Monthly Archives: October 2019

All is Not Gold That Glitters

Greetings all! How does fall find you this year? Fall was quick as a wink here. We have had two nights below freezing already. Welcome to Winter.

This next chapter of my blog post comes with bigger discoveries, and a few shocks to the system. But it wouldn’t be true Escalante history without the drama.

When I search for new family, I try to verify facts that concur/line up with others I already have. Oral histories have also proven quite effective, but double-checking it in writing is better as the people who lived events had “reported” them as they went going along.

My grandfather Tony’s dad was Leonardo Escalante. On Leonardo’s birth registration, his father’s name is listed as Leonardo Escalante Narbona. Spanish tradition is that a person’s given name is First Name, Father’s Surname, Mother’s Surname. Normally, this tells me his mom was a Narbona. It looks as if with this naming, there was an intent to make sure the name of Narbona was passed along to his son. (Technically, he should have been Leonardo Escalante Bustamante.)

I am grateful for the bread crumb trail left behind, as this lead helped to narrow down his brother who was Ramon Escalante Narbona. Great!

In Ramon’s wedding registration, I found their mom was Maria Narbona. Wooh hooh! Now we are cookin’. <-This is how we talk here in Oklahoma. haha!

Then a good fairy, in the guise of Mr. King, was good enough to leave bread crumbs behind for me. He is concurrently building our tree in a parallel universe at Ancestry; even though we aren’t related, because he is kind and found the site once! Isn’t that great?

He came upon a wonderful document that discusses one Leonardo Escalante marrying Maria Narcisa Narbona, in Chihuahua in 1824! How cool beans!?!

Special marriage dispensation of Leonardo Escalante and Maria Narcisa Narbona, 1824.

This document stated that Colonel Antonio Narbona and his wife Maria Ysabel Escalante gave permission for their daughter Maria Narcisa to marry her “Tio Carnal” (uncle by blood) Leonardo Escalante.

Yes. Her uncle.

Leonardo and Maria Ysabel Escalante were siblings. There is reason to believe they were half-siblings, but they were “hermanos” none the less. Our propensity for marrying within the family was almost habitual. If officials were constantly drawing trees lines of consanguinity in marriage registrations, you know it’s excessive.

This document was in the Ancestry documents for Arizpe, Sonora. But how exactly would Ancestry categorize this??  It was in a records book for the church. But this was not a church document. This was a government paper signed by a man who was kind of a big deal.

Colonel Antonio Narbona was Maria’s father, my 4th Great-Grandfather. He was also a géfe político. I’m going to attach the Wiki version of his life at the bottom of the page. But I will highlight a few things in this narrative.


Antonio Narbona was born in Mobile, West Florida, Spanish Territory in 1773 (now present day Mobile, Alabama). We were from Dixie, y’all!!! He was Criollo – which means Spanish blood, born somewhere else. [France will regain Louisiana in about 1801 and sell it to Jefferson in 1803.]

Holy smokes. We have Spanish family in North America before the United States becomes a nation. Antonio joined the military and headed west where he was needed for Spanish expansion.

I always do a Google search for family. You never know what will come up. Narbona was no different.

But then came the hard part.

I found him on Wiki. I saw that the signature they had for him matched the above signature on the dispensation. I then found that his name kept coming up associated with one place in particular. It was a place called the Canyon de Chelly, near Chinle, AZ. His name was also attached to the following pictograph.

Spanish expedition against the Navajo.

The above pictograph was drawn by Navajo artists. It was to represent the Spanish army, that killed an estimated 115 Navajos in the winter of 1805. The army was led by then Lieutenant Antonio Narbona. The pictograph was created after the fight.

Narbona’s military star was on the rise. He became commander of the Tucson Presidio. He became the Governor of New Mexico from 1825-1827. Many of his children married in Arizpe, Sonora.  He was an active participant in Mexico’s independence from Spain. He died in Arizpe in 1830 at the age of 56.

In further research, I found a great book I’m going to need to purchase. “Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief” by Edwin R. Sweeney. It discusses the death of Antonio Narbona, Junior (our Maria’s brother).  Spanish, and then Mexican, settlements and their fights with Native Americans went on for decades. Narbona Junior was still fighting Apaches in 1848 where they killed him on the front porch of his home.


Narbona Jr. lived in Cuquiarachi, SW of Fronteras.

Once Narbona Junior was slain by the Apaches, the Mexican settlers left the village a virtual ghost town.

Our history turns away from the Narbona family, as we become the Escalante family. Maria had three children I can find. I have written about our Leonardo and his brother Ramon. There was also a daughter who died at 15 named Maria Guadalupe.


Narbona Family Karma Factoid: There is another famous Narbona in the story. However, Miguel Narbona was not blood related to the family. Miguel was an indigenous child captured at about 8 by Mexican troops. Colonel A. Narbona, Sr. kept him in his home, probably as a servant. Miguel took Narbona’s last name, “after becoming educated and Christianized.” He ran away back to his people at about age 18. He led attacks with the Apache leader Cochise for years. He was considered the “war leader” of the Chokonens, as he really didn’t want to make peace with Mexico as other leaders did. He was still embittered by the treatment of himself as a child, and the way the colonizing Mexican government kept doing his people wrong.


While tribes were separate, they banded together to fight against the Mexican government.


I found this next bit of information interesting and since this is my blog-site I am indulging myself by writing it up. Current events involving the United States/Mexico border and  “undocumented” immigration issues have been weighing upon me heavily the last few years. Upon reading Ms. Dunbar-Ortiz’s book, I feel it should be shared. 

When Colonel Narbona was governor of New Mexico, he noticed a large number of Anglo-Americans settling into Santa Fe and Taos. In a letter to his government in 1826, Narbona wrote regarding his concern over the “growing foreign population”:

“The individuals in this report remain in the Territory as transients without demonstrating, up to now, an intention of settling themselves. …By it (Taos) being the edge of our populated area, it affords a refuge which many take advantage of without giving knowledge of their presence.”*

It appears that illegal immigration is in the eyes of the beholder. There was a day when Americans were illegally immigrating into Mexico.


So here is a picture of what the top of the tree looks like these days.


Most updated Escalante tree – Oct. 2019.



Now, I’ve known these facts for a while. I’ve been “mentally processing” through what I learned. I can see there was a very big propensity for family to stay within known Spanish families as much as possible. I realize that I could not be the genetic cocktail that made “me” had half of my gene pool not wandered over to North America. I also realize that so much damage was done to the indigenous people of this side of the world through colonization, war, and frankly, just their showing up on the shore. The conflict is great.

It has taken me months to write this piece. It is family history, but it is rather dark. My present day family is very multi-cultural, diverse. It’s lovely. I think of those who marry into their own social-class or ethnicity as “other folks.” Well, not any more. I am saddened by what I have discovered. I am sorry for past family actions and wish the process/outcome could have been much different. My intent is to educate us. It is our history, but it does not have to be our legacy.


Super Side Note: I asked for Tio Jose Maria Escalante’s grave to be documented at A kind volunteer went to find him. BUT. The poor sweet man does not have a grave stone. He is buried in their “Potter’s Field” area. What are your thoughts about donating to get him a small grave marker? Think about it and let me know. [Tio Jose was eldest Escalante child and brother to Ruben, Tony, and Fernando.]


So many references out there on this piece. This is just the Cliff Note’s version of everything. For more information, do some internet searching yourself. Or look up the following references.

“Roots of Resistance: A History of Land Tenure in New Mexico,” By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Quote from Page 75

“Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief” by Edwin R. Sweeney