Saturday, August 20, 2022

My Father's Chair

My Father, Felipe Montoya Fajardo, was a woodworker. He loved wood the way a quilt maker loves fabric. I've always assumed his love of woodworking began when he was a young man in the Civilian Conservation Corps, the work relief program that gave millions of young men employment during the Great Depression. In New Mexico alone, more than thirty-two thousand signed up for CCC camps which provided them with shelter, clothing, food and a wage of $30 (equivalent to $1000 in 2022) per month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families.)

With so many people out of work, there was little demand for traditional arts and a good chance that some of these skills would disappear. The CCC woodworking program created an environment that helped revitalize the tradition. Craftsmen were trained in furniture making, carpentry and carving. My father said he had carved a table and several chairs yet he only ended up with one chair. If you look closely at the photo below, you will see that this chair was hand carved and put together with no nails. I had always cherish this jewel of a chair that was usually covered with paint splotches in my dad's workshop. When I was about 40 and he was 80, I asked him if I could have it. The morning of August 20, 2001 I had a dream that someone had stolen the chair and I woke up in a panic. He passed away that afternoon, at the age of 86. The dream early that morning was very symbolic that he was gone.

Handmade Chair by Felipe M Fajardo

My Dad, Felipe Montoya Fajardo

After his death, my 3 siblings and I had the surreal experience of going to a funeral home in Amarillo to make funeral arrangements and pick out his casket. As we walked through a room of what seemed like a thousand caskets, there was no question that our father would be buried in the best dark mahogany wooden casket available. He loved mahogany.

As a child, I spent hours in my father's workshop, watching him carefully mixing stains and clamping broken furniture together after I had helped him carefully apply wood glue to the surface.  It was his art. His life. When I was really young, I used to go on house calls with him because there were always nice ladies who would serve up cookies and milk while we chatted and watched my dad fix a damaged corner of a dining room table or nightside. I never realized that I was in the early training stages of becoming an artist myself.

It wasn't until about 10 years after my father died that I started researching our ancestry. I immediately learned the origins and meaning of our surname. The surname "Fajardo" was first found in the province of Galicia, Spain in the northwestern corner of the Iberian peninsula. A topographic name for someone who lived by a beech tree or in a beech wood (from Late Latin fagea (arbor) ‘beech (tree)’ a derivative of classical Latin fagus ‘beech’. 

Beech Tree in Spain

All of a sudden it made sense that my father would be a woodworker. When he was in the Civilian Conservation Corps, he and 4 others also carved the enormous double doors at the Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in his hometown of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I don't have a photo of those doors because they were eventually replaced because they were so heavy that when the wind blew, people would get knocked off of the stairs that lead up to the church. I understand they are now owned by an individual in Santa Rosa.

Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church
Santa Rosa, NM

Christina Fajardo 
at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church
Santa Rosa, NM

Before I was born daddy had a furniture repair company called "F & H Furniture Repair." (Fajardo and Hernandez) My dad repaired the wood and his friend, Oscar Hernandez did the upholstering. 

My brothers Phillip and Gilbert
in front of Dad's truck in about 1952

When I was in elementary school I remember Daddy going to night school at Amarillo College to became a certified air conditioning and refrigeration repairman. He eventually went back to repairing furniture at Heath Furniture and then worked at Sears Roebuck for 25 years and even after he retired, the Sears delivery guys would drop furniture off at his shop for him to repair pieces that were too complicated for the new guy to repair. Even when had that job, he fixed furniture on the side. I still have the magnet sign that he displayed on his Ford Econoline work van.

My dad riding my horse in Manchaca, Texas
with his blue Ford Econoline van in the background.

I still have this magnet sign that he displayed on his blue van.

I often wish my parents could have lived long enough for them to enjoy all of the information I've gathered about our family on the internet. My father ordered a hardback book with information about the Fajardo surname and he had a framed Fajardo Coat of Arms on the wall of his office. He bought them in 1983 when I was busy taking care of my 5 year old, Adriane and 3 year old Christian. 

"Fajardo book bought by my father in 1983.

