Monday, January 30, 2012

Los Chaves, Los Gallegos and Cebolleta

There has always been a connection – through marriage -- on my mom’s side of the family between the Chavez and the Gallegos. My mother, Beatrice Chavez, married my father, Gilbert Gallegos, of Las Vegas; my Uncle Mike Chavez married Charlene Gallegos, of Cuba; and my Grandfather, Louis Chavez married my Grandmother, Lola Gallegos, of Grants.
Grandma Lola Gallegos and Grandpa Louis Chavez

Aunt Charlene Gallegos and Uncle Mike Chavez; My mom, Beatrice Chavez and dad, Gil Gallegos, Sr.

The running joke was always that the Gallegos spouses brought a certain, um, feisty quality to the Chavez side of the family, led by my Grandpa, who would never be described as feisty. I’m not sure feisty is the best adjective, but it’s the first word that came to mind. Grandma Lola, on the other hand, was anything but reserved. By extension, the children of the Chavez-Gallegos unions were always – half-jokingly – put either in the Chavez or the Gallegos category. We laughed it off every Christmas, just as we joked that Uncle Mike must have been adopted.

However, a recent discovery during my genealogy research sheds a more direct connection between the very early Chavez and Gallegos ancestors. My research also shatters my Grandpa’s life-long belief that his Chavez family, with roots in the small village of Cubero, never had any connection to the many Chavez families in the nearby village of Cebolleta.

In fact, I have traced our Chavez line to what I believe to be one of the 30 original settlers of Cebolleta in 1800. My Grandma Lola’s Gallegos line also appears to reach back to another of those 30 settlers. And to make things more complicated, those Chavez and Gallegos families (back then it was Chaves and Gallego) were linked, possibly twice, by marriage.

I’ll try my best to explain it all. My Grandpa Louis Chavez was the son of Diego Antonio Chavez, who was the son of Preciliano Chavez, who was the son of Diego Antonio Chaves, who was the son of Jose Chaves. I believe Jose was the same Jose Chaves on the list of Cebolleta settlers. I do not know where he was born, but his parents were Manuel Chaves and Juana Baca, who were married in 1745 in Belen.

My Grandma Lola Gallegos was the daughter of Jose Pablo Gallegos, who was the son of Merced Gallegos, who was the son of Jose Pablo Gallegos, who was the son of Felipe Gallegos. I believe Felipe was the same Felipe Gallegos on the list of Cebolleta settlers. I haven’t been able to pinpoint Felipe before that, but records show that he was the son of Juan Ysidro Gallegos and Maria Luisa Marquez.

 Here is the connection: Felipe Gallegos, my fourth-great grandfather, married Rosalia Chaves, the sister of Jose Chaves, also my fourth-great grandfather. The Chaves siblings, Jose and Rosalia were the children of Manuel Chaves and Juana Baca. So, if you look at my family tree, Manuel Chaves and Juana Baca show up as my 5th great-grandparents in two different branches.

To make matters more confusing, Jose Chaves (Rosalia’s brother) married Paula Gallego. My educated guess is that Paula is the same Paula Gallego who is the daughter of Pasquala Gallego, who may have been Felipe Gallegos’ sister. The best way to sum it up is that the Chaves brother and sister married the Gallegos uncle and niece. That’s not terribly unusual in those days, I suppose, except that four generations later, a Chavez descendent (my grandpa) of Manuel Chaves and Juana Baca married a Gallegos descendent (my grandma) of Manuel Chaves and Juana Baca.

Obviously, my grandparents had no way of knowing they were distantly related. My grandpa didn’t even know that his roots stretched to Cebolleta, more than 30 years before anyone settled in Cubero. Back in 1800, Cebolleta was considered the western frontier of the Spanish settlements. I will tell the story of that dangerous journey in another post. For now, it is safe to draw at least one conclusion about a character trait that Jose Chaves and Felipe Gallegos had in common more than two centuries ago. They both had a sense of adventure and were willing to risk their lives to carve out a future in an unfamiliar land.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chasing Pancho Villa and the Great War

Last summer, as I researched the family of my paternal Great-Grandfather Luis Gallegos, I came across information about Luis’ younger brother, Anastacio Gallegos, and his service in World War I. There was a reference to his internment at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. I had driven by the majestic cemetery many times, but never visited it. Since I worked near the Santa Fe Plaza, about a mile from the cemetery, I decided one day to walk over and locate the grave site, which identified Anastacio as Private in the U.S. Army during World War I.

