Underneath the Cathedral: Priests & Prostitutes

Doña Tules in her gambling establishment.

During Women in History month most of the people honored are those with stellar reputations. Doña María Gertrudes Barceló isn’t one of them. However, after running a gambling hall and brotherl through the mid-19th century, she did manage to be buried underneath the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. That’s where she is today with the hierarchy of the Catholic church. The story of Doña Tules is one of the most widely told stories in New Mexico history.

Mexican-American War

Doña Tules ran a successful gambling hall in Santa Fe during the Mexican-American War. Although she was an Hispanic New Mexican, she sided with the Americans and tipped off the military of plans to topple the U.S. army. Doña Tules became a shrewd business woman buying property around Santa Fe. She became wealthy with the Americans arriving on the Santa Trail. She didn’t want the good times to end. An expert at the card game Monte, Doña Tules operated a gaming hall that catered to men travelling along the Santa Fe Trail, which ended at the Santa Fe plaza.

Intrigue & Romance

Born Maria Gertrudes Barcelo, she became the mistress of Gov. Manuel Armijo, the last New Mexico governor under the rule of the Mexican government. As her business grew she amassed a small fortune and became accepted into circles of high society. During a time that few women had rights or visibility, the story of Doña Tules has caught the imagination of many and is one of the most written about woman in New Mexico history.

Please support Ana Pacheco's work at:

Buy Me a Coffee

Our nation’s history would not be complete without the story of Santa Fe. Experience the ultimate Santa Fe tour with local historian Ana Pacheco.