Thursday, September 25, 2014

One Direction Concert -- Three Perspectives


Power of Music

By Gilbert Gallegos

Hiking up the hill to the Sun Bowl stadium in El Paso, a woman in front of me had a t-shirt with the phrase, “Power of Music,” on the back. Maybe not the most profound message, but I kept thinking about it throughout the late summer evening concert I attended with my family.

Like them or not, or maybe you’ve never heard of them, the British boy band, One Direction, put on a great performance at the Sun Bowl last weekend. And what I quickly discovered, it doesn’t really matter what I, or anyone else, thinks about their music. Tens of thousands of screaming pre-teens and teen-age girls were basically out-of-their-minds in love with the band, their music and their entertaining performance.

You can’t fathom what the experience is like until you experience it. And I’m not talking about the band; I’m talking about the girls’ reaction to it.
Bella, Carin and Yvette
We bought the tickets nearly a year ago as Christmas presents for our daughters. Carin had a running countdown app on her phone. When the day finally arrived, the girls were besides themselves with excitement. After an early dinner, we hit I-10 for the quick drive to the stadium. The girls both thanked Yvette and me ahead of time for taking them to the concert.

But disaster was about to strike. Traffic was backed up for miles. It soon became obvious that the city of El Paso was not prepared for the influx of some 40,000 – 50,000 concert-goers. We didn’t see a single attempt to control traffic until we were right in front of the stadium. The girls were distraught. As the clock ticked away, they kept getting updates from friends who were already in the stadium. They were getting Instagram updates of the band members backstage. Then, when the opening act, Five Seconds of Summer, started to perform, I knew I was toast. The girls went from being grateful to blaming me for ruining what should have been the best night of their lives. I was helpless.

We eventually got close enough so I could drop them off with Yvette and they could run in and catch the rest of the opening act, buy their concert t-shifts and other souvenirs. I, on the other hand, needed another hour to find a parking spot about two miles from the stadium. The bar across street from where I parked was pretty attractive. But I soldiered on, and made my way in time for the main performance.
Carin, Bella and me

When I got there, I was mesmerized by the packs of girls hunting for merchandise. All of a sudden, someone would scream, and dozens of others would follow suit, sprinting somewhere, or nowhere. I wasn’t sure what was going on.

When I connected with my family, Carin and Bella were two totally different people from the girls who accused me earlier of ruining their lives. The joy on their faces was priceless. They were back to thanking Yvette and me, and they were now convinced they were experiencing the best night of their young lives.

One Direction on Stage at the Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Girls are more expressive than boys, and it was amazing to watch so many girls dancing, squealing and screaming for two straight hours. Bella and Carin have different personalities. Bella loves to dance and had no waving her arms throughout the performance, screaming every time her favorite, Louis, would take center stage. She was both hilarious and adorable at the same time. Carin, on the other hand, is more serious and determined to record as much as possible on her phone. (I wonder where she gets those qualities from?) But she was also singing every word and let out screams when her favorite, Niall, performed.

One Direction put on a great show. I thought the music was good, and they know how to satisfy their young fans. In the end, I can’t really say whether it was the power of music, the power of entertainment, the power of celebrity, or something else entirely, that captivated so many young girls at the Sun Bowl. Whatever the case, I know that my daughters were thoroughly happy, and that made their parents feel pretty good.
  


Best night of my life
By: Isabella J

         The day I got my tickets to go see One Direction, I was so happy! I have never been to a concert before, but since I love One Direction, I think this concert would be the best I have been to over all the concerts I would go to. My favorite member of One Direction is Louis Tomlinson. He is funny, cute, and a really good singer.

