The Saloon: A Piece of Me

Hillside near the Mora Cemetery where my great great
maternal grandfather Roman Valdez was laid to rest.
**Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)**


Recently I was taken to see a building on the main drag in Mora, New Mexico. One of my oldest Valdez relatives gave me a personal tour of the street in the small town which my maternal ancestors called home, and my contemporaries call home. With the help of Facundo Valdez, I have slowly been collecting pieces of my Valdez family history. There was one particular building I was most interested in that day. It was the site of a former saloon and possible restaurant owned by my family. The Valdez family goes back in that area farther than people can remember first hand, but Jose Maria Valdez was instrumental in securing the Mora Land Grant. In 1851, he and Vicente Romero submitted a petition to secure the grant for the settlers of Mora. On my last visit to Mora, I captured many stories and took a variety of photographs, but for tonight I wanted to share my trials and tribulations with this particular piece of that history.

In 2004, I conducted an oral history interview with Facundo Valdez. In that interview he told me that my great great maternal grandfather Roman Valdez owned a saloon on the main street in Mora. The following week I checked the New Mexico Business Directories and did not find the saloon. I was very disappointed. Shortly after my maternal grandmother passed away in 2007, I decided to check the directories again. I had a feeling that she was encouraging me supernaturally to do so. I couldn’t believe it when I located an entry! As a writer I was very familiar with widows and orphans in typesetting, and to my amazement, I fell victim to just that. I had missed the entry a million times because it was a dangler under the next alphabetical town! My grandmother once told me that she would sing in the saloon as a young girl. I think she wanted me to find that entry and I did. There it was plain as day on page 400 of the 1906 New Mexico Business Directory, which reads “Valdez Roman A, saloon.”

**Archuleta Bar**
The former location of the saloon owned by my
great great maternal grandfather in Mora, New Mexico.
**Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)**


So far I can confirm that there was a saloon named after my great great maternal grandfather Roman Valdez. I have now confirmed the site and have taken photographs of the building which currently stands marked “Archuleta Bar” in black spray paint. This bar was “owned and operated” for over 25 years by Frances Archuleta who passed away in 2003. Her maiden name was also Valdez. In the 1880 Territorial Census, Roman Valdez was living in Herreras (Mora). He was 24 years old, and he was a “farmer.” His wife Porfiria was 21 years old. Here is my problem— I am stumped with the 1900 census records (12th US Census- Precinct 1- Mora County). There are two Roman Valdez men captured there in the same precinct, but I have a strong feeling they are the same man. Not only do they live in the same precinct, they are notably close to the same age? One man is listed as a “Bar Tender,” but was married to a Margarita Valdez. I do not recognize this woman’s name? She was 20 years younger than he, which is significant and there was an Ortega “sister” in the household?

According to a handwritten pedigree chart I obtained sometime back from Gabriel Meléndez my cousin, the Ortega surname is in this line. That chart should be accurate, as Meléndez is the Professor and Chair of the American Studies Program with the University of New Mexico. The age of this Roman Valdez and his profession is right on and in line with the 1906 ownership of a saloon, but what about the other entry in the 1900 census? That entry lists Roman Valdez with his wife, and my great great maternal grandmother Porfiria Maes. Could Roman have been married to two women simultaneously? I am not sure? Since it has been a few years since I have seen Gabriel, I may need to contact him and see what else he has come up with in regard to our family history? By 1915, the Valdez Saloon disappears from the New Mexico Business Directory, and by 1920 Roman was again listed as a “farmer” at 62 years old with Porfiria Maes Valdez (his wife) at 61 years old (14th US Census- Precinct 1- Mora County).

(LEFT) Photograph of my great great maternal grandfather Roman Valdez. The photo was given to me by Facundo Valdez Jr., and was found in Santiago Chapel behind a picture of the Virgin Mary. My great maternal grandfather Alfonso Valdez helped rebuild the chapel for the 3rd time in 1942 along with his brother Candido Valdez and other builders from the Mora Valley who cared to restore it.
(RIGHT) Tombstone of Roman Valdez in Mora, New Mexico
**Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)**

I will need to confirm that Roman died on April 2, 1924. My uncle took me to the grave site and I took beautiful photos of the tombstone and the hillside near the cemetery. Maybe I will ask to be buried there as well? I will need to track down a sacramental burial record and a certificate of death to confirm that he was about 67 years old when he died. He was still very young if that’s the case. So you see there is still so much to iron out, but at least I now have photographs of a site I have been wanting to visit for a very, very long time- the Roman Valdez Saloon.

