|In 1824, in New Mexico out West, only
a few villages had schools. If families were rich enough, they would hire
a private tutor or send their children to schools and universities in Mexico
City in back South America. In some Pueblo villages, Catholic priests ran
mission schools for Indian children. The New Mexicans who could read and
write usually learned from a family member at home.
wrote with a quill pen made from a feather. They dipped the point of the
quill into the ink made from charcoal, soot, or powdered ink mixed with water.
Some used ink bones and some used inkwells to store the ink. Important papers
were often stored in a leather ledger. You can see a ledger in the picure
on the right. Books were hard to get, because they had to be transported
hundreds of miles across the Camino Real from Mexico City to New Mexico.
Writing was especially important for wills and court
cases. Some people signed their names with their own special design or flourish
called a rubric. Rubrics were used because they were easy to read
The girls learned how to
run a home from their mother, aunt or grandmother. By the age of nine, they
knew most of what to do. Most boys learned skills they would need for farming
or ranching. Some boys became apprentices. Most families prayed together
every morning and night.
Children learned about proper behavior
from stories called cuentos and sayings called dichos.
When parents said "The saints cry over lost time," they were reminding
their children to keep busy. Even when the parents could not write or read,
they knew lots of songs, poems, sayings and stories.