Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chaves Roots Part V: Mother Village

Village of Seboyeta (c) Maxwell Museum
After Manuel Chaves married Josefa Baca in Belen in 1775, they had at least two children who would be among the first Spanish families to move to the western settlement of Cevolleta (little onion), later called Cebolleta, Zebolleta, and currently, Seboyeta. Jose and Rosalia Chaves were siblings and the children of Manuel Chaves and Josefa Baca when they were first mentioned in church records as living in Cevolleta.

It is not clear whether Jose was one of the original 30 families listed in the land grant decreed in 1800 by Spanish Governor Don Fernando Chacon. There was a Jose Chaves on that list. Another researcher concluded that it was a different Jose Chaves, citing land grant records produced later in the 19th Century. In any case, both Jose and Rosalia Chaves, ancestors of my maternal Grandfather Louis Chavez, married into the Gallegos family that can be traced down to my maternal Grandmother, Lola Gallegos.

Jose Chaves married Paula Gallego in 1817 at San Jose de Laguna, near Cebolleta. Paula Gallego was the daughter of Pasquala Gallego, who may have been the sister of Felipe Gallego, one of the original 30 settlers of Cebolleta. And Felipe Gallego was married to Rosalia Chaves, Jose’s sister. A lot of interesting (and confusing) connections, I know.

While it is clear that Felipe (also spelled Phelipe) Gallego was one of the first settlers, it is also clear that Jose and Rosalia Chaves were living in Cevolleta during its first harrowing years of existence, as told by a handful of historians.

Governor Chacon made the grant of land to the settlers “on the condition that they form a regular settlement and not abandon it under any pretext." That was easier said than done at the beginning of the 19th Century, when colonists were still being met with fierce resistance by natives of the land – in this case, the Navajo. While the settlers got along with the people of Laguna Pueblo, the Navajo fought back against the encroachment by the settlers.

The original families built a village with high adobe walls and a watch tower, or torreon, to guard against incursions from the Navajo, according to an account by Abe Peña, a longtime resident and author of Memories of Cibola. Likewise, the settlers of Cevolleta sometimes sent parties out to raid Navajo encampments and kidnap Navajo children.

In one of his newspaper columns about Seboyeta, Peña retold the story of a major attack by the Navajo in 1804, as originally told by Gary Tietjen, the author of the “Encounter of the Frontier,”  who wrote: “At one point in the battle, one brave woman, Doña Antonia Romero climbed to a housetop to see if all was well and was horrified to see a Navajo had just climbed over the wall. He was in act of drawing the bar of that great wooden door, hewn from ponderosa pine, while swarms of Navajos were waiting outside for the moment to break in. Snatching a heavy stone metate Doña Antonia lifted it above her head and brought it down with all her strength on the head of the man, killing him instantly. She thus proved herself worthy of her courageous husband, Don Domingo Baca. In the hand to hand combat Baca had seven lances driven into him. One cut across his stomach so wide that his bowels fell out. Grabbing a pillow he tied it around his abdomen and was able to continue fighting until the attack subsided. Afterwards he replaced his entrails and sewed up his own wounds."

Not long after the battle, the settlers decided to retreat from the village to nearby Laguna Pueblo, where they petitioned the Governor to allow them to abandon the settlement. But the Spanish government ordered them to return to Cevolleta and sent troops to help protect them. So they returned to the land that Abe Peña referred to as the Mother Village from which some of the children of the original Cevolleta settlers, including my Chaves and Gallego ancestors, eventually moved.

While at Cevolleta, Jose Chaves and Paula Gallego had four children: Antonio Jose, born in 1818; Jose Maria, born in 1821; Diego Antonio, born in 1823; and Jose Alejo, born in 1830. Their third-born, Diego Antonio Chaves, is my ancestor and the namesake for my Maternal Great-Grandfather, Juan Diego Antonio Chavez – the father of my Grandpa Louie.

Diego Antonio Chaves appears to have grown up in Cevolleta before moving on, getting married and serving in the Civil War, nearly 150 years ago.

As for Jose Chaves’ sister, Rosalia, she passed on the Chaves genes along with the Gallego name of her husband, Felipe, to seven children – Jose Pablo, Jose Manuel, Juan Severino, Maria Cruz, Josefa Victoria, Ana Maria and Adolfo. The first-born, Jose Pablo, is my ancestor and the namesake of my other maternal Great-Grandfather, Jose Pablo Gallegos – the father of my Grandma Lola.

Growing up, I only heard about my Grandpa Louie’s roots in Cubero and my Grandma Lola’s roots in nearby Grants. As far as I know, they weren’t aware of their common roots in Cevolleta. But like many old families in the area, most roots reach back to the Mother Village.

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