Apolinar Vera y Gil

 

Written by Josie Theodora Garcia. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”

 

Apolinar a basque was born on July 23, 1890–Ulibarri, Spain in the province of Navarra, to Vicente Vera and Escolastica Gil. He was one of six children. Two of his sisters become nuns. One died during the Spanish Civil War in the early 1930’s. The second nun Marta, the Mother Superior at a girls’ school in Logrono, Spain, until her death in the late 1950’s. The other two sisters and brother married. Benito the brother, is the only one living today. (1988)

Apolinar studied for the priesthood, attending the Jesuit seminary in Spain. He was sent to Mexico city to further his studies, which were interrupted by the Mexican revolution lead by Pancho Villa. Foreigners were in special jeopardy and as such, was advised by his superiors to leave. Lacking the funds to return to Spain, he decided to flee to the United States. He boarded a train for the border.

While in route, the train was stopped and bordered by Pancho Villa’s gang. Passengers were interrogated, some removed forcibly from the train and shot. Apolinar watched in horror, being a foreigner, thought he too would be shot. When he was approached, with a prayer for guidance, answered the questions asked. Most dealt with his feelings on the revolution and who he favored. This was after checking his papers, and inquiring as to his business in Mexico and destination. His reply, simply stated about being a seminarian, devoted to his studies and church business and knew nothing about politics or the revolution, until he was advised to leave by his superiors. Apparently that satisfied his interrogators, because he was allowed to continue his trip, with a prayer of thanksgiving and for the poor souls which lay strewn along the tracks. This must have happened about 1916 when he entered the U.S. at El Paso by just signing a book and showing his passport.

He worked at many jobs to support himself while making his way northward, arriving in Engleville, Co. where he obtained a job in the coal mine. Here he met and married (Della) Maria Delfina Dominguez on June 17, 1918. (Her story is enclosed) As each mine closed Apolinar moved to another one, Bervind and Morley where he lived with his family for about 10 years had 7 children, 5 daughters and 2 sons. One daughter died in infancy. Ben, (Josie) Theodora, Antoinette, Minnie, Ruby and Vincent. In 1935 the family moved to Trinidad and Apolinar was working in Valdez as the Morley mine had no more work. This was to be his last mine. He suffered with high blood pressure and Dr. Beshoar advised him to leave the high altitude. He sold his home and furnishings, bought a trailer to tow behind his car, and left Trinidad with his wife and 3 youngest children, for Richmond, California. (The three oldest were married.) They later moved to Longbeach, Ca., where he retired.

At this time he realized his dream of returning to Spain–after 50 years. It was such a joyous occasion. His brother Benito, wife and family lived in the 200 year family home. Apolinar was asked by his brother if one of his reasons for returning was to claim his inheritance of the family home and land, (since Apolinar was the oldest male.) He assured his brother he laid no claim to anything after all these years. Although everything was his, he had only come to visit him and his two sisters. He and his wife stayed several months and returned by ship. Josie and Minnie having returned after 3 weeks. He spoke of returning to Spain, but took ill and died Nov. 13, 1968.

The only child remaining is Benito, who is 94 years old, living in the same house with 2 unmarried sons Clemente, Jose’-Mari and 2 unmarried daughters Puri and Javiera. He is in excellent health of mind and body. He can still climb the mountains like a billy goat. Many of Apolinars children have returned several times to Spain to visit with the Patriarch Benito and the many cousins living from Madrid to the French border. There are also relatives in the Basque region of the southern part of France. The Basque language is very difficult to learn since it does not derive from Latin like the other languages.

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