Monday, October 30, 2017

A Walk Through The Family Cemetery And Family History

One of my favorite things to do is to spend a quiet night at home doing ancestry research in hopes that I end up traveling through the 1800's while reading stories that I never dreamed could have taken place in my extended family history. Tonight I hit the jackpot once again. While on a trip to New Mexico last week, I made a point to stop by the family cemetery located in Puerto de Luna. The cemetery is located on a hill across the road from the church in my parent's home town.

My 2017 Visit To The Family Cemetery

"Nuestra Senora de Refugio Cemetary"
Puerto de Luna, New Mexico
"Nuestra Senora de Refugio Cemetary"
Puerto de Luna, New Mexico

"Nuestra Senora del Refugio Church"
Puerto de Luna, New Mexico


My little brother and my maternal grandparents are buried there with countless other relatives dating back to the 1800's. I was sad to see that my little brother's gravestone had recently been vandalized. The head of the little lamb had been knock off and was in pieces so I gathered the pieces and wild flowers to take this photo.

My Little Brother, Larry Fajardo

My maternal grandparents
Ascencion Padilla  and Rosita Valdez Padilla

Some of the grave stones are so old that the names have been worn off.

The newest grave was that of my second cousin, William Dodge. He passed away just this month and his older brother, James passed away in August. RIP Will and James. They were the grandson's of my mother's oldest sister Marcelina Padilla Page and her husband Joseph Page and sons of my first cousin Marcelena Page Dodge and her husband, Antonio Dodge.

My Aunt Marcelina Padilla Page
My mother's oldest sister Marcelina passed away in 1939 at the age of 36. She left seven child and a husband behind. My mother was in high school at the time and went to live with her brother-in-law for a time just down the road in Puerto de Luna to help him with the children. She became very close to her nieces and nephews, the Page family. Her niece Marcelena, was close to her age and they were more like sisters. Marcelena married Antonio Dodge. I remember visiting Marcelena when I was young and thinking how cool it would be to have a piano teacher as a mom.

Graves of Marcelena Page Dodge and
Antonio Page
Graves of Marcelena Page Dodge and
Antonio Page
So last week, as I was walking around the cemetery, I noticed that my grandparents were buried just to the right of my little brother, some first cousins and uncles to the left. My Aunt Marcelina Padilla Page and her husband Joseph Page are buried just above him on the hill and below him was this grave with "Henry Dodge - Catholic" inscribed on it.


I thought it was interesting that it would say "Catholic" on the gravestone since most everyone in my family is Catholic. Why bother? So I decided to snap a photo and do some research on Henry. Keeping in mind that I am related to all the Dodges in this small community, but sometimes we are related 2 or 3 times over. With that being said, I am sure that if any of my cousins from New Mexico read this, they will get a chuckle because of all my "research" is uncovering what is common knowledge to those that have lived there their whole life.... except for the stuff that goes back to the 1800's, then only a handful of my history buff cousins even care about it and will be sure to contact me if I get any of this information mixed up. At any rate, this is basically transcribed for those of us who have moved away and don't know much about our family history and hold it dearly in our hearts. I missed out attending most family weddings and funerals where most of the information is shared amongst the relatives that may have had one too many drinks during the celebration.

So I discovered that the mysterious headstone baring the name "Henry (Enrique) Dodge" was Antonio Dodge's father, that's my first cousin Marcelena Page Dodge's father-in-law. It is going to take a couple of paragraphs before I get to the reason he may have had "Catholic" written on his gravestone but the back story on the Dodge family is worth mentioning.

Henry (Enrique) Dodge was born in Puerto de Luna in 1910, his father was Roman Antonio Dodge born in Valencia County, New Mexico, 1853. Roman's father was Captain Henry Lafayette Dodge, born in 1810 in St Genevieve, Missouri, 60 miles south of St Louis, on the west bank of the Mississippi River. My son now lives in St Louis. On a trip to St Louis a while back, we took a drive out in the counties to St Genevieve. It is a beautiful little town and it's Missouri's oldest settlement. Henry Lafayette Dodge was the son of a Henry Moses Dodge born in 1782 in Knox County, Indiana. His mother was Christiana McDonald born in 1785 in Nelson County, Kentucky. There is another connection... my son's name is Christian and his paternal grandmother was a McDonald. Henry Moses Dodge was the son of Israel Dodge born in 1760 in New London, Connecticut. The Dodge family owned the salt works on the saline river in St Genevieve around 1800 and created quite a business providing salt for the people of St Genevieve. Salt was a very important commodity at that time in the preservation of foods and curing of animal hides. Israel was elected the first sheriff of the St Genevieve and his son Henry Moses Dodge became a deputy sheriff, reporting to his father from 1804 to 1821.

Henry Moses Dodge was an ambitious man, he was United States Marshal for the territory of Missouri while he was sheriff. Then he was governor of the Wisconsin Territory. At the time the territory included the present state of Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa, and Minnesota. Then he became a delegate to Congress, then elected to the Senate upon admission of Wisconsin to the Union in 1848. In the same year, his son Henry Lafayette Dodge married Adele Bequette. His father had chosen his younger brother, Augustus Caesar Dodge, as his political heir and began grooming him. Henry Lafayette continued to look after the family business. Augustus became Iowa's first territorial delegate to the U.S. Congress and then one of the state's first senators after its admission to the Union. Augustus Caesar and Henry Moses Dodge are the only father and son to serve in the U.S. Senate at the same time.

