Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Widowed at 14

Josefa Montoya, Crespin Torres’ mother, only lived 30 years. She brought 7 children into the world, yet she had little opportunity to know her loved ones.

Born Dec. 6, 1819, Josefa – the daughter of Maria Manuela Garcia and Juan Montoya ­ – was one of the first babies born in the town of Socorro, which was established around that time. Her baptism took place in Belen because the San Miguel church was not yet completed.

Her paternal grandfather, Antonio Montoya, was killed by Navajo Indians in 1822, according to Socorro burial records. Antonio Montoya already was widowed by Guadalupe Salazar by the time of his death and burial on March 19, 1822. Josefa’s  maternal grandmother Josefa Sanchez, also likely died before young Josefa was born. And her maternal grandfather, Xavier Garcia Jurado – an original grantee of the Socorro Land grant – died around the 1820s.

Josefa married in September 1832 – not yet even 14 years old. The next year was perhaps the most significant of her life, as she was soon widowed.

In early 1833, Josefa received her confirmation at St. Miguel church in Socorro. Records show that a woman named Barbara Chaves was her madrina. In December 1833, Josefa’s  husband Antonio Chaves, about age 30, was killed “a manos de enimigos” – presumably at the hands of Indians. Only a couple of weeks later, mom Manuela Garcia died. Both the husband and mom were listed in the 1833 Socorro census, but were gone by year-end, burial records confirm.

A little more than a year later, on Jan. 20 1835, she married Anastacio Torres and had the following children: Juan, Epifano, Melquiades, Apolonio, Canuto, Crespin and Dolores. We suspect that she died in March 1850 during the birth of their daughter, Dolores.

While Josefa’s death doesn’t appear in the Socorro church burial records, her husband Anastacio's death does. He died Nov. 8, 1850. Son Crespin's obituary in 1937 noted that the couple died seven months apart.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cool Ride

Half-brothers Ben Lubbon and Santos Torres hang out circa 1930 in Lubbon’s car in Fresno, California. The Fresno family of José Torres and Josie Armijo sometimes took trips to Los Angeles in the eldest son’s car. The 250-mile trip through a mountain pass took 13 hours in those days. A winding, two-lane highway linking the Los Angeles Basin with the San Joaquin Valley over the Tejon Pass was called the Ridge Route. Now the trip only takes 4 hours on Interstate 5.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

3 Socorro Siblings

Crespin and Andreita’s 3 youngest children were Lola, Rogerio and Lupe Torres, who lived their entire lives in Socorro. Here are three bits of information about each of them.

First: a clipping from the Socorro Chieftain on Oct. 27, 1906 regarding a major accident involving Rogerio (seems like the loss of a young man’s leg might have merited a bigger news story). Rogerio was injured on Tuesday, Oct. 23 -- a couple of months before he turned 19. He married Clara (Sanchez) McCullough and lived till age 46. CLICK I HERE to see the entire front page of the Saturday newspaper. The item is in the third column.

Second: a photo of Lupe with her husband Thomas Olguin from 1960, courtesy of a grandson. The rare photo of the couple was taken near the Socorro home of one of their sons who was named Crespiniano. Lupe enjoyed a long life, sharing time with her family in Socorro until 1881 – when she died at 90 years old.

And finally: the obituary of Lola Stapleton. This copy was passed down from family members. The  actual date and name of the newspaper were not recorded, but it’s a good bet that the obituary appeared in the Socorro Defensor Chieftain in December 1952, or maybe even January 1953.

 P.S.: Note that Lola’s brothers Jose and Apolonio were still living at the time of her death. Jose died in 1959 in Fresno, but we still haven’t figured out when and where Apolonio died.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Married 145 Years Ago

This is the entry into the church records that Father Benito Bernard made 145 years ago today when he married our ancestors Crespin Torres and Andrea Trujillo at San Miguel Catholic Church. The couple, who married in Socorro, New Mexico on April 5, 1869, lived together for 56 years until her death in 1926. They were lifelong residents of Socorro. Witnesses to their marriage were Crespin’s first cousins Severo and Catalina Baca. Severo married later that same year.

