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Margarita Villa’s Legacy

by Suzi Calderon Bellman

Suzi Bellman holding a clipping from the Margarita Villa Collection.  Suzi carefully rehoused the collection into the acid-free archival boxes and folders shown here. Photo by Anne Petersen

Suzi Bellman holding a clipping from the Margarita Villa Collection. Suzi carefully rehoused the collection into the acid-free archival boxes and folders shown here. Photo by Anne Petersen

It’s funny how things work out for me. One day I had brought another cousin into the Presidio Research Center, and Anne Petersen told me they had just gotten Margarita Villa’s collection. Her son Bill Villa had just donated his Mother’s Library of Treasures (you can read about Bill’s donation here). That’s how I look at it.

Who am I? I am the daughter of a Calderon descendant who comes from several of the Founding Families of Santa Barbara and, just like Margarita Villa, Old Spanish Town Montecito.

I had brought another cousin in to research her family. I told her it was a great place to come and explore. Was I wrong …No! Margarita’s Collection was right there in the corner and Anne Petersen asked if I wanted to look through it? Without hesitating I said Yes! I also asked if I could possibly help organize it. I knew what was in it. Margarita and my Mom, Dee Quevedo Calderon were Family Historians. Just to be able to go through it slowly would make my Day!

This past October 2012 my Dream came true!  I was told not too long ago that I would be helping the librarian (who is also an archivist) get the collection ready. Laurie Hannah is her name, and I enjoyed working for her doing something I love. I think it surprised her how much I knew of the Families in the files. It sure surprised me, as I went through each file, removing old staples, paper clips and getting the old newsprint away from documents, how everything was intact. You could tell how old each item was by the yellowing of time.

Margarita carefully cut and taped each item with care. I too, took care with everything before me. I now know what it takes to get something ready for the public. We usually don’t think about how it just “Appears.”  A lot of work goes on behind the scenes to promote a Wonderful Collection. Thank you, Margarita and to your son Bill for entrusting our Family History to the Presidio Research Center.

Seeing the Past come To Life through someone else’s Eyes was an Honor. This Collection will bring much knowledge to whoever wants to come in and research “Their Roots of Santa Barbara” & “The Vines of Old Spanish Town.”

Suzi Calderon Bellman is a member of SBTHP and a Presidio Research Center volunteer. She is an energetic force, helping to reconnect descendants of the Presidio’s founding families and providing others with the valuable tools and information required to research their own family histories.  

3 comments on “Margarita Villa’s Legacy

  1. Wonderful story…I really like this ‘Dispatches from the Presidio’…Bravo to Anne Peterson and each diligent volunteer and intern! I can feel it from hundreds of miles away…

  2. This is wonderful! Having Suzi to help research and preserve, is terrific for us all. I know she truely loves of our ancestors, and has a passion for the mysteries, tales aand history of early Santa Barbara. Well done! Living distantly, I am greatful for all who post and send memories on my home. Thank you! Antonia M. De La Guerra

  3. Suzi, this work is so important: we need to energize the Presidio descendants of the younger generation to appreciate that there are not very many families with a common Hispanic heritage who have a State Park honoring their history. We need a new generation of soldados and where better to recruit than from the families of Presidio descendants? Thanks for your valued volunteer efforts

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