Archive for the ‘Genealogy’ category

What Do Archivists Do?

September 25, 2014

Had to share this meme
someone sent me about
what archivists do. Yeah…
This about sums up what
people think. Being an
archivist is actually
much harder than
people think!!!!


Family Tree DNA Launches New Learning Center

March 15, 2014


DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy

Ugly light bulb

Family Tree DNA has launched a new Learning Center.  Meant to be much more comprehensive and interactive than their previous FAQs, with everything available in one centralized place, the new Learning Center encompasses a blog, the former FAQs, Webinar information including currently scheduled and archived past Webinars available,  FTDNA’s Forum, a link to group projects, Users Guides, Group Administrator Guides and tools, a glossary, links to scientific papers and more.

Learning center landing

In fact, the site is so comprehensive that there is even a tutorial about how to utilize the Learning Center.

One of the best aspects of the Learning Center is that it’s fully searchable.  Just as a test, and because I’m a skeptic, I typed the word “heteroplasmy” into the search field.  This term, if you’re not familiar, is a relatively obscure term for mitochondrial DNA.  About 2% of the people who take a full sequence test will have a heteroplasmic mutation…

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Learn to search NARA – National Archives and Records Administration –

September 8, 2013


Old Bones Genealogy of New England

Last week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) broadcast a series of videos from various experts on a variety of subjects. From military records to census records to many other subjects, there are several individual videos that you can watch at your leisure. They were broadcast over a two day period and you could pick the ones you wanted to see from a schedule. It was much like attending a conference with multiple speakers.

Here’s the link: USNatArchives

I watched a few on the first day but haven’t found the time to watch the rest!

If you get a chance, take a look and let me know which broadcasts interested you the most.

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Death of the Algorithm

July 2, 2013

It is so strange and other~ish that it
becomes a stream~of~consciousness
algorithm unto itself~
something almost inhuman.”

~ Jerry Saltz ~
(American Art Critic)

An algorithm is used in mathematics as a detailed procedure for calculations. Algorithms are used for processing data, as well as for automating reasoning. The Scarf Algorithm has been used by researchers for stable matching and the balance of core elements. Herbert Scarf is a Sterling Professor Emeritus of Economics at Yale University. In 1981, he produced this algorithm for integer programming and the calculation of nonlinear complementarity problems. He has also used his model in the Mathematics Genealogy Project with North Dakota State University. He has identified 138 descendants.

Death of the Algorithm by Felicia Lujan

……….~~…Death of the Algorithm…~~……….
Digital composite by Felicia Lujan
Includes five layers: my photograph; an image of a skull; an image of the Scarf Algorithm; and two color layers.

Contemplating Mortality

June 18, 2013

Like a Phoenix do we rise from the ashes? If our memories burn out in the earthly end will we continue to soar on glowing flames? Maybe the spiritual embers will keep others warm or make them feel cold? In the end, we can only have faith that it is really the beginning.

Tonight I attended a rosary which again prompted me to contemplate mortality. At one time I simply wanted my ashes strewn about~ scattered lovingly in those places dearest to my heart. Years of working as an archivist has changed that. If my ashes are scattered, distant memories of me will become less tangible. No tombstone. No official mark. No final place to embrace the finality. How will those who come after me find me?

I still want to be ashes in the end. Maybe I will have part of me scattered under the Pojoaque Cottonwood trees? I think some of me should be sprinkled in Mora. The rest can be housed in a small metal tin. Lay that part of me to rest where those who care to look can find me.

It was really hard to see my friend tonight. I couldn’t imagine being in her place. Her mother was only 60 years old. The rosary was very sad. They always are. Gathering in a sacred place with my fellow mortals in prayer always makes me think. Our time on Earth can be very short. Our worth is not measured by the length of our mark, but the strength.

Like a Phoenix we will rise from the ashes. Our earthly memories will burn out, but in the end we will continue to soar on the glowing flames of those who love us. The spiritual embers will keep them warm, but at times they will feel cold. In the end, faith will insure that each of us has a new beginning.

