Category Archives: Escalante Family History

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



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).



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!

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.

img254 (2)

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.

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).



Albert Charles Escalante – Sara Cecilia Higuera – Part V

Hello all. I had a short hiatus. We have had some family land near us. Okay! It’s my parents! It is wonderful to have them here, but it has taken a bit of time from my family hunting and my blog site. I finally hid myself away to get some time to write, so let’s get started.

This entry is about Albert’s third wife, Sara Cecilia Higuera. I have a virtual plethora of family who come from this union. I love them all. I had never anticipated this entry as being very long, but interest is high in the history I can find for her extended family. And frankly, I was surprised to have found so much.

When I first started this post, I hardly had any information. Then it started pouring in. I was able to research Sara’s great-grandparents. 3 sets. Wooh hooh! You know I had to chart it out. The visual is so much easier to wrap your brain around. There are many  siblings in each family, but I followed the simple version of direct line. There are quite a few Martinez’s running around this chart. Relations? Common name in the Sonora/Arizona territory area? We may never know. (Unless there are tornado warnings one night and I get bored…)


Chart time! Grandma Sara’s full family that I have discovered. So far.

I will start the narrative with Elisario Higuera, Sara’s paternal grandfather. Elisario was born July 14, 1844. He seems to have lived in the Arizona territory for a while. He married one Gregoria Martinez. They had 10 children. Elisario was quite the entrepreneur. He owned a boarding house in Yuma in the 1870s. He owned property in the Yuma area and is considered a Yuman Pioneer. He is on the porch in the far left of this picture.


*Updated 2019:

After the boarding house, Elisario was still quite the land owner in Yuma. He applied to the United States Land Office for a Homestead Land Grant in October, 1905. It was granted in December.


Homestead Grant to Elisario Higuera – December 20, 1905.

According to official Bureau of Land Management maps, here was his property.


Looks like the middle of Yuma to me!

He sold the 80-acre ranch to one John Syverson in March 1910.*

Meanwhile, in Caborca, Sonora, Sara’s maternal grandmother, Carmen Martinez was born. This area was settled by the Spanish in 1688. The predominate Native American tribe here was the Tohono O’odham people (Papago – Spanish slang name). While I would imagine that these families were part Native, the Spaniards were open to intermarriage with the locals. The blending and transformation to Mestizos were a part of the history of this area.

Carmen Martinez had a daughter named Innocencia Noriega on Dec. 28, 1890. I make note of this birth name with several caveats. Innocencia was born 2 years before her mother married Bernardo Esperanza. On several documents, Innocencia put her maiden name as either Esperanza OR Noriega.

This caused me consternation. How did the woman not know her name? I did find that Carmen’s sister, Maria Angelita Martinez, married a man named Noriega. There was a chance that a Noriega relative took advantage of Carmen thus producing Innocencia while Carmen was only 13. Carmen did find a wonderful husband in Bernardo Esperanza when she was 15. He took Innocencia in as his own child.

carmelaesperanza - Copy

Caremela Martinez de Esperanza with one of her Esperanza granddaughters – circa 1932. (Nana’s mom!)

Meanwhile, back in Yuma. One of the 10 Higuera children was Juan Higuera. He was born in 1884.


Juan Higuera – on left. Sara looked much like him.  Above – Elisario Higuera. Below: Gregoria Martinez Higuera –  Small photos, but the best images I could find for his parents.

He  married Innocencia Esperanza on April 7, 1904. She was known to us all as Nana. By the 1910 Census, a few things had changed. Juan and his little family included 3 daughters. They were living with Elisario and Gregoria. Elisario was now a wood hauler instead of boarding house owner. Juan had very cool job of Deputy Marshall.


Higuera family at home. Yuma, April 1910.

Like clockwork, the newest baby arrived. Sara Cecilia Higuera was born on July 28, 1911 in Potholes, Arizona. Potholes, a mining town which no longer exists, was only viable for a brief period. It’s townspeople appeared with the building of the Laguna Dam and the All-American Canal. Sara’s adopted grandfather Bernardo Esperanza died here in 1910.

