Sunday, November 1, 2015

Antonio Montoya and Others: Death by Navajos in 1822

Our ancestor Antonio Montoya died at the hands of Navajos in 1822. The Socorro, N.M., burial record is fascinating, so we’re sharing it with our family. See the next-to-last entry, above. Save it, print it, take a screen shot– it’s a record worth noting.

We also want to look beyond the page of one of the first burials in the new parish church built in Socorro in 1821. Not only was our ancestor Antonio killed, but there was a pattern of deaths around that time.

First, the burial record for Antonio Montoya from San Miguel Catholic Church and the translation:

“En esta iglesia de San Miguel del Socorro, en el dia diez y nueve de marzo, mil ochocientos viente y dos, di sepultura a Antonio Montoya, viudo de Maria Guadalupe Salazar; no recibio los sacramentos porque murio a las manos de los Nabajos – muy de repente. Era vecino de Socorro.” – Fr. Manuel Martinez

“In this church of San Miguel del Socorro, on this 19th day of March – 1822, I gave a burial to Antonio Montoya, widowed of Maria Guadalupe Salazar; he did not receive the sacraments because he died suddenly at the hands of the Navajos. He was a vecino from Socorro." – Fr. Manuel Martinez

On that very same page in the record book are four other deaths “at the hands of Navajos.” Pascual Serna and his 10-year-old son, Antonio, were killed the same day. The Sernas were a Socorro family that had moved to the new community from Belen just a few years earlier, as Antonio Montoya’s family had.

A month before these deaths, on February 20 of that year, two soldiers from the company of San Elizario, who perhaps were garrisoned in the region, were killed by Navajos. Wonder if the ancestors of Jose Montiel and Canuto Albines know that these soldiers died on patrol in Socorro? Perhaps their family genealogists are looking for them in Chihuahua records.

New Mexican priests often made note of deaths by Indians or smallpox or measles. (Interestingly, we never have seen a mention of death by childbirth). The record of deaths on the frontier is incomplete, yet church records remind us that the Rio Abajo region was dangerous.

Two other deaths at the hands of Navajos occurred June 23, 1822 in Socorro. They were Jose Guadalupe Sanchez, husband of Antonia Teresa Chaves, of Belen; and Manuel Padilla, son of Joaquin Padilla and Teodora Baca, also of Belen.

Further north, 14 deaths were attributed to Navajo raids starting on April 18, 1822. Most of those victims were vecinos of Valencia, according to burial records from Our Lady of Tome.

The spring and summer of 1823 brought nine more Navajo-related deaths in Socorro records. An additional ten people, Belen church records show, were killed in a Navajo raid in May of 1823. Those victims mostly were from Sabinal.

Remember to look beyond the page. Others walked a similar or far different path of our beloved ancestors. Sometimes their stories will shed a light on ours.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Didn't Make It to Socorro

Just imagine that Andrea Trujillo had talked to her great-great grandmothers about their lives in the 1700s in the province of New Mexico. Would she have learned that one of them had been a midwife, passing the tradition down to her? Would Eduarda Varela or Rosa Lucero have told her how they went about their daily chores and prepared the meals, or would they have shared thoughts about their marriages and children? Would their daily routines a century earlier have been much different than Andrea’s?  In a just few decades, the families of these two women would move from Belen to Socorro, N.M.

This post focuses on four ladies at the turn of the 19th century who never made it to Socorro.
These women died in Belen before the Socorro Land Grant of 1816-1819. Two paternal 2nd great-grandmothers of our matriarch Andrea (Trujillo) Torres and two maternal great-grandmothers of our patriarch Crespin Torres are examined below.

  • Eduarda Varela, widow of Bernabe Montano and mother of Lucia Montano Trujillo died May 20, 1800 in Belen. (Daughter Lucia, born in Albuquerque in 1766, married Agustin Trujillo). Eduarda’s family was from Albuqueque. In 1750, Eduarda was a 13-year-old living in an Albuquerque household, with five sisters, a brother and an Indian servant who was two years older than she was. Her parents were Pedro Barela and Casilda Gonzales. Eduarda’s husband-to-be also was listed in the 1750 Spanish Census in an Albuquerque household – with parents Joseph Montano and Maria Cuellar and a large number of siblings and servants. 

  • Maria Rosa Lucero, widow of Juan Antonio Trujillo of Los Bacas, another community of Belen, died Jan. 30, 1806. (They were the parents of Agustin Trujillo). This couple married in 1761, but we don’t know much about them before that time. 

