24. May 2019 · Comments Off on Fall Newsletter For Luna City · Categories: Luna City Info Dump

(There are some clues embedded in this for future developments. No, I won’t say what they are, I’m cruel, that way!)

Fall 2018 Newsletter-1 Fall 2018 Newsletter-2

09. May 2019 · Comments Off on Another Brief Luna City Background Piece · Categories: Luna City Info Dump

(This eventually will have a bearing on the search for the Gonzaga Reliquary, now thought by international treasure hunter, Xavier Gunnison-Penn to have been brought to the original Spanish land grant, of which the remaining portion is the Rancho Rincon de los Robles, and which is currently unaccounted for.)

The Three Woman Artists of Rancho Rincon de los Robles

By Dr. Miranda Ramirez-Gonzalez

Submitted to various local and Texas-specific publications and rejected by all of them

The Rancho Rincon de los Robles is situated in Karnes County, on the banks of the San Antonio River some ten miles north-east of Karnesville. It has been home for more than two hundred years to the Gonzales/Gonzalez family who originally were granted a league and a labor by His Majesty King Charles III of Spain, to his loyal servant and subject, Don Diego Manuel Hernando Ruiz y Gonzalez (or Gonzales)  whose two sons, Augusto and Tomas eventually took up management of a property which in those days, was situated far beyond those bounds of civilization as it was accepted at the time. The family prospered there, until the last quarter of the 19th century, when the eventual heir, Don Anselmo Gonzalez was forced by circumstance to sell three-quarters of the grant to Herbert K. Wyler, who was then established as the largest landholder in the vicinity. However, Don Anselmo was able to hold on to the best-irrigated, and most scenically pleasing acres on the banks of the river, including the venerable home-site, and a grove of noble oak trees at a spot on the river where Luna City would be established at a later date. His son, Don Antonio continued ranching on the diminished acres of the grant, specializing in pure-bred Merino sheep. He married a distant cousin, Agathe Ruiz-Gonzales, and raised a family in the historic ranch-house; a son, Don Jaimie (who eventually inherited in turn) and three artistically inclined daughters. The three daughters never married, but daringly continued exploring their various chosen arts far beyond the limitations imposed by the expectations of their class and era. Carmen (1899-1933, Aïda (1903-1954, and Leonora (1914-1969) were all named for operatic heroines, as their father was an aficionado of grand opera.

Carmen, the oldest, suffered all of her relatively short life from severe asthma and so did not venture far from home. Schooled in the traditional arts at the Ursuline Academy in San Antonio, she was trained there in needlework and embroidery by the nuns, achieving a mild degree of local fame for her intricate and original designs in all aspects of embroidery, tapestry, and fine lace. Many examples of her fabric artwork adorned the family’s historic home on the banks of the San Antonio River, just south of Luna City, most notably in a set of needle-point chair seats in the formal salon. She also designed and oversaw the production of an elaborate series of altar vestments for the parish church of Saints Margaret and Joseph Catholic Church in Luna City, which are still in use for the most elevated church services.

Her younger sister, Aïda was also schooled at the Ursuline Academy, and dabbled in the fine arts, including china-painting, before developing an interest in decorative pottery of the Arts and Crafts movement. Upon matriculation from the Ursuline Academy, Aïda prevailed upon her father to be allowed to attend H. Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans, which offered an extensive program in the arts to women, including participating in production of art pottery. Aïda continued her art studies through to the post-graduate level and was listed as one of the schools’ Art Craftsmen. In 1929, with the failure of the stock market and the start of the Depression, she had to return home to Luna City, where she taught art and design in the Luna City public schools  and continued producing art pottery in her own distinctive style, albeit on a smaller scale than that produced by the Newcomb Pottery.

The youngest sister, Leonora, explored a slightly different and more eccentric artistic path than her sisters, beginning with sculpture, and jewelry-making, in a style which can be described as a kind of found-object Fabergé, incorporating polished stones or beads of ordinary or semi-precious varieties, with simple wire-work settings, or fused-glass jewels or stones set into finely-finished polished hardwoods. Her designs were for items as small as a pair of earrings or a pendant, to belt-clasps and table-top sculptures as much as twenty inches tall. During the Second World War, Leonora took a course offered in welding by the National Youth Administration. Upon successfully completing the course, she worked at the Brown Ship Building Co., in Houston until the war ended. When she returned to the family home in 1945, she continued with larger-scale metal projects, creating ornamental elements such as railings, grilles, gates and fountains. Several of her projects adorn the grounds of Sts. Margaret and Joseph, including a series of Stations of the Cross in the garden between the sanctuary and the parish hall. A wrought-iron fountain by Leonora is situated in the south-east corner of Town Square, opposite the War Memorial.

