Barceló, Doña Gertrudis (1800-1852)
Doña Gertrudis Barceló (1800-1852)
Santa Fe Stakes. In the 1830s and 1840s Doña Gertrudis Barceló, known as La Tules, owned and ran the most fashionable gambling parlor in Santa Fe (then part of Mexico). Born into an elite family, La Tules married at age twenty-three and chose a career as a professional gambler. She specialized in dealing monte, a card game. According to one traveler, she was regarded as the best monte dealer in Santa Fe.
Fashion. When dealing cards, Barceló dressed simply, but on other occasions she favored expensive silk fashions. She also wore gold rings and heavy gold necklaces. When she chose to wear the long gowns popular in the United States, American traders claimed that her influence led other women to adopt the same styles.
Status. To the surprise of American visitors, La Tules’s career as a gambler did not hurt her social position. She was a close friend of Gov. Manuel Armijo, who held a financial interest in her business. Although she was married, Barceló “claimed the rather unusual privileges of entertaining whatever friends she pleased, male or female, in whatever degree of intimacy she chose, and of conducting her business any time and any place that suited her.” By the time of her death Barcelo’s gambling had made her wealthy. She owned a nine-room home on 160 acres of land and two other houses. In her will she left land, jewelry, silver plate, clothing, and furniture. According to contemporary accounts, nearly all the people of Santa Fe attended Barcelo’s elaborate funeral.
Janet Lecompte, “La Tules and the Americans,” Arizona and the West, 20 (Autumn 1978): 215–230.