Maria De Jesus “Jesusa” Almaraz celebrated her 103rd birthday Monday with a parade in her honor in keeping with COVID-19 safety precautions.
Almaraz was born June 1, 1917, in Saltillo, Mexico to Juan and Lucia Molina. That same year Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States and was leading the county into World War I. As a baby, Almaraz’s family migrated to the United States and settled in Waelder. Her father worked at local ranches, most notably those of the Crozier and Henderson families.
Eventually her family moved to Gonzales.
“She mentioned there being Indians that rode horses,” said her daughter, Janie Melchor. “She lived through the times when the Indians rode horses and dressed like Indians that we see in pictures today.”
Almaraz lived through the outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918, which is bookmarked across her 103 years by the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. It was in this backdrop that family and friends decorated vehicles and paraded past her home Monday evening.
As a young woman and the oldest child in her family she helped support the family.
“Mom mentioned to me that she used to work to help support her family,” Melchor said. “Her dad used to walk her to the Crozier house every Monday morning where she took care of the cooking and cleaning. She would stay there all week. Her dad would go back on Fridays and bring her back home for the weekend.”
She loved to dance and she and her cousin Gomesinda would hang out together and go to dances where her brothers would keep an eye on them.
She married Cesario Almaraz Jr. and they moved to Waelder. They had seven children: Robert, Beatrice, Rudy, Rosa, Josie, Joe, and Janie.