U.S. auction to sell “unknown” 1758 document on proposed French Canada exodus to Louisiana

May 29, 2013


Very interesting…


The Debate Over the Ethics of Photo Restoration

May 3, 2013

A great take on the
ethics debate.

Spirit, Heart and Mind: An Interview with Miguél A. Tórrez

April 15, 2013

Aristotle once said “if you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” I believe that the great Greek philosopher intentionally excluded “its end” when he said this. History has no end, therefore, there are constant developments. This quote could not ring more truthful for a lover of family history. There is something about knowing where we came from that makes us feel complete. When it comes to the art of research, there is a genealogist who grew up in Ranchitos that is making major contributions to our history. This man has a passion for traditional and scientific research, which makes him a well-rounded historian.

I have known Miguél Tórrez for many years. The first time I met him he was feverishly working on his genealogy with his small boys by his side. He has been interested in history since he was just a boy, but in his early 20s he was seemingly smitten by the history of those who came before him. This was just a few years after Miguél graduated from Española Valley High School. Growing up in Ranchitos, New Mexico, Miguél was near the historic Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo). At that time he couldn’t imagine that several years later his maternal line would be genetically connected to this type of ancestry. He says “current data tells us that approximately 80-85% of all New Mexicans with colonial roots have Native American roots on their maternal lineage (mtDNA).”

The final week I collected photographs from Miguél for his feature piece he was preparing for Holy Week. His spiritual devotion bears the deep roots of tradition. As a genealogist, learning about traditions and even practicing tradition will foster a clear understanding of what shaped our people. Miguél believes that “knowing oneself through culture and language fosters a sense of pride” and this belief is evident when you hear him lecture. I asked him why he felt that our traditions were important and he said “no matter what culture a person belongs to everyone’s culture is important because it gives people an identity.”


~~Santo Niño in Espinosa, Colorado by DeSautel~~

By now I’m sure that Miguél has a family tree which extends further than I can imagine. He has done so much work and he is always willing to help others in need, which is admirable. Many people who don’t understand the breadth of family history are unaware of the vast collection of surnames they can be connected to. Miguél says that “just two generations back we can see our extended relations.” Between his grandparents and great grandparents he can claim the Torres, Romero, Madrid, Roybal, Rodriguez, Martinez, Medina and Trujillo surnames. He is proud to have discovered that some of his relatives were involved in very important historical events such as the Apache Campaigns and the Rio Arriba rebellion of 1837.

Miguél has tracked military service on his paternal (Torres) line back to Cristoabl de Torres who was born in 1641. He seems to appreciate the fact that a grandfather named Juan “loved to tell stories about his grandparents and all of his relatives.” This grandfather was born in 1915 and had extended family from Chimayó to Cordova, New Mexico. “As a child I was given a visual of life in the 1920s with his stories of travels he and his father would take on horseback and wagon to communities such as Mora where they would travel to sell their produce,” he said. Though his grandfather practiced oral history, Miguél has now harnessed the power of documentary evidence and genetic studies.

3 generations of Torres

~~Three Generations of Torres Y-DNA~~

Miguél is currently in charge of about 100 paternal lineage (Y-DNA) kits. He collaborates regularly Angel Cervantes, the New Mexico DNA Project Coordinator/Group Administrator. This DNA project includes “the colonial expeditions of New Mexico by the Spanish in 1598 and 1693, by the Mexicans in 1821, and by the Americans in 1848.” This weekend Miguél will make a presentation titled “The Espinosa DNA Quest.” On Saturday (April 20, 2013) he will deliver a lecture at the Albuquerque Main Library (501 Copper SW~ Albuquerque, New Mexico) on the discovery of the Y-DNA genetic code of the Nicolás de Espinosa lineage (which includes 18th century branches of that clan). The presentation will run from 10:30~12:00 and is sure to be captivating.

