Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Life's Work Well Done

For reasons I can’t explain, I picture my maternal Great-Great-Grandfather Preciliano Chavez as being larger than life. A man of respect in the villages where he ran sheep and cattle, engaged in high-stakes gambling, made coffins for his neighbors and raised a grand family of Chavez boys and girls in the late 1800s.

Preciliano was one of a long line of Chavez men, dating back to 1600 in New Mexico. He was born Jan. 3, 1862 in La Jolla, near Socorro. He was the third of six children by Diego Antonio Chaves and Maria Juana Sisneros. His grandparents, Jose Chavez and Maria Paula Gallego, were neighbors in La Jolla.

Soon after his birth, Preciliano moved north with his family, near his father’s birthplace of Cebolleta. They eventually settled in the village of Cubero, and his father, Diego Antonio, was a Union soldier based at Fort Wingate during the Civil War. One soldier who fought alongside Diego Antonio said in a deposition 26 years after the war that he remembered visiting the Chavez family in Cubero. Preciliano would have been about three years old at the time.

Sometime before the 1880 Census, Preciliano, who was a young man of 18, migrated west with his family from Cubero to San Juan, Arizona. Many others from Cubero and surrounding villages also migrated to San Juan, which was later renamed St. John’s when several Mormons, led by the patriarch of the famous Udall family, settled in the same area.

In 1882, Preciliano found himself back in New Mexico. On June 10 of that year, he married Telesfora Duran at San Felipe de Neri church in Albuquerque. Telesfora was the daughter of Onofre Duran and Maria Placida Sanchez, all from Ranchos de Atrisco, west of Albuquerque.

Preciliano and his bride went straight to St. John’s, and immediately started a family in nearby Las Tusas. Their first daughter, Liberata, was born in May 1883. A year after that, on Oct. 6, 1884, my Great Grandfather Juan Diego Antonio Chavez was born. He was named after his own grandfather. Preciliano and Telesfora, who was known as Lesfora, had a total of 10 children (Liberata, Diego Antonio, Juana Bruno, Ysidro, Yrinea, Onofre, Ygnacio Leopaldo, Federico, Aniceto and Victorino) during their 20 years in St. John’s, before moving back to Cubero, where they had two more (Trinidad and Nicanora). Both of Preciliano’s parents, Diego Antonio and Juana Maria, died and were buried in St. John’s. Preciliano also lost a son during a tragic accident while in St. John’s. His son, Ysidro, entered a horse race and was thrown from the horse and trampled to death, according to an account told later by his younger brother, Onofre.

Because my Great-Grandfather Diego Antonio Chavez died at the relatively young age of 55, my own Grandfather, Louis Chavez, and his younger brother, Lalo Chavez, learned a lot of the family history from their Uncle Onofre, who lived 99 years before dying in Mesa, AZ. Before his death, he was interviewed by a family member, Pauline Chavez Bent, who later published Onofre’s memories of St. John’s and Cubero.
Looking west from the Cubero Cemetery

“My father Preciliano had sheep at first, then ran cattle,” Onofre said. “During a hard winter, he lost all his stock and sold his land to Juan Iriarte. When my father was in his heyday he liked to gamble. Once, he lost one thousand lambs in a card game. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to my father. He was the coffin maker in the village, but he didn’t charge people, he did it as a courtesy. My father was a kind man, muy buen hombre. Our family home was around the Cubero area. It was a large house made of stone and mud. It had about five rooms, one big room had a divider that was removed to expand the room. It was often removed to make room for dances. Dances were held to celebrate feast days.”

Onofre said when the family lived in St. John’s, the Catholic priest celebrated Holy Mass in the Chavez home. A Catholic Church was eventually built in St. John’s. Onofre also remembered that he and his siblings were taught by Monico Garcia who only used English in class.

In Cubero, the Chavez men worked for Juan Iriarte, a Basque from Spain who bought a lot of land in the area. Onofre worked for Iriarte for 20 years, earning $60 a month, in addition to food and a place to live. “I always had a talent for working sheep and for the sheep business,” Onofre said. “I guess it was because I was a young boy of six when I started working for my father.”

Onofre’s father, Preciliano, died in 1928 and was buried at the cemetery in Cubero. His headstone reads: “Life’s work well one, he rests in peace.”


