Fr. Juan Romero
Today---October 21, 2012---ten days after the Golden Jubilee of the Second Vatican Council and the opening of the Year of Faith, Kateri Tekakwitha was officially canonized a saint. Together with her, Pope Benedict XVI also declared six others saints. I was privileged to be among a crushing throng of thousands in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Saint Kateri, “Lily of the Mohawks,” was born of an Algonquin mother and Mohawk chief in what is today upstate New York near the Canadian border. She is the first native American to be canonized. Both of her parents died by the time she was four, and Kateri died from smallpox in 1680 at the young age of 24.
I learned today from an eastcoaster that her name is properly pronouced KATeri. His companion commented it was a case of potaaato/potahto. From a NY Times article, I also learned that Tekakwitha was a nick-name given her after she became partially blind from smallpox. It means “She who bumps into things.”
It is not a stretch to connect St. Kateri to New Mexico. My affection for her is related to my roots there, and my love for the Taos Pueblo and its people. Corina Santistevan, New Mexican historian and preservationist, as well as one of my special mentors, has greatly promoted devotion to Kateri in the north (of NM) where love for the new saint has increased in recent years. Kateri’s canonization comes toward the end of this year that began on January 6 with the centennial celebration of New Mexico as a State of the Union. It had been a Territory of the United States since its military occupation in 1846.
It seems super-ironic to me that St. Kateri Tekakwitha died in 1680, the same year in which took place the only successful rebellion of Native Americans against Europeans, Spanish settlers. Popé, a talented shaman, linguist and warrior from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, coordinated the uprising beginning in Taos. Spanish colonists in 1598 had named the Pueblo San Juan, and Popé is clearly to be distinguished from “the pope.” The settlers were driven south toward the El Paso area and beyond, but returned thirteen years later, somewhat chastened and having learned to live in peace with the original inhabitants. May Kateri intercede today for all peoples to live toether in peace in spite of cultural and religious differences.
I see Kaeri as a “suffering servant type,” and a figure of reconciliation. She died of a disease unknown to Indians before the coming of the White man, and in that sense---although herself innocent---took our burdens upon herself.
I also see her as a liminal person, one of the saints of the American continent who unites people across borders. Her mother introduced her to her Catholic faith. Faithful to it, she studied it as a young woman and was baptized at eighteen. Ridicued for her fatih, she moved to Canada where Catholics claim her as their own, as well as people of the entire American continent including the United States, Central and South America. After more than five centuries of evangelization in the new world of America, and four centuries after her death, she is the first “Native American” to finally be canonized.
Today I salute the people of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians with whom I have been privileged to work. The Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Palm Springs this last December celbrated the centennial Cahuilla Indians donated land to the Catholic Church through the Bishop of San Diego.
As we begin this Year of Faith, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council was inaugurated, may Saint Kateri Tekakwitha help us to grow in our Catholic faith and to be conscious agents of the “new evangelization.”
[Letter to an artistic Taoseña, close relative of Padre Martinez – written 2004, revised 2012.]
Fr. Juan Romero
You ask my opinion on clerical celibacy. Yes, I think it should become optional for any diocesan priest. In my view, this would greatly enhance the freedom with which a priest to whom God has given the charism of celibacy will live it. Within a few sentences discussing marriage, adultery, divorce, and virginity or celibacy, Jesus’ disciples suggested, “it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted…. Some [are incapable of marriage] because they…have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven….Whoever can accept this ought to accept it."
St. Paul gave his own witness in favor of celibacy for practical motives as well as for theological reasons. He was single-hearted, and counseled celibacy to other disciples and evangelizers to be fully concerned for the service of the people to whom they are sent instead of being wrapped up in the cares of wife and family. In Paul's teaching, celibacy is a charism, a special gift given by God for building up the Body of Christ, the Church. It is a gift freely given, and awaits a free response. Both the gift and response have to be free if God is to be pleased. If a response to a gift is somehow forced, then there is no real freedom in the response. Freedom has to be from within the mind and heart. If celibacy is a charism, a gift God gives to a particular person for the good of the whole Church, let us hope that such a person freely accepts the gift.
However, a person must also be free not to accept a particular gift from God without in any way fearing s/he might be punished for not accepting a gift offered. Furthermore, no one should try to pretend s/he has a gift from God if in fact s/he does not. The pretense is worse if the person then tries to live as if s/he has a gift of “wisdom, knowledge, healing, mighty deed, prophecy, discernment of spirits, gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues,”…or celibacy. For example, being an artist is a gift of God; it is a talent that comes from Him. For sure, one has to work at it in order to better develop it. While only some may have the gift of celibacy, there are others who definitely do not. Any gift God gives is for His greater glory and the service of people. Of course, a gift—talent or charism—given by God may also be used for self-fulfillment and as a way to make a living, but only secondarily.
The Pauline text on Marriage and Virginity merits prayerful reflection by anyone interested in understanding or appreciating celibacy. The footnotes in a bible are worth studying and contemplating. Here are some texts from Chapter 7 of St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians that I particularly recommend for reflection:
• "Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another."
• "...Everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one."
• "Now in regard to virgins I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion...that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is,” i.e. either married or single.
• "I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided...."
• "So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better."
