Archive for the ‘Genealogical Records’ category

My Sun Symbol and Special Things

September 5, 2012

I will love the light for it shows me
the way. Yet I will endure the
darkness for it shows me the stars.
~Og Mandino

~~Sun Wind Chime~~
The sun is one of my symbols and after
taking the photo, I realized that another
of my symbols is in the background~ bird.
That is a bird house that my son Daryn and I
made together and then painted last summer.

On Tuesday I had a surprise visit from my godmother. She dropped by my work to bring me a birthday gift. I love that my friends and family know me so well. I did adore every single thing I was given this year. When I opened her gift, I couldn’t believe that there was yet another of my symbols~ the sun. Her gift included light (in the form of a large cherry scented candle) and a silver wind chime (with a sun face). So funny… The chime was small and sounded beautiful. I am one of the rare people who would say that the absolute best present I received came in the form of paper. I always say I am such a nerd, but I do love it! After I opened my gift my aunt Rita turned to me and said “and…….I have been wanting to give you these.” I stood silent as she pulled a blue booklet and aged paper from mid-air. She opened each and shared them with me. My first words were “this is the best birthday present I was given.” The two items belonged to my maternal grandmother who has passed away. The 5 year anniversary of her death passed only days ago. It is also her birthday on September 24. My godmother had given me my grandma’s original diploma and marriage license. These are two items I have never seen and that I do not have in my archival collection of family papers. What a gift…. I am smiling just thinking about it. I think my grandma would be happy to know they were given to me. She knew how much I adore history~and simply just how much I care.

~~1933 Public School Diploma~~
The diploma belonged to my maternal
grandmother Corina Valdez.
She graduated in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


~~1933 Public School Diploma~~
The diploma belonged to my maternal
grandmother Corina Valdez.
She graduated in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


~~1941 Marriage License~~
The license belonged to my maternal
grandparents Filadelfio Garcia and Corina Valdez.
The certificate is a civil marriage record and
was recorded in Mora, New Mexico.

The Saloon: A Piece of Me

August 21, 2012

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.

Countdown to the Release of the First Digitized US Census!

March 28, 2012

I am so excited to take a look at the new (but old) 1940 United States Census! Five days left… Yeah!!! There will be so much to learn about the country, New Mexico and my family. These are some interesting things about the 1940 census. Check them out.



Family Tree Friday: Interesting facts about the 1940 Census

Here is another entry from guest blogger Diane Petro, Archives Technician in the Archives I Research Support Branch (RD-DC), Research Services, Archival Operations – Washington, DC.  Diane helps staff the research rooms at the National Archives Building and has also been working on reference activities relating to the upcoming 1940 Census release. Time is moving swiftly and April 2, 2012, will be here before we know it.  Reading statistics and instructions to enumerators have taken up a lot of my time; time well spent, because there is a lot of interesting information about the 1940 census that doesn’t necessarily pertain to genealogy.  Here are a few items that seemed of general interest.

1.  In August 1939, the bureau conducted a special census in St. Joseph and Marshall Counties, Indiana using questions proposed for 1940 census.  The result of this test modified some questions and finalized the schedule design.  (These schedules did not survive.)

2.  Officials agreed to add new questions on migration, income, fertility, education, social security, usual occupation, and unemployment.

3.  The income questions in columns 32 and 33 caused controversy. Republican Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire mounted a campaign to force the administration to delete the questions. It was unsuccessful, but a compromise allowed individuals who did not want to give the information to the enumerator to send in a confidential card listing their income.   A “C” (for confidential report) will appear in the upper right hand margin opposite the name on the census record.  In the end, only 2% of the population did not answer the question.

4.  Between 1930 and 1940 the U.S. population dropped to a historical low of 7.3 percent, however, the population in Washington DC increased by 36%.

5.  Internal migration redistributed 9 Congressional House seats. Six seats went to the western states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon.  Three went to the southern states of Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois each lost a seat. So did Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Indiana.<

6.  In April 1940, unemployment stood at 15 percent of the labor force and totaled 8 million.

7.  The Census worked with the Bureau of Vital Statistics to check accurate birth registration in each state.  This test was the first conducted simultaneously for every state in the country. Census enumerators gathered information on infant cards such as, exact date of birth, exact place of birth, maiden name of mother, and hospital of birth.  Unfortunately these cards have been disposed of.

