Guadalupe Escalante – Home At Last

The missing piece.

When you find it, events suddenly made sense. Or there is more confusion. Or sadness. But there is always closure.

My grandfather’s third sister, Guadalupe, had been lost to me (on paper) for years. I had no idea what happened to her after her “incident” with Moran and his kidnapping by my grandfather. The eighth of nine children, I have a feeling Lupe got lost in the shuffle of losing two parents so early in her life, while her older siblings were already “adulting” with their own families.

At the end of August, 2018, much of her mystery ended by my finding one website that gave me a link to archived newspapers. I found digital access to the Calexico Chronicle. And, woah! So. Much. Information!

My normal method to searching for my peeps is to put the names of every family member in the search engine to see what pops up. While it wasn’t a name, I did enter the address of Tia Guadalupe V. de Garcia: 910 East Third Street. It was a home base to many familial events. This one address gave me a huge assortment of information. But even better, it helped piece together important clues… because I never would have entered the name Mrs. Jay Holman.

One article led to the rest of the story.

After Lupe’s issues in 1927, she disappeared. She moved to Monterey and then on to San Francisco. She met a man who had recently relocated from San Diego. His name was Gerald Holman.

They found a bit of happiness and decide to get married.


Their marriage was announced in San Diego, Reno, and in the San Francisco Chronicle– Jan. 30, 1934.

How much he really knew about her, I’m not sure. There was a bunch of conflicting information running around the articles. From what I can tell, she called him Jay Holman. It’s not a typical nickname for Gerald, but not impossible.

They married in Reno, Nevada. They lived in a little apartment in the Hotel St. Clair in San Francisco. While I couldn’t find a photo of this particular hotel, I did find a wonderful article with photos of the historical hotels in the area at the time (now the Tenderloin District). It gives a great feel for the area in which the Holman’s’ lived.

The Tenderloin

In August, 1934, the newlywed couple had a fight. Lupe must have had deeply hurt feelings, because she took some drastic measures.


Article from the “Oakland Tribune,” Aug. 15, 1934

Tuesday, August 14, Lupe ingested a toxic substance. She suffered for 5 more days, before passing on my grandfather’s birthday, August 20, 1934.


Lupe’s Death Certificate – Page 1

So much of the information here is confused. She wasn’t born in Mexico City, nor her parents, and how much time she lived in the United States was wrong too, as she was born in Ventura County, CA. She very well could have “reinvented” herself for her new life with her husband. Maybe he would have learned more about her if their life together had continued.  The article above stated her husband’s name was Walter. As the addresses match, I chalk this error up to bad reporting. The Death Certificate had a second page which gave the actual cause of death.


Page 2 – Death by Bichloride of Mercury poisoning.

By this time, the family was notified about the sad ending. She was sent home to Calexico.


Announcement of Lupe Holman’s passing. From the “Calexico Chronicle,” dated August 23, 1934.

Remember that Mrs. Manuel Garcia was Rufina’s sister, and therefore, Lupe’s aunt. And namesake too. The Garcia’s very kindly took the burden of the funeral from Lupe’s siblings. [If anyone can give me contact information to this branch of the Garcia family, I would greatly appreciate it. How can our families have been so close and yet had a breach so deep that we lost touch in the same town? Sigh.]

While Lupe was buried in the Mountain View Cemetery, she was nowhere to be “found” the multiple times I’ve been there. I had been told that Hems Brothers Mortuary has control over the cemetery. I have asked them repeatedly via letter to help me find those family members without headstones. To no avail.

While there is no marker for Lupe, we now know her earthly remains have been in Calexico this whole time. We know she had been in San Francisco. She had been living a life away from her family and her past, but one of lovely independence; a life with love and, for better or worse, one of great passion and emotion.


Lupe, Rufina, Tony and Fernando (seated).



The Escalante’s of Southern Arizona – Part I

I haven’t been this excited about my research in quite a while. The seed was planted by a document I found years ago. I am overly cautious when I report. So unless I can find several sources to link  items together, I leave a theory on the side of the desk and move on. Luckily my memory hasn’t failed me yet, so I remembered the document when the time finally came.

Anyway. This would be the document:


Tio Jose goes to Bisbee –  His manifest, 1918.

Three years after his dad died, Tio Jose Maria Escalante had started his wanderings. He was looking for work. His manifest stated he was going to Bisbee, Arizona, to “join his cousin, Frank Blackburn.”

To be with family.


Now I know Tio Jose had a fondness for Bisbee. His eldest son was born there in 1930. But I didn’t realize he, I mean “we,” had family there.

The name on the manifest matched none of the names I knew.  A few hours wasted searching for Frank’s people told me his mother was one Margarita Escalante de Blackburn. I didn’t know any Margaritas though. (Well, not PEOPLE margaritas.) I wanted to hope, but left it to the side.

