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.

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