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 Baca, who lives in Santa Rosa, NM. A friend of hers, Kimberly Harris, chimed in on the conversation and we ended up chatting for a long time. It felt like another one of those God sends that I happen onto once in a while. 

Kimberly said "I think I have read your blog about your ancestry. You are descended from the Labadie family, right?" I said "Yes!" She said "I'm fascinated by that family. I live on a piece of their property, between the hemp farms in Puerto de Luna."  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 tree as well. I never knew anything about them until I started doing research because my grandmother Josefita died of the Spanish Influenza in 1918 when my father 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. He was the census taker that year, at the age of 75, but he had such an amazing life in his younger years. 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

Kimberly continued "Lorenzo's grave is in in the El Calvario Cemetery 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. Most of the old families of Puerto de Luna have a presence here. I’ve often wondered where all the Labadie family scattered to." She went on to say "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 Richard and Julie Delgado 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. Why do you live there? I would love to see photos!" She answered that she worked in the movie industry and was working on a movie in New Mexico. She decided she just had to live there. She found the ranch on 'Craig's list' and bought it.

Present day Labadie Ranch
Now the Kimberly Harris Ranch

Kimberly Harris

Kimberly posted this iris photo on
Easter Sunday, April 12,2020
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. When he was in the service he had a tattoo on his upper left arm with a heart that read "In Memory of Mother"

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 while I 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 grandma Josefita 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. This was a HUGE find.

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. In 1851 he was the sheriff of Valencia County, On February 16, 1852, he married Maria de los Reyes Refugio Rayitos Giddings-Gutierrez. (A very colorful personality herself) In 1854 there is documentation of him being a sheriff of Santa Fe. He then became an Indian agent for several tribes. In 1855 he was an Indian agent for Utes. In 1856 he was an Indian agent in Abiquiú. In1862 he was an Indian agent at Anton Chico. In 1863 he was an Indian agent in Bosque Redondo, just out side of Fort Sumner. The present day address is 3647 Billy the Kid Rd, Fort Sumner, NM. There was a lot going on there at that time and I am still doing research. In 1865 he was an Indian agent for the Jicarilla Indians near Agua Negra present day Santa Rosa. In 1867 he was sent to Texas to get Indians to release white captives, another cool story I need to research. Then my favorite part of Lorenzo's life.... In 1871 He got a merchant's license and opened 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 he was the census taker. Billy the Kid was on the census, confirming the stories I had heard that Billy the Kid had taught my great Uncle Hilario Valdez how to read and write in English when he was 7 yrs old. Lot of history here also. Then on May 8, 1884 he became the Post Master of Santa Rosa until Dec. 14, 1898. April 20, 1885 he signed a petition to get Rifles for Puerto de Luna. On February 2, 1893 won case against Celso Baca for cheating on Election for seat on the 30th. Legislation Assembly of N.M. as representation for Guadalupe Co. 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.