The Fajardo Coat of Arms

The Fajardo Coat of Arms

The Fajardo Coat of Arms

Monday, July 18, 2022

Dodge, Madrid, Page, Padilla Families - Puerto de Luna, New Mexico - Part 2

 In February I posted that I had just recently joined a Facebook group called Dodge, Madrid, Page, Padilla Families - Puerto de Luna, New Mexico 

Since then I have come to realize that the families such as the Nelson and Page families of Virginia overlap as much as the families in New Mexico like the Padilla and Fajardo families. Now I have been totally entertained by the fact that the Page and Nelson families of Virginia overlap many times over with my children's Ethridge branch of the family tree. This has lead to hours of reading about the United States' founding families of Virginia. Up to this point I had only been interested in the founding families of New Mexico.

This week my cousin, John Dodge posted that he had just visited his fifth and sixth great grandfathers’ graves in Yorktown Virginia, Thomas Scotch Nelson Senior and his son, Brigadier General Thomas Nelson Jr. 

Photo of Thomas Nelson Grave
Taken by John Dodge July 16, 2022

John Dodge July 16, 2022

That prompted me to see how Thomas Nelson is related to my children on their dad's side of the family and here's what I found.

Lucy Grymes

Thomas Nelson Jr. was born in Yorktown, Virginia in 1738 to a very wealthy family who owned a large plantation. He was sent to England for his education, as many members of wealthy Virginia families were. He graduated from Cambridge and returned to Virginia soon after. He married Lucy Grymes in 1762, a member of Virginia’s Randolph family. They had 13 children. Here is where the overlapping of our family tree begins. Lucy was my ex-husband's 2nd cousin 7x time removed. (2nd cousin 7 generations ago) which makes her my children's 2nd cousin 8x time removed. Lucy Grymes' back story is that her great-grandparents were William Randolph I and Mary Isham. Their famous descendants include many prominent individuals including Thomas Jefferson, Robert E Lee, John Marshall, Paschal Beverly Randolph, Peyton Randolph and many others. Due to William and Mary Randoph's many progeny and marital alliances, they have been referred to as "the Adam and Eve of Virginia." 

This is an Ancestry chart of how my children are related to Thomas Nelson Jr.

Here are some more photos of Photo of the Thomas Nelson Grave.

 Nelson became a planter and an estate manager. When he and his fellow signers pledged “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor,” the men of the Second Continental Congress took that risk seriously. He gave his fortune and his health to further the cause of American Independence. 

Thomas Nelson Jr. wasn't a healthy man and the mission of independence took a lot out of him resulting in an early death at the age of 50. He also donate all of his money it to help win the War of Independence. 

He was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses and was a very outspoken opponent of Britain and their policies toward the colonies and was one of the first leaders in the colonies to entertain the idea of an independency for the colonies. He believed that it was absurd to have the colonists hold an “affection for a people who are carrying on the most savage war against us.” On November 7, 1774, Nelson was a member of the Yorktown Tea Party. Citizens of York County, Virginia had passed a non-importation boycott in response to the Tea Act of 1773. When the British ship Virginia docked at Yorktown, enraged citizens marched onto the ship and dumped two imported half-chests of tea into the water. The boycott was an effort to pressure the British Parliament to repeal tax laws and regulations.

Nelson was appointed as a member of the Second Continental Congress in mid-1775, replacing George Washington when Washington left the Congress to go to Boston to take command of the Continental Army. He had returned to Virginia and was in Williamsburg on May 15, 1776 when the Fifth Virginia Convention passed a series of resolutions declaring Virginia was no longer a part of the British Empire. Nelson immediately carried the news from Virginia to Philadelphia where Richard Henry Lee on June 6, 1776 made the official resolution for independence within the Second Continental Congress, that would lead to the Declaration of Independence. He eventually had to resign from the Congress due to poor health.

Nelson was later appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army and commanded the Virginia militia during the battle of Yorktown in 1781 during the American Revolutionary War. It was here that one of the most selfless acts of his life took place as he ordered the artillery of the Continental Army to fire on his home, where several British officers were headquartered. The home was heavily damaged. The surrender of the British troops at Yorktown occurred soon after.

In June of 1781, Nelson became the second governor of Virginia, succeeding Thomas Jefferson. He had to resign in November of 1781 due to poor health. By this point in his life, he had lost almost everything. His businesses were destroyed. He was owed over two million dollars by the United States government for his loans to help finance the French fleet and their aid to the war effort. He was never repaid and his financial well-being was destroyed.