A few years later, enter my mom’s DNA results. Many of the names look unfamiliar as the trees that others built had no names that I recognized. Finally a light bulb went off over my head. I figured out that I could sort results by last names. I decided to search Blackburn. And hot dog! Several trees came up. And there was Margarita’s name. We were Bio-Related. Excellent! Research, research, missteps, people who don’t know they are related, and here we go. (Sorry for the slanted chart. I doodle sideways!)


As far back as I have gone. The current Start of our tree.

Our Escalante tree starts at Leonardo Escalante I and Maria Narbona. I can document they had two sons: Our Leonardo II and Ramon.  Ramon and his offspring would become the Escalante’s of Southern Arizona.

Ramon Escalante married Maria Jesus Saldamando. The couple had 5 children I could find. Margarita, Alejandro, Josefa, Sara, and Maria Luisa.

Ramon’s family came up from Northern Sonora closer to the mining towns in the Arizona Territory. The Earp’s and the OK Corral shoot out had already come and gone (1881) by the time the family arrived. By 1883, the two eldest Escalante children married.

Today, I am writing about Margarita Escalante. She met and married a widower, 11 years her senior. Charles W. Blackburn was born in Vermont. He had been a civil war veteran (Union Army). His first wife had died in child-birth, including the child.  He and his surviving son made the long trek to the wild west of Arizona. He met and married Margarita.


Announcement in the newspaper “El Fronteziro,” Aug. 3, 1883. Siblings Margarita and Alejandro were married to their respective spouses.












Margarita became step-mother to C.W.’s son, Charles Leonard Blackburn. The couple proceeded to have their own children in good succession: Eleanor, William, Josephine, Albert, Charlotte, and Frank.


Margarita and the Blackburn Tree.

C.W. took to life in this mining territory. He was a saddler. He also got into the undertaking business. He was a Notary Public. He might have been a general store merchant. I found an additional ad that told Cochise County they could buy White Sewing Machines at his place. The newspapers reported C.W. was “Bisbee’s hustling citizen.”


Being married to a Spanish-speaking woman assisted him becoming a Court Interpreter, earlier in his career. Their son William also pursued this career as well. The family lived in Tombstone for a long time, moving to Bisbee in 1891, and eventually to Warren.

They were a fun-loving family. Besides the below “entertainments” they gave, their family was featured in party news as guests about the town.


The Blackburn’s were droppin’ the funky beat. “Tombstone Weekly Epitaph, Nov. 1, 1896”


For timeline purposes, I will place the other female Escalante siblings here. Margarita’s sister, Josefa, married C.W.’s brother, William Blackburn. They were only married 3 sweet years before she died of Apoplexy. The below article lets us know she was from Ures, Sonora.


Notice of Josefa’s passing, May 30, 1891.

I could not find Margarita’s mom Jesus Saldamando on paper anywhere after the first wedding announcement. She was not listed in the above obituary either.  She must have passed between 1883 and 1891 because she simply disappeared. I have yet to find much on her at all. I found one lead on Jesus and Ramon’s wedding date years ago when I still wasn’t sure we were related. I took a written note down in quick passing. I’ve been unable to document it since.


Valuable notes doodled on their daughter’s Death Certificate.

The last sibling was Maria Luisa. But she died at 2 years old.


Death registration for Maria Luisa. March 1, 1878. Her brother Alejandro was a witness. She died of fever.

Margarita’s youngest living sister, Sara, lived in the Blackburn home while she was younger. She was living with them in 1900, aged 25. Their father, Ramon, was in Bisbee living as a widower. My “guess” is that because she was a young woman with no mother at home, Margarita took her in for a more stable home life. I think she died early and was buried at the Evergreen Cemetery in Bisbee.


Back to the Blackburn Family.

Charles was a mover and shaker.  By 1901, he was a Superintendent for Copper King Mining Company. The eldest of their children started marrying. Eleanor married a Mr. John W. Scott. This little episode must have been THE news about town.


Eleanor accidentally ingests poison. Nov. 7, 1905.


Unfolding drama continued.

Charles and Margarita were such involved citizens, their photos are on display in the Tombstone Courthouse State Park in Tombstone, Arizona.  A very kind person helped me in getting pictures of their photos. Thank you, Nina!

MargaretEscalante Blackburn2

Margarita Escalante de Blackburn. First cousin to my great-grandfather Leonardo Escalante.


Charles W. Blackburn. Margarita’s Main Squeeze.


Charles Leonard Blackburn – eldest of C.W.’s children (from first marriage)

Charles Sr. got sick around 1911. He went to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Sawtelle, CA, outside of Los Angeles. He had a Double Inguinal Hernia and prostate issues. If I read the chart correctly, he was there for 6 years until he was better.



Charles Blackburn – Suffering from Double Inguinal Hernia. He appears to have stayed 6 years.

He was able to go home February, 1917. However, the homecoming happiness didn’t last long. Charles died at home on Sept. 26, 1917. There was a random (or purposeful) omission from the obit. His eldest son was not mentioned although Charles Leonard was still living in Tombstone at the time.


News of Mr. Blackburn’s passing.

