Author Archives: murpher2

When it Come to Family History, Trust your Gut.

The post for today is more of a general tutorial lesson in genealogy.

I’ve been doing family history research for over 30 years now. Research was slow going “back in the day.” With so many archives online, genealogy websites too, searching today has never been easier. Historians sharing their trees and what they have discovered for all to utilize is another big advantage.

Or is it?

When I post blog pieces, I don’t do it willy-nilly. I generally have research and sources. I try to attach evidence to show I am not making up the narrative. I have annoyed so many family members. I have found paper trails of uncomfortable truths. And on the flip side, I won’t publish stories of rumored lore that I cannot prove. Luckily, I never said we were descended from Fray Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante. That was because I couldn’t prove it. And, we aren’t.

This leads me to Adela Ramirez.

Escalante’s do not know who she is. She sits on a leaf on a far branch of the family tree. She is the adopted daughter of Juan Ramirez. He was the cad who our great-grandmother Mariana Bustamante left her husband Leonardo Escalante for. He also left Mariana with their daughter to marry another woman, but that story is in the archives.

Over on Ancestry, there are many family trees with Adela on them. She is a leaf in many trees. She doesn’t have descendants. As far as I can tell, she married, Jean Baptiste Lambert, lost a baby, and was divorced. Adela kept her married name of Lambert whenever she is listed in later years. She lived with her brother’s family in 1940. Suddenly, Adela disappeared. There were no more leads.

In 2013, someone posted that the Adela Ramirez’s death date below was the one for which we were searching.

Adela appears in the “hint” portion of the “Other Trees” screen.

Find a Grave was helpful in providing a photo of the gravesite at Westminister Memorial Park in Long Beach, CA.

There is even a headstone of said Adela Ramirez!

I had three questions about this. One, if this was actually her, when did Adela decide to give up the name Lambert? Two, who is the beloved sister mentioned on the stone? Any siblings Adela had were already dead. Three, on 4 other sources, in all of these trees, her birth year was 1886, not 1888.

Collectively, these red flags have been bugging me.

For a really long time. Almost 10 years.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I sent away for this Adela’s death certificate. I feel bad for saying it, but I was hoping the person on these trees was wrong.

I was right.

Another woman named Adela.

The above certificate came in the mail this week. The parents were not Juan Ramirez and Rosa Bustamante as our Adela’s were. This woman was born in Mexico, while ours was born in Los Angeles. This woman was widowed, ours was divorced. A living sister purchased that gravestone. They are not the same person.

I see the simplicity of using the State of California’s Death Index, and a photo of the grave of that person as documentation. It’s nice to find all the information at your fingertips. “It mostly fits together.” On my husband’s tree, I have a group of folks insistent that this woman Esther was their great-great grandmother. That woman lived in Indiana not Ohio. An entirely different state! That is really trying to make it fit. I’ve given up that fight. I just shake my head.

I’m using this example for those of family researchers who have a “gut feeling” about something. You never want to take other people’s research at face value. Note their work. See if you can make the connections they did. Do your own research to get to their same conclusions. If the answers are really clear cut, it should be easy to find.

If you think that something isn’t right, order the paperwork! We are always wanting to find “the source” of information that is key to our moving forward. But also knowing that a source is wrong can be just as important. OR – and I say this with all sincerity – you can even leave the spots on your tree blank if you don’t have a provable answer. It’s better to share accurate information. Eventually you will stumble across the answer or someone else will help out. Patience is a virtue in this hobby.

Do your own research. Trust your own little voice. It’s the best way to learn and to grow as a family historian.

The Baltierra Family Exodus

Greetings! Happy February 2022. I hope this year finds you safe and healthy. The Escalante research has been a tad dry recently. Nothing better than discovering a new Baltierra family member to get the research jump started!

I have been off and on Ancestry the last 6 months – lack of focus. But just recently, I found a new -to-me cousin in my dad’s side of the family, thanks to her family tree and DNA test. She has shared wonderful photos of family I had never seen before. I was sad my Dad missed getting to see these faces, but I am thrilled that I did.

