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Manuel Fraile
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Manuel Fraile


This is the person to whom the genus Frailea was named by Britton & Rose. Manuel descended from the ancient Moors, and was born on or around 30 June 1850 in Salamanca (Province Old Castila), Spain.
In the Carlist War of the 1870s he fought with the Royal Engineers of the Spanish Army In the Carlist War and received the Silver Stay of Spain for meritorious service.
He came to New York from Bordeaux on February 7, 1883, as a young man. He subsequently headed the Spanish departments of the Berlitz School of Languages and of the YMCA.
Manuel Fraile was well known as a teacher of Spanish to prominent persons. His most significant task historically was giving a refresher course to Lt. Andrew S. Rowan so he could carry President McKinley's "Message to Garcia" to revolutionary Gen. Clixto Garcia of Cuba, in the spring of 1888.
In 1885 he married Mary Agnes Gahagan. She was born in 1864 and died after a brief illness on March 11, 1916 in Washington DC. She was emigrated from Ireland and he met her in New York. They eventually moved to Washington, DC and he worked as a botanist and was in charge of the cacti section for the Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C., where he has diligently cared for the cactus collection.


Manuel Fraile and Mary Gahagan

In 1894 he started cultivating from a thorn bush of Jerusalem (Euphorbia splendens) a "crown of thorns," representing the cross and crown of Christ.
He was naturalized on march 6, 1899. On July 26, 1905 he got his passport, with the following description of applicant: Age: 55 years, Stature: 5 feet, 8 ½ inches Engl., Forehead: High, Eyes: Very dark brown, Nose: Long, Mouth: Mustache, Chin: beard, Hair: Very dark brown, Complexion: Dark and Face: bearded. At that time he was gardener at the Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.


Passport form Manuel Fraile

On January 25, 1916 Manuel Fraile recite "Última lamentación de Lord Byron", poema de Gaspar Núñez de Arce, on the annual meeting of the Spanish-America Atheneum.
It seems that he was also an expert in growing roses and tulips. He won a lot of prices on exhibitions with his roses and tulips.
In 1927 he retired from Department of Agriculture.
They were parents to four children (A daughter, Mrs. Vera M. Roberts of Washington, and three sons, Manuel J. Fraile of Kansas City, Alvin J. Fraile of Falls Church, Va., and Col. Rene E. Fraile of Washington).
He died, as a result of a heart attack, on August 2, 1944 in Washington at the age of 94, at his house on 5111 Cathedral Ave NW.

Washington Post of march 30, 1923.
Bush is Symbolic of Cross and Crown.

Planted thirty years ago and cultivated to represent the cross and crown of Christ, a beautiful specimen of the Euphorbia splendens, the thorn bush of Jerusalem, is blooming in the hothouse of the Department of Agriculture, B and Fourteenth streets northwest. Thousands of plantings have been made it in all sections of the country. It is own by Manuel Fraile, in charge of the cacti section of the department, who designed its growth.

Bush grows to represent Cross
Expert Expects Church to Recognize plant he has tended thirty years.

Planted from a cutting thirty years ago, and cultivated since then from in its growth a cross supporting a crown of thorns, a beautiful specimen of Euphorbia splendens, or crown-thorn blossoms in the cactus house of the Department of Agriculture. B and Fourteenth streets northwest. It is the property of Manuel Fraile, for the past twenty-seven years employed by the department as a gardener and an expert on cacti growths. The crown thorn is of the same variety as that presumably used in flatting the crown of thorns by Christ at the time of Crucifixion. Fraile is generous with the seedlings grown from his cross thorn. While the little plants last, those who express a desire for them are supplied. Cuttings from the bush however, are rarely made as it would deface its symmetry to prune it, to any great extent. Church recognition of the thorn-cross may be secured, The plan has been proposed since the plant has featured numerous Lenten and Easter exercises.


5111 Cathedral Ave NW. Washington DC

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