The little family lived together for a few more years until tragedy struck. On December 30, 1913, Juan Higuera was killed. It was reported in two ways. One rumor is that he was shot while running from a husband who found him with his wife. I prefer the official report.


Official news release from the Arizona Sentinel, January 1, 1914.

This link is a more detailed notice in the “Yuma Sun” January 2, 1914.


Official Death Certificate of Juan Higuera.

Elisario died about a year later.


These two tragedies were nothing but bad news for Innocencia and her daughters. They are now very much alone in the world. It was 1915. She was a widow with four children to feed. Careers were not plentiful for women at this time. While I do not know the details of Innocencia’s life after this, I do have an inkling what happens to Sara and her sisters.

Stick with me here.

Less than a month before Elisario’s death, his family registers for a U.S. Indian Roll Census on June 30, 1915. The Higuera’s are all listed under Elisario – the head of the family. The roll has them listed as Unalotted and a part of “Mohave, Chemehuevi, and Other Indians.”


Sara (#168) and her eldest sisters now “officially” Native American.

This is a very interesting development. Elisario has never been a very traditional Native American. Remember, that Native Mexicans are much more assimilated to the culture than American Indians, which were kept segregated. As a business owner in Yuma, he was not living off the land, hunting, living in indigenous housing, etc. His Death Certificate calls him Mexican, not Indian. But at this moment in time, he did get his family listed; almost as “generic” Native Americans.

This decision was a double-edged sword. Sara and her sisters were virtually orphans.  Possibly because of their now ambiguous status as Native American, they qualified to go to an Indian School. More specifically, they qualified to go to St. Bonafice School in Banning, CA. By 1916, the girls were at this school, 187 miles away from home. How do I know this?


Father Benedict Florian Hahn burial at the St. Boniface Indian/Industrial School in Banning, California.

At the far right of this photo are three little girls in white to the left of the nun. The little one is Sara, the next is Eloisa, and the tall one right behind is Gregoria. Amalia was also there, but I cannot identify her. So Sara is a 5 year-old away from her mother. This priest was supposed to be quite a proponent for Indians rights, but obviously his tenure was short. He’s the one in the ground. I do not know many more details of the sisters’ stay here. I have heard that it was not pleasant. Abuses happened to her sisters.



She is still there in 1920.

When her tenure was over at St. Bonafice’s School, I do not know. Her mother, Innocencia had moved to Calexico, California, where Carmen Esperanza had settled. Innocencia eventually met and married one Eduardo Martinez (there it is again) Othon. She had two children with Othon, Rosalia (born 1922) and Francisco (1934).


Within the next seven years, Sara went to Calexico to be near her mother. She was a lovely blossoming young woman. Updated 2019: At 17 years old, Sara found an admirer in one Jose Perez. He was 9 years her senior. He was very smitten with her. I found a few love letters she had kept all these years. I can’t read Spanish well, but I can tell his words are quite passionate.  His handwriting/signature was so distinctive, it allowed me to confirm his identity via his travel manifest.


Jose Perez-Estrada

Their union produced one David Perez in May 1929. As she was so young, and not quite ready for motherhood, a wonderful family in Yuma adopted David as their own. He became David Olaeta Avilez.


David Olaeta Avilez – Sara’s eldest child. 1929 – 2006. Photo courtesy of C. Callaway.

Her life continued in Imperial Valley. She had another relationship with a prominent man from Mexico, Colonel Cristóbal Limón. Their union produced a fabulous son, still living. [Remember I keep living family anonymous.]

For more information on Colonel Limón:

After this time, Sara made a major change and moved to the bustling world of Monterey, CA. According to legend, she met the author John Steinbeck while she was a waitress. She was also a cannery worker.


Sara Higuera – 1932. Photo Courtesty of R. and D. Escalante.

It was here that she met a German-born, but now naturalized citizen, Sergeant Bernhard Fengel. He was stationed in Monterey, CA, in the “E” Battery, 2nd Battalion, 76th Field Artillery. He became her husband. Updated with new photo:


Bernard Fengel – Handsome guy.



