Category Archives: Uncategorized

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:


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!




Reason #38 Finding Family is Helpful – Our Health

Hi there! How are y’all doing? I’m great. Summer is here. Our tornado season has been mild this year (knocking on wood as I write). My little vegetable garden is rolling along. This isn’t a family history reporting piece. It’s more of a “fringe benefits of doing genealogy” opinion piece.

I kid you not. I have started this piece 3 times, staring in early April. It began differently each time. I have this incredibly morbid obsession about my own death. As I quickly approach my 50th birthday, I’m freaking out about quality of life into my elder years now too. Keeping this piece light-hearted is gonna be a task!

When I visit the doctor I have to fill out those forms that ask for family medical history. I am grateful for all of the boxes I get to skip over, but I always checked off what I knew: Diabetes, Colon Cancer, High Blood Pressure, High cholesterol, Asthma. My 40th birthday was lots of fun. That’s when it was suggested I start all of the testing that goes with creating a “baseline” for the Golden Years. Hahahaha!

Over the last six months, there has been a nagging voice to look at all the Death Certificates I have for genetic direct-line family members.

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Death certificates can tell you the diseases that your family passed from, as well as how long they endured their condition.

So here are what 6 family members passed from:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Heart Attack (myocardial infarction)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Uremia Nephritis (Renal failure)
  • Colon Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy (1st cause) exacerbated by Intraluminal Thrombi (2nd cause) exacerbated by Gastric Tumor.

Well, okay then.

About 5 years ago, I talked to my Nina, Phyllis Baltierra. I knew she was unwell, but did not know her specific issues. I asked if she was diabetic. “Oh yeah, honey,” she said. “We all are. You will be too.” What? But I didn’t want to be a diabetic. Needless to say, this conversation was key to my losing weight, exercising, and limiting sugar intake. It started my proactive attempt to take care of myself.

I married into a medical family. For 23 years, I’ve been privy to extensive conversations about dentistry, physiology, biology, medical journals, medical history, and current health issues. My mother-in-law is still so well read she can tell you about new medicines with a mental list of the pros and cons of each.

If I stop and think about it, we can document lots of causes of death on that side of my husband’s family as well. Prostate cancer, heart issues, tuberculosis, asthma, diabetes.

My husband and I actively listen to the friends around us when they discuss health concerns they are currently facing. We are working to face our health future head on. I finished working as a substitute preschool teacher this year because getting up off the floor with a 20 pound child in my arms was getting REALLY hard. I was exhausted when I got home. The job flexibility was great but at the end of the day I had to consider my physical well-being.

My chiropractor recommended yoga. Ted and I do some at home. I found this great little DVD at the local thrift store. (And sad to say, but I was truly happy to find it!)


Happy almost 50th Birthday to me.

Genealogy can assist in filling out those medical forms the nagging doctors press upon you. Having chatted with distant family members, I discovered that I shared infertility issues with many women in my family. Fibroid tumors were an issue for them. Many of my closer female cousins didn’t have this problem, so I felt validated and connected with these other women who shared the pain I did.

Honestly, I had no idea my paternal grandmother died of a heart attack. What?! Probably because she died when I was 8 and never thought to ask my dad about it much. Our natural propensity to not talk about illness is not thought of when we are younger. Then it’s too late to discuss. And in many cases, it’s considered off limits. Remember old TV shows when a character would whisper the word “cancer” to the other? Now we have 5K walks, and benefit runs, and we are wearing pink for breast cancer awareness. Changing times with health in the forefront.

There are now genetic screenings to see what each person might be have a chance of developing or passing on. I’m not quite ready for that yet. Not when I can look back with paperwork.

I work with several women my age who have been widowed already. I can’t imagine my life without Ted. We are working to care for each other – insist the other get to the doctor to look at the mole, the back pain, the hitch in our git along. As you get older you find love takes many forms.

I realize all of this post is from the current part of my life’s journey. If you share some of my direct line peeps, put their issues on your medical forms. Work with your care giver. Make some different life choices. My paternal grandfather worked in a mine in Montana which probably explains the lung cancer. So my NOT working in a mine could be helpful with keeping that disease at bay.

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Grandpa Baltierra’s Death Certificate. Heart Disease was a secondary factor.

One recommendation I will give is simply endeavor to be happy. It is an amazing tonic and is good for the soul. You never know. It could cure many ailments that may, or may not, be a part of your path.