Margarita did not live much longer than her husband. She passed away April 17, 1918 in Bisbee, Arizona.


Margarita dies of Acute Dilation of the Heart. (Cardiomyopathy) 1918

Margaret’s children go various ways after her death. A few stayed in Arizona and some ended up in California; Los Angeles, San Diego. In her lifetime, she witnessed the western frontier become more and more “civilized.” The gun fighters, miners, businessmen were all a part of her life at the southern most part of Arizona. It was only a territory up until the last 6 years of her life.

Margarita and her husband made the most of their lives in a place where few dared to tread.


The Escalante’s living history on the US-80.



This blog post could NOT have been as full of great photos had it not been for Mrs. N. Womack-Rangel. Luckily for us, she is a family historian too. She and her family ventured to Tombstone a few weeks ago. She took the photos of the portraits in this piece. She is our cousin and descendant of Margarita’s brother, Alejandro, of whom I will write about next time. (Nice cliffhanger, no?)


Out on a Family History excursion to the Tombstone Courthouse State Park, 2018.

Can’t wait to write about Alejandro’s branch next. This post should have been done a few weeks ago, but I kept finding more and more information on this new group.

Have a great July everyone!

Reason #38 Finding Family is Helpful – Our Health

Hi there! How are y’all doing? I’m great. Summer is here. Our tornado season has been mild this year (knocking on wood as I write). My little vegetable garden is rolling along. This isn’t a family history reporting piece. It’s more of a “fringe benefits of doing genealogy” opinion piece.

I kid you not. I have started this piece 3 times, staring in early April. It began differently each time. I have this incredibly morbid obsession about my own death. As I quickly approach my 50th birthday, I’m freaking out about quality of life into my elder years now too. Keeping this piece light-hearted is gonna be a task!

When I visit the doctor I have to fill out those forms that ask for family medical history. I am grateful for all of the boxes I get to skip over, but I always checked off what I knew: Diabetes, Colon Cancer, High Blood Pressure, High cholesterol, Asthma. My 40th birthday was lots of fun. That’s when it was suggested I start all of the testing that goes with creating a “baseline” for the Golden Years. Hahahaha!

Over the last six months, there has been a nagging voice to look at all the Death Certificates I have for genetic direct-line family members.

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Death certificates can tell you the diseases that your family passed from, as well as how long they endured their condition.

So here are what 6 family members passed from:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Heart Attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Uremia Nephritis (Renal failure)
  • Colon Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy (1st cause) exacerbated by Intraluminal Thrombi (2nd cause) exacerbated by Gastric Tumor.

Well, okay then.

About 5 years ago, I talked to my Nina, Phyllis Baltierra. I knew she was unwell, but did not know her specific issues. I asked if she was diabetic. “Oh yeah, honey,” she said. “We all are. You will be too.” What? But I didn’t want to be a diabetic. Needless to say, this conversation was key to my losing weight, exercising, and limiting sugar intake. It started my proactive attempt to take care of myself.

I married into a medical family. For 23 years, I’ve been privy to extensive conversations about dentistry, physiology, biology, medical journals, medical history, and current health issues. My mother-in-law is still so well read she can tell you about new medicines with a mental list of the pros and cons of each.

If I stop and think about it, we can document lots of causes of death on that side of my husband’s family as well. Prostate cancer, heart issues, tuberculosis, asthma, diabetes.

My husband and I actively listen to the friends around us when they discuss health concerns they are currently facing. We are working to face our health future head on. I finished working as a substitute preschool teacher this year because getting up off the floor with a 20 pound child in my arms was getting REALLY hard. I was exhausted when I got home. The job flexibility was great but at the end of the day I had to consider my physical well-being.

My chiropractor recommended yoga. Ted and I do some at home. I found this great little DVD at the local thrift store. (And sad to say, but I was truly happy to find it!)


Happy almost 50th Birthday to me.

Genealogy can assist in filling out those medical forms the nagging doctors press upon you. Having chatted with distant family members, I discovered that I shared infertility issues with many women in my family. Fibroid tumors were an issue for them. Many of my closer female cousins didn’t have this problem, so I felt validated and connected with these other women who shared the pain I did.

Honestly, I had no idea my paternal grandmother died of a heart attack. What?! Probably because she died when I was 8 and never thought to ask my dad about it much. Our natural propensity to not talk about illness is not thought of when we are younger. Then it’s too late to discuss. And in many cases, it’s considered off limits. Remember old TV shows when a character would whisper the word “cancer” to the other? Now we have 5K walks, and benefit runs, and we are wearing pink for breast cancer awareness. Changing times with health in the forefront.

There are now genetic screenings to see what each person might be have a chance of developing or passing on. I’m not quite ready for that yet. Not when I can look back with paperwork.

I work with several women my age who have been widowed already. I can’t imagine my life without Ted. We are working to care for each other – insist the other get to the doctor to look at the mole, the back pain, the hitch in our git along. As you get older you find love takes many forms.