8.  The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a publicity drive using radio programs, newspaper advertisements, mass mailings, and teacher involvement to encourage cooperation and participation in the census.The Three Stooges made a short film in 1940 titled “No Census No Feeling”.

9.  The 1940 census fell on the 150th anniversary of census taking in America.

10.  Enumerator salaries ranged between .5 cents and .8 cents a person, depending on the geographic area and the schedule they were enumerating.  Agricultural enumerators were paid more because of the greater distance they had to travel between farm households.

The Garduño Connection…

December 28, 2011

Slowly, I have been gathering records for genealogical research into a branch of my paternal line. In order to make sense of connections, dates, and other pertinent information, I have created an event timeline. This helps me put things into perspective. Aside from the fact that I want to know more about this branch of my tree, I want to work on this particular area for several reasons. First, I absolutely loved my great grandmother who was born a Garduño and married an Ortiz. Second, when I was little, my great grandmother’s daughter (my grandma) Emily took care of me. I learned so much about creativity from her, and would like to offer her a greater piece of her patrimony. Third, I am related to the Garduños who are serious New Mexico foodies. In the last few years, the family has been criticized for their business management skills and financial problems. It is unfair that the family has been given so much negative publicity. I want to take an opportunity to provide a closer look at the Garduños, and in turn affirm their prominently positive mark on New Mexico history. Lastly, I have always heard that there is a Maloof connection in this line. Oral histories have denoted that these families are very close friends, and also business partners. At this point all I know for sure is that there is a restaurant opened by the Garduño family in the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Palms is owned by the Maloof family. At one time, the Garduño family owned close to 10 restaurants, made close to $30 million a year in sales, and had restaurants in at least three states.

Tintype given to me by my grandma Emily. The frame is beautiful. This is my great great grandfather Cesario Herrera y Ortiz and his second wife Adelia Garduño. The couple was married on Feb. 2, 1914.

My great grandmother was Maria Fedelina Garduño y Gonzales de Ortiz. She was a humble, beautiful woman. We called her grandma Lina. She lived off of Rio Grande Boulevard and Rice Avenue on Duranes Road. Grandma Lina moved to Albuquerque from Nambe in about 1963, after the death of her husband Juan Eliu Ortiz. I am still looking into the premature death of a great great grandmother who died in childbirth. She was the first wife of my great great grandfather Cesario Herrera y Ortiz, who later married Adelia Garduño in February of 1914. Adelia was also my great grandma Lina’s sister, and I believe she would have been about 8 years old when they married. In 1900, all of the original Garduño family members were living in the Pojoaque/Nambe area. So far, I have established that from at least the late 1960s on, many of these Garduño’s have been in Albuquerque. Grandma Lina spent many years in Los Duranes. Historically, this was a little farm community which was originally founded by the Duran family in about 1750. The community follows the Camino Real, or the Royal Road, which was about a 1,600 mile trade route between Mexico and Santa Fe from the late 1500s until the late 1880s. In 1790, the Spanish census recorded the Plaza de Señor San Jose de Los Duranes. There were 27 families recorded on that census. The community was one of six settlements falling just north of Albuquerque. Some of the other communities captured in that census included Alameda, Los Candelarias, Los Griegos, Los Gallegos, and Los Ranchos.

My great grandmother, Maria Fedelina Garduño y Gonzales de Ortiz. She was a humble, beautiful woman. We called her "Grandma Lina."

I miss the long visits I had with my grandma Lina in her little warm home. She always offered a meal, snacks, and coffee. Her table was always equip with powder creamer and sugar. The visits ended because she passed away at 92 years old in 1999. At the time of her death, she was survived by four daughters (including my grandma Emily). Grandma Lina also had 15 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. She was a member of La Hija de Maria Sacred Heart League, and attended San Jose de Duranes Catholic Church on Los Luceros. I always remember her praying on her knees, while holding a rosary, and chanting softly near her sacred candles. She was buried at the Mount Calvary Cemetery, and my father Gilbert was a pallbearer. Hopefully, with research, and with the help of my grandma I can shed more light on the great contributions made to New Mexico by the Garduño family. Following are some dates I have roughed out in a timeline. Some of these dates may be inaccurate, but in the next few months, I will connect more dots and with any luck conduct a few interviews. I never had the chance to hear grandma Lina sing. My grandma Emily remembers how her mother would sing while she ironed clothes. She has always said that my great grandma had an enchanting voice. I am very sad that I was never able to sit down to talk about family history with my great grandma when she was alive. I am sure that she would have loved to talk about her origins with me.

