Thursday, August 20, 2020

In Honor of My Father

Today has been 19 years since my dad passed away at the age of 86. His mother died in the last pandemic of 1918, when he was only 3 yrs old. It wasn't until this world pandemic of 2020 that I had a clue what it must have been like for my father. His 24 year old mother died in the second wave of the pandemic of 1918. Some say my mother's uncle, Francisco Padilla brought the Spanish flu back to the small community of Puerto de Luna, NM. when he returned from Kansas City, Missouri after he had gone there to sell his livestock at market. Everyone in the community was celebrating the end of WWI. So many people contracted the virus and died in the harsh winter of 1918 that they couldn't have funerals and had to bury families in unmarked group graves.
Thinking of you and your mom today Daddy.

Written by my nephew Derek Hatley

Native son who fought for his country
Left no one behind as the bullets were strafing
Standing up to the Nazi’s and the communists armies
Better men, were born back then
What have we become since the days back when
We’re now all shitty and thin
Sucking up to things we don’t believe in
Corruption sucks, yet we are licking it’s boots thin
In a way I can’t describe now
Better men, were born back then
My grandpa would rather be
Buried alive
Than to see what has become
that came after his life
Radical fists punching up to the sky
Break the silence left behind
Let’s shout it out now
And leave it loose at the ends, because...
Better men, were born back then
Yeah better men were born back then. 
Better men were born back then
Yeah better men were born back.
In your time then. You were the better man!

Love you grandpa!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy 4th of July to My Extended Family

I created this timely blog on the 4th of July as a gift to my extended family including my children Adriane Ethridge and Christian Ethridge, my grandchildren, Dylan Ethridge, Andrew Ethridge and Jacqueline Ethridge. My step-daughter Sarah Ethridge and her daughter Emerson Ethridge. Also to my nephew Derek Hatley and his two daughters Bianca Hatley and Ava Hatley. And to my ex-husband, Davis Ethridge and my sister's ex-husband, Jack Hatley.

Happy 4th of July!

You are related to Thomas Jefferson!

In case you have forgotten the reason we celebrate the 4th of July, the Americans were fighting for their rights as subjects of the British crown in 1775. By the following summer, with the Revolutionary War in full swing, the movement for independence from Britain had grown and delegates of the Continental Congress were faced with a vote on the issue. In mid-June 1776, a five-man committee including Thomas Jefferson drew up a formal statement of the colonies’ intentions. The Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence, written mostly by Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

I made the primary discovery last week that my ex-husband, Davie and Nita's ex-husband, Jack are coincidentally cousins. They grew up on opposites ends of Texas and met one time at my wedding in 1977. It is uncanny that Nita and I would marry cousins, wouldn't you say?

As I was leisurely having my morning coffee and reading Facebook posts, I found a photo of my nephew, Derek and his two daughters and decided to download it and place it on Ancestry. com. The ancestry website notified me that there was some updated info in the Hatley lineage. I've spent a considerable amount of time in the past ten years researching my side of the family yet I've not done much research into the Ethridges because I didn't have any leads. But this little hit on the Hatley lineage lead me to an unexpected discovery and/or gold mine. After several hours of research, I discovered that Jack Hatley and Davis Ethridge are 5th cousins. My first clue was finding a woman named Sarah Elizabeth Ethridge born on June 15, 1841 in the Hatley lineage. After about eight hours of research I traced both the Ethridge and the Hatley lineages back to Thomas William Etheridge I born in England in 1564.

This information opened another can of worms. I discovered that Captain William Ethridge was married to Judith Marmaduke and then I noticed that her mother was Judith Randolph. The Randolph family is a prominent Virginia political family.The first Randolph to come to America was Henry Randolph in 1643. His nephew, William Randolph later came to Virginia as an orphan in 1669. Because of their numerous progeny, William Randolph and his wife, Mary Isham Randolph, have been referred to as "the Adam and Eve of Virginia ." The Randolph family was the wealthiest and most powerful family in 18th-century Virginia.

President Thomas Jefferson was the great-grandson of William Randolph and is the second cousin seven generations back of both my ex-husband Davis and Nita's ex-husband, Jack.

Yeah.... the 3rd President of the United States who oversaw the Louisiana Purchase leading the United States to double in size during his presidency.

I'll go into Robert E Lee being the great-great-great grandson of William Randolph at a later date. Today isn't the day to talk about the commander of the Confederate Army of North Virginia in the Civil War.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been - Sad News From New Mexico

Just when I thought our country couldn't feel any more divided, ugly and violent, there was a shooting yesterday outside of the Albuquerque Museum. A petition to remove the statue of Juan de Oñate in front of the museum had been circulating and then a protest followed with protesters trying to remove the Spanish conquistador statue. 