       So when we arrived in El Paso, I was so anxious and I could not wait till the concert. We got to El Paso around 12:00 or 1:00. First we went to the big outlet mall. I kept seeing girls with One Direction shirts on and I would say to my parents “I bet those girls are going to the One Direction concert too like us!” I said. So the first store I went to was a store called Hot Topic. They sell T -shirts with logos on them. I thought they would have One Direction shirts there so I asked and they had about 3 left of One Direction shirts! So I had some money and I bought 2 shirts and a lot of stores were sold out of One Direction shirts but I luckily got 2 for the concert. I packed like 2 or 3 shirts for the concert that I never wore over there because one of the shirts I bought had Midnight Memories (their album name) and their faces on it.

     Once we got to the hotel, I thought it was a messy and gross hotel because I saw a little bug in the beds and when I wanted to go swimming, I saw gross, and dead bugs floating in the hot tub and the pool. The pool was also really cold.

        When it was time for the concert, we were on our way to the concert and there was a lot of traffic. I was upset because I didn’t want to miss the concert and also my sister Carin said that it’s already starting because she was looking on her phone and her friends were texting her. When she kept saying that, I got more upset. I really didn’t want to miss it. Finally, we got there like 10 minutes late, but right when we got there, we were running. I even saw Liam and Niall backstage a little bit! I was screaming a little because I couldn’t believe it! So we sat in our seats and we saw 5 Seconds of Summer! I was screaming so much! My favorite member from 5 Seconds of Summer is Calum Hood. When 5 Seconds of Summer ended their part of the show, they put music videos on the big screen while One Direction was getting ready backstage. When they put on the videos for the intro for One Direction, everyone got super crazy and screaming. Including me. Every time Louis would come on and sing his parts of the songs, I would scream Louis so loud! My dad said there was a lady by me and I was screaming so much, he said that she was laughing at me when I was screaming. I gotta say, I think I was pretty funny and crazy. When the concert “was over” everyone was chanting “one more song!’’ and One Direction sang Story Of My Life, What makes you beautiful, and You and I. They tricked us! I was screaming so much!

     At the end of the concert, I said my throat really hurt because I was screaming so much. So I got a warm apple cider from starbucks to help my throat. We didn’t want to stay at our hotel because it was gross. So right after the concert, we left to Albuquerque. I was asleep the whole time and when I woke up, I said that felt so fast by sleeping while driving home. It took around 4 hours to get home. When I got home I said “Can you take me to the next concert next year for their new album?’’ I asked happily to my parents. That was the best night of my life!

Carin is ready for One Direction
My Dream Came True!!!
By Carin Gallegos


So nearly a year ago I got the best Christmas gift I could ever imagine! ONE DIRECTION CONCERT TICKETS! I could not believe it! I finally got to see my role models in action! So since that day I got a countdown app and it told me how many days till the concert. Then finally it was already down to just a couple of days! During school and soccer practice that’s all I could think and talk about! So the day has finally come! Friday September 19th, 2014, El Paso. So we all were hungry so we went to eat dinner right before the concert but after dinner disaster happened. TRAFFIC! My sister and I were so upset it nearly took 2 hours to get to the stadium through the traffic. We were probably 5 minutes late to the opening act (2nd favorite band) 5 seconds of summer. I’m madly in love with Luke Hemmings from the boy band and I could not wait to see them too! Finally we were close enough for my dad to drop off my mom and my sister and me. So we started to run as fast as we could and I could hear music playing and lights going on, I was full of excitement! When we were running through the stadium my sister and I even saw a Niall Horan (my favorite) and a Liam Payne! I was screaming so much I was trying to catch a picture and what do you know I caught the perfect one! Then we found our seats and we had amazing seats! We could see them perfectly! So I got to see 5 Seconds of Summer preform and they were AMAZING! So when it started getting dark One direction time! I got the chills and a big grin on my face and jumping up and down! I could not believe how big and loud and crazy the fans were! So then all these amazing lights and fire works came shooting up and 3..2..1 One Direction popped right out from the bottom of the stage and started singing! And I could not scream any louder I couldn’t stop the whole time! When I saw Niall I scream as loud as I could and started filming and I just fell in love with him even more! Niall and the rest did amazing, also I have to say Niall was pretty hilarious the whole time! I couldn’t be more proud of these 5 boys then I already am! So when the concert was over I was sad cause it was over! But at least I had pictures and videos and tour stuff to remember that amazing night. Right when it ended my sister and I told my parents “We’re getting tickets to there next tour for there newest album!” So I’ll have to check every day when the tickets go on sale (I know what I want for Christmas! And I better start saving my money again) so that was the best night of my entire life!    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Another Chavez wedding - 35 years later

