Maria Concepcion Rey Capdevila

Abuela was born in Seville,  Spain into a wealthy family.  She was well educated and received the title of "professor" from the Academy of Music in Seville certifying her to be a music teacher.

She came to America at the age of 29 with four small children to join her husband, Ramon who had become employed in the U.S. 

She never returned to Spain and gave birth to seven more children.  She worked all her life, cooking, sewing, washing, mending, devoted to the tasks that make a home and raising children  with very little resources.

When asked, "What was your mother like?" Maria's eldest daughter Connie once stated ...

"She was a slave and Saint."


  Maria Concepcion Rey-Capdevila  - Mother of the First Generation

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written by her grandson, Luis Leon Granados, Jr. 3-14-04

Maria Concepcion 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 died.

     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 (Connie) 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.

     While in 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.  

    Concepcion soon 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.”

     After giving 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.


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