There's no doubt in my mind that the multitude of protests due to wide spread social injustice in our country caused this issue to resurface. History repeats itself and the upheaval of current day America mirrors what was going on in the 1600's in New Mexico. The common denominator always goes hand in hand with having a demagogue leader. I never dreamed I would live to see the division and protests in my country and it is touching each of us on a very deep level and bringing up the hurt and betrayal each of us have felt to the core. Whether or not each of us are aware of it, we all have the memories of our ancestors stored in our DNA. 

La Jornada Sculpture
Women and Children
Click on photo to enlarge
La Jornada Sculpture
Women and Children
Click on photo to enlarge
La Jornada Sculpture
Click on photo to enlarge
La Jornada Sculpture
Front Center -  Juan de Oñate
Click on photo to enlarge

La Jornada Sculpture
Click on photo to enlarge
National news doesn't often cover the issues of the southwest. Issues I felt that Beto O'Rourke was very familiar with and was trying to take to a national level. Nobody on the east coast wanted to listen. It isn't their personal story. The story of their journey began at Ellis Island in 1892. Our journey was long before that, with the Oñate expedition of 1598. He has been seen as a heroic figure who lead the colonization of New Mexico and others view him as a killer who repressed and enslaved Native Americans. So here it is, bubbling over again. People still in cages at the border and now the raging Oñate controversy on national news. 

I am torn. The issues in New Mexico are very personal and complicated for me. I am 71% Spanish/European descent and 29% Native American. My ancestors were both the oppressors and the oppressed. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Oñate expeditions yet I find his tactics disturbing. He was operating in the name of Christianity, outlawing the rituals of the Native Americans that had been practiced for centuries. He was eventually banished from New Mexico and convicted by the Spanish government of using "excessive force" against the Native Americans.

Juan Oñate leading the way at the La Jornada Sculpture
Click on photo to enlarge
You know those members of your family that you would just as soon not claim? Juan Oñate is one of them, but I have a list of them. Oñate was married to my 3rd cousin 9 generations ago, Isabel de Tolosa Cortés de Moctezuma. She was the granddaughter of my 1st cousin 10 generations back, Hernando Cortes. You know, the Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire. And her mother, Isabel Tecuichpo de Moctezuma was the daughter of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma. It seems that raping and pillaging was a widespread practice to gain power.

So when you look at the whole art installation, it is very symbolic of what was truly going on. Oñate marching forward acting as a conquistador while the women and children were simply living in involuntary servitude to the powers who were in charge. If you think that protesting and voting doesn't work, think again. We have come a long way.

Juan de Oñate
La Jornada Sculpture
Click on photo to enlarge
Oñate colonized New Mexico in 1598 then in 1599 he wrote to the viceroy of New Spain (present day Mexico) and requested additional soldiers and families to help strengthen the colony that had been established.  In the year 1600, sixty-five Spaniards and twenty-five servants were recruited, including women and children. The families from this second wave of colonization were my ancestors and the ancestors of most people with Hispanic roots in New Mexico.

Here is an example of some of my ancestors that came on the expedition:

My 9th great-grandparents, the progenitors of the Baca family of New Mexico. Capitan Cristóbal Baca III and his wife Ana Maria Ortiz Pacheco y Coronado. They had three daughters and two sons.

There are an estimated five million descendants from Cristobal Baca and Ana Ortiz. Almost anyone who has a lineage of seven or more generations in New Mexico are descendants of one of the many Baca lines, if not several times over.

My 7th great-grandparents, the progenitors of the Chavez family of New Mexico. Pedro Gomez Duran y Chaves, and his wife Isabel de Bohorguez Baca. She was the daughter of Cristobal Baca and Ana Ortiz. They had one daughter and two sons.

My 8th great-grandparents the progenitors of the Montoya family of New Mexico. Bartolome de Montoya and his wife Maria de Zamora  They had three sons and two daughters. 

Plaques with names of my ancestors
La Jornada Sculpture
Click on photo to enlarge
I could go on and on, but you get the gist. Yes, the multi-figure art installation titled “La Jornada.” (The Journey)  pays homage to a man that committed atrocities in the name of Christianity. But it also pays homage to other men, women and children. My ancestors. Most of whom I assume were innocent. I am very sad. It's the only place I've ever been where I saw rows and rows of plaques with the names of my ancestors who were the founding fathers of New Mexico. It stood prominently in front of the Albuquerque Museum. It's sad to negate the contributions that the expeditions made to New Mexico's history. Oñate himself was an ugly demagogue but there's a positive side. They brought horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, irrigation, wine and mining.