Meanwhile, Henry Lafayette Dodge and Adele had four children. He owned an inn and store in Dodgeville. The post office was housed in the store so he also served as postmaster. Like his father and brother, Henry Lafayette was politically active in Democratic party. In 1843 he was elected Sheriff of Iowa County, in 1844 he became clerk of the U.S. District Court for Iowa County. Then, in May 1846, Henry Lafayette Dodge vanished, never to be seen again by his wife and children. He went west and showed up August 1846 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the process of establishing a civil administration for the newly conquered territory, it was announced that Henry L Dodge was appointed Treasurer of Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the place of Francisco Ortis, who was unable to perform the duties due to illness.

Henry L Dodge was appointed an Indian Agent for the Navajo tribe in 1853 by President Pierce. He learned the Navajo language and was determined to make sure the people were treated fairly. In turn, the Navajos liked and respected Dodge and called him Bi'ee lichii (red shirt), because he always wore a red flannel shirt. There is a book written about him called "Red Shirt, The Life and Times of Henry Lafayette Dodge" by Lawrence D Sundberg. It is a work which took the author twenty years to write. I have to ask myself... where have I been and why didn't I know anything about Henry L Dodge? Oh yeah, I was in Texas where they taught Texas history. I wasn't paying attention on any level to the coaches who taught history at Robert E Lee Elementary and Horace Mann Middle School. Henry Lafayette Dodge had long been a familiar name in 19th century American Southwestern history, however, I wasn't interested in history until I started researching my ancestry for obvious reasons, just judging from the names of the schools I attended...geeeeeze!

"Red Shirt, The Life and Times of Henry Lafayette Dodge" by Lawrence D Sundberg.

As one of the earliest and most effective Indian agents to the Navajo, HL Dodge has been portrayed as a congenial, sympathetic and compassionate advocate for the tribe. The Navajo knew him as Red Shirt, a man they came to respect, appreciate and trust. Those who knew Dodge admitted he had unrivaled influence over the tribe. He had been looked upon as the 'Great Father' of the Navajo tribe, who were at war with the Apaches, hence their hostility towards him.  

In November 1856, after Coyotero Apaches attacked the Zuni Pueblo, Henry L Dodge joined army soldiers in their pursuit. He left the group to go deer hunting, and was killed by the Apaches. A few months later, Henry L Dodge's Navajo wife, Bisnayanchi, gave birth to a boy who became known as Henry Chee Dodge born in 1857 in Fort Defiance, Arizona. His name was a combination of his Navajo name, Kiilchii' (which meant red), and his father's name.

This might explain why the Henry (Enrique) Dodge, who is buried in my family cemetery had "Catholic" written his grave, not to be confused with his uncle Henry Chee Dodge who had been one of the most famous and revered Navajo tribal leaders. Henry Chee Dodge served as a translator and interpreter, providing a bridge between the United States Army and the Navajos. Later he served many years as the last official Navajo Head Chief and was also the Tribal Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, an organization that he helped establish. Sadly, there's always been a stigma attached to being a person of color.

Henry Chee Dodge

In 1864, the Navajos' world was ripped apart by the U.S. Army invasions, which were launched in response to Navajo raids that took place around Fort Defiance. They were part of the "Long Walk" to Fort Sumner, where Navajos were being sent by the U.S. Army. Colonel Kit Carson and a group of officers forcibly marched the surviving Navajos to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner, which was essentially a concentration camp. The forced "walk" stretched several hundred miles. At the end of the march, those who survived  were incarcerated. Navajos who were not killed or captured split off into small groups that tried to stay one step ahead of the marauding soldiers. Henry Chee Dodge and his mother, Bisnayanchi,  were part of one such group. Their fugitive existence entailed hardship and starvation. One day, Henry Chee's mother set out across the desert to look for food, and she left him with relatives. She never returned. Henry Chee was passed from family to family, until one day he got separated from his people and wandered alone in the wilderness for several days. Fortunately, he was found by an old man and his eight-year-old granddaughter.  He was subsequently raised by his aunt. He was chosen as a pre-teen to become an interpreter for white agents governing the Navajos. This led to him becoming official Interpreter of the Tribe, and then official Navajo Chief. His leadership brought the tribe to an effective modern day organization. He also encouraged education and continuance in the traditional Navajo beliefs. His stern discipline at home caused his children to become leaders in the Navajo political system: Tom Dodge became a Navajo Tribal Chairman, Ben Dodge became a Navajo Councilman and Annie Dodge Wauneka became a Navajo Councilwoman who in 1963, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Chairman Henry Chee Dodge became ill at the age of eighty-seven with pneumonia during the winter of 1946, and spent the rest of his days in the Presbyterian hospital at Ganado. His children sat with him day after day, cherishing his every breath. In his last requests were that his children carry on the great tradition of leadership he had started. He died on January 7, 1947. His funeral was two days later while quiet tears flowed down many faces. The procession of automobiles to the Fort Defiance cemetery after the church service was a mile long, carrying hundreds of his friends to say their last farewells. He was buried in the cemetery at Fort Defiance. He had walked with his people from Fort Sumner into a future none had dreamed of, teaching them how to master their destiny. He became a legend to his Navajo people.

The Coral and Turquoise Necklace That Henry Chee
Wore In This Photo
Sold At Auction For $12,000