Clerical celibacy matters because of the example of Jesus, the exhortation of St. Paul, and the practice of several centuries in the Western (Latin Rite) Church. However, for a Catholic clergyman to be required to be celibate is not a dogma of the Church, and therefore theoretically could be changed. The apostles were all married, except for St. John. We hear about how Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law when he lived with them. For the first ten centuries of the Church, the great majority of clergy were married. At the same time, there has always been the witness of monks and later religious order priests such as Franciscans, Dominicans, etc. who are religious by definition because they take the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Celibacy is an evangelical counsel, not a divine mandate. Although clerical celibacy is not essential to priesthood, it is a serious discipline. For Catholic clergy in the Western Church, celibacy is a matter of church law as well as an evangelical counsel. The bishop may punish celibacy’s flagrant violation with the ecclesiastical censure of suspension from officiating at the sacred duties of presiding at Mass and administering sacraments.
In my opinion, if the rule mandating celibacy were to be changed, that would strengthen the freedom of celibacy as a charism by which one freely responds to God's call. It is a vocation that can be lived with authenticity only if it is freely chosen in response to God’s initiative. It is obviously not for everyone, nor is it even necessarily a “better way,” but only different. It is, however, very definitely a call to some. Part of its importance within the Catholic community is that it bears witness to the future—the fullness of the coming of the kingdom—when giving in marriage will no longer be.
The life of celibacy is essential to the chosen life of a vowed religious priest, brother, or sister. Taking the vow of celibacy, together with the vows of poverty and obedience, is what makes a Franciscan, Dominican, Jesuit or member of any religious order fall into the category of a religious. A diocesan priest---sometimes called a secular priest because he lives “in the world, but is not of it”--- is not irreligious. However, he is not a religious in the manner of one who takes vows to keep the evangelical counsels. This is one of the main distinctions between a diocesan/secular priest and a religious order priest or sister. Nevertheless, the diocesan/secular priest promises to live in the spirit of the evangelical counsels as they apply to his state of life, but is not bound to them by the virtue of religion.
Another important difference between a diocesan/secular priest and a religious is that a religious priest is immediately subject to the authority of his religious superior, sometimes called a provincial. On the other hand, a diocesan priest is immediately subject to the authority of the local bishop of his diocese. A diocesan/secular priest belongs to a diocese, the local church. The priest is "incardinated into” or hooked onto a particular diocese, like a hinge on a door. The diocese is the “door,” and the “hinge” is the promise of reverence and obedience to the particular bishop of that diocese, together with the promise to serve the people of that local church. The real authority for any priest has to be Jesus Christ, but his immediate earthly authority is either the superior for a religious priest, or the local bishop for a secular/diocesan priest. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--when there were only Franciscans in New Mexico--the Franciscan Custos (Guardian) was the main person directly in charge of priest-personnel.
Since the ninth century, celibacy became a rule for all priests of the Latin Rite in the Western Church. One of the primary goals of the rule, as Father Cozzen explains, was to insure that church property would not be passed onto the children of a priest. Priests that you are familiar with are of the Latin Rite. Most western Catholics are not well informed about the Eastern Rites of our one, holy, Catholic (universal), and apostolic church. Eastern Rite Catholics believe all the same doctrines (dogmas) that we do; they have the same sacraments (Eucharist is central for them as well); they honor Blessed Mary with great devotion, maybe even more than we do; and they are in union with the Holy Father in Rome.
Both the Eastern Rite Catholic Church in union with Rome, as well as the Greek Orthodox Church separated from Rome, maintain their custom of a married clergy. However, in the early twentieth century, the Latin Church imposed its discipline of celibacy upon Eastern Rite clergy residing and ministering in the United States. Eastern Rite Catholics are not to be confused with members of the Eastern Orthodox Church who also adhere to the same dogmas, have the same sacraments, and honor Mary. However, they do not acknowledge the authority of the pope in the same way we do. Their members are our closest brothers and sisters within the family of Christians. Although the will of God and prayer of Jesus is that we “all be one,” we have sadly and scandalously been estranged since Great Western Schism of 1054. We Roman Catholics believe that our Holy Father in Rome is the successor of St. Peter whom Jesus chose—together with all of Peter’s successors—to be the visible head of the Church on earth. “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…” The Greek Orthodox Church may have great respect for the Bishop of Rome as the Patriarch of the West, but it does not see him in the same way as Catholics.
In my opinion, a change in the rule of celibacy making it optional for priests of the Latin Rite to marry or not would enhance the practice of celibacy. God freely gives the gift (charism) to whomever He wills. Some diocesan priests who have received and accepted the charism of celibacy happily and faithfully live out that life. Other diocesan priests who perhaps feel called both to priesthood and to marriage would be able to integrate both vocations into their lives. Monks and religious order priests, however, would always live their charism of the celibate life that is intrinsic to the nature of their vocation, fidelity to the evangelical councils that includes celibacy.
A change in policy would allow diocesan priests to either marry or to remain single. Many priests perhaps may choose to marry if given the option. However, those who choose to remain single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” would do so because God has called them to live a celibate life and has given them the graces to do so. With His actual graces, the Lord helps a priest or religious woman live their celibate vocation fully and freely. These graces enable a person to act with an enlightened mind to better discern God’s holy will, and an energized heart to fully, faithfully, and freely follow God’s will. The Lord gives these special helps (graces) to the persons He wills to bless with the gift (charism) of celibacy. However, each person so gifted has to freely accept the gift, and to ask the Lord for His help to remain faithful in living it out.
It may be surprise you to know that even at the present time in the Western Rite—in both Europe and here in the United States-- there are Catholic priests in good standing who are also married! This is the case of some Lutheran and Anglican men who were married clergymen and later became Catholics. Keeping their wives, they were ultimately ordained as Catholic priests.