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DeTevis Pew

I have been going through hundreds of my mom’s old photos, scanning as many as I can. Needless to say, many of the photos have brought back many great memories. I’ll share some of those memories on this blog. Today, I want to tell a story about an uncomfortable, but great old wood bench that sat on the front porch of my childhood home for as long as I can remember.

I’ve been writing about my Great-Grandfather Antonio DeTevis, and when I saw this photo of the bench (with my father, Gilbert Gallegos, Sr., fixing what appears to be a catcher’s mask), I immediately called my dad. He confirmed the story that I remembered, which is that the bench used to belong to his Grandpa Tony, and that it was apparently the DeTevis family pew. My dad said he believes the pew was used at the church in the village of San Ignacio, just north of Las Vegas.

The pew eventually made its way to the front porch of Grandpa Tony’s home in Las Vegas. This is a photo of us sitting on the bench. Grandpa Tony is seated on the left; his daughter (my Grandma Rise) is to his right; followed by my father, Gil Sr., my mother, Beatrice; Domingo Romero, a foster son raised by my great-grandparents; and me, probably around 1980, based on the fact that I was wearing my little league hat from the team for which I played when I was 11 years old. (It just occurred to me that my oldest daughter, Carin, is now 11 years old, and she is very close with her Great-Grandmother Rise.)

My family went with me to San Ignacio this past summer. I told my daughters that I wanted to spend Father’s Day with them, while exploring some of my family history. I know they dreaded it because I also wanted to stop at the cemeteries in Las Vegas. But they went, anyway, and we all had a great time. (We hit both cemeteries in Vegas and the old cemetery in San Ignacio.)

At the time, I had forgotten about the DeTevis pew. I primarily wanted to visit San Ignacio because that is where my dad’s paternal grandfather, Luis Gallegos, was born and raised. So, I wanted to see where my Gallegos roots were firmly planted. My dad’s maternal grandfather, Antonio DeTevis, also had property in San Ignacio, and my dad recalls going up there during summers to help with chores like building a wall on the property. He claims he did all the work, while his grandpa drank beer. My dad also remembers a beautiful stream running through the property, and that a German man bought all of the surrounding property before his grandpa finally sold his, as well.

My Grandma Rise said her father built a small, but very comfortable house on that property. She also remembers going up there during summers. One of her fond memories of San Ignacio was helping to paint the walls of the church.


This is a photo of my daughter, Isabella, and me in front of the church.

I asked my dad whatever happened to the bench. He doesn’t remember. I last remember it being painted brown, I think to match the trim on our old house at that time. But it seems like we eventually replaced it with more modern (meaning comfortable) outdoor furniture. I wish we would have been able to salvage that bench. At least we have the memories.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Straight to Heaven

A few months ago, I took a quick afternoon trip from Santa Fe to Las Vegas, where I got a quick bite to eat at Charlie’s Spic and Span, before heading up into the mountains to beautiful village of Las Gallinas. I made the drive to get a peek at the villages, including El Porvenir, where my great-grandparents were raised.

I mentioned before that my great-grandfather Antonio DeTevis was born in Las Gallinas. His parents, Cayetano DeTevis and Virginia LeDoux migrated there from Taos in the 1880s. My Great-Grandmother Emilia Alires was also born in Las Gallinas.

I remember her as Grandma Emily, a sort of petite but tough woman who directed traffic in her kitchen as relatives wandered in and out. I was a child, and along with my younger brother and cousins, we were warned to stay away from the wood stove and big pots of beans and chile.

My Grandma Rise is one of nine children born to Antonio and Emilia. Grandma Rise is now living at a Rehab Center in Albuquerque close to my home, and I’ve been able to ask her questions every once in a while about her childhood. She recently reminded me that in addition to her eight siblings, her mother, Grandma Emily, also raised five foster children. She said her mother did it out of the goodness of her heart, and for that, “she went straight to heaven.” While her father was away working for the railroad, my Grandma said her mother did all of the cooking for the large family. She remembers her father always bringing home cases of food on payday. And since there were so many children, they were able to help their mother with the chores. My Grandma said she would usually wash the first load of clothes in the morning and her older sister, Lena, would wash the second load. They hung the clothes on the clothes line and went to school each day.

I have always been fascinated with the heritage of my Great-Grandfather, Antonio DeTevis, whose grandfather was born in the Azore Islands. He spoke Portuguese, which is probably why I was interested. But I never knew much about Great-Grandma Emily’s heritage. After a lot of digging and some head-scratching, I’m pretty confident that I’ve connected the dots, although I need to confirm some research I’ve come across.

