Thursday, July 31, 2008

De Hidalgos a Peon's, Que Paso?

Hispanic New Mexican's who came north from Mexico with don Juan de Onate in 1598 were promised "hidalgo" status for their efforts if they stayed here a specified amount of time. Now hidalgo status was a granting of nobility at it's lowest rung. Yet by the time the United States annexed the province there were mostly folks whom the Americans classified as peon's, landless poor.

Here is what I think happened. and there seems to be several causes.

1) Between the "entrada" in 1598 and Mexican Independence from Spain on Sep. 16, 1821 New Mexicans of every stripe were ignored by the Spanish authorities in both Mexico City and Madrid, Spain. Utterly ignored by any measure being used at the time. By being ignored by their government my ancestors had to make do with what they had on hand, they had to adjust, adapt AND adopt. Adjust to the fact hidalgo status was not worth what they had been led to believe, adapt to the local conditions and adopt methods of survival used by the Indians. Especially when they could not go back, it was decreed that abondoning the colony was not to be condoned. And in reality it was enforced. They could not leave so they had to adjust, and they did.

2) Between Sep. 16 1821 and when the Americans occupied the province on Aug. 15, 1846 New Mexicans were further ignored by the new government in Mexico City. But by this time they had adapted to the harsh conditions. And hidalgo status be dammed, you had to survive. And the way to survive was to copy the Indians just as they had been doing before. They had been surviving here for untold generations.

3) My ancestors were seen as landless poor by the Americans as they came here and they documented that. By comparison my ancestors may have been poor, but most were landless only in the way the Americans viewed land ownership. Most land was held by individuals or by community grantees as mercedes or land grants. But most of the American who came early, fur trappers, did not appreciate the New Mexicans and they did not hesitate to document it, if they could write, by word of mouth if they couldn't. The traders who started arriving a bit later , but still in the early 1800's, thought the same way, and most of them could document this in writing. When the Army of the west arrived on Aug. 15, 1846 the "peon" label was attached to all with the glue provided by writings of the military. And it stuck. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jews in New Mexico in the Spanish Era

A relative and a friend offered a subscription to the magazine "La Herencia". The magazine is great reading, but it is not a genuine "historical" document. A good read, but too much mitote in there. There are some great stories in there and I like the publication, it is just that there are many stories in there from New Mexican families claiming to be Jews.

Where is the proof? Who were our ancestors who were "Jews"? Name one, or two or three! There is no documented evidence that any people of the Jewish faith came north with either don Juan de Onate or don Diego de Vargas. There is no evidence of any Jews coming north from Mexico period. Yet there are many that claim to be Jews and from the same time periods discussed here. And I can't be blamed for not looking, I have read several books dedicated to the subject. And at best it states that there could have been some Jews in the colonists of either Onate or Vargas. "Could have been" is a long ways from proof, a very long way.

Some are even attempting to use DNA as proof. My thoughts on that is "how does DNA determine religion. At best it might point to a Semitic race. If it does point in that direction, the odds are that it would be Arab as compared to Jewish. The Arabs, and lots of them,  were in Spain over 700 years. 

Jews were there also, but at some point they were forced to convert or leave. It is these that everyone seems to be "connecting" to. It is stated that even if one could trace a family member to one of these there would be no more "Jewish" customs OR religious customs in the 20th and 21st century.

Now the Spanish had no love for either as documented by their efforts to get rid of the Arabs and convert or expel the Jews. So maybe a few "conversos" did make it through. But 400 and some years later no trace is left of them. The religious folks were diligent in this effort and some were accused and taken to Mexico in chains only to be found innocent.

Now in the early 1800 they did start to arrive, but from the United States. A lot of them, and maybe they intermarried with the locals. That is a distinct possibility and probability. But don't let folks tell you that all Spanish names are in reality Jewish words. That is just not true, no matter who states it. Ask for proof and none is forthcoming.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Peasants and Peons in New Mexico AND the United States in the Mid 1800's

The first image is a photo titled "peon". And the second image is of a peasant, click on them to make them larger.

The early history of New Mexico's people dealing with "Americans" begins just prior to the Spanish being expelled from New Mexico by the new rulers of the soon to be named "Mexico". So in reality New Mexico was here before the country of Mexico came into being. Mexico came into being in the early 1800 as it aquired it's independance from Spain and New Mexico was already New Mexico in the mid to late 1500's. Anyway, just prior to the overthrow of the Spanish New Mexico had begun to see "Americans". They came first as trappers and then as traders on the Santa Fe Trail.

And make no mistake about it, the traders, in particular, were spies first and traders second. They were carrying back to the "States" stories of the wealth, or lack therof, in New Mexico. New Mexico's strengths and weaknesses. They tended to refer to the people here, my ancestors, as peasants or peons. They used these words in pejorative terms. Wikepedia defines this as "Words and phrases are pejorative if they imply disapproval or contempt. The adjective pejorative is synonymous with derogatory, derisive, dyslogistic, and contemptuous. When used as a noun, pejorative means "a belittling or disparaging word or expression".

I have always wondered if there were any peasants in Kearney's Army of the West?  Were there any peons in Kearney's Army of the West? Were there any pesants or peons back in the "states"? Anyway, do a search on Google and you will soon see that there were indeed both peasants and peons in the "states" back in the mid 1800's. A lot more than in New Mexico as the population of the "States", as compared to New Mexico, was huge. Huge! But they did not refer to them as such. Only Mexicans were pesants and peons.

Anyway, I never heard the term pesant when I was growing up. But I did hear the term peon. And it was not a bad word. It was used to describe a worker. And not someone held against their will. My grandfather would sometimes refer to us as his peon's. Always with affection. But it goes to show how the word can be used by different folks and give it a completely different meaning. But I will have to admit that using the dictionary meaning for the terms, a lot of my ancestors were, in non-pejorative terms, pesants and peons.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Las Ruedas, New Mexico to Rowe, New Mexico, the Transition

The last mention that I can find of Las Ruedas, New Mexico as a community is from page 22 of the publication New Mexico Marriages Pecos, October 1862 to April 1904 and published by the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico. 

There it states "January 31 of 1881. I married Manuel Archuleta, single, legitimate son of Ramon Archuleta and Gertrudes Newman with Marta Alari, daughter of Matias Alari and Josefa Valencia, from Las Ruedas. Padrinos were Francisco Archuleta and Maria Montoya."

Then the first mention of Rowe, New Mexico is from page 26 of the very same publication. There it states " November 15, 1889. I married and veiled Catalino Sanchez, single, son of Ramon Sanchez and of Luz Lobato with Maria Segura, single, daughter of Manuel Segura, deceased, and of Cristina Archuleta, from Rowe. Padrinos were Ramon Archuleta and Eulalia Neuman."

Seems like Ramon was there at the end of the line for Las Ruedas and the beginning of Rowe, New Mexico.

My guess is that the movement of people from the Los Trigos Land Grant, of which Las Ruedas and Pajarito seem to have been the only towns, was essentially from Las Ruedas to Rowe and some to Pajarito as the work on the railroad created the jobs people needed to survive.