As I wrote in the “The Escalante’s of Southern Arizona – Part I,” it all started with the brother of our very own Leonardo Escalante y Narbona. Ramon married and had several children. They were first cousins to my Great-Grandfather, Leonardo.
A fellow searcher of family lore found my blog site. He has a great tree on Ancestry. In it, I found a clue relevant to this particular post. He found the marriage registration of Ramon Escalante and Jesus Saldamando. (I only had a jotted down note on scratch paper in the last piece – I wasn’t crazy.) Thank you, Dan!
This plucky young couple were married on October 15, 1853, in Arizpe. What I love about the above document is that it gives Jesus’ parents names: Jose Maria and Margarita. Jesus would name her first daughter after her mom. Awww.
I’ve already discussed this couple’s other children. This blog post is about their son, Alejandro Saldamando Escalante.
Alejandro was born in Aconochi, Sonora, in September, 1857.
The Sonoran Highway 89 on the above map seems to follow where many of the family originated. Notice that this road also led to Tombstone. The family ended up there by the early 1880s. Alejandro met his bride, Petra Valenzuela.
I can’t be sure how close Alejandro was to his sister once their lives with their spouses started. Alejandro and Petra started their family north of Tombstone, in the St. David area. Unfortunately, there was much heartache in their home. In the 1900 Census, Petra reported to have given birth to 5 children. Only one was still living.
Maria del Refugio Escalante was that child. She went by two names – Refugio and “Hattie.” Their family lived southeast of Benson in St. David. (Remember, the OK Corral happened only 5 years before she was born.) She was born in 1886. Her childhood must have been interesting. The gunfight at the OK Corral had happened in 1881, but the area was still the “wild west.”
Some of what I have pieced together is from research. However, this post would not be possible but for the kindness of Hattie’s great-granddaughter, Nina M. Womack-Rangel.
Hattie must have been quite the catch. Her dad was a land-owner. She was pretty and petite. She caught the eye of one David Gaw Womack. Born in Texas in 1884, he came out to Arizona. On February 3, 1908, the St. David couple got married by a Justice of the Peace in Tombstone.
Their marriage would produce four children. Alexander, Mary Margaret, Beatrice, and Edward. How nice for Alejandro and Petra to have grandbabies around, especially after so much of their own sadness. Hattie and David did not have the best of marriages, however. They drifted apart, but not without cause.
Hattie had been the victim of a horrible assault. Her great-granddaughter informed me that she was hurt by several men in the area. She was very scarred by the event, which is understandable. David also had a wandering eye for the women. The combination took its toll. Eventually, she and David divorced.
I was concerned about documenting the attack on Hattie. However, her great-granddaughter thought that her story, and especially her survival, should be documented. Hattie was strong and managed to make it through such a trying time in her life. My admiration for her is vast.
Three of the Womack grandchildren were born by the time Petra died in 1921. She and Alejandro had been married for 38 years.
Back to Hattie’s children. Her children were Alexander, Mary Margaret, Beatrice, and Edward.
Her eldest, Alexander, was a crazy handsome devil.
He married Juanita (Jane) Manriguez. According to the 1940 US Census, Alex was the head of his home with a wife, two kids, his mom and grandfather living with him. By January 1941, they had three children: Mary Ellen, Alexander, and Rebecca (not in below photo).
Their happiness was not to last long. Alexander worked at the Apache Powder Plant. Remember, mining was a big business in the area. But a dangerous business.
This was a devastating blow to his wife and family.
I’m sure Hattie would have liked to have kept Juanita and the grandchildren with her, but a new widow needs care. It’s been reported that Juanita chose to move back to her own mother’s house in Tombstone with her three children.
Juanita had a good friend, Anita Ramirez Parra who died in 1934. Anita’s widower, Selso Parra, also had a few children. Both needed each other. Juanita chose a new family situation and married Selso. So quickly in fact, that she was on the “outs” with Hattie for a long time.
Hattie’s daughter Mary Margaret moved to Tombstone in 1930. She was a 19 year-old stenographer in an abstract office. She was boarding at the Federico home. Little did she know then, that she would marry one of their sons, Gilberto. Their family moved to Los Angeles. She passed away in 1974.
Beatrice was the third of Hattie’s children. She met her husband as her sister did. Alejandro had a border at his place in 1930 too. James Dickson came to live at their home, which was not far from his job at the explosion plant (probably Apache). Guess who got married? I guess if a husband or wife comes to live in your home, that’s pretty fortuitous. They had two children together. They lived in Los Angeles by 1940. However, by 1950 she was remarried to one William Bently. He is her final spouse, with whom she shares a son.
Edward Eugene came last, being born in 1923. He married Polly Saucedo in 1943. They moved to Los Angeles after their 3 children are born in Arizona. They divorced in 1969.
Back at the St. David family ranch, Alejandro and Hattie held everything together. While his documents make Alejandro seem like a simple farmer, Nina believes her family owned almost 1,000 acres in the area. He was newsworthy. I think the paper was the social media of the day.
I’ve tried to contact the St. David Historical Society with no success. However, I think the wash and street name are clues of the location where the ranch could have been.
Alejandro finally passes away on January 9, 1949, at the ripe old age of 92. His daughter was now living alone in St. David at age 63. But her story was not quite over. A few years later she married a man named Miguel Sanchez. On May 10, 1951, they tied the knot. They found love in their elder years. After her traumatizing assault, I am so glad she had this window of happiness with Miguel. They lived together for 5 years before a blood clot took his life. While he had children with his first wife, the only thing on his tombstone is “Miguel Sanchez – Beloved Husband.”
The end of Hattie’s life was spent with her daughter Beatrice in Oceanside, CA. She lived to be 91. She died Hattie Escalante Sanchez on May 14, 1978 in Los Angeles, CA. Hattie’s great-granddaughter Nina did meet with her great-aunt Beatrice. She saw the rocking chair that belonged to Hattie. Hattie had been so petite, Nina was struck with how tiny the chair had been. She said it looked like a child’s rocker.
Alejandro Escalante was first cousin to my great-grandfather, Leonardo. Alejandro had been fortunate enough to live almost 50 years longer than his cousin. Had Leonardo’s son Jose not been a “wanderer,” going to see his cousin Frank Blackburn in 1918, we might not have had a paper trail of the relationship.
The DNA results were a huge help in confirming the relationship between the two families as cousins. Time, employment opportunities, our nomadic tendencies, 150-ish years, and even death, can move families so far from each other that we forget those places from which we came.
For me, the joy isn’t so much the finding the facts, it is in the reunion.