Origins of New Mexico Families

An Indispensable Source for Nuevomejicano Genealogy Research

José Antonio Esquibel
Caballero de la Orden de Isabel la Católica

The approaching year of 2014 marks the milestone of sixty years since the publication of Fray Angélico Chávez’s influential book, Origins of New Mexico Families in the Spanish Colonial Period in Two Parts: The Seventeenth (1598-1693) and the Eighteenth (1693-1821) Centuries.This is a necessary and indispensable volume for anyone researching the history and genealogy of New Mexico Hispano family roots.

Born on April 10, 1910, in Wagon Mound, New Mexico, Manuel Ezekiel Chávez was the eldest child of Fabián Chávez and María Nicolasa Roybal. Manuel’s calling to the religious life came at the early age of 14 when he entered a seminary of the Franciscan order in 1924, receiving the habit of the order in 1929 and taking the name Angélico. Fray Angélico’s first assignment was in the parish church Our Lady of Guadalupe at Peña Blanca, with visitations in Cerrillos and Jémez Pueblo.

In 1933 Archbishop Rudolph Gerken initiated the formal assemblage of the archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Early work was conducted by Lansing B. Bloom and Col. José D.Sena. The enormous task of cataloguing and organizing the entire collection of archival records was undertaken by an energetic Fray Angélico Chávez.

With access to valuable historical and genealogical material in the archival documents of the Archdiocese spanning many centuries, Fray Angélico did not intend to produce a book on the genealogy of nuevomejicana families. As a native New Mexican Franciscan priest, he hoped to discover as much as he could about the Franciscans in New Mexico and publish a volume on that history. References to the statue of La Conquistadora intrigued Fray Angélico, and he collected enough material from various documents to write the first book on the history of this famous statue, reaching back to the 1620s.

As he catalogued the church records, Fray Angélico compiled biographical notes on the early Spanish citizens of New Mexico. These notes increased to the point that he was able to identify kinship groups, and he discovered the interrelatedness of many of these early families. Here is how he described the very humble beginnings of Origins of New Mexico Families:

This work is a sort of byproduct. While going through countless old manuscripts for data on the Franciscan Missions of New Mexico, more particularly in an effort to further clarify the history of the venerable statue of La Conquistadora in Santa Fe, I began collecting bits of information on people appearing in these ancient documents. After several years of digging, Mission facts were still relatively scanty, while notes on the lay pioneers had piled up considerably. It was like the case of a miner who sifted a hill of ore for gold, setting aside any silver he encountered; in the end the silver far outweighed the gold. The only thing to do was to render the silver useful.

After much cross-filing and comparing, and some additional research, the present work took shape. As I had hoped, it aided me greatly in reconstructing the beautiful story of La Conquistadora in intimate detail.But, to my surprise, it also turned out to be a comprehensive, if incomplete, record of the original Spanish families of New Mexico.

Six decades later, Fray Angélco’s "byproduct" remains the most influential work of New Mexico genealogy and is consulted regularly by scholars as well as those searching out their nuevomejicana family roots.

Now in its third printing (1954, 1975, and 1992) and in a second edition (1992), Origins of New Mexico Families came into the digital age with an e-book edition in 2013 available through via Kindle or the Kindle app for personal computers and smart phones. Check out a generous e-book sample on the web by clicking on this image of the second edition:

Click on the image to view part of the book. The introduction is highly recommended.

The e-book version has the added advantage of a search feature, which is invaluable given that the published versions do not have an index.

The first part of Origins of New Mexico Families introduces readers to these 17th-century families whose surnames are still found in New Mexico today: Anaya, Apodaca, Archuleta, Baca, Bernal, Brito, Candelaria, Cháves, Domínguez, Durán, Frésquez, Gallegos, García, Gómez, González, Griego, Gutiérrez, Herrera, Hurtado, Leyba, López, Lucero, Luján, Luna, Madrid, Maese, Manzanares, Márquez, Martín (Martínez), Mestas (Maestas), Mondragón, Montaño, Montoya, Morán, Naranjo, Nieto, Olguín, Pacheco, Padilla, Perea, Romero, Sáez, Salazar, Sánchez, Sedillo, Serna, Sisneros, Suazo, Tapia, Torres, Trujillo, Valencia, and Varela.

