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.


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.

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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.

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.


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.


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……






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.

Hold Onto Your Hats, M’Dears

We knew I’d get to the scandalously juicy parts of the family stories eventually, right? This is a Valenzuela story. It has to do with Rufina Valenzuela’s family.

Let me start at the beginning.

My mom recently had her DNA tested via This was fun and informative! She thought it was great. It also gave me leads on possible family members. *clapping hands!* I had sent about 15 messages to various people asking if they want to “share their tree” with me. Many don’t have trees or families listed – just their DNA facts.

Yesterday, I went looking again at results. I felt rejected. All forlorn. No one was answering my pleas in cyberspace. So I took up my own cause. I went snooping.

For those kind few who put up trees, they are more like little seedlings. Two to four people in a tree. The names did not sound remotely familiar. I saw one that had two people listed. Ancestry says she should be a 3rd or 4th cousin. I went on a hunt. And Oh My Goodness!!!


The state of Sonora, where our drama begins….

Rufina was supposed to be born in San Pedro Palominas, which is near Imuris. My grandfather said it was in Santa Ana, not far from there. Our story takes place in that neighborhood, Tecoripa, Suauqi Grande, Cananea, then north to Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona.

The DNA results showed that we were cousins to a Guadalupe Valenzuela, via his daughter Petronila. Great! Just like the name of Rufina’s dad. So cool. But after finding names and dates it didn’t add up. Who are these kids of his? This can’t be right. MY chart looks like this:

Guadalupe Valenzuela married Francisca Moreno. They had: Rufina, Jose Maria, Guadalupe, and Margarita.

This lady was related to a Guadalupe Valenzuela (GV) who married Justa Duarte. They had: Catalina, Damaso, Petronila, and Maria Simona. {Petronila’s great-granddaughter is the one who has her DNA in play. My starting point.}


Baptism record for Maria Simona Valenzuela – GV and Justa Duarte.

My mind was all bafflement. Does not compute! Then, I started to read the fine print. Justa Duarte’s children are “hijos naturales.” This indicates they are not a product of a marriage. When I stopped to think about it, I have never found marriage records for GV and Francisca Moreno either. Although none of the records indicate “hijo natural” listed, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t.


At possibly 18, GV starts having relations with these two ladies. At the same time.

This is how my new chart was sizing up. Looking at the original map of Sonora, Justa is a girl from his hometown area: Tecoripa. Francisca’s children are born in Santa Ana. I’m starting to think GV is more of a traveling salesman, not a miner. During this searching, I’m singing to myself “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” The DNA said I connected to Petronila on the tree above (as well as my own). How could every one NOT know? It gets better.

They did.

In 1934, the Great Depression was underway. The boon of mining was probably on its way to slowing down. Petrolina had a daughter named Carmen Aldecoa. She goes to visit her cousin Trinidad Garcia de Noriega in Mexicali. Trinidad is our Tia Guadalupe’s daughter. And reading the typed line: Carlos Octavio Garcia – Tia Guadalupe’s son.


They knew about each other!!!

This is the link to the two branches of family.

But why stop there?? I look back on suggested trees. There is another GV listed. Those dates don’t add up either, but this has been a crazy weekend so far. Keep looking! I find this branch of the family had a more committed GV living with them in 1900.


One GV with his family in Bisbee, Arizona, 1900.

The above census says he was married. The 1910 census says married 30 years, so no concrete date, but he is with her for many years. If this branch finds my blog, they might not be to happy with me. But I think we all have to get a little uncomfortable, if legitimacy is important to you. After some hysterical laughter, I did some more digging. By the end the chart looks more like this:


There is a very large tree of Valenzuela’s there. But it has this: Guadalupe Valenzuela marries Carmen Cota (although other trees list her as Carmen Navarro). They had: 7 children, 4 who lived. Francisca, Guadalupe, Andreas, Hilaria.

I am now connected to 11 Valenzuela offspring and their families. I’m not sure if GV really married Carmen either.


Baptism Registration for Ma. Dorotea Valenzuela.

If you look right after Dorotea’s name you can read HN. The padrinos are Pedro Nido and Manuela Avila (GV’s mom).

Could there be a connection between the other two families? GV’s children say they are born in San Pedro Palominas (like Rufina). I think this area was located on the old Elias Family Ranch. It became the San Pedro Custom House area.


Link #2 – Andres knows them too.

Andres uses one Catalina (Valenzuela) Arvallo as his contact in Santana, Sonora. He calls her his aunt. But she is almost 20 years his senior. And his mom may not have wanted them to know. But it appears they know they are related. And the DNA ain’t lyin’ either!

One mistake I have found on this branch’s trees are the fact they name Carmen Cota as Navarro. All of the children appear to have used Cota in their names. General naming of children was First Name, Paternal Name, Maternal Name. As they all seem to share this, and American border agents switched it around, I’m pretty sure Cota is the name.

Here is what the chart looks like a little fuller. You know I love to draw me some charts!


And this is how the Sonoran World Turns.

I can find no death records on any of his partners. Carmen disappeared. I cannot find any death records for her in Arizona. Had she stayed with him, or in the area, there would be records. GV dies as a widower.

AND our dear sweet GV lived to be 82 years old. I think we all may know his health regimen. *wink, wink*  I didn’t think it would be quite this tawdry of a tale. I was only mildly aghast. But you know, the ladies seemed to have known. Was he so incredibly irresistible? He must have been.


The great thing about this whole adventure is that his death certificate (above) tells us his parents names. The family tree got much wider, but it also got a little taller. I hope that Carmen Cota’s descendants contact us. If they have any additional documentation, I welcome it. I love seeing the whole picture. I am very much of the opinion the more the merrier. I’m super duper merry today.