Family ancestry in exile – the Martin Serrano family during Popé’s Rebellion
Most historians and genealogists follow the lead of Fray Angelico Chavez, an early New Mexico historian, by accepting that two of the sons of Luis Martin Serrano, the Alcalde Mayor and Capitan de Guerra of the jurisdiction of Los Teguas, are Captain Luis Martin Serrano (a slender man with a dark complexion, black hair and beard, and a mole on his left cheek, born between 1628 and 1633) and Alferez Pedro Martin Serrano y Salazar (medium height, thick set stature, born between 1635 and 1637 and partly gray by the time of the Pueblo Rebellion). In saying that, it should be noted that noted New Mexico researcher and author José Antonio Esquibel, awarded the Caballero del Orden de Isabel la Católica in 2009 for his work on preserving Spanish history in New Mexico, noted in his well-documented work, “Descendants of Hernan Martin Serrano,” that “there is no source yet uncovered that specifically names the parents of Pedro Martín Serrano, or that indicates that Pedro was a brother of either Luis II Martín Serrano or Domingo Martín Serrano.”
Despite this, I would tend to agree with Chavez that his rare paternal and maternal apellidos, Martin Serrano and Salazar, as well as his geographic placement in among the asserted brothers before, during, and after the Pueblo Rebellion, are probably adequate to place him as the elder Luis’ son. In any case, both appear to be direct ancestors of my family through different branches of ancestry. At first glance, this may seem strange, but given the close knit nature of Colonial Nuevo Mexico, being related to early historical figures through more than one lineage is probably not unusual.
These two brothers led quiet lives as vecinos, or cattle ranchers, in the Santa Cruz River valley (along the northern border of what is today Santa Fe County) until Dia de San Lorenzo, or the Feast Day of St. Lawrence, in 1680. It was on this Saturday, Aug. 10, when Tewa war chiefs let out their war cries at all the nearby pueblos, marking the start of the Great Pueblo Revolt, or Popé’s Insurrection. Warriors stole the horses of the Spaniards living in the pueblo and at homes nearby, and then marched into their towns and gave the church priest and the alcalde the choice to leave or die on the spot (very few priests, as it turned out, survived this test of self-preservation, earning martyrdom instead). Within a couple days, all of the natives north of Sandia pueblo (on the northern edge of today’s Albuquerque) joined the rebellion, demanding that all Spaniards that settled in the region to leave, or face extermination.
The rebellion served as a vengeful response to increasingly intolerable acts of religious suppression by Nuevo Mexico’s Franciscans. Five years before, the suppression by these designated guardians of Catholicism in the relatively new colony reached its height with the arrival of new Governor Juan Francisco Treviño. Upon his arrival, he took the advice of Nuevo Mexico’s clergy and ordered Tewa religious ceremonies suppressed. His troops destroyed kiva ceremonial chambers in all Pueblo villages, and in the process captured 47 religious leaders. Three of these were hanged on site in different villages (Nambe, San Felipe, and Jemez) to dissuade further ceremonies, while a fourth captive defiantly hung himself in protest. The others were taken to Santa Fe and tortured. Each would likely have been publicly executed if a group of Tewa warriors hadn’t come to the capital and stormed the Palace of the Governors, seizing Treviño himself and threatening him with his life if he didn’t release the captives.
One of the tortured was Popé, a 40-year-old religious leader from San Juan pueblo. Taking refuge after his release up in the remote Taos pueblo, he spent the next five years planning the overthrow of the Spanish. His coordination of two dozen communities across 400 miles of terrain and six languages was partly a tribute to his ability to organize, and partly a sign of the level of outrage the Tewa and allied tribes felt at the increasing arrogance of the Spanish and their priests. When Antonio de Otermin replaced Treviño in 1679, the knotted strings to be used by the war chiefs to count down the days until their coordinated attack were already distributed, and nothing could be done to prevent the inevitable.