I was 10 years old when I attended a wedding for the first time. Uncle Mike (Chavez), my Mom’s younger brother was marrying Charlene Gallegos. The wedding was in Charlene’s hometown of Cuba, halfway between Albuquerque, my home, and Farmington, where most of my Mom’s family, including Uncle Mike, lived at the time.

That was 35 years ago, which is hard to believe. Instead of celebrating their anniversary this past weekend, Mike and Charlene had other plans. Instead, they gave away their daughter’s hand in marriage – to another native of Cuba. Their only daughter, Adrienne Chavez (my cousin), was married Saturday to Aaron Atencio at a nice ceremony at the Prairie Star restaurant in Santa Ana Pueblo.

Adrienne and Aaron

 
Uncle Mike walking Adrienne down the aisle
Aunt Charlene escorted by cousin Eric Chavez
I’m sure Adrienne is tired of hearing it, but the main topic of discussion during the past week was everyone’s memories of her as the sweet little girl who was always at the center of attention at family get-togethers in Farmington, usually at Grandma Lola’s house, or at Aunt Fran’s. My favorite memory is 5-year-old Adrienne prancing around in a Wonder Woman costume.
 
Phoebe Chavez
Apparently, Adrienne has moved on from her days as a little princess, though she looked like a princess at her wedding this weekend. Her Maid of Honor (and sister-in-law) Hedy described during her toast to the bride how Adrienne no longer has pink furnishings and posters of Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, as she did when they first got to know each other. Influenced by her now-husband, Aaron, Adrienne is now more likely to sport camouflage and have hunting bows in her home.

Jay, Cindy and Louie Cabrales
Aside from looking forward to the wedding itself, I was excited about seeing relatives I hadn’t seen in a long time. Our cousins, Sharon and Anthony Scarinci flew in a week before from Tampa, FL, and stayed with my parents. We had a great time visiting with them, first over drinks at Sandia Resort with Uncle Mike and Aunt Charlene, my cousin Mike, his wife Hedy and daughter Phoebe, and Adrienne and Aaron. My wife, Yvette, loved listening to all of the family stories. And my daughters, Carin and Isabella, embraced the role as big cousins to little Phoebe, who followed them everywhere.

I didn’t hear anyone really talk about my late Aunt Fran. But I’m she wasn’t forgotten. My Grandma and Grandpa are also gone, which was sad because they cherished their little Adrienne and would have loved to see her get married.
 
Jeannie, J.D and Jennifer Hackney
We got a kick out of our memories of going to Aunt Fran’s for the Fourth of July. Her husband, J.D. Hackney, had an amazing collection of 8-track tapes and, eventually, video-cassette tapes with the latest movies he recorded from his satellite dish. Cousin Anthony joked about the large satellite in J.D.’s backyard – something few people had at the time – and how the mechanical gears made so much noise when the dish moved to align with the satellite in the sky.

Nicholas, Sharon and Anthony Scarini

Later, during the week leading up to the wedding, Anthony repeated a tradition he started many years ago. He prepared homemade lasagna, amazing sauce, and meatballs. My cousin, Cindy and her son, Louie, had driven down from Colorado by that time, and they joined us for the feast at my parents’ home.



Other relatives, including my Uncle Louie and his wife Debbie came from Farmington.
Sarah, Debbie and Louie Chavez
Their daughter, Sarah, flew in from South Carolina. J.D. and his fianc√©, Jeannie, arrived from Tampa, as did Sharon and Anthony’s oldest son, Nicholas. J.D.’s daughter, Jennifer, also drove down from Farmington. My cousin Eric was there with his family, including his son and a newborn granddaughter.