When I asked Miguél what he wanted people to remember about him 200 years from now he said “I hope that the work I am doing will produce results that are worthy of scholarly articles and will serve as a worthy reference thus having historical relevance. As a young man I hope that I will have many successful years in doing so and that many generations will remember my name as having been a valid contributor to the preservation of New Mexican history and culture.” I guess as lovers of history we couldn’t ask for more than that right? Here is to one amazing man making a positive contribution to our communities and to the future through history.

Courageousness and the Asiatic Pacific Theater

April 6, 2013

Last week I helped someone who was doing research for the Names Project. The project honors “New Mexico’s 200th and 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) units” which “served with bravery” and sacrifice “in the defense of Luzon, Bataan and Corregidor” during World War II. There was a memorial held in Albuquerque today to honor these brave champions. It was interesting that the very same day I helped that man,  I had an email come in through a list serve about the historical preservation efforts taking place with the Library of Congress.

It makes me sad to think that I never had a chance to meet or speak with my maternal grandfather about his service in the Asiatic Pacific Theater during WWII. I have so many questions I wish I could ask. I wonder what he was feeling when he left the United States on a ship of nervous men headed to the Far East? My grandpa Phil entered the service less than a year after the Fall of the Philippines in 1942. I wonder if he was scared leaving his family behind knowing that close to 2,000 New Mexico soldiers had been forced by the Japanese to march over 60 miles when the Philippines went down? I think he arrived in Manilla, but I need to confirm that. His arrival to the Far East came in 1945, just a few months before the Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day). I am not sure if he was part of that, but I need to find out.
180 meridian

The sacrifices that our soldiers make leave me in awe. It must be mentally taxing to leave your homeland not knowing if you will return. This month I will take time to remember the soldiers who sacrificed for us during the Asiatic Pacific Theater of World War II. Thank you to my grandpa Phil~ the grandpa I never had the chance to meet. He passed away right before I was born.

Timeline of Asiatic Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II
1939~1945~ World War II
1941~1946~ Asiatic Pacific Theater
1941~ December~ Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor and two sites near Manila, Philippines
1941~1942~ Philippines Campaign (Bataan Peninsula)

1942~ January~ Battle of Bataan Begins (15,000 captured and interned)
1942~ April~ Fall of the Philippines/Bataan Death March
1942~ December~ Date of Induction~ Phil Garcia
1945~ February and March~ Smallpox/Typhoid/Tetanus Immunizations~ Phil Garcia
1945~ August~ Date of Departure~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia
1945~ September~Date of Arrival~ Asiatic Pacific Theater~ Phil Garcia

1945~ January~ Assault on Luzon (codename S~Day)
1946~ February~ Phil Garcia crossed the 180º Meridian toward the USA
1946~ February~ Date of Separation~ Phil Garcia

Contemporary Traditionalist: An Interview with Andrés Armijo

February 16, 2013

The Contemporary Traditionalist by Felicia Lujan
In a modern world filled with instant gratification, busyness, and over stimulation, it is easy for us to become lost in all of the bells and whistles. On February 8, I had the chance to sit down with one man who is on a mission to forget the bells and preserve tradition in creative ways. A deep love of his origins drives Andrés Armijo to travel the world and New Mexico in search of stories. Andrés has been an intrinsic part of the University of New Mexico for over 20 years. In 2010, an interview with Andrés was uploaded to YouTube by UNM Live. The man with an affinity for education discusses the “dynamic tension between past and future” as evidence of that passion can be seen strewn about the walls of his office.

When the Albuquerque native with roots in Valencia County speaks of his childhood it becomes clear that he was destined to be fascinated by history. He tells a story of being captured by a photographer in 1974 while he was looking into an incubator at a local science fair. There was a distant light of a fresh memory while he remembered that day. Andrés describes himself as an ever curious child. The photograph he told me about was published in the Valencia County News Bulletin, and that childhood curiosity may have engaged Andrés in ways which forever changed him. That spark for didactic is evident as he feels that his greatest contribution to UNM has been the “satisfaction of knowing” that he was “able to encourage and support students in education, creativity, arts, language and culture.”