I have found a few new things to research in the old family history department. I’ve sent out my “we are related, but you didn’t know it letters” this week too. So be prepared for new blog pieces. Have a great summer! Stay cool.


Genealogy 101 – The Basics

I’m taking a quick break from my usual family findings to share a bit of what I know about the hobby/obsession/addiction that is Genealogy. I have been working on my maternal grandfather’s tree since about 1988. My grandfather died in 1984. After he was gone, there was no one to answer the questions I finally had. Time is not on the side of the genealogist. Start now. If you are thinking of building your family tree, here are some tips I hope will help your journey.

Start with You.

You are the beginning of your tree. First, get your birth certificate. You will need that document for grown-up things in your future anyway, but this one document gets you started with your tree too. It is your seed. With it, you will have your birth date, birth town, parents. It will have the address you lived at when you were born (which your grandchildren can use to marvel at when you are old). It may have your parents’ careers too.

Now that you have confirmed who your parents are get their birth certificates too. This will give you who their parents are. It sounds almost too simple, but trust me. At the end of the exercise you will 7 people on your tree! Magic!

The next step is to start looking around the house for any paperwork they might have about the family past: baptismal papers, marriage certificates, employment records, school transcripts. If you are a younger person go visit your parents and search their attic for fun things. Each paper will be a clue to the timelines of your lives.

Interview Family. Now.

So you think you know everything about your familial unit? I got news for you. No one knows it all. There are secrets out there! Hopefully you will be emotionally stable enough to deal with what may come down the pike. BUT – your great-aunt Jenny will have memories that are different from your grandmother’s. They could have a 20-year age gap that will make their life stories very different.

Make appointments with your relatives. Find a time where you can meet with them by themselves. Others in the room might hinder the progress. You may want to bring questions, letting them elaborate as needed. Some may wander off course, try to gently nudge them onto the path of their lives “back in the day.”

When you interview: document, document, document! With technology as fabulous as it is there is no reason NOT to record audio or take video. Most smart phones have these capabilities. What is a helpful tool now will be treasure later. When I interviewed my grandfather in 1981, I used a tape recorder. My husband converted it to mp3 format to preserve it. I think my cousins really enjoyed hearing his voice after 30 years.

Caveat One: Not every person you want to chat with will be open to this. Some people are fun-haters. No. That’s not true. Some people simply want to forget hard times, bad childhoods, poverty, abuse, etc. Be kind to them. Ask for basics and try to find more without their assistance.

Caveat Two: If you want to research your family history, start now. When I say time is not on your side, I mean that your family members can meet with unexpected illness or death at any time. Interviews should start at your eldest family first. Just in case.


Smart phones have made this task easier too. If you are in the middle of a spontaneous visit with a family member you may never see again, ask permission to take pictures of their pictures. Most don’t mind. Use the tool at hand, which for most is the cell phone. Like Judge Marilyn Milian says, “It’s not just for taking nasty pictures.”

If you know you will want higher resolution invest in a good digital camera. This may seem an unnecessary cost, but the quality of your reprints might be nice enough to display in your home. (I have project planned where I will be framing many of the photos on this site. The pictures will be housed in my stairwell.)

If you want to make the best copies of photos, consider investing in a scanner. My best friend gifted me with one. It has been an amazing tool. On a visit to see family in Florida, we took it with us, enabling the recording of a treasure trove of documents, while we interviewed family.


I started my tree many moons before Ancestry had so much wonderful information at my fingertips. Most of my early work took forever because I didn’t necessarily have $20 for a birth certificate or death certificate. Or it wasn’t a priority. While family history sites are fabulous tools, nothing beats a copy of the actual page for which you are looking.

To this day, I print copies of digital files I have on my Ancestry tree. I can make notes on it. I can reference it more quickly sometimes. I can doodle possible connections on the page.

And. You may not always have access to files you find. is now limiting my viewing of certain documents from home. I have to be a LDS church member or go to a Family History Center. I like searching at home. In my jammies. Thanks though.

I ordered a baptism certificate from the Santa Clara Catholic Church in Oxnard. While an online site might have only given me name and date, this document gave me names of the godparents. This was when I discovered Ana Escalante de Romo. It opened up two new branches of family. From one little piece of paper.