The events of that fateful weekend in August 1680 for the two Martin Serrano families are unrecorded, but their escape must have been harrowing, being so close to Popé’s home of San Juan pueblo (renamed back to its original Tewa name in 2005 of Ohkay Owingeh). The two families probably fled early to Santa Fe, as they had little but the clothes on their back when they arrived in the colonial capital. Many of the less fortunate Spaniards who didn’t immediately flee, or who couldn’`t make it to the safety of Santa Fe, were killed or enslaved.
By Monday, Aug. 12, vast numbers of Spanish colonial homes across Nuevo Mexico were left in smoking ruins, with some 380 killed, and the number of colonists taking refuge in the city reaching about 1,000. An even larger body of displaced Spaniards were gathering under the protection of Lieutenant Governor Alonso Garcia at Isleta pueblo, south of today’s Albuquerque.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, a group of 500 Pueblo warriors under Juan El Tano marched from the direction of Santa Clara pueblo and carried out the first direct attack on Santa Fe. Despite their superiority over the 100 or so defenders, the Tewa were unable to breach the city defenses, and after reinforcements from Jemez arrived late in the day, the Pueblo warriors retreated to the hills east of the city. The next day, the outlying buildings of the colonial capital were looted and burned, and by Friday, Aug. 16, the warriors managed to divert the city’s sources of water, leaving Santa Fe dry. Seeing the threat too late, Otermin carried out a desperate sortie to restore the flow, but failed. Meanwhile, warriors from Picuris and Taos arrived, as well as Alonzo Catiti’s Keresan-speaking fighters from Rio Ariba, and the host besieging the city reaching about 2,500 by the end of the day. Luis Tupatu, the tribal chief from Picuris pueblo (a village near Dixon on the High Road to Taos, called Walai by its inhabitants), took over leadership that day, representing the rebels in a parley with Otermin’s representatives that led basically nowhere.
On Saturday, after Tupatu, with captured “harquebuses,” attempted a pre-dawn raid on Santa Fe, Otermin carried out a cavalry charge that killed some 300 and captured of 47 of the besieging warriors. Though a resounding Spanish victory, the sortie only proved that their situation was untenable. The water remained diverted in the hills above the city, where a cavalry charge couldn’t effectively be carried out, and all the Pueblo warriors had to do was wait. Thirst would just as easily rid the rebels of their Spanish overlords as would fire, arrows, or bullets.
Otermin could see this as well. After four days of confering with his senior officers in the Palace of the Governors, torturing to death his Pueblo prisoners, and killing off of any animals that couldn’t survive the journey south, he decided the time had come to abandon Santa Fe. On Wednesday, Aug. 21, the governor led his 100 soldiers in full military formation protecting a caravan containing some 1,000 refugees, 400 animals, and two heavily loaded carts in an orderly formation, leaving the city’s buildings to face the rage of Pope and his people. Wisely, the Pueblo waited for the city to be evacuated in the hills east of the city for the last Spaniard to leave before occupying their prize.
At Isleta, perhaps some three days later, Governor Otermin met with his Lieutenant Governor, and decided after the arrival of the 33-wagon annual supply caravan carrying the new Procurator Fray Francisco Abeyta that their position was untenable even this far south. They formed up the 2,500 or so refugees and 155 remaining men capable of bearing arms, and headed south. After a brief stop at Socorro to offer the Piro there the chance to evacuate with them, the caravan passed into the infamous Jornada del Muerto (or “Day’s Journey of the Dead”). Out of the 2,500 or so people who started the journey, only 1,946 settlers, including soldiers, would make it across the desert basin.
