National Geographic : 1914 May
Photo by J. E . Kirkwood PEONS SHELLING CORN ON THE HACIENDA DE CEDROS Ears are rubbed on blocks made by binding together corn-cobs. "One observing their farming in the outlying districts might imagine himself living in the days of the Pharaohs. The field is plowed with a crooked stick drawn by oxen, with the yoke tied to the horns. Grain is cut with sickle and threshed by the hoofs of cattle, and corn is planted and shelled by hand. Rough and heavy home-made carts or the backs of men or burros are the most common modes of conveyance. The people seem to have no appreciation of improved farm ing implements. Often when improved implements are provided the laborers they discard them for more primitive methods" (see text, page 573). and the glory of the church.' There still remains indeed in the archives at Mexico a map of the hacienda with a sketch of the church building he proposed to erect. According to these plans, the sacred edi fice would cover about five acres. The re sult was like some modern schemes for public aid to private enterprise. The promoter got 2y2 million acres of land and the church got a building 40 by 60 feet. "With less pious pretense, but by equally dishonest methods, a second pur chaser obtained the property at a later period. For some reason, either through escheat or confiscation, the crown again came into possession of the hacienda and offered it for sale. An official in Mexico, taking advantage of the ignorance of the home government, represented the prop- erty as simply a desert waste, very un desirable; but, 'in order to relieve the crown of an unsalable asset,' he magnani mously offered to pay 6,000 Spanish dol lars for it as a virtual contribution to the support of the throne, and thereupon re ceived a deed, with the thanks of the monarch for his loyal zeal!" Some one who knew of the facts as they then were later endorsed the follow ing on a blank page of the deed itself: "This reprobate son of a degenerate father, . . .knew that besides rich deposits of minerals and large flocks of sheep and goats, the hacienda had at that time 30,000 head of beef cattle, which, to say nothing of the rest, the unmitigated scoundrel got for 20 cents apiece by out right and deliberate lying to his Most Catholic Majesty, the King of Spain."