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Border businesswoman attends ceremony at Big Bend National Park


On this day in 1960, María (Chata) Sada, pioneer businesswoman and community leader, attended a ceremony honoring improvements at Big Bend National Park. In the 1920s Sada and her husband owned a combination trading post, general store, cafe, and hotel in Boquillas, Texas, near the Rio Grande, known as Chata's Store or Chata's Place. It was one of about a dozen such businesses on the Texas side of the border in the Big Bend area. In 1927 the Sadas were one of only two families in Boquillas. Mrs. Sada offered visitors hot meals and lodging in the extra rooms she added to her house. She was known for the tacos she cooked on a flat-topped, wood-fired stove. Her friendly and affectionate disposition as a hostess received praise from many. María Sada's services were particularly welcomed because of the region's isolation. She raised goats, turkeys, and chickens and tended a garden. She was also able to shoot a rifle and once killed a mountain lion. She dispensed medicine, acted as midwife, and operated as judge and teacher. At the Big Bend National Park ceremony ranchmen, cowhands, bankers, educators, and business people greeted her, and her presence and reception resulted in a feature story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Sadas were friends of photographer Wilfred D. Smithers, who photographed them. María Sada died in 1973 in Del Rio.

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