The surviving Spanish refugees of Nuevo Mexico encamped after arriving on Sept. 19 near El Paso del Norte, a small settlement near the Franciscan monastery of Guadalupe del Paso on the Rio Bravo del Norte. Located where Ciudad Juarez is today, this small outpost, without a doubt, suffered major resource shortages in the following winter as a result of the new arrivals. At the muster held there on Sept. 29, both brothers were accounted for. Pedro was listed as having three lean horses and personal arms to apply to the cause against the Tewa leader, and his list of dependents included eight children by his pregnant wife Juana de Arguelo. Luis and his first wife Maria Antonia de Miranda (born 1632) had six children of their own (four of which were of age for military service, including Cristobal, born 1655, our family’s ancestor on Luis’ lineage). Neither family did much better than survival upon arrival – a report indicated that they were among the many wholly lacking in provisions, and “indecent in dress,” with many of the children being almost naked.
Immediately after the muster, Governor Otermin called in a “junta de guerra” (council of war), in which Luis participated as one of the senior ranking officers. The governor wanted to retaliate immediately in order to break the Pueblo and render them penitent (particularly since he figured that the Apache must have taken advantage of their weakened defenses by this point to carry out raids). Luis’ recorded opinion was that a strike should occur if adequate supplies – horses, ammunition, and food – could be obtained at Guadalupe del Paso or in the surrounding community. The opinion was probably held by the majority there, as instead efforts that first winter went toward settling the refugees in a two-league stretch of land downstream from the El Paso del Norte settlement.
However, the following year, Governor Otermin again held a council of war, and this time carried out his expedition to force Pope’s people to submit. The governor underestimated, though, the fortitude of the Pueblo, who were very ready to defend their newly-found liberty from Spanish rule (even if it was under the growing anti-Spanish tyranny of Popé in his waning years). Otermin had to console himself with burning Sandia and Isleta pueblos, taking with him the remaining 400 tribesmen “who remained loyal to the Catholic faith” to resettle them at a community later known as Isleta del Sur (others fled to the village of Tusayan in Hopi country). By August 1682, Otermin became ill and was replaced as governor by Domingo Jironza Petrís de Cruzate, who concentrated effort on the survival of his colonists.
Pedro eventually died while in exile, becoming part of the 50 percent of refugees that disappeared from Guadalupe during their 12-year stay down south. He left behind his wife, Juana de Arguello, who remained with the refugees under the protection of his able eldest sons, Alejo and Sebastian. Sebastian would later become famous as a great landowner, but during exile, his main responsibility was protection of his younger siblings. Pedro’s brother Luis would return to New Mexico, but with a second wife, Melchora de los Reyes Gonzalez Bas. His son Cristobal continued to build his family with his wife Antonia Moraga. Their eldest boy, also called Cristobal (born 1677), would later, after returning to New Mexico, marry our family’s suspected descendant of Moctezuma, Maria Antonia Montoya de Paredes.
Francis and Sebastian – Rio Arriba land grantees
Francisco, our family’s ancestor along Pedro’s lineage, born shortly after his mother’s arrival in Guadalupe del Paso, suffered through his childhood the same hardships that all the dispossessed of New Mexico did in their river gateway exile. When Popé died and his Pueblo kingdom finally fell apart, Francisco, then age 12, traveled with his family northward back to Nuevo Mexico in Governor Diego de Vargas’ party. Any chance to leave their miserable shelter near El Paso del Norte was, by this point, a godsend.
The Martin Serrano families apparently first settled in Santa Fe on Oct. 28, 1693, receiving their share of grain spoils for the winter. They were obliged to remain there a couple years before attempting to resettle the area around Santa Cruz de la Cañada, as the Santa Cruz River valley proved to be a problem for Governor de Vargas in the spring of 1694. Just before reconquest, the Tewa, who had been suffering from continued drought throughout much of their independence, had settled on lands originally cleared by the Spanish and left abandoned in the Revolt. Only in autumn 1694, after carrying out a campaign to exact food stores from the Pueblo, did the governor dare to assign priests to the two Santa Cruz valley pueblos.