You may want to consider investing in a separate storage devices for your files: Photos, interviews, documents, your own notes. Consider quality thumb drives or a nice external hard drive. I have known quite a few people who have all photos on their phone, but when the phone dies, there is no retrieving it. If you have been watching the news the last 6 months, there are earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires. I live on Tornado Alley. In case you need to make a quick evacuation, you can simply get your hardware and get to safety asap.

Don’t Force a Family Theory.

Many times there will be a story that most take for facts in a family. I recently took a creative writing class. My instructor shared her surprise with her grandmother who had several children from a different father. While most people like a good drama, we want our families to be squeaky clean in how their lives were lived. Be open to the fact that what has been taken as truth can be misleading.

I have a pretty good-sized tree on Ancestry. Many times the site will try to give me hints from other subscribers trees. OH MY GOODNESS! There are two fellow hunters who are bending their documentation to fit their perceived ideas of how things should be. I managed to find a Spanish to English website to translate names, places and dates, being open to what the forms told me. And let me just say, they are VERY wrong.

We have much lore in our family. I have irritated many a cousin but not buying into them. The paper trail tells me what I need to know. Corroborating evidence reinforces it.

Be Open to Surprises.

This is probably a great rule in general. You never know what you will find on a Census report. Then there is the math in regards to when a couple got married versus the birth of their first child. Again, if you are going to do genealogy, you will have to grow a thick skin.

I would think it would apply if you have your DNA tested too. Ancestry has a whole article about “Unexpected Ethnicity Results.” You weren’t there hundreds of years ago. But remember all those surprises made you, well, you!

Be Willing to Share.

I have been the beneficiary of so much kindness with this hobby-cult I’m in. I have gotten very good at writing my “you don’t know me but I think we are related” letters. I really scared my cousin’s wife one time. Sorry, Cynthia! But I revised how I write it. “I’m not a stalker, I just want to discuss dead people with you.” haha!

I have been so fortunate that many are willing to share. You can do genealogy for yourself, but consider being open to share with anyone who wants to know about your tree. If you put photos on a website, but ready to find them other places. You may be doing the hard work but be ready for others to take credit. It’s okay.

Whole Tree

One day your tree can get beyond you and your parents.



I hope this gives you a good place to start when it comes to your beginning the genealogy journey. Sites I love to use are: Ancestry, FamilySearch,, and

A useful tool which might surprise you is plain ol’ Google. Put as much info as you can in the engine and watch it go. My grandfather is Google-able. I entered: Tony Escalante boxer 1920s. His boxing career from 90 years ago is documented on various sites. You never know where you will find out stuff about those you love.

Good luck on your journey. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I’d be glad to be of assistance.




Bon Voyage and I’ll Be Back

Hello all.

I apologize for my absence on the old blog pages. I have a few ideas I can follow-up with when I get home.

What? Am I going somewhere? Why, yes! I have been invited to France by my wonderful cousin-in-law, Micki. There was no way to pass up such an amazing life experience.

Needless to say, I have been shopping, packing, and holding my chest when my heart flutters with anxious happiness. My family is holding down our little fort while I’m gone. I have to remember that while I love to look for the life experiences of the family that has come before me, I need to go make some great memories for myself.

My DNA testing says I’m not French, but I’m hoping to immerse myself in their culture for a week. Have a great rest of your October! Please send good thoughts for my travel. AND my safe return too! Thanks, Edwina.

The Other Man – Juan de la Ressureción Ramirez

Greetings all! We are getting ready for Fall to come in full force here in Oklahoma. Leaves are starting to fall, which is early in this region. But I am ready for a new season. I am interrupting the normal flow of Escalante history for a “relative”-ly short detour. Hahaha! N.B. – Escalante’s are not related to the families mentioned below; only to two ladies – Mariana Bustamante and her daughter, Maria Ramirez.

In the last blog entry, I discussed my darling Mariana Bustamante. She had been married to Leonardo Escalante, then ran away with another man. Gasp! She must have been extraordinary to be taken away by Juan Ramirez. Their time together produced a lovely daughter. But Mariana’s inability to be married hindered their future together. Or was it ill-fated from the beginning?

Juan de la Ressureción Ramirez Avila was born in Los Angeles, California, Mexico in 1839. His parents were Juan M. Ramirez and Petra Avila.