Nelson passed away at his home at the age of 50 in 1789 due to severe asthma. His body was originally buried in an unmarked grave in Yorktown because of a fear that creditors may hold his body for collateral until his debts were paid. He now rests under a beautiful stone that pays tribute to him and his service to the United States, including honoring his service as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Monday, July 4, 2022

4th of July

Today, July 4th, the United States celebrates Independence Day. in 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 great reason to celebrate! 

Let me tell you a little about what was going on in my personal history in the 1700's and beyond. The majority of my ancestors are from the western side of what is now known as the United States of America. In 1776 it was not yet part of the USA. It was New Spain. 

So picture this. 28 years before the Declaration of Independence my paternal 4th great-grandmother, Maria Micaela Padilla, was born in the high mountain valley of El Rito in Rio Arriba County, New Spain. It is now present day New Mexico. The exact location is 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 years northwest of Santa Fe because much of the current day population lives off of the grid. 

Maria Micaela was born into the prominent founding Padilla family of New Mexico in 1748. It was common for men to migrate from the east and marry into the large wealthy Hispanic families in the west. In 1765 a handsome 27 yr old doctor, Dominique Labadie, who had been born in Veloc, Gascony, in the southwest of France. migrated from St Louis to New Mexico. He and Maria Micaela were married on November of 1766.Ten years before the Declaration of Independence. The marriage took place at La Parroquia Church in Santa Fe, NM which was built between 1714 –1717. The very popular present day Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi was built 
on the site of La Parroquia church between 1869 and 1886 . Maria Micaela and Dominique Labadie had 15 children and they were all baptized in that church.

Fast forward to 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 France. Since Dominique was French and married to Maria Micaela Padilla, who was Spanish, their property was inventoried and the couple and their 15 children were confined to their residence for a period of time.

Because the information that's been written in our history books and taught in our schools is extremely slanted, I have had to dig deep for my personal history. In 1776 
King Charles III of Spain gave my maternal 5th Great Uncle, Captain Antonio Montoya, 50,000 acre Piedra Lumbre Land Grant in New Mexico. Did you read anything about that in your history books? Probably not. The 21,000 acres that comprise Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch is part of the Piedra Lumbre Land Grant and is 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 would rather tell you a little more about the Labadie family. Lorenzo Labadie was the grandson of Micaela and Dominique Labadie and my 3rd Great-Uncle. He is one of my ancestors that I have grown to know and love through my research. Lorenzo was described as a handsome, honorable man who wore many hats. 

Lorenzo Labadie

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 of 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. this is very close to my heart because I watched my uncles work that land as a child, growing chile and raising cattle. Under Lorenzo's watchful eye in the late 1800's 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. I picture him in my minds eye as a honorable man, much like my father, someone who could never fully retire. In 1871 Lorenzo took out merchants license and opened a wine shop. There were vineyards and orchards in Puerto de Luna. I can only imagine how beautiful and lively it was when my parents were born there in the early 1900's.

Here are photos of the Labadie Ranch in Puerto de Luna, NM as it looks today. Lorenzo's daughter, Beatrice Labadie and her husband, Juan Patron lived in this house. It is no longer owned by the Labadie family.

Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM
Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM
Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM
Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM
Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM
Labadie Ranch House
In Puerto de Luna, NM

Lorenzo Labadie was the census taker of Puerto de Luna and the surrounding areas during 1880, 1890 and 1900. Because of his excellent record keeping abilities, it made it very easy for me to become very familiar with Puerto de Luna when it was an active, thriving community. I have never seen any other census taken with such precision. There's so much family history in these documents, including records of Billy the Kid (William H. Bonney) living and working on my great-great uncle's ranches. 

During the day he kept land and cattle rustlers at bay and in the evenings when the work day was done, he taught my Great Uncle Hilario Valdez to speak and read English at the age of 7. That tells me he probably wasn't the bad guy that the history books make him out to be. Instead he was loyal to the Hispanic families who had taken him in and treated him like family. There is a book written about Lorenzo Labadie's son-in-law called "Juan Patron: A Fallen Star in the Days of Billy the Kid." 