The following spring, Vargas announced plans to move returning Spanish settlers into the valley. The family of Luis Martin Serrano, including some of his married children, took this as the immediate go-ahead to resettle on their pre-Revolt farm, and moved into the ruins of their old home. Shortly after, Vargas established his “Villa Nueva de Santa Cruz de los Españoles Mejicanos del Rey Nuestro Señor Carlos Segundo” or more simply Santa Cruz de la Cañada, around a mission church established by the Franciscans a short distance from the river’s confluence with the Rio Bravo del Norte (Rio Grande). This became a new center for Spanish settlement (the second incorporated municipality in Nuevo Mexico), as former settlers and newcomers from deep in Mexico displaced the Tewa farmers who thought they had their claims staked.
By the spring 1696, tensions reached such a point that the Tewa at San Cristobal pueblo, near the site of Chimayo’s Plaza del Cerro, began stockpiling corn, clothing, and weapons in a mountain stronghold above the Rio de las Trampas. The rumors of rebellion that preceded the actual outbreak left the priest fearing for his life, a fear that proved justified on June 4, when he and a visiting priest were murdered. Their disrobed bodies were left in the center of the village’s church one on top of the other in a gruesome parody of the Christian cross. It took until late July before Governor de Vargas raised the troops needed to hunt down the rebellion’s most powerful faction, led by a native of Cochiti pueblo named Lucas Naranjo. Vargas’ troops made short work of the rebels, with a loyal Pecos warrior shooting Naranjo in the Adam’s apple before beheading him.
After Luis Martin Serrano and Juana Arguello, among others, reestablished themselves in the Santa Cruz River valley, Pedro and Juana’s children began looking northward to a large parcel of land along the Rio Grande that at one time was claimed by Jose Garcia Jurado, Sebastian de Polonia, and Sebastian de Vargas (blacksmith and lieutenant alcalde mayor of Pecos, on the other side of the Sangre de Cristo mountains). Since none of the claimants had even set foot on the land, the claim had long since expired. In 1703, Pedro’s sons Antonio and Sebastian (age 29) registered for the 50,000 acres of land, located on both sides of the Rio Bravo del Norte between Embudo Creek (where it meets the river in the gorge north of today’s Velarde) and the lands of the San Juan Pueblo for themselves, their four brothers (Alejo, Francisco, Miguel, and Felipe), and brother-in-law Felipe Antonio Sisneros (future alcalde mayor of Galisteo and Zuñi).
Once the claim was registered, Sebastian set out to prove himself singularly worthy of the grant. Serving as a captain, he fought against the Apache in several campaigns in 1708, and on May 23, 1712, he revalidated his claim. In 1714, he became the alcalde of Santa Cruz, but shortly afterward, he moved his family into the restored ruins of a 4-room adobe building that had been owned by Juan de Dios Lucero de Godoy before the Rebellion. Over the next 50 years, Sebastian, who through a series of maneuvers that would eventually alienate his Sisneros kin, would continue to consolidate his claim, while at the same time adding rooms to the building until it had become a 24-room compound, maintained by 21 servants. By Annexation, the structure would become the center of Rio Arriba County, serving as its courthouse through 1854. The property today is owned by the State of New Mexico (Robert Redford, who filmed The Milagro Beanfield War in nearby Truchas, apparently maintains an interest in making use of the property for films and cultural activities).
About a decade after the family moved to today’s Los Luceros, sometime after the death of mother Juana Arguello, Sebastian’s brother Francisco teamed up with Juan Marquis and Lozaro de Cordova and petitioned Governor Juan Domingo de Bustamente on July 17, 1725, for a tract of land three leagues west of Picuris pueblo, described as being bound by a dry arroyo near present Cuestacitas on the east, by Francisco’s brother’s grant on the south, and by the Rio Bravo del Norte on the northwest. Bustamente approved the Embudo Grant, on the condition that the Alcalde of Santa Fe examined the rights of all third parties involved and ensured that the grant did not violate existing rights of usage.
