The El Paso Public Library will return a 355-year-old book to its original owner, the Guadalupe Mission, at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 12 at a Tom Lea Month event, An Evening at Misión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, in Ciudad Juarez.
The book called “Garcia Manuscript” was written by Fray Garcia, the founder of the mission. It documents the burials attended to by the church in the first few years of the mission’s history beginning in 1663. The book was taken from the mission by U.S. researcher, John Curd Sr., the night before the Battle of Juarez in 1911.
The El Paso Public Library has made several attempts in the past to return this historic document without any success. Recently, library staff contacted the mission and both parties agreed to meet during the event. The book will be handed over by Director of Libraries, Mark Pumphrey, and received by the Bishop of Juarez, Jose Guadalupe Torres Campos.
“We have preserved this historic manuscript for the past few decades and it is a pleasure to be able return it to its original owner,” said Director of Libraries, Mark Pumphrey. “This event is the ideal time and place to return it to the Guadalupe Mission.”
According to an account of those events written by John Curd Jr., “On the afternoon prior to the Battle of Juarez of the Mexican Revolution beginning in 1911, [Professor John Curd] was at work in the archives of the church when he was suddenly urged by the priests to return home to El Paso.
In the haste of collecting his papers he inadvertently carried with him the First Folio of the church’s history to his home in El Paso, Texas.”
Curd intended to return the document to the mission, after the revolution, but was unable to do so before his untimely death in 1913. The book remained in the possession of John Curd, Jr. until he left El Paso in 1923. It was then placed in the Main Library’s vault, at the urging of the City librarian at the time, Maud Sullivan, where it remains today.