Friday January 9, 2016 was a birthday for Alice Gertrudis Kleberg East – she was born 123 years ago. Upon her birth, her father (Robert J. Kleberg) immediately wrote to the long-time partner of his deceased father-in-law to relay the news.
January 9, 1893
Captain Mifflin Kenedy
Doubtless you have heard before now through Dr. Spohn, of the arrival of our youngest daughter – She put in her appearance at 4 o’clock A.M. and as she and her little mother are quite well considering the very trying ordeal through which they have just passed – we feel relieved of much anxiety – and knowing that with all your many cares – you make our cares yours. I take this opportunity of telling you that “all is well” and that the young lady – although quite curious of all the faces of those surrounding her seems quite resigned now to intrust herself to our tender care – and is sleeping peacefully and contentedly – whyle her little mothers eyes are watching her with inexpressible tenderness and happiness Alice is quite as well as can be expected – and wants you to know it for she feels that while you do not say much – that you think “lots” of her – and want your anxiety relieved hence this note.
Robert J. Kleberg
Dr. Arther E. Spohn, if not having delivered the new baby, was at least close enough to already know of the birth. Dr. Spohn was also close enough to the young Kleberg family that when Alice King Kleberg gave birth to another daughter, she was named Sarah Spohn Kleberg. Dr. Spohn was also known well by Mifflin Kenedy, having married Kenedy’s daughter Sarah Josephine soon after moving to Corpus Christi in 1872.
Several years later, when Dr. Spohn needed support for constructing a hospital in Corpus Christi, it was the young mother, Alice King Kleberg, that quietly led the fundraising effort, and it was the young father, Robert
J. Kleberg, that donated the land where the hospital was built in 1905. It was on North Beach in Corpus Christi. From that first effort led by the Kleberg couple, Spohn Hospitals have now grown into one of the most important medical facilities in South Texas.
From that first day in 1893, Alice Gertrudis Kleberg grew into an independent, and strong-willed woman. She married an independent and strong-willed cow man, and then raised a family of independent and strongwilled ranchers. Alice Gertrudis Kleberg East then lived for 104 years beyond that day in which Dr, Spohn and Mifflin Kenedy worried over her and her mother. While she focused her life on her family, her ranch hands, her cattle, and her horses, she also witnessed the growth and development of ranching in Texas. And in the process, she made her own quiet contributions to the community – many of which have grown into importance.
Many of the older ranch hands of the San Antonio Viejo called her “La Madama.” This was an affectionate label of ultimate respect from those that worked side-by side with her and her family.
Happy Birthday Mrs. East.
Feliz Cumpleaños, La Madama.