Webmaster's Notes - June 2008....
Victor Villaseñor's book "Rain of Gold" (1991) created an enthusiastic response among everyone I know who read the story of his mother's life history beginning as a child with a gold mine remotely located in the mountains of Copper Canyon, Chihuahua, Mexico. By all measures, it is a fascinating and true accounting of a rough time in history and recommended reading. Recently I received a communication from another person whose family has its roots in the same mine as well. Ricardo Castro Gutierrez wrote how his 2nd great-grandfather was Espiridión Barrios - the original discoverer of what became the Lluvia de Oro mine. As our dialogue progressed, Ricardo wrote how the ownership of the mine never lay with its discoverer and how that occurred. His accounting differs from that contained in "Rain of Gold". Rather than paraphrase Ricardo's story, the following paragraphs tell the story in his own words. Our correspondence started out simply and progressed from there, all photographs on this page were supplied by Ricardo:
My name is Ricardo Castro Gutierrez, and I live in Oregon. I was born in Cd. Obregon, Sonora and when I was 12 years old my family and I moved to Oregon. I am familiar with the story of the rain of gold because it has been a family story for generations in my family. ...Most of the family, in the last generations, was born in Cd. Obregon Sonora since after a problem between Espiridion and Bernardo, most of my family moved from Chihuahua to Sonora, but that is all I can tell you about the story for now."
Regarding his family tree, Ricardo wrote:
"...Espiridion Barrios was married to Francisca Gutierrez and they had 4 children named Refugio Barrios Gutierrez, Espiridión Barrios Gutierrez, Argelia Barrios Gutierrez, and Manuela Barrios Gutierrez who had a son named Francisco Gutierrez Barrios and he had a daughter named Eugenia Gutierrez who is my mother. In other words, Espiridión Barrios (I believe his second Mexican last name would be Espiridión Barrios Aguilar) is my grandfather’s grandfather which makes me Espiridio’s 2nd great grandson based on a genealogy family chart (my tatarabuelo in a Mexican chart). I also know that my great grandmother’s brother (Espiridión Barrios Gutierrez) was Bernardo Garcia’s Godfather. ...Espiridión’s children passed away already, but his grand children are still around."
Regarding the research done by Victor Villaseñor before writing his book..
"Apparently, he did a huge investigation about it, however, not only I don’t believe the beginning of the story, but I know it is not true. I have informed the rest of my family about this book and they are going to get a copy of the book to read Villasenor’s version. I noticed that he either changed my ancestor’s name to Carlos Barrios for his story, or he got the wrong information. Also, he talks about Barrios’ son going up to get the gold and the Indians calling him Ojos Puros (pure eyes) because of his clear color eyes. Well, that is not true since Espiridión Barrios had only one son and the rest of them were women, and his son’s eyes were dark. His son’s name was Espiridión as well, and I did get to meet him; however, I was just a little kid when he died so I don’t remember much. The rest of my family does remember him because some of them shared house with him down in Cd. Obregon, and they all say that he has dark eyes. The book also says that he married Espirito’s (the Indian) daughter, but the truth is that he never got married."
In asking about a little more of Espiridión's history:
"Apparently, one of my uncles has a copy of Espiridión’s death certificate and a picture of Espiridión’s wife Francisca Lopez de Barrios (I am correcting myself; her name was not Francisca Gutierrez). Espiridión spoke Spanish as well as Tarahumara, Greek and Latin. He was born in 1860 in Batosegachic county of Guasapaiz [Note: [Guazapares today], Chihuahua. His parents, Juan Barrios and Cecilia Aguilar, passed away when Espiridión was young and a priest took care of him and educated him."
And with respect to what happened regarding the discovery of the mine and its subsequent ownership, Ricardo wrote:
"According to what the story tells in my family, Espiridión did find the mine; therefore, we thank Buenaventura Becerra for his honesty. [Note: Buenaventura is the person whom we met in our visits to the mine and who recounted much of his historical knowledge to us - see the previous page.] However, the story does not say anything about Espiridión getting drunk the Indians to have them tell him where the mine was. The story says that Espiridión did find the mine but it was by accident while he was out hunting and a bullet hit the mountain and he saw something shiny mixed with the rock. The story also tells that Espiridión did work the mine for a while with his compadre Bernardo Garcia (Godfather to Espiridión Jr.) Espiridión stayed at the mine while he sent his compadre Bernardo Garcia to take care of the legal paperwork of the mine, which we believe was in a city somewhat far from the mine’s place (probably Mexico city). When Bernardo Garcia arrived to the place where he was going to take care of the legal paperwork, he was told that he couldn’t sign in the name of his compadre Espiridión; therefore, Bernardo signed the ownership papers under his own name. Bernardo went back to the mine and never told Espiridión about the ownership papers not being under his name.
They worked the mine for a while; Espiridión thinking that he was the owner. I believe there are some pictures of my family that show how well they lived because of all the gold, but those pictures are in Cd. Obregon so I have no access to them right now. Time passed by and at some moment Espiridión noticed that the ownership papers were not under his name but under Bernardo’s name, and that is when Espiridión accused his compadre Bernardo of treason and refused to be friends or compadre with him (back then, a word of a man had a lot more power than these days). Even though Bernardo wanted Espiridión to stay and work the mine with him since they were compadres and partners, Espiridión and his family decided to move to Cd. Obregon to forget about the whole situation. Time passed by and Espiridión passed away. Bernardo’s family then sent a letter to Espiridión’s wife, Francisca (my 2nd great grandmother), saying that they were really sorry about the whole situation with the mine’s ownership papers and the problems between Bernardo and Espiridión, and that they sill (sic) believed that Espiridión deserved to have part of the mine so they offered 1,000,000 pesos (back then a lot of money) to Francisca. However, Francisca still mad about the whole situation refused to their offer and never wrote back. The family kept that letter up until Espiridión Jr. died and took it with him; my grandfather and brothers did get to read that letter."
So this is a revision of the history as I have understood it to date. I'm hoping that Ricardo at some time will be able to offer some historical photos or anything similar that can be added to his story if anything has survived this long. And if anyone else knows of any material from this era, please get in touch. For a glimpse of the mine's location, use the link at the bottom of the introductory page.
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de C. V. unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.