If your last name is Casaus in New Mexico, you’re most likely a Cuba Casaus or a Santa Rosa Casaus. At least that’s what I’ve always been told. And I’ve never met a Casaus who doesn’t identify his or her roots to anywhere but those two old towns.
|Joe Casaus Childhood Home in Cuba|
Last year, we went with my in-laws, Joe and Neyda Casaus, to Cuba to see Joe’s boyhood home…and sneak a bite at El Bruno’s Café. My wife Yvette and my younger daughter, Isabella, went with us. My older daughter, Carin, was actually nearby with a friend at their family cabin in Jemez Springs.
Of course I’m talking about Cuba, New Mexico, the village about 90 miles northwest of Albuquerque, and not Cuba the island-country, 90 miles south of Florida. I’ve been to the nation of Cuba twice in diplomatic missions, most recently in September 2011. During that trip, I talked with our “minder,” a representative from the Cuban Foreign Ministry who was assigned to escort us everywhere we went, about the Village of Cuba, New Mexico. He was intrigued our tiny village in New Mexico. After one conversation, he said he searched for it on the Internet, which means he has some status in Cuba if he’s allowed to use the Internet. Regardless of politics, I promised him I would send him photos of the village, which I still need to do, if I can track down an e-mail address for him. He and I also talked about genealogy and our common connections to Spain.
Growing up, I always associated Cuba as the half-way point between Albuquerque and Farmington, where my grandparents lived. We often stopped at the Frontier Restaurant, which was owned by the Gallegos family. My Uncle Mike Chavez married Charlene Gallegos in Cuba and I remember dancing in the parish hall as a child. I may have had my first sip of beer, too, but we won’t go there.
|Gallegos-Casaus Wedding 1996|
Some two decades later, I would also marry into a Cuba family – the Casaus family. As with my own family heritage, I have only recently come to appreciate my wife’s long and storied family history. And I think about our daughters. They descend from my Gallegos, Chavez, DeTevis, Otero and Trujillo lines – but they also descend from Yvette’s Casaus, Crespin, Martinez, Vigil and Cebada lines. And many, many more. It’s mind-boggling.
For now, I want to focus on the Casaus history and the centuries-old ties to the region that includes Cuba and Jemez.
My father-in-law appears to have descended from the first Casados family that came to New Mexico during or after the Reconquest in 1692. The Casados surname took many forms during the ensuing centuries, including Cassados, Casaos and Casaus.
Francisco Lorenzo de Casados was a native of Cádiz, at the southern tip of Spain, according to Fray Angelico Chavez’s “Origins of New Mexico Families.” Francisco Lorenzo was widowed by 1704 and listed as a Captain in 1716, when he stated he was 46 years old (born about 1670), according to Fray Chavez. “He was a member of the Confraternity of St. Michael which restored the ancient chapel of San Miguel in 1710,” Chavez wrote. He and his first wife, Doña Ana Pacheco had one known son -- Francisco José de Casados.
Francisco José de Casados was married in the Villa of Santa Fe in 1716 to Doña Maria Barbara Archibeque, the daughter of prominent Captain Juan de Archibeque and Antonia Gutierrez. Several political leaders were witnesses at their wedding, including Governor Don Juan Paez Hurtado and Doña Teodora Garcia de la Rivas. Francisco José’s new father-in-law, Captain Juan de Archibeque has an intriguing history of his own. He was first known as Jean L’Archivêque, a French explorer who survived the famous 1684 expedition of René-Robert Cavelier and Sieur de La Salle as they attempted to establish a French colony at the mouth of the Mississippi.
While I am not 100-percent certain, I believe that Feliz Casados was one of several children of Francisco José Casados and Maria Barbara Archibeque. He was apparently born in Santa Fe, although I haven’t located his baptismal record. Feliz was married in Santa Fe in 1760 to Maria Antonia de Leyba, but the marriage record unfortunately does not list the names of his parents. They had a daughter together in Santa Fe in 1763 named Ana Maria Josepha Casados.
I assume his first wife may have died soon after because Feliz Casados is found next in 1766 in records from Cochiti Mission with a second wife, Maria Ysidora Coronel (later records also list her name as Ysidora Santisteban Coronel). Feliz and Ysidora had a daughter they named Maria Veatriz Casados. Two years later, in 1768, Feliz and Ysidora had a son named Asencio Casados.