Emilia Alires was born April 15, 1898 in Las Gallinas to Domingo Alires and Gregoria Carrillo. She was one of seven children (Hilario, Clotilde, Luz, Salomon, Emilia, Rosita and Rosarita). Emilia married Antonio on Dec. 21, 1914 at Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas. They were married for 64 years when Emilia died in Las Vegas in 1978.

Emilia’s father, Domingo Alires, was born in 1868. He was one of two sons (Julian was the other) born to Francisco Alires and Juana Maria Gallegos. The Alires family (the name was alternatively spelled Alire and Alyre) lived in Las Gallinas. Emilia’s mother, Gregoria Carrillo, was the daughter of Juan Carrillo and Maria de la Luz Mondragon, also living in Las Gallinas. Domingo and Gregoria were married Oct. 12, 1884 at Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas.

Domingo’s father, Francisco, remarried in 1888 (presumably he was widowed by that time) to Antonia Lucero. The marriage record shows that Francisco was the son of the deceased Juan Antonio Alyre and Maria Manuela Valdez. Francisco outlived his second wife and was living with his son, Domingo, and his family by the time of the 1910 Census. He was about 65 at the time.

This is where I need to do more checking, but Francisco’s father, Juan Antonio Alire, was apparently born in 1799 in San Juan de los Cabelleros, New Mexico. Juan Antonio was the son of Tomas Antonio Alire and Maria Francisca Rodriguez. Juan Antonio’s wife, Maria Manuela Valdez, was the daughter of Juan Nicolas Valdez and Maria Ysabel Martin.

Juan Antonio Alire’s father, Tomas Antonio Alire, was born about 1760 in New Mexico and was the son of Jose Antonio Alire (1729-1813), who was married to Maria Ana Margarita Lobato. This couple was first noted as living in Santa Fe in the middle of the 18th Century. Apparently, that is where this line of the Alire family started in New Mexico.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dear Papa and Sister

In this era of e-mail, blogging, tweeting and friending, it’s pretty incredible to see the old, hand-written letters that were the only form of communication back in 1800s. With the help of a researcher at the State Records Center and Archives, I was able to track down correspondence to and from my great-great-Grandfather, Melquiades Otero. A native of Cubero, Otero was a rancher who had business and political interests throughout Valencia County. I will write more about Melquiades and his father, Gregorio Otero, at some point.

But today, I want to reprint a simple and touching letter written in 1899 by his 13-year-old daughter, Rafaelita Otero, who was attending the Loretto Academy of Our Lady of Light in Santa Fe. The letter is addressed to her father, Melquiades, and eight-year-old sister, Eliza, who is my paternal great-grandmother.



Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 1st, 1899

Dear Papa and Sister:

As today is Saturday I thought I would write you a letter. Although I have not much to tell you. Day before yesterday was Holy Thursday. And we went to the Cathedral at half past eight until ten o clock. And in the afternoon we went to visit all the churches but we didn’t get to go to St. Catharine’s Indian School. We all went except the little girls. We have three new boarders. There are 43 now. Today is April fool and I wish I were home. But I am alright here. I’d like to come next year too. We are not going to have a picnic this year but Sister said that we would have something better. I received a letter from Eliza last Monday so I will answer hers with yours for I have no time to write separate. I will now close my letter wishing you a happy Easter.

Your loving daughter,
Rafaelita Otero

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Notable Sheriff Pablo Gallegos

My Great-Grandfather was described as “the notable Sheriff Pablo Gallegos” in an interesting book called Memories of Cibola by Abe Pea. Pena shares several interesting stories about what is now Cibola County. But back in 1931-32, the area that included Grants was part of a much larger Valencia County. And Pablo Gallegos, who was my Grandma Lola’s father, was the elected sheriff.

I can’t say for sure why Pena referred to my great-grandfather as a “notable sheriff.” He mentions Sheriff Gallegos as being one of several “important and colorful characters” at the various dance halls in Grants and surrounding villages who served as “colectores, bastoneros, or chotas,” during Saturday night dances. They would collect 10 cents from each couple at mid-dance that would be used to pay for the musicians, the colector, the bastonero and other expenses of the dance hall. 

It’s safe to assume that if Pablo Gallegos wasn’t already notable before 1931, he earned some notoriety during the first months as sheriff. In February 1931, Sheriff Gallegos led a posse that included McKinley County Sheriff A.J. Crocket and other law enforcement in a deadly shoot-out with six, masked bandits that an Albuquerque newspaper called a “hold-up mob.” The headline the next day read: “Hope for Life of Wounded Bandit Slim.”