Garduño Timeline

1892, my great great grandfather Florencio Garduño married Maria Merced Gonzales

1906, my great grandmother Maria Fedelina Garduño y Gonzales de Ortiz was born, and was from Nambe

1910, Thirteenth Census of the United States- Garduño family (great grandma Fedelina and her sister Adelia) recorded in Precinct No. 22- Ortiz, Nambe Pueblo Grant

1914, my great great grandfather Cesario Herrera y Ortiz married his second wife Adelia Garduño

1921, Benancio Garduño was born

1931, my grandma Maria Emilia Oritz y Garduño de Lujan was born (baptized by Cesario Ortiz and Adelia Garduño de Ortiz in Pojoaque)

1957, the Garduño family became active foodies and opened Bennie’s Drive-in on North 4th Street

1960, my great grandfather Juan Eliu Ortiz passes away

1963, my great grandmother Maria Fedelina Garduño y Gonzales de Ortiz moved from Nambe to Albuquerque following the death of her husband Juan Eliu Ortiz

1969, Dave Garduño got a loan and reopened his father’s restaurant Bennie’s Drive-in under the name Taco Flats

1970-1975, Dave Garduño owned Taco Flats

1976-1978, Dave Garduño owned La Tapatia

1978-1981, Dave Garduño owned Papa Felipe’s Restaurant

1981, sold smaller restaurants to focus energy on the restaurant on 4th he named Garduño’s

1982-2010, Dave Garduño owned Garduño’s Restaurant and Cantina (8806 4th Street NW) in addition to other locations

1990, Dave Garduño opened Yesterdave’s (a 50s-style diner)

1991, Benancio Garduño (Dave’s father) died and was buried in the Santa Fe National Cemetery (Private- United States Army)

1996, Dave Garduño opened Garduño’s at the Palms Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada

1997, Dave Garduño opened Garduño’s at the Albuquerque International Sunport

1999, my great grandmother Maria Fedelina Garduño y Gonzales de Ortiz passed away

2010, Tortilla Inc. the parent company of Garduño’s filed for bankruptcy and closed three locations, including the restaurant on 4th Street

2010, the 6,000 square foot Garduño’s building on 4th Street was sold and the original building built by the Garduño family was unfortunately lost

Felisita Hails the Armistice: A Message from Paris

December 5, 2011

One of the most treasured items I have in my family papers is a tiny little booklet called a “cartera” in Spanish. The cartera belonged to my maternal great grandfather Alfonso Valdez, and great grandmother Felisita Brizal. At some point, I will post the digital images of the book, but for tonight I wanted to feature a special note in the back of the book. On the last page of the cartera, my great grandmother Felisita (who I am named after) noted the end of World War I. When I first read the note years ago, I remember wondering how she may have been feeling on that day? She was so moved by the end of the war, that she actually created a record. Her handwriting is beautiful. I understood that the date obviously marked the end of the first world war, however, I didn’t look further until tonight. There was a radio announcement made from Paris on November 11, 1918.  (OMG of course- 11.11) 🙂 The address said “hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o’clock, November 11th (French hour).”  (OMG of course- 11.11 @ 11!) 🙂 Then “at 5 AM on the morning of November 11 an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front lines.” Amazing! My great grandmother was French. So maybe now I have a better idea of what she did that day. Maybe she had relatives and friends on the front lines I have yet to learn about? On November 11, 1918, like those “all over the world,” she was likely “celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne,” and “hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war!!!”

The following is quoted from: Armistice – The End of World War I (1918)- EyeWitness to History –

“The final Allied push towards the German border began on October 17, 1918. As the British, French and American armies advanced, the alliance between the Central Powers began to collapse. Turkey signed an armistice at the end of October, Austria-Hungary followed on November 3. Germany began to crumble from within. Faced with the prospect of returning to sea, the sailors of the High Seas Fleet stationed at Kiel mutinied on October 29. Within a few days, the entire city was in their control and the revolution spread throughout the country. On November 9 the Kaiser abdicated; slipping across the border into the Netherlands and exile. A German Republic was declared and peace feelers extended to the Allies. At 5 AM on the morning of November 11 an armistice was signed in a railroad car parked in a French forest near the front lines. The terms of the agreement called for the cessation of fighting along the entire Western Front to begin at precisely 11 AM that morning. After over four years of bloody conflict, the Great War was at an end. “…at the front there was no celebration.” Colonel Thomas Gowenlock served as an intelligence officer in the American 1st Division. He was on the front line that November morning and wrote of his experience a few years later. ‘On the morning of November 11 I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonel John Greely, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peabody, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:

Official Radio from Paris – 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918. Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief.
1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o’clock, November 11th (French hour). 2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line reached at that hour on that date until further orders. [signed] MARSHAL FOCH – 5:45 A.M.