Woman, child and pig
La Jornada
Click on photo to enlarge
I took the above photos of “La Jornada” on my last trip to Albuquerque. I never dreamed it would be the last time I saw it. I choose to see the beauty in these photos of women, children and animals who I am sure were doing their best just to survive. I honor those who made the long journey. I pray that we learn to live together in peace.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Spanish Influenza of 1918 - Coronavirus 2020

I haven't written in my blog since August, 2019. No reason in particular. Now that I have been sitting in quarantine with my thoughts for 6 weeks, due to the world wide pandemic, COVID-19, I've decided it's time to write about how deeply I feel about our situation.

When the quarantine began, I approached it with fear and grief. Fear because I am over 60 with a heart condition and grief because I couldn't get my grandmother, Josefita Labadie Fajardo off of my mind. She died 102 years ago due to the Spanish Influenza of 1918 when an estimated 1/3 of the world’s population was infected  – resulting in at least 50 million deaths worldwide. I never imagined with the incredible advances we have made in medicine that we would be facing a pandemic in 2020.

My grandparents - Josefita Labadie Fajardo and Doroteo Chavez Fajardo
My father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo, was only three years old when his mother died. This I know, he spent his whole life with a huge hole in his broken heart, looking for his mother's grave. He never found it. After my dad had passed away, I read  that so many people had died in the winter of 1918 that the victims had to be buried in unmarked group graves. It was too risky to have funerals.

My Father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo when he was a baby

My Father,  Felipe Montoya Fajardo when he was a boy
The Spanish Influenza had showed up on the west coast of the United States in the Spring of 1918. Then the curve had flatted, however when WWI ended, on November 11, 1918, people came out of quarantine to celebrate and the second and worst wave of the flu hit in the winter of 1918. That is when my grandmas died. It didn't stop there, it hit again in 1919. 

Have you ever wondered why it was called the Spanish Influenza? It was a misnomer. It didn’t start in Spain. During WWI Spain was neutral so censorship wasn't impose the press. France, England and the United States newspapers weren’t allowed to report on anything that could harm the war effort, including news that a crippling virus was sweeping through and killing the troops. Since Spanish journalists were some of the only ones reporting on a widespread flu outbreak in the spring of 1918, the pandemic became known as the “Spanish flu.”

Notice the cat had a mask on as well

As fate would have it, just a few weeks prior to the COVID-19 quarantine, I was chatting on Facebook with my friend/prima, Jasmine, who lives in Santa Rosa, NM. A friend of hers chimed into the conversation and we ended up chatting for a long time and it felt like another one of those God sends that I happen onto once in a while. 

Her name is Kimberly and she said "I think I have read your blog on your ancestry. You are descended from the Labadie family. I am fascinated by that family. I live on a piece of their property, between the hemp farms." 
I replied "Oh Wow! Yes, my paternal grandmother was Josefita Labadie. I didn't know there were hemp farms in Puerto de Luna! I am totally fascinated by that lineage of my family as well. I never knew anything about them until I started doing research because my grandmother died of the Spanish Influenza in 1918 when my dad was only 3 yrs old. I discovered so much of my ancestry from the census taken in Puerto de Luna in 1900 by Lorenzo Labadie, but he had such an amazing life before that. He was a Lieutenant Colonel. His daughter, Beatriz was married to Juan Patron, another very interesting person. There is a book written about him called "Juan Patron: A Fallen Star in the Days of Billy the Kid." 

Beatriz Labadie Patron and Juan Patron

Then Kimberly wrote "That was the best book! Sadly the Labadie homestead was bought up. They have built a huge four story CBD processing facility. They have basically destroyed the beauty of the ranch. However, Lorenzo’s original Adobe is still there. Plans to tear it down were abandoned. Now they know they historical significance of it. The people who owned this land and who sub-divided it, were obsessed with Lorenzo Labadie as well. The wife did a ton of research on him and passed it on to me. It is all stuff you have found, Im sure. Richard Delgado said my place is where Juan Patron and Beatrice lived. I found Roman’s grave and Beatrice’s next to him at the cemetery on Reilly Road.

Beatriz Labadie's Grave

And Lorenzo's grave is in Puerto de Luna. I am trying to find the truth about my house. It was a ruin that someone enlarged in the early 2000’s. It makes sense it was Beatrice and Juan's house. I’ve often wondered where all the Labadies scattered to. Most of the other old families have a presence here. The location of Lorenzo’s Adobe is the second drive way coming from Santa Rosa on the west side of the highway before Blue Jay Rd which is where the Delgado’s live. There are county dumpsters at the gate." 
I wrote back "Oh my goodness, this is very touching! I have lived in Texas most of my life so I haven't had the opportunity to do much physical research. It is really very cool that you live there. I would love to see photos!"