According to the newspaper account, Sheriff Gallegos got a tip about a planned hold-up at the Bond-Sargent Company store in Grants. The sheriff’s posse waited for two days at the store before the bandits finally arrived. Sheriff Gallegos summed up the encounter as follows: “Rucker pointed a rifle at the clerks in the store as he entered. ‘Hands up everybody!’ he said. I shouted ‘hands up yourself. We are officers.’ As I did so Rucker leveled his rifle at me ready to fire. I had my shot-gun on him and dropped him just as the hammer of his gun clicked. Instantly Mares, just behind him, drew a six-shooter and pointed it at me. He was hit in the arm and his gun dropped.”

Sheriff Gallegos said two of the bandits tried to escape, but were met by more officers outside the store. One of the bandits was shot and the other surrendered. The get-away driver was also wounded during the gun-fight. A sixth bandit was later found in another car three miles west of Grants.

In all, 20 shots were fired. Sheriff Gallegos killed the leader of the group, Juan Valdez, alias “Silver” Rucker, with a shot to the head. Gallegos said Rucker had rope in his pocket to tie up the store clerks. A second man was critically injured and wasn’t expected to survive his wounds. One of the wounded men apparently told Sheriff Gallegos at the hospital that he was a “lucky sheriff.” The man said Rucker had a reputation of being an expert marksman and even being a trick shot with a revolver.

Sheriff Gallegos apparently had plenty of police work to do during his two-year term. He investigated at least three murders in Belen in 1931. Gallegos once arrested a man on the road between Belen and Los Lunas after the man fatally stabbed another man in his car. The two had been drinking at a dance in Belen. They left together and one of the men threatened and then stabbed the other because he was singing in the car.

Unfortunately, I never got to know my mom’s Grandpa Pablo. She barely knew him, herself, as he died in Albuquerque in 1953 when my mom, Beatrice, was just seven years old. He was born Jose Pablo Gallegos in 1883 in San Rafael, a village near Grants. Pablo’s parents were Merced Gallegos and Rafaela Marino. He married my great-grandmother, Maria de Atocha Arellanes, in 1904 at the Gallup Cathedral. While Pablo earned his notoriety as a sheriff, he spent much of his life as a cattleman and farmer.

My Grandma Lola was one of eight children born (1921) to Pablo and Maria. Pablo served as sheriff during the depression. Sometime after losing a re-election bid, Pablo and Maria moved to California, along with many other New Mexicans looking for work. They eventually moved to Albuquerque, where they resided for 10 years before Pablo died at the age of 69. Maria moved back to Grants for a while, but lived her final years in the same house where I was raised, in Albuquerque’s North Valley. She shared a bedroom with my mother, who thought the world of her. Maria died in 1964 and is buried next to Pablo at the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Albuquerque.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Portuguese Roots

I am proud of my Hispanic New Mexico roots, most of which go back at least two centuries, and in some cases three and four centuries. My family tree includes fifteen generations of Chavez who have lived in New Mexico; at least nine generations of Gallegos; 11 generations of Oteros; and on and on with the Trujillos, another Gallegos line, Pino, Duran, Alires, Carrillo, LeDoux, Sisneros, Apodaca, Cordova, Padilla, Roybal, Vallejos, Garcia, Santillanes, Alari, Apodaca, Lucero, Serrano, Sanchez, Borrego, Ortega, Gonzalez, Quintana, and Montano.

The vast majority of my ancestors appear to have come from Spain during the first and second centuries of the Spanish rule in what was then New Spain. So far, I’ve come across one and possibly two ancestors who may have been from Indian, or Native American ancestry; and two ancestors with French-Canadian ancestry.

Probably one of the most recent immigrant ancestors (actually not so recent…arriving some 180 years ago) is also one of the most intriguing – and mysterious. Antonio Jose DeTevis traveled to America from his home in Sao Miguel, one of the Azore Islands. Despite the 900-mile distance from Iberian Peninsula, the Azores have been part of Portugal for some five centuries. There are many Teves families living on Sao Miguel, although it is not clear whether the DeTevis, or de Tevis, originated from those families. Early New Mexico records include several spellings, including De Tebis and Sebis.