‘Well – fini la guerre!’ said Colonel Greely. ‘It sure looks like it,’ I agreed. ‘Do you know what I want to do now?’ he said. ‘I’d like to get on one of those little horse-drawn canal boats in southern France and lie in the sun the rest of my life.’ My watch said nine o’clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o’clock came – but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had-their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after their years of war, but unfortunately many fell after eleven o’clock that day.

All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration. Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers – and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

What was to come next? They did not know – and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable.”

Domain of the Golden Dragon: Soldiers and Mermaids of the Far East

November 26, 2011

I spent the larger part of my day continuing work on the processing, rehousing and description of my family papers. It is taking a bit for me to complete this task since I have so much stuff. I purchased acid free folders and boxes to rehouse my collection, and will use pencil on the folder tabs. I guess it was a productive day. I got through the tentative description of close to 50 folders. I have about two cubic feet of records to work through and have finished going through about one quarter. In archival terminology, the collection is classified as an “artificial collection.” That basically means that I have manually collected records, and artificially created a body of research materials. At this point, I have instituted a rough arrangement with penciled folder numbers (just to make sense of what I have). Before I finalize the ultimate resting place of each folder within the collection, I will impose a more meaningful arrangement for physical control of the materials. The physical arrangement will likely be by lines (paternal, maternal) and then possibly by surname. Using the spreadsheet I have created, I will then impose intellectual arrangement by sorting and creating series and/or sub-series for the records (likely sorted by record type, place names, and date). My spreadsheet captures the following: folder no.; surname(s); type of record 1 (sacred or secular); type of record 2 (notes, census, sacramental, white paper, book, web resource, etc.); line (maternal/paternal); description; place names; date; and other notes of importance (including primary record citations when available). Later I will be able to visibly see connections and/or holes in my research by sorting in various ways.

The one thing I was reminded of today while working on this project was my mom’s father. My grandpa died before I was born, and so I never met him. Filadelfio Narciso Garcia was born on September 9, 1914 (Chacon, New Mexico). Though his name was Filadelfio, my grandpa went by “Phil” for the majority of his life. If he were still alive, there is so much I would ask him. It is impossible to determine personality from documents. What I do know is that my paternal grandfather was a Virgo (like me). He was also part of the sixth astrological sign of the Zodiac. I wonder if he (like other Virgos): was a lover of literature; was captivated by details; and adored history? I may never know? I am learning more about this interesting man, but there is certainly more to know. Some of the records I processed today once belonged to my grandpa. He was a Tech 5 for the United States Army in World War II (Company B- 1st CP). His separation papers (honorable discharge) declare his place of separation as Fort Bliss (TX). He was just under 6′ tall. This is where the height on my mom’s line comes from (except for me LoL). One of his specialties was cooking! Ahhhaaaa… That’s where I get it from! His “decorations and citations” included: the American Theater; Asiatic Pacific Theater; and a Victory Medal. I wonder what happened to the medal? Now that would be a find! I think mermaids, dragons, spirits of the deep, and well anything from the realm of fantasy is super cool. I thought I would share a certificate of his I rediscovered, and fell in love with again today. There are also a few photos which are relative to my grandpa’s service.

The certificate is from the Domain of the Golden Dragon (International Date Line) Ruler of the 180th Meridian. The full color certificate was given to my grandpa on February 7, 1946 at a certain latitude and longitude at sea. He was a soldier on the S.S. Marine Swallow, and likely filed away the certificate in his personal belongings right before he returned to the United States on February 15, 1946. The certificate is what the Department of the Navy (Navy Historical Center- Washington Navy Yard) calls “unofficial,” still it is intricate and gorgeous. Apparently, sailors, soldiers, and marines were given the certificate when they passed the 180th Meridian. I also have some 5×7 black and white images of soldiers getting on and off the S.S. Marine Swallow while carrying their bags. Unfortunately, there was no metadata on the back of these images, so I am making an educated guess on the date they were taken. I do wonder if my grandpa took the photographs? If so, he was “documenting” history! Wow! My grandpa Phil passed away in 1973. He died young of a heart attack, and sadly he never got to see my face, and I never got to hear his voice (even as a baby)…