The Santa Cruz Sentinel: January 3, 1934.

There were no children from this marriage. Her son from Colonel Limón had the nickname “Fingo” when he was younger. My mom asked him how he got it. He said Sara’s husband was named Fengel. The kids messed with it and “Fingo” stuck.


Sara posing. Photo courtesy of J. Escalante and C. Callaway.

While I can produce no actual wedding date/license, I’m 95% sure this took place. In all documents, Bernhard states he’s married. Sara is later called Sara Fengel in the Calexico Directory as well.


But that was going to change.

My grandfather moved to Calexico with his wife and two girls somewhere around 1945. Sara also appeared to have been in the area with Bernhard. My aunt told me Albert always loved Sara from when they were children. Decisions were made. Two marriages ended, making way for a new one with each other.

Bernhard was 3 months from being released from service. He had been in Imperial County and married. But, in November 1945, he re-enlisted to go to a post in Hawaii. He left his marriage with Sara behind. Eventually, he remarried a woman with German roots. Lieselotte was from Frankfurt. I tried to contact her last year, but she had just passed one month before I my letter reached her. Bernhard was a career military man. He died on April 30, 1963 at Fort Hood, Texas.

Sara and Albert were embarking on their new lives together. There was a delay to their marriage. Possibly due to divorces going through. The couple found themselves at Yuma’s Wedding Chapel on Oct. 5, 1946.


Later to be called the Gretna Green Chapel, Albert and Sara had a ceremony in Yuma.



Interim Marriage Certificate for the New Mr. and Mrs. Albert Escalante.

Grandma Sara had sent me this in 1990. It wasn’t until I read it yesterday that I realized it read “Interim.” I’m sure they officially got their licensing somewhere. But this is the only documentation I could find – via Arizona or California.

Random Factoid: R.H. Lutes was a Justice of the Peace in Yuma. He was also the coroner.

Sara and Albert started their lives together in Calexico. They had custody of his two daughters from his marriage to Manuela. By November of 1947 though, Sara and Albert were finding themselves with more children. From 1947 until 1958, 6 boys joined the household. Sara gave birth to 5 boys. The last son was adopted. His story is pretty wonderful. This baby’s mom died in childbirth. The father couldn’t take care of a newborn. Albert and Sara knew of a couple that could raise him. By the time they got the couple’s house, Albert knew that the boy belonged with them. My youngest uncle was chosen. He got to be the last baby in the house. Ahhh, the days when you could just love someone so much, and then take them home.


Various pictures of Sara. Photos courtesy of J. Escalante, C. Callaway, and R. and D. Escalante.

She supported Albert’s adventures into various businesses. (The last of Albert’s blog posts will be about his business ventures and the end of his life.) They worked hard. Being in the Escalante family of Calexico must have been hard work, especially with Tia Panchita looking you over and judging. Often. But Sara handled it well. When Albert decided to start a bar and restaurant in Tecate, Mexico, they moved to the cooler climate between San Diego and Mexicali.

As a couple, they had tons of friends. There were family parties and good times. They had vacations in Rosarito. On the beach. Not at the hotel of his first cousins, the Barbachanos, whom he never got to meet. As far I as I can tell.


In the Campo, Tecate, Potrero area, the boys ran around: setting the house on fire; feeding one brother’s cut off toe to the dog; lying on the ground, pretending to be dead so buzzards would come eat them; harvesting their own meat from the backyard (chickens or rabbits) in various ways; and ruining their cousin-in-law’s toaster. (They REALLY should pitch in and buy her a new one – just sayin’.)

Around 1960 though, their family went through a major change. Sara took the boys to Ventura County to live with her mom in El Rio. Second Random Factoid: Nana had become a Jehovah’s Witness. She changed her name legally to Juana Othon. (All of these name changes make for difficult tracking, you know.)

By 1961, the whole family was reunited and they lived in Port Hueneme, CA. The Escalante family was back where it had started 50 years before. Albert and Sara landed in the place where most of us remember as their home.


