|Land near Santa Ana Pueblo, near the site of El Tunque, the original Chaves Estancia|
For much of the past three years, I took the commuter train between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Rail Runner Express took me along sections of the Rio Grande – through a large area once known as “El Tunque” -- where my Chavez ancestors first called home. Looking out of the window on the train, I often surveyed the valley landscape, trying to imagine where exactly the Chaves estancia once sat. But the Rio Grande was so different 400 years ago; it often changed course, especially after large floods.
Don Pedro Duran y Chaves made his home at “El Tunque” sometime after he first arrived in New Mexico in 1600, according to Fray Angelico Chavez, whose research I am relying upon for much of this Chavez history. According to Chavez, El Tunque was an Indian name for a very wide arroyo running down from present Ortiz range in the east to join the Rio Grande near Felipe Pueblo. The Chaves estancia stretched southward to the Tiwa pueblos of Puaray and Sandia.
Don Pedro Duran y Chaves was apparently recruited as a soldier in Mexico City to be part of the second consignment of colonists to go to New Mexico in 1600 – two years after Don Juan de Oñate made his way north. Ten years later, Duran y Chaves was present during the establishment of the Villa of Santa Fe. During that first decade, he married Doña Isabel de Bohórques, the daughter of the capitán Cristóbal Vaca, who also arrived in New Mexico in 1600. The couple had at least three children: Fernando, Pedro II and Isabel, and possibly another son named Augustín.
Don Pedro was referred to as a capitán in 1613 as he tried unsuccessfully to collect tribute from the Taos Indians. In 1624, Don Pedro led a punitive expedition against the Jemez pueblos. According to Fray Chavez, Don Pedro typically sided with pueblo Indians against abuses by some friars. By 1626, he was an encomendero, “whereby the Indians of his district (around Sandia and San Felipe) were ‘commended’ to his care for their material well-being and their religious instruction, while he exacted tribute in goods from them for the central government and by way of a salary.” Fray Chavez said the system of encomiendas was often abused in southern New Spain where youths were treated as worse than slaves. He claims the practice was different in New Mexico.
Doña Isabel raised the children at the vast estancia at El Tunque, which included grazing grounds and farmlands, with the help of some servants. The actual residence was south of San Felipe and south of current-day Algodones, known then as Angostura, somewhere on land now owned by Santa Ana Pueblo.
As a result of his conflicts with some in the church, Don Pedro was often reported to the Inquisition in Mexico City. In 1626, Don Pedro “declared in Santa Fe that he was 70 years old and ‘one of the first settlers of this Villa and maese de campo (similar to the rank of colonel) of these provinces.’” Later that year, Doña Isabel de Bohórques was identified as “the wife of the maese de campo of these provinces, Pedro Durán y Chaves, inhabitants and founders of this Villa, forty years of age which she said herself to be, little more or less.” This 1626 record was the last that mentioned Don Pedro Durán y Chaves.
Don Pedro’s eldest son, Fernando Duran y Chaves, inherited El Tunque, where he lived with his wife, whose last name was Carvajal Holguin. Her first name is not mentioned in any records. Don Fernando is first mentioned in records in 1638 as teniente de gobernador (the governor’s temporary representative) for the Rio Abajo, all of the Rio Grande land south of Santa Fe. Don Fernando was said to have died before April 1669, around the time that he led an expedition against the Indians of the plains.
Fray Chavez portrayed Don Fernando in mostly glowing terms, while his younger brother, Don Pedro II, was characterized as a scoundrel. Don Pedro II was married to Elena Domínguez de Mendoza and lived at his estancia north of Isleta Pueblo in the general area known as Atrisco.
The Chaves family estancia at El Tunque was passed down to a third-generation Chaves man, also named Fernando Duran y Chaves. As a result of that inheritance, Fray Chavez logically assumed that the younger Don Fernando was the son of the senior Don Fernando. However, more recent research strongly suggests that the younger Don Fernando was actually the eldest son of Don Pedro II. Thus, as the nephew of his namesake, the younger Don Fernando probably inherited El Tunque because the elder Don Fernando only had one son, Cristóbal,who died.
The younger Don Fernando was a capitán living at El Tunque with his wife, Lucía Hurtado de Salas y Trujillo and four children in 1680 when the Pueblo revolt broke out. Don Fernando called his home Bernalillo, apparently after his eldest son, Bernardo. That family home was a little north of present-day Bernalillo, which was founded by a Baca family.
The younger Don Fernando and his young family fled their estancia during the Pueblo Revolt, just ahead of the pueblo warriors who killed some relatives across the river at Angostura. Don Fernando met up with his father, Don Pedro, and several other colonists as they headed south to the safety of El Paso del Norte.
Another reason that Fray Chavez assumed that Don Pedro II and Don Fernando were not father and son is because Don Pedro II abandoned the colony at El Paso del Norte after getting official permission to move south to New Spain, never to return to New Mexico.
Meanwhile, the younger Don Fernando insisted on returning to his home in New Mexico. By then, he and his wife had six more children, including Nicolas, who was my seventh-great grandfather.
Don Fernando was with Don Diego de Vargas and his small army of Spanish soldiers in 1693 when they returned from exile to re-settle in Santa Fe. Governor Vargas wrote: “I, the said Governor and Captain-General about the eleventh hour of the same day made my entry into the Villa of Santa Fe…with the squadron on the march and in company of the very illustrious Cabildo of this the said Villa and Kingdom, its high sheriff and Alférez Real, the Capitán Don Fernándo Durán y Chaves, carrying the standard referred to in these acts, and under which the land was (originally) conquered.”