Present day Labadie Ranch

Kimberly posted this iris photo on
Easter Sunday, April 12
Not knowing what it would mean to me.
It was the 15 year anniversary of my mom's passing.
Mom and Dad always had iris plants in their yard.
Mom and her iris plants - Amarillo, TX
My mother used to mention the Labadie family on occasion when she talked about her uncles who were politicians in New Mexico. I wish I had paid closer attention to the stories she told. After my grandmother Josefita died, my grandfather, Doroteo remarried and started another family so my grandmother's memory was all but erased, except from the heart of her only son Felipe. 

So I started doing my own research about 10 years ago. My Great-Great-Great Uncle, Lorenzo Labadie was the census taker in Puerto de Luna and surrounding areas in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. I discovered some of the most important information from these documents. I always felt like I had hit a jackpot of information if I found a census taken by Lorenzo because all of his census documentation was very accurate and legible. He not only knew everyone in each household, he was related to all of the ones that I was researching. I felt like I grew to know him, late at night as I drank tea and combed through his well recorded documents.

Lorenzo Labadie's House as it looks today
Nobody lives there.

The census in Puerto de Luna in 1900 was a huge find for me. I found that my Grandmother Josefita Labadie and her sisters were living with her mother Dorotea and her stepfather, Antonio Montoya in Puerto de Luna. Up to that time I thought my grandmother was a Montoya but it listed all the children as step-children to the head of the household, Antonio Montoya and they all had the last name Labadie.

A Portion of the 1900 Puerto de Luna Census

Lorenzo Labadie lead a very active life. He was born August 10, 1825 in the Rio Grande Valley, south of Albuquerque. He was a sheriff of Valencia County, then a sheriff of Santa Fe. He then became an Indian agent for several tribes. Then my favorite part of Lorenzo's life, in 1871 He got a merchant's license to open a wine shop in Puerto de Luna. It's not hard for me to imagine the grape vines and orchards along the Pecos in Puerto de Luna. And then at last in 1880 - 1900 he was the census taker. The documents he recorded confirmed the stories I had heard that Billy the Kid had taught my great Uncle Hilario Valdez how to read and write in English, in the evenings after the ranch work was done when Hilario was 7 yrs old. He was also the Post Master of Santa Rosa 1884 - 1898. Lorenzo died on August 10, 1904, in Puerto De Luna, New Mexico and was buried there in the El Calvario Cemetery.

My thoughts now, six weeks into quarantine. I am so grateful to have a safe home and groceries. I thought I loved HEB before but I love them even more now because they have provided curbside pickup for groceries. I have been impressed with most of my family and friends and our effort to flatten the curve by staying home. I think with greater awareness of how viruses and pandemics work, along with better healthcare, we have a better chance than they did in 1918, even if we are working against a president who urges us to not trust the press and has followers who believe the pandemic is a hoax. I feel badly for those areas with dense populations like NYC who rely on public transportation. I am grateful to all my musician friends for the streaming concerts on Facebook and ZOOM conversations with friends. I am grateful for everyone who has checked in on me by phone, text or Facebook. I am grateful for the essential workforce who has continued to work such as healthcare workers and those who work at the grocery stores and pharmacies. I pray that this pandemic takes a downward turn by May 15 so my son can reopen his restaurant. For now I am home, watching lots of movies, eating lots of home cooked meals and feeling grateful that in this moment I feel healthy and I have a cat. And to all that read this please stay safe, stay home as much as possible and be grateful in every moment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

My Personal Story of Kit Carson - The Trailblazer

A few days ago I was reminiscing about a trip that I took to Taos last September to attend the 16th Annual Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Music Festival. I knew it would be a great time because I had been prompted by my friend, Jimmy LaFave to go to The Folk Alliance Convention in Albuquerque in 1999 to hang out with my Austin musician friends in the Land of Enchantment. Needless to say, it was a blast having sleep overs with my cousins Albuquerque and then going to listen to Austin music in my beloved New Mexico. My lifelong dream had come true, if only for a weekend.

Kit Carson Park, Taos, NM

Christina and Brenda at the Barn Dance in Kit Carson Park
Christina in Taos, September 2018

My weekend in Taos proved to be just as magical. The annual Barn Dance is held in downtown Taos, at the Kit Carson Park, named after the notable frontiersman, Kit Carson. There's a family graveyard in the park where Kit and his family are buried. Between musical sets, I wondered around looking at the graves, taking photos, thinking I should do some research when I got home. I had noticed his wife's name was Josephine Jaramillo, a surname that I had seen in my family tree. I finally got around to doing the research this week, almost a year later.

The Graves of Kit Carson and his wife Josephine Jaramillo Carson
In the Kit Carson Park, Taos, NM

Lt. Colonel Christopher Kit Houston Carson 

I was taken by this photo of Josepha and one of her children
The baby looks so much like
my grandson, Andrew, the baby on the left.