I realize all of this post is from the current part of my life’s journey. If you share some of my direct line peeps, put their issues on your medical forms. Work with your care giver. Make some different life choices. My paternal grandfather worked in a mine in Montana which probably explains the lung cancer. So my NOT working in a mine could be helpful with keeping that disease at bay.

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Grandpa Baltierra’s Death Certificate. Heart Disease was a secondary factor.

One recommendation I will give is simply endeavor to be happy. It is an amazing tonic and is good for the soul. You never know. It could cure many ailments that may, or may not, be a part of your path.


I have found a few new things to research in the old family history department. I’ve sent out my “we are related, but you didn’t know it letters” this week too. So be prepared for new blog pieces. Have a great summer! Stay cool.


Albert Charles Escalante – The Final Chapter

This should be the last blog post about my grandfather. I’m going to call him Tony in this round. You may have thought that it would end with the post about his last wife, Sara. Muahaha! You were wrong! He was interesting on his own. When I started my search for family history, I asked Grandma Sara for anything she could send to help me. She sent me Grandpa Tony’s second wallet which was full of all sorts of cool things. She also sent back most of the pictures she had of me as well, and that kind of hurt, but the gold in the wallet was worth it.

This blog is long but it should wrap up the last loose ends I have to share. Get some coffee, wrap up in a blanket, and enjoy.

So let’s see…..when we last left him, Tony was divorcing Manuela and marrying Sara. He and Manuela had a house in Tucson he built for her, but it was her mother that had put up the money for the property. So it was repeatedly mentioned by my great-grandmother that he took the money from the sale of that house. Tony pooled these monies from the divorce/house sale, with savings that Sara had, and they went in to the bar business.

Tony and Sara went to build a business called Tony’s Roundup. No one seems to have a photo of it though. My mom said Tony had the bar custom-built in the shape of a horseshoe. I’m not sure if it was in this bar, or the next, but he also had this print (below) on the wall. This was a commissioned piece for A-1 Beer. Can you see the A-1 branded on the horse? Tony had the A-1 on it fixed to say “ACE,” his chosen initials.


Lon Megargee Print for A-1 Beer.

Tony's Roundup2

Proof that Tony’s Roundup existed! Taken from the local directory Brawley Public Library.

I love the below little treasure I found in his wallet. My mom grew up around guns. She thought she was Dale Evans. Pretty sure she still loves Roy Rogers. Tony respected guns. Being around possible drunks and rough-houser’s while in the bar business, he did have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The business address was Escalante’s Bar. Both brothers had to carry large amounts of money home late at night. Safety made sense.

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Tony’s Concealed Carry Permit, 1950.

Rumor has it that Officer Ruben Ramirez Landa (whose name was listed as Issuing Officer), was a godfather to one of my uncles. OR Tony and Sara were godparents to one of his children. Let me show you how easy it is to swerve off course. I thought to myself: let’s do a quick search through ancestry and Google to try to find a picture of him.



Officer Ruben R. Landa.

Ruben became a Sheriff , ending his career as an officer for the Department of Justice. He died in San Diego in 1998. Handsome guy!

One of the events in Calexico, was the Calexico Desert Cavalcade. It was a yearly shindig that celebrated the friendship of the sister cities Calexico and Mexicali, and their shared histories. Governors from California, Baja California, and Sonora, Mexico, attended throughout the years.


Article from the “L.A. Times,” March, 1949.

The event brought in many tourists. It also sparked “town spirit.” One of the more famous photos of Tony follows. He was all bedecked with western wear. He won First Place for best beard at the Cavalcade.

Albert Escalante My Dad's Brother 1947

Tony Escalante, 1947. Photo courtesy of E.E. Escalante.

Settling into entrepreneurial life in Calexico, he joined the Elk’s Lodge. He was a member for almost 10 years.


Tony’s Elk’s Lodge Membership Cards.


April 1956 was last year as a Calexico Elk.

I tried to figure out why Tony decided to leave the Calexico area. My Uncle Jorge said it was because it was so hot in Imperial Valley. I’m not sure if Tony’s Roundup was failing, but they decided to pack it up and move to the cooler temps of Potrero, CA. Tony started a bar/restaurant across the border in Tecate, Mexico. They seem to have left Calexico around 1956. Behind him, the sign gives his hours as 7 am – 11 pm. Mexican and American food was served.


Tony at his bar in Tecate, B.C.

This venture was successful. For a while. Profits were difficult to keep when you are a generous friend and when you loved to keep the party going with your friends. Tony’s dream of paying fewer taxes in Mexico were cut short by payola to officials. After a culmination of years, Tony’s business failed.