My dad Eddie was first cousin to her dad Manuel. I had no idea. After my mom looked through his things she found that Manuel’s address and phone number was in Dad’s little telephone book! My new cousins were not strangers. They had just been lost…due to time, life, moving, and the fact my dad did not like travelling anywhere.

We are related because our grandfathers were brothers. The more we talked about our family, the more we realized she and I have aunts and uncles born in the same random places all across the United States: Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri; Galesburg, Illinois; Butte, Montana. What would bring our family up from Durango, Mexico, to the mid-west United States? What would make them move 2,200 miles north? On purpose?

Well, because of a revolution and a call from the United States Government, of course.

The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) found many Mexican citizens needing work and stability. The First World War sent many American men overseas. The need for labor in the US meant that businesses were courting laborers across the border. Business leaders convinced US legislators to allow a new labor force to arrive and help. “The number of legal migrants grew from around 20,000 migrants per year during the 1910s to about 50,000 – 100,000 migrants per year during the 1920s.”1

The Baltierra family heard this call. And we are talking most of them. My great-grandparents, Cecilio Baltierra, his wife Trinidad Rodriguez, and their adult children, started the trek north.

My young grandparents, Leon and Pauline (19 and 13-ish, respectively), began their journey to Kansas City, Kansas.

Wedding photo of Leonardo and Panfila. Leon and Pauline were their preferred names, which they changed on their naturalization paperwork later.

In the 1920 Census, they had 2 children. Here is the announcement for #2.

Uncle Nar made the “Kansas City Kansan,” Nov. 5, 1918.

Our families were working in the meat packing sheds in the Stockyard area of the city. The area they lived in was named after the Armour meat company. The swift increase in Mexican workers in the growing “Armourdale” neighborhood caused concern among the locals. The citizens of Kansas City realized the influx of help from another country was a double-edged sword. You want your industry to flourish, the money to keep rolling in, but at the same time, having workers from a different culture can upset your status quo.2

When researching family history, sometimes it’s the minor details that can provide clarity. Per the 1920 census dated in January, my grandparents were in Kansas City. But by October, 1920, they had moved, having a third child born in Galesburg, Illinois.

Now how in the world did that happen? Well, turns out, two railroad companies had been recruiting workers to move up north. And our nomadic family heeded the call.

Side note on the importance of oral storytelling: Picture it: San Jose, CA, early 1970’s. When my parents would go visit my grandmother, my dad would watch TV. Mom was the one who listened to all of Grandma Pauline’s stories. She mentioned they moved all the time. But no matter where she was, even when she lived in the Box Car, she always had flowers outside of her house to make it a home. Mom mentioned this again last week. Grandma had given us a “clue.” When I googled Galesburg, I kid you not, a documentary called “Boxcar People” popped up. And it was quite enlightening. If you get a chance, please watch:

Our family experience was similar to the first 30 minutes of this video. Here was another neighborhood of immigrant workers created out of necessity to keep American businesses running. This time it was the railroads that needed help. They established an area of derailed box cars with a stove and windows cut in each for the workers. While single men were preferred, they found the men worked better with their families there.

3 Baltierra cousins, from 3 different brothers, were born in this town when the family was there. Now we know where Pauline had her flowers! Unlike those folks interviewed in the film, our family did not put it’s roots in Illinois. They moved on…to Minnesota.

My family’s stay in Geneva, Minnesota, in 1924, marked by a birth of an aunt. (Birth certificates are great map plotters and date givers.) Apparently, the sugar beet farmers in the north needed labor assistance. Unlike many of the other towns our family had been in, there were no long lasting Hispanic influences in Geneva. (An article regarding Mexican labor in a county north of Geneva giving an account of how the beet industry handled their labor staffing over the last 50 years is below.4)

My grandmother Pauline did get a reprieve from moving for 6 whole years when they went to Butte, Montana. The group was still moving together, except for one person. Cecilio disappeared.

It seemed Cecilio left his wife Trinidad while the group was still in Kansas City. From documents I found in Chihuahua, he had divorced Trinidad, remarried, and had five more children before dying in 1930.