As expected, Kit Carson's third wife, Josefa "Josephine" Jaramillo, was in fact, my 3rd cousin 3 generations back (In genealogical lingo - 3rd cousin 3X removed.) This storyline repeats numerous times over the centuries in my family history. This, of course is not the focus of historians, but I am a hopeless romantic. A handsome stranger blows into town and falls in love with a beautiful young maiden, who just happens to be part of a local, prominent, wealthy family. In this chapter of my family history, it's the family of Maria Apolonia Vigil Jaramillo and her husband Francisco Estevan Jaramillo. They were descendants of two of New Mexico territory's oldest and most respected families. I've been able to trace our Vigil family tree back to Zenobio de Jesus Vigil, born in 1500 in San Martino, Asturias, Spain. He was  my 11th great grandfather and Josepha Jaramillo's 8th great-grandfather. These families were some of the earliest of settlers and played an important role in the history of the northern New Mexico Territory during the tumultuous 1800s.

Josepha Jaramillo's older sister Ignacia Jaramillo was a common law wife to Charles Bent. Both Kit and Charles had come west from Missouri in the fur trapping business. Charles didn't want to marry Ignacia in the Catholic church because he was from a protestant family but they had a family together. Here's the spoiler alert! Even though Kit Carson is very much the star of this story, it takes a turn that I wasn't expecting when I was doing the research. If you are a history buff, you already know the story. I have to confess that until I started researching my ancestry, I had little or no interest in history. Now that I know how whitewashed our history books have been, it makes total sense that the stories we were taught didn't capture my attention. The real stories are much more colorful and make much more sense. There are always two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in between. 

I am going to tell the warm fuzzy part of the story first. From what I gather Kit Carson, the American frontiersman, soldier, western guide and Indian agent was an honorable benevolent leader. He was born on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1809 in Richmond, Kentucky. He was only a year old when his family moved west to Missouri. They settled in Howard County, between St Louis and Kansas City. When Kit was only nine years old, his father was hit by a tree limb and died. Two weeks later his mother gave birth to her tenth child. I can't imagine what it may have been like to be a single mother in the 1800's. She remarried four years later to a widower with seven children, so together they had seventeen children. Kit didn't get along with his stepfather and at the age of fourteen he became an apprentice to a saddle maker. Needless to say, the death of his father changed the trajectory of this his life. Many of the customers at the saddle shop were trappers and traders. Kit heard stirring tales of the west and at the age of sixteen, he secretly signed on with a large merchant caravan heading to Santa Fe. During the winter of 1826 he stayed in Taos with a trapper and explorer who had been a friend of Kit's father. Kit learned the skills of a trapper. 

In the summer of 1835, at the age of 25, Kit attended an annual mountain man rendezvous, which was held in Wyoming. He became interested in a beautiful Arapaho woman named Waa-Nibe ("Singing Grass" in English) Her tribe was camping nearby. They were married and had one daughter, Adaline in 1837 then Waanibe died giving birth to their second child. In 1840 he married a Cheyenne woman named Making-Out-Road Carson  but that marriage only lasted about a year.

By this time, Kit's friends and associates read like a who’s who of the rich and famous on the American frontier, yet his friends were diverse. He became friends with Charles and William Bent who had establishing 'Bent's Fort' in Colorado. The only major permanent white settlement on the Santa Fe Trail in 1833. It was the commercial link between St Louis and Santa Fe, the capital of the Mexican province of New Mexico. 

Bent's Fort

So think about this and compare it to the headlines you read today. The Arkansas River was just a few hundred yards to the south of "Bent's Fort." and until 1848, the international border between Mexico and the United States was Arkansas River. It was like the modern day Texas/ Mexico border on the Rio Grande. 'Bent's Fort' made trade between the United States and Mexico very easy. So even though it may have seemed to be the middle of nowhere, on the contrary, it was in the middle of everywhere. In a time when most people used products from no farther than 30 miles from where they were born, Bent’s Fort was the modern version of an international trade center. There were glass beads from Venice, blankets from England, guns from Belgium, trade silver from Germany, ginger and tea from China, sugar from Havana and much more. The fort wasn't just a trade center, it had a bar, a kitchen and dining room 
with 40-60 employees. There were wild parties called fandangos that allowed people from all backgrounds mingled and danced together.  The traders and customers were diverse, with several languages spoken daily - Spanish being the most common. Kit became fluent in Spanish, Navajo, Apache, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Paiute, Shoshone and Ute.

From St Louis, it would take travelers 50 or 60 days to get to 'Bent’s Fort.' When travelers arrived to this destination, it was a big deal. Throughout history, there's this indescribable thread that's connects my family to someone in St Louis. Even now, my son and two grandchildren live in St Louis. Christian owns a restaurant serving my mother's recipes of our homeland, New Mexico. Bent Ave in St Louis is just a stone's throw away from the new Taco Circus location. The Bent family was from St Louis and they are now buried there. In Taos, the Bent Museum is on Bent Street, a couple of blocks from the Kit Carson Park. 