Andrés Armijo in Embudo, Tecolote, and Jarales, New Mexico (2006-2012)

Andrés Armijo in Embudo, Tecolote,
and Jarales, New Mexico (2006-2012)

On the day of our interview, Andrés was in Santa Fe to recruit students from Capital High School for a special program with UNM. The Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program (IFDM) is intended to “integrate filmmaking and digital media, build a native New Mexican Hollywood, train the citizens of New Mexico, and foster research.” From the outside, Andrés seems like a perfect fit for the contemporary program with a mission to enlighten natives of his state. It is a modern program with a particular place for a man who refers to himself as a “traditionalist.” In his time at UNM, Andrés has had several official titles. Among those titles are Senior Academic Advisor, Senior Program Manager, Lecturer, Director, Academic Advisement Specialist, and Program Coordinator.

Andrés has indeed gone through many titles while at UNM. Of all those official titles, the one Andrés may have the most pride in may be the more personal title of Family Historian. He recalls being bitten by the genealogy bug as he questioned his mother about a 1919 photograph. The photo was of his grandmother and grandfather. Andrés asked his mother why his “grandmother wasn’t smiling” and “was standing” while his “grandfather was seated.” He was only a boy at that time, but has turned into a man who lectures others on the care of their family memories. On March 16, 2013 at 10:30am, Andrés will present Historical Family Images and Artifacts in the Albuquerque Main Library Community Room. The presentation promises “a creative approach to visualizing and narrating” family history and genealogy.

Andrés Armijo and Flamenco Dance

Andrés Armijo and Flamenco Dance
with Maria Benitez Club (1996-2002)

In 2010, Andrés published Becoming a Part of My History: Through Images & Stories of My Ancestors. A UNM professor called the book “a perfect model for anyone interested in knowing about themselves and their world through research into genealogy and photographic collections.” It was intended to be “a personal journey into the author’s past, but it is also a fascinating account of family life in New Mexico, neighborhoods in Albuquerque, the rites and rituals of Hispanos, how a family through the ages pictured itself, and how all this information and reflection enlightens the author.” Energized by the exploration of his roots, Andrés has a new book which is set for release by LPD Press/Río Grande Books later this year. The book is titled Por Constancia/So that it may be validated: Family History in the Río Abajo. The book will have research on the Candelaria, Bernal, Gallegos, Barreras, and Nuanes families amongst others.

Andrés Armijo in Paris (2010)

Andrés Armijo in Paris (2010)

When asked what he wants people to remember about him 200 years from now, Andrés seemed surprised. As an archivist it is second nature for me to contemplate the hidden history each of us unknowingly leaves behind. How will we be remembered? Several centuries from now our relatives will be looking for us. Before we are gone maybe we should leave more than a census record or a property deed? Take the time today and write down intimate thoughts about yourself. What is you favorite food? What color do you like? What are your favorite memories? Maybe if we save these notes, future generations can learn that much more about the people they came from? In any case, Andrés wants to capture the fact that he is “passionate and considerate.” He also wants to be be remembered as a man who was “intrigued and curious about his past and the world around him.” He said “I hope that will be reflected in my work.”

For more on Andrés Armijo you can visit:

An Immortal Legacy

December 28, 2012
•Stars and stripes in honor of Ben Lujan Sr.•

•Stars and stripes in honor of Ben Lujan Sr.•

What we have done
for ourselves alone dies
with us; what we have
done for others and
the world remains
and is immortal.

~•Albert Pike
Tonight I attended the services of a well respected member of my home town. Ben Lujan, Sr. was a Democratic member of the New Mexico House of Representatives. He represented his district for decades, and was the current Speaker of the House. To many he was even more than that. He was a father, a brother, a husband, a cousin, and a friend.

I wanted to pay my respects for several reasons. The main reason was for his son~ Ben Ray (or respectfully Congressman Lujan). Not long ago a very good friend of mine passed away in a tragic accident. Ben Ray and my friend Kim were very close when we were young. When she passed away, he made time to attend her services. That act alone~ amongst all of his accomplishments impressed me most. He is worth my respect and so is his family.