I have been told by several people that Trinidad wasn’t a kind lady. And I can only speculate why Cecilio left. However. I wanted to go on the record that, before coming to the US, this couple lost three small children in succession: Catarino (1901-1902), Cecilio (1902-1907), and Jovita (1906-1908). In my years doing this hobby, I have “met” several women who have lost babies due to early death/miscarriages/stillborn births. These experiences changed the women. It caused deep sorrow and resentment. Their families forgot the losses and could only see the hurt expressed as meanness, anger, distance. Familial research gives clues to these mysteries. My heart is sympathetic to her trauma.

Trinidad Rodriguez. Photo Courtesy: T. Hansen

Back to Butte.

Butte was a successful mining town and a magnet to so many people from all over the world. 3 of my dad’s siblings were born in Butte. The addresses on these birth certificates were on Galena Street in a district called “The Cabbage Patch,” per author Jacob Sorich.5

In the 1940’s, Butte decided to clear out what was left of the old Cabbage Patch area. But this gives an idea of how tight the housing was for immigrant miners in the area.6

My great-aunt Bruna and her second husband stayed in Butte. Their roots grew very deep in the Montana mining town. My grandfather worked in the mines there, which may have caused his lung cancer later in life.

The job landscape was about to change in the US again. By now, WWI veterans were in the country again taking their jobs back and the United States was at the start of the Great Depression. 

“At the onset of the Depression in 1929, entire industries dried up, and the need for immigrant labor decreased. Many Mexican migrants found themselves suddenly impoverished and tens of thousands of rural workers went back to Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans were also deported under unofficial “repatriation” policies led by federal, municipal or city authorities.”1

The original Baltierra siblings went their separate ways. My grandparents, and their 13 children, persisted and stayed in the US. My dad asked Grandpa why he never went back to Mexico. Grandpa told him, “I have nothing there for me anymore. My life is here.”

Other places they lived: In the early 1930’s, Sugar City, Idaho; in 1935 (per the US Census) Milpitas, CA, as well as Atwater (where Dad was born); Fresno (1940); and Firebaugh – where so many poor Oklahomans and Arkansans were also trying to find work. They landed in San Jose at the end. Basically, they moved consistently for 30 years. My dad’s cousins settled into the Los Angeles area.

Pauline – Possibly early 1950’s
Leon – Probably early 1950’s also.
Grandpa Leon’s Funeral. June, 1960. My dad is at the far right. All his siblings, and 2 cousins.
Grandma Pauline is sitting in the front.

My grandparents became naturalized citizens. While assisting the United States in filling the need for laborers early on, the Baltierra children created wonderful lives for themselves, and their children as well. For over 106 years, our extended family has been an integral part of the building, defending, and maintaining the fabric of this country that we love. This country that is ours. And we are proud of it.


  6. Cabbage Patch photo courtesy of the Butte Silver Bow Archives.

As an added note: This episode of “Finding Your Roots” just came out this week. It discusses two families that came from Mexico. It discusses some of the American governments’ mixed signals when it comes to Mexican immigration.

Edward Valenzuela Baltierra

Edward Baltierra, 85, of Stillwater, OK, passed away at his home early on July 20, 2021.

Eddie was born in Atwater, California, on September 13, 1935, to Leon and Pauline (Valenzuela) Baltierra. He was the eleventh of thirteen children. He had been sick for a time as an infant. He always credited his brother Ralph for the blood transfusion that saved his life.

Ed grew up in Firebaugh, CA. He was given a special license to drive at 12 years old because his father was sick and he needed to help his family. He went to Dos Palos High School. He played baseball. When he was 17, one of his best friends, Dinki Allen, convinced him to enlist in the army. His mom had to sign a permission slip to let him go. While Dinki was sent to Germany, Eddie was sent to Korea. Eddie did his basic training at Camp Roberts.


He went to Hawaii and Japan first before Korea. He became a cook. His first time making biscuits, the soldiers threw the hard rocks at the wall to see them explode. When his service ended he had achieved the rank of Staff Sargent. It was one of the greatest times of his life.

Striking a post in chilly Korea.

By the time he came home, his family had moved to San Jose, CA. He was a member of the San Joaquin Club, where he made so many good friends, especially the Plata brothers. He started working at Ford Motor Company’s Milpitas plant where he met great friends such as Arnold Fimbrez, Mr. Boone, Bart, and Sam Varela.