These three woman artists defied the traditional expectations of their time – and by pursuing their various artistic impulses against the odds, they adorned a larger community in a way which has continued long after their own relatively brief lifetimes.

 

 

27. February 2019 · Comments Off on What They Drive – Part Two · Categories: Luna City Info Dump

Answering the question – what do they all drive in Luna City? The make, model, condition and all usually say something about the character of the owner. So herewith a continuance of the list.

Harry Vaughn: his personal transport – other than the RV which he drove down from Alaska several seasons ago – is a vintage ’66 Lincoln Continental convertible, candy-apple red and in pristine condition. Harry Vaughn is considerable of a chick magnet among the older generation in Luna City. He also has a fifteen-foot aluminum boat with an erratically-functioning outboard motor.

Romeo Gonzales: Romeo, the oil-field worker turned top male model, arrived in Luna City at the wheel of an extended-cab pick-up truck, make and model unspecified, slightly battered but in good condition mechanically. Like many of the Gonzales and Gonzalezes, Romeo is an excellent shade-tree mechanic.

Susanna Wyatt-Gonzales: As a senior executive (now on hiatus from VPI) Susanna, like Doc Wyler, makes enough to indulge in the very best. In her case a late-model, velvet-black Mercedes sedan with custom pink leather interior.

Roman Gonzalez: Another extended-cab pickup truck, of course. Not ostentatiously new, but slightly battered from use, and usually slightly dirty, with a rack carrying several ladders, a big toolbox, and whatever else is required at the job site of the day.

Hernando “Nando” Gonzalez: It’s been almost three decades, but the legend of Nando Gonzalez lives on, in the ritual sounding of the air raid siren every November 1st at 11 AM. Nando drove a an immense,  boat-like late 60’s Cadillac into town every day for lunch at the Café – a car which increasingly suffered glancing collisions with curbs, telephone poles, fire hydrants, trash cans, the oak tree at Oak Street and West Town Square, the ornamental bollards in front of the Café itself, and other automobiles – until the then-police chief began sounding the siren in warning.

Xavier Gunnison Penn: An older RV, not in especially good condition, with Gunnison Penn’s treasure-hunting logo and picture emblazoned on the sides.

Luc Massie: Drummer for the band OPM and assistant chef at the café. Luc operates a small red Vespa motorbike.

The Walcott family has several vehicles: Clovis and Sook usually drive a late-model sport utility vehicle, black and with all kinds of automotive bling. They maintain an old Volvo sedan for the use of their teenage children to drive.

Did I miss anyone? Let me know.

03. February 2019 · Comments Off on What Do They Drive? · Categories: Luna City Info Dump, Luna-ites

One of those things that I have practically had to make a chart for, when writing about Luna City – is keeping track of the vehicles which the various characters drive; they are mentioned now and again, and over seven (and this year to be eight books) I have to try and be consistent. Car ownership – make, model, style, color and condition – say something about the personality of the driver/owner. Herewith the run-down; as near to complete a listing of those motor vehicles (not necessarily automobiles or trucks) which I have noted in passing:
Berto Gonzalez: he routinely drives an assortment of luxury town cars and limousines as part of being employed by his Uncle Tony, who owns a car-hire service catering to the up-scale market. Berto also routinely drives a rather down-at-heels pickup truck owned by his father; a vehicle with a cracked vinyl seat patched with duct tape. He does not yet own his own personal vehicle, as he has no real need to do so.
Jess Abernathy-Vaughn: a bare-bones yellow Jeep Wrangler.
Joe Vaughn: ordinarily behind the wheel of the Luna City PD’s one cruiser, or one of the department’s sport-utility vehicles. His personal vehicle is a pickup truck, model unspecified, but of solid quality and well-maintained. Joe is fastidious, that way.
Doc Wyler: a very recent model Ford F-150 King Ranch model pickup, with the cattle-brand designed logo of the Wyler Ranch on the doors, and all the add-on bells and whistles. Doc is a man accustomed to the best and has the means to acquire and maintain such.
Sefton and Judy Grant: The Grants operate – and barely manage to keep it street-legal in the eyes of the motor vehicle licensing authorities – a vehicle pieced together from an old Volkswagon bus, with a pickup-truck bed welded to the back half of the chassis, behind the driver and passenger seats. The sides of the truck bed and the doors to the driver/passenger compartment are spray-painted with flowers, peace signs and vintage hippie mottoes, in between the rust.
Miss Letty McAllister: she does not drive.
Richard Astor-Hall: he does not drive, either.
Chris Mayall: a recent model Mitsubishi hatch-back; bright red in color. Chris, like Joe, is fastidious about vehicle maintenance, and is still annoyed at the bill for bodywork incurred when he collided with a deer – even though the Gonzalez Motor and Auto Body shop gave him the friends-and-family rate. Chris blames the deer for reckless grazing.
(to be continued)