I predict there will someday be a change in the discipline of celibacy that would allow some so-called “permanent” deacons who are married to eventually also become ordained as priests while retaining their wives. Deacons are already part of the hierarchy-- the “holy orders” of deaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy. Such deacons ready and willing to respond to the call to priesthood will have already shown well-developed qualities of stability and spiritual maturity. Their stability is reflected in solid marriages, and their spiritual maturity echoed by consistent and effective service as deacons serving the community over a period of years, perhaps seven. Such a deacon would likely be required to spend a year or two in formative preparation for ordination to priesthood. If there is to be a change in the discipline of celibacy for clergy of the Western Rite, the Holy Spirit will show the way, and it will happen in God’s good time, God’s right time.
I briefly review for you some history of your antepasado: Antonio José Martínez, born of the Martín Serrano clan in 1793 at the Plaza of Santa Rosa in Abiquiú, validly married a distant relative when he was a young man of 19. He fathered a daughter in the town of his birth, but the following year, his wife died in childbirth. Two years later, leaving his daughter with her maternal grandparents, Antonio José traveled to Durango to enter the seminary and study for the priesthood. At the time, all of New Mexico and surrounding regions belonged to the diocese of Durango that was part of the Kingdom of Spain. The year before he was ordained in 1822, the Republic of Mexico had become independent from Spain, and Taos became the northern frontier of the new Republic. After six years of study, he was ordained a priest at the age of 29.
Sickly, he returned to Taos before formally finishing his studies, and lived with his parents while recuperating from his breathing ailment. Meanwhile, Padre Martinez helped the elderly Franciscan pastor of San Geronimo parish whose seat was at the Taos Pueblo. The parish included Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at the Taos Plaza, a mission of the Pueblo Church, and the church of his boyhood. He got better, and was assigned as the priest in charge of Tomé south of Albuquerque, and then another stint at Santo Tomás Church in Abiquiú where he had been baptized, married, and where his wife lay buried. During this time, he had the opportunity to re-connect with his daughter who was living with her grandparents, his in-laws and parents of his deceased wife. Alas, within a year, his daughter María de La Luz also died at the young age of twelve in the year 1825. By 1826, Padre Martínez was assigned to become the priest in charge of San Geronimo parish that included his beloved church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Taos. He was to have an eventful career for the next forty-two years not only as a priest, but also as an educator, journalist-printer-publisher, rancher, lawyer and politician. His concern for the poor wherever he was became a hallmark of his ministry.
In 1851, Santa Fe and its environs (including Taos) became part of a new diocese within the United States. However, after a few years, he began to have conflicts with his bishop, and the last years of his life were clouded in controversy with his new bishop. However, his peers in the Territorial Legislature continued to hold him in high regard, and upon his death in 1867 carved this encomium upon his tombstone: “La Honra de Su País/The Honor of His Homeland.”
Padre Martinez was an intellectual and practical leader who did wonderful things for the benefit of the people of New Mexico and beyond. His accomplishments were great, and so were some of his faults including pride and obstinacy. Bishop Jean B. Lamy suspended him in 1856, and excommunicated him in 1858 for his “scandalous writings” against the bishop’s policy re-introducing tithing. Even as a young priest, as far back as 1829, Padre Martinez had resisted that policy enshrined in the civil law of the Republic of Mexico because it was an excessive burden on the poor. He later, during the mid 1830s, used his legislative skills to change civil law to make tithing illegal.
Neither Bishop Lamy nor his Vicar General Joseph Machebeuf ever alleged immoral behavior on the part of Padre Martinez, but the fact is that he did have children while serving as the priest of Taos. He definitely had a vocation to the intellectual life, and service for the benefit of the people, especially the poor. He may have had a vocation to the priesthood, but he certainly did not have the charism of celibacy.
Your tío Vicente has written clearly about the progeny of Padre Martínez, and is publishing the results of his extensive research. I commend to you his work soon to be published in a genealogical journal, but wish to highlight a few items I deem especially significant:
• In his Last Will and Testament, modified and ratified a month before he died in 1867, Padre Martínez mentions briefly—almost curtly—his only legitimate daughter María de La Luz who was named after his young wife that died in childbirth. He was to have two other daughters given the same name, the first also died as an infant. Padre Martínez had a predilection for the name, and a great devotion to Blessed Mary under the title La Purísima Concepción de María. He kept and revered a favorite image still extant among the heirlooms of the family; his private oratorio and graveside (campo santo) were dedicated to La Purísima.
• His first son was born in July 1830 around the feast of Santiago (July 25). There have been questions about the identity of the mother, whether or not Padre Martinez was actually the father, and from whom did Santiago get his last name of Valdez. It seems clear that Padre Martinez was indeed the father of Santiago Valdez, and a certain Theodora Marquez was his mother. Your uncle Vicente Martínez deftly and thoroughly provides answers to most questions raised, and I emphasize a few items. Padre Martinez had a special love for Santiago—educated him well in his own schools (elementary school, seminary and law school), brought him up as part of his own family (the Padre refers to him in his Will as “mi familiar”), named him administrator of his Last will and Testament. He also asked Santiago and Vicente Ferrer, the next to youngest son and future Presbyterian evangelizer, to be care-takers of his private chapel. The Padre bequeathed to Santiago and to his descendants the use of the Padre’s own family name of Martinez, i.e., children of Martín. Finally, Padre Martinez left his precious books and documents to Santiago Valdez. In 1877, a decade after the Padre’s death, Santiago would stitch together the Biografía del Presbêtero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos today found in the Ritch Collection of the Huntington Library near Los Angeles. A fully annotated scholarly version English is scheduled for publication in the near future.