Lalo Chavez and Eloisa
I was really hoping to see my late Grandpa Louie’s brother and sister. Unfortunately, Aunt Perla wasn’t able to make it from Grants. But Uncle Lalo was there, with her friend, Eloisa. I didn’t get to talk to him a lot, but I did get to share a toast and a drink with him and Uncle Mike. He had a Jack and Coke; Uncle Mike and I had a glass of 18-year-old MacAllan scotch. We toasted to “Tio Lalo.”

We missed Uncle Ralph, Aunt Holly and cousin Javier, who live in Seattle, Cousin Kiki in Tampa, and the California branch of our Chavez family. Maybe we can find time for a larger family reunion soon. We all used to get together fairly often in Las Vegas, NV, when my brother played baseball for the UNM Lobos. They played a series each year in Vegas, and it was a good reason for family to make the trip. It seems like without our grandparents, and without Aunt Fran to do the planning, we don’t make it happen.
Isabella and Carin Gallegos

Mom and Dad dancing
Adrienne’s wedding was a good reminder of the importance of family. She has her Chavez roots from Cubero and Gallegos roots from Cuba. It was nice to see her husband, Aaron, share the celebration with his family from Cuba. And I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my own daughters connect with relatives and experience traditions like La Marcha, and seeing their own mom and dad, and their grandparents dancing to some Country two-step. It seems like just yesterday that I had that experience at the parish hall in Cuba, following Uncle Mike and Aunt Charlene’s wedding.





Monday, September 15, 2014

Preciliano's Familia

During my trip to St. John’s, AZ, I discovered more than a photo of my Great-Great Grandfather Preciliano Chavez. A few other photos of his children and a grandchild prompted me to expand my research and verify what I previously learned about the large family that Preciliano and his wife, Telesfora Duran, raised – first in St. John’s, and later in Cubero.
 
Preciliano Chavez is on the left wearing a hat

Preciliano, who was born in La Jolla, NM, appears to have first moved west from Cubero to St. John’s in the 1870s with his parents, Diego Antonio Chavez and Juana Sisneros and some siblings.

Preciliano’s Siblings
Preciliano was 18 when the 1880 Census was taken in St. John’s. His 15-year-old brother, Isidro, and a sister, Patricia, 8, were living with him.

Preciliano’s older sister, Maria Librada, was married with two children by the time she showed up in the 1880 Census in St. John’s. Librada was married to Jose Torres with two children, Paula and Margarito (she later had another child, Edward, while in St. John’s.) Unlike her brother and others who returned to New Mexico, Maria Librada stayed in Arizona. In fact, I heard from a descendent of Maria Librada, who told me the Torrez side of the family met for a breakfast reunion this weekend in Phoenix.


Preciliano had two other sisters, Nicanora and Irinea, who appear to have stayed in Cubero when the rest of the family moved to St. John’s.

Preciliano’s Children
Preciliano left St. John’s in 1883 and married Telesfora Duran at San Felipe de Neri Church in Albuquerque. He took his bride back to St. John’s, where they immediately started what would end up being a very large family.

Preciliano and Telesfora had 13 children – 10 of which were born in St. John’s between 1883 and 1901: Liberata (1883), Juan Diego Antonio (my Great-Grandfather born in 1884), Juana Bruno (1886), Isidro (1888), Yrinea “Irene” (1892), Onofre (1893),Ygnacio, Leopoldo (1898), Federico and Aniceto (twins born in 1898), and Victorino (1901).

The three youngest were born in Cubero after the family moved back to New Mexico: Trinidad (1903), Nicanora (1904) and Sofia (1912).