28. September 2018 · Comments Off on Spring 2018 Luna City Chamber of Commerce Newsletter · Categories: Luna City Info Dump

The land upon which the small town of Luna City was formally established was originally part of a Spanish land grant to Don Diego Manuel Hernando Ruiz y Gonzalez (or Gonzales) and his sons Augusto (the eldest and eventual heir) and Tomas. Correct spelling of the family name is a matter of uncertainty. Handwriting on the original records of the grant is difficult to read, and within a generation or two Don Diego Manuel’s descendants were spelling their surname with either an ‘s’ or a ‘z’ interchangeably. The grant, consisting of a league and a labor of land (that is about four and a half thousand acres) was officially recorded in 1769, although there is evidence for the family to have established a residence and begun raising stock in the area from the 1720s on.

The first Don Diego Manuel was a trusted officer in his youth, serving under the command of of Jose de Escandon, the first governor of Nueva Santander, a colony stretching along the Gulf Coast between Tampico, Mexico and into present-day Texas as far as the San Antonio. The Gonzalez/Gonzales family originated in Gijon, Cantabria; and connected to the Escandon family through social and kinship networks. The Gonzalez/Gonzales family name is an alternate spelling of Gonzaga; the Gonzalez/Gonzales of Gijon are thought by historians to be descended from the notorious Cardinal Pedro Gonzaga – a dissolute but able administrator, and ally of the equally notorious Borgia family two centuries previously.

In any case, the grant – known in most records as Rincon de los Robles, or Oak Corner – continued in it’s original incarnation and acreage for a century after being officially recorded. Taking its’ name from a grove of particularly fine oak trees, many of which still stand throughout Luna City, the Gonzalez/Gonzales clan ran cattle, horses, sheep and goats on various tracts, establishing several small herding camps for their employees. One such camp was excavated in the early 1970s just inside the present-day main gate of the Wyler Lazy W Exotic Game Ranch; a two-room adobe structure, half bunk-house and half-stables. Although of interest to social historians, nothing much besides a few coins, pottery shards and bottle fragments was found in the course of the excavation. A historical marker was placed on the site in 1975, as this is the oldest known permanent building of any kind in or near Luna City.

Meanwhile, location of the main residence for the Gonzalez/Gonzales clan is uncertain, although certain outbuildings on the present-day ranch headquarters of Rincon de los Robles hint at a very early date of construction.  The Gonzalez/Gonzales family prospered in a mild way; both Augusto and Tomas are recorded as having fathered eighteen and twenty-three children, respectively, through several marriages or other, less official arrangements. Most of these offspring are known to have lived to adulthood, although due to a rather casual attitude to record-keeping, only the main line of descent from oldest son, to oldest son can be ascertained with precision. An inclination towards very large families, with frequent use of the same names, marriage within the extended clan and informal adoption over three centuries complicates any attempt to make sense of the Gonzalez/Gonzales family tree. The majority of Augusto and Tomas’ descendants still live in and around Luna City.

