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.