I later received Anastacio’s biography and war service from the state archives, which shed some light for my research. But like many military records, these records do not give any clues about the horrors that many men suffered in combat.

The military bio states that Anastacio was born on June 25, 1894 in the village of San Ignacio, NM, to Manuel and Francisquita Gallegos. (his actual date of birth was Jan. 6, 1894, according to his baptismal record.) He enlisted as a volunteer in Albuquerque, where he lived at the time. He served in the “army of occupation,” arriving overseas in July 7, 1918, fighting with Company K, 54th Infantry, 4th Division in France for a year. He arrived back in the U.S. following the war, on Aug. 5, 1919. He earned a Bronze Victory Button and was discharged on Aug. 15, 1919 at Camp Travis, Texas. He was given travel pay to return to Albuquerque.

Anastacio Gallegos in uniform with sister Ishmael
I wrongly assumed that Anastacio’s service in WWI was the extent of his military service. It wasn’t. Before he left for France, Anastacio participated in the Mexican Punitive Expedition as a member of the New Mexico National Guard. He was one of thousands of National Guard troops from nearly every state that were ordered to track down Francisco “Pancho” Villa following his deadly attack at Columbus, NM in 1916. President Woodrow Wilson ordered the mission, headed by Major-General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.

While the Americans failed to capture Pancho Villa, “the Mexican Punitive Expedition served as a training ground and prelude to World War I, coming just prior to our participation in that war,” according to a 2005 article by Karen Stein Daniel, the former editor of the New Mexico Genealogist. Stein Daniel said many of the men who served under Major-General Pershing (future General George S. Patton was an aide to Pershing in Mexico) went almost immediately to serve in WWI.  When they mustered out of service, Pvt. Anastacio Gallegos was one of 732 enlisted men with the New Mexico National Guard, having served in Company L.

Shortly after discovering the muster rolls for the Mexican Punitive Expedition, I got yet another surprise from my newly discovered cousin in California, Tomas Perez. His grandmother, Ishmael, was the younger sister to Anastacio and my Great-Grandfather Luis. Along with photos of his grandmother, Tomas also sent me photos of Anastacio, including an amazing real-picture postcard from Columbus during his military service. The real-picture postcards, produced by Walter H. Horne’s Mexican War Photo Postcard Company, became famous during the Mexican Punitive Expedition, according to a 2010 article by Charles Bennett in El Palacio magazine. Horne used true photographs of the war and other events along the border, produced chemically from a negative onto photographic paper with a postcard back.

“For the thousands of men across America now encamped on the Mexican border, postcards were the most convenient and memorable way to communicate with family and friends, according to Bennett. “Photo picture postcards were all the more practical in that they married two graphic modes, handwriting and photography. They were the e-mail of their day.”

Anastacio sent the Horne postcard, with a photo of a New Mexico National Guard Unit, to his mother, Francisquita. He asks for her blessings and hopes she has thousands of happy moments.

He sent another postcard, dated Oct. 16, 1916, to his niece – his sister Ishmael’s daughter – Carlota Gallegos.

Anastacio Gallegos lived a long, 96 years, passing away in 1990 in Albuquerque. He had many children, but one in particular stands out. His son, Eddie Gallegos, was very close with my Grandpa Carlos Gallegos. My Grandpa stayed with relatives in Albuquerque for some time during high school. My Dad thinks his father lived with his favorite cousin Eddie. Both Carlos and Eddied served in World War II. My Dad said he remembers the two of them getting together in Albuquerque and telling war stories while drinking beer – “a lot of beer.”

Anastacio’s younger brother, Ignacio Gallegos (also my Great-Grandfather Luis’ brother) was also a war veteran and a member of the DAV, according to his obituary.

Monday, January 16, 2012


I don’t want to downplay all of the time I’ve spent -- literally hundreds of hours during the past two years – digging through records at the archives to try and solve the mysteries of my genealogy. Through a combination of hard work and good luck, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. But I never would have achieved so much without the help of many others, including at least a half-dozen, distant relatives with whom I’ve connected during this journey.

The most recent connection came out of the blue last week when I got an e-mail from Tomas Perez, who informed me that we are related through my paternal Great-Great Grandmother Francisquita Trujillo. Francisquita was the mother of my Great-Grandfather Luis Gallegos.