Proud Tejano patriots during the Texas War for Independence, at least three members of the Gonzalez/Gonzales clan of Rincon de los Robles on the San Antonio River served with Captain Juan Sequin during Sam Houston’s retreat into east Texas in 1836 and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Alas, having served with valor in the war did not spare local Tejanos from later suspicion and political disenfranchisement on the part of the mainly Anglo establishment. Although having no interest in and taking little part in the Civil War, a mere fifteen years later, the hardships brought about by that war and the collapse of the Confederacy, took a toll on Rincon de los Robles. In 1867, a large portion of the grant remaining were sold for hard cash by Don Anselmo Gonzalez, (in direct line the great-great-great grandson of Don Diego Manuel Hernando Ruiz y Gonzalez (or Gonzales) to Captain Herbert Kling Wyler, CSA. During the War, Captain Wyler (a native of Kentucky) had been posted to Texas, where he was involved in moving Confederate cotton to Brownsville and thence over the border to the Mexican port of Baghdad, from where it was shipped to Europe. Captain Wyler, unlike many of his Confederate compatriots, emerged prosperous from the conflict, and turned his considerable energies into building up his own ranch property.

The infusion of cash into the much-diminished Rincon de los Robles Ranch was not wasted on Don Anselmo, or on his son, Don Antonio, who inherited the diminished Rincon de los Robles in his turn and turned his attention to breeding and raising prize-winning merino sheep and angora goats. It should be noted that Don Anselmo had cannily held on to the lushest pasturage adjoining the river and most of the oak woods which gave the ranch its name.  Don Antonio, who trained originally in law, eventually became one of Texas’ leading authorities on the parasites particular to angora goats. It is Don Antonio who fought the last officially recorded duel on the streets of Luna City. A historical marker on Town Square marks the place.

In 1884-5, Captain Wyler developed an interest in making a third fortune, upon realizing that the best route for a proposed railway connecting San Antonio with Aransas Pass lay across a portion of his vast properties in Karnes County. He proposed forming a corporation to establish a model town at the point where the old road between San Antonio and the coast – to Don Antonio, still the second-largest landowner in the district.  Don Antonio, no fool, and having little reason to trust Captain Wyler (who had a long-established reputation as a man with very few scruples and great determination) agreed – made his contribution to the corporation with a few acres on the northern border of Rincon de los Robles for the town site rather than his bank balance. He made it a condition that as few of the standing oaks be felled as possible. Captain Wyler attracted the interest and investment of other parties, before abruptly withdrawing support for the railway, with half the town plots already sold and construction completed, when his adored younger daughter Bessie suddenly eloped with a handsome train engineer. It is considered likely that out of all the investors in the original Luna City, only Don Antonio escaped more or less financially undamaged from the debacle.

The Rincon de los Robles grant exists to this day, as a ranch under the management of Don Antonio’s son, Don Jaimie. His granddaughter, Mindy Gonzalez-Ramirez, is currently conducting research on the existing ranch headquarters buildings, to determine which, if any of them, pre-date the mid-19th century.

 

20. March 2018 · Comments Off on Luna City Chamber Newsletter · Categories: Luna City Info Dump
22. December 2017 · Comments Off on A Tid-Bit of Characters – Xavier Gunnison Penn · Categories: Luna City Info Dump

Xavier “X” Gunnison Penn

–   Wiki Entry    –

 

Xavier Gunnison Penn (born 4 June 1949), is a Canadian citizen and self-proclaimed expert treasure-hunter, currently resident in Toronto [citation needed] although he is known to travel frequently throughout Canada, the United States, Mexico, Great Britain and Europe. He is chiefly known for his frequent appearances on Coast to Coast, his appearances in various courts on charges ranging from trespass, fraud and public brawling, his notorious lack of success in actually finding any such missing treasure troves, and his high-profile lawsuits against author Dan Brown for plagiarism, actor Nicholas Cage and producers of the National Treasure movie franchise for plagiarism, financier Collin Wyler for defamation of character, the PBS corporation, and Entertainment Weekly for the same, as well as the managers of INTERPOL’s database of stolen works of art. He is banned for lifetime from the premises of all Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction locations, from the Smithsonian Institution, and from the British Museum. He is the author of a number of self-published books, including an autobiography, Memoirs of a Treasure-Hunting Man, outlining his various and largely unsuccessful searches for – among other items of note – the Oak Island Money Pit, the Amber Room, the Charley Mills hoard, the so-called Yamashita’s gold, the missing Civil War-era Confederate treasury, the crown jewels of Ireland, the treasury of the Templars, a valuable gold shipment on the RMS Republic, King John’s trove lost near Wisbech, England, and the treasure of Lima.