April 5, 1869 marriage of Crespin Torres and Andrea Trujillo

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Town Blacksmith

Jan. 18, 1902.  Socorro Chieftain, Pg.1

The previous post about Juan Julian Trujillo spotlighted just one of Andrea’s brothers.

While the eldest brother, Juan Julian, was a respected educator and our matriarch Andrea was a midwife/nurse known throughout Socorro, another of the brothers, Atanacio Trujillo, was the town’s blacksmith.

Among the three of them, the Trujillos served Socorro well at the turn of the 20th Century. Andrea helped bring babies into the world and kept them healthy. Juan Julian gave those children an education. 

And Atanacio helped the townsfolk thrive, making and repairing their equipment and fitting their horses with hardware. A blacksmith often was the heart of a town. He was a craftsman and a master with tools, metals and engineering. Atanacio followed in the footsteps of his father, Jose; his grandfather,  Juan Antonio; and even his great-grandfather, Agustin. Agustin was listed as a blacksmith in the 1790 Spanish census in the town of Belen.

 Atanacio was mentioned briefly in a Socorro newspaper clipping at the time of his death in 1902. (see above)

Atanacio was born Aug  13, 1850 in Socorro and died there in January 1902. He married Telesfora Chaves and had sons Pedro, Moises, Manuel, Jose and Juan.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Man of Marked Ability

An important man in Socorro history was the brother of our matriarch, Andrea Trujillo.

The obituary of her brother Juan Julian Trujillo – published March 30, 1907 – points out that he taught many schoolchildren in many districts through the years. Born in 1847 and married twice, he appears in Socorro records sometimes as J. Julian and sometimes as Julian J. Our family always called him Juan Julian, and many descendants are named after him.

We can gain a glimpse of his later years by way of multiple newspaper entries.

This line is from a June 1884 column in the Socorro Chieftain: “he is making his residence at San Antonio for the present, and comes up to Socorro quite frequently.”

In a January 1905 Socorro Chieftain: Julian J. Trujillo was “in town” from Lemitar enjoying “this Saturday's holiday (Epiphany) with friends.”

In September of 1905: he left for Magdalena, where he will teach “for the next 10 months.”

And just before his death, the March 9, 1907 “From La Joya Jottings” column in the Chieftain newspaper reports: “Mr. Julian J. Trujillo and wife have been for the last month suffering with a severe attack of grippe. Mr. Trujillo is also suffering with rheumatism.”

Below are links and copies of the obituaries for his first wife, Monica, and for Julian himself. Juan Julian remarried in October 1897, the same year of his first wife's death.

July 2, 1897, Socorro Chieftain, Page 1  – In “Of Home Interest” column 
Mrs. Monica Padilla de Trujillo, the estimable wife of Julian J. Trujillo, died yesterday morning
at 6:15 o'clock. The funeral takes place this morning at the family residence at 10 o'clock, from which the procession will proceed to the Catholic cemetery where the remains will be interred. Mrs. Trujillo had been in poor health for some time but her death was not expected. She was a loving wife and mother, a kind and obliging neighbor and her death is sincerely mourned by all who knew her. She leaves a husband and one son to mourn her death.  The sympathy of the entire community is with the bereaved husband and orphaned son.

A Man of Marked Ability Suddenly Goes to His Reward.
Julian J. Trujillo is dead. Death claimed its own at eleven o'clock Tuesday night at Ranchos de La Joya where the deceased was teaching school. The news caused great surprise and profound sorrow among the many relatives and friends of Mr. Trujillo in Socorro and vicinity. Death resulted from a severe cold which developed into a fever and other complications.
The remains were laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery at La Joya in the presence of a large concourse of sorrowing relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Mr. Trujillo was born in Socorro in 1844 (sic). He was educated for the priesthood but never took orders. At various times he occupied a variety of public positions, everyone of which he filled with credit to himself and satisfaction to those whom he served. It is doubtful whether any man in New Mexico ever taught public school in as many districts as Mr. Trujillo did. He was a man of unquestioned ability and kindly disposition. His sorrowing family have, therefore, the keen sympathy of an extremely large circle of friends and acquaintances. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A must read:
The Story of don Juan de Oñate and de la Cruz DNA:  Genetic Genealogist breaks through Adobe Walls, ties Ancestry to New Mexico's First Families

