Monday, June 7, 2010

Cuba Revolt of 1917

I was looking through old copies of the Poughkeepsie Journal and its predecessors for articles on Pedro Albarto Hurtado and his family. Pedro was a teacher at the Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie.

According to the 1870 and 1880 US Census, Pedro was born in Cuba. He died in Cuba in 1906 based on the passport application of his son Leon. Leon moved to Cuba where two of his three children were born. About 1917, the Leon and his family were back in the United States.

Some of the Poughkeepsie newspaper articles that I found implied the Hurtado family had a plantation in Cuba. In addition, I found a passport application for Leon in which it said that he had a plantation in Cuba. I found it curious that the family had returned to the United States. So what was going on in Cuba by 1917?

The answer is a revolution! There was a dispute over the presidential election of 1916 and who won. Since the revolution was short-lived, I wondered why the Leon Hurtado and his family returned to New York. As luck would have it, I found a newspaper article in the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune (January 5, 1975) about Leon's son Lee Hurtado.

In the article, Lee (Leon) Hurtado says that his grandfather retired from teaching (at the Eastman Business College) to settle on a land grant in Cuba. He said that his grandfather expected to get rich raising cattle. Pedro Hurtado died in 1906 in Cuba and his son Leon took control of the property in Cuba. I suspect that the cattle ranch was not faring well in 1917 when the revolution started.

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