• Padre Martinez had other children with Teodora Romero Trujillo. At 16, she married a Mr. Oliver, and gave birth to a daughter in 1826. Within a short time and maybe at the same time---perhaps in an accident—both father and daughter died. This was the same year that Padre Martínez returned to Taos as the new priest in town. The young widow Theodora lived with her parents next door to the Padre’s house, and she eventually became the priest’s housekeeper. Human circumstances led both first to mutual friendship, and eventually—within four years--blossomed into a more intimate and long-term relationship. Their respective fathers had known each other and worked together in Taos since the early nineteenth century. It is quite possible that Severino Martínez and José Romero--the respective fathers of Padre Martinez and Teodora Romero--were business partners. Their names are associated with the land and building of Guadalupe Church in Taos since 1804. Furthermore, Severino obtained some nearby land that in 1825 he gave for the building of a residence to his son the new parish priest in town. Moreover, both Padre Martínez and Theodora had been widowed at a young age, and each also had lost a daughter. The priest and his young housekeeper had a son, and over the following fourteen years, the couple would have a number of children. As a loving and dutiful father, Padre Martinez in his Last Will and Testament explicitly and adequately provided for each of them.
Padre Martínez named his next son, born of Theodora in 1831, George---not Jorge. By family lore, it is thought that this name in English was given to honor George Washington for whom Padre Martinez had great appreciation. The maternal grandparents were José Romero and María Trujillo.
• Next to the last son was Vicente Ferrer Romero, born in 1844. He is a significant figure in New Mexican history insofar as he carried on the religious and publication legacy of his father, the priest. However, he did so as a Presbyterian evangelist and publisher of Protestant tracts. When in his formative teenage years, thirteen and fourteen, the controversy between Bishop Lamy and Padre Martinez was cresting and exploded into suspension and finally excommunication by 1858. By the time Vicente Ferrer Romero was a mature man entering his thirties, he came into contact with the Presbyterian minister Rev. Roberts, and in 1873 invited him to Taos where Vicente helped him establish a school. Vicente Ferrer Romero became an effective circuit rider appealing to many disaffected Catholics who were smarting and devastated the denunciation of their beloved Cura de Taos.
A band of Jesuit priests gave missions in Taos after Padre Martinez died in 1867. As a result, many families and individuals who had been disaffected returned to the Catholic Church, but certainly not all. What is true is that both Catholics and Presbyterians over the years have become more united in their appreciation of Padre Martinez, Cura de Taos, and appreciative of his legacy. At the unveiling of the bronze life-sized memorial of Padre Martinez placed at the center of the Taos Plaza in July 2006, Edmundo Vasquez—a relative of the Padre and committed Presbyterian layman—prayed the main prayer of dedication for the event.
Padre Martinez died reconciled to his Church through the sacraments of Penance, Anointing and Holy Communion administered by Padre Lucero of Arroyo Hondo---his former student, friend and neighbor. In my own prayers, I often commend Padre Martínez to the Lord, and I invite you to do the same. He succeeded in doing a lot of good, and followed his conscience. May we do the same.
God bless him and all of us!
Father Juan Romero
 Mt. 19: 10-12, New American Bible.
 I Cor. 7.
 Cf. I Cor. 12-14 for St. Paul’s theology and practical exhortations about charisms for the good of the community.
 I Cor. 7.
 Such as the New American Bible published by Oxford University Press Inc., New York.
 I Cor. 7:7.
 I Cor. 7:17.
 I Cor. 7:26.
 I Cor. 7: 33-34.
 I Cor. 7: 38.
 The discipline of clerical celibacy has been the rule for Catholic clergy of the Roman Rite since the Second Lateran Council in the tenth century.
 Mt 8:14.
 From the Latin saeculum that means world.
 Cozzens, op. cit., passim.
 Jn 17:21.
 Mt. 16: 18.
 Mt. 19:12
[Prepared for CEHILA-USA and given at Miami, Florida 5-30-2008]
In 1943, my family came to Los Angeles from Taos and Albuquerque, NM. Dad landed a wartime job as an accountant for Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. The journey and our settlement was part of a long tradition of the New Mexican colonization of southern California whose culmination had taken place almost a century before. Antecedents of a pattern of migration to California—through Baja California-- go back before the founding of the United States.[i] Between 1830 and 1842, over 150 families from New Mexico came and settled in southern California, making up the largest population center between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Although the territory historically had a variety of names, the area was best known as Agua Mansa or San Salvador, clustering around today’s town of Colton on the border between San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The inhabitants of these various small villages came to California from New Mexico through Abiquiu northwest of Santa Fe and southwest of Taos, and the majority settled in the area’s neighborhoods within a four-year span from 1838 to 1842. Of course, some of the New Mexican immigrants settled in the much larger town of Los Angeles, and others traveled into northern California and other environs.
The leader or trailmaster of this trek from New Mexico to California in the fall of 1841 was Lorenzo Trujillo. His partners leading the group were fellow Abiqueños and mule-wrangler Hipolitano Espinosa, and Comandante José Antonio Martinez de La Rosa (de La Puente) was guide. Comandante Martinez was a single man, and would not become a settler as Trujillo and Espinosa were doing. It was the Comandante, however, who about four days after their arrival in California, would on November 9, 1842 make the contact with Mexican immigration authorities in Los Angeles to advise them the group from New Mexico had arrived.
