I first noticed Rudolfo Hulen Fernandez when I was doing research on the history of Jews at Rice. Here he is, standing on the far left in a 1916 Campanile picture of the Menorah Society:
I found this arresting. Who could this young man be, with a Spanish surname and an Asian face, a member of Rice’s first organization devoted to Jewish history and culture?
Fernandez entered with the first class in 1912, although he didn’t graduate until 1917. Although I have only sketchy information it’s clear that his route to the Institute was a circuitous one. He was born in September 1890 at Vigan, Ilocos Sur in the Phillipines. As a young boy he served as an interpreter during the Spanish-American War for Captain (later General) John Augustus Hulen. Hulen, a Texan, was so impressed with Fernandez that he adopted him and brought him back to the United States. I’m not sure where he did his first three years of high school but Rice records show that Fernandez graduated from Houston High School and then enrolled in Rice when it opened it’s doors in 1912.
He was also a published author even while he was still an undergraduate. Here’s a link to a romantic story he wrote for the Texaco Star in 1916, a rather startling positive portrait of miscegenation entitled “Blending of East and West.” (Click where it says “page” to see the whole story.)
What was he doing in the Menorah Society? I don’t know. General Hulen’s papers are in the Texas State Archives in Austin and if I live through the centennial I’m going to go have a look at them.