I have been stumped ever since I discovered that Luis – who was raised as a Gallegos since he was a child -- was actually baptized as Luis Cordova, the son of Bautista Cordova and Francisca Trujillo, according to church records. But that conflicted with Census records, which aren’t always reliable, that showed Francisca as the daughter of Juan Bautista Cordova, who was quite old at the time. In time, Francisca had two children, Juan and Luis, but her surname was listed as Trujillo. She eventually married Manuel Gallegos – gave that name to her two oldest sons, and had three more children with Manuel. So, until this day, I’m not sure who fathered Juan and Luis. I doubted it was the elderly Juan Bautista Cordova. I thought the key might be to figure out more about Francisquita, although I’ve had a tough time finding information about her…until the e-mail from Tomas Perez.

Tomas has been on the trail to find out more about Francisquita for much longer than I have. In fact, he even bought a ranch in the 1970s in the Northern New Mexico village of San Ignacio, the one-time home of Franciscquita, the Cordovas and the Gallegos. He named his ranch in honor of Francisquita, calling it Tocaya, which is the feminine for Tocayo, roughly meaning namesake. Tomas said the name derives from the Nahuatl language, and suggested that Sigmund Freud would say Tocaya means “Alter Ego.” I mentioned to Tomas that I took my family for a Sunday drive through San Ignacio on Father’s Day last summer. My Great-Grandfather Antonio DeTevis also had land in the village in the mid-1900s.

Aside from Tomas’ great stories about discovering San Ignacio, we also compared notes about our research. His grandmother, Ishmael, was the daughter of Manuel and Francisquita Gallegos, which means she was the sister to my great-grandfather, Luis. Fortunately, Tomas has several old family photos and family history that was passed on to him from his mother. The one piece of information that immediately grabbed my attention was that Francisquita was the daughter of Rafael Trujillo and Dulefina Chaves. Tomas suggested that we might be able to verify that information I we could get Francisquita’s death certificate, something I have been unable to locate without knowing the date and location of her death. One of the problems is that I was looking only in San Miguel County. But Tomas told me she actually died in Albuquerque in 1929, and that his mother attended the funeral. They later located the grave, and Tomas purchased a new headstone in her honor

Armed with that information, I went back to look for her death certificate, which I immediately found. And sure enough, it listed her parents of Rafael Trujillo and Dulefina Chaves, although unfortunately, it did not say where they were from. The certificate said Francisquita was born in San Miguel County and was widowed at the time of her death, having been married to Manuel Gallegos. She was born in 1863, and lived to be 65 years old before she died of throat cancer. She lived the final six years of her life in the Armijo area of Albuquerque. Her eldest son, Juan, signed the death certificate. An obituary in the Albuquerque Journal said her sons and daughter were with her at her home when she passed away.

Tomas said it is possible that Francisquita may have been orphaned and raised by the Cordova family, before marrying Manuel Gallegos. I won’t be sure until I find out more about her parents, Rafael and Dulefina, if that’s possible. I’ve learned that kids were often raised by relatives for one reason or another. Many times, even young children were taken in, and sometimes adopted by families as servants.

I may not find any additional information about Francisquita. But I won’t give up looking. In any case, the journey has been worth it, if for no other reason than the thrill of discovering relatives who share the same passion I have for learning about those who came before us.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chaos in the Territorial Legislature

From 1995 to 2010, I was involved in nearly 30 regular and special sessions of the New Mexico Legislature – first as a reporter, then from the Governor’s Office on the fourth floor of the Roundhouse. During those 16 years, I thought I saw everything. But I never saw or heard anything quite like the legislative session that convened in 1871 and wrapped up in February 1872. Let’s just say that when the county sheriff and the military are taking sides, you’ve got a problem.

Calvin Horn, a former legislator himself, told the story in his book, “New Mexico’s Troubled Years: The Story of the Early Territorial Governors.” The chapter about then-Governor Marsh Giddings was of particular interest to me because my Great-Great-Great Grandfather Gregorio N. Otero would play a key role in resolving what Horn called the “bitterest legislative fight in the history of the territory.”

Governor Giddings was a Republican from Connecticut who was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to be Governor of the Territory of New Mexico. He delivered his first State of the State address in Santa Fe on Dec. 7, 1871. But the session went downhill when the Legislature, made up of the House and the Council, rushed through a bill that would have moved Chief Justice Joseph G. Palen, a controversial political figure, from the 1st District in Santa Fe to the 3rd District in Mesilla. Palen upset the status quo with a couple of judicial decisions that, according to news reports, drew sharp opposition from a big money ring. The legislation to ship Palen south to Mesilla drew nearly unanimous support, which means Gregorio Otero, a representative from Valencia County, probably supported it.