Five early settlers from Abiquiu in Southern California had various degrees of kinship with Padre Antonio José Martinez who was also in Abiquiu. Although popularly known as the Cura de Taos, Padre Martinez shared the same place of birth and most likely some personal interaction with these five who enjoyed a strong New Mexico-California Connection:
· Julian Chavez
· Santiago Martinez
· Comandante José Antonio Martínez
· Lorenzo Trujillo
· Encarnación Martínez de Rowland
Julian Chavez came to Los Angeles in 1830 at the tender age of twenty, and was Vice Mayor of Los Angeles by the time he was thirty. Since 1958, his name has been linked with the L.A. Dodgers who at that time made “Chavez Ravine”[ii] their home. The other Aquiqueños were transplanted in and around various small communities surrounding what is today the town of Colton along the border of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. It is liminal space—a miniature borderland--along the Santa Ana River at the crossroads of the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads as well as the intersection of Interstate Highways 10 and 215.
Santiago Martinez, although he had made other trips to the area probably since 1830, was the first of the group to settle nearby. Before reaching their destination, his wife gave birth to their son in 1838, and took up residence by the Santa Ana River that at one time may have been an Indian inhabitation.[iii] This northern New Mexico nuclear family thus became the first non-Indian inhabitants of what was to become known as the Inland Empire.
Both Comandante José Antonio Martínez and Lorenzo Trujillo were key pioneers of the Agua Mansa-San Salvador developments.
The parents of Encarnación Martinez de Rowland were Felipe Martin(ez) and (Ana) María Trujillo of Ranchos de Taos,[iv] and Santiago Martinez was “believed to be related to Encarnación. ”[v] At least since1834, John Rowland or his wife Encarnación or his in-laws was doing business in California in the trade of New Mexican blankets for California horses and mules.[vi]
Padre Martinez wrote a very significant Letter of Transit for John Rowland and family in 1842 when they emigrated from New Mexico to settle in California. John Rowland and William Workman—both having New Mexican wives and having become Catholics and naturalized citizens of the Mexican Republic—were eligible to own property and were among the first Anglos to become landowners in California. Although Padre Antonio José Martinez was never an inhabitant of California, with his Letter of Transit on behalf of John Rowland and his wife Encarnación Rowland de Martínez—likely a relative of the Padre--he nevertheless helped to fuel the development and even population explosion of the territory. In this essay, I wish to highlight this Letter of Transit for its significance in illustrating Padre Martinez’ own California Connection.
Abiquiu today is a small village or group of villages along NM Hwy 84, southwest of Taos and northwest of Santa Fe-Santa Cruz (Española)-Chimayó and San Juan Pueblo. Throughout the nineteenth century, this village of beehive of activity served as a major conduit, if not launching pad, for travel between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. It was also the birthplace of a remarkable group of people who greatly influenced the life and growth of California in the two decades between1830 and 1850. It remains a spiritual vortex, a mystic space of great beauty that served as the jumping off point for many trekkers from New Mexico to California.
In Jurassic times, Abiquiu was near Panama—slowly being separated by the shift of tectonic plates at the rate of one thumb nail’s width a year. Remnants of prehistoric dinosaurs, common to both Panama and Abiquiu, were discovered in 1947 nearby Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian Retreat Center located on Las Animas land grant. Over the centuries, Abiquiu has been a welcoming place for many quite different kinds of people. Indians of every stripe and mixture, resulting from native peoples’ long history of internecine warfare and intermarriage, have made it their home. Many Indian children were captured in warfare among different tribes or with Spanish settlers. Those growing up in Spanish homes as servants or slaves—a practice not considered controversial at the time--were baptized and brought up as Christian and known as Genízaros. Buffalo soldiers—black men serving in the Civil War—also have their honored place in Abqiuiu history. New Mexico in general, but especially Abiquiu, is famous for its Brujas/brujos. The folk tales about them reflect the transcendent and spiritual nature of the stark yet supremely beautiful landscape shaded in textures of yellow, brown, orange, ochre, white and rust. Its hills and high cliffs inspire spiritual seekers such as Penitentes, monks (Catholic and Shiite), artists as well as reclusive movie stars. Its high desert lands are peppered with skeletal remains of cattle, often represented by Georgia O’Keefe.
Julian Chavez came from Abiquiu to Los Angeles in 1830 when he was twenty years old—within a year after the first trade caravans left Santa Fe for Los Angeles. Chavez was a pre-teen when Padre Martinez as a young curate returned to Abiquiu, the village of his birth, to serve as parish priest at Santo Tomás, the church of his baptism. Young Julian may have been an altar server for Padre Martinez in their small community, since he was about the right age for that.[vii] Julian Chavez was among the sixty men that Antonio Armijo led in 1830 from Abiquiu into California through northern Arizona (the Gila River route) and southern Utah. After eighty-six days en route, Armijo’s party arrived at San Gabriel Mission where they traded New Mexican blankets for California horses and mules that were already commodities of major exchange.
Chavez eventually settled among the gentle hills along the Río de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúcula, twelve miles west of the Mission and a very short distance northeast of what is now central city Los Angeles. Chavez Ravine/Palo Verde is not very far from the opening to Elysian Park by El Río Porciúncula (the L.A. River) flowing (most of the time) under the location where the North Broadway bridge would come to be located. On a hot day in early August1769, members of the Gaspár Portolá expedition rested on a nearby hill overlooking the river. It served as a cool resting place on their way from newly founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá to Monterrey, the capital of Alta California at the time.