Juan had moved his family back to Puerto de Luna from Lincoln County during the Lincoln County Wars only to be shot down in cold blood in Puerto de Luna. 
The killer was Mitchel E. Maney, a cowboy from a wealthy Texas ranching family. 

Juan had raised the money to build the Nuestra Señora del Refugio Church in Puerto de Luna. Sadly, the first mass held in the church was was his funeral. His was buried in the church. I hope to some day write a book based on the information that Lorenzo collected in the pages of his census.

The Nuestra Señora del Refugio Church
Puerto de Luna, NM

So there you have it. A very condensed version of what was going on with just a couple of branches of my family tree in the west when the original 13 eastern colonies became the United States. It wasn't until January 6, 1912, 3 years before my father was born that New Mexico actually became the 47th state. In 1776 it was New Spain.

I had a few ancestors who were in 13 colonies. I just discovered in the past couple of years that my family tree has a couple of branches who are direct descendants of the United States founding fathers. My children are 2nd cousins 8 times removed from President Thomas Jefferson on their dad's side. William Randolph I and his wife, Mary Isham are my children's 9th great-grandparents in the in the Ethridge lineage. I had an Aunt Marcelina Padilla Page who was also married into that lineage so there are some Page/Nelson/Dodge families that cross back and forth from my mom's side of the family to my ex-husband's family. This is very typical for those of us in New Mexico but my ex-husband was born in Houston, TX. I'll save that story for another blog. The funny thing is, my mother moved me far, far away from New Mexico so I wouldn't marry a distant cousin and I married a distant cousin anyway. hahaha!

This Independence Day, I am just going to visualize independence from this modern day madness we call our government. I'm praying for many, many needed miracles. Women's healthcare is at the top of my list.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Canary Islands Descendant

For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of living on a tropical island. It's my happy place. Now I think I know why. It's in my DNA. I have 2 branches of my paternal family tree who were from the Canary Islands. My 8th great-grandfather, Juan Lujan was born in the Canary Islands in 1573 and another 8th great-grandfather, Miguel Fajardo was born in the Canary Islands in 1591. 

I now belong to a group on Facebook called "Canary Islands Descendants Association-San Antonio." A photo of this historical marker was posted yesterday because on July 2, 1731, the original 16 families began to lay out a village in San Antonio de Bexar.

Canary Islanders Historical Marker
San Antonio, Texas

In 1971 this historical marker was placed in Main Plaza in San Antonio. My history is so very different than the history I have celebrated my entire life. 

The Founders Monument
In front of the historic Bexar County Courthouse

On March 9, 2019. Bexar County, in partnership with the Canary Islands Descendants Association, unveiled the Founders Monument outside of the Historic Bexar County Courthouse. T
his commemorative project, by artist Armando Hinojosa, consists of five pieces. There is one Female and one male Canary Islander, one Native American, one Spanish friar, and one presidio soldier - representing the founders of our community.The Canary Islander on the right leaning on a cain is modeled after a distant cousin of mine named Paul Garcia.

Paul Garcia with statue modeled after him

The figures in the monument, created by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa, represent the four founding communities of San Antonio - American Indians, Canary Islanders, Franciscan friars and Presidio soldiers. As early as 1691, Spanish explorers recorded insightful information on various American Indian tribes in the area, whom the Spanish collectively referred to as the Coahuiltecans. Later tribes included the Lipan Apaches, the Tonkawa, and the Comanches. Colonial settlement began in 1718, with the establishment of the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar and the Mission San Antonio de Valero (now called The Alamo).

In 1731, Spanish immigrants from the Canary Islands, (Spain) settled in the area and formed the first organized civil government in Texas, founding the village of San Fernando de Bexar adjacent to the presidio. The mission, presidio and villa communities worked hard to maintain their individual identities but eventually began the process of working together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Through marriage and business ventures, the soldiers, mission natives and Canary Islanders joined together to form a solid foundation that would persevere through many tests and conflicts.

The monument located in front of the historic Bexar County Courthouse in the heart of San Antonio. This area is commonly referred to as Main Plaza but for hundreds of years it was known as Plaza de las Islas Canarias.

