Sunday, July 27, 2008




Mabel DodgeMabel Dodge went out west to New Mexico in 1918 where she met Tiwa (Tewa) Indian Antonio Lujan (Luhan). She was immediately attracted to this giant of a man who cut quite an attractive figure in Taos society. He was over six feet tall and wore his dark hair in two braids. He wrapped his impressive figure in a traditional purple blanket.There was a catch in their liason. Antonio was married to an Indian woman named Candelaria. Mabel didn't let that slow her down one bit, and obviously he didn't either. She hired him to be her chauffeur. He showed her around and eventually sent her to an occultist who told her that Taos was the beating heart of the world. The occultist also convinced her that she had been chosen to be the bridge between Indians and Anglos, and that Taos was to be the center of the rebirth of the West.One can imagine how this must have appealed to this wealthy and extremely intelligent woman. She immediately bought the land Antonio had shown her. The two of them worked together and were known to be intimate for the next several years. What happened to Candelaria is not recorded anywhere that I could find.However, Tony and Mabel were married for 40 years. Together they built a rambling homestead that was 450 feet long. The Inn was built about half way between Taos and Ranchos de Taos. At that time there were no houses or buildings of any kind from the edge of Taos, which was about two miles south of the Plaza. The festive dinner parties in the place she called Sagebrush Inn attracted many well-known people of the day. The pretty gray eyed woman with thick chestnut hair, took up the style of the Pueblo Indians, wearing her hair in heavy bangs. Some guests were Thornton Wilder, Thomas Wolfe, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, Edward Hopper and Mary Austin. Her prize catch at these parties was D. H. Lawrence, who she hoped would write the great American novel and cast her as the heroine. She was disappointed.Mabel died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 83 in August of 1962. Tony passed away shortly after. She is buried in the Kit Carson Cemetery in Taos and he is interred in the graveyard at the Taos Pueblo. The full story of her life has never been written. Perhaps someday a writer will take on the task.Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection This must be posted with the photograph of Mabel.

4 comments:

J.R.Engle said...

Mabel sounds like an interesting woman. The ranch sounds like a massive compound at over 400 feet long. I bet it was very overwhelming to see and visit. a great undertaking, especially during the 'old west' when large building equipment wasn't available.

Gwyn Ramsey said...

What a sad but happy story about Mabel and Antonio. At least they were able to spend 40 years together. I enjoyed reading about them and the Sagebrush Inn. Thank you for the story.

Alice Trego said...

Hi, Velda -

I'm a day behind you on your book blog, so I quickly signed on.

After reading your story about Tony and Mabel, I know that if a book was written about them and their love for each other, I know I'd love it! Now if you could persuade yourself to write it? After all, you seem to know a lot about the couple and more New Mexico research wouldn't be all that bad, eh?

Alice

Velda Brotherton said...

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting about Mabel and Tony. A couple of biographies have been written about Mabel. I'm not sure how much was in them about her and Tony, but a creative nonfiction about their lives would probably be fun to write and to read.