NOTE: The following was copied from the publication "Wagon Tracks" Which is a publication of the Santa Fe Trail Association. Please excuse the formatting errors.
Viviana's Three Husbands.
Viviana probably met James Bonney in 1844 or early 1845. This was the time that James Bonney was separating from his wife Juana Mascarenas and their three children. There is a story that Viviana's family was not pleased and was even alarmed when Bonney began paying attention to and courting teenage Viviana. To understand this reaction, it is useful to know something about the beliefs and 'practices regarding marriage and sexuality in eighteenth-and nineteenth-century New Mexico.
Viviana was soon pregnant and, in March 1846, gave birth to son Ramon. Later that year, she was present when General Stephen Watts Kearny and the Army of the West arrived at the Bonney settlement on August 13. Indeed, in his description of the arrival of the troops there after a journey of 775 miles across a landscape without a single permanent dwelling, Major William H. Emory, in a probable reference to Viviana, noted that "The first object I saw was a pretty Mexican woman, with clean white stockings, who very cordially shook hands with us and asked for tobacco.
James Bonney was killed by Indians in October 1846 along the Mora River near Dog Canyon, not far from his home, leaving behind Viviana and seven-month-old son Ramon. Having lost her husband, Viviana took her infant son and returned to her parents in the Mora Valley some 15 or 20 miles from the Bonney settlement. She never made any claim to the land and improvements James Bonney left behind, and much of it was later reclaimed by Bonney's three children with Juana Mascarenas.
Viviana Martin and Daniel Eberle.
Daniel Eberle (Ebel, Ebell) 26 is an obscure figure in history, known primarily from the family he left behind. He was born in Switzerland about 1798, immigrated to the United States, and somehow made his way to the Missouri frontier and arrived in New Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail, probably during the 1840s.
Family lore indicates that Daniel was a successful man, operating a trading business with goods he transported over the Santa Fe Trail and, like many other such traders, lived on and operated a farm and ranch. Itis not known just how and when Viviana and Daniel Eberle (Ebel) got together. After James Bonney's death in October 1846, Viviana was living in the Mora Valley near where Daniel Eberle was established.
Viviana and Daniel had become a couple by the fall of 1848 as their first child, Leonor, was born in June 1849. Two more children were born, Juan Andres in 1850 and Maria Marta in 1854. Frustratingly, the family is not found in the 1850 census records for New Mexico Territory; it seems that this first United States census for New Mexico missed the people in the Mora Valley entirely.
The 1860 census shows Viviana again living with her father, Bernardo, and with her children, Ramon Bonney and the three Ebels. This record identified all of, them with the surname Martinez. Daniel Eberle (Ebel) does not appear in this 1860 census. He was killed prior to that time, leaving Viviana, once again, a widow with young children. Few details are known about Daniel's death. He had left his home in the Mora Valley and was on his way to join a wagon train headed for Missouri when he was killed. A family story indicates that he was carrying a significant amount of gold to purchase goods and was killed during a robbery.
Only two documents have been found which contain his name. The first is a baptismal record from Santa Gertrudes Catholic Church in Mora for youngest daughter Maria Marta, dated February 9, 1856, with parents listed as "Gartien Eberley" and Maria Viviana Martin. The death of Eberle must have occurred shortly after this happy event. Later, the church record created when oldest daughter Leonor married Andreas Laumbach indicates that she was the daughter of the deceased Daniel Ebel and Maria Viviana Martin.
Viviana Martin and Fredriech (Frank) Metzgar.
As noted earlier, in 1860, Viviana was living with her father, Bernardo, and her Bonney and Eberle (Ebel) children. However, in this record, in addition to those members of the household already noted, there was also present (Maria) Dolores, age three, who is Viviana's daughter with Frank Metzgar. This indicates that Viviana began her relationship with Frank Metzgar very soon after Daniel Eberle's death.
In a later court deposition, Viviana said that she and Metzgar ended their seventeen- year relationship in March 1875, indicating that the relationship began in 1857. It appears that Viviana and Metzgar did not live together during their seventeen-year relationship. During most of this period, Viviana and her children lived on and took care of a ranch property belonging to Metzgar, while Metzgar maintained a separate home in Mora near his store.