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Párbulos – Buried Babies

What a difference two decades makes.
When I first started looking into family records in 1991, I scrolled through burials from 1821-1853 of Socorro, New Mexico. I found only a couple of key people – such as our direct ancestors Santiago Torres and Barbara Ortiz, the grandparents of Crespin Torres. I recently took another look at microfilms of burials and rediscovered people in Socorro history, both young and old.
I was struck by all the “párbulos” – a word I didn’t know 23 years ago. Párbulos, sometimes spelled párvulos, are infants and toddlers. The names and dates for those buried babies often don’t advance our genealogy hunt, so it is easy to look past them. But think about how their deaths took a toll on their families. One couple, Joaquin Torres (a son of Santiago Torres and Barbara Ortiz) and wife Josefa Anaya, were particularly hard-hit with child losses in the 1840s.

The following is a short list of burial records of children who would have been aunts, uncles or first cousins of Crespin's. I didn't find any burial records for siblings of Crespin (but see the image at the bottom of this post and consider whether it could be for Crespin's brother Apolonio).
  • April 23, 1822: Juan Nepomuceno – child of Juan Montoya and Maria Manuela Garcia (He was born March 11)
  • January 20, 1823: Maria Antonia Torres – single child of Santiago Torres and Barbara Ortiz
  • March 23, 1824: Santiago Torres – párbulo and adopted Nabajo (note spelling with a b) – son of Santiago Torres and Barbara Ortiz (Baby Santiago was born on Feb. 25)
  • Sept. 26, 1832: Jose de la Cruz – child of Juan Montoya and Maria Manuela Garcia 
  • March 1840: Felipe and Maria Dolores Torres (2 separate entries on separate days) – children of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya
  • April 1843 Ana Maria – child of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya
  • Sept. 1843: Maria del Pilar – child of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya
  • Oct. 1, 1846: Maria Iona Aban – child of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya
  • Jan. 23, 1847: Antonia Abad – child of Jose Antonio Torres and Prudencia Jaramillo
  • March 12, 1848: Maria Benita – child of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya (this child was born March 19, 1847)
  • Jan. 1849: Jesusita – child of Joaquin Torres and Josefa Anaya
  • Aug. 10, 1850: Juana de Jesus – child of Juan Montoya and Tomasa Luna
  • Jan. 1866: Maria Gertrudis – child of Jose Antonio Torres and Prudencia Jaramillo
  • March 23, 1872: Atanacio – child of Jose Antonio Torres and Prudencia Jaramillo
As for Polonio Torres, this August 1862 burial record could be for Crespin’s brother (about age 20 at the time). But it’s a strange burial listing, as Polonio Torres of Socorro is in the same entry as Ysabel Silva of Socorro and Camilo Varreras of Tajo. Who are they, and why are they in the same listing at a campo santo in Canada Alamosa?
Ysabel Silva, Polonio Torres y Camilo Varreras burial record

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Santiago Torres: The Last Record

Adulto, Santiago Torres del Limitar 1845

continued... Santiago Torres burial record

Santiago Torres received the Blessed Sacrament of Penance and was buried  "in the year of our Lord" 1845 on the 4th day of the month of March, according to records of the parish of San Miguel church in Socorro, New Mexico. 

Thanks to priest Jose Vicente Chavez, the historical record is clearly written … and thanks to luck, the pages were not torn or stained. This is how Santiago Torres' final record appears from the ledger that can be found on microfilm FHL16996 -- Pages 7 and 8 from Burial Book 1844-1853. 

