BIOGRAPHY OF MARIA CONCEPCION REY Capdevila
written by her grandson, Luis Leon Granados, Jr.
Rey-Capdevila was born on July 31, 1881 in Seville, Spain. Her
father, Antonio Rey-Pozo was a prominent architect and builder, and
the family of 7 girls and one boy lived quite comfortably.
According to her son, Luis, during her pre-nuptial days, Concepcion
entered the family kitchen only twice — once to play with the cook’s
daughter; the other to attend a Christmas party. She learned sewing
and music, and became a teacher of piano and voice. In 1901, she
was proclaimed a “Professor of Sight-reading” by the Academy of
Music in Seville.
In 1902, her
father, Antonio Rey-Pozo, contracted pneumonia, which developed into
tuberculosis, and died on July 27of that year. Her brother, Viriato,
also an architect and builder, supported his mother and seven
sisters for a while, but he eventually succumbed to tuberculosis and
The girls sought ways to survive, since no such thing as Social
Security existed at the time. Concepcion’s oldest sister
Luisa, never married, and spent the rest of her life as a companion
to a wealthy family. Emigda, the second oldest, married
a young lawyer, German Repetto, who eventually became both a Supreme
Court Justice and a dentist. Flora married the painter,
Nicolas Alperiz, whose painting El
Cuento de Brujas includes Concepcion’s mother and son
Luis, as models.
Since Concepcion and Ramon
Granados were expected to marry some day, Ramon’s mother
Maria del Rosario, suggested they do so immediately. However,
Ramon was a grade school teacher in Cuba at the time, and it was
considered improper for a single woman to travel alone.
The problem was solved by the pair being married by proxy.
Her brother Viriato stood in for Ramon; and once she landed in
Cuba, they were re-married in the church.
Cuba, in 1901
was not a pleasant place for Spanish citizens to live. Luis
compared their residence there to people from Boston moving to the
deep South right after the Civil War. Their accent was very
distinct from the Spanish spoken by the Cubans. Although Concepcion
soon became pregnant, she did not like it at all, and decided to
return to Spain as soon after the baby was born as possible.
In 1905, Concepcion and Luis
returned to Spain, where they were generously supported by Ramon’s
mother in Seville. On January 14, 1906, a daughter, Concepcion
was born in Seville. On June 14, 1906, Ramon received
approval from the Cuban Superintendent of Schools to return to
Spain during the vacation period to learn how to teach deaf and
dumb students. He never returned.
Cuba, Ramon had become friends with General Leonard Wood, the U.S.
Commissioner there. The General urged him to move to America, and
helped him get a position as a teacher at the Berlitz School in
Washington, D.C. On July 30, 1910, Ramon left Cadiz for New York on
the S.S. Montevideo, arriving on August 10. He worked in New York
as a salesman before going to Washington. In 1911, he sent for his
wife and children, ages 7, 5, 3 and 2, and on June 30, 1911,
Concepcion, who stood 4 ft. 9 inches, and her four children, with
total cash assets of $10, departed on the S. S. Manual Calvo,
arriving on July 11.
discovered the house had rats and refused to stay there, so they
moved to a large house at 14th and K St., N.W. Since neither the
children nor their mother could speak English, a neighbor took them
to a store for food. Concepcion would cut the labels off the food
cans, and the children took these to the store for more. Luis was
sent to St. John’s College High School (they had a program for young
children then) but he said, “all they did was beat hell out of me.”
He then went to Franklin School, where he learned English. Connie
went to the Thompson School kindergarten.
In 1913, when Ramon,
Jr. became ill, the family moved to Mt. Rainier, Md.
for the summer. His condition improved, so they moved there
permanently. On January 12, 1917, a daughter,
Angelina, was born,
but only lived 27 days. She was baptized at St. Francis
de Sales Church in Mt. Rainier and died on February 7. Her
death was a severe blow to Concepcion, who
described her feelings to
her sister in Spain. “… I have suffered greatly,
alone with my daughter in my arms. At night, while the others
were sleeping, her father would hold her while I did the chores.
Then again, I would pick up my little burden and sit by the fire
while we both slept. This went on for 27 days. How
could you understand that I would have the strength for all that.
I myself closed her little casket.”
birth to 11 children, Maria Concepcion Granados-Rey died on June 23,
1930 at age 49. For the last year of her life, she wore only black,
in memory of her mother, who had died a year earlier. In addition
to raising a large family under trying conditions, she found time
for sewing and music.
The baptismal gown
she made for Luis, Jr. was worn by more than 30 babies in Luis’s
family, and ultimately retired when the material became so thin it
wouldn’t take another wearing. In an interview with Tony, some 50
years after her death, Luis said he still missed her. She is buried
in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Washington, D.C. along with her husband, in
Section 58, Site 494.