Antonio DeTevis, my third-great Grandfather on my paternal side, may have traveled with his older brother, Pedro Jose DeTevis, who is believed to have arrived in New Orleans about 1830, before traveling to St. Louis and finally to Taos, according to several historical accounts. I am intrigued by their Portuguese roots and the mystery surrounding their migration.

Antonio is something of a mystery, while Pedro, who was known as Peter Joseph, left his mark in New Mexico’s history as a fur trader and a successful merchant who owned a lot of real estate, including a trading post and several buildings on the Taos Plaza. He played a role in the aftermath of the Taos Rebellion of 1847. He was a close associate of Kit Carson and acted as an Indian Agent on Carson’s behalf. He is buried next to Carson at the Kit Carson Cemetery in Taos. (I will write more about Peter Joseph in the future.)

Antonio DeTevis, on the other hand, wasn’t as famous as his older brother, and appeared to have lived a much more low-key, and probably difficult life in much the same way as most other long-time natives of Taos and the New Mexico territory.

While I continue to search, I have only found some church and census records that mention Antonio. He doesn’t show up in the 1850 Census for Taos, like his brother, which makes me wonder if he was in New Mexico by that time. The first mention of Antonio is his Feb. 4, 1858 marriage to Maria Salome Trujillo, of Taos. The 1860 Census for Fernando de Taos shows the first mention of their son, Jose Cayetano, who was born earlier that year. Antonio was about 29 years old and worked as a day laborer. Antonio and Salome had a daughter in 1862; they named her Carolina DeTevis. Unfortunately, Maria Salome must have died during the 1860s because she is not listed in the 1870 Census with the family, and Antonio, now a farmer, re-married in 1878 with Felipa Arguello, with whom he had two more children, Juana and Maria Emilia. Antonio died sometime before 1888.


Antonio’s son, Cayetano, married Virginia LeDoux, of Taos, in 1883. They moved to Las Gallinas, near Las Vegas. There, they had their first child on Oct. 10, 1892, and named him Antonio after his grandfather.

He was baptized at Our Lady of Sorrows in Las Vegas. Antonio DeTevis and his wife, Maria Emilia Alires, were the only great-grandparents I would ever know. I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember his hat, his cane, his smoking pipe and his distinctive Portuguese accent, which was different from the Northern New Mexico Spanish. My Dad recently told me that his Grandpa Tony was a Cincinnati Reds fan and loved to watch baseball in his small home in Las Vegas. Some of my fondest memories of Las Vegas involved exploring what I remember as a junkyard full of old cars in Grandpa’s yard. Grandpa Tony died in 1980 at the age of 88. My Grandma Rise and my Dad have many memories of Grandpa Tony, which I will also share in the near future.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grandpa Louie

I always admired my Grandpa Louie. Born Louis Telesfor Chavez in 1918 in Cubero, N.M., my Grandpa, like many from his generation, led a tough life. But he always seemed happy and appreciative for the opportunities he had. He was a proud ironworker. He provided for his family. And in retirement, he watched a lot of baseball. But he preferred the comfort, quiet and privacy of his den in his Farmington home, as opposed to being part of a big crowd at any baseball stadium, including Ricketts Park. If anyone spoke too loud in the kitchen, or wandered into the den while the Dodgers were playing, he simply turned the volume on the TV louder. It was an unmistakable message that everyone understood instantly. Since the home he shared with my Grandma Lola was the gathering place for the rest of the family when we visited Farmington, Grandpa also had a few rules: No discussing politics or religion. Of course when everyone cleared out, my Grandpa always liked to talk to me about politics. He was a proud Democrat and always loyal to the ironworkers union. He preferred private discussions – especially story-telling -- about politics, not loud arguments. I’d like to think I inherited a few of those traits from him.

Since he passed away in 2006, at the age of 88, I’ve thought a lot about him and wished I would have taken notes during our many discussions. Or better yet, I should have just recorded his long conversations he loved to have with his younger brother, my great-Uncle Lalo. My interest in discovering my family roots started with my Grandpa in 2000, as we sat in my mom’s bedroom the day before my Grandma’s funeral in Albuquerque. That’s the only time I took notes, and I recently discovered those notes. I regret that it took me 10 years before I followed through and started my research. I would give anything to talk to my Grandpa again about everything I have discovered. I know he, more than anyone, would have appreciated it. And he could have taught me so much more.