Both of Andrea’s great-great grandmothers were “mas de 50” years old at the time of their deaths, and they had both had been widowed by older husbands before the 1790 Spanish census was taken. The deaths of these two women were recorded in the burial records of Our Lady of Belen church. The 1790 census was a little more specific about the ages of these women. If Eduarda was 51 in 1790, she was 61 when she died. And if Rosa was 43 in 1790, she was 59 when she died.

How did they die? We don’t know. The book “Burial Records of Nuestra Senora de Belen: Belen, NM  1793-1900” by Oswald Gilbert  Baca, Paul Gregory Baca and Mary Ann Baca, examined epidemics in 1800 and 1805 in Belen. While Eduarda and Rosa died during the time of epidemics, there’s no evidence in the burial record that these women succumbed to smallpox.

The descendants of Rosa and Eduarda – Agustin and Lucia Trujillo and the second Juan Antonio Trujillo and wife Juliana Silva – went on to become early Socorro residents. Juliana’s Silva relatives also were among the families that moved to Socorro from Belen.


Epidemics also hit at the time as the deaths of two of Crespin’s great-grandmothers.

  • On May 29, 1805, Maria Guadalupe Salazar, the wife of Antonio Montoya and great-grandmother of Crespin Torres, died in Sabinal, a community to the south. The Belen burial record said she was “mas de 30,” but she was probably age 42 at the time of her death. Guadalupe was the daughter of Pablo Salazar and Manuela Tafoya, who were among the founding families of the Belen Land Grant of 1740. After her death, Guadalupe’s husband Antonio Montoya moved on with his children, becoming Socorro residents. Antonio died 17 years later in 1822. Many Salazars also became Socorro residents. 

  • Just missing out on the chance to move to Socorro, was Maria Josefa Sanchez, who was buried Dec. 4, 1815 in Belen. She was the wife of Xavier Garcia  – a petitioner of the original Socorro Land Grant. He had remarried to Maria de la Luz Sisneros in 1816, but he died early in Socorro’s history. In fact, Xavier was one of the first Socorro deaths, departing this life on Feb. 24, 1819. Josefa died near the time of the 1816 smallpox epidemic, as reported by “Burial Records of Nuestra Senora de Belen: Belen, NM  1793-1900.” But her burial record in Belen doesn’t list a cause of death.

Friday, July 17, 2015

40 Short Years

The child baptized in this document (top of the page) is Crespin Torres’ father, Jose Anastacio Torres, the legitimate son of Santiago Torres and Barbara Ortis – when the family worshiped at Our Lady of Belen church in the early 1800s. 

Anastacio was baptized two days after his birth, so he would have been born on Nov. 20 1810. His godparents were Don Dionicio Baca and Dona Ana Maria Sanchez – not relatives, but a couple who would soon move to Socorro, N.M. 

Our Torres family moved to Socorro around the time that Anastacio was a teen.

On Jan. 20, 1835, Anastacio married a Socorro widow named Josefa Montoya – who was 9 years younger and who had been married only about a year to her first husband. Anastacio and Josefa had six sons and one daughter. They died separately, but in the same year of 1850.

There doesn’t appear to be any record of Josefa’s death, but there is a burial record for Anastacio on Nov. 8, 1850 at San Miguel parish in Socorro. He had not yet celebrated his 40th birthday. The record shows that his wife was already dead at the time, and he didn’t receive any sacraments. The record states: "no se confeso ni recibio otras sacramentos." Perhaps that means that the death was sudden, but there is no mention of a cause of death. Nor are there any family stories lingering about the young man’s death.

Sources: Our Lady of Belen baptisms 1793-1851 - FHL # 16730 and San Miguel Catholic Church, Socorro burials 1821-1850 - FHL # 16996

Friday, May 1, 2015

Lost Mother

One of the mothers in our family history, who did not have the opportunity to see her daughters grow up, was the sister of an interim governor of New Mexico, who was famously quoted about a mother of a different kind.

Maria Loreta Vigil was the mother of Doloritas Marquez and the grandmother to our matriarch Maria Andrea Trujillo. She was born in the early 1800s. After Loreta married Antonio Marquez in Belen, New Mexico, on Feb. 5, 1816, Loreta and Antonio moved to Socorro in the early 1820s.

CLICK HERE to read about her three daughters.

Her death was recorded on Feb. 7, 1829 by priest Rafael Ortiz in Socorro, and Loreta’s husband remarried soon afterward.

There aren’t many records of Loreta. How did she meet her husband in Belen? Could she read or write? What did her children know about their mother? Did she die in childbirth? What was her childhood like as a daughter from a military family of Santa Fe?

As with so many of our female ancestors, we have more questions than answers. Stories and hard evidence of the actions of our male ancestors are much better known.

Our family stories recount that Loreta's husband, Antonio, was once the head of Indian Affairs for the town of Socorro.