The second part of the book introduces families that arrived in New Mexico after 1693, most of whom came to New Mexico in the 1690s: Abeyta, Agüero, Aguilar, Alarid, Alderete, Alire, Aragón, Archibeque, Arellano, Armenta, Armijo, Atencio, Ávila, Benavides, Blea, Borrego, Bustamante, Bustos, Cárdenas, Carrillo, Casados, Casillas (Casías), Chácon, Contreras, Córdoba, Crespín, Cruz, Delgado, Dimas, Esponisa, Esquibel, Fajardo, Febro (Febre), Fernández, Flores, Gabaldón, Galván, Gáona, García, Garduño, Guerrero, Gurulé, Jáquez, Jaramillo, Jirón (Girón), Labadie, Lara, Larrañaga, Lobato (Lovato), Maldonado, Manchego, Mares, Mascareñas, Medina, Miera, Mirabal, Molina, Mora, Moya, Muñiz, Noánez, Núñez, de la O, Olivas, Olona, Ortega, Ortiz, Otero, Peña, Pineda, Pino, Prado, Quintana, Ramírez, Rendón, Ribera (Rivera), Rodarte, Rodríguez, Roybal, Salas, Sandoval, Santillanes, Santisteban, Saavedra, Segura, Sena, Sierra, Silva, Solano, Tafoya, Tenorio, Ulibarrí, Urioste, Valenzuela, Valdez, Valerio, Vallejo, Velarde, Velásquez, Vigil, and Villalpando.

Soon after the 1954 publication of Origins of New Mexico Families, Fray Angélico compiled additional genealogical information that appeared in print as Addenda to Origins of New Mexico Families and New Names in New Mexico, 1820-1850, both published in El Palacio magazine in the 1950s. These additions were added to the 1992 edition of Origins of New Mexico Families and are also included in the recent e-book edition.

Origins of New Mexico Families (ONMF) continues to serve as a pivotal source for additional research into the history and genealogy of early nuevomejicana families. Exceptional advances in extending the genealogy of the families featured in Origins of New Mexico Families have been made in the past twenty years. These findings are featured in numerous articles in the journals of various Hispano genealogy groups (see below for web links) and in books.

In 1998, I developed the Beyond Origins of New Mexico Families (BONMF) website, which featured postings of new genealogical findings to supplement Origins of New Mexico Families. Although no longer active, the BONMF website is still accessible for consulting. In December 2012 I posted on the Internet a compilation that identifies the progress made on extending the genealogy of the early New Mexico families under the title Beyond Origins of New Mexico Families: A Brief Status Report.

In addition to tracing some families further back in time to areas that are now part of Mexico as well as to various parts of Spain, there is greater recognition that some nuevomejicana families were started by detribalized Indians adopted by Hispano families. These Indians were from various tribes, including Apache, Navajo, Hopi, Ute, and Comanche, and were identified in the old records as genízaro. Genízaros were baptized and acquired Spanish names, language, cultural traditions, and customs. They became so well assimilated into nuevomexicana culture that over time their descendants lost awareness of their Indian origins. These families were not included in Origins of New Mexico Families, but are gaining in recognition as more people uncover their genízaro roots.

The advances in uncovering and extending the genealogy of early Spanish New Mexico families are becoming sufficient enough to begin thinking about a new, amended, and expanded edition of Origins of New Mexico Families. Perhaps such an edition will be compiled and published sometime within the next couple of decades. In the meantime, those who are interested can find additional genealogy findings on New Mexico families on the New Mexico History website and can find more information on the following sites:

For brief biographies about Fray Angélico Chávez see "Fray Angélico Chávez" by Suzanne Stamatov (with a photo of a young Fray Angélico) and Reverend Fr. Fray Angélico Chávez on Wikipedia. A brief article by Maria Móntez-Skolnick about Fray Angélico Chávez is posted on the website of Voces de Santa Fe.

Return to read future columns in Family Histories, and review my past Parientes column in the electronic issues of La Herencia on this website to learn more about the genealogy and history of nuevomejicana families. In the meantime, here are some useful websites pertaining to New Mexico Hispano genealogy:

New Mexico Genealogical Society (Also on Facebook)
Hispanic Genealogical Research Center of New Mexico
Olibama López Tushar Hispanic Legacy Research Center
Genealogical Society of Hispanic America

José Antonio Esquibel is a genealogical researcher, historian, and author of articles and books related to Spanish colonial genealogy and history, with particular regard to New Mexico and northeastern Mexico. He is co-author with France V. Scholes, Eleanor B. Adams, and Marc Simmons of the book Juan Domínguez de Mendoza: Soldier and Frontiersman of the Spanish Southwest, 1629–1693 (University of New Mexico Press, 2012). In 2009, Juan Carlos II, King of Spain, admitted José Antonio to the knightly Orden de Isabel la Católica for his dedication to uncovering and preserving the history of Spain and Spanish heritage in New Mexico. Follow him on his Facebook Author’s page or read his blog at www.goodreads/