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.
CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE MARQUEZ SISTERS IN THE 1820s