The day was August 2, a day special to Franciscans for recalling the small chapel in his hometown of Assisi where St. Francis in the thirteenth century died. In life, he used to like to visit the place and spend time there in prayer. Three centuries later, his followers dwarfed the chapel by building a large basilica around it. The chapel became known as the “small portion”—la porciúcula. Franciscans dedicated the chapel and basilica to Our Lady of the Angels, and celebrate the feast day of that dedication on August 2.
While resting on the hillside overlooking the river, Fray Juan Crespín , chaplain of the de Portolá expedition, noted the date and feast day in his diary, and named the river for the feast day. Some twelve years later, colonists from Sonora would establish a pueblo twelve miles east of San Gabriel Mission, and name it for the river’s full name: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúcula.
The Elysian Park hillside on North Broadway where the Portolá expedition rested was an entrance to the Palo Verde neighborhood that was better known as Chavez Ravine that in 1958 became the new home of the former Brooklyn Dodgers. It was named for Julian Chavez, another man from Abiquiu who came to California when he was young, about twenty years old, and eventually became the equivalent of Vice Mayor of Los Angeles.
Americans claiming their Lone Star independence from both Mexico and the United States lost the Alamo to Mexican troops, but won the more important battle at San Jacinto in 1836. In an effort to recuperate revenues from military expenditures in Texas, General Santa Ana decided to levy taxes in New Mexico, and sent Albino Perez to do the job. José María Chavez of Abiquiu, Lieutenant in the Mexican Army and older brother of Julian Chavez, supported Perez in the failed attempt to impose taxes. Julian Chavez while in his twenties, traveled a few times between California and New Mexico. In 1837, he joined his older brother in the tax-collecting effort, and by 1838 definitively moved to California.
Indians and New Mexican settlers of the north—around Chimayó, NM—rose up against the government of the Republic of Mexico in1837. The rebels beheaded Governor Perez, installed a Pueblo Indian in the Governors’ Palace at Santa Fe, and then singled out the Chavez brothers for execution for collaborating with Albino Perez. Consequently, together with several relatives, the Chavez brothers left their family home in Abiquiu--an adobe building diagonally across the road from Santo Tomás Church that later became residence of Georgia O'Keefe—and made their way out of New Mexico by way of Utah to California. For Julian, it was a return trip, but this time he stayed tending to his property and political career.[viii] In 1838, when he was thirty years old and only after eight years in California, Julian Chavez (1810-1879) became the Interim Mayor of Los Angeles.
Chavez served three terms as a member of the County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors in 1852, 1858, and 1861. His tract of land in Elysian Park (“Chavez Ravine”) was used as an isolation hospital to treat smallpox principally among Chinese and Mexicans. Besides becoming Vice Mayor of Los Angeles, Julian Chavez also served as Councilman specializing in water rights in 1846 and 1847. The year he became a member of the first group of LA County Board of Supervisors in June 1852, he hosted a July 4th party at downtown Bella Union Hotel. Afterwards, he invited everyone to walk with him in mile-long patriotic parade for a picnic at his vineyard off Riverside Dr. in the northeast part of the city (near today’s Stadium Way on the 5 Freeway).
In1865, Julian was elected to the City Council, and soon afterwards, at the age of 55, got married to Maria Luisa Machado who was less than half his age. Bishop Mora presided at the wedding that took place at the Plaza Church of Our Lady Queen of Angels. Chavez served other terms as councilman in 1870-71, and again in 1873. He also served on the Plaza-Improvement Committee, and worked closely with William Henry Workman, the son of William Workman who had come with John Rowland from Taos to California in the early 1840s. Julian Chavez died at his home in Chavez Ravine on July 25, 1879[ix]-- at the age of 70. It was the feast of Santiago (St. James), the patron of Hispanic America so revered in New Mexico, and almost exactly twelve years to the day after the death of his fellow Abiqueño, Padre Martinez.
The first trade caravan had left from Taos to Los Angeles in 1829,[x] and Julian Chavez came the following year. Santiago Martinez may also have come into California as early as 1830. Santiago was related to Encarnación Martinez who married John Rowland in 1823. She also had roots in Abiquiú, and was related to Padre Martinez. In mid-August 1832, Santiago Martinez went “to California from New Mexico with fifteen men. Hippolito Espinosa (later a settler of Agua Mansa) is with the party.”[xi] Six years later, at the very beginning of fall in1838 and a month after the usual caravan headed for California, Santiago Martinez and his pregnant wife Manuelita Renaga were in a caravan of seven people that Lorenzo Trujillo had led from Abiquiu. Manuelita “gave birth to a son (Apolinario) in late November at Resting Springs,[xii] an oasis in the high desert near the southern end of Death Valley”[xiii] and just over the California boarder from Nevada. Trjuillo’s small caravan arrived in the San Bernardino Valley on December 12, 1838-- the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The couple decided to settle on property near the present-day town of Colton. California rancher Antonio Lugo exchanged land for the promise of protection against Indians, and Santiago knew that through Lorenzo Trujillo, he could help recruit Indian fighters from Abiquiu to protect the Lugo San Bernardino Ranch. The young Santiago Martinez family lived on a "bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River near today's San Bernardino Valley College campus."[xiv] Santiago, his wife and child stayed there, but Lorenzo and the others returned to Abiquiu with the spring caravan. They came back to Rancho San Bernardino in the fall caravan of 1840—this time to settle where Santiago had settled. Hipolitano Espinosa and his family were among the first to settle there, and the settlement came to be called "Politana"[xv] in his honor.