Jose Miguel de la Vega y Coca went straight to Picuris pueblo and met with the village leadership, who immediately protested the grant, saying that they used the lands for pasturage and that they had cultivated part of the land. The alcalde investigated the claim, and finding no evidence of any farming activity, he went back to the village leadership, who then admitted that the protest was made to prevent settlement of the Embudo Creek valley by Spaniards. With that admission, no further investigation was deemed necessary, and with their grant secured, Francisco and partners began constructing on Sept. 20 the “El Puerto del Embudo de Nuestro Señor San Antonio,” or more simply stated, the San Antonio de Embudo settlement (where Dixon is today), complete with watchtowers and other defenses. He died there after his will was written in 1764.
People continued to move into the area throughout Francisco and Sebastian’s lives. In 1751, Governor Tomas Veles Cachupin came to Sebastian with a request for an unused portion of his grant located near Santo Tomas del Rio de las Trampas in order to help broker a deal for 12 Santa Fe families to move in. Sebastian agreed to this act of good will on July 1, and this land became part of the Town of Trampas Grant. After Annexation, the U.S. Congress confirmed recognition of this Grant in 1860 during the summer before the national elections that brought in Abraham Lincoln to the presidency.
A couple generations later, Valentin Martin, Francisco’s grandson through Juan Francisco Martin and Maria Guadalupe Villalpando, and his cousin Eusebio, led the effort to resettle Trampas’ northern neighbor, Santa Barbara. By April 3, 1796, the Santa Barbara Grant was approved, extending the family’s control of the region along the High Road to Taos.
The descent to Eulalia
Around 1706, Francisco Martin, future holder of the Embudo Grant and son of Pedro, married Casilda Contreras. At the time, the family was still living in the Santa Cruz River valley not far from the mission church at Santa Cruz de la Cañada. Before their daughter Josefa was born around 1717 in what was likely the Los Luceros hacienda, the couple had at least five children, including three that produced descendants of their own. Sometimes a neglected fact: the couple could not have moved to Embudo Creek before 1725, the year that Governor Bustamente approved the Embudo Grant, and they were likely living at the discretion of Francisco’s older brother Sebastian at the ever-growing hacienda.
On Oct. 2, 1734, Francisco’s daughter, Josefa married at age 17 her first husband, Luis Suazo, at San Juan de los Caballeros. Luis, age 30, was apparently born out of wedlock as the son of bachelor Diego de Padilla, most likely in Santa Fe. The mother disappeared from record, other than her name being Suazo, and Luis’ father took the responsibility of raising him. The boy was just a toddler when Diego married his first wife Catalina Gutierrez de Salazar in Bernalillo in 1706, and was still a boy when his father married his second wife Maria Vasquez de Lara in that same town in 1713. In 1718, Luis moved with Diego’s legitimate family to his new land grant of Lo de Padilla, situated on his family’s pre-Revolt lands south of Isleta. What caused him to head north to Rio Arriba is unclear, but the couple did appear to have a child there a little less than eight months after their Oct. 2, 1734, marriage. He died sometime in the 1740s, having fathered six children, including our family ancestor, Juan Antonio (born around June 1735). Josefa remarried Pedro Medina, whose children all came into this world in the 1750s.
At around the same time that Francisco, Josefa’s father, was starting his family, Cristobal Martin, grandson of Luis through his son Cristobal, and his wife Antonia Moraga, married 20-year-old Maria Antonia Montoya de Paredes in the fledgling town of Bernalillo on Feb. 24, 1699. They had their first child that same year after relocating to the area of Chimayo, and continued to have children there until about 1715. A year later, Cristobal and his mother Antonia Moraga were together implicated in a legal action over their lands in this area of the Santa Cruz River valley with Antonio de Ulibarri. Years later, Cristobal married as his second wife 15-year-old Juliana Maese on July 12, 1728, at San Juan de los Caballeros. The couple, who continued to live on the Santa Cruz River, would have at least three children with birth dates spread across the 1730s and 1740s.
