Margaret Maud McKellar

Margaret Maud McKellar and Dolores L. Latorre, ed.

This book consists of twenty-eight chapters written by Margaret Maud McKellar as articles that were sent to the Tapanui Courier, Tapanui, Otago, New Zealand, for publication at the turn of the century. The chapters relate the McKellar family's experiences in adapting to a totally new country after leaving New Zealand for Mexico in 1892.


David Harkness McKellar chose a ranche in Mexico named Las Rucias. Las Rucias was one of several ranches that comprised the 247,195-acre Hacienda del Nacimiento, twelve miles north of Santa Rosa de Sierra Hermose (now Melchor Muzquiz), Coahuila, Mexico. The McKellars spoke no Spanish and knew nothing of Mexican customs and food, yet they managed to survive in a strange climate by sheer determination.


McKellar immediately built a large home and fenced in his extensive holdings through which ran the Sabinas and Alamos rivers. His fences interfered with the watering of stock belonging to Mexican ranchers, and in less than two years he was murdered. President Diaz, aware of the disastrous repercussions that could accompany this tragedy, sent his personal attorney to investigate. The murderer was eventually discovered, and he revealed that a wealthy rancher had promised him 300 silver pesos for the deed!


Overcome by grief, the family visited relatives in New Mexico. A year later, Mrs. McKellar moved to Nebraska. After six years the family moved again, returning to the warmer climate of San Antonio, Texas. Eventually Mrs. McKellar, accompanied by her three unmarried daughters, bought a home in Flat Rock, North Carolina, where she lived until her death in 1923.


Life on a Mexican Ranche primarily relates the day-to-day living at Las Rucias. From the preparations for social gatherings to the mundane acquisition of a puppy to the traumatic loss of a parent, the family remained closely knit. They were a family who still shared laughter despite hardship and inconvenience. Margaret McKellar captured the essence of the times in the diary/chapters she wrote, and she conveys a vivid picture of the Mexican ranche life of almost two hundred years ago.

9781611460223 (RLPG)
9780934223319 (AUP)
Lehigh University Press - Life on a Mexican Ranche