Then there was Kit’s best friend, Luciano Bonaparte Maxwell. His story reads like an old western adventure — because it was. Kit and Luciano married their wives in a double ceremony in 1843 at the Guadalupe Church in Taos. Kit was 33 when he married 15 year old Josepha. Luciano married Luz Beaubien. As a wedding gift, Luz' parents, Maria Paula Lovato and Charles Beaubien, gave the couple 15,000 acres of the Miranda-Beaubien Land Grant which consisted in part the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. At one time Luciano Maxwell owned more than 1,700,000 acres, making him the largest private landowners in United States history. 

Here's more mind blowing ancestral information that I just put together while combing through literature for this blog. Luciano's wife Luz is my 4th cousin 4 generations ago AND ..... Drum Roll Please...... Luciano and Luz were the parents of Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo. Do you know who Paulita Maxwell Jaramillo was? She was Billy the Kid's girlfriend. When I was a high school senior, I just knew her as the character that Rita Coolidge played in my favorite movie of 1973, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid." I later discovered that Billy the Kid lived on my great uncle's ranch and taught my great uncle Hilario Valdez to read and write in English when he was 7 yrs old. I verified much of what I read by combing through all the census documents taken by my great great Uncle Lorenzo Labadie. 38 years after Paulita's parents were married, Billy the Kid was killed at the Maxwell's home in Ft Sumner by Pat Garrett. Luciano had left the house to his son Peter.

The Maxwell House Where Billy The Kid Was Killed By Pat Garrett
July 14, 1881, In Ft Sumner, NM.
Luz Beaubien Maxwell and Luciano Bonaparte Maxwell's
son, Pedro was living at the house at the time.

So that's the story I expected and was extremely excited to find while doing the research on the Kit Carson family cemetery and I was very excited to finally make the DNA connection to Paulita Maxwell. Now comes the real history lesson. As I mentioned, Josepha Jaramillo's older sister Ignacia was married to Charles Bent, the successful trader who had established 'Bent's Fort.' In 1829, he and his younger brother William escorted a caravan of 93 wagonloads of goods from Missouri to the New Mexico Territory. After this highly lucrative expedition, Charles went into business with a French trapper named Ceran St. Vrain. Their firm Bent, St. Vrain and Co became one of the west’s leading mercantile enterprises. Annual profits from the fur trade alone averaged $40,000. They had stores in Santa Fe and in Taos.

Charles Bent's considerable wealth and his common law marriage into one of the New Mexico territory's oldest and most respected families helped him win acceptance among the political elites. He became a close associate of New Mexico's governor, Manuel Armijo. Then the U.S. Congress approved the declaration of war against Mexico on May 13, 1846. The Bent brothers had opened the gate to the west and welcomed the United States General Stephen Kearney’s conquest of New Mexico with open arms. Kearny informed Governor Armijo of the U.S. government’s intent to annex New Mexico. Sensing major trouble, Governor Armijo deserted. 

Christina at Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, NM 2017

On August 18, 1846, Brigadier General Kearny raised the American flag and fired a 13 gun salute at the Palace of the Governors as he informed the people of New Mexico’s capital of the annexation. Prominent New Mexicans were outraged at the United States aggression and were ashamed of Armijo’s desertion. They began making plans to defend their country against American occupation. In September 1846, Kearney appointed Charles Bent as the first American Territorial Governor of the newly acquired New Mexico Territory. Kearney and most of his soldiers then moved on to take over California, leaving the new governor to fend for himself. Bent's actions had earned him many enemies in Taos. Many of the Hispanic families naturally resented the American conquest of their home and the Native Americans had long disliked Bent because of his trade relations with their northern Native enemies. 

On the morning of January 19, 1847, the Taos Revolt began. It was led by Pablo Montoya, a Hispano and Tomás Romero, a Native of the Taos Pueblo. A violent mob attacked the Bent home, murdered his guards, and then assassinated and scalped Charles Bent, dragging Bent’s mangled body through the streets of Taos. The mob called for a full-scale rebellion against the American occupation and by the end of the evening, 15 others had been killed including Pablo Jaramillo, Josephine's brother and Narcisco Beaubien the brother of Luz Beaubien. They were the brother-in-laws of Kit and Luciano, both of them blood relatives of mine. Fortunately, Kit was on a fur trapping trip, Ignacia Jaramillo Bent, her sister Josefa Jaramillo Carson and the children escaped through a hole in the adobe wall. Ignacia and Josefa begged the bloodthirsty mob for mercy. Buenaventura De Jesus Valdez (another 2nd cousin of mine) entered the Bent house too late to save Charles Bent. He told the attackers they were only sent to take Charles Bent in, not to kill him. He intervened and spared the women’s lives. The attackers left, leaving the family in a state of shock. They went to stayed in the home of Maria Juana Catarina Lovato and Buenaventura De Jesus Valdez for three days until they could escaped to Santa Fe with their children. With the end of the Mexican War in 1848, New Mexico and all the rest of Mexico’s old northern frontier became the American Southwest.