According to preliminary research from M. Barbachano,  both branches were part of Spanish colonization. Juan Bernardo Ramirez met a lovely young woman in a new hip and happening town, Santa Barbara, California. Maria Rosa Quijada’s family had come from the interior of Mexico with the 1781 Rivera Expedition to settle the area. The couple married at the Santa Barbara Mission in 1794. Their son Juan M. Ramirez moved to Los Angeles.

The Avila family’s story was similar, with Cornelio Avila’s children/grandchildren doing their civic duty for the crown. Francisco Avila, Petra’s father, settled in the pueblo of Los Angeles sometime after 1794. He became the alcalde of Los Angeles when it was a bustling metropolis of over 410 residents. Petra’s cousin, Miguel, was granted lands which included Avila Beach, and he was alcalde of San Luis Obipso. (As a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo alum, this warms my heart).

The Juan M. Ramirez family had over 8 children. They settled into Petra’s family home, the Avila Adobe. If you have been to Olvera Street in Los Angeles, you may have seen it.


The Avila Adobe in the 1930s.


Sign posted outside of the museum.

Italians started immigrating to the Los Angeles area in the 1800s. In the old pueblo, they started showing other Los Angelinos how to cultivate vineyards. Juan M. Ramirez had become a vinter – maker of wine. Los Angeles became the early wine capital of California. (see article below).

Juan M.’s son, Francisco, made a name for himself. A self-educated man, Francisco was tri-lingual. He started his own newspaper. He became an attorney in the late 1860s to fight for rights of minorities in the area. This book is on my amazon wish list:

So why I am I sharing all of this fascinating information with you? Juan had some very big shoes to fill. Social standing. Familial ties. Lands granted by the King of Spain to  forefathers for devoted service. All of this was vastly important to Juan.

Speaking of handsome devils, here he is below.


Juan de la Resurreción Ramirez.

It took a while for Juan to get his life bearings (in my opinion). As a young-ish man, he did some traveling.  He could have been conducting business for his family. However it happened, he had wandered into Hermosillo, Sonora. He met, and saved, Mariana Bustamante de Escalante from her marriage in 1867. He found himself with a secret life in Hermosillo. He had a romance with her which produced their lovely daughter Maria Luisa Bernadina Ramirez. And she looks like she had been well taken care of, financially speaking.


Maria Ramirez. Photo courtesy of C. Amezcua’s Ancestry photos.

Mariana might have been a woman to live with, but was not one to bring home to Los Angeles. Did Juan divide his time between Sonora and California? By the time Maria was 9, her father decided to marry another woman. California Girl Rosa Bustamante (not directly related to Mariana, that I have found – whew!) married Juan Ramirez in Los Angeles in 1879. I don’t know if he saw much of Maria after his marriage, but her life progressed forward. And nicely, too.


Marriage announcement, “Tombstone Daily Epitaph, 1887”

What I cannot tell from this announcement is whether “Maria’s parents” were just her mom; Or her dad and Rosa living in Ochoaville, Arizona; a town that no longer exists. So vague. Grrrr.

Juan decided to embrace his life in Los Angeles. He adopted two children with Rosa. They were Elias H. Goodwin and Adela Ramirez. Elias moved to San Francisco. He worked in the restaurant industry and patented a new design of salt and pepper shakers. Adela Ramirez married Jan Baptiste Lambert, a French-Canadian baker, in 1912. They had a baby the next year, but the baby does not appear to have survived. They divorced. She kept her married name.

Juan settled into life as the landowner of the ever-growing city of Los Angeles. His parents passed away. He became the head of the family. He started to sell his land off to accommodate the need for housing and roadways. In 1916, he testified when the Federal and State governments wanted to claim public roadways on property that owners insisted was private. (I am envisioning Highway 101 – imminent domain) Juan testified he had “used the road through what is now the Malibu ranch during the 1850s… it was a well-beaten road in those early days, and was the principal line of communication between what is now Santa Barbara and Ventura counties…He said that cattle did not make the path because, on account of bears, they were not allowed to roam over the then wild country. Travelers tramped this road. The cattle had to be kept in corrals because otherwise the bears would have killed them.” (Los Angeles Daily Times, Mar 14, 1916)

Back to Los Angeles becoming a melting pot. Italian and Spanish families had much in common, such as their Catholic faith. There was familial integration during this early time of LA history. Juan’s younger sister Isabel married into the Pelanconi family.  She had a few children, but only one son, the handsome Lorezno.


Lorenzo Pelanconi, son of Isabel Ramirez.

