Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Mexico Ghosts: Forbidden Love

In the southern part of New Mexico is a small community near Las Cruces called Old Mesilla—it is located in a beautiful valley. Mesilla means little tableland in Spanish. Like most communities in New Mexico, Old Mesilla developed around a town plaza.

After the Mexican American war in the late 1840s, many Mexican citizens resented the United States taking the northern half of their country and refused the offer of United States citizenship—they moved south of the new border to Mesilla. 

But Mesilla with the Gadsden Purchase in 1848 became apart of the United States as well. The town celebrated by raising the United States flag on the plaza.

A Mexican family by the name of Maes built what is the oldest structure on the Old Mesilla plaza today. 

The Maes family ran a freight line importing and exporting goods in Santa Fe, but when this was taken over by the Americans, after the war, they moved south to a spot called La Mesilla. 

They built a grand house and had big plans for their future. The mother in this family was especially ambitious. She was proud of her family, its prestige, power, and connections. 

Her plans centered on her eldest son, a teenager named Armando. She always reminded him of his duty to the family.

The home the Maes built was so large it required many servants. One of these servants was a teenage girl by the name of Inez. 

Inez was lovely with long, black hair reaching to her waist. Armando and Inez fell in love. Armando knowing his mother would not approve of Inez, tried to keep their love a secret. 

When the rest of the servants and even most of the population of Mesilla discovered these two loved each other, everyone formed a pact to keep this romance from La Senora.

For a while, everything was all right, but La Senora finally noticed Armando’s interest in Inez. She confronted her son about it, and Armando confessed his love for Inez. His mother flew into a rage and ordered Inez from the house. 

She firmly told Armando that he was not to see Inez ever again. But as fate would have it, Armando defied his mother.

La Senora, concerned about her son’s unacceptable love, decided to arrange a marriage for Armando. She set out on a trip to obtain a proper bride for him. She struck a deal quickly and returned home sooner than expected. 

Eager to share the news, she asked her servants where Armando was, their reluctance to answer her question made her suspicious. Hearing voices in Armando’s room, she barged in unannounced. Shocked and horrified, she found Inez within Armando’s arms.

In a daze, she stepped back out of the room into the open patio area. Stumbling over her sewing basket, her hand fell upon her sewing shears. 

In a trance, La Senora returned to her son’s bedroom where Armando and Inez were hastily dressing. Silently she raised the shears and plunged them into Inez’s breast. Again, she raised the shears, but this time Armando screamed, “No, Mama” and rushed to shield Inez. 

Blinded by fury, his mother, drove the shears into her son’s back. At Armando’s cry of pain, La Senora came to her senses and realized what she had done.

La Senora stared blindly at poor Inez, now crumpled on the floor covered in blood. Armando, bleeding himself, crawled over to Inez. He picked her up and cradled her gently in his arms. 

The servants rushed to the room just in time to see Armando and Inez bid a tender goodbye. As Inez died, Armando sobbed quietly. As he clung to her body, he raised his head as if someone was calling him. Staring into an empty corner, he smiled. 

The servants reported he seemed to be listening to someone speak. La Senora spoke his name and approached him, but at her touch, he collapsed. Armando died three days later he never regained consciousness.

The Maes family being both wealthy and influential, avoided legal problems. They immediately sold their home and moved into the interior of Mexico. 

It is not known what happened to the family after they left, but for years afterward Mesilleros stated that La Senora, while still in Mesilla, did not speak again. Her last spoken word was her dying son’s name.

Mesilleros honored these two lovers for many years on the Dia de los Muertos—Day of the Dead—but slowly the memories faded—by the 1950s this tradition ended.

Maes Home
Succeeding owners of the Maes home reported strange events. A beautiful young girl was seen, whispered voices were heard, and a smell of lavender perfume was reported. 

The home was a private residence until the 1950s when it was abandoned for a while.

It was used as a cotton warehouse, and then a series of shops were in the building until 1972. More recently it was purchased and turned into a fine dining restaurant called the Double Eagle.

In what was formally Armando’s bedroom—is the Carlotta Salon today. Two overstuffed chairs, in the corner of this salon, were re-upholstered to match the décor.
But mysterious, the velvet fabric on them showed worn spots in the shape of human bodies. 

In this same room, people complain of it being too cold. They often walk to the curtains, drawing them back to close the window only to find that they are just a decoration—the room has no window.

Employees of the Double Eagle have had several encounters with the ghosts. 

One worker, while closing the restaurant, realized he was not alone, thinking the manager had forgotten to lock the front door he heard someone enter the next room. He turned and saw a young Hispanic girl in a white linen shift walking out of the room and onto the patio, going toward the Carlotta Salon. 

He called out that the restaurant was closed then walked toward the patio. He searched but could not find the girl. He checked all the doors-- he was surprised to find they were all locked. 

Jokingly he asked out loud, “Inez, is that you?” he heard a girl’s voice pronounce his name with a thick accent. He ran out of the building. He refused to close alone after this.

A server at the Double Eagle was busy opening for lunch. The Double Eagle once being a private home is divided into many rooms--this server was the only one in the front of the house. She heard a female voice with a strong accent call her name from the next room. 

When she entered this room, she heard the same voice call her name from yet another connecting room. She followed the sound through several more rooms until she heard her name being called from the Carlotta Salon—thinking the staff was playing a trick on her, she went to the kitchen only to find that no females were working in the kitchen that day.

A new assistant manager was hired. When he finished his training, the manager mentioned the restaurant was haunted. Being a skeptic, he replied he didn’t believe in ghosts. 

After working for two weeks, it was his turn to close the restaurant. A customer, that evening had left a wine bottle half full. He took this bottle and two wine glasses into the Carlotta Salon and set them on a table. He announced that he had brought the wine for the ghosts to enjoy. 

He walked to the back door, set the alarm, and left. The next morning remembering his offering as he opened the restaurant, he went back to the Carlotta Salon. He was stunned to see the wine bottle empty and turned on its side. The two wine glasses were shattered in the fireplace. 

As the day progressed, he questioned the other workers thinking they had played a trick. None of them knew what he was talking about. He quit that same day.


Unknown said...

Is any of this true? My boyfriend is Paul Maes and his family is from New Mexico area.

Virginia Lamkin said...

It is a classic "legend"--so it is just a fun story to share.