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Friday, May 27, 2011

A Death in a Lesser Known Battle

A New Mexican battling the French was killed in modern-day Nebraska during the 1720 Villasur Expedition.

He was Domingo Pedraza Romero, grandfather of Eduarda Yturrieta (from the previous two posts).

The expedition began in June when Lt. Gov. and veteran soldier Pedro de Villasur was appointed by New Mexico Gov. Antonio Valverde to lead a Spanish army into central Nebraska to investigate French ambitions in territory that Spain claimed. The expedition 600 miles away included more than 40 soldiers and more than 60 Indian allies. Villasur, 34 of his soldiers, and 11 Pueblo scouts were killed in an attack by Pawnee Indians – who were allied with the French – after they crossed onto the North Platte River in August of that year. The Spanish called the North Platte the Rio de San Lorenzo, and they called the South Platte the Rio Jesus María.

Romero’s father-in-law, Santa Fe Presidio Lt. Francisco Montes Vigil, was one of the survivors of the campaign.

Romero was born in Guadalupe del Paso (modern-day El Paso) in 1686 during a period when Spanish settlers were living there – awaiting a return north following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Don Diego de Vargas led the re-conquest of the exiled and other families in the 1690s.

After his death, Romero’s wife, María Montes Vigil, married José Tenorio, who also came to New Mexico with the de Vargas expedition. This family, sans mother María, was living in Albuquerque at the time of the 1750 Spanish census. The census entry states that Tenorio is “widower of Maria Montes Vijil (sic), who had been married to Domingo Romero.” No last names are given for stepdaughter Juana Romero’s children.

Note: María Montes Vigil’s daughter was Juana Teresa Romero. And María’s second husband was José Tenorio. Those three names appear among the first settlers of the Belen Land Grant in 1740. Even Juana’s children appear to be listed, but under the Romero name.

“Blood on the Boulders: The Journals of Don Diego de Vargas, New Mexico 1694-97, Vol. 1.” By Diego de Vargas. John L. Kessell, Rick Hendricks & Meredith Dodge, editors. 1998. University of New Mexico Press. Page 561. (available in part online through Google ebooks.)

“Spanish and Mexican Censuses of New Mexico 1750 to 1830.” Compiled by Virginia Langham Olmsted, C.G. Pg. 82.

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