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Melesio Gomez Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: MSS 0135

Scope and Contents

The collection spans from 1919 to 1982 with the bulk of the materials dating from 1930 to 1959. It consists of 3 boxes arranged in the following series: Personal Records of Melesio Gomez, La Nacional Tortilla Factory, La Consentida Café/Restaurant, Mexican Products and Curio Shop, Personal Records of Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla, Personal Records of Mary Anne Gomez, Personal Records of Elvira Gomez Reyes Quintanilla, Miscellaneous, Photographs, and Oversized Materials. The first box holds 39 folders of documents and records; these include identification and passport records, correspondence, contracts, receipts, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook. Patrons will find scanned copies archived with the originals for a significant number of documents and records in this collection. The second box consists of 121 photographs. Contact sheets and scanned black and white copies are available for each photograph. The third and largest box contains 10 individual oversized items. These include large photographs, restaurant flyers, newspaper clippings, and correspondence.

Specific items of interest in this collection include:

• Letter of support from Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla for the Morales radio station (KLVL), August 20, 1946

• Letter by Club Chapultepec regarding the status of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Houston, June 11, 1937

• Club Chapultepec history (possibly written by Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla)

• Speech written by Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla (re: proposition to name a leader (lawyer/consultant) to cooperate with the Mexican Consul in Houston to represent, protect, and defend the rights and interests of Mexicans in Houston). This was to be given at the annual convention of the Federation of Mexican and Latin American Societies. August 18, 1941

• Newspaper clippings about Mexican American soldiers from Houston during World War II, as well as activities in the Mexican American community at this time.

Dates

  • 1919-1982
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1959

Language

A significant portion of this collection is in the Spanish language.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Melesio Gomez Family Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.

Historical Note

This collection represents one of many Mexican entrepreneurial families in Houston who played a significant role in the Spanish speaking community by providing the material goods and products that helped maintain ties to their Mexican culture while also serving to introduce this culture to the larger white population. The Melesio Gomez Family Papers is telling of the opportunities available to Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Houston during the 1920s through WWII, as well as their status in society. Researchers will find reference to significant Mexican social clubs in Houston, such as Club Mexico Bello and Club Chapultepec, as well as clippings from major Spanish language newspapers such as La Prensa>/u> and El Tecolote.

It is important to note that Melesio Gomez’s tortilla factory was a very new concept to Houston at that time. The Mexican population was not used to the idea of purchasing tortillas, nor was the Anglo population fully educated in Mexican food products and customs. La Nacional Tortilla Factory led tours of its facility for school children and Girl Scout troops, offering samples of foods that could be made with the tortilla; tacos, enchiladas, and tamales.

Biographical Note

Melesio Gomez (1989-1968) arrived in Houston from San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1919. His wife Sergia Martinez Navarro Gomez followed in 1920 along with his sister Filiberta Gomez Alvarado. Melesio and Sergia Gomez had three daughters Elvira Gomez Coronado, Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla, and Mary Anne Gomez. Melesio Gomez worked for Southern Pacific Railroad and played in the Southern Pacific band. He was also a member of the Woodmen of the World (WOW) organization.

A significant member of the Mexican entrepreneurial community in Houston, The Melesio Gomez family owned three businesses located on the 1700 block of Washington Avenue. La Nacional Tortilla Factory, the 1st tortilla factory in Houston, opened in 1929 (and closed in 1969). Melesio Gomez supplied tortillas to Weingarten, W.T. Grants, Junior League, Kress, Henke and Pillots. Before the tortilla factory, the family owned La Nacional Abbarrotes; a grocery store that closed soon after opening due to the Great Depression. Gomez decided to keep the same name when he opened the tortilla factory. La Consentida Café opened in 1930 and later added a dance hall. It was sometimes the gathering place for WOW meetings as well as events for the Club Chapultepec and Mexico Bello. The restaurant was run by Gomez’s youngest daughter Mary Gomez. It closed in 1967 when she died. The Mexican Products and Curio Shop was started by Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla in 1937. It was recognized in the 1950s as being the only manufacturer and vendor of piñatas in Houston. Estella was one of the first Mexican Americans in the city to graduate high school during the 1920s. She was also a member of the Club Femenino Chapultepec, a club associated with the Y.W.C.A. Melesio Gomez’s eldest daughter Elvira Gomez Coronado was Houston’s Fiestas Patrias Queen in 1924. She moved to Minnesota soon after marriage and opened La Casa Coronado restaurant in the late 1940s. La Casa Coronado was very successful and remained in business for several decades.

Extent

1 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Arrangement Note

This collection contains 3 boxes, arranged into series by person and business.

There is a separate series for photographs and oversized materials.

Items within each folder are arranged chronologically, with undated items placed last.

The Spanish language was used only when it was considered significant to the item.

The spelling and order of any name found on an item was maintained when labeling. Because of this researchers will find that the same person may be referred to by different names/name spellings throughout the collection. For example Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla is also referred to in correspondence or in print as “Estella Gomez,” “Estela Quintanilla,” “Stella Reyes,” etc.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Estela Gomez Reyes on October 15, 1987.

Related Archival Materials Note

Please note that several oral history interviews exist (OH 261-1, OH 261-2a, OH 262-2b, OH 261-3, OH 261-5)

See https://digital.houstonlibrary.org/hmrc-oh

General Note

Further details regarding the photograph series in this collection can be found by accessing the Houston Public Library’s Photograph Database at https://hmrc.houstonlibrary.org/photos/index.php

Please also note that “Reyes” is Estella Gomez Reyes Quintanilla’s married name; however it is unclear where “Quintanilla” comes from.

Processing Information

Processed by Mikaela Selley on July 31, 2012.

Status
Completed
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center Repository

Contact:

The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
832-393-1440
HPL.Gregoryschool@houstontx.gov
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002
TXR.Reference@houstontx.gov
832-393-1662