It just so happens that my cousin, Michael Padilla is in the Canary Islands and posted amazing photos yesterday. Happy Canary Islander Day!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Father's Day

I have to say of all the good dads I have known, this dad takes the cake. He has fought harder than anyone I have ever know to be a father. Imagine rebuilding your life after a divorce, 825 miles away from your home town and family that you love in Texas, just to see your children for 4 hours a week for 4 years. It's gotten better only because he has stayed in court and spent thousands of dollars just to have the God given right to spend more time with his children. Andrew has chosen to live with his dad and Jackie gets to spend 2 weeks with her dad this summer for the first time in her 7 years of life. Nobody should have to fight so hard to be a father. Your children will remember that you were there for them Christian and that is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Dodge, Madrid, Page, Padilla Families - Puerto de Luna, New Mexico - Part 1

Just recently I was invited to join a Facebook Group by my cousin Timothy Dodge. The group is called:

Dodge, Madrid, Page, Padilla Families - Puerto de Luna, New Mexico 

I've had a really great time on this Facebook page getting to know my cousins who I never really got to know, on my mom's side of the family because our closest connection, my mom's older sister, Marcelina Padilla Page, died in 1939. 

Marcelina married Joseph Page and her daughter, Marcelina married Antonio Dodge. 

Marcelina Padilla Page and Joseph Page

However, the families from Puerto de Luna are related sometimes several times over. My Great-Great Aunt Juana de la Trinidad Sandoval was married to Henry Lafayette Dodge, the first Dodge to go to New Mexico from Dodgeville, Wisconsin.

As I was looking at my family tree, I noticed that the Page-Nelson family connected to the same founding  families of Virginia that my children are connected to through their father's lineage. With a little research I discovered that we are all related to William Randolph I, born November 7, 1651. He was a politician in Colonial Virginia who played an important role in the development of the colony. He married Mary Isham, born November 21, 1717. Due to their many progeny and marital alliances, they have been referred to as "the Adam and Eve of Virginia." For instance, President Thomas Jefferson was the great-grandson of William and Mary Randolph. Their  descendants also include other prominent individuals including John MarshallPaschal Beverly RandolphRobert E. Lee, Peyton RandolphEdmund RandolphJohn Randolph of RoanokeGeorge W. Randolph, and Edmund Ruffin. 

In July of 2020, I discovered that my ex-husband, Davis Ethridge and my sister, Nita's ex-husband, Jack Hatley are 5th cousins in that same lineage. I wrote about it in this blog post. The discovery was uncanny because Nita met Jack in Amarillo and I met Davis in Austin. The two of them grew up on opposites ends of Texas and only met once at my wedding in 1977. So it seemed unlikely that they would be related and my children and my sister's son would be related on their dad's side of the family as well as their mother's side. It seemed so miraculous that I created a blog specifically for my extended family including my children Adriane Ethridge and Christian Ethridge, my grandchildren, Dylan Ethridge, Andrew Ethridge and Jacqueline Ethridge. My step-daughter Sarah Ethridge and her daughter Emerson Ethridge. Also for my nephew Derek Hatley, his wife Heather and their two daughters Bianca Hatley and Ava Hatley. And for my ex-husband, Davis Ethridge and my sister's ex-husband, Jack Hatley. Now this blog is dedicated to my extended Dodge, Madrid, Page, Padilla Families of Puerto de Luna, New Mexico. 

As a genealogist, it's extremely exciting when I discover a new lineage that has in depth documented information. I have been studying our founding families of New Mexico for about 12 years so the new found Virginia and St Louis connections are fun, especially now that I am in St Louis for the winter.

Here's just a couple of samples. The first one is of the lineage back to William Randolph for both the Ethridge and Page families. But just like all our families from Puerto de Luna, the overlap many times over.

William Randolph was my children's 9th great-grandfather and would also be all of my cousins' in New Mexico reading this, 8th great-grandfather.

This shows that Francis Nelson was related to my children's Ethridge side of the family as well.

There are so many connections, I will be adding to this blog. I just wanted to express how much all of my relatives mean to me. We have a huge family that we should all be so proud of and I am sure that our parents, grandparents and all the great great grandparents and beyond are with us in spirit. 

Always. Bless you all.

