Saturday, April 30, 2011

Founding of Santa Fe

The Founding and Founders of the Villa de Santa Fe
José Antonio Esquibel

The celebration of 400 years of history of the City of Santa Fe is a remarkable milestone and one which is deeply personal for those of us with ancestral roots in New Mexico . Many of our New Mexican ancestors lived in the Villa de Santa Fe at one time or another, some for many decades, and these individuals shaped its distinct and rich history. Unfortunately, much of that history no longer survives in the form of documents, and thus very little has come to light to help us understand what life was like for the early residents of the Villa de Santa Fe . Careful reading of archival documents is the primary means by which fragments of information are being pieced together to tell the story of early Santa Fe and its residents.

The founding date of Santa Fe remains a challenge to determine due to the fact that documents of that era are long lost.
Continued at: OLTHLRC

Monday, April 18, 2011

American Life Histories

These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936-1940. The Library of Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing the work of over 300 writers from 24 states. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents consist of drafts and revisions, varying in form from narrative to dialogue to report to case history. The histories describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations. Pseudonyms are often substituted for individuals and places named in the narrative texts.

Friday, April 08, 2011


The Romero Clan

A detailed history of the first three generations of the Romero family of seventeenth century New Mexico can be found in its entirety in issues of Herencia (Quarterly Journal of the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico). The Article researched and written by Jose Antonio Esquibel, is titled “The Romero Family of Seventeenth Century New Mexico.” Several excerpts of Part I are offered here:

The Romero clan of seventeenth century New Mexico was skillfully successful in acquiring land, office, riches, and associated privileges, which were sought by many people who came to the Americas. As the family grew, each generation was quick to take advantage of their privileged status and the available opportunities to expand their social and political influence and their economic prosperity. This is illustrated through strategic matrimonial alliances of the Romero children, and in the numerous military and civil appointments of the Romero men, such as alcalde mayor, alcalde ordinario, regidor, procurador, protector de indios, teniente, capitán, and sargento mayor. By 1660 the Romero clan held interest in almost a third of New Mexico’s encomiendas.

Clearly, a number of New Mexican citizens took unkindly to the forceful authority of the Franciscans in New Mexico. Men such as Gaspar Pérez (an in-law of the Romero), Luis López (a neighbor of the Romero), Juan Domínguez de Mendoza (an ally of the Romero), Deigo Pérez Romero, and Christóbal de Anaya Almazán (an in-law of the Domínguez de Mendoza), were deemed by Franciscan friars to hold heretical beliefs. In several of these cases public conflicts between these men and the friars were well-known and attested to by witnesses. Tipping the balance of power in favor of the Franciscans was a very potent tool to counter perceived disloyalties, namely the Office of the Inquisition. For example, Gaspar Pérez was of the opinion that the governor held absolute authority over the Franciscans, and he found himself denounced to the Inquisition by the friars.

The use of the Inquisition in New Mexico can be viewed as a strategic process of tipping the scale of political and economic control. This was certainly the case when governors of New Mexico denounced or supported the denunciation of their political enemies to the Inquisition and vice versa. As discussed below in regard to the suit against Diego Pérez Romero, his grants of encomienda were redistributed to other citizens and he was exiled from New Mexico, losing all privileges of social and military office and titles. He went from being an alcalde oridianrio of the Villa de Santa Fe, an encomedero, and a sargento mayor of New Mexico to a mayordomo of a hacienda, and was even shunned by his wife who refused to join him in exile.

The testimony of Diego Pérez Romero [before the tribunal of the Inquisition in Mexico City] offers valuable genealogical information on the first three generations of the Romero family in New Mexico. Of particular note are the clear genealogical links that can now be made between members of the Romero family that previously could not be confirmed, although logic dictated possible connections. This is particularly true for the Romero de Pedraza family and the Romero de Salazar family. Fray Angélico Chávez supposed that Bartolomé Romero de Pedraza and Francisco Romero de Pedraza were sons of Matías Romero and doña Isabel de Pedraza. As it turns out, the other children were Pedro Romero, Felipe Romero, Catalina Romero, and Luisa Romero, the wife of Juan Lucero de Godoy. This information now allows descendents of Felipe, Catalina, and Luisa to make the genealogical connection to the founders of the Romero family in New Mexico that has eluded researchers for many years.

Researcher: José Antonio Esquibel

Source: José Antonio Esquibel, “The Romero Family of Seventeenth Century New Mexico,” Part 1, in Herencia, Issue 1, January 2003, 1-30.