The California rendezvous location at Politana (an early settlement of New Mexicans, named for Hipólito Espinosa, at a draw near today's San Bernardino Valley College) was an important place in the trading scheme of things. Hipólito Espinosa returned with his family to Rancho San Bernardino in the fall of 1840 and settled near Martínez' place, thus beginning the New Mexican colonization in earnest. He worked as the chief horse wrangler for the Rancho San Bernardino, the location of his home at the settlement of Politana, and was active in the annual rendezvous near Colton where New Mexican blankets and goods were exchanged for California horses and mules. The business had become so brisk that it exceeded 4,000 animals for the 1842 spring caravan from Los Angeles over the Spanish Trail to the junction of the Santa Fe and Chihuahua Trails in the Abiquiu-Taos-Santa Fe caravan complex.[xvi]
After a relatively brief time living in Politana, there was a territorial dispute between California landowners Lugo and Bandini. As a result, New Mexican settlers moved nine miles south to the Bandini Donation where a large settlement of their fellow Abiqueños were living by now.[xvii]
John Rowland, having come from Taos to La Puente, had returned to Taos to retrieve his wife and family in order to definitively move with him to their new California home. “In the fall of 1842, the Rowlands [John, now with wife and family] returned from Taos to California along with Lorenzo Trujillo and Hipolito Espinosa in a trading caravan under the command of Santiago Martinez who is believed to be related to Encarnación.”[xviii] It seems that Santiago was a business agent in California trading for Encarnación, and when she joined her husband John Rowland in moving to California, Santiago Martinez helped them move to California. Encarnación later hired Santiago to work as foreman on their ranch where they settled in east La Puente, today’s Walnut-Rowland Heights—near Vejar School. Santiago moved from Politana, near the juncture of present day San Bernardino-Colton, and moved about sixty miles westward from Agua Mansa to east La Puente, near the location of the first Walnut (Spada) City Hall and Vejar School, Valley Blvd. and Lemon. Their “Martinez Adobe” in La Puente-Walnut, not far from the Roland Heights residence of Encarnación and John Rowland, was shown on older maps until 1970s. Santiago Martinez and family lived in the adobe for about eight years, and moved away when Encarnación died in 1850.[xix] Santiago Martinez was the first New Mexican to settle in the area, his name is the first among “Twelve Heads of families” listed in the “List of settlers drawn from the Los Angeles Census of 1844 (located at Politanta).”[xx]
COMANDANTE JOSE ANTONIO MARTINEZ
The rather mysterious figure of Comandante Antonio José (not to be confused with Antonio José) Martinez, “from the town of La Rosa…was also known by that name.”[xxi] Santa Rosa Plaza was named for St. Rose of Lima, Peru who was the first saint of the American continent. The ruins of the Santa Rosa Chapel along NM Highway 84 are still extant. Comandante José Antonio Martínez and the future priest Antonio José Martínez were both from the Abiquiu Plaza of “La Rosa,” founded in 1739 a few miles east of Abiquiú along the Chama River. Either after flooding of the Chama River or after Indian depredations from the Indian village upon the nearby hill (Potsiunge), the Santa Rosa community was obliged to move about four miles upriver to Santo Tomás that became the main church of Abiquiu, and was where Padre Martinez was baptized.
Comandante Martínez escorted the expedition from the triangular areas of Taos-Abiquiu-Santa Fe to the rectangular regions of La Puente-Walnut. The Comandante also led his people from Santa Rosa[xxii] along the Chama River to the area of San Bernardino-Colton-Riverside along the Santa Ana River. Comandante José Antonio Martínez made trips back and forth from New Mexico to California, and eventually began “to organize a colony from his friends. Don Lorenzo Trujillo was the first and the one who most helped him.”[xxiii]
At the beginning of the year 1843, the following persons with all their families left New Mexico: José Antonio Martínez de la Rosa, Hipólito Espinosa… arrived in the same year in California at the Lugo ranch, but they quickly saw that the Lugos would not let go of the land promised to [Santiago] Martínez...The were prepared to return to New Mexico when Don Juan Bandini offered to donate to them a strip of land…Immediately they moved down to the land which Bandini had donated to them.[xxiv]
The name of the “Comandante” is a military title, but at this time, there was not much of an army in New Mexico that already had been part of the Republic of Mexico for twenty-two years. Southwest historian David Weber refers to an adventurer called “Don Antonio José Martinez of Taos—perhaps a relative of Don Severino’s”[xxv] who reconnoitered the San Luis and Arkansas valleys of today’s southern Colorado and was generally active in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado in 1818 and 1819. Could this be the same José Antonio Martinez who is now helping to colonize southern California with New Mexicans, still vigorous but much more experienced after more than twenty years? The name is not so uncommon for that time and place, so he may perhaps be an entirely different man altogether.[xxvi] “Jose Martinez, the comandante, was a leader on the regular caravan to Los Angeles, so he habitually traveled without a family…[and] was killed by Indians…”[xxvii]
Lorenzo was a significant figure in the settlement of almost 150 families from Abiquiu who settled in the Agua Mansa-San Salvador area during the decade of 1840-1850. He was married to María Dolores Archuleta Martin, and they had seven children. His own family, as well as the Rowland-Workman party, was in the fall 1841 caravan that Lorenzo Trujilo led from Abiquiu to Rancho San Bernardino. Lorenzo’s four sons were contracted by traveler from Tennessee Benjamin Davis Wilson to herd a flock of sheep over the 1200-mile route.[xxviii] This was a principal food source for the party and for another group that joined up with them on the way to California. Lorenzo’s sons were Tedoro, Esquipulas, Doroteo, and Julian, and some became Indian fighters and trekkers like him. His daughter Matilde married a Sepulveda who owned land in the area of Pasadena and Altadena[xxix] where B.D. Wilson later resided and took up the timber industry. For all of Trujillo’s contributions to the area, including helping to organize regular Catholic Church services in the area, Lorenzo Trujillo could be considered Founder of Agua Mansa AKA San Salvador, on the west side of Santa Ana River tributary. Lorenzo’s homestead, AKA Plaza Trujillo, is on the eastside of that same tributary.