Sara in Port Hueneme, CA. Photos courtesy of R. and D. Escalante.

My grandfather passed away in 1984. I hardly got to see much of Sara after that. Nana passed away on September 6, 1985. As longevity was a part of her genetics, Grandma Sara lived another 20 years. I believe she stayed in her home until the end. She passed away in Port Hueneme on May 17, 2004, aged 92.

I was at a restaurant a few months ago. I was having a lovely Mexican food lunch. I was startled when the refried beans on my plate tasted JUST like the ones Grandma Sara used to make. It took me back to the house on 5th Street. My heart lifted. It was full.


Grandma Sara, Nana and I. About 1969. Photo courtesy of the collection I stole from my mom.

This couple brought some really amazing people into the world. I have a flock of cousins whom I love. My poor son has only two cousins. I have a virtual plethora. Honestly, Grandma Sara Higuera Escalante’s life was the stuff of a great telenovela. And. It would all be true.


I would like to express thanks to those who donated photos for this post. It was really appreciated. C. Callaway is Sara’s granddaughter via David Avilez. Her research was instrumental in helping me find the Higuera family.

When I do random searches on-line, I find wonderful resources. There is a Higuera family member in Yuma who produced art renditions of her family. Artist Pamela Drapala is a descendant of Elisario and Gregoria. Please follow this link to see her artistic rendition of her great-great grandparents.


Odds and Ends and Whatnots


It’s only the 17th of February, but I can tell Spring is coming early. The air in Oklahoma smells sweet today. Of course the temperature high of 70 degrees doesn’t hurt either. We should have one more frost or even snow before real spring sets in, but we will take these lovely days.

Today’s entry is a bit more of a hodge-podge posting. There is information here that might not fill an entire post all by itself. But they are important, and been on the sidelines waiting.

First of all, I would like to congratulate my 2nd cousin, once removed, The Honorable Armando Real on his election to Mayor of Calexico, CA. He served on the Calexico city council and is now mayor! How cool is that? He is grandson to Aida Escalante de Rosas. I send my best wishes for his success in the political arena. It can’t be easy, but I greatly admire his “being a part of the solution.”


My great-aunt Guadalupe Escalante has her own blog post. The back story about the details I could uncover on her life and her assault are here: While I found no more about her story, I did find an interesting factoid about the man who assaulted her.

Octaviano Moran was married to one Clara Escalante de Moran in 1927 when all of the drama was going on. As far as I can tell, we are not related to Clara’s Escalante family. She was pregnant at the time with her son Luis Moran.

The marriage between these two was never particularly strong. Octaviano wished to divorce her (consistent with the promises he had made Guadalupe). He even went to Cuernavaca, then considered the “divorce mecca” to end their marriage.  This article was very detailed and can tell the story much better than I can.


Clara Escalante de Moran making court history.

Clara didn’t want to be divorced, especially since she had no knowledge of the trial even happening. She took her case to the Mexican Supreme Court. AND they supported her. History in the making. This article was from an Illinois paper. It was covered all over the United States. I wonder how many Americans this decision affected? Wow.

In all of the other paperwork I find on Clara, she is always married. She does say that her husband Octaviano lives in Mexico City. She and Luis stay in Calexico. Luis died there in 1992.

Third thing I wanted to share was a contact I made via this blog. A great-niece of my grandfather’s first wife, Edith Edwards Escalante, contacted me. She was SO sweet and very kind. We corresponded a few times. (I really do LOVE people who share their stories to give us a fuller picture of how our family lived.)

She had a few pictures of Edith which added to my collection.(Not all of which I am posting)


From L-R: Allene Edwards, Lola Edwards Humm, Edith Edwards and her daughter Allene Millar. Photo Courtesy: D. Teafatiller

Ms. Teafatiller was so kind to share these photos with me. The above one is super cute. Remember Edith was almost 10 years my grandpa’s senior. She must have dazzled him with those pretty dimples.

