Sunday, July 30, 2017

Independence Day

During the month of July I pondered Independence Day being celebrated on the 4th of July. I celebrated myself in the tradition of going to the Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic with my sister.

Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic 2017

Nita and Christina at the Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic 2017
It's commonplace to commemorate Independence Day. on July 4th. Our history books tell us that in 1776 the Continental Congress declared the THIRTEEN American colonies to be a new nation, the United States of America. No longer part of the British Empire. Okay cool. That seems like a good reason to celebrate. However, my personal history is very different and I am just wondering when is it appropriate to celebrate my history. My ancestors are from the sort of khaki colored western side of the USA on the map below labeled "NEW SPAIN." During the 1700's and 1800's and into the early 1900's, there was a whole different dynamic going on over in the southwest.

Twenty-eight years before the Declaration of Independence, my paternal 4th great-grandmother, Maria Micaela Padilla was born in the high mountain valley of El Rito, Rio Arriba County, New Spain. (Present day New Mexico.) I have chosen Maria Micaela to tell you about because I love her name and her descendants were prominent citizens of New Mexico. She was born in 1748 and lived forteen miles south of Abiquiú, eighteen miles northwest of Espanola, fifteen miles northwest of Ojo Caliente and fifty-six miles northwest of Santa Fe. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. With those very detailed directions being given, the locals will tell you, tongue in cheek, the very small community of El Rito is about three hundred years northwest of Santa Fe. Much of the current day population lives off of the grid.

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Maria Micaela Padilla was from a prominent founding family in New Mexico, so it is no surprise that when the handsome young twenty-seven year old doctor, Dominique Labadie, relocated from St Louis to New Mexico in 1765, he would pick Maria Micaela to be his wife. He was born in Veloc, Gascony, in the southwest of France. They were married in November of 1766 in a church in Santa Fe called La Parroquia, built between 1714 –1717. The very popular present day Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi was built by between 1869 and 1886 on the site of La Parroquia church. The new cathedral was built around La Parroquia, which was dismantled once the new construction was complete. A small chapel on the north side of the cathedral was kept from the old church. Maria Micaela and Dominique Labadie had 15 children in Santa Fe and they were all baptized in this location.
Looking North on San Francisco Street in Santa Fe
La Parroquia Church stands at the end of the street
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico
now stands where La Parroquia Church used to be

In January of 1795 the French were lobbying for the return of Louisiana to France. Spain was fearful of the encroachment of the United States and the France. Since Dominique was French yet married to Maria Micaela Padilla, their property was inventoried and the couple and their 15 children were confined to their residence for a period of time.

Again, I can't help but think that the information that's been written in our history books is extremely slanted. In 1776, the same year Maria Micaela Padilla married her handsome Frenchman in Santa Fe, King Charles III of Spain gave my maternal 5th Great Uncle, Captain Antonio Montoya, 50,000 acre Piedra Lumbre (Shining Stone) Land Grant. Did you read anything about that in your history books? Yeah, probably not. On a side note, The 21,000 acres that comprise Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch is part of the Piedra Lumbre Land Grant, now owned by a Presbyterian Church. I won't go into how it went from being a land grant to being owned by a church. I don't spend my time thinking about all the land and livestock taken from my family Instead I study those that have given back to their communities and made a huge difference in their lifetime. I pray that I have retained some of their character in my DNA. 

Lorenzo Labadie is one of those ancestors that I have grown to know and love through my research. He was my 3rd great uncle and the grandson of Micaela and Dominique Labadie. Lorenzo was described as a handsome, honorable man who wore many hats. In 1851 he was the Sheriff in Valencia County where he served 3 terms. Like his friend Kit Carson, he was a sympathetic and a loyal friend to many Native Americans. In 1855 he was appointed as a U.S. Indian Agent for 15 years and gained respect and confidence seldom obtained by the Native Americans as an Agent. Under his watchful eye, the Native Americans worked side-by-side with soldiers, damming the Pecos River to irrigate crops, planting trees, and building a slaughter house. They had 94 gardens spread over a 100 acre area and grew melons, pumpkins, chile and green beans. Lorenzo was removed as an Indian agent because he protested against the Native Americans being furnished unwholesome food by the government.

Lorenzo Labadie's Grave
Born August 10, 1825
 Tome, Valencia County, New Mexico
Died August 10, 1904
Puerto De Luna, Guadalupe County, New Mexico

In1871 Lorenzo took out merchants license and opened a wine shop. There were vineyards and orchards in Puerto de Luna. I became very familiar with Puerto de Luna in those days because in 1880, 1890 and 1900 Lorenzo was the most precise census taker of Puerto de Luna and the surrounding areas of San Miguel County. (current day Guadalupe County) There is so much family history in these documents, including a records of Billy the Kid living and working on my great-great uncle's ranches. He taught my great uncle Hilario Valdez to speak and read English at the age of 7 in the evenings when the work day was done. Puerto de Luna was a thriving community at the time. I hope to some day write a book based on the information that Lorenzo collected in the pages of his census. I learned that my paternal grandmother Josefita was actually a Labadie and adopted by her mother's second husband in the 1900 Puerto de Luna census. He was her uncle and the information was very precise. He was also the Post Master of Santa Rosa from 1884 until 1898. In 1885 he signed a petition to get Rifles for Puerto De Luna. On February 2, 1893 he won a case against Celso Baca for cheating on the Election for seat on the 30th. Legislation Assembly of New Mexico as representation for Guadalupe County. Lorenzo was elected. It has been written that Benjamin Baca was the founder of Santa Rosa, New Mexico in 1890 but a historian from Santa Rosa says that Lorenzo Labadie was the founder. Nonetheless, they have both been named as two of the first settlers of Santa Rosa.

That was a very condensed version of what was going on with just a very few of my ancestors in "New Spain" when the thirteen colonies became the United States and shortly thereafter. It wasn't until January 6, 1912, three and a half short years before my father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo was born in Puerto de Luna, New Mexico that New Mexico became the 47th state.

Now when do we celebrate our "Independence?" 

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