The two accused rebellion leaders, Pablo Montoya and Tomás Romero, were captured. Tomás was murdered in his jail cell before being brought to trial. Montoya was convicted of treason and hanged. Later trials resulted in 14 additional public hangings. The Taos Pueblo women had to carry their dead husbands’ bodies the few miles back to the Pueblo.

After the American takeover of New Mexico, Kit Carson and Lucieno Maxwell moved their families to Rayado, where they built a trading post and supply station for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. When Lucieno Maxwell's father-in-law,  Charles Beaubien died, Lucieno bought out the rest of the family and became sole owner of the Maxwell Land Grant. It took two acts of Congress to validate his ownership.

I have extremely mixed emotions about the above chapter of my family history but it's an informative history lesson and considering our county's current state of affairs with Mexico, it is a history lesson I needed to read. Wikipedia gives a mostly white washed version, yet when I read Native American websites the story is very graphic and real. For instance, the Native websites brought to my attention that official permission to enter the New Mexico Territory to set up  trade would have had to come from 1600 miles away in Mexico City. So the opening of the Santa Fe Trail not only allowed American traders set up shop illegally, it very conveniently opened up the west to be invaded by the United States. I had family members on both sides of the aisle just as and I have family members on both sides of the aisle today. My thoughts .... why can't we all just get along?

Back to the warm fuzzy part of this family story...

As a wedding gift, Kit had given Josepha an adobe home in Taos that they lived in for twenty-some years. Today this home houses the Kit Carson Museum. They brought eight children into the world in that house. (The first one died as an infant) Their niece, Teresina Bent, once described her Aunt Josepha and Uncle Kit: “She was very dark headed, with large bright eyes, graceful in every way, beautiful and the best of mothers. The Carson door was always open to neighbors, Spanish, Native and Anglo. Kit was a kind hearted man. Once he was lying on a blanket with his pockets stuffed with candy. His children jumped on top of him, raided his pockets and ate the candy. Clearly such small episodes brought him great pleasure.

The oldest known photo of the Kit Carson home in Taos
The Kit Carson Home Today In Taos Is A Museum
The Courtyard of the Kit Carson Home

In 1854 Carson became an Indian Agent for the Utes and Apaches, a job that allowed him to stay home more. He worked to keep peace and to ensure fair treatment of Native Americans. Once while away on business, a party of Utes stopped by his office. Josefa, who was a strong and equal match to Kit, went out to speak with him. After telling them that her husband wasn't there, she noticed a small Navajo boy sobbing on the saddle behind one of the Utes. When she asked about him she was told that after they were out of sight, they were going to kill him because of his constant crying. Horrified, Josefa asked them what they would accept in trade for the boy. The Utes replied that they would trade him for a horse. The trade was made. When Kit returned home he noticed a horse was missing When Josephine told him what had happened he accepted the boy gracefully and named him Juan Carson. Juan remained with the Carson's until their deaths a decade later.

In January 1868, General Kit Carson, frontiersman, was appointed superintendent of Indian Affairs for Colorado Territory. He traveled to Washington with a group of Ute chiefs to negotiate a treaty. He also consulted with a number of doctors on the East Coast about chest pains and other health problems. By then, it was apparent that he was quite ill. He was suffering from an aortic aneurysm that was so large that he had a bulge on his chest.

Kit returned home in time for the birth of his seventh child. It was a difficult birth and his beloved Josepha died on April 23, 1868, shortly after the birth of their healthy baby. Kit named their daughter Josefita in memory of his beloved wife. He lost the will to live and made arrangements for his children, wrote his will and  died at the age of 59 on May 23, 1868 one month to the day after his wife’s death. Theirs had been one of the great love stories of the American frontier.

Cheers to all my ancestors in New Mexico
Thank you for blazing the trails
I honor you

This shows our family tree matches.
My 4th great-grandmother was Josephine's great aunt.
Click on it to make it bigger.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


BLESSED is the word I am going to use to describe my little corner of the Universe. Mostly because when my family is happy, I am happy. After a long, grueling, hurtful and unnecessary three year custody battle, my son, Christian is finally able to spend an abundant amount of quality time with his children. The conclusion I've arrived at.... Family law sucks if there are vengeful people on the other side of the aisle. Mostly for the children and fathers but grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles suffer too.  For almost four years my son and his children were only allowed to see each other once a week for a mere four hours. Half of that time was spent driving to and from the courthouse exchange center to pick them up. Most of the family photos on our side of the family were taken in the car or at a restaurant because a meal together and a trip to the park is all they had time for. I have screen shots of 5 minute FaceTime conversations I had with them and they have relatives in Texas that Jackie has never met.