But Governor Giddings vetoed the bill, accusing legislators of trying to intimidate, remove and disgrace a sitting judge. Although some Republicans respected Giddings’ veto, other leading Republicans conspired with Democrats to change the balance of power in order to get enough votes to override the Governor. Apparently political arm-twisting wasn’t enough. This group tried to replace four Taos Republicans in the House and one Republican in the Council with Democrats, thus giving Democrats control of both chambers.

Under considerable pressure, the Republican Speaker of the House reversed his position and joined with the Governor in trying to re-seat the Republicans. In an unusual move, Gov. Giddings sat next to House Speaker Rudolph and asked the Sergeant at Arms to disarm one of the legislators and place his weapon on the Speaker’s Table until adjournment. A day later, the effort to re-seat the Republicans failed, and on Jan. 10, 1872, Gov. Giddings expressed his concern that a mob had formed at the Capitol, and that nearly everyone he came across was armed with a pistol. The Speaker asked the Santa Fe County Sheriff to help the sergeant at arms restore order, but the sheriff refused. Unable to regain control, Speaker Rudolph adjourned the House and all of the Republicans left the chamber.

But the Democrats stuck around, declared that Speaker Rudolph did not have the authority to adjourn the House without the consent of the members, and elected a new Speaker and a new Sergeant at Arms, who was sent to retrieve the absent Republicans. He even tried to enter the Governor’s Office and arrest the Republican Speaker, but backed away from arrest. The Sergeant at Arms later took the Speaker by force to the House Chamber. Speaker Rudolph responded by making a request, which was endorsed by the governor, to have the United States military stationed at the door of the chamber.

The next day, Speaker Rudolph took control of the House and moved again to re-seat the Republican members from Taos. But the Democrats resisted, and left the chamber to create a new House of Representatives. So at that point, a Democrat House – with the four Taos Democrats -- and a Republican House – with the original four Republicans from Taos -- each claimed power. The actions became more childish when the Democrats deprived a clerk of the keys and claimed control of the actual House chamber. Republicans responded by changing the lock on the door.

Finally on Jan. 29, with two days left in the session, the Council agreed to work with the House Republicans if they elected a compromise Speaker. The compromise speaker was none other than Gregorio N. Otero from Valencia County. Amazingly, the two chambers collaborated to pass some important legislation during the final two days – imposing a property tax to finally pull the territory out of debt, finance government operations and start a public school system.

I descend from Gregorio Otero on my mother’s side of the family. My maternal grandfather, Louis Chavez, was the son of Eliza Otero, the granddaughter of Gregorio Otero. I was surprised to learn that Eliza was once a school teacher, and wondered about her education at a time when a formal education outside of Santa Fe or Albuquerque was rare. Her father, Melquiades Otero, was educated and apparently the beneficiary of his father, Gregorio’s efforts to expand educational opportunities.

I’m not yet sure where Gregorio, a veteran of the Civil War battles in New Mexico, got his formal education. I’ve discovered some of his correspondence – business and political – that suggest he was well educated. I also found a tax record showing he paid fees as a lawyer.

Jose Gregorio Otero was born May 11, 1833 in Tome as the son of Miguel Otero and Maria Josefa Chaves. He married Maria de Jesus Pino in Cubero on June 15, 1853. His Otero heritage appears to have reached back to the first known Otero in New Mexico.

Gregorio’s father, Miguel Otero, was born March 31, 1815 in Valencia. Miguel was the son of Antonio Rafael Otero and Maria Lugarda Garcia. Antonio Rafael was the son of Pedro Otero and Maria Juliana Alari.

Pedro alternately used the Otero surname and the famous Duran y Chaves name in baptismal records for his children. Some have speculated that Pedro was the orphaned son of the famous Pedro Duran y Chaves, and he may have been raised by Cayetano de Otero who served as a Franciscan priest in Albuquerque at the time Pedro was born in 1739 in nearby Atrisco. Others believe Pedro was the actual son of Cayetano de Otero, despite his role as a priest, and Quiteria Duran y Chaves. In any case, Cayetano de Otero was born about 1701 in the Galicia region of Spain and professed his vows on Jan. 29, 1725 at Puebla, Nueva Espana. He came to New Mexico and was at Zuni by 1731 and at Pecos in 1732-33.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Family Politics

I wrote last week about an ancestor who served as a delegate to Congress and a representative in the territorial Legislature. Antonio Joseph, a distant cousin on the paternal side of my family, was a Democrat from Taos who later settled in Ojo Caliente. He championed many causes during his 10 years in Congress and as a legislator in Santa Fe. He is also considered the first person of Portuguese descent to serve as a delegate to Congress.