There are no words for how much Ed loved these guys.

They played baseball and partied together. Eddie loved Rock n’ Roll music. Back in the 1950’s, many famous musicians came through San Jose. One of his favorite stories was when he was still in his army uniform. He caught the Platters performing. He asked the lovely Zola Taylor to dance with him, and she did!

Edwina, Edith and Ed on the day of her baptism.

Eddie married Edith Escalante September 4, 1965. They made their home in San Jose, CA. They had one daughter together, Edwina.

Ed carrying Edwina after a long day at the San Francisco Zoo.

Eddie worked 30 years with Ford Motor Company, primarily at the Milpitas plant. He retired from Ford in 1987. Right before retiring he walked through the assembly line in St. Paul, Minnesota, and had his yellow F-150 pick up truck made with the help of his co-workers and friends.

Big Ed and his truck made it into the Arizona Daily Star, 2010.

In 1988, the family moved to Paso Robles, CA. Being a people person, Eddie bartended at the Black Oak Restaurant. He and Edith moved to Tucson in 2001, where he was a shuttle bus driver to the Skyport Airport in Phoenix, and a greeter at Kroger in his later years. He was the proud owner of a beautiful Golden Lab named Abby.

Eddie reluctantly came to live in Stillwater, OK, with Edith in 2017 to be closer to their family in their “Golden Years.” We are ever grateful for the family holidays, birthdays, and Boy Scout events we all got to share these last four years. We managed to keep him safe during the pandemic too.

Ed’s 85th birthday – September, 2020.

He is survived by: his wife of almost 56 years Edith Escalante and his daughter Edwina Kersten; his son-in-law Ted Kersten who was so supportive and caring, helping wherever he could during Ed’s illness- as much as any son would; His pride and joy was his grandson Matthew Edward W. Kersten.

Matthew and his Abuelito during a visit to Tucson.

He is also survived by his sister, Irene Leyva; his sister-in-law Frances Escalante-Fox, whom he loved and would help move whenever she called on him over the decades. Those other very special family members to Ed were his “cuñado” Alex Escalante, special brother’s-in-law Art Escalante and Butch Escalante, Ted’s mom, Betty Kersten, friends Dinki Allen and Elmer Belmont, and all his nieces and nephews who have kept in touch over the years.

Thanksgiving 2020 – Ted, Ed, Edwina, Matthew, Edith and Betty.

Due to Covid, we will be having a small private memorial service. Special thanks to Dinki for helping Ed to have his first Zoom meeting. He loved it. Edith and Edwina would like to thank those family and friends who sent best wishes, calls, messages, and flowers to Ed before the end.

Leonardo and Rufina Got Married

Every once in a blue moon, I find a clue that leads to some really neat information. This last year has been a little dry in the “family history revelation” department. However, yesterday ended up being a great day.

This post has to do with my Great Grandparents, Leonardo Escalante and his wife Rufina Valenzuela. I had a vague notion of when they got married. It was 1887 according to the US Census in 1900. However, that was all the information I could find.

Until now!

A historian on Ancestry found this snappy little article. Thank you, C. Henry.

It was so neat to see their names together. And getting married. However, the researcher listed that the couple got married in Tucson, AZ. I just didn’t see anywhere where that was documented. I have very serious trust issues on records. Without more information I had to work backward to find sources that would satisfy as “certain proof.”

I went to Tucson’s old newspapers. There was no Epitaph paper there. I am familiar with the “Tombstone Daily Epitaph,” so I wandered that way. While I subscribe the, I could not find this snippet in that paper. Grrrr.

I thought about researching through the backdoor. I looked up the other couple getting married in the article. Peter and Malinda got married in Tombstone that week in 1887. Check one. The Occidental Hotel was in the same town in 1887. Check two. The evidence was getting stronger.

I love to “see” where the life events happened. I searched images for the hotel. While there appear to be no photos, there were several drawings of this really neat hotel in the middle of nowhere. When the postcard below popped up in my search, I may have scared my family with the loud GASP I let out!

This postcard was the clue that clicked everything into place last night. This was where our lovely couple got married the week of May 7, 1887. Do you see the name of the proprietor? He was the man in the Epitaph article whose wife gave birth to their son at the hotel. Check three, baby!

