NINA OTERO-WARREN OF SANTA FE
FOREWORD TO THIS EDITION
NINA OTERO-WARREN would be delighted to know, at the time of this publication, that her life and accomplishments still generate interest more than forty years after her death, in 1965, and over thirteen years since this first biography was published. She would not, however, be happy to know that the name of one of the most distinguished members of her large family, Estella Leopold, Ph.D., had been omitted from the genealogy chart that prefaced the original 1994 edition of the book. Fortunately, Sunstone Press's edition in their Southwest Heritage Series provides an opportunity to correct such omissions and other errors.
The daughter of Aldo and Estella Leopold, Dr. Estella Bergere Leopold followed in her famous father's footsteps. Aldo Leopold is still considered one of this country's most influential conservationists, becoming a distinguished paleobotonist at Washington University.
In his close reading and good review of the first edition of Nina, New Mexico historian John P. Conron noted that the newlyweds, Alfred and Eloisa Bergere, probably traveled to Chicago in 1886 on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, not the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad (page 29). Neither Los Lunas, the couple's starting point, nor Socorro were ever on the D&RGW's route. In addition to his helpful editing, John Conron closed his review with praise for the book: "a good, charming, detailed look at a fine lad that nephew Dr. Bergere Kenney described as 'very gracious, courtly’" (from "La Cronica de Nueva Mexico," published by the Historical Society of New Mexico, April 1995).
For all her gracious courtliness, Nina also had a bravado and self-assurance that was unusual for Hispanic women of her generation. According to The New York Times in an article dated September 19, 1922, she was the "most picturesque" of the four women who "tossed their toques into the ring" as candidates for Congress that fall. Nina broke new ground when she won "a hot republican primary fight in New Mexico." Suffragists in New York were "elated over her victory." Nina "represented the old Spanish tradition in the Southwest. She is the new type of woman in politics, the daughter of a Spanish don, with a background of family wealth and culture, yet herself one of the vigorous younger generation who espoused the cause of the militant suffragists of the National Woman's Party and went for public office as soon as women won the vote.
"Mrs. Warren is reported to have defeated in the primary contest the present incumbent of the seat, also a Republican, and this fact was noted with great glee by Republican women politicians. . .as marking the passing of the time when women candidates were given complimentary nominations in districts where victory at the polls was highly improbable and where no male candidate was hungry for the post."
Nina lost that election to an Anglo male, but by a narrow margin. She continued to make important contributions in other ways. Thanks to her pioneering spirit, the land she homesteaded just outside of Santa Fe has appreciated in value and has become the meeting place of choice for large family reunions. In 2002, Nina's niece, Eloise Bergere Brown, organized a "Bergeriana Revelry." One hundred and ten relatives of all ages attended the festivities: a Friday night reception at Gerry Peters Gallery followed by dinner and dancing at La Fonda and group photographs at the Georgia O'Keeffe Center; a Saturday afternoon barbecue picnic with guitar playing, singing, and story telling at Las Dos; and a Sunday brunch at the Luna Mansion in Los Lunas. Four years later, in the summer of 2006, the reunion was repeated. This time, the genealogy chart was so long that it was wrapped around both homestead houses. Nina would have been pleased and proud to know that she had been the catalyst for it all.