Metzgar would come frequently to the ranch and would stay there for periods of two days to a week during each visit. In addition to Dolores (later called Lola), the couple had two more daughters, Maria Josephita, born in 1865, and Maria Isabella, born in 1867.
Viviana's Mother, Apolonia Gutierrez, and Frank Metzgar.
At about the time Viviana was establishing a relationship with her second husband, Daniel Eberle, Viviana's mother had become estranged from her husband, Bernardo Martin, and had begun a relationship with Frank Metzgar. This relationship led to the birth of a daughter, Juanita Metzgar, born in 1849; i.e., the same year that Viviana's first child with Daniel Eberle was born. It is unclear exactly how long Apolonia's relationship with Metzgar lasted, but clearly it was over by the time Viviana, herself, became the wife of Metzgar in about 1857.
The result of these two relationships was the unusual situation whereby Apolonia's daughter with Metzgar, Juanita, was not only a half-sister to Viviana but also a half-sister to Viviana's own daughters, Dolores, Josephita, and Isabella.
Metzgar's Wealth and the Resulting Contention Over It.
In the 1860 census for Mora County, New Mexico, Frank Metzgar is listed as 41 years old, born in Prussia, a merchant with real estate worth $30,000; he was probably the richest person in Mora County at the time. Locals referred to him as 'el Aleman' because of his German background; as a prominent businessman, he was known to all.
In 1860, he was living in a household with three clerks who worked in his mercantile business, which he had established in Mora in 1849. Much of what is known about Metzgar comes from court records. Following his. death in February 1885 at age 66, Viviana and her children filed a lawsuit against Henry Korte, a German immigrant like Frank Metzgar, who had in the 1870s became a business partner of Metzgar and was administrator of the estate.
To complicate matters, Korte was also the husband of Viviana's half-sister, Juanita Metzgar. The lawsuit was an attempt by Viviana and her children to gain the share of Metzgar's estate to which they felt entitled. In various statements filed by attorneys in behalf of Viviana and her children in this court case, Metzgar's holdings are described: Metzgar "was possessed of a large estate consisting of land, money, personal property and chattels located in the Territory of New Mexico and the State of Missouri valued at least $100,000."
He had "livestock consisting of cattle, horses, mules, burros, hogs, sheep and other domestic animals amounting in value to 40 or 50 thousand dollars." In 1881, Metzgar had "sold 4,087 cattle." Also, he had "farming implements of husbandry together with a large amount of grain of all kinds and fruit."
Much of the grain and fruit was sold at nearby Fort Union after it was established in 1851. And there were "large amounts of goods, wares and merchandise which were at the store and mercantile business as well as notes, due bills, evidence of indebtedness, outstanding accounts and other obligations." In addition, there were "several thousand acres, various houses, edifices, barns, stables, granaries and improvements including a large amount of fencing."
Finally, there were "several thousand fruit trees." It is obvious that Frank Metzgar was a very rich man. This inventory of assets may, however, not have been complete. Stories passed down through the family and Mora Valley residents suggest that there was more. Persisting to this day are speculations that Metzgar had a great deal of money or gold (or both) hidden on his property, not all of which has yet been found. Some stories claim that on more than one occasion and in more than one location, gold was found by a community member and gave the finder instant wealth.
The court case dragged on for many years and was finally settled by the New Mexico Supreme Court long after the deaths of both Viviana and Henry Korte. The court's Solomonic decision pleased no one; undoubtedly, the only winners were the several attorneys involved.
In summary, Viviana Martin was a strong, self-reliant woman of the nineteenth century who led an exceptional life for her time. She married early and outside her cultural tradition, which took courage. She was widowed at age nineteen and left with an infant son. Undaunted, she remarried and was widowed again at age twenty-nine, with three more dependent children.
Ever resilient, she married once again; this time to the richest man in the region and had three more children. Viviana was a loyal wife to each of her husbands, but following each loss, she carried on. She was hardworking and provided a good home to her seven children. Later, she relished her numerous grandchildren and was a strong force in the lives of many of them. It seems beyond coincidence that each of Viviana's husbands was a strong independent man, who arrived in New Mexico from the eastern United States as a Santa Fe Trail trader. She lived out the last years of her life, contentedly, in a small house near the ranch home of her eldest daughter, Leonor (Ebel) Laumbach. She died on October 28, 1897, a little more than a month before her seventieth birthday. She is buried in the nearby Laumbach Cemetery.