Penn was born in Manchester, England, the youngest son of Mavis (Gunnison) and William Gordon Penn, who emigrated to Canada in 1956 with their family. He attended various local elementary and secondary schools of no particular note in and around Toronto and Mississauga, and graduated from University of Windsor after eight years of various study  programmes with degrees in History, Geology, and International Law. [citation needed]

Penn’s first and abortive search for buried treasure occurred in the late 1960s, when as a teenager, he participated in the effort by Triton Alliance to excavate the Oak Island Money Pit, on a small island off the coast of Nova Scotia. The Money Pit is theorized to contain everything from pirate loot, through treasuries of several different nations and organizations secreted there for any one of a dozen reasons and over any number of decades. To date, in spite of numerous attempts to excavate it, nothing of much significance has ever been found, leading some to suggest that it was nothing more than a naturally-occurring sink-hole, into which soil and organic materiel such as burned logs from forest fires had washed over centuries.

In searching for the Charley Mills treasure hoard, supposedly hidden somewhere on the family farm once owned by Charles Everett Mills, near Karnesville, Texas. Gunnison Penn was befriended by Collin Wyler, then a college student, whose family owned extensive property near the Mills Farm site. As a teenager, Wyler had long been fascinated by the possibility that Mills, reputed to have been a member of at least two late- 19th century organized robbery gangs, had concealed his share of the loot somewhere nearby. No such hoard has ever been found on the property, which is now a hospitality/event venue owned by VPI, Inc., although the search continued intermittently through 2015.

Penn’s most famous search for treasure, and the one which resulted in a bitter feud and dueling lawsuits between him and fellow treasure- hunting enthusiast Collin Wyler involved the fabulous Amber Room. Penn propounded the unlikely theory that many if not all of the panels of sumptuously carved amber which had adorned a royal palace near St. Petersburg until removed by the invading Nazis at the end of WWII had been transported in a U-boat to the United States. The U-boat, he insisted – against every evidence and likelihood of such an occurrence – had been sunk in or near the Houston Ship Channel in the spring of 1945, and had lain at the bottom of the Channel ever since. He claimed to have proof of this, in the form of a sliver of carved amber, which he claimed to have found in a preliminary search of the site of the wrecked U-boat, and proposed to use as collateral in seeking a loan from Collin Wyler to fund further explorations. Upon analysis by a third party, that supposed piece of amber proved to be part of a carved Bakelite radio cabinet from the 1920s. In 1992, Collin Wyler sued, claiming fraud.

Gunnison Penn was declared persona non gratia by the government of Costa Rica, for his activities in searching for the treasure of Lima, which was thought to have been concealed somewhere on Cocos Island in the early 19th century. Gunnison Penn was also deported from the Philippine Islands in 1975, while searching for a hoard of gold supposedly hidden by the Japanese authorities during the WWII Occupation of the islands. During that expedition, he was reportedly kidnapped by Huk guerrillas [citation needed] who demanded a substantial ransom for his return. The ransom was paid, against the wishes of the Marcos government, who subsequently also declared him persona non gratia.

Described by many as peppery-tempered, autocratic, and litigious, Penn is also extremely sensitive of criticism. A PBS documentary of his search across Wilkes County, Georgia, for the long-vanished Confederate States treasury – missing since the last days of the Civil War resulted in a series of lawsuits. Penn took violent exception to the voice-over commentary of the final broadcast version, which pointed out that the failure of his many treasure-hunting excursions usually involved serious disputes with his partners or investors, or with the host-nation government involved. He brought suit against the writer/producer of the documentary, as well as the narrator, and the PBS network itself. When Entertainment Weekly covered the controversy in a feature story, they were included in the suit as well.

Although the courts eventually found against Gunnison Penn, establishment broadcast channels and print publications have tended to avoid coverage of his activities since that time. His treasure-hunting expeditions are documented on his own website, and through frequent YouTube video releases.

Xavier Gunnison Penn is not married, and there are no records of any informal partnerships or children resulting from such.

(A Snippet from the Second Chronicle of Luna City – giving background on a minor yet reoccuring character.)

04. April 2017 · Comments Off on Winter-Spring Newsletter from Luna City Chamber of Commerce · Categories: Luna City Info Dump
23. March 2017 · Comments Off on A Map of Luna City & Environs · Categories: Luna City Info Dump, Places in Luna

At last, I applied myself to the computer, and all the little things that I had dropped in passing about where things were in Luna City — and came up with a map! Yes – this map will be a part of Luna City IV! Behold!

A Map of Luna City and Environs (Not to scale)

A Map of Luna City and Environs (Not to scale)