Juan Diego Antonio
Preciliano named his first-born son after his own father, Diego Antonio Chaves. The younger Diego Antonio, my great-grandfather, spent his childhood – his first 17 years, in St. John’s. I wasn’t able to find any mention of him during my trip, which is disappointing because he is the only great-grandparent whose photo I do not have. He would spend his adult life in Cubero, and after marrying Eliza Otero and having five children, including my Grandpa Louie, he died after a losing battle against Tuberculosis in 1939.

Onofre
Born in 1893, Onofre would go on to live for 99 years, before passing away in 1993 in Mesa, AZ. Perhaps because he lived so long, my Grandpa Louie and his younger brother, Lalo, knew their Tio Onofre very well. My Grandpa would talk about visiting Tio Onofre in Arizona. After hearing great things about him, and reading a short oral history from him, I was fortunate to find a photo of him at the museum in St. John’s. It’s interesting to look at the photo of him as a young man, apparently just married, and think about the words of a wise man some 60 years later. He talked about a tough life in St. John’s and Cubero, working for Basque sheepherder from Spain, Juan Iriarte, for 20 years, and the unfortunate deaths of a brother (killed after being thrown from a horse) and a sister (shot by her aunt after a dispute.) Onofre also talks about his father, Preciliano, and describes him as “kind man, muy buen hombre,” who was the coffin-maker in the village and raised sheep, then ran cattle before selling to Iriarte. Onofre had a daughter, Telesfora, who he named after his mother, Telesfora Duran.

Isidro
The second-oldest son of Preciliano, Isidro married Isabela Montano and had eight children before he was killed in an accident involving a horse. I first learned of the accident from the oral history that his brother, Onofre, gave many decades later to another relative, Pauline Chavez-Bent. According to Onofre, Isidro was celebrating a feast day and entered a horse race. The horse lost its footing, Isidro fell forward and the horse trampled him to death. Onofre was under the impression that accident occurred during a celebration of “El Dia de San Juan,” which led me to believe it was the feast day in St. John’s. But I was able to track down Isidro’s death certificate from Sept. 8, 1937, which states that the accident actually occurred in Laguna, presumably at the feast day at the western New Mexico pueblo. The certificate confirms that Isidro was thrown from a horse and suffered skull fracture with cerebral concussion. He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Albuquerque where he was pronounced dead. Funeral services were held at the Chavez family home in Cubero. He was buried in the cemetery just up the road. Among his eight children, Isidro left a son, Preciliano, named after his own father and the patriarch of the family. I’ve tracked down some cousins from the large family he left behind, but haven’t made contact, as of yet, with any of them.

Sofia
Aunt Sophie was the youngest of Preciliano’s children, born in Cubero about a decade before her father died. I have faint memories of Aunt Sophie. I vaguely remember going to Bluewater, where she lived, and I remember her funeral in Grants when I was just 8 years old. I assumed she was my Grandpa Louie’s sister, probably because she was just a few years older than him. But she was his aunt. My mom remembers going to stay with Aunt Sophie in Bluewater during summer months. Aunt Sophie was a teacher for 35 years, most of that time in Grants. My Uncle Ralph told me he also remembers visiting Aunt Sophie and Uncle Luciano (Sarracino). He remembers the horses, pigs and a rooster that didn’t crow, was dirty all the time and preferred to stay in the pig pen. He also remembers Aunt Sophie’s candy drawer in the kitchen, and how she used to chain-smoke Camel non-filtered cigarettes. Like my mom, Uncle Ralph remembers the day Aunt Sophie died in the summer of 1977; she was working in the garden and the dogs went to Uncle Luciano and barked at him until he followed them back to her. Uncle Ralph was a pallbearer at her funeral and said he remembers it like it was yesterday.