Loreta's brothers and sisters probably stayed up north. Marriage, baptismal and census records in Socorro don’t connect many dots with her Santa Fe family. When two of Antonio’s and Loreta’s daughters were confirmed in 1833 in Socorro, the madrina for one girl, Victoria, was a woman named Isabel Vigil – perhaps a sister of Loreta’s from out of town.

What is certain from various church records is that Loreta Vigil’s parents were Domingo Vigil and Maria Francisca Alarid.

Those were the same parents of Juan Bautista Vigil y Alarid of Santa Fe, who married Rafaela Sanchez on  March 7, 1808. Like Loreta and Antonio Marquez, this couple married in Belen.

Juan Bautista was the acting governor of New Mexico in August 1846, who pledged loyalty to the U.S. government when it fell under U.S. occupation. In an address in Santa Fe during his short tenure, he also expressed ambivalence about the conquest of Nuevo Mexico. While he spoke proudly of being part of a “great and powerful” United States, he expressed a sense of loss for the separation from the Motherland.

“No matter what her condition, she was our mother. What child will not shed abundant tears at the tomb of his parents?”

Below is the signature of Loreta's brother.

Friday, April 17, 2015

2 Bens: Father and Son

An example of a father and son with the same name – almost the same name – were the Benedict Lubbons.

The elder was Luis Benedicto Lubbon, born on July 9, 1908 in Denver. He moved to California with his New Mexico family around 1917. His mother, Josie, and stepdad, Jose Torres, raised him in Fresno, and his family called him Benny. He also shows up in many records as Luis or Louis. Benny, who never knew his biological father, married Monica Sanchez – a niece of his stepdad's. Benny died at age 58 from a heart attack in Los Angeles on July 21, 1966 and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Los Angeles.

 Deputy Ben Lubbon, left, in LA. Examiner photo
Benny and Monica had four children, one of whom was named Benedict Anthony Lubbon. This Ben, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, also died young – at age 53.

Born July 1, 1931 in Fresno, Calif., he died May 23, 1985 in Los Angeles County. Benedict participated in a bit of L.A. history in May 1959. His picture made the front page of Los Angeles newspapers and he was seen on TV news when he and 13 other L.A. deputies were summoned to Chavez Ravine to evict residents who refused to leave the condemned neighborhood. The city of Los Angeles bought Housing Authority property in the ’50s to make way for what would become Dodger Stadium. Ben served with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department for 30 years.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Father and Son Named Frank

This is a photograph of Frank Sanchez Jr. and Sr., probably taken in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Father and son weren’t really named the same. The elder was Francisco Fidel Sanchez, born Dec. 26, 1887 in Socorro, New Mexico. His oldest son was named Plutarco Frank Sanchez, born Oct 13, 1913 in Socorro.

The elder Frank married María Eucaris Saavedra Lueras from Albuquerque in 1912.  Their six children were born in Albuquerque. Francisco was a blacksmith and taught his trade at the Indian school. After all their children had moved to Los Angeles, Francisco and María moved in 1955 or '56. He died Jan. 14, 1967 and is buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Monterey Park, California.

Frank Jr. married twice, to Ernestine Whatley Callahan and Marina Loya. He had four children. Among other things, he was a teacher. Frank died in Los Angeles June 18, 1985.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tag-team Marriages

It seems widows and widowers did not stay single for very long in mid-19th-century Socorro – whether it was for the sake of children, or for love, or both. Perhaps the standard period of mourning a spouse was just a few months for our ancestors because the pool of spouse candidates was somewhat limited.

Much can be gleaned from reading the marriage records of the small town of Socorro, New Mexico. Following is a short tale of 1800s tag-team marriages – in which Crespin Torres’ grandfather, Juan Montoya, was at the center.

  • This string of marriages begins with the union of Maria Monica Abeita and Jose Lopez y Chaves in April 1843. He died “at the hands of Apaches” in March 1846, according to Socorro burial records. Monica remarried in 1849, to Juan Jose Tafoya (a widower of Juana Maria Apodaca).  Yet Juan Jose and Monica’s marriage was short-lived as Monica died the same year that they married. Juan Jose Tafoya’s future wife married twice-widowed Juan Montoya in 1847. After Juan Montoya died in March 1854, Tomasa (Luna) Montoya then married two-time widower Juan Jose Tafoya on Oct. 31, 1854. That was just 7 months later.