He was a favorite of his Uncle Juan and Aunt Rosa. These families were successful. They were the Who’s Who of Los Angeles society.  But. Like all mere mortals, Juan eventually died.


Juan Ramirez died 1922, Los Angeles, CA.

After reading this obit, I realized that the author mistook him for his brother Francisco who started the newspaper. His daughter, Maria Ramirez de Barbachano was NOT mentioned here. Rude!!! And frankly, I think it kind of hurt her feelings.


Maria contests the will.

There was never any follow-up articles as to whether or not Maria was given anything but the insulting $5. I would bet she never accepted it.

Juan and Rosa never had their own biological children. This ended up being a point of interest at the end of Juan’s life. He left the bulk of his real estate to the Ramirez familial heir, Lorenzo Pelanconi, son of his sister Isabel. Nothing was left to his adopted children. Or his one biological child, Maria. When Rosa Ramirez died, their adopted daughter Adela went to live with her sister-in-law (Goodwin’s widow) in San Francisco.

Lorenzo. Got. It. All.

He had the name. He had the background. He had the connections. He was from a church sanctified marriage.

I’ll tell you more about Lorenzo too, because his story was pretty cool.

He fell in love with a young woman of similar background. Martina Yorba married him. Yep. You’ve heard the name before. Her granddaddy was Bernardo Yorba of Yorba Linda, California. I’m dropping names of Rancheros all over the place.


Lorenzo Pelanconi’s Death Announcement. 1955.


Martina Yorba Pelanconi celebrating her 100th Birthday.

He was no shrinking violet. His biography stands on it’s own. Their love was wonderful. Yippee!

But enough about all of them.


Mariana Bustamante was the parent who stayed with Maria. She was the one who knew and loved her grandchildren. But in the end, it was Juan’s name that was always dropped as THE parent to whom Maria was related; the one she revered. Even his grandchildren named him as their touchstone to the Spanish/Californio legacy.



Snippet from Manuel Barbachano, Jr.’s Obituary, Feb, 1954.

Sigh….I’m sure you can sense my bias against Juan. But Good Grief! He missed out on SO much. All in the name of the family honor.

So what about Maria? I love her. I feel her story very deeply. It wasn’t as if she were a beggar on the street. She was amazing. She embraced her half-sister, Ana Escalante de Romo, at the end of their lives. I’m sure she valued her social standing as much as her cousin, Lorenzo. Her legacy was in the eyes of this lovely group of people here.


Extended Barbachano Family at Maria and Manuel’s (front/center) 50th Wedding Anniversary. Photo courtesy: C. Amezcua’s Ancestry photos.

Maria’s origin story was up to her parents. She had to deal with its repercussions. That did not stop her from marrying a son of the Governor of Yucatán. It didn’t stop her children from being very successful. (Compania Telefonica Fronteriza, founders of the Tijuana Lion’s Club and Chamber of Commerce, the Rosarito Beach Hotel, architects, merchants, etc.; and just really amazing people in the U.S., Mexico, and all around the world.) Whether it was because of Juan, or in spite of Juan, we will never know.




Thank you to M. Barbachano for all of your research (and continued support) on this blog post. Her daughter blogged a video of their family visiting the Avila Adobe for the first time. VERY Cool!


My sources for this piece were plentiful. If you have time, please peruse the following web pages.


My Inner Feelings about My Outward Appearance

I am writing this piece from my heart. It’s been bubbling to the top for a while now. This is my experience.

From the time of my childhood, I have prided myself on being American. I still do. Being American was enough for any of us. Remember “The Great American Melting Pot?” School House Rock did a song about it.

One day, when I was a junior in high school, David Donate asked me “What are you, Edwina?” When I replied American, he said, “I know that. We’re all American. But what are you?” Until that moment, having lived in a wonderfully multi-cultural town, it had never been an issue. It never occurred to me to ask. It was that day a seed was planted. Thus, this blog site.


Pretty sure this is how most people see my childhood. Haha!

Three of my four grandparents were citizens. My paternal grandparents came from Mexico, but took the citizenship test; prideful of their new country. They birthed children all over the heartland of America: Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, California. My parents were born here. My dad is a Korean Conflict Veteran. He retired from that all-American company, Ford Motors. I have uncles on both sides that served this country, along with second cousins. Even some once or twice removed, proudly serving as I write. We love Elvis, baseball, and apple pie.

