Saturday, August 23, 2008

Almost All Gone

Click on the image to make it larger.

This is a good pen and ink drawing of my maternal uncle, Abel Benavidez. The pen and ink was drawn by Roark Griffin in 1976. My mother doctored it up by writing on the corner "27 of Feb". And then someone else added the glasses. So the original is somewhat marred. But it is an amazing likeness. I am sure Mr. Griffin would not mind.

Abel was born 18 March 1909 the son of Roman Benavidez and Ignacia Archuleta in Rowe, New Mexico and passed away on 5 August 2008 in Colorado Springs. Ninety nine years and then some. In previous posts here I have posted a picture of his business in Rowe, New Mexico. It was the Midway Bar and Grocery.

He worked in the mines in the Pecos Canyon at Terrero, New Mexico in the late 1920's and 1930's. He was enumerated in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census at Terrero as a miner and living with his sister and brother in law as well as a niece.  I know that he worked for the CCC because he told me so, not sure where he worked with them. At some time he also worked for a time logging north of La Madera, New Mexico. He told me he saw a train car with only 3 logs on it from that area. This was because no more logs fit on the car. Seems like they had railroad spurs all over the canyons up there during that time. During the second world war he worked in the shipyards in California. After the war, he came back to Rowe and opened up the bar/grocery store/filling station. 

The Midway Bar and Grocery was a place that was very prominent on U.S. 85 on the road between Santa Fe and Las Vegas, you could not miss it. Especially in the pre I-25 era. He sold the liquor licence in the late 1960's and continued to sell gas and groceries until he sold the business. He worked at the Glorietta Baptist Assembly and retired from there only to go to work at La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. He worked there until he finally decided to quit. Then he stayed busy hauling wood from Rowe Mesa and tending the best garden in Rowe.

I only know of one other person from his Benavidez family and generation that is still alive. She is in a rest home in Las Vegas. Today she is 102 years and 8 months old. Her name is Flora Benavidez Ortiz, Abels first cousin.

They are almost all gone!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Word Smithing in History

Kit Carson was "unlettered".
New Mexicans were "illiterate".

Unlettered and illiterate are one and the same. But unlettered seems kinder.

Americans dressed in "buckskins".
New Mexicans dressed in "animal skins".

Again, no difference in meaning, but one sounds better than the other.

These are some examples of the word smithing folks use. Sometimes it is done intentionally and sometimes not. They are particularly plentiful when people are in conflict. Like now with the Iraq war and like then, when the Americans first got to New Mexico. Usually it is done to vilify one group and raise the status of another. 

On another post on this blog I posted of one man, hung as a traitor, hung for treason for daring to plot against the United States in early 1847, less than a year after the Americans invaded and occupied New Mexico and most of Northern Mexico. He was don Antonio Maria Trujillo. What would we call an American today who plotted against an invader that had been here less than a year and planned to stay forever as ruler? We would call him/her a hero/heroine.  But don Antonio Maria Trujillo went down in history as a traitor.

Watch out for those types of word smithing in the history of New Mexico.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


The first picture is of an unidentified Mexican woman oh horseback. The second image is of a chart that depicts Spanish racial classifications during the conquest of the Americas. Click on the image to see a larger picture of racial classifications during the Spanish era in New Mexico.

I was looking for some information on a particular individual in the 1910 Federal Census and it took me to Conejos County Colorado. I found the individual in question in 1910 Federal Census for Conejos Counry in  Los Pinos. Anyway I was surprised to find out that the individual is listed as a mullato. I did a little more checking to see if his family was listed as mulatto. They sure were! I did a bit more checking and I find out the whole community is listed as mulatto! Now I know a lot of folks in Los Pinos and do not know a single mulatto. So I check some more and I see where the census taker's W looks close to his M's. The census taker was Jose B Romero.

So I check on and go to San Rafael, CO which the same individual was doing the census taking. Anyway, here is an individual born in Indiana, a Charles Emmerson.  Here is where I compare the W for white in column 5 with the M for male in column 6. They are similar, but not the same. a couple of lines down there is an individual by the name of Elias Quintana. Now I compare the M for "whatever" in column No. 5 with the M for male in column No. 6. They are the same!!!!!

I Think Jose B. Romero was using the M for Mexican, not Mulatto !!!!!!!!! Whoever transcribed the actual image made the mistake, Mr. Romero's penmanship is not good, but it is not that bad. But by interpreting the M as being for mulatto instead of the M being for Mexican someone made a huge blunder. The moral of the story is "checks your data" before you determine they are facts.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Indians (Navajos) in New Mexican Households

The picture above I found on the Internet, no name was associated with the picture other than Navajo woman in Spanish dress. It fit todays subject.

182 Navajos in Hispanic homes in Rio Arriba County in 1870. That is a lot of Navajos, boys and girls and some women. That according to the Federal Census. Reference the publication titled "Herencia, The Quarterly Journal of the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico, in Volume 16, Issue 3, July 2008".  This article was researched and written by a lady by the name of Lorraine Aguilar. 

I was surprised so I looked at the census myself and she is correct. In her article she notes she was just looking for Navajos. And there were other Indians, not Navajo, living in other households. So I went to look in San Miguel, Colfax, Valencia, Taos, Socorro and Mora counties in the 1870's. Lo and behold, none that I could find.

Well, there were less than 10 Indians living in Hispano households in Arroyo Hondo in Taos County. In one Arroyo Hondo household there was Felipe Talachi age 64, an Indian and Lorenza, age 56 keeping house. Lorenza was listed as white. Also Josefa, a 35 year old listed as an indian and finally Dolores age 3 and listed as white. The Talachi household seems to be a mixed race place.

So were the folks in Rio Arriba County the only ones who had Navajos, or other Indians,  living with them? What was going on in 1870? The census taker in Rio Arriba was Trinidad Alarid, in San Miguel it was Demetrio Perez. In Taos County it was Juan Santistevan. Judging by their writing, they seem to read and write well, so they had a fair amount of education. So why the discrepency? Was one or two advised to note this and the other not? Was one inclined to note this and the other not? Did one recognize the Indians and the other not?

Trinidad Alarid nor Juan Santistevan would not have known who was and who was not Indian, Navajo or otherwise. They had to have asked, they had to. Otherwise why would Trinidad Alarid have some born in Navajo Country and other Indians born in New Mexico. He was asking. Now was he asking for the purpose of being thorough? Was he instructed to ask or just inclined to ask? If I had to guess I would say he was inclined to be thorough, at least as compared to Mr. Demetrio Perez who was working San Miguel County. There could not be that many in Rio Arriba County and none in San Miguel County. And keep in mind there were only 13 counties then, so they had to be bigger.