Whitehorse The Man


In 1924, after a boxing match, he met a boy named Santiago Acuna. He didn't realize at the time, but meeting Santiago would change his life forever. One day, Santiago invited Whitehorse over to his house. It was during this visit that he met Theodora, one of Santiago's five sisters. Once the Acuna's found out Whitehorse was an American Indian, he was not welcomed in their home. They too had their prejudices, and Indians were at the bottom of the "totem" poll. The Acuna's were very proud of their Spanish heritage. They made it very clear that Santiago was not to bring Whitehorse around anymore. This angered Whitehorse, so he started coming around just to annoy them. He knew Theodora didn't feel the same way her family did. He enjoyed her company and would spend hours talking to her. Theodora was warned to keep away from Whitehorse. She disobeyed her family and continued to see Whitehorse. Her family, very angry, placed her in a reform school for girls. When she was released to her parents she rebelled and ran away with Whitehorse. They went to the Justice of the Peace and got married. . . .

Whitehorse was asked to come to the Acuna home only once after his marriage to Theodora. It seemed that another brother, Lalo, had an "experience" in the cemetery, which was less than a mile from their home, and they asked if Whitehorse could help find him. Lalo worked at the local butcher shop and was asked to stay for a shipment that had arrived late that day. He didn't get off work until after mid-night. On his way home, he cut across the cemetery which he thought would save him about 20 minutes. This proved to be a 'big' mistake. Almost an hour had passed and Lalo still hadn't arrived. His other brother, Jesus, and Whitehorse went to the butcher shop to see if Lalo was still there. Jesus was told that Lalo had left over an hour ago. Jesus and Whitehorse, ran home and told the family what the butcher-man said. Everyone was scared because they feared Lalo had crossed through the cemetery which his mother had warned him never to do. A very old story was that there was a woman that had been seen on several occasions at the cemetery. You could only see her at night and she wouldn't allow you to get too close. When Whitehorse went to the cemetery, he found Lalo passed out near a headstone. He woke him and half-way carried him home. Lalo didn't speak a word for over two months. When he finally remembered what had happened, he told everyone that he had seen the lady in white. She told him there would be a death in the family. Theodora was very superstitious and feared the worst.

Over the years, Whitehorse and Theodora had eight children. Getting married didn't change the way her family felt about Whitehorse. They still held resentment towards him and showed no love for the children of this marriage. These children were never allowed in the Acuna home. They would sit outside and wait whenever Theodora would visit her mother. She knew her father didn't feel this way. . .she loved her father very much. Sadly, he contracted Black Lung disease as a result of working in the copper mines, and passed away on March 7, 1944. . .was this foretold by the woman in white? Theodora's grandchildren never got to know him. She always talked about him as if he was still here and we got a sense of who he was--tall, slim, long black mustache and warm eyes. I wish I could have known him. . .I know he would have loved me too. . . .

Whitehorse struggled being a husband and father. His children were not proud of him because he could not read or write and "he" was American Indian. Theodora was able to teach Whitehorse to write his name. When I was going over his driving test one morning, I saw something no one had ever noticed before. He wrote his name with his right hand, but did everything else with his left hand. . .the same as I did being right handed. . . .I believe he would have learned to write with his left hand had he stayed in school. I guess my Mom assumed he was right handed because she was. His lack of education left few choices for employment. He worked in construction until he retired in 1965.

His family was everything to him. Besides losing his Mom, Dad, and little brother, another tragedy in his life was the loss of his son, Daniel, who took ill in 1935 and passed away at the age of five. They never forgot for one minute the joy he brought them. Mom used to tell me she really felt he would have accomplished many things had he lived. She said he had visions of what he wanted to be when he grew up. . .something the 'others' never shared.

Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2022

1994