Now how did our loved ones get to Tombstone?

In the month of April, 1887, Leonardo’s half-sister, Maria Ramirez married her beau Manuel Barbachano. In the news announcement of their wedding, it says that her family lived in Ochoaville. (See postcard cancellation above)

Leonardo could have been in the area for his sister’s wedding. His cousins Margarita Escalante de Blackburn and Alejandro Escalante lived in Tombstone and St. David, respectively. Rufina’s father lived in Bisbee. Both groom and bride were listed to be from San Pedro which isn’t too far from the hustle and bustle of this mining district. Nor too far from their new brother-in-law’s work at the Custom House.

In the above map, can you see where the “P” in Pedro is? That is where the tiny town of San Pedro still is. They stayed long enough in the area for their first son, Jose Maria Escalante, to be born there too.

Up until now, I really thought that Leonardo didn’t talk to his sister Maria because their mother left the family to be with Maria’s dad. I know he was a devoted brother to Ana E. de Romo in Ventura and Orange Counties. But this earlier chapter of his life opens so many more theories of their lives together. Ana and Maria become very close after Leonardo died in 1915. There was a good chance that these adults overcame the adversity of their parents drama to become a close knit sibling group. And that is wonderful.


Last, but not least, this blog post is dedicated to all of the friends and family who were touched by COVID this last year. Quite a few of our loved ones recuperated. But not all did. To my Samaniego cousins (via Rufina’s sister Margarita) in Mexicali, Tomas and Diana, rest in peace.

The Farthest Back I Have Ever Been

Howdy do! I hope this post finds you  all safe and healthy in these strange times. Quarantine has been okay for us once we got into the swing of being in such close confines together. I did quite a bit of gardening the first few months. These last few weeks I’ve had some really stupendous progress in the family history department, so I thought I would share with you.

I need to give a quick shout out to my cousin, Jason. He has been my cheerleader and/or Nag-in-Chief with this branch of the family for quite a few months now. He gave me the links that made this post possible. I wasn’t quite “ready” to research so far back into history, especially in an area of the country that is unfamiliar. But when I was it all came together.

The last far back family member I mentioned was Antonio Narbona (1773-1823). He was married to our first familial Escalante – Maria Ysabel. That is WAY back. He had made his life fighting in the Spanish military, which brought him out to the Southwest for Spain, and then Mexico. His link into the military life was his brother-in-law Brigadier General Enrique Grimarest who sponsored Antonio into the military when the kid turned 16.

I’ve not been able to find Antonio’s birth records. Yet. I’m going to need to run down to Mobile, Alabama, when everything opens back up. Road trip!

Researching the Gulf Coast was difficult. This part of North America was not my neighborhood. The time period was so long ago. First, it was Native lands. Then Louisiana/Mississippi was French. And then it was Spanish in 1763. However, it was from where some of our people came.

The names of Antonio Narbona’s parents were originally Antoine Narbonne and Marie Jeanne Krebs. Antoine was born in France in 1745. Marie was born in Pascagoula (now Mississippi) on October 28, 1745.

Do you see how long ago that was?? It was before the United States was born. I almost can’t wrap my brain around it. *Feeling faint, needing a mint julep.*

Antoine and Marie had three children, two daughters and one son. Antoine was killed in 1793. He had been a military man like many around him. I found record of his death in a “Louisiana History” journal article.

Discussion of Capt. Narbona’s murder in 1793.

Marie Jeanne, Antoine’s wife, was from a family long established in the area. Admiral Joseph Simon de La Pointe was a French Canadian who came into the Gulf Coast in 1701. He married Catherine Foucault that same year. He settled permanently in the area, starting a plantation. They had 4 children. Two girls lived to adulthood. One was Marie Josephe  (born in 1720). She married Hugo Ernestus Krebs who had immigrated from Neumagen, Germany, to the area around 1730. We are descended from this couple.

According to various sources, Hugo Krebs was a surgeon and also did well as a plantation owner. He was noted in the book “A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida” by Benrard Romans, written in 1772. Krebs created the first documented cotton gin. It was noted in the above book, predating Eli Whitney’s version by 20 years. (I have included a link to the book at the bottom.)