Juanita Chavez
Juanita Chavez is on the right, standing w/sister Nicanora on the left and sister-in-law Dulcinea Montano in the center
Tia Juanita was Aunt Sophie’s older sister. My mom said Juanita and Sophie lived together in Grants, in the same house one of Aunt Perla’s daughters now lives, on 5th Street. She said the two sisters were very close. They both attended Western New Mexico University and talked my mom into enrolling at the school in Silver city after graduating from Valley High School. But my mom took a job with the phone company, instead. My mom said she only remembers Tia Juanita wearing black. She apparently never married, and my mom said she remembers her raising a boy who may have been the son of a relative. In the photo I discovered in St. John’s, which was apparently taken in Cubero around 1921, Juanita is standing with a boy named Efren Baca. A note under the photo said he was raised by Juana. Also in the photo is Preciliano, standing with his granddaughter, Telesfora, who is Onofre’s daughter and named after Preciliano’s wife. The final person in the photo is Jose Duran. I’m not sure if he is a member of Preciliano’s wife’s Duran family. But both of my parents swear he looks very much like my Uncle Louie, who is my mom’s oldest brother.

Victorino and Federico


I also discovered a photo of Victorino and Federico – both sons of Preciliano. Victorino followed in his father’s footsteps and raised a very large family of his own. With his wife, Flora, Victorino had 14 children, including 8 boys, which means that Chavez line was sure to spread for many more generations.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Little New Mexico: St. John's, AZ

The small town of St. John’s in east-central Arizona is not very different than the small towns, villages and pueblo land just across the border in west-central New Mexico. The landscape is similar – remote and barren, but striking at the same time. The Little Colorado river in Arizona, like the Rio Puerco in New Mexico, was the lifeblood in the desert that produced just enough vegetation to attract settlers and their sheep and livestock in the territorial days of the 19th Century.
 
Visit to St. John's, June 2014
Little Colorado river outside St. John's, AZ










The biggest similarity is the family names and connections. Many of the families that settled in St. Johns in the 1870s and 1880s were the children and grandchildren of the same New Mexico families that ventured west in the early 1800s from the Rio Grande Valley to settle western New Mexico villages like Cubero, Cebolleta, San Mateo and San Rafael.

My paternal Chavez ancestors were among the settlers in most of those villages, and they were there with their neighbors and primos during the early years of San Juan – before the name was changed to St. John’s, before the Arizona territorial legislature made it the seat of Apache County, and before Mormon settlers moved in.

San Juan was settled in the early 1870s as a stopping point on the route to Fort Apache. Legend has it that one of the early merchants, Solomon Barth, named the town after the first woman, Maria San Juan de Baca, who settled there. Sol Barth and his brother Morris Barth would become familiar merchants in St. Johns, as well western New Mexico.

It’s not clear when my Chavez ancestors first arrived in San Juan. They were identified in the first census of the town, in 1880. My third-great Grandfather Diego Antonio Chavez was listed as being 50 years old, living with his wife, Juana Sisneros. His daughter, Librada Chavez was living next door with her husband, Jose Torres, and their two children. A few dwellings away, Diego Antonio’s son, Preciliano Chavez (my second-Great Grandfather) was living with siblings, Ysidro and Patricia.

The 1880 Census lists fewer than 140 families in “St. John’s Village.” The vast majority, with names like Chavez, Candelaria, Baca, Romero, Garcia and Jaramillo, said they were born in New Mexico. As you get toward the end of the census, many families with Anglo surnames are listed as being from the Utah territory – presumably Mormon settlers who staked a claim to the area just a year or two before. Not listed in the census is David King Udall, who would arrive later that year with his wife Luella, to serve as the Mormon Church’s first bishop of St. John’s. Udall would serve in the Arizona territorial legislature, and he would become the patriarch of a political family that included children and grandchildren who served as legislators, judges, and members of the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and U.S. Department of Interior. New Mexico’s current U.S. Senator, Tom Udall, is a descendent of David King Udall.

The presence of the Mormons caused immediate tension, starting with the change of the name of the town to St. John’s. But the Mormons would become an integral part of the community.

