Along with a slew of Christmas-born pastorales that will soon be taking place, especially in rural areas, all the way into February, there are a salto of gracious — and boisterous — holiday gatherings going on right now. This celebratory time turns the final page of the year into a torrent of hen-scratched reminders across a new year’s agenda as we race through dense, exhausting, heady days. So much for dreams of life in the slow-paced Jalisco highlands, where huge haciendas once dominated not only the pace of life but the pace — and health — of the economy. And, yes, even during the Nueva Galicia (as Jalisco was then officially called) Christmas and turn to the new year, the pace was quite different than it is on the very same ground today.
In the immediate agricultural region of Guadalajara — the Lerma-Santiago River basin north of Guadalajara — one of the biggest estates was Hacienda Toluquilla. In the mid-18th century this estate had some 1,000 people living on it and was a “surrogate” pueblo of many of its Indian employees. It lay close to Guadalajara in what was originally the Zapotec Valley, later named Toluquilla Valley, directly south of the city (on today’s Morelia Highway — the extension of Avenida Lopez Mateos — just before one gets to Santa Anita). The valley formed a semicircle, cupping the city to the south and was home not only to the Hacienda de Toluquilla (called El Cuarto after the beginning of the 1800s), but those of La Concepcion, Santa Cruz, San Jose de Zapotepec and San Nicolas, plus such smaller ones as La Calerilla.
Unlike many other hacendados in the region, both Gabriel and Juan Alfonso shrewdly used their commercial and agricultural enterprises to mutually support one another. Hacienda Santa Lucia not only supplied Guadalajara with wheat, but was a major source of cattle and sheep. At times it provided the collateral for needed credit or the financing of the family’s other business ventures. At other times, these commercial enterprises provided capital for seed, livestock and other hacienda supplies.
At the time of his death in 1793, Juan Alfonso Sanchez Lenero left an estate of 500,000 pesos (most “wealthy” hacendados in the area were worth 100,000 to 200,000 pesos), including whole establishments and real estate in this city and Tepic, and the vast hacienda, valued at 100,000 pesos — meaning he had tripled its value in the 30 years he owned it.
By that time there were some 100 other haciendas surrounding Guadalajara. Lake Chapala area haciendas included San Lucas, Buenavista, Cedros, Atequiza, San Nicolas de la Labor, Juejotitan, Potrerillos and San Martin.
With the official end of the colonial period in 1822, the structure of the hacienda here, and throughout Mexico, began gradually changing. Most survived the vicissitudes of political and social upheaval until the 1910-1924 Revolution erupted, and some of the most tenacious — and lucky — beyond that civil war, though often much changed.