The following map is from the LaPointe/Krebs Museum’s web-page. It shows the original layout of the plantation.


In French, of course.

Our branch came from Hugo’s first marriage. Marie Josephe died in 1751. When Hugo died in 1776, the region was now under Spanish control, which is why his will was written in Spanish. He left his daughter Maria Josepha Narbona surpringly out, “having been given nothing.”  Anna Narbona, and her husband, Enrique Grimarest, now the Governor of Mobile, had the house “converted into a fortified residence.”  It is after this when it gained it’s title “The Old Spanish Fort.” It stayed in the Krebs family for generations.


Krebs descendants lived in the house through 1914.

I’m not sure if Anne and Enrique were married a very long time. According to the “Alabama, Surname Files, Expanded” on Ancestry, she died in 1783.


Brief history of the familial ties to the Narbona Family.


Jason sent me many links to assist my search. One of them was a Krebs Family Genealogy site. He had noticed Marie was left out of Hugo’s will. As there is no better way to find out information, I contacted the owner, David. He was so nice! We chatted for 2 hours. I came with my strong evidence of being related to Anna Narbona due to the Grimarest documentation, and the rest is history.

David and I are 6th Cousins, once removed! It boggles the mind.

He shared some great information with me. I have 3 pages of hand-written notes. One story that particularly stuck out to me was this. Some of the Krebs children from Hugo’s second marriage intermarried with the Native Americans in the Gulf Coast area. Their descendants were part of the Trail of Tears and forcibly removed to Oklahoma.

David asked me if I had heard of Krebs, Oklahoma. Yes, I had. Krebs was a mining town. It had a large group of immigrants come to work there. Italians were such an integral group to the area, they still have a yearly Italian Festival. However, Krebs was not a name of Italian origin.

Krebs was named for a famous Choctaw Judge, Edmond F. Krebs (1821-1893), one of Hugo’s descendants. We have distant cousins in Eastern Oklahoma! At the time of his death on Dec. 14, 1893 , the Vinita, IT Indian Chieftain shared, “Judge Krebs died very suddenly at his home in this city Saturday evening of a violent attack of pneumonia. The Judge was a Choctaw Indian and formerly lived near Eufaula. He was quite prominent in that country, being a man of integrity and good sense and have a great many friends in this city also.”

To be called a “man of integrity.” What a legacy.


Here is a photo of Hugo.


Hugo Ernestus Krebs, 1714 – 1776.  Courtesy of D.M. Krebs’ site.

Isn’t this wild? To actually see the face of an ancestor from so far back in history. *gush*

I’m going to put in tons of links at the bottom of all of this if you are interested in learning more. One day, if you visit Pascagoula, you will be able to see the LaPointe/Krebs family home that is still there. It was damaged heavily by Hurricane Katrina, but restoration work is being done.

I do have one more fun thing to share.


This is Marie Jeanne’s Baptism Record. Courtesy of D.M. Krebs’ website.

I’m one of those weird researchers who Googles every name I come across. I checked the names of Marie Jeanne’s godparents. Marie’s godfather was named as Chevalier Jeann Philippe Grondell. Swanky! Well, he has a Wiki page. (Of course he does.) While he was a young man over here in Louisiana, he was a soldier. He moved up in the ranks in the French army to General. Here is his portrait.


Jean Philippe, back when you had to sit for a selfie. (See source below)*

This has been so fascinating. I honestly thought one day, information on family links would dry up.  This recent search has been a well that has filled my heart with so many different emotions. Beyond our Spanish and Native ancestry, I had no idea that we would find European roots that would be a part of North American history.

As I had difficulty with Antonio’s raid on the Navajo, I am working through my issues about having relatives that were a part of the slave trade and keeping of slaves. However, this branch of the family shows that our cousins have truly been a part of the whole American experience: colonization, immigration, negotiations, oppression, being oppressed, war, expulsion, the justice system, and exploration.

Most of all, each family member showed us he was living life to the fullest, no matter what path that he chose to take.



