The journalists have reported that she was born Ana Monteith in what was then called Bath-on-Hudson in upstate New York. She went to South America with her father, a railroad engineer, who had an assignment in the Chilean nitrate fields.There was controversy over whether Tia Bates was even American, but our 1880 Census lists 12-year-old Anna Monteith whose father was an engineer. The ages match the 1953 obituary of the "Legendary Innkeeper" in Time Magazine. A letter from a guest, also in Time, says:
There was always some kind of ruckus in progress, usually a battle between the fiery old mistress and the servants, accompanied by strikes, walkouts [and] petty jealousies . . . Tia, with her salty tongue, was a joy to listen to. She'd fire half the force, and hire them back next morning.Here's a sample of Noel Coward's lengthy tribute poem "The Quinta Bates":
Tho' Tia is completely kind,(From Noel Coward Collected Verse - I don't recommend buying it unless you want a lot more of that kind of poetry - I'll donate my copy to the Rensselaer library.)
She has a keen and lively mind,
And when things seem too hard to bear,
She'll soundly and robustly swear
She's learned her life in Nature's School
And isn't anybody's fool.