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Van Ann
Van Ann as Mamie Aguirre
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Mary (Mamie) Bier Bernard Aguirre (1844 - 1906) is the newest star on the Santa Fe and the Camino Real Trails. Mamie is a recently hailed pioneer whose exciting life story has just been published as "Journey of the Heart" by Annette Gray. Her extraordinary life of courage, talent, humor and determination will thrill audiences of all ages. Even historian Marc Simons is thrilled that her journals and life story are being recreated.

Mamie Aguirre was an avid journalist who would make numerous journeys up and down the Santa Fe Trail and the Camino Real into the heartland of New Mexico Territory. She would eventually live and be a major part of life in Las Vegas, Fort Union, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and especially Las Cruces where she would live in the proverbial large adobe hacienda with her husband Don Epifanio Aguirre. In time her journey would lead Mamie into the vicinity of Tucson where she would become the first female Professor of Spanish and History at the University of Arizona.

When Mamie was born in Westport Missouri in 1844 she grew up as a wealthy Scarlet O'Hara kind of young woman who would know all the comforts of a Southern-style home. She attended finishing school in Maryland. But by the age of 16, upon her return to Missouri, the Civil War disrupted all that Mamie Bernard had grown up with. In her youthful enthusiasm, however, she recreated and flew the first Confederate flag causing a riot! It was during this terror filled time that a young Mexican freighter rescued our Southern Belle and made her his wife in 1862.

Epifanio and Mamie Aguirre headed down the Santa Fe Trail from Westport after their first child was born. Fortunately their own personal wagons were detained for a short time. Three days later, to Mamie's horror, they came upon their freight wagons which had preceded them, and discovered they had all been plundered and burned by Indian raiders. This would be one of the many escapes from tragedy for our heroine. Mamie would also have memories of Geronimo's uprising, Wyatt Earpp's gunfights, and know personally the outlaws called the James and the Younger brothers.

For six exciting years the Aguirre family would make their home in the Old Mesilla, near Las Cruces, and Mamie would often travel with her young husband as he freighted his goods up and down the trail. But in 1869 this enterprising family lost their business due to a fire and Indian raids. Shortly after this, in 1870, Apaches killed the love of Mamie's life. She was left with a broken heart and three young sons to raise. To care for her family, Mamie became a teacher in the proverbial one-room school house with "the most unruly girls God ever let live!" Her adventures out west continued in Arizona where in 1896 Mamie was honored by becoming the first woman professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Today, the Aguirre descendants continue to thrive in both New Mexico and Arizona. They have all been baptized in the same Christening gown that Mamie's first child wore in Old Mesilla in 1864. Mamie's silver tea service, which was a gift from her beloved Epifanio, is still used by family as a symbol of the young lovers who set out on a "journey of the heart" so many years ago.