A Visit to Las Aguitas- Mora, New Mexico

July 24, 2011

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July 23, 2011-   Sometimes working on your family history can be bitter sweet. Through life, death, smiles and tears we connect the dots which further define us. Some people wish to remember, and some do not, some care to learn, and then some do not. I can say that I am proud to be one who wants to learn from those who remember, and I will take the time to do so. I have learned so much visiting Mora as a child, and will continue to learn as an adult.

On Saturday, my mom, my son, and I packed up and made a trip to the valley to spend some quality time. We went out to Mora, to attend a memorial to honor the life of the late Jose Maria Valdez. It was a nice drive and we contemplated history along the way. We pointed at, and observed majestic mountains, the land, a lake, a mill, and the river. How I treasure my childhood memories of this ride. I am a Valdez through my mother’s side of the family, and my great grandfather was Alfonso Valdez. Together, the Valdez Families own hundreds of acres in Las Aguitas. The area is part of the Mora Land Grant, and the Valdez surname played a key role in securing the original grant.

As we arrived in Las Aguitas, the long dirt road leading to the house was just the same. Two of my uncles (my mom’s brothers) from Santa Fe, were there spending time in the house. Clarence and Ruben (Pepe) were not there when we rolled in, but the scent from a simmering roaster of posole greeted us. We kept watch up the long dirt road, and waited. We were waiting for the dust to signal the arrival of my uncles. A few minutes later they drove up. I was taking pictures of the mountain, when my uncle Pepe approached me. I asked him if there was a name for the mountains, and he jokingly said “LA.” He laughed as he pointed to the white rocks on the mountain. The rocks indeed declare to visitors that one has arrived in LA. It was a spectacular rainy day in Las Aguitas– and this included lightening flashes across the greyish sky. The air smelled so fresh, and a gentle wind invited us to the mountain. I snapped some photos of the fog which had settled in the distance. I didn’t realize how much I missed the rolling fields until I went back.

With the clarity of yesterday, I could recall the sounds of feet running through the house. The creaky wooden floor was traveled from one end to the other at one time. When we were kids, this was our home away from home. All of us got together for the Mora Fiestas. Everyone would come out to Mora. There would be hikes up the mountain and trips to see salamanders, campfires and scary stories, fights and hugs, dancing and singing, then bacon for breakfast. It is now time for new generations. As I took my son through the house, I realized that this was my chance to tell him about me, and where I came from. Together we went from room to room and explored. There sat the old-fashioned Coke machine, and the aged radio. A petite table with remnants of my grandma Corina brought tears to my eyes. A saint near a bottle of holy water- if she were alive today, I’ll bet she would confirm that this was all she needed to survive (and maybe some Osha). In another room, there were old cards from the services of several family members. I had never seen the cards for my grandfather Phil Garcia. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet him because he passed away just two years before I was born.

Once we made our way to the Jose Maria Valdez Memorial, it was nice to see cousins that I had not seen since I was a young. The memorial was very nice. Ramona has a precious house, and her father could not have been laid to rest in a more beautiful place. There was a song dedication, food, prayers, tears, and his grandson Freddie read a short tribute. Jose Maria Valdez was the son of my great grandfather’s brother Candido Valdez. In 1900, a census enumerator named Emelia Ortiz counted the 152nd dwelling of Roman Valdez (my great great grandfather). He was 42 years old, was married to Porfiria Maes, and there were seven children living under his roof. These children included Candido and Alfonso Valdez. Candido was 13 years old, and Alfonso was 8 years old. In 1915, my great grandfather, Alfonso Valdez married Felicitas Brizal (surname spelled this way in the sacramental record). One year later, Felicitas (who I am named after) gave birth to my grandmother Corina (my mother’s mother).

It was also great to meet some people I had never met before like Mr. and Mrs. Garcia. They were the oldest couple there (mid 90s), and I immediately pegged them for questioning! I told my mom that I had to ask them several questions. They were an adorable little couple, with nothing but pleasant things to say about my grandma (which made my mom cry). I asked them many things (with the help of my mom, and my uncles- because they mostly spoke Spanish). They told us that my grandmother was “distinguished, and that she never changed.” They also said that she was a “good dancer.” I laughed when they said that because I could totally picture my grandma kicking up her heels!  Mr. Garcia also said that my Uncle Clarence “is a very good man, just like his father.” (my grandfather Phil Garcia)  My uncle was caring for them the whole time by bringing them food and helping them get down the mountain.  Mrs. Garcia repeatedly touched my mother’s hand and told her that talking with her was just like talking to Corina (my mom’s mother).