While they lived in Potrero, my mom attended a Catholic school in Tecate, Mexico, from 1956-57. She lost a year as she didn’t speak Spanish hardly at all, much less well enough to progress successfully in school. The kids were then put into Campo’s Mt. Empire School District from 1957 to about 1960. My last uncle was brought home in 1959 and adopted into the family because Tony and Sara fell in love with him on the way home. The family was complete. As Tony was known by a nickname, so were his boys: Tony, Buddy C’ckeye, Guy, Butch, Rocky and Jim)

The boys, who had a dad who worked sun up to sun down, were left to their own devices. The older brothers talk about running around the neighborhood. One accidentally set the house on fire after breaking a light bulb in the back room. He and another brother waited for the fire department to come while they sat on a hill. They would go out back and “harvest” whatever it was they wanted to eat for dinner. They would lie on the ground, pretend to be dead, and waited for buzzards to eat them. One uncle had a toe get cut off when he jumped on some glass. The toe was unable to be reattached as the dog had eaten it. Good times.

In the early part of 1960, Tony had a small “crisis.” He had a wife at home going through “the change.” His business had failed. He was feeling under the weather. He left. He was 53 years old at the time. He went to Flagstaff, Arizona. Tony had told my mom that if he ever thought he was dying, he would leave and not look back. My mom had gone to live with her grandmother in Tucson.  When she could not reach her dad via phone, she thought the worst and was terrified.

Stories report his journey to Flagstaff was two-fold. The first was to see a doctor. He was probably surprised to find out he was fine. My ABSOLUTELY un-authoritative thought is he was having panic attacks. Stress, mid-life crisis, career goals unfulfilled, a house full of family he needed to care for. Sounds about right. Adulting is very hard. The second reason he went there was to see if he could start a new business. After assessing his situation, weighing what he wanted versus what needed to be done, he decided to return to his family.

While he had been making these self-discoveries, Sara had taken the kids to her mom’s house. They stayed with Nana until Tony rejoined them. He was in it for the long haul.

He settled back into life where he started it, in Ventura County. More specifically, in Port Hueneme. He got a job at the lemon packing sheds. He did the whole Boy Scouts Dad thing. But remember, he was an older dad. He did his best.



I did have a reader notice that the above paper was a Workman’s Comp Order. She asked what he had done to himself to require medical attention. So I asked my mom. Apparently, Tony was a lemon box assembly man. He managed to shoot himself in the hand with a nail gun. Small details! Interesting info!

And the rest is pretty much history. He lived out the rest of his life with his family. He worked to support them. His daughters had moved out and got married. His sons rocked sports in Port Hueneme. His daughters and sons got married. Grandchildren came in flocks, and were sent to the den when we got crazy. When family bonding got to be too much, he went to read in his bedroom. Or could he have been hiding?!? Gasp!

Here are few more things that were hiding in his wallet.


Various business cards Tony held on to. The Southwell’s were good friends of the family. German is his nephew-in-law.



Why was he needing so many lawyer cards? Hmmmm.

If anyone can tell me who any of the above people are, please do! I am dying to know.

There was a card in his wallet with Standard Battery written on it. The name looked familiar. Digging through my paperwork I found what I was looking for. In 1936, Alberto Bernardo Escalante had become Albert Charles Escalante. Officially. He started his new job with his first wife, Edith. He kept the card in his wallet since 1936. He had even listed this location on his application for his Social Security Card. Sentimental guy….


ACE’s original Social Security Card. The SBS Co. card.



Tony’s original application for his Social Security Card.

How does a man with such a varied past get SO many people to love and respect him? My mom likes to remember his snarky comments under his breath. I told her he must have kept them well to himself though because so many people thought he was wonderful. We loved him. All of us.

Tony got sick. After a short illness, he passed away September 22, 1984. The family drifted a bit. I was 16 when I he passed. I was in my own world with priorities that weren’t necessarily family-oriented. When I finally had LOTS of questions to ask him, it was too late to do so. My search for family and their stories started around 5 years after his passing. I’m pretty sure my work will never be quite done.


My Papa and I.


Photos of just a few of his kids and family, hiding in the wallet.

Genealogy 101 – The Basics

I’m taking a quick break from my usual family findings to share a bit of what I know about the hobby/obsession/addiction that is Genealogy. I have been working on my maternal grandfather’s tree since about 1988. My grandfather died in 1984. After he was gone, there was no one to answer the questions I finally had. Time is not on the side of the genealogist. Start now. If you are thinking of building your family tree, here are some tips I hope will help your journey.

Start with You.

You are the beginning of your tree. First, get your birth certificate. You will need that document for grown-up things in your future anyway, but this one document gets you started with your tree too. It is your seed. With it, you will have your birth date, birth town, parents. It will have the address you lived at when you were born (which your grandchildren can use to marvel at when you are old). It may have your parents’ careers too.

Now that you have confirmed who your parents are get their birth certificates too. This will give you who their parents are. It sounds almost too simple, but trust me. At the end of the exercise you will 7 people on your tree! Magic!

The next step is to start looking around the house for any paperwork they might have about the family past: baptismal papers, marriage certificates, employment records, school transcripts. If you are a younger person go visit your parents and search their attic for fun things. Each paper will be a clue to the timelines of your lives.

Interview Family. Now.