During my research, I have turned several times to Uncle Lalo to fill in historical gaps and tell me his own stories about the Chavez and Otero families. He was the youngest of five children and he was very young when he lost his father and two brothers. He has told me how his remaining brother, my Grandpa, instantly became the father of the family after those tragic deaths. I vaguely remember my Grandpa talking about the loss of his father and his brothers. And I’ve always wondered about it.

Melquaides “Mike” Chavez was the oldest of the five children born to Diego Antonio Chavez and Eliza Otero. I knew that he died in an accident, but didn’t know the details until I tracked down his death certificate and a few brief notes in the Albuquerque newspapers. Shortly after graduating from Grants High School, Mike worked for a road contractor, and was seriously injured by a falling girder at a project near Grants. He was taken to an Albuquerque hospital to be treated for stomach injuries. While his condition improved, he apparently took a turn for the worse after 10 days and died on Dec. 6, 1936. He was buried at the young age of 21 in Cubero.

Just three years after the death of his first-born son, Juan Diego Antonio Chavez suffered from a long illness, mostly likely Tuberculosis.  Uncle Lalo said he remembers his father dying a very painful death with no assistance from a doctor. Diego Antonio was buried next to his son, Mike, at the Cubero cemetery. Many years later, my Grandpa and Uncle Ralph welded two copper headstones for Diego Antonio and Mike.

Jose Benito “Benny” Chavez was seven years younger than my Grandpa, and he moved with the family to Los Angeles during the tail end of the depression and the lead-up to World War II. Benny worked as a pipefitter with Western Pipe and Steel at the San Pedro shipyards in Wilmington, CA. In the 1940s, tens of thousands of Americans, along with many immigrants, were building thousands of ships as part of the war effort. Benny was just 19 years old when he died in a tragic accident at the shipyard on April 25, 1943. He apparently fell into a basin and drowned. Uncle Lalo said he understood that Benny somehow fell asleep, possibly after being out playing cards all night, and fell into the water. Benny was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Wilmington.

Within eight short years, three of the Chavez men had died, including the patriarch, Diego Antonio, who was known as “El Chavez.” At the time, my Grandpa Louie was 25 years old, married to my Grandma Lola who was pregnant with her first daughter on the way. Yet, he also had the burden of burying the third member of his family and taking care of his mother, Eliza, sister, Perla and brother, Lalo. But he persevered, lived a great life and left quite a legacy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gallegos Genealogy

One of my biggest frustrations since I started researching my family tree has been the confusion surrounding my paternal Gallegos line. In fact, at one point about a year ago, I was even having dreams about a certain Manuel Gallegos – my great-great grandfather. I couldn’t find him, even in my dreams.

But alas, I’m about 90 percent certain that I finally found him, and sorted out at least a portion of the Gallegos lineage. First, I’ll start from the beginning of my journey, for perspective.

I am Gilbert Gallegos, Jr., which obviously means my father is Gilbert, Sr. His father – my grandfather – was Carlos Gallegos, who died in his hometown of Las Vegas in 1980 when I was just 11 years old. I still remember getting the news while I was attending Taft Middle School in Albuquerque. For most of my life, that’s about all I knew, or remembered, about the Gallegos family tree.

As I started my research, my Dad told me that his grandfather was Luis Gallegos. I soon learned from Census records that Luis was the son of Manuel Gallegos…yes, that elusive Manuel of my dreams. But that appeared to be the end of my search, because I couldn’t find Manuel’s baptismal record, or any other record that showed where he came from. The 1900 Census showed him living with his wife of six years, Maria Francisca, their five children, including Luis, and a Cordova father and son, who appear to have been his father- and brother-in-law. It later occurred to me that because of Luis’ age, he probably wasn’t the son of Manuel and Francisca. Sure enough, after searching the baptismal records, I found a record for Luis Cordova, which matched the date of the man who was later raised as Luis Gallegos. I checked with my father and my grandmother, who confirmed that there were always rumors of a Cordova connection, but that Luis was raised as a Gallegos. And as far as my Grandma Rise, who married into the Gallegos family, we as a family have always been Gallegos. Period. No argument from me.