Although the record doesn’t say so, Santiago was a viudo, a widower. Barbara Ortiz died 3 years earlier in the community of La Parida. It’s likely that Santiago moved from Parida to Lemitar after his wife’s death and lived at or near homes of his daughters, Isabel Baca and Tomasa Padilla, who at the time were established in Lemitar with their husbands and children.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Another Torres family that left an indelible mark on
Socorro was Anastacio "A.C." Torres. Born in 1868 to
Canuto Torres and Isabelita Padilla y Abeyta, he was
educated at the Sisters of Loretto Convent in Socorro.
In 1883 he worked as a clerk at the Price Brothers
Mercantile store in San Antonio. Studying to be an
educator, he mastered both the Spanish and English
languages. With these skills, he worked as a school
teacher and court interpreter in Socorro for many years.
In 1890, he was also elected City Clerk.
In 1904, while teaching 3rd grade in San Antonio, he
bought the El Republicano Printing Company. Armed
with a printing press and his language skills, he
published the first edition of Socorro's bilingual
newspaper, the "El Defensor," on May 7, 1904.
He married Margarita Montoya of Socorro in 1915,
raising 2 sons and 5 daughters. While still the publisher
and editor of the El Defensor, he was elected as State
Representative in 1931, and the following year as State
Senator, representing Socorro and Catron Counties for
two terms. From 1953 through 1957, A.C. Torres
proudly added "The Free State of Socorro" to the
newspaper's masthead, being a spirited supporter of the
In 1957, A.C. Torres semi-retired. After all, he was now
87 years old! He sold the paper to the Morgan family
from Kansas, though he stayed on as Honorary Editor
and continued writing the Spanish language portions of
the paper. In 1959, the Morgan's ceased publishing the
El Defensor for personal reasons. At 89 years of age,
A.C. Torres was in no position to reassume the daily
operation of the paper.
In October 1959, he merged his beloved newspaper
with the Socorro Chieftain. The first issue of the
combined "Socorro El Defensor-Chieftain" was
published on November 3, 1959.
Printing the El Defensor for 55 years, Anastacio C.
Torres was the longest enduring publisher and editor in
Socorro's history, and perhaps in New Mexico. The
merger of these two institutions has brought continuous
newspaper service to Socorro County for over 120
years. The El Defensor Chieftain is recognized as the
3rd oldest newspaper in New Mexico, and one of the
longest running historical records in the Southwest.

Originally published in El Defensor Chieftain
newspaper, Saturday, October 1, 2005

People and Places, Etc.

A large contingent of people in our Socorro, N.M., family moved north to Albuquerque in the 20th century, readers of this blog know.
It was a bit of a surprise to see that families of two of Crespin Torres’ brothers had moved south, near modern-day Truth or Consequences. So did a few other families whose names are known from earlier Socorro censuses and church records. Alamosa (now underwater at the Elephant Butte Reservoir) was a first stop for some of those southbound families. Then some people went even further south to Las Palomas. The Catholic parishes these families belonged to were San Ignacio and San Cristobal, which is now known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Our patriarch Crespin Torres’ brothers Epifano and Juan apparently lived their final days in Sierra County.
Etc. A contemporary of Crespin’s – a half-uncle named Juan Caterino Montoya who was raised by Tomasa (Luna) Montoya and Juan Jose Tafoya – lived a long, full life, much like Crespin. Caterino was born 6 months after Crespin and died 6 years before him on Jan 26, 1931. Caterino was a farmer in Monticello, Sierra County, and never married.
In Albuquerque, our northbound families attended the parishes of San Felipe de Neri in Old Town and Sacred Heart in downtown (that church was built in 1903). They often married spouses from Albuquerque. Over the years, families have spread out throughout the metropolitan area of Albuquerque, living in Moriarity to Rio Rancho and even up to Santa Fe.
Etc. A nephew of our matriarch Andrea (Trujillo) Torres met an odd and unfortunate end in the Santa Barbara neighborhood of Albuquerque. He died from tetanus on Nov. 8, 1931 after cracking his thumb with a hammer while hoofing a horse. He was Pedro Trujillo, 39, son on Atanascio Trujillo, who was married to Teofila Tafoya.
A large slice of the family wound up in California. Why California? Time and time again, family members say their predecessors came to California for jobs, though they sometimes returned to New Mexico. Brothers Joe and Crespin Sanchez were two young men in the early 1920s who came to California to start out anew, according to family stories. By that time, many individuals felt the need to spread their wings beyond farming. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fresno became destinations.
Etc. Two young boys had a brief brush with Hollywood. Moises Ramon and Joe, sons of Crespin and Felice Sanchez, appeared in bit parts in “The Greatest Story Every Told” and “Wagon Train”  as pre-teens in the 1960s. The roles were small and uncredited ones. The two L.A. boys have passed on. (Social Security death records show they each got SS cards at age 6, which was unusual in the ’50s).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crespin's Siblings