So you think you know everything about your familial unit? I got news for you. No one knows it all. There are secrets out there! Hopefully you will be emotionally stable enough to deal with what may come down the pike. BUT – your great-aunt Jenny will have memories that are different from your grandmother’s. They could have a 20-year age gap that will make their life stories very different.

Make appointments with your relatives. Find a time where you can meet with them by themselves. Others in the room might hinder the progress. You may want to bring questions, letting them elaborate as needed. Some may wander off course, try to gently nudge them onto the path of their lives “back in the day.”

When you interview: document, document, document! With technology as fabulous as it is there is no reason NOT to record audio or take video. Most smart phones have these capabilities. What is a helpful tool now will be treasure later. When I interviewed my grandfather in 1981, I used a tape recorder. My husband converted it to mp3 format to preserve it. I think my cousins really enjoyed hearing his voice after 30 years.

Caveat One: Not every person you want to chat with will be open to this. Some people are fun-haters. No. That’s not true. Some people simply want to forget hard times, bad childhoods, poverty, abuse, etc. Be kind to them. Ask for basics and try to find more without their assistance.

Caveat Two: If you want to research your family history, start now. When I say time is not on your side, I mean that your family members can meet with unexpected illness or death at any time. Interviews should start at your eldest family first. Just in case.


Smart phones have made this task easier too. If you are in the middle of a spontaneous visit with a family member you may never see again, ask permission to take pictures of their pictures. Most don’t mind. Use the tool at hand, which for most is the cell phone. Like Judge Marilyn Milian says, “It’s not just for taking nasty pictures.”

If you know you will want higher resolution invest in a good digital camera. This may seem an unnecessary cost, but the quality of your reprints might be nice enough to display in your home. (I have project planned where I will be framing many of the photos on this site. The pictures will be housed in my stairwell.)

If you want to make the best copies of photos, consider investing in a scanner. My best friend gifted me with one. It has been an amazing tool. On a visit to see family in Florida, we took it with us, enabling the recording of a treasure trove of documents, while we interviewed family.


I started my tree many moons before Ancestry had so much wonderful information at my fingertips. Most of my early work took forever because I didn’t necessarily have $20 for a birth certificate or death certificate. Or it wasn’t a priority. While family history sites are fabulous tools, nothing beats a copy of the actual page for which you are looking.

To this day, I print copies of digital files I have on my Ancestry tree. I can make notes on it. I can reference it more quickly sometimes. I can doodle possible connections on the page.

And. You may not always have access to files you find. is now limiting my viewing of certain documents from home. I have to be a LDS church member or go to a Family History Center. I like searching at home. In my jammies. Thanks though.

I ordered a baptism certificate from the Santa Clara Catholic Church in Oxnard. While an online site might have only given me name and date, this document gave me names of the godparents. This was when I discovered Ana Escalante de Romo. It opened up two new branches of family. From one little piece of paper.

You may want to consider investing in a separate storage devices for your files: Photos, interviews, documents, your own notes. Consider quality thumb drives or a nice external hard drive. I have known quite a few people who have all photos on their phone, but when the phone dies, there is no retrieving it. If you have been watching the news the last 6 months, there are earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires. I live on Tornado Alley. In case you need to make a quick evacuation, you can simply get your hardware and get to safety asap.

Don’t Force a Family Theory.

Many times there will be a story that most take for facts in a family. I recently took a creative writing class. My instructor shared her surprise with her grandmother who had several children from a different father. While most people like a good drama, we want our families to be squeaky clean in how their lives were lived. Be open to the fact that what has been taken as truth can be misleading.

I have a pretty good-sized tree on Ancestry. Many times the site will try to give me hints from other subscribers trees. OH MY GOODNESS! There are two fellow hunters who are bending their documentation to fit their perceived ideas of how things should be. I managed to find a Spanish to English website to translate names, places and dates, being open to what the forms told me. And let me just say, they are VERY wrong.

We have much lore in our family. I have irritated many a cousin but not buying into them. The paper trail tells me what I need to know. Corroborating evidence reinforces it.

Be Open to Surprises.

This is probably a great rule in general. You never know what you will find on a Census report. Then there is the math in regards to when a couple got married versus the birth of their first child. Again, if you are going to do genealogy, you will have to grow a thick skin.

I would think it would apply if you have your DNA tested too. Ancestry has a whole article about “Unexpected Ethnicity Results.” You weren’t there hundreds of years ago. But remember all those surprises made you, well, you!

Be Willing to Share.

I have been the beneficiary of so much kindness with this hobby-cult I’m in. I have gotten very good at writing my “you don’t know me but I think we are related” letters. I really scared my cousin’s wife one time. Sorry, Cynthia! But I revised how I write it. “I’m not a stalker, I just want to discuss dead people with you.” haha!

I have been so fortunate that many are willing to share. You can do genealogy for yourself, but consider being open to share with anyone who wants to know about your tree. If you put photos on a website, but ready to find them other places. You may be doing the hard work but be ready for others to take credit. It’s okay.