This next photo in particular that I thought would interest a few.


California Dreaming with the Edwards Family. Photo Courtesy of D. Teafatiller.

This photo is a part of the day long photo shoot Edith’s family did one California day. The outfits match the ones that Edith and Allene are wearing  in other photos. The man on the far left may be my grandfather Tony. NOW… I have run this photo by a few people. Some think it is him, some think it’s not. But what I do know is this: This was what Tony’s family looked like from 1936-1939. This was his family before Edith got sick; before the rest of the hundreds of us showed up on the scene. This would have been what it looked like. Tony Escalante – a part of a different family. It blows me away.

Thanks so much D. Teafatiller!

And last, but not least, there is still a reward out for a photograph of Rufina Valenzuela de Escalante. She is my favorite relative. The reward is $100 – nothing to poo-poo either. So if any of you happen to have a photo of Rufina running around your attic, I’d greatly appreciate a digital copy. I am fortunate enough to house a large portrait of her husband Leonardo in my hallway (thanks to my cousin Ferdie and my Tia). I have him across from photos of his sisters. But my dream is to reunite him with his lovely wife. On behalf of myself, and her hundreds of off-spring, we thank you in advance for any help you can give.

That’s all for now. May your last days of winter go by quickly and the sun shine brightly where you are very soon.

A Present to Ring in the New Year

Happy 2017, everyone! I hope this finds you doing well. We are in the middle of an ice storm here, but we have eggs, bread, and heat, so all is more than fabulous.

With the wonderful success of Tia Cuca’s video blog post, I have decided to share this snippet of gold earlier than I anticipated. I had wanted to share this after I was done blogging about my grandfather’s life; when it was all done. *insert hysterical laughter* As I am not sure when that is going to be, I might as well share it now.

In the 7th grade, I did an interview with my grandfather for an assignment. My paper included much of what I have here: his youth, boxing career, family. He died about 3 years later. My sweet husband helped me convert this audio tape to mp3 format. I had shared it with my aunts and uncles, but I realized that my cousins might like to hear a familiar voice.

When you listen to it, please remember, I was very young and goofy. I would ask completely different questions today. I wouldn’t giggle nervously. This recording is unedited. We really don’t start talking until about 1:55 in. He was soft spoken so listen carefully. You can hear him move the bench seat in his dining room. Can you see it there, off the kitchen, on 5th Street in Port Hueneme?

His voice is ever the same as I remember. His life spanned almost 77 years. His travels were extensive. His cumulative life experiences unknowable. He is the center of this blog site.

This blog entry is dedicated to my first cousins. Here’s to all the holidays in Grandpa’s den. Click on audio below. ⇓

One more thing about Tia Cuca…

Greetings all! Look at me. Another post. In the same month!

I have been doing family history for a very long time. I started about 1986, two years after my grandfather passed away and I could no longer ask him questions. Before a visit to Calexico, California, to visit my aunt, we purchased a video recorder. She was going to go with us to visit Tia Cuca in Mexicali. The recorder would allow us to ask her questions and record them for posterity.

As many of you know, I cannot speak Spanish. It is a very painful truth, but there it is. My parents only spoke Spanish to each other when my birthday and Christmas were coming. I had anticipated that during this visit to Mexicali, my escorts might share some of Tia Cuca’s knowledge with me. We never did have a post-interview meeting on it. So, not knowing all of what she had to say was my fault.

Flash-forward to about 4 years ago. I found the video tape. Guess what? Tia Cuca shares quite a bit of the information with us that it took me 20 years to dig up. Sigh. What we did manage to do is capture a bit of her on video. You will see her kitchen. I learned to love mole there. This footage is very raw, even having the camera lie sideways on the table. There is nothing fancy to it. Even the questions are shoddy at best. I know what to ask now. But alas, that time has passed.

I realized many of you might want to see this.  The primary reason for this blog is to share all I find (or have) with you. Every day I slap my forehead thinking “They might want to know about this!” So here she is. We loved her kindness and hospitality. You love her for reasons of your own. Please enjoy.