Later, one of my uncles took me into what they called a “cuartito.” It was a small house, near the larger homes.  Apparently all of the oldest Valdez men had one on their land. I got to see two of at least four. I went into one which belonged to Candido Valdez, and the other belonging to my great grandfather Alfonso Valdez. The cuartito was used to entertain in their time. My mom says she remembers sleeping in her grandpa’s when she was small. My uncle said he remembered getting a nickel from his grandpa when they would play cards in there. After visiting the property once owned by my great grandparents Alfonso and Felicitas (and later my Tia Cres- their daughter), I realized something.  I had seen this property millions of times when I was young.  I quickly realized that I had a photo which was over 50 years old, that captured the same cuartito from a different viewpoint.

It was such a good trip. I am happy that I made the time to go out and visit a place that is so much a part of who I am. It also made me feel good that my mother came along, and that I could share the history with my son.  I will surely make time to go out there more often- even if it just to feel the wind on my back, catch a few smiles, and listen to the voices of yesterday.

More about Jose Maria Valdez… Jose Maria was born in May of 1929, and passed away in June of 2011. He was a veteran of the Korean War and was preceded in death by: his father Candido; his mother Merenciana; his son James; his grandson Joseph Jr.; his great granddaughter Kadence; his brothers Roman, Amado, Fred, and Elias; and his sisters Adelina, Margarita, Josephine, and Francis. Jose Maria is survived by: his wife Della, his son Joseph (Grace); his daughters Christina (Rudolf), Ramona, Cindy, and Bernadette (Steve).

Also- his grandchildren Summer (Phil), Jacob (Julie), Angelic, Tracy (Eric), Carissa (Cassidy), Gaby, Donna (Pete), Christopher, Felecia, Yvette (Chris), James, Tammy (Jason), Jason (Erica), Robert, Freddie (Camille), Andrew (Hope), Apryl, James (Sarah), Matthew (Jennifer), Stevie (Julia), and Krysta (Jeremy). This includes thirty-six grandchildren and four great grandchildren.


New Mexico Tombstone Transcription Project

June 28, 2011

Information from the web site about this project…

We who research our family’s history are good at remembering. We remember often and we remember well. But, our memories last for only as long as we are here. The purpose of this project is to organize volunteers who will work together to create a lasting tribute to our ancestors.

We will transcribe tombstone inscriptions and have that work archived for the future and made easily accessible to all. The tombstones of our ancestors were always meant to be lasting memorials to the lives of those gone before. Lately, I have been visiting old cemeteries and have been distressed to see how these memorials are suffering the ravages of time and weather. Many of these stones are becoming difficult to read and some have already gotten so faint that deciphering them is next to impossible. Fortunately, many are still legible TODAY. But, of those we can read today, how many will still be legible ten or twenty years from today?

We need to record these tombstone inscriptions now—before they are lost forever to the winds and the rains. Though many cemeteries have already been recorded by various Genealogical Societies, just as many have not. And, of those recorded, how accessible is that data to the world? If we join together and do this recording, we will guarantee that our ancestors an not forgotten—-that their memorials will live on so that future generations may remember then as well as we do.

For further information visit-

Photos- New Mexico Tombstones and Cemeteries

June 28, 2011

Photographs of New Mexico Tombstones and Cemeteries
Created by Marcena Thompson

For further information visit-

New Mexico Hispano/Latino/Chicano History

June 28, 2011

Gloria’s Advanced Resources

For further information visit-

Resources with Somos Primos…

June 28, 2011

Welcome to Somos Primos™, a publication dedicated to past and present articles, events and information concerning Hispanic heritage issues.

For further information visit-

King Tut’s Maternal DNA Match…

June 20, 2011

Using the latest DNA analysis methods, the team confirms that a anonymous female mummy in tomb KV35 is Tut’s mother.

Enchantment: The Deflection and Assemblage of Intellects

June 13, 2011

O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick, thus with a kiss I die.” 

-William Shakespeare

True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy.”

