Celebrating Independence Day! In 1776 the Continental Congress declared the 13 American colonies to be a new nation. The USA was no longer part of the British Empire. That seems like a good reason to celebrate, however, my personal history is very different.
My ancestors are from western side of the USA and in 1776 it was NEW SPAIN. 28 yrs 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.
Maria Micaela was born in 1748 and lived 14 miles south of Abiquiú, 18 miles northwest of Espanola, 15 miles northwest of Ojo Caliente and 56 miles northwest of Santa Fe. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east. With those very detailed directions being given, the present day locals will tell you, tongue in cheek, the very small community of El Rito is about 300 yrs northwest of Santa Fe. Much of the current day population lives off of the grid.
Maria Micaela Padilla was from a prominent founding family of New Mexico, so it is no surprise that when the handsome young 27 yr 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. Maria Micaela and Dominique Labadie had 15 children and they were all baptized in that church.
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.
I can't help but think that the information that's been written in our history books and taught in our schools is extremely slanted. In 1776, the same year Maria Micaela 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 Land Grant. Did you read anything about that in your history books? 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 family 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. 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 the grandson of Maria Micaela and Dominique Labadie and my 3rd great uncle. 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.
In 1871 Lorenzo took out merchants license and opened a wine shop. There were vineyards and orchards in Puerto de Luna, the place where both of my parents were born. I've become 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. 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.
That's a very condensed version of what was going on with just a very few of my ancestors in "New Spain" when the 13 eastern colonies became the United States. It wasn't until January 6, 1912, 3 yrs before my father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo was born that New Mexico became the 47th state.
So tomorrow, Independence Day, I am just going to visualize independence from this modern day madness we call our government. I'm praying for a miracle.