Sunday, July 12, 2015

Unusual Terms in New Mexican Baptismal Records

Padres, no conosidos - Unknown parents.... It is hard for me to believe that an infant of unknown parentage would be baptized. It could be that the parents were known and the priest was trying to protect the parents. But it was not unheard of for this term to be used for children abandoned at the church for whatever reason. Sort of like "hijo de la iglesia" listed below.

*Espuestos - That some of the "espuestos" were indeed "foundlings", and possibly the victims of poverty, is certainly not excluded. Undoubtedly some of the so called "espuestos" were children of captive Indian women fathered by their masters or older household members. Because of the local social stigma associated with illegitimacy it is likely that in most instances some of these vague terms were used euphemistically. It served to keep illegitimacy managable, especially in church records.

Hijo(a) Espurio(a) - Bastard child of.... The archaic term  Espurio(a) literally means bastard. Usually used when the mother of the bastard child was identified.

Hijo(a) Natural - Nicer way of saying bastard child of..... The same meaning as espurio(a) except it has a softer ring after the centuries.

Hijo(a) ligitimo(a) - Legitimate child of......

De la nacion de "_______" - Belonging to the Indian nation of..... This tern was used when baptizing Indians of known backgrounds. When the Spanish priest knew where the Indian child came from. Indian children were commonly integrated into Hispanic New Mexican households.

Hijo(a) de la Iglesia - Son or daughter of the church..... Who knows what this meant. Does not necessarily mean a priesthood holder had to be the father. It could simply mean the child was raised by the church. Often times when they would be abandoned or left in care of the church. Although every now and then it was common for church leaders to have children out of wedlock like the case with Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.

Hijo(a) de "Gaspar" y "Rosa", No last name given - Son or daughter of Gaspar and Rosa with no last name given for the parents...... These children were, in most cases, children of Indians who for one reason or another did not have last names. In most cases the Indian child being baptized would be assigned the last name of the "padrino".

*NOTE: Some information comes from the New Mexico Historical Review, Volume 70, July 1995, Number 5. An article there titled " Analysis of Deaths in New Mexico's Rio Abajo during the late Spanish Colonial and Mexican Periods, 1793 - 1846 written by Oswaldo G. Baca.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Being A Spy In New Mexico During the Mexican/Fur Trapper Era, 1820 - 1846.

It was easy, very easy. Mexico in general and New Mexico in particular were easy targets, easy to spy against and easy and ready to be invaded.  There were a lot of spies. Most all of the "fur trappers" from the "states" were spies passing information back to the authorities in the United States, either personally during visits back or in many other ways. Some, if not all, of the traders associated with the "Santa Fe Trade" were also spies. How do we tell who were the trappers? Who were spies? Read the accounts of the folks who came with the Army of the West. Read some of the accounts of the trappers themselves, that is if they could read or write, which most could not. They were every bit as ignorant and unschooled and uneducated as those they were spying on, probably more so.

Christopher "Kit" Carson,
Samuel Magoffin,
Richens "Uncle Dick" Wooten,
"Governor" Charles Bent

The list of spies is actually quite large, I could go on and on. The spies included some of our New Mexican ancestors, the Oteros being the best example. Many of these spies were headquartered in Taos and they did pay the price for their treachery against New Mexico. The names of some are etched in history as some of the political appointees in the aftermath of the occupation and prior to the rebellion by the folks in Taos.

Bent's Fort just over the Arkansas River in what is now Colorado was a nest of spies, spying against New Mexico and also against the Indians. But that is another story altogether.

These spies were spying for the Unites States, it  really does not matter how a person looks at the conquering, occupation and annexation of the New Mexican province by the United States in 1846. It does not matter if, in retrospect, you agree or disagree with it, it does not matter if you think it was a good thing or a bad thing and it does not matter if you think it was a moral or immoral thing for the United States to annex the province.

The bottom line is that these folks mentioned were spies pretending to be friends of the Mexican Republic and New Mexicans. Some were even married to Hispanic New Mexican women, some were Mexican citizens and others even converted to the Catholic faith as part of their "cover". Christopher "Kit" Carson is THE prime example.

There were non New Mexicans, mostly German and French, in the province who were not spies, but very few of them. Maybe one or two of the American trappers were not carrying information back to the "states".

In all reality these folks were spies. Spies with a capitol S. As such, it really all depends on how you feel about spies, sneaks and outright liars. I imagine there are many things that come into play when looking at the subject.