One of the most beautiful things I saw tonight was an American flag. The local fire department was flying the flag in Speaker Lujan’s honor. The flag flapped against the cold and dark with a single spotlight on it. It would have been wonderful to see our state flag waving in the wind as well. It was a very touching sight.

When I walked into the Ben Lujan Gymnasium, tonight, the musicians were singing El Shaddai. That was one of Kim’s favorite songs. It seemed so appropriate. Two large photo collages and a video with historic and family photos made me cry. My heart was breaking for another Lujan family as the entire valley gathered to remember a great man. Marcus Cicero once said that “the life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” This is so true. He will forever be remembered.

I’m not sure why I ponder my own legacy when I am faced with the passing of those I know? Maybe it is because I am an archivist plagued by the clutches of history and genealogy? Maybe it is because I am highly analytical and contemplative? I do believe that our legacy truly lives on through our family ties.

After seeing all of the touching photos of Ben Sr. it became very clear to me. He was the well respected Speaker of the House, but that defined only a portion of his life. As Mitch Albom once said “death ends a life, not a relationship.” In the end~ it is our family which defines the larger part of who we really are or who we are yet to become.

In the end~ our legacy never stops. The torch is merely carried on by those who we have loved and touched in special ways. A legacy is indeed an immortal flame.

Ray John’s Historical Gem

October 15, 2012
Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico by Ray John de Aragon

Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico by Ray John de Aragon

Autograph of Ray John de Aragon

Autograph of Ray John de Aragon

In the first week of October I received Ray John de Aragon’s newest book in the mail. “Hidden History of Spanish New Mexico” is sure to be a gem. At first glance, the content list is all inclusive. The book has a beautiful jacket and contains a wealth of valuable stories. Some titles on his content list include: The Different Faces of the Iberian Peninsula; Reconquista; Aztecs; Chief Joseph; and the Bataan Death March.

I found it curiously coincidental that one of his historical nuggets was titled “The Black Plague,” because today I did refer to myself as “The Black Death” (well to some anyhow– haha—). Ray likely knew that the first section I would turn to would start on page 98. I did read “Curanderas” first. Curanderas are natural healers who also draw on the power of prayer to help the sick and cursed. On page 100, I found a small handwritten note from Ray which read “my great grandmother Dona Catalina who delivered me…” Apparently Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez was a noted healer in her day. This woman is also a likely place where Ray and I intersect on a genealogical level as I have both the Mondragon and Valdez surnames on my maternal line in Mora, New Mexico.

Other interesting images include: a penitente and his family in Las Vegas, New Mexico (ca 1879); Margarito Romero and his family in El Porvenir. The Romero family owned the Romero Mercantile Company in Las Vegas; artwork by Ray’s talented wife- Rosa Maria Calles; religious icons and imagery; and an image of Colonel Manuel Antonio Chavez “El Leoncito.”

Ray best describes his new book in the last paragraph of his introduction when he says “many roots created the one tree we call Hispanic, with branches that spread throughout the world. Understanding these roots and branches, and having a deeper insight into Hispanos in New Mexico and their place in a history that is mostly concealed, is what this book is about.” This book will definitely shine on as a gem for centuries to come.

Ray's Great Grandmother was Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez a Curandera from the Mora Valley-pg100

Ray’s Great Grandmother was Dona Catalina Mondragon de Valdez a Curandera from the Mora Valley-pg100

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To Remember: Keep the Flame Alive

September 16, 2012

Stone Altar and Candle
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Wooden Entrance Sign
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Exterior of Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

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.

1981 painting of Santa Gertrudis Church in 1890s
Artist- Fred Olivas
Mora, New Mexico

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.

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

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.

Baptismal Pool
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

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.

Virgin Mary
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Stained Glass Window
Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

Santa Gertrudis Church
Mora, New Mexico
~~Photograph by Felicia Lujan (2012)~~

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.

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