The family ancestor among Cristobal Martin Serrano and Maria Antonia Montoya de Paredes’ children was Lugarda, born in 1707. The girl’s childhood at least through age 9 was probably uneventful, as little was recorded about her family living near present Chimayo. Sometime after that, her mother died. On Oct. 23, 1723, when she was 16, she met and married 15-year-old Francisco Antonio Valdes y Bustos at Santa Cruz de la Cañada. His parents, who brought him into the world at Nambe pueblo, were likely recruited by Juan Paez Hurtado on behalf of Governor Vargas to immigrate to New Mexico. The couple would have their first child in 1726 with the birth of Francisca, and would continue to have children on their Santa Cruz River valley farm through 1750, when the two were in their early 40s. By 1774 Francisco Antonio would pre-decease his wife, Lugarda, who passed away on Dec. 17, 1780.
Both branches of the family reunited in the next generation when Juan Antonio Suazo, the 24-year-old son of Luis Suazo and Josefa Martin, married the sister of Bernardo Valdez, his new brother-in-law. In a ceremony at Santa Cruz de la Cañada on Sept. 27, 1759, Matilda Rita, the 21-year-old daughter of Francisco Antonio Valdes y Bustos and Lugarda Martin Serrano, furthered the bonds between the Suazo and Valdes families of the area through their union. The new couple had their first child, Maria Gertrudis, more than a year later around the first part of 1761. It would take another nine years before the rest of the children would start to be born, with the last coming into the world along the Santa Cruz River in 1780.
Much of the rest of the lineage to Eulalita remains the same as when I first uncovered it more than a year ago. Their third known child arrived around the start of 1772, Maria Rosa. She married Cristobal Gonzalez, born around October 1765, sometime before the 1790 Spanish census of the colony. Indeed, Maria Rosa appears to have married quite young, as their first child was born not very long after 1785. By 1789, the couple were living in Truchas, but apparently only briefly, as by 1794, they had relocated to the Embudo Creek valley on land granted originally to Rosa’s great-grandfather. The couple continued to sire children in the area through 1816, after which Rosa apparently passed away. Cristobal married his second wife afterward, Maria Antonia Chacon, whose marriage seemed to be something of a post-childbearing relationship.
Among Cristobal Gonzalez and Maria Rosa Suazo’s children, Jose Angel Gonzalez provided the next generation along my family’s lineage. Born Aug. 4, 1799, during a period in which the couple returned to the Santa Cruz River valley, this Jose Angel Gonzalez led a relatively quiet and normal life. This fact is important as there was another Jose Angel Gonzalez born in the same year in San Francisco del Rancho, that rejected the quiet life. This other Jose Angel Gonzalez, the son of Jose Antonio Gonzalez and a Tewa mother from Taos, led the Chimayo Rebellion of 1837, and he is sometimes included among the Mexican governors of New Mexico. He was executed by Manuel Armijo, who served as governor under independent Mexico two times before Annexation (1837-1844 and 1845-1846).
Our family’s humbler Jose Angel Gonzalez married Maria Manuela de Herrera and began having children on Jan. 26, 1820, with the birth of Maria Rosa, mother of Eulalita, after he and his wife moved from the Santa Cruz River to the Embudo Creek valley. The couple would continue to provide aunts and uncles for Eulalita through 1842.
Maria Rosa, meanwhile, married Jose Maria Esquibel just before Annexation, leaving behind the hills beyond Embudo Pass and settling in La Canova, just across the Rio Bravo del Norte from La Joya, the town that would later become Velarde, New Mexico, the starting point of the first installment.
A family’s deep involvement in the history of a region is, of course, why a person walking through its countryside might feel some sort of unexplained connection with it. With so many ancestral spirits looking down, you’ll either feel empowered by their encouragement toward your worthy goals, or possibly embarrassed with their disappointment in your failings. But even if you’ve never seen the place before, you’ll know from their presence that this is home, no matter how exotic the location.