Whole Tree

One day your tree can get beyond you and your parents.



I hope this gives you a good place to start when it comes to your beginning the genealogy journey. Sites I love to use are: Ancestry, FamilySearch,, and

A useful tool which might surprise you is plain ol’ Google. Put as much info as you can in the engine and watch it go. My grandfather is Google-able. I entered: Tony Escalante boxer 1920s. His boxing career from 90 years ago is documented on various sites. You never know where you will find out stuff about those you love.

Good luck on your journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I’d be glad to be of assistance.




Bon Voyage and I’ll Be Back

Hello all.

I apologize for my absence on the old blog pages. I have a few ideas I can follow-up with when I get home.

What? Am I going somewhere? Why, yes! I have been invited to France by my wonderful cousin-in-law, Micki. There was no way to pass up such an amazing life experience.

Needless to say, I have been shopping, packing, and holding my chest when my heart flutters with anxious happiness. My family is holding down our little fort while I’m gone. I have to remember that while I love to look for the life experiences of the family that has come before me, I need to go make some great memories for myself.

My DNA testing says I’m not French, but I’m hoping to immerse myself in their culture for a week. Have a great rest of your October! Please send good thoughts for my travel. AND my safe return too! Thanks, Edwina.

The Other Man – Juan de la Ressureción Ramirez

Greetings all! We are getting ready for Fall to come in full force here in Oklahoma. Leaves are starting to fall, which is early in this region. But I am ready for a new season. I am interrupting the normal flow of Escalante history for a “relative”-ly short detour. Hahaha! N.B. – Escalante’s are not related to the families mentioned below; only to two ladies – Mariana Bustamante and her daughter, Maria Ramirez.

In the last blog entry, I discussed my darling Mariana Bustamante. She had been married to Leonardo Escalante, then ran away with another man. Gasp! She must have been extraordinary to be taken away by Juan Ramirez. Their time together produced a lovely daughter. But Mariana’s inability to be married hindered their future together. Or was it ill-fated from the beginning?

Juan de la Ressureción Ramirez Avila was born in Los Angeles, California, Mexico in 1839. His parents were Juan M. Ramirez and Petra Avila.

According to preliminary research from M. Barbachano,  both branches were part of Spanish colonization. Juan Bernardo Ramirez met a lovely young woman in a new hip and happening town, Santa Barbara, California. Maria Rosa Quijada’s family had come from the interior of Mexico with the 1781 Rivera Expedition to settle the area. The couple married at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1794. Their son Juan M. Ramirez moved to Los Angeles.

The Avila family’s story was similar, with Cornelio Avila’s children/grandchildren doing their civic duty for the crown. Francisco Avila, Petra’s father, settled in the pueblo of Los Angeles sometime after 1794. He became the alcalde of Los Angeles when it was a bustling metropolis of over 410 residents. Petra’s cousin, Miguel, was granted lands which included Avila Beach, and he was alcalde of San Luis Obipso. (As a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alum, this warms my heart).

The Juan M. Ramirez family had over 8 children. They settled into Petra’s family home, the Avila Adobe. If you have been to Olvera Street in Los Angeles, you may have seen it.


The Avila Adobe in the 1930s.


Sign posted outside of the museum.

Italians started immigrating to the Los Angeles area in the 1800s. In the old pueblo, they started showing other Los Angelinos how to cultivate vineyards. Juan M. Ramirez had become a vinter – maker of wine. Los Angeles became the early wine capital of California. (see article below).

Juan M.’s son, Francisco, made a name for himself. A self-educated man, Francisco was tri-lingual. He started his own newspaper. He became an attorney in the late 1860s to fight for rights of minorities in the area. This book is on my amazon wish list:

So why I am I sharing all of this fascinating information with you? Juan had some very big shoes to fill. Social standing. Familial ties. Lands granted by the King of Spain to  forefathers for devoted service. All of this was vastly important to Juan.

Speaking of handsome devils, here he is below.


Juan de la Resurreción Ramirez.

It took a while for Juan to get his life bearings (in my opinion). As a young-ish man, he did some traveling.  He could have been conducting business for his family. However it happened, he had wandered into Hermosillo, Sonora. He met, and saved, Mariana Bustamante de Escalante from her marriage in 1867. He found himself with a secret life in Hermosillo. He had a romance with her which produced their lovely daughter Maria Luisa Bernadina Ramirez. And she looks like she had been well taken care of, financially speaking.


Maria Ramirez. Photo courtesy of C. Amezcua’s Ancestry photos.

Mariana might have been a woman to live with, but was not one to bring home to Los Angeles. Did Juan divide his time between Sonora and California? By the time Maria was 9, her father decided to marry another woman. California Girl Rosa Bustamante (not directly related to Mariana, that I have found – whew!) married Juan Ramirez in Los Angeles in 1879. I don’t know if he saw much of Maria after his marriage, but her life progressed forward. And nicely, too.


