Monthly Archives: August 2017

Mariana Bustamante – Mysterious Matriarch

Behind every man who thinks he is the patriarch of a clan (of children, in-laws, grandchildren) is the woman who bore the children for him. She nourished his off-spring in her body, she gave half of herself to create the child, she pushed the babe out into the world violently, and nurtured him so he would not die, but thrive.

One person that connects most mentioned in these posts was a woman. Her name was Maria Ana Bustamante. Her life happened so that the rest of us could be here. I know I have many a male family member who thinks that all of this was accomplished by their dad. Or granddad. Well, hooey! Mariana brought six children into the world. The three that I have been able to find created hundreds of off-spring.

When digging up family history, you start at the beginning. You confirm details. What doesn’t make logical sense gets filled in with what might be conventional thinking during the times. Mariana had two families. For many years, in my traditional mindset, I thought Leonardo Senior must have died. Mariana was so beautiful that she was swept off her feet by a new husband, who loved her with many children en tow.  The paper trail doesn’t lie though. This is my current hypothesis of Mariana’s journey.

Mariana Bustamante was the daughter of Jose Antonio Bustamante and Maria Soledad Salasar.


Wedding registration for Leonardo Escalante and Mariana Bustamante, Hermosillo, Sonora.

She met Leonardo Escalante. In 1856, they married at the Catedral De La Asunción in Hermosillo, Sonora. From what I can tell, they had five children. I have only found two adult children from that marriage: Ana and Leonardo. The 1860s saw many children die at an early age. If only two survived, I cannot even imagine the emotional toll this must have taken upon her.

My great-grandfather was born in November, 1866. For Mariana, being a mother of the Escalante children did not last much longer. Either Mariana was suffering from: an abusive husband whom she could no longer tolerate, postpartum depression (5 babies in 11 years), or a sudden “heart full of love for a new man.” Which ever was her trouble, it killed her in 1867.



Mariana’s Death Registration. 1867.

This document stated that Mariana, daughter of Antonio Bustamante and Soledad Salasar, died May 23, 1867. Her witness was one Juan Ramirez.

Either Mariana became a walking miracle, or she never really died. I believe that she went under the “protection” of  Señor Juan de la Resurrección Ramirez. What would make me think this? She and Juan had a baby girl together.


Their daughter is baptized at the Cathedral in Hermosillo.

In 1870, Maria Luisa Bernadina Ramirez was christened.  This baby was born “H.N.” “hija natural” – which means Natural Daughter, not Legitimate Daughter (out of wedlock). Juan had either chosen not to marry her, or could not marry her because she was technically married.

This act of bringing their baby into town for a baptism was pretty daring. I have consulted with our cousin, M. Barbachano. She thinks that Leonardo Senior must have died at this point for the couple to bring their daughter out very brazenly to be baptized. My mom though that “preventing eternal damnation by baptism” was a strong motivator. We will probably never know.

Without a paper trail it is difficult to determine how long this couple was together. His home was in the original pueblo of Los Angeles, California. I often wonder if he vacationed in Hermosillo to visit his little family. Sadly, Juan Ramirez left Mariana behind permanently. He married a woman named Rosa Bustamante. I believe they were not related. I think the surname may be coincidental. He proceeded to live his life away from Sonora.

This did not stop Maria from making a good marriage. [I have grown up reading Jane Austen. Sometimes “status,” “parentage” could make or break a young woman’s future.] Maria Ramirez married Manuel A. Barbachano, the son of the Governor of Yucatan. [Not too shabby]. Most of the paperwork named Juan Ramirez prominently as Maria’s father. Mariana was only quietly mentioned, like a small whisper on the paper.

She finally reappears, in a newspaper at least, in 1901. Mariana moved with the Barbachano’s  from Mexico to San Diego where Manuel began his job as the head of Customs at the Tijuana border.


Mariana appears! She accompanied her daughter and family to San Diego with Manuel’s reassignment. February, 1901.

While Mariana was with Maria, her Escalante children, Ana and Leonardo, and their families, were together in Ventura County. I believe that Ana was a mother figure to Leonardo all of the years he lived.

Mariana lived with the Barbachano’s for another 4 years. She died on November 5, 1905, in San Diego, CA. She was buried in Tijuana. There is no indication that Ana or Leonardo attended the funeral.


Maria’s Death Announcement in the San Diego Union, 1905.

I am grateful that Maria took care of her mother all of those years. They must have only had each other. I will blog about Maria’s father later because his link to California history is fascinating. I believe he was a cad in his treatment of Mariana. That being said, he did assist (a tiny bit) in creating the Barbachano Dynasty.


Maria and Manuel sit center stage at their 50th wedding anniversary party.

After the death of Mariana and Leonardo Jr, half-sisters Ana and Maria managed to reconnect. They ended up close. Ana died in the house in the photograph above in 1948. (5289 Canterbury Drive, San Diego, CA.) The Barbachano’s and Romo’s were close family, at the end. My grandfather used to take his kids to Rosarito beach to camp for holidays. Up at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, he could have introduced himself to his cousins. He never did. I feel we truly lost an opportunity for all of Mariana’s grandchildren to get to know each other. And stay connected.


Mariana’s Legacy: Leonardo, Ana (Top Right), Maria (Bottom Right).