I had read different historical accounts of St. John’s, written from the perspectives of the Hispanic settlers, the Mormon settlers, and their descendants. As I prepared for a quick day trip to St. John’s earlier this summer, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to only find the names of Anglo families buried at the St. John’s cemetery. It wasn’t until I got to St. John’s that I learned of the separate Catholic cemetery outside of town. I didn’t find the grave site for Diego Antonio Chavez. But I know he was buried there from records detailing Juana’s application for a pension based on his service during the Civil War.


While my ancestors were only in St. John’s for a few decades, it was a significant period in our Chavez family history. Juan Diego’s son, Preciliano, built his own family during much of those two decades. Preciliano left St. John’s and married Telesfora Duran in Albuquerque in 1882. He returned to St. John’s and fathered 9 of his 12 children between 1883 and 1898, including my Great-Grandfather, Diego Antonio Chavez. Three more children were born after Preciliano returned to Cubero in the early 1900s.

I finally made the day trip in June, making my way west from Albuquerque, along I-40, to an exit just north of Cubero.  I took a winding road along the El Malpais National Conservation Area, wondering whether my ancestors took this same route in their wagons and with their horses and possessions back in the late 1870s.

My Great-Uncle Lalo Chavez likes to joke that he pictures his grandparents and his father returning to Cubero around 1900 in their wagons as a reverse Grapes of Wrath. While many Americans were making their way west, the Chavez clan was coming home to New Mexico.

When I arrived in St. John’s from the south, I was greeted with a surprise. Driving into town, I found the main street blocked off as residents set up lawn chairs for a parade. I had arrived as the town was celebrating the feast of San Juan. Some of the residents I visited during the San Juan parade told me there is still animosity between Mormons and Hispanics. But they were more interested in the fact that I live in New Mexico. They explained that they had ties to Pojoaque and Namb√©, and they travel every year to make it to the feast days.
 
Tribal members dance during San Juan Feast Day 2014
Rough Riders Riding Club at San Juan Parade 2014










Following the parade, I visited the Apache County Historical Society Museum. I expected to find a lot of the Mormon history, including prominent displays of the Udall family. The part-time museum director said she was in the process of trying to capture more of the history about the town’s Hispanic settlers. Dejected, I assumed I wouldn’t find any of my own family history there. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the historical artifacts and photos at the museum.

Then, to my surprise, I came across a display about “Los Vaqueros,” which included details of some Chavez, Lopez and Armijo families from Cubero who had settled in St. Johns and nearby El Tule. No doubt, the display was based on information from Pauline Chavez Bent, a distant cousin of mine whose writings about the Chavez family I had come across many times.

As I made my way through the display, I saw names I immediately recognized, starting with Preciliano Chavez, my second-Great Grandfather, and Onofre Chavez, the son of Preciliano and my two-times Great Uncle who was admired by my Grandpa Louie and Uncle Lalo.


Seeing the photos made my trip to St. John’s a major success. I haven’t even found a photo of my Great-Grandfather Diego Antonio Chavez, the grandson of his namesake, Diego Antonio who first took his family to St. John’s. To find a photo of his father, Preciliano, was amazing, to put it mildly.

During my drive home, I passed the Salt River Project power plant, just outside of town. I took a different route, choosing to return through Zuni Pueblo, Ramah and the northern side of El Malpais, through San Rafael to Grants. That’s the more likely route that my ancestors – the elder Diego Antonio Chavez and his son, Preciliano, took in the 1870s as they searched for opportunities. As my Uncle Lalo suggested, it’s probably the same route they took when they returned to Cubero, NM, their true home.

Despite the long trip, I decided to stop in Cubero before heading home. I looked at the birthplace of my Grandpa Louie in a bit of a different light, wondering why his grandfather and father returned, and how things would have been different if they had stayed in St. John's, or continued westward to California like many others.
Old housing structure in Cubero, NM 2014
In any case, St. John's was a temporary home for my Chavez ancestors. But they were destined to return to New Mexico.