My References and Fun Places to Visit:

Huge thanks to D.M. Krebs! If I got something wrong, please let me know. I’ll fix it.  <-This link is to the LaPointe/Krebs Museum. * {photo credit: By Pderenev – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,} (pages 58-59)

“For Defense of Country and the Glory of Arms”: Army Officers in Spanish Louisiana, 1766-1803 Gilbert C. Din. Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 43, No. 1 (Winter, 2002), pp. 5-40

The “Other” Side of the Family

Today, I’m going to do something very different. I am going to write about the Other Side of my family. GASP! While this site is generally used to tell my mom’s family history, I want you to know, I have a dad too! My cousin John is the family historian over there. BUT. I had a conversation with a 91 year-old aunt of mine and she gave me a clue that led me to go hunting with a very fun find. I had so share with someone!

My dad’s parents were Leon Baltierra and Panfila “Pauline” Valenzuela. They were originally from Durango, Mexico. They left their home around 1914 and came to the United States. Their journey included my Baltierra grandparents, Cecilio and Trinidad. My grandmother Pauline never did see her parents again after leaving home at 13 years old.

I had known the names of my 4 great-grandparents, but had never seen any images of them. I love them dearly, but there was just a large disconnect for me there.

Until very recently.

My aunt Irene lives in Reno. We’ve been chatting more the last few months. She told me a story that another aunt had shared, but this time Irene gave me a HUGE clue that made all the difference in the world.

One day, in the 1930s, my grandmother Pauline and some of her daughters were at the movies in California. It was a Spanish language movie. She saw a character on the screen and stood up, “That’s my father! He’s in the movie!”

Pauline’s parents were Hermenegildo Valenzuela and Paula Perez. Information on them was really limited. And I had looked up Hermenegildo + movies online. Nothing. But when talking with Aunt Irene she casually mentioned that his stage name was Pedro Valenzuela. He had been a cowboy in Durango, got into Mexican movies, and then came to Hollywood to make westerns.

Just like that.

Well, okay then.

Within about a week, I had quite a bit more information than before.

Exactly when he became Pedro I don’t know. But between the time Pauline left home in 1914 to 1920, he left Durango behind and got into movies. He was in the 1920 US Census, room mates with a Steve Matura in Hollywood.


From the e-book “The Movieland Directory,” page 144

He has several film credits. The first film was “Border Law.” It’s a short Castle Film from 1923. He isn’t the star, but he and his horse come riding in 0:58 seconds into the movie.


Other film credits include: El Robin Hood de Mexico (1928), Las Campanas de Capistrano (1930), Right and Duty (1938).


Pedro with his handsome steed, “LA Times”, Oct. 14, 1929.

Pedro managed to get enough press that (once I knew who he was) I could get a better sense of what he was up to in the late 1920’s, early 1930’s. Not bad for an actor who was never the star.


“New Movie Magazine,” Jan. 1931.*

You can see the costuming he has above changed from the bedazzled garb of the early 1920’s. And then, the Western/Old West genre started to fade.


This article went across the AP wire and was in many newspapers. Jan. 22, 1933.

As the Great Depression kept its grip on the country, American audiences were looking more to comedies and musicals to take their minds off their woes.

You have got to love the internet. His second to last movie was “Let’s Go with Pancho Villa,” (Vámanos con Pancho Villa), 1936. In a time where home videos were non-existent, I can actually watch my maternal great-grandfather on-line. He played a soldier in the movie. The scene I found him in was where the soldiers were celebrating at the bar. You have to love the stereotype of “La Cucaracha” playing in the background, she wrote sarcastically.

You will find Pedro’s character (on left) drinking at a table with his friend who is trying to shoot the light out. The scene is at 55:45 in the film.

And that, my friends, is pretty much all I could find on him.

My Aunt Irene thought he got remarried, but I can find no trace of that. Or that he had more children. My grandmother left home with my grandfather at 13. Pedro must have moved into films immediately following.

I hope that he didn’t find himself terribly impoverished at the end of his days. I also hope he wasn’t terribly lonely. My family was up in the San Joaquin Valley of California by then. He could have gone to visit. He seems to have vanished.

However, I am thrilled to even have at least one photo of one of my great-grandparents.

Thanks for reading! Stay healthy everyone.