Explore posts in the same categories: Census Records, Connections, Family Photos, Family Records, Genealogical Records, Genealogy, Hidden History, History, Knowledge, Lineage, Maternal Line, Men, New Mexico, Worthy Reads, Writers, Writing

11 Comments on “The Saloon: A Piece of Me”

  1. carol valdez klockenga Says:

    Thank you for this article..My great great grandfather was Roman Valdez..I am grandaughter of Fidel Valdez..My dad is Jose Casimiro Valdez..Love to hear more

  2. Gloria Zamora Says:


    Gloria Zamora writing to you again. I do know that Roman Valdez my great-grandfather died shortly after Fidel Valdez (my grandfather) and Ninfa Romo married. He was unable to attend their wedding in February 1924 because he was very ill and died shortly after.

    Hope this info helps you. I’m sending your “The saloon: A piece of me” to my cousin and maybe the three of us and especially Facundo Valdez can come up with the answer you need.

    Let me tell you something that is NOT official but story of a rumor that Roman might have had other kids. Sooo? who know? Where there is smoke there is fire.

    Hope I shed some light, Gloria Zamora

    • flujan Says:

      Hi Gloria! My mom’s name is Gloria as well! 2 funny!! Where do you live? I have to meet all of the cousins who have found me! Yes- I know Facundo well. I have had several oral interviews with him. He actually did the eulogy for some of the funerals in my family. What did your grandpa Fidel do for a living? Do you have a family tree or lineage charts? I wonder why Roman was ill?? You know the weird thing? There are two Roman Valdez records- they both died within a short time from each other. I found it strange when I located the records. You need to tell me more about the non-official story? What do you know? I’ll check into it- I’m an archivist! I loved you comment “where there is smoke there is fire.” You sound like someone I would like! Haha!!!

      Felicia Lujan

      • Gloria Zamora Says:

        You and Katherine Valdez, married to Fidel should compare records. She does geneology and as far as I know never found the second Roman. They live in Las Aguitas where all the Valdez family has their property.

        As far as Roman goes, I heard he liked his drink, that he was not too nice to his kids ano/or wife and that he had a second family somewhere. This is the fire I spoke of. What I say in regards to this info is that if I was his child or wife this is hurtful information. As a great-grand daughter I think it interesting and even a little exciting as stories go. For now I will not reveal mhy source but I understand that it came from the mouth of Fidel Valdez one of Roman’s chi
        ldren and my grandfather.

        Did I tell you I wrote a memoir. SWEET NATA Growing up in Rural New Mexico. My name is Gloria Zamora and I live in Corrales, New Mexico close to Albuquerque, NM. Please call me if you are out this way. I’d love to meet with you and have some platica.
        If you read and like the book pass the word. I did receive two awards, one national.

        Oral history via video camera has been my work not only with family but in the community. Each person has their own perspective and their own story.

        My phone number is 505 897-4107 if you feel like talking.

        Tu prima, (distant, removed, o lo que sea)

      • flujan Says:

        Oh My Gosh Gloria—- I am sure I read that book. I’m going to go to the library and see if it is the one I remember. You live in Corrales? Do you know Henrietta Christmas?

      • Gloria Zamora Says:

        I do not know Henrietta Christmas by name but maybe if I saw her. Corrales has grown from a small village to 8,000 people or more so I may recognize her. So glad you have made contact with Katherine Valdez. She and Fidel are two of my favorite people. Let me know if you did read ‘Sweet Nata.” Bueno prima, hasta. Gloria

  3. Robert l. Valdez Says:

    Do any of you know of Pedro Valdez from the Mora area.
    My name is Robert Valdez from Trinidad Colorado.
    My great great grandfather is Pedro Valdez, his son is Gabriel Valdez, and his son is Sevedeo Valdez and my dad name is Jose Macario Vladez. Just starting to do research your help will be appreciated. thank all who can assist.
    Robert L. Valdez

    • flujan Says:

      Hello Robert-

      None of those names seem familiar to me. I don’t have a FaceBook account, but I know there is a Valdez Family page put together for the families of Mora check that out, and maybe you will find someone who knows more.

  4. david Says:

    Great write up I knew don Facundo Valdez with his work with the New Mexico Acequias que en paz descanse your writing is a honor to the his memory

    David Garcia

  5. Elizabeth Perea Says:

    Hello Felicia,
    My great grand parents are Roman Valdez and Porfiria Maes. Their son is Adelaido Valdez (my grandfather), and his son is Orlando Valdez(my father). My maiden name is Valdez and my married name is Perea. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and amazing research. I have never seen a picture of my great grandpa Roman before! Please let me know if you have any pics or more of Porfiria or their parents.
    Elizabeth Perea

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: