It was a time of turbulence, turmoil and trouble that culminated in the Mexican War and the American Army occupation of what had been part of Mexico since their independence from Spain in 1821. Dona Lona is a woman of wealth and importance in New Mexico and, as the owner of a gambling hall, she becomes involved in the politics of the time. She is a loyal supporter of the Americans and helps them in the days after the conquest when there were still pockets of rebellion. She is in the right place to act as a spy for the new government. "Dona Lona" is a story based on actual history and the life of the famous gambling queen, Maria Gertrudis Barcelo, better known as Dona Tules. The characters are all part of the real life drama of the settling of the American Southwest. Dona Tules is also the subject of another book, "The Wind Leaves No Shadow" by Ruth Laughlin, also published by Sunstone Press in its Southwest Heritage Series. Blanche Chloe Grant was born in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1874 and died in Taos, New Mexico in 1948. A graduate of Vassar College, she also had studied art at the Art League in New York City and attended other art schools. She continued her successful art career in painting throughout her life but began a second career as a writer after moving to Taos in 1920. She began to research the history of Taos and the Southwest and the people who were part of that history. Grant wanted to make that history readily accessible to her contemporaries, so she wrote her books all based on the facts she had uncovered in her research into the past."
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Page viii - Careful analysis of what was written of Madam Barcelo by Josiah Gregg, George Brewerton and others has made me veer away from what historians are determined that we should believe of her. Not a man ever said that he really knew her. Seemingly these early commentators felt that she must necessarily conform to the type with which they were familiar, the disreputable frontier gambling woman. My own research through many years convinces me that they have maligned her.