Looking for ancestors took a back-burner in my life until I happened to be talking with a cousin who was working on genealogy. Her father and my mother were siblings so we decided to join forces. In 1993 we drove to our hometown of Greeley, Colorado to visit an 83 year old relative.
Her memory and stories were vivid and this gave me a foundation to begin my research. In 2007 the researching cousin and I drove to New Mexico in search of more information. We traveled to Villa Nueva, Santa Rosa, Pastura, Puerto de Luna, Ft. Sumner and Santa Fe. I returned to New Mexico in 2008, met new cousins, and found interesting information pertaining to my ancestors. I learned that everyone has their own version of things that happened in the past. In 2010, my cousin and I attended a Genealogy Seminar in Albuquerque and met more cousins. A highlight was visiting San Jose church in Laguna where my ggggrandfather had donated an altar screen.
Altar Screen donated to San Jose de Laguna Mission
by my ggggrandfather, Jose Manuel Aragon
Since then I have visited cemeteries, spent time in libraries and cultural centers, used the Internet, read books, located other cousins, attended seminars, and written letters to help me compile facts for my family tree. The Denver Public Library has a large research area and much of the same information I found in New Mexico. My huge regret is that when my father and mother told me stories about the past, I never listened. This seems to be the lament of many of my cousins. My advice for a person interested in digging into the past is to find the oldest relative and get all the information available from that person.
My mother would always say, "Mi abuelo era de Espana." (My grandfather was from Spain.) Research going back to my ggggrandfather is that they all lived in New Mexico. Many Spaniards arrived in Mexico (New Spain) and settled there, possibly for two generations, and then made their way to New Mexico. I have been able to substantiate my ancestry to my ggggrandfather but am having problems locating his father.
There seem to be conflicting records of my gggggrandfather because of the similarity in names and dates.
On my father's side, he would say, "Mis padres eran de Chihuahua, Mexico y mis hermanas nacieron en Mexico. Yo naci en Nuevo Mexico." (My parents were from Chihuahua, Mexico and my sisters were born in Mexico. I was born in New Mexico.) I found records of my father being born in Garfield, New Mexico in 1905. I also have my Grandfather's Declaration of Intention when he entered the United States in 1904. Does that mean my Grandmother was pregnant with my father when they came to the United States? On the document, the typed 1904 has been crossed out and the year 1899 written in. Additions or corrections on documents make research difficult!
Another cousin of mine, had a tin type photo and we had it restored. This, as far as I know, is the only picture of my maternal grandmother. She is pictured with my great-grandmother and my great-aunt.
My Great Aunt Conrada Ortiz,
my Great Grandmother Luciana Urioste Ortiz, and my Grandmother Valentina Ortiz
Finding bits and pieces of my parents' lives gives me a better understanding of who they were and how they lived in the past. I look forward to uncovering and solving more of those old mysteries that are intertwined with my life.