Jackie and Andrew
Weekly four hour visit with their dad

I was awarded one weekend a couple of years ago and Andrew got to come and stay with me for a few days last summer, but we never saw them on holidays so Christian would have "Christmas in July" for them. He put up a blue tree and showered them with gifts and FaceTimed me so I could watch them open gifts.

Jackie - Christmas in July July 2018

Andrew - Christmas in July July 2018

On these four hour visits, Andrew would jump in the car and say "It has been 10080 minutes since the last time I saw you and that is a really long time when you are counting minutes!" Then he wouldn't even have time to be happy to be with his dad before it was time to pack up and leave again.

Making the best of a four hour visitation
Christina, Andrew, Christian and Jackie

Christian had no idea how horrible a divorce could be. This wasn't the experience we or any of our friends and family in Texas had. Our mindset has always been that when you have children together, you become family and families take care of each other. Families may disagree, but it is a civil family affair. You don't take each other to court. Christian was expecting the kind of divorce that had been mirrored to him and told Andrew in the beginning that they would see each other just as much, but his mother and he just wouldn't be living in the same house. That is far from what came to pass. He spent an unbelievable amount of time in court, thousands and thousands of dollars that should have been spent on the children. And for what?

Thank God, there was finally a court ruling, no thanks to Christian's attorney and Christian was granted overnight visitations with the children. The kids now have their own bedrooms in their new house with their dad and they have sleep overs.

Andrew and Jackie at their new house with their dad

When I went to visit them in St Louis last month, I arrived during their weekly piano lessons. The feeling we had when we saw each other and hugged will last a lifetime.
Andrew at piano lessons when we first saw each other. Heaven

Jackie at piano lessons when we first saw each other. Pure Joy

Jackie at piano lessons 

Andrew at piano lessons 

I can see the change in Andrew's face, just enjoying being in the presence of his dad. No longer spending the whole time stressing that the time is going to end soon. They can enjoy the simple pleasures of throwing a ball in the yard, watching a movie or just chillin' on the couch.

Andrew chillin'

Jackie in her princess bed at her daddy's house.

Last week Christian took Jackie swimming and took her to pick out a new pink bike with training wheels. They went bike riding and to dinner. There is really no other way to feel but grateful and blessed about spending quality time with them. Having breakfast, lunch and dinner... play time, rest time and everything in between with the sound of children's laughter in the house. BLESSED and GRATEFUL pretty much sums it up.

Andrew, Christian
At Taco Circus

I started to write a blog about our journey over two years ago and then realized it was just too hard to even write. My heart condition worsened during that time and it stressed me out to think about. Meanwhile, I have been following the horrible stories of the desperate immigrants being held in detention centers at the Texas/Mexico border, separated from their families. My heart just aches for them. When we were separated from Andrew and Jackie, the empathy I felt for these poor immigrants was unbearable. They've experienced hardships on a level that no human should have to endure. Making incomprehensible long treks from some of the most violent countries in Central America. Arriving at the border beyond exhausted, hungry, thirsty, dirty, tired and scared, hoping for solace and their situation only gets worse when they arrive in an unfriendly land where few speak their language. Because I am a genealogist, it takes me back to the long journeys my own family has taken over the centuries from Spain to Mexico then to New Mexico and then to Texas and at last my son landed in Missouri. I recognize on a very deep level how much courage it takes to risk leaving your home to make a better life for yourself and your family. I've experienced the judgement of taking the road less traveled. I admire anyone who is willing to go out on a limb to start new beginnings.

I can't help but think of the words of Willie Nelson “We are all the same. There is no difference anywhere in the world. People are people. They laugh, cry, feel, and love, and music seems to be the common denominator that brings us all together. Music cuts through all boundaries and goes right to the soul.”

So, as for new beginnings, last weekend Christian closed his restaurant, Taco Circus for a day to take food to Willie's crew at The Hollywood Casino Amphi Theatre in St Louis where they were playing at the Outlaw Music Festival.
Christian and Lana Nelson

Christian and Willie
June 2019

To Christian it was more than having backstage passes. It was being of service to the Nelson family. Willie has been his spiritual leader since he was a child and it was important to just feel the blessing as he entered into a new phase of his business. This weekend Taco Circus closed the Bevo Mill location and will be opening at a new location On The Hill in St Louis next month. He is feeling blessed. I am feeling blessed. Excited about the changes in our lives and praying for continued success, happiness and quality time with Andrew and Jackie.

Jackie, Andrew and Christian at Ted Drew, St Louis

I will end this blog with
"I Love My Life!"