But that still raised many questions for my genealogy research. Manuel, regardless of whether he was the blood father of Luis, was a Gallegos, and I still hadn’t figured out his family tree. Until now. I knew from Manuel’s marriage record that he was the son of Gregorio Gallegos and Dolores Padia (or Padilla). According to church records, Gregorio was born in Santa Fe in 1832 and the 1841 Santa Fe Census shows him living with his family in the San Francisco barrio. He married Dolores Padilla in 1850. Manuel appears to have been born in Santa Fe, although I haven’t found his baptismal record. He lived in Santa Fe with his mother, Dolores, and grandmother, Guadalupe, according to the 1860 Census. However, there is no mention of Gregorio in that Census, which along with other records, makes me think he may have died at a relatively young age, prior to 1860.

Manuel is next mentioned, along with his mother, grandmother and others in the 1870 Census for Los Tecelotenos, also known as San Ignacio, a small mountain village north of Las Vegas. Also living with the Padilla/Gallegos family is John Kirschner, a 40-year-old farmer from Bavaria, who curiously, lived with the family 10 years earlier in Santa Fe and was identified as a musician. In 1871, Dolores and John Kirschner were married in the nearby village of Sapello. The marriage record says that Dolores was the widow of Gregorio Gallegos.

So, with that mystery of Manuel Gallegos seemingly resolved, I have also confirmed that his father, Jose Gregorio, was the son of Jose Antonio Gallegos, who married Maria Luiza Esquivel in Santa Fe in 1825 and was raised in the home of Manuel Gayego (or Gallego) and Maria de la Luz Ortiz. So, apparently Jose Antonio was not the son of Manuel Antonio Gallego, but mostly likely an Indian child, raised by the Gallego family. Interestingly, Jose Antonio was listed in the 1850 Census as a musician.

Manuel Antonio appears to have been the son of yet another Manuel Gallegos. But this Manuel should be easier to find. He was apparently the Alcalde Mayor of Santa Fe in 1778. I still have some research to do on all of these Gallegos family members – at least two of whom were Gallegos by name, but not by blood. But as my Grandma would say: They are still Gallegos.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Diego Antonio Chaves


 I’ve always admired my great-grandfather’s name – Juan Diego Antonio Chavez, and I wish I would have known him. His father was Preciliano Chavez, who named his first-born son (out of 11 children) after his own father, Diego Antonio Chaves.
The elder Diego Antonio was born in Cebolleta in 1823 and baptized in nearby Laguna. He moved to La Jolla and married Juana Sisneros in 1848 in nearby Socorro. Some of their children were born in La Jolla, including Preciliano, before they moved back north to Cubero, where he earned a living as a silversmith. According to family lore, my great-great-great grandfather is the same Diego Antonio Chavez who settled the area that later became Grants. I haven’t yet confirmed that tale, but I’m researching it.
In any case, I recently found out that Diego Antonio served in the Civil War. He was mustered into service on March 30, 1865, and mustered out on Sept. 28, 1866. He later moved with his family to San Juan, or St. John’s, Arizona, where he would spend the rest of his life.
During a trip to Washington, D.C., a few months ago, I made my first trip to the National Archives. While there, I found a reference to the fact that Juan Diego’s wife, Juanita, applied for a military pension shortly after her husband died on Christmas Day in 1890. Last week, I received a copy of the pension application and military investigation that resulted in Juanita receiving $8 a month for the final few years of her life, before she died in 1897.
I have spent so much time during the past two years trying to piece together my family tree. It’s thrilling when you make a connection. But I always wonder about these people I’m researching. I always want to know more about them.
The pension file gave me a taste of what Diego Antonio and Juanita were like. His widow describes how he entered the service at Fort Wingate, NM and was discharged in Albuquerque. They lived about 14 miles from St. John’s, and that’s where Diego Antonio, who was “quite old” and sick in bed for two months, eventually died. She recalled that they were married by Father Chavez in Socorro. She thought she was 12 years old when she married, but other records prove she was actually 19. She relied on a prominent local attorney named Alfred Ruiz to help her with the pension application, which cost her $1 for postage and $2 for her marriage certificate to prove that she was married to Diego Antonio. Sadly, Juanita was poor, too “old and feeble” to work, had no property and relied on her sons for support. She lived in a small adobe house.
A soldier who served with Diego Antonio in the New Mexico 1st  Calvary Regiment, remembered his comrade well. In a deposition for the pension investigation, the soldier and long-time family friend described Diego Antonio, a dark-complexioned man who stood just 5-feet, 5-inches tall, as “quite a small man – low in stature – but one of the best and bravest soldiers I ever saw. He would drink all the whisky he could get but was one of the best hearted men I ever saw and a man of fine principle. He was an ‘all round’ good and whole man.”