Monday, January 17, 2022

...and without a single shot

The cold month of January in St Louis, during a pandemic leaves me with a lot of time on my hands so I have been doing a lot of reading  and ancestry research. I began my leisure reading about the American artist of the American Old West, Charles Marion Russell. He was born in St Louis, MO in 1864. He created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Native Americans, and landscapes set in the western United States. 

When I was a child, a print of a Charles M Russell painting of "The Wagon Boss" hung in my parents living room. This masterpiece that  I spent hours gazing at was painted in 1909. The earth toned art matched the knotty pine paneling and the 70's style furniture at my parents house.

The Fajardo's Thanksgiving dinner
1970 with "The Wagon Boss" 
on the wall on the knotty pine wall.
1804 Magnolia, Amarillo, TX

"The Wagon Boss"
Painted by Charles Marion Russell 

Charles Marion Russell 

This week I discovered that the artist, Charles Marion Russell was a nephew of Charles Bent, the first United States governor of the New Mexico Territory. This is of interest to me because Charles Bent was married to my third cousin (three generations ago) Maria Ignacia Jaramillo. Her younger sister, Josepha (Josephine) Jaramillo was married to Kit Carson.These 2 sisters descended from one of New Mexico's oldest and most respected families and played an important role in the history of New Mexico.

Charles Bent
The Bent family was both powerful and controversial. Charles Bent and his younger brother, William Bent were fur traders from St Louis, Missouri. Their father, Silas Bent was a prominent land surveyor and Supreme Court Judge for the Missouri Territory. The Bent brothers could have lived lives of ease in St. Louis but they were drawn to the trading opportunities of the west.

The brothers established mercantile contacts and began a series of trading trips back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1830, they formed a partnership with Ceran St. Vrain, another trader from St. Louis and their new endeavor was called "Bent, St. Vrain & Company." In addition to their store in Taos, New Mexico, the trading company established a series of trading posts to facilitate trade with the Native Americans. The largest of them all was the 170 sq. ft. adobe structure called Bent's Fort. Located strategically at the  junction of the Arkansas and Purgatory rivers, this settlement in southeast Colorado served as a major trade center between trappers and Plains tribes. For much of its 16-year history, the fort was the largest American permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail.

Bent's Fort

The Santa Fe Trail

Then, in 1846, the Mexican-American War broke out. This marked the first United States armed conflict chiefly fought on foreign soil. It pitted a politically divided and militarily unprepared Mexico against the expansionist-minded administration of United States under President Polk. The U.S. had annexed Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory. This spurred the long and bloody American-Mexican War. Mexico relinquished all claims to Texas and recognized the Rio Grande as the southern boundary with the United States. What we now consider the Southwest wasn’t part of the United States until 1848. It was the northernmost part of Mexico until then. Mexico ceded 55% of its country to the U.S. without a shot being fired. The governor of New Mexico, Manuel Armijo surrendered to Brigadier General Stephen Watts Kearny at the Battle of Santa Fe. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in February 2, 1848. It was a triumph for American expansion, to say the least. The conquest of land west of the Rio Grande was called, included the current states of New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and portions of Colorado and Wyoming.

The tan portion on the map was taken
from Mexico in the American-Mexican War

This is why when WE, as a nation, celebrate events from the year 1776 in the United States, I cringe. The Declaration of Independence doesn't mean the same to those of us whos ancestors were here in the west long belfore 1776. I don't know much about the history of the other states but after the American invasion of New Mexico many of its inhabitants were not pleased to have to give allegiance to the United States. This was made worse when a measles outbreak – believed to have been carried to the southwest by US troops. It raged through Santa Fe, killing many New Mexican children.

The volunteer troops from Missouri added to the already building tension once their payroll arrived, causing a wave of drinking and gambling. The rowdiness led to resentment from the Hispanic population. The newly appointed Governor Charles Bent was concerned.
On the surface, peace had been maintained, however below the surface tensions were raging. It was too much change too fast for the locals. On January 19,1847, Bent traveled from Santa Fe to his hometown of Taos without military protection. An angry group of Taos Pueblo natives and local Hispanic residents marched on the governor's house. Bent tried to calm them down but they grabbed him from the house, shot him and scalped him, dragging his body through town. Meanwhile Josepha Carson and her sister Ignacia Bent used a poker and spoons to dig a hole through the adobe wall to escape with the children. They were left in their night clothes and all of their belongings were stolen. The family tragedy did not end with Charles Bent’s assassination. Josepha and Ignacia's brother, Pablo was also killed.

