and suggested in his editorials that all …

Domitila’s Nemesis –General Valeriano Weyler

Her nemesis, General Valeriano Weyler, like his hero William Tecumseh Sherman, wanted to burn down the Cuba that fought the Spanish forces, leaving no blade of grass or livestock available to the guerilla army, and he forbade the transport of food from one town to another. Instead, Weyler ordered special …

Carlos Manuel de Cespedes Starts the Revolution

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 …

Alejandrina Finds her Erotic Self

The fight over La Mathilde Belford led William and his employer to be thrown together more and more. Alejandrina found herself increasingly attracted to this muscular foreigner, most puzzling since she had always found sex repulsive. Yet out of the blue, she noticed sensual thoughts were intruding into her mind …

Life at Comecara and the Tumba Francesa

After dessert was served and the gentlemen shared port, cigars, and strong coffee, the entire group gathered on the large veranda surrounding the house, overlooking the coffee-terraced drying floors. Then they moved into the great salon where they were going to view a performance by the slaves. Candles flickered all …

In 1850s

1850s: New wave of Spanish immigrants, especially younger men, compete with white middle-class Cubans in the professions and the lower ranks of commerce and civil service.

Antonia Makes a Novena to the Virgin

Antonia married Victor Ribas and gave birth to a succession of girls.  She loved her daughters, but resented the fact that while his former mistress gave him two boys, she could only manage to produce females. She decided to do a novena to Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s Patron Saint, …

The Maine’s Demise Spells War

They wandered to the port looking out over the bay. Many boats were docked: the white-hulled Maine, the Commercial Steamer of Washington, and the Spanish boats, the warship Alfonso XII and Legazpi bobbing in the water. Pedro had arranged for a late supper at an outdoor café near the harbor. …