-William Shakespeare

Possession was released in 2002. The movie is based on A.S. Byatt’s 1990 novel Possession: A Romance, and stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Aehle, and Lena Headey. The movie has so much that I have passion for with history, poetry, scholars, archives and libraries, museums, a crystal ball, and symbolism. It is also filled with intellectual enigmas. I would now like to read the novel, but have not yet attempted to secure a copy. I have read that in this novel the author uses epigraphs to start each chapter. I find this interesting, as I tend to do the same thing when I write. This story line centers on two post-modern scholars who retrace the footsteps of two Victorian Era writers. The scholars do so in an attempt to learn more about the relationship between these two writers, and in effect themselves.

Roland (Eckhart) is a post-grad working in the British Museum. He uncovers long forgotten letters in an old book in the London Library, which raise more questions than answers. The discovery could forever change what scholars have believed about the life of two poets. In asking for advice from a stern professor of Gender Studies named Maud (Paltrow), the two embark on a mysterious investigative journey. When Roland approaches Maud with the letter, she is skeptical about the discovery, and scolds him for removing the original from the library. The letter may confirm an illicit affair, and so the scholars are drawn to seek the truth. They decide to trace the steps of these poets, and discover their own passions along the way.

The fictional Victorian Era writers being analyzed by Maud and Roland are the star-crossed lovers, Randolph Henry Ash and Christabel LaMotte. Each is in a respective relationship, still they discover a profound connection which brings an intimacy through correspondence. Maud and Roland become intrigued and discover written hidden messages from LaMotte in her old family home, which lead to a treasure trove of old letters, poetry, and of course more clues. The documents are hidden away in a childhood keepsake. Once the scholars discover the letters and poems, they sit amazed and stay reading them together, learning on the floor of LaMotte’s old room.

The word “possession” reflects a dual significance in this story by A.S. Byatt. This can be seen when the possession of diaries, letters, poetry, collections, and rights to a collection exude power in the cutthroat world of academia. Maud is a LaMotte scholar, and is a direct descendant of the LaMotte family. There is also a mention of the LaMotte genealogy in the movie. Possession is also integrated into relationships, where the condition of physically owning a partner and maybe the psyche of that partner aids in self-definition. Additionally, possession is tied to sexual ideology, and this movie challenges the pigeonholes of sexuality. Star-crossed lovers, with common interests share literary expressions in an attempt to pinpoint their underlying identities.

NMGS presents Andrés Armijo- Becoming a Part of My History

June 10, 2011
Andrés Armijo presents on his first, recent publication “Becoming a Part of My History: Through Images & Stories of My Ancestors” – People’s Photography and Family Research at its Best.This project stems out of years of genealogical research, oral history interviews and the recovery of family images and artifacts. Vernacular photography, or “people’s phototgraphy,” enlightens a family’s past, while oral histories also illuminate photographs. Both aspects of family research are in potential danger of being lost, and it is through this recovery project that Andrés Armijo shares insights, guidance, stories and oral histories about his family for all ranges of audiences. In this presentation, Armijo will share excerpts from select chapters of the book, and the photographs (and moving pictures, or home movies as we know them) that accompany them. Interaction, discussion and questions in this multi-media presentation are encouraged.This program is free and open to the public.

Saturday, July, 16 2011 at 10:30 AM
Albuquerque Main Library, 2nd Floor
501 Copper NW, Albuquerque New Mexico (505-768-5131)

Click here to view map.

In Honor of Those Who Served…

May 30, 2011


Wreaths Across America 2010- Isaiah, Felicia, Laura, Daryn, Gloria, Thomas & Audrey

Maternal Grandfather- Phil Garcia

Anniversary Mass- Phil Garcia- SFNM 5.30.1974

Paternal Grandfather- Gilbert Lujan

Obituary- Gilbert Lujan SFNM 1.6.2001

Brother- Brian Lujan- Angol,Chile in 2010

Matias Lujan

Uncle- James Lujan

The United States Air Force Thunderbirds perform during the Aerospace and Arizona Days air show March 20, 2010, at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. This air show kicked off the team's 57th season. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla)

Cousin- Melanie & her husband Shane

Uncles- Clarence, Nelson and Donald Garcia


And to Those Who Died for Our Freedom…

Cousin- Jonathan Grant- Killed in Iraq 2005


Bobby Trujillo- Missing in Action 1968

Ceremony for Bobby Trujillo

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I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

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