When the federal Government tried to seize Bent’s Fort, William Bent burnt it to the ground. It has been called the "Taos Revolt" however they weren't rebelling against a legitimate government. What happened was more of a beginning of a resistance.

As strange as it seems to me, Kit Carson played a pivotal role in American victory simply because he served as a United States military guide for Captain John Fremont. Carson was dispatched to Washington, D.C. to announce the acquisition of California to the United States. On the way, he intercepted General Stephen Watts Kearney's expedition near Yuma, Arizona and returned with him to California. This kept Carson away from his family for 2 years. Carson and Kearny confronted a Mexican force at the Battle of San Pasqual in December 1846 and with Kearney’s forces surrounded, Carson crept through enemy territory to alert United States forces in San Diego. The combined force drove the Mexican army north where they eventually surrender to John C. Fremont in the Treaty of Cahuenga January 13, 1847.

I can only imagine what home life was like during those trying times. Kit Carson had settled in New Mexico with the intent to live a peaceful life of farming and sheep herding. That didn't happen. I feel like the political climate was much like it is today. They just had to pick a side even if they didn't fully believe in all of the policies. In the long run, the Bent and the Russell families disowned Charles and George Bent. Their nephew, Charles M Russell, was born March 19, 1864, almost 20 yrs after the Mexican-American War. Charles grew up in Missouri and art was always the focus of his life. He drew sketches and made clay figures of animals. He left home at the age of 16 to seek his own adventure in Montana and lived the life of a painter. He also became an advocate for Native Americans in the west, supporting the bid by landless Chippewa to have a reservation established for them in Montana. In 1916, Congress passed legislation to create the Rocky Boy Reservation. And you thought your family had political differences.

Still, as I research this history, I find it disturbing that I have discovered so many men in my family tree who migrated from Missouri and married into our large Hispanic family, who just happened to be extremely rich in land and cattle. 

Today I found a report on the series by ABC News,  "Turning Point," examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

The agreement between the United States and Mexico was immortalized in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gave around 100,000 Mexican nationals living in those territories citizenship if they decided to stay. My family stayed. The agreement was supposed to protected the rights of anyone's whose land became a part of the U.S. in the Mexican-American War. That didn't happen. When Mexico negotiated the treaty in good faith, they thought that all of people's rights would be respected. After the treaty, the government systematically disenfranchised Mexican citizens. When the treaty was sent to Congress, the Senate removed the article that laid out the process by which the land grants would be protected. In 1848, there were 154 communities in New Mexico to whom the U.S. government guaranteed land. But most of those land grants, were never honored. Today, only 35 land grants remain. This is more than heartbreaking to me. So just to keep my sanity, I can't think of lost property. I reflect back on the love story of Kit Carson and his wife, my cousin, Josepha (Josephine) Jaramillo.

Josepha (Josephine) Jaramillo
There's no doubt that it was love at first sight for Kit and Josepha. She was only 15 when she married the 33 yr old, well-known frontiersman. Her father, Francisco Jaramillo would not permit them to marry because Carson was illiterate. Francisco was an educated man and very well respected in the community. He was aware that Carson was an accomplished scout, traveling the western territories, but hoped his daughter would marry someone with a scholastic background and a member of the Catholic faith. Kit was determined to make Josefa his wife and decided to convert to Catholicism and they were married. Their padrinos were George Bent and his wife María de la Cruz Padilla.Three months after the wedding, Carson left on the first of many expeditions he would participate in during his married life. During the Mexican-American War he was gone for at least 2 years. Their love remained  unscathed until they died, within a month of each other in 1868. The Carsons welcomed their seventh child into the world on April 13, 1868.  Two weeks after their daughter was born, Josefa died of complications from that birth. Kit was heartbroken over the loss of his wife.. He died of a ruptured abdominal aneurism on May 23, 1868. Kit and Josefa are buried in the Kit Carson Park in downtown Taos, New Mexico. Josepha's sister Ignacia became the Carson children’s guardian. She cared for them until her death in 1883.

Kit Carson