Since so many of my Valdez family members have recently discovered my site, it is only right that I highlight some history of the Mora Valley tonight. There are some that are far away and my not have a chance to visit the area often. I decided to share some photos I took during a recent funeral of one of the Valdez men- Gary. May he rest in peace. When his funeral ended I took some time to walk around by myself and really absorb the history of this scared place. This is the church where my maternal great grandmother and great grandfather married. Historically, the plaza which envelopes the church was once known as Santa Gertrudis Lo de Mora, which is the present day town of Mora. Church registers can be found in the 1845 Mexican Census and offer a rare glimpse into early settlers of the valley.
This church is the last remnant of the original plaza. The church was destroyed by fire in the mid 1960s, but was rebuilt a stones throw from main street in the same exact location. I will have to ask my mom and Ernie if they remember that? There are still several historic buildings on the property. This area is on the National Register of Historic Places and includes parish buildings, a small convent, educational sites, and some houses. It is amazing to think about how the population changed in Mora over the decades. I am not sure what the total population is today, however in 1860 there were over 5,500 people living in the area. By 1920, the population was just under 14,000 and by 1970 it had dwindled down to about 4,600. The 1860 census documents several carpenters in the Mora Valley who were French-Canadian. I have linked the maternal side of my family (through a prenuptial investigation) to French-Canadian ancestry.
In 1950, the famed historian, Fray Angelico Chavez said that some buildings in Mora exhibited “French rural flavor” with regard to architecture. Some of these “French” designs included Gothic Revival exteriors with the use of stone and pitched roofs, such as the “board-and-wood-shingle pitched roof” which was once on the church. I find it interesting to think that some of my relatives may have contributed to the architectural history of this small and beautiful Catholic church. My maternal grandmother was Corina Valdez y Brisal de Garcia. My grandma Corine was a Mora girl at heart, but she passed away in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was the oldest of five children born to Alfonso Valdez and Felicitas Brisal. I am named after my great grandma Felicitas. I do know that my great grandparents were married in Santa Gertrudis Church on November 27, 1915. They would have married in the original church building before it was destroyed by fire. I do wish I knew what the inside looked like then? If my grandma was still alive, I could ask her.
My grandma was born to her mother and father on September 24, 1916. She was baptized on October 2 that same year. Her godmother and godfather were her grandparents (my maternal great great grandparents) Roman Valdez and Porfiria Maes. There were four other children to follow my grandma. These children were: Maximinio Valdez (born in 1918); Jose Eugenio Valdez (born in 1920); Maria Lara de Jesus Valdez (born in 1922); and the final child was Crecencia (Cres/Chencha) Valdez (born in 1926). I am sure each and every one of these family members were baptized in this church, which made my visit to the church that much more special. I can’t explain the feeling of awe I get to travel the path of those who came before me. Visiting that church that day also reminded me how important it is for us to remember. It is important to remember those who were blessed in a sacred place and those who were laid to rest in a scared place. It is our duty to keep the historic flame alive.