Samuel and Jesus Cordova

By Samuel Cordova

Samuel Cordova was born in Guadalupe, New Mexico on March 17, 1895 (green beer day).  His brother Jesus was born five years earlier on September 13, 1890.  Samuel and Jesus were the sons of Nicolas Cordova and Maria Garcia. There was also a sister, Avelina, who came into the world somewhere between Jesus and Samuel. Maria died giving birth to Samuel and approximately two months later, Nicolas was thrown by a horse and killed.  Samuel, Avelina and Jesus were raised by their maternal grandmother, Tomasa Garcia.

At a very early age, Samuel and Jesus were sent out to shepherd the family’s small flock of sheep.  Jesus hated sheepherding and would not stop crying until it was time to go home, when Samuel shouted, “Let’s get the flock out of here!”  Neither Samuel nor Jesus received any semblance of a formal education, with the result that when the two brothers (at different times) were drafted into the Army in World War I, neither one could speak a single word of English.  And in the Army that can sure ruin any chances for promotion.

The two brothers who, until now, had been almost inseparable, were sent overseas in separate units. Samuel did not engage the enemy, but Jesus, who had arrived first in France, faced enemy fire in at least one engagement.  His company mounted an attack on the German trenches, and he was gassed and seriously wounded in the right arm.  Apparently the objective was not attained, and when the American troops advanced to their rear positions, Jesus was left behind, gassed, bleeding, racked with pain and dying of thirst.  But it was perhaps through an incidence of divine providence that Jesus survived.  He was saved by four Germans moving in the direction of the American lines under a white flag.  They found him, gave him water, or maybe Schnapps, bound his wound as best they could, and in a makeshift litter they carried  him back to the American lines. The story of Jesus is intimately bound to the story of Samuel because it was Jesus and his wife Perfilia who raised Petrita, the second daughter of Samuel and Juanita.

Samuel was married when he was drafted into the Army.  He and his wife Rosa Leyba had one son. It was a grief-stricken Samuel who returned home from overseas to find that his wife and son had died during the 1918 influenza epidemic.  Sister Avelina also perished during the flu epidemic .

 

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