But he wasn’t the only ancestor who was involved in politics. And political activity hasn’t been limited to one party.  While both my Dad and I have been staunch Democrats, I remember how surprised I was when I first learned that my Grandpa Carlos Gallegos, a native of Las Vegas, was a staunch Republican. Grandpa’s brother, Clemente, also a World War II veteran, and his parents, were also Republicans. He was so committed to the GOP, my Dad used to say that Grandpa Carlos would probably roll over in his grave if he knew his son and grandson are Democrats. Can you imagine how Grandpa Carlos, who died in 1980, would react if he knew his grandson served for eight years in a Democratic gubernatorial administration? Hopefully, he would have been proud of me, though he probably would have had to bite his tongue.

My Grandma Rise, Grandpa Carlos’ wife, was a Democrat, just like her father, Antonio DeTevis, and just like Antonio’s uncle, Antonio Joseph. Great-Grandpa Tony was so committed to the party, he would drive Democrats to the polls on election day, since he was one of the few Democrats in Las Vegas who had a vehicle at the time. Grandma Rise said that Grandpa Carlos persuaded her to switch her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 1980 to vote for Ronald Reagan. She said Grandpa was worried what people, namely his family, might think of them if Grandma didn’t vote for Reagan. However, my grandpa died rather suddenly that same year. Grandma said she later changed her party registration back to Democrat.

On my Mom’s side of the family, party politics goes back even further – to the mid-1800s. My Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Gregorio N. Otero, a Civil War veteran, served as a Republican in the territorial Legislature. He even served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, which I will write about later because that is a story in itself. Gregorio Otero represented Valencia County in the House from 1863 to 1873; served in state Council (the precursor to the Senate) between 1878 and 1882; and served again in the House in 1890. I believe he was related to Miguel Antonio Otero, who served as Territorial Governor from 1897 through 1906.

Gregorio’s son, my Great-Great Grandfather Melquiades T. Otero, was elected as Valencia County Assessor. I’m not sure of his party affiliation or the exact dates he served, but I found a letter he wrote to a prominent Belen merchant on his Assessor letterhead, dated March 21, 1900.

The Oteros were on the maternal side of my Grandpa Louis Chavez’s family. Despite the Republican history, Grandpa Louie was a proud Democrat, which he attributed to President Roosevelt and the Neal Deal. I’m not sure about the Chavez family’s political leanings, because his father and two brothers all died at a young age.

My Grandma, Lola (Gallegos) Chavez stayed away from talk about politics. But her own father, my Great-Grandfather Jose Pablo Gallegos, was a Democrat who was elected and served as Sheriff of Valencia County from 1931 to 1932. He made headlines in his hometown of Grants when he killed an infamous gunslinger during a shootout with bandits who tried to rob a local store.

One of my Grandma’s brothers, Merced Gallegos, served on the Grants City Council.

I’ll wrap up this post with a letter that Gregorio Otero wrote to a fellow Republican in 1886, protesting a recent party convention and what appears to have been a case of favoritism in the allocation of employees within the county. A friend of mine, Juan Massey, translated the letter to English.

Cubero, NM, October 15, 1886

Mr. Pilar Baca, Belen, NM

Dear Sir:
As is well known in the Republican Convention of this County (party of which I have been a member throughout the political history of this territory and which I still belong to), having attended said convention as a delegate for this precinct, I refused nevertheless to get involved in the nominations due to the incorrect and improper way adopted to conduct them, especially in this XVIII Century of so-called Enlightenment.  Now, with regard to the free will of the county as pertains to its employees, I wish to cooperate with the actions of our sovereign People, free from cliques and demagoguery; and feeling this way I have cooperated with the actions of this precinct from which I have received the nomination as delegate to the aforementioned People's Convention, which I bestow on you as my proxy so that you may attend in my lieu.   

I have expressed before to one of the gentlemen who lead the movement, Mr. J. Felipe Chaves the feeling in these precincts regarding the employees and the number of them, which without a doubt and considering our increased population should be allocated in a fair proportion.  As relates to who they should be, this should be left to the good judgment of the Convention.  Let their knowledge of the inclinations of one or two of these people suffice to make a decision.  This is how I expect you to act on by behalf.

Gregorio Otero