Born in Sonora in 1868 to a Mexican mother and a German father, Federico Ronstadt was the quintessential borderman. He came to Arizona Territory as a young man to learn a trade and eventually became
an American citizen; but with many relatives on both sides of the border, Federico was equally at home in Mexico and in his adopted country.
Written in a warm, friendly manner, these memoirs were originally put to paper for family members. The first-hand account of Tucson in the 1880s is eye-opening. . . . These reminiscences of a Tucson pioneer are invaluable for those interested in the history of not only the Old Pueblo, but Sonora and Baja, Mexico as well.
—Southwest Book Views
Writing proudly of his Mexican and American
heritages, Ronstadt offers readers an extraordinary portrait of the Arizona-Mexico borderlands during the late nineteenth century. His memoirs provide a richness of detail and insight unmatched by
traditional histories, relating such scenarios as the hardships of Yaqui hardrock miners working under primitive conditions, the travails of pearl divers in the Gulf of California, and the
insurrection of Francisco Serna in 1875 Sonora. They also depict the simple activities of childhood, with its schooling and musical training, its games and mischief.
Ronstadt relates his
apprenticeship to a wagon- and carriage-maker in Tucson, recalling labor relations in the shop, the establishment of his own business, and the joys and anguish of his personal life. He tells of how he
drew on talents nurtured in childhood to become a musician and bandleader, playing weekly concerts with Club Filarmónica Tucsonense for nine years—musical talents that were eventually passed on to
his children, his grandchildren (including Linda), and great-grandchildren.
Through Ronstadt's memories, we are better able to understand the sense of independence and self-reliance found
today among many lifelong residents of Sonora and Baja California—people isolated from major supply sources and centers of power—and to appreciate a different view of Tucson's past. Enhanced by 22
historical photos, Borderman is a treasure trove of historical source material that will enlighten all readers interested in borderlands history.