Crespin Torres had a sister and brothers. But we only know about three of his siblings as adults. Two of them moved outside of Socorro and another stayed in town. Perhaps the others died young.

The children of Anastacio Torres and Josefa Montoya were born in Socorro communities with a variety of names, but all in close proximity. We will continue to look for clues wherever we can, knowing that there are connections through godparents, neighbors, and primarily the four Torres aunts: Andrea, Isabel, Tomasa and Guadalupe. We know from his obituary that Crespin’s parents died in 1850, a few months apart, and that the children scattered. So here’s a rundown as best we know:

Juan Telesforo: born Jan. 3, 1837 in La Parida. There’s not any mention of this individual in Socorro records besides his Socorro baptismal record. (His godparents were Aunt Andrea Torres and her husband, Jose Ignacio Baca). Note that the 1845 census of the Socorro area – which lists the Anastacio Torres family in the community of San Miguelito de las Canas – states that the name of the child born in 1837 was Juan Abato. And Juan Abato IS in Socorro records. Perhaps Juan Teleforo is actually Juan Abato, or maybe Teleforo died as a baby. None of the elders in Crespin’s family recalled uncles with either of these names.

In 1850, a 13-year-old J. Torres lived in the Socorro household of J.J and M. Montolla.  It’s a good bet that Juan moved into the home of newlyweds Juan de Jesus Montoya – a younger brother of their deceased dad, Anastacio – and Maria Isabel Baca – a daughter of Aunt Guadalupe Torres and her husband, Pedro Baca. That Montoya couple had married in 1848.

Let’s follow the story of Juan Abato from available records.  He probably married the first time around 1857 or 1858. He was named in Socorro records as the widower of Candelaria Gonzales and the son of Anastacio Torres and Josefa Montoya at the time of his 1882 second marriage to Jesusa Baca (widow of Avelino Gutierrez). Juan A. Torres and family (Candelaria, Gregorio and Ambrosio) were in the 1870 and 1880 U.S. censuses living in Las Palomas. The previous decade – in 1860 – he and Candelaria and baby Gregorio lived in San Ignacio de la Alamosa. His son Gregorio married in 1882, as well. Both communities where the family resided are south of Socorro.

In the 1885 census, a couple named J.A. Torres and Jesusa lived in Escondida – north of Socorro. Is it the right couple? It must be, because he had a stepdaughter, T. Gutierrez, and stepson Avelino Gutierrez in the same household (Avelino married just four years later and that record confirmed that Jesusa and her first husband Avelino were his parents). In 1900, Juan A. Torres lived in Socorro – a husband of about 10 years, though the wife is missing from the census page. In 1910, widower Juan A. Torres, 74, lived in Monticello, Sierra County. It’s hard to confirm that this is the correct Juan, but it is a good possibility since he spent much of his life in the southern county.

Jose Canuto: born Jan. 20, 1839 in La Parida. He was a well-known resident of Socorro.  It appears that young Canuto was taken in by the Pedro Baca family after the parents died. He is listed as J.C. Torres in that household in 1850 and as Canuto in the 1860 census. (Crespin, too, was in the household of their Aunt Guadalupe Baca in 1860.)  Canuto’s godparents were recorded as Pedro Montoya and Maria Monica Ortega, but the name Pedro is probably wrong – his godparents probably were the boys' grandfather, Juan Montoya, and Juan Montoya's second wife named Maria Monica Ortega.