My American story is not enough for many though. Simply because I look different.

I have been recently calling myself an Ethnically Ambiguous Bird of Paradise. Ownership is a powerful coping mechanism. I look just different enough not to be Caucasian-American. But if you chatted with me, you would be very confused. Because I talk like one. [Note: the song “Valley Girl” was a part of my formative years and sorority girl talk is like soooo easy to imitate.]

English is my only language. Although my ancestors immigrated through Mexico, I cannot speak Spanish. Why should I? My family has been in the US for over 100 years now. This stereotype confounds everyone. Even those who have Spanish as their first language.

I am not visually American enough for some, and not Hispanic enough, in how I live, for others. This had been a sticking point regarding me for many years.My college roommates were sisters born in Mexico who came with their family in the 1980s. They called me White Washed. Nice.

Then I moved to Oklahoma with my husband. Now that my location had changed, so had the perceptions of those around me. As most Oklahomans weren’t very knowledgeable about Hispanics, I was either going to be classified as White or Native American. When I denied tribal affiliation, I was looked at with scorn. As if I was denying my roots. Yet another group I could not please. Aaarrrggggh!

Over the last twenty years, I have come to realize that human beings simply categorize those around them. They can’t help it. I no longer take it personally. Apparently, I was born to be that special person who throws everyone off by NOT filling the stereotype for which they are looking. I am a California girl, with a Master’s Degree, who has chosen to stay at home with her child, who married outside of her traditional faith and ethnically similar group. Boom!

I have made tamales only a few times – not 3 times a year since I was knee-high to a molcajete. And I learned how to make them by reading about it. Thank you, Rick Bayless. I am learning to read Spanish because I have to translate Spanish documents to find details in my family history. Any Spanish I can speak I learned from Dora and Diego. “Stars! Estrellas!” I took Latin in high school. Didn’t everyone?

My parents are having their DNA evaluated by Ancestry. One of my branches has a partial break down like this:

Europe: 45% (Iberian Peninsula/Italy and Greece); Native American: 18%; West Asia: 29% (Caucasus/Middle East) [with others in there as well].

So. I am Native! Just Native from Mexico; and so very far removed  from tribal life that we have NO idea to what tribe we can connect. I have more Native in me than many of my card-carrying tribal friends here in OK. My great-grandfather emigrated from Turkey to Mexico in the last 1800s. This explains the West Asian facet of the breakdown. Bet none of you saw that coming. Hahahahaha!

I don’t get have the advantage to just consider myself a middle-class American SAHM who drives a super-dorky mini van, drinking coffee from Starbuck’s. Noooooo. (Read with inflection)

Being caught in this vague ethnic limbo forces me to look more deeply at groups outside of my own. From their perspective. I recognize the immigrant who works in the restaurant cleaning the tables. She may not be able to chat with me, but she looks like me. I see men on Facebook being shot in their cars without trial, much less Miranda Rights, differently because I am a visual minority; because others see ME that way. I am looked at by those I attend church with as the person who can easily provide tacos for the college student finals feed. Unbeknownst to them, I would get the recipe from Pinterest, just as they would. Thank you, Rick Bayless pins. I am talked to in Spanish by a non-English speaker who then looks me up and down as if I am broken when I cannot answer.

My new concern. I worry that my having Middle Eastern ancestry could be detrimental to my safety as a third-generation American citizen. And now that Ancestry has my official DNA results, will it ever be used against me? The many DNA evaluation companies are privately owned. Until a court order asks for their lists. Let’s not pretend it isn’t possible. Let’s not pretend that our country hasn’t put racial groups in camps before. For the safety of our country.

This is the crap I get to dwell on occasionally. Ethnically ambiguous birds of paradise have that burden, you know.

I am so made up of various groups that I can’t even get mad at history. I wouldn’t be here if all these people didn’t do their migration, their exploring, their conquering, their loving and inter-racial marriages thing.

This post isn’t to wear everyone down. It’s to ask for one thing. I want you to practice looking at each other differently. Practice looking at a stranger outside of the “race” category. Look at what we all have in common. I’ve seen Muslim women in mini-vans in the Drive-Thru line at Panera on that first day of school. Just like the rest of the other moms. Super glad that summer is over. More than likely, as I happen to know, you will have their story wrong any way. Trust me on this. Like those two Indian men in Olathe, Kansas. You know. The one the shooter thought were from the Middle East. Sigh……