I’m going to list some names of the Baltierra/Valenzuela family here so that if someone Googles them, they might find this post. On Ancestry, I have tons of relations I could chat with on the Baltierra side, but my Valenzuela side is lacking. If you find this page because you have searched for the following people, please feel free to contact me!

Cecilio Baltierra (Durango) and Trinidad Rodriguez (Mexicali)

Hermenegildo (Pedro) Valenzuela and Paula Perez (both of Durango)

And for the record, my dad’s Valenzuela is NOT related to my mom’s Valenzuela side. (We have the DNA results to prove it! Haha!)

* The above photo of Pedro and the Newsie was from this great blogsite:


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



Got Anything for Me, Folks?

Howdy all!

Spring has arrived and is very wet this year. After 17.5″ of rain in the month of May, we are (hopefully) drying out. We have been fortunate enough to have dramatic storms overhead, while the tornadoes have gone around us. Our season isn’t over though…

The last few months have been extremely busy. We had a family reunion in Texas. The boy was finishing school when we turned right around to the Odyssey of the Mind World Final’s at Michigan State University. (If you can find an OofM team for your kid, I cannot recommend it enough!)

We are now in a summer lull. I had an email from a nagging cousin insinuating that I wasn’t blogging recently. I told him I had found all and that there was nothing left to find. He did not believe me! How rude! 🙂

There is an endorphin-rush when clues come together, articles are discovered, and photos are shared by friends of the family. (A huge shout out the Landa family for finding us last week!) But in the cut-throat world of genealogy there are also “dry spells.” It breaks my heart, but it happens. And I am currently in a desert.

Honestly, I am at a point where I have validated all of my theories. Not all are published now. They will be eventually. I’m not in a rush. However, I am at an end of my list of “leads.” After 6 years of having this site I’ve found Tony’s first wife, chatted with her granddaughter, visited her grave. I discovered Tony was part of an international incident while kidnapping his sister’s assailant. I’ve gone through the Magic Photo/Letter Box to find the name of David Perez’s dad. Most of my “need to find” list is done.

I have been given one task. That is to find Elisario Higuera’s information before Yuma. His descendants are vast, but any info on his past and parents are sketchy. Elisario was a mover and a shaker. He was a successful business man, got a 40-acre land grant from the US Government, and put his name on the Native American Rolls right before his death. Quite the Jack of All Trades. He was elusive; a ninja. I will do my best. I also have to wait until more data on him is available.

I do need to hold a bake sale for Tio Jose in Brawley. I got an email that he had no headstone to photograph for I think he was buried in the “potter’s field” section of his cemetery. Sigh….

I digress. This is where you come in.

Got anything for me to look up? Any rumors you want to confirm? Deny? It may take a while, but I can see what I can do.

Please feel free to send me ideas. If they are super-sensitive, I can send you the results privately. If the story is super cool, and you think everyone would like to know what happened, consider letting me share the narrative here.

Thanks for listening. Off to watch The People’s Court…unless y’all send me something. Bye!




The Escalante’s of Southern Arizona – Part II

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!


Marriage record for Ramon Escalante and Jesus Saldamando, Oct 15, 1853.

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.


Announcement in the newspaper “El Fronteziro,” Aug. 3, 1883. Siblings Margarita and Alejandro were married – two weddings, one announcement.

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.

hattie and david

David and Hattie Womack. Photo courtesy of N. Womack-Rangel.


Wedding Announcement – Feb. 9, 1908

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.


Petra Valenzuela de Escalante passes, September, 1921.

Back to Hattie’s children. Her children were Alexander, Mary Margaret, Beatrice, and Edward.

Her eldest, Alexander, was a crazy handsome devil.


Alexander Roosevelt Womack – Dashing man

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).


Alexander Womack Family – Photo taken in 1939. (Courtesy of N. Womack-Rangel)

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.



September 18, 1941 article regarding Alexander’s untimely death.

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.


Love moves in. 1930 US Census, Tombstone, AZ

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.


November 6, 1921.


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.


Pretty sure this is where part of the ranch was. The road heads west leading to the Apache Powder Company where Alex died.

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.

alex's photo

Alejandro Saldamando Escalante – Photo from his travel manifest.

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.


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).