Thursday, January 31, 2013

My mother's mother's mother...

I recently received the results of my mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA test, which predictably show that I descend from Native American ancestry on the maternal side of my family – the line that extends through my mom, my grandmother, her mother, her mother, and so on.

I say predictably, because DNA experts told me most native New Mexicans descend from Native Americans. The primary reason? Spanish colonists who settled in New Spain, and eventually modern day New Mexico, were mostly men. So, naturally, they married and/or had children with indigenous women.

That’s different than Europeans who settled later in New England. I am told the Mayflower, for example, had a more balanced mix of men and women.

In any case, my mtDNA, which identifies me as part of haplogroup A, suggests a Native American is the progenitor of my maternal ancestors.

Based on mtDNA results from others in the Family Tree New Mexico DNA Project, I probably descend from Bernadina Vasquez, according to Angel Cervantes, the project administrator.

Researcher Pat Sanchez Rau explained that Bernadina Vasquez is the daughter of Francisco Vasquez and an unknown mother, possibly the Native American progenitor of so many New Mexico families, including mine. The mother, whose name is not known, was one of six daughters of Juan Perez de Bustillo and Maria de la Cruz, a family that came to New Mexico with Don Juan de Oñate. According to Sanchez Rau, Maria de la Cruz is probably of Mayan descent, although more research must be done. Sanchez Rau credits researcher Henrietta Martinez Christmas for identifying the connection between Bernadina Vasquez and descendants who belong to haplogroup A.

Sanchez Rau generously tried to help me connect my own family paper trail to the known descendants of Bernadina Vasquez.

Beatrice Chavez
My mother, Beatrice Chavez, is the daughter of Lola Gallegos, who is the daughter of Maria Arellanes. My Great-Grandmother Maria was the daughter of Maxima Carrillo. The identify of Maxima’s father is not clear, but she was baptized and used the name Carrillo, which was her own mother’s surname. 
Josefa Carrillo was the daughter of Gregoria Gutierres, who was the daughter of Maria Trinidad Gonzales.
Lola Gallegos

Maria Arellanes

Unfortunately, the paper trail reaches a dead end with Maria Trinidad Gonzales, who was born in the mid 1700s. So we don’t know for certain if Maria Trinidad Gonzales descends from Bernadina Vasquez or one of her sisters. But she – and I -- definitely descend from that pioneering New Mexico family. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


A reader asked that I post my e-mail address so I can be contacted directly. By all means, I welcome feedback, questions, comments -- and hopefully connections with relatives. I can be reached at

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I took some time off from researching my family history and writing for the blog while I wrapped up work for the campaign I was working on during much of the past year. I missed the research and the writing, but I’m hoping the break will prove to be helpful as I return to that research with fresh eyes and an open mind.

Despite my absence, that doesn’t mean genealogy has been far from my mind. In fact, I used my genealogy research skills more than once during the campaign to highlight the heritage of the congressional candidate I was working for – Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Michelle is related to former U.S. Rep. Manuel Lujan Jr., who held the same seat in Congress from 1969 through 1989, when he was nominated by President H.W. Bush to be U.S. Secretary of Interior.
Interestingly, Michelle and Manuel are more closely related through their Romero heritage, not the Lujans. Michelle’s great-grandmother, Agneda Romero, was the older sister of Lorenzita Romero, who married Manuel Lujan, Sr. The Romero sisters came from their own political family that included an uncle, Celso Lopez, who served as Sheriff and Mayor of Santa Fe from 1912-1914.

Agneda Romero was married to a fireman named Agustin Pino. Their daughter, Rita Pino, married Michelle’s grandfather Eugene David Lujan -- the first Hispanic since statehood to serve as a Justice on the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Agneda’s younger sister, Lorenzita Romero, married Manuel Lujan, Sr., who was Santa Fe County Assessor in 1930 and went on to serve as Mayor of Santa Fe from 1942-1948. Aside from their well-known son, Manuel Lujan Jr., Manuel and Lorenzita had another son, Edward Lujan, who served as Republican Party Chairman and helped found the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

During the campaign, we posted the Lujan-Romero genealogy on Facebook and got quite a response. Some national media wrote about it, although some reporters were just as interested in whether 
Michelle is related to U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the third-term congressman from New Mexico’s 3rd District. Apparently there is some connection between Michele and Rep. Lujan’s mother, Carmen Lujan. But I haven’t nailed it down, yet.

But it’s time to get back to my own genealogy. I have come across several interesting documents and stories that I will share, including a distant connection to the Lujan family.

I will keep digging into Michelle’s genealogy, especially since I have taken a job with her Congressional Office. I recently accepted the position of Deputy Director of her District Office, which allows me to stay in Albuquerque. And I’m just two blocks from the Albuquerque genealogy library.