At the same time that Feliz and Ysidora were expecting their first son, in the spring of 1768, Feliz Casados was one of six men, including his brother, Antonio José Casados, who petitioned Governor Pedro Fermín de Mendinueta asking for a grant covering a tract of vacant land situated on the Jemez slope surrounding the abandoned Pueblo of San Jose, according to a historical account of the Ojo de San José Grant by J.J. Bowden. The men “advised Mendinueta that they needed the grant in order to support their large families and growing herds of sheep, cattle, and horses.” After making concessions requested by the Pueblo of Jemez, the men were granted “royal possession” of the land after an investigation found that the land contained a sufficient amount of tillable land to support five or six families, there was an adequate quantity of water available for irrigation, five of the six petitioners were well armed, and they could defend themselves and their animals against the hostile Indians.” The boundaries were recorded as: “On the north, a black hill at which a spring of water appears; on the east, a large hill fronting towards the valley called the Baca Valley; on the south, the boundary of the Nerio Antonio Montoya Grant; and on the west, a small round mesa and small red hill fronting towards Jemez.” The families occupied the land for the next century, and like many land grants, the boundaries were litigated by some of the heirs and finally settled in the American courts in 1912. It’s not clear whether any descendants of Feliz or Antonio José Casados ended up with any of the land.
Feliz’s son, Asencio Casados, who was living in Jemez in 1807, was married at the Cochiti Mission to Maria Leocaria Gallego, an Español and daughter of Ramon Gallego and Josefa Benavides. They had at least five children: Juan, Jose Louis, Pasqual, Jose Rumaldo and Miguel. The eldest son, Juan, was born about 1825 in Cañon de Jemez and is my father-in-law’s great-grandfather.
Juan married Petra Armenta, also of Cañon de Jemez. They had at least four children: Juan Cristobal, Jose Ponciano, Maria Otabiano and Maria Dolores, an Indian infant adopted by Juan and Petra Casaus.
Their eldest, Juan Cristóbal, was my father-in-law’s grandfather. He was born in 1852 in Cañon de Jemez, and his wife, Maria Pilar Garcia was born in 1871 in La Jara. Her parents had roots in Peña Blanca and Bernalillo.
Joe’s father, Jose Casaus, was born in 1900. He was baptized at Jemez and his parents, Juan Cristóbal Casaus and Maria Pilar Garcia, were listed as being from La Posta. Two months after his birth, the family was living in nearby La Ventana. Jose had several siblings, including Anita, Joaquin, Manuel, Petrita, Clotario and Cristóbal (named after his grandfather.)
Jose Casaus married Genoveva Martinez and my father-in-law, Jose “Joe” Leandro Casaus, was born in Cuba in 1937. He grew up in a small house that still sits in the foothills of the Nacimieneto Mountain Range. I always heard how small the house was, but it was another thing to see it in person. The thing that amazed me was Joe’s memory of his mother plastering the adobe walls with mud. I had heard Joe talk about how rough it was growing up in Cuba in those days. It’s beautiful mountain country, but winters can be brutal.
|Casaus Family 1982|
|Jose "Joe" Casaus|
Joe had a large family which included seven siblings: Estacio (Tacho), Ferminia, Cristóbal (Chris), Ortencia (Orty), Viola, Alicia (Alice) and Pilar, who died at birth. A cousin, Adan, also lived with the family.
And the Casaus family name and bloodline continues to grow. Joe and Neyda were married in Cuba in 1961 and recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They started their family in Cuba with the birth of their only son, Anthony. Shortly after moving to Albuquerque, they had a daughter, Debbie in 1963. Ten years later, they had their third child, Yvette.
|Anthony Casaus Sr., Anthony III, Anthony Jr.|
Anthony Casaus has two children, Anthony, Jr. and Shawntel Casaus. Both have children of their own. Anthony Jr. is married to Patricia Benavides and has a step-daughter named Carolina and a son, Anthony Casaus III. Shauntel has a daughter named Christiana. Anthony Casaus III and Christiana represent the 11th generation of the Casaus family in New Mexico.
Debbie is married to Jeff Padilla and they have two daughters, Jessica and Jennifer Padilla.
Of course, Yvette is married to me, and we have two daughters, Carín and Isabella Gallegos.
11 Generations of Casados/Casaus
1. Francisco Lorenzo de Casados (b: About 1670, Cádiz, Spain)
2. Francisco José de Casados (b: Santa Fe)
3. Feliz Casados (b: Santa Fe)
4. Asencio Casados (b: 1768 in Jemez)
5. Juan Casados (b: about 1825 in Cañon de Jemez)
6. Juan Cristóbal Casaus (b: 1852 in Cañon de Jemez)
7. Jose Casaus (b: 1900 in La Posta)
8. Jose Leandro Casaus (b: 1937 in Cuba)
9. Anthony Casaus, Sr. (b: 1962 in Cuba)
10. Anthony Casaus, Jr. (b: in Albuquerque)
11. Anthony Casaus III (b: 2011 in Albuquerque)