Canuto enlisted in the Union Army in July 1861 and served as a sergeant in Capt.  Roman Baca's Company of New Mexico, Company E, 2nd Regiment of Valencia County.  He applied for and received a government pension in his final years. 

He married Isabel Padilla in 1863 and had many children in Socorro before he died Jan. 6, 1908. Among Canuto and Isabel’s children were: Meliton, Anastacio, Ambrosio and Miguel. Family members from his line turn up again and again in our family history. For instance, Anastacio wrote the obituaries for Crespin and Andreita when they died. Anastacio was a state representative, teacher, newspaper publisher and editor of El Defensor del Pueblo.

Jose Apolonio de Jesus: born Feb. 8, 1841 in La Parida.  He must be the 8-year-old listed in the 1850 census with Crespin when they lived with their grandpa Juan Montoya and Montoya’s then-wife Tomasa Luna. But has anyone seen any other records of Apolonio, or Polonio, Torres? Perhaps he died when he was a child.

His godparents were Dolores Lucero and Ramualdo Baca (a son of Aunt Isabel Torres and her husband, Francisco Baca).

Epifano Torres, brother of Crespin
Jose Epifano: born April 6, 1843 in San Antonio de la Parida. We're not sure where Epifano was after the parents died. He was not in the household of his padrinos, Felipe Padilla and Juana Maria Garcia (she being the daughter of Aunt Guadalupe and her first husband, Francisco Garcia). Nor was Epifano in the homes of any of the Torres aunts and uncles. But many census entries that year only listed a first initial, and Epifano often was misspelled anyhow. 

Epifano married Perfecta Apodaca in 1865 and had many children – Prajedes, Jose, Beatriz Baca, Evangelista Montoya and Herminio. The family lived in Las Palomas, which was in Sierra County, south of Socorro. Epifano died between 1900 and 1910. He was alive for the 1900 census, listed as a 57-year-old head of household with his wife and children, plus two daughters-in-law and grandkids. All of that family resided in Las Palomas in separate households in 1910, except for the patriarch. Epifano’s wife Perfecta was a 60-year-old widow that year.

Ambrosio Melquiades: born Dec., 7, 1845 in Bosquecito. He was not mentioned in records besides the Socorro baptismal record. His godparents, also Bosquecito residents at the time, were Santiago Gonzales and Maria Victoria Trujillo – whose daughter married a son of Aunt Maria Andrea Torres and her husband, Ignacio Baca.

Maria Dolores: born March 19, 1850 in Socorro. Perhaps the mom died in childbirth with this girl Dolores, and the baby was taken in by her padrinos. Dolores Torres, age 1, resided in the household of the siblings’ Aunt Maria Isabel Baca in Lemitar in 1850. Aunt Isabel and her husband Francisco were Dolores’ godparents at the time of her baptism. Aunt Isabel died before 1856, based on a marriage record of one of her children. Did Dolores die that decade as well? (There’s also a Domingo Torres, 18, in that Juan Francisco-Isabel Baca household.  Could that be a misidentified Torres sibling?)

NOTE: Crespin’s home with his grandfather and wife probably was disrupted before 1854 when Juan  Montoya died and the wife, Tomasa (Luna) Montoya,  remarried and moved to San Ignacio de la Alamosa, near Fort Craig. Tomasa and Juan were Crespin’s padrinos in 1847. Tomasa and Juan also had a baby in 1850, who was just about the age of Crespin's little sister, Dolores.

CLICK HERE to read about the siblings of Andrea (Trujillo) Torres.
P.S. Corrected spellings and full names are used in this post despite variations in baptismal, marriage and census records. 

PPS. If you want to see families in the 1850 Socorro area censuses, page through the communities online. There aren’t that many pages, and the indexes are pretty useless because indexers misread names like Torres. If you’re familiar with families, the names and family groupings probably will jump out at you.