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).