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 on a hill across the road from the church in my parent's home town of Puerto de Luna, NM.

The Family Cemetery
"Nuestra Senora de Refugio Cemetery"
Photo taken in 2017 of Christina Fajardo 
and younger brother, Larry Fajardo's grave
Next to our Padilla grandparents

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

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

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

My little brother, my maternal grandparents and countless other relatives dating back to the 1800's are buried  in the "Nuestra Senora de Refugio Cemetery." My parents are buried at the Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, TX. 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's grave

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 Marcelina 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 18 at the time and went to live with her brother-in-law, Joe Page 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 Marcelina, was close to her age and they were more like sisters. Marcelina married Antonio Dodge. I remember visiting Marcelina when I was young and thinking how cool it would be to have a piano teacher as a mom.

Marcelina Page Dodge and
Antonio Page

Marcelina Page Dodge and
Antonio Dodge

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. 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 and my first cousin Marcelina Page Dodge's father-in-law. 

Henry (Enrique) Dodge was born in Puerto de Luna in 1910, his father was Roman Antonio Dodge was the first
of many Dodges to be buried in the Nuestra Señora del Refugio Cemetery, appropriately enough, for he had donated the cemetery land to the church. 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 and two of my grandchildren now lives in St Louis. I am occasionally in St Louis for months at a time because I like late summer and winter in St Louis better than in Texas. On a trip to St Louis a while back, we took a drive out in the counties to Ste Genevieve. It is a beautiful little town and it's Missouri's oldest permanent settlement.

Ste Genevieve is the oldest
permanent settlement in Missouri


"The Old Brick House" is the first brick
house built west of the Mississippi.
The Dodge family lived upstairs and the sheriff's
office was downstairs.  

"The Old Brick House"

Christina having coffee in Ste Genevieve

Christina having coffee in Ste Genevieve

My son, Christian Ethridge
having coffee in Ste Genevieve

My son, Christian Ethridge
having coffee in Ste Genevieve

My son, Christian Ethridge
having coffee in Ste Genevieve

So I have to back up and tell you how the Dodge family ended up in New Mexico. Henry Lafayette Dodge was the son of Henry Moses Dodge. His mother was Christiana McDonald born in 1785 in Nelson County, Kentucky. There are many family connections here. My son's name is Christian and his paternal grandmother was a McDonald. Through my years of ancestry research, I've discovered that my children and grandchildren are related to the McDonald, Nelson, Dodge and Page families on both my side and their father's side of the family. Those connections also link us to many of the US founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson and the Randolph family. I will get into all of that in another blog. It's not unusual for those of us from New Mexico to have many cousins in common but I met my ex-husband in Austin in the early 70's and he was born in Houston to Marie McDonald Ethridge and Dr. Elmore Ethridge. What were the chances of us having any family connections?

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 from 1804 to 1821.Henry Moses was United States Marshal for the territory of Missouri while he was sheriff. 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 run 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. Then he 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 Henry L Dodge called "Red Shirt, The Life and Times of Henry Lafayette Dodge" by Lawrence D Sundberg. It 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.

"Red Shirt, The Life and Times
of Henry Lafayette Dodge"
Written 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 after Henry L Dodge's death a Navajo woman named 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 Henry L Dodge'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 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. It was once thought that Henry Chee was Henry L Dodge's son, however, there were DNA tests done on Chee Dodge ‘s offspring and there was no connection to Henry Lafayette Dodge. My understanding is that Chee was Henry L Dodge's Navajo interpreter when he was an Indian agent. Chee was an orphan and adopted the Dodge name.

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. A group of officers forcibly marched the surviving Navajos to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner, which was essentially a concentration camp. 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. 

Chairman Henry Chee Dodge 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.



Family Tree from Ancestry.com