Marriage announcement, “Tombstone Daily Epitaph, 1887”

What I cannot tell from this announcement is whether “Maria’s parents” were just her mom; Or her dad and Rosa living in Ochoaville, Arizona; a town that no longer exists. So vague. Grrrr.

Juan decided to embrace his life in Los Angeles. He adopted two children with Rosa. They were Elias H. Goodwin and Adela Ramirez. Elias moved to San Francisco. He worked in the restaurant industry and patented a new design of salt and pepper shakers. Adela Ramirez married Jan Baptiste Lambert, a French-Canadian baker, in 1912. They had a baby the next year, but the baby does not appear to have survived. They divorced. She kept her married name.

Juan settled into life as the landowner of the ever-growing city of Los Angeles. His parents passed away. He became the head of the family. He started to sell his land off to accommodate the need for housing and roadways. In 1916, he testified when the Federal and State governments wanted to claim public roadways on property that owners insisted was private. (I am envisioning Highway 101 – imminent domain) Juan testified he had “used the road through what is now the Malibu ranch during the 1850s… it was a well-beaten road in those early days, and was the principal line of communication between what is now Santa Barbara and Ventura counties…He said that cattle did not make the path because, on account of bears, they were not allowed to roam over the then wild country. Travelers tramped this road. The cattle had to be kept in corrals because otherwise the bears would have killed them.” (Los Angeles Daily Times, Mar 14, 1916)

Back to Los Angeles becoming a melting pot. Italian and Spanish families had much in common, such as their Catholic faith. There was familial integration during this early time of LA history. Juan’s younger sister Isabel married into the Pelanconi family.  She had a few children, but only one son, the handsome Lorezno.


Lorenzo Pelanconi, son of Isabel Ramirez.

He was a favorite of his Uncle Juan and Aunt Rosa. These families were successful. They were the Who’s Who of Los Angeles society.  But. Like all mere mortals, Juan eventually died.


Juan Ramirez died 1922, Los Angeles, CA.

After reading this obit, I realized that the author mistook him for his brother Francisco who started the newspaper. His daughter, Maria Ramirez de Barbachano was NOT mentioned here. Rude!!! And frankly, I think it kind of hurt her feelings.


Maria contests the will.

There was never any follow-up articles as to whether or not Maria was given anything but the insulting $5. I would bet she never accepted it.

Juan and Rosa never had their own biological children. This ended up being a point of interest at the end of Juan’s life. He left the bulk of his real estate to the Ramirez familial heir, Lorenzo Pelanconi, son of his sister Isabel. Nothing was left to his adopted children. Or his one biological child, Maria. When Rosa Ramirez died, their adopted daughter Adela went to live with her sister-in-law (Goodwin’s widow) in San Francisco.

Lorenzo. Got. It. All.

He had the name. He had the background. He had the connections. He was from a church sanctified marriage.

I’ll tell you more about Lorenzo too, because his story was pretty cool.

He fell in love with a young woman of similar background. Martina Yorba married him. Yep. You’ve heard the name before. Her granddaddy was Bernardo Yorba of Yorba Linda, California. I’m dropping names of Rancheros all over the place.


Lorenzo Pelanconi’s Death Announcement. 1955.


Martina Yorba Pelanconi celebrating her 100th Birthday.

He was no shrinking violet. His biography stands on it’s own. Their love was wonderful. Yippee!

But enough about all of them.


Mariana Bustamante was the parent who stayed with Maria. She was the one who knew and loved her grandchildren. But in the end, it was Juan’s name that was always dropped as THE parent to whom Maria was related; the one she revered. Even his grandchildren named him as their touchstone to the Spanish/Californio legacy.



Snippet from Manuel Barbachano, Jr.’s Obituary, Feb, 1954.

Sigh….I’m sure you can sense my bias against Juan. But Good Grief! He missed out on SO much. All in the name of the family honor.

So what about Maria? I love her. I feel her story very deeply. It wasn’t as if she were a beggar on the street. She was amazing. She embraced her half-sister, Ana Escalante de Romo, at the end of their lives. I’m sure she valued her social standing as much as her cousin, Lorenzo. Her legacy was in the eyes of this lovely group of people here.


Extended Barbachano Family at Maria and Manuel’s (front/center) 50th Wedding Anniversary. Photo courtesy: C. Amezcua’s Ancestry photos.

Maria’s origin story was up to her parents. She had to deal with its repercussions. That did not stop her from marrying a son of the Governor of Yucatán. It didn’t stop her children from being very successful. (Compania Telefonica Fronteriza, founders of the Tijuana Lion’s Club and Chamber of Commerce, the Rosarito Beach Hotel, architects, merchants, etc.; and just really amazing people in the U.S., Mexico, and all around the world.) Whether it was because of Juan, or in spite of Juan, we will never know.




Thank you to M. Barbachano for all of your research (and continued support) on this blog post. Her daughter blogged a video of their family visiting the Avila Adobe for the first time. VERY Cool!


My sources for this piece were plentiful. If you have time, please peruse the following web pages.