  • As for Juan Montoya’s second marriage, here's another future-spouse-around-the-corner circumstance. Juan Montoya’s first wife, Maria Manuela Garcia, was buried Dec. 18, 1833. The very next day, on Dec. 19, Tomas Baca, the husband of his next wife, was buried. Both of the deceased spouses were buried in Socorro; their deaths were registered by the same priest.  Juan and Monica Ortega mourned their spouses at the same time, and then married each other within 9 months. Their marriage date was Sept. 24, 1834. She had one son, and he had four children at the time. But this marriage ended with her death in November 1846. He married wife No. 3 just 9 months later.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Christmas

A collage of many familiar faces in the Torres family this holiday season. Click on the link to get a better look at the individual photos:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Post Office Job

José T. Torres, right, tried out a lot of jobs before he settled on the Santa Fe Railroad as a means to provide for his family. Here he is in Socorro, New Mexico, circa 1916 before he, his wife and his stepson moved to California. We don’t know who the postmaster was, but José looked quite dapper.

Much earlier, he tried his hand at mining. On the back of a tintype head shot of José (below), there is an address: 220 N. Union Ave., Pueblo, Colo.  That must have been the location of the photo studio, in today’s historic district of Pueblo. José was young when he went to Colorado to work in the mines, but he returned to New Mexico and met his future wife, Josie, in Albuquerque.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crespin and Civic Duty

Here are some newspaper clippings of interest, showing that our patriarch Crespin Torres was a citizen involved in his community of Socorro, New Mexico.

These are all from the Socorro Chieftain newspaper around the turn of the 20th century.

Crespin was elected to office as enfermerero for the Catholic Knights - Jan. 2, 1897

Crespin on petit jury - May 9, 1903

Running for Fourth Ward council member; he didn't win - April 4, 1908 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Historic 400-year-old San Miguel Catholic Church in Socorro to re -open

Historic Old San Miguel Catholic Church in Socorro New Mexico to re-open.
Present Torres family members and their ancestors do and have attended.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ramon Garcia Jurado: Fleeing The Kingdom

Leaving the Kingdom of New Mexico without permission wasn’t allowed in the early 1700s – not without permission of the governor because the kingdom needed families to populate and defend the remote area.

Our ancestor Ramon Garcia Jurado, who became “procurador” in Albuquerque, learned that lesson in 1715 after the Day of San Juan. Garcia Jurado was Crespin Torres’ 3rd great-grandfather on his mother’s side. As procurador, or lawyer, Garcia Jurado helped another ancestor in a dowry case against her own father-in-law. Click HERE and HERE to read more.

Though Garcia Jurado later settled down in Albuquerque, when he was 23 Garcia Jurado left New Mexico without permission, and documents show that he didn’t get along with his in-laws at the time. He later served as alcalde of Bernalillo and is listed as a retired lieutenant in the 1750 Albuquerque census. He also is believed to have carved his name in Inscription Rock near Zuni Pueblo.

Garcia Jurado remained in New Mexico till his death in 1760 at age 80-plus.

The incident of fleeing the kingdom is reported in the Spanish Archives in a document regarding five men leaving without permission. The other four “fugitives” were Cristobal de Arellano, Bartolome Garduno, Bernardino Fernandez and Carlos Lopez.

Was it an unsanctioned trading expedition? Cristobal de Arellano had been a soldier in the Zuni region, and the group of men are suspected to have gone to the pueblos. Nothing ever came of the investigation by agents of governor and captain general Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollon. But friends and relatives were questioned.

Ramon Garcia’s father-in-law was Martin Hurtado, one of the founders of Albuquerque, the first alcalde of Albuquerque and the captain of a military squad. He told investigators that his son-in-law left on the feast day of San Juan – June 24, 1715 – about 4 in the afternoon. He also said his son-in-law gambled away everything he had, including his buttons. The father-in-law had reprimanded him. He added that his son-in-law had even gambled away his single horse. Hurtado, who said he was 45, signed the statement.

When Bernardina Hurtado (Ramon Garcia Jurado’s second wife) was interviewed, she said that her husband had not told her anything and that he didn’t confide in her because he didn’t want her telling her mother and father. She said he had asked her to make some lengths of cloth for San Juan Day. When he mounted his horse the day that he left, he simply said, “Adios hija.” She did not sign the statement because she did not know how.

Testimony from others such as wife of Cristobal de Arellano said he left without even taking a tortilla. But again nothing came of the investigation except for multiple pages in the Spanish Archives.

As for leaving the kingdom, here’s a 1732 notice from Gov. Gervasio Cruzat y Gongora from Spanish Archives: "No one is to leave the province without my express permission. For all of this, the said alcaldes mayores are to submit a list of all who intend to go, so that upon reviewing it, permission is granted for them to leave."

“Spanish Colonial Lives. Documents from the Spanish Colonial Archives of New Mexico 1705-1774." Linda Tigges, editor and J. Richard Salazar, translator. Pages 106-124. Page 182.