Lorenzo Trujillo was a Genízaro (Hispanicized Indian) orphan, probably of Comanche origin--a likely victim of children raids between nomadic peoples and Spanish settlers. Estevan Trujillo and his wife Juliana Martin-Serrano adopted him, and presented him for baptism at the church of Santo Tomás on August 12, 1794-- the same church where his fellow Abiqueño Antonio José Martinez was baptized a year and a half earlier. Lorenzo’s adopting parents were also his padrinos—not something that is usual. His stepmother adopting him was of the large and powerful Martin-Serrano clan of Abiquiu, so well connected among themselves. Lorenzo took his surname Trujillo from Juliana’s husband, his stepfather Estevan.
Lorenzo Trujillo gained fame as a caravan leader between New Mexico and California. More famous than his earlier treks to Los Angeles in 1838 when he brought Santiago Martinez as well as his wife and son to California, were the so-called Rowland-Workman treks of 1841 and 1842. These introduced such an interesting array of folks from New Mexico to California. The 1841 list included an Episcopal bishop, an engineer, a Taos trapper originally from Tennessee who would become Mayor of Los Angeles and have a mountain named after him.[xxx] For our purposes, however, John Rowland—for whom Roland Heights is named—was the most interesting of the 1841 trek, and his wife Encarnación Martinez de Rowland was the most interesting of the 1842 trek.
Encarnación Martínez of Taos was the most significant person connected to Padre Martinez of all these New Mexican transplants to southern California. The connection took place in the marriage between her and John Rowland that Padre Martinez helped to arrange, and the Letter of Transit that the Padre wrote in 1842, eighteen years after the marriage between John Rowland and Encarnación Martínez. It is not only possible that the priest and Rowland’s wife were related—both Martinez people from Taos. However, “it is not known [for sure] how the priest of Taos was related to Doña María de la Encarnación Martínez de Rowland.”[xxxi] Her parents were living in Ranchos de Taos where San Francisco Church is located,[xxxii] about seven miles south of the Taos Plaza where are located the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the residence of Padre Martinez.
After his ordination and before being assigned to his first parish in Tomé, south of Albuquerque, Padre Martinez lived with his parents in Taos while recuperating form ill health. Ordained less than three years, Padre Martinez aided the aged and infirm Franciscan priest of San Geronimo with Masses and other sacramental functions at the asistencia of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in the Taos Plaza that was not yet a separate parish.
John Rowland had moved to Taos from Franklin, Missouri in 1823. Padre Martinez helped to arrange the marriage between Encarnación and John Rowland in 1825. Through the marriage, John Rowland chose to become a Catholic and become a naturalized Mexican citizen. Both were necessary in order for John Rowland to have the right to own property[xxxiii] in either New Mexico or later in California. Encarnación was already a property owner. Roland was a business partner of William Workman,[xxxiv] and their endeavors included fur trapping, general merchandise, timber and whiskey.
When Texas tried to take over New Mexico in the mid-1830s, Rowland and Workman declared their sympathy with the Texas cause in spite of their Mexican citizenship. New Mexico Governor Armijo denounced them, and they decided to flee to California. In preparation for his 1841 trip to California, Rowland had asked U.S. Consul Manuel Alvarez, living in Santa Fe, for a letter of transit for his journey. Alvarez complied, and Rowland made the trip to California in 1841 with William Workman, but without his wife and family. Lorenzo Trujillo led the caravan with a variety of twenty-three American illustrious personages accompanying. This number does not include some family members, such as those of William Workman, nor the men from Abiquiu who were hired to herd the animals. The expedition left New Mexico in September 1841, and arrived at La Puente Rancho in California on November 5 of the same year.
For the year 1840-1841, Padre Martinez was on a sabbatical in Durango, and therefore not available to write a letter of transit for John Rowland’s first trip to California. Manuel Alvarez of Santa Fe, Consul for the United States of America, provided John Rowland such a letter of transit for safe passage that served as a credential and introduction to three important people who could facility Rowland’s transition. The letter, dated August 11, 1841,[xxxv] was addressed to the Governor of Upper California. Upon arrival to California, Rowland first presented the letter to the officials of Los Angeles and then to Governor Juan B. Alvarado of California who was living in Monterey. Finally a long journey of two months, Roland presented his credential to Padre Tomás Estenaga of San Gabriel Mission. An ample excerpt follows:
I take the liberty of recommending to you Mr. John Rowland, native of the United States of America, naturalized citizen and resident of this jurisdiction, since the year 1823, he being an industrious and peaceful man, very well known and respected in this country, whom I know very well, having associated with him since the early years of his settling here.
The object of his journey to our district is, besides that of spreading the use of the goods of his country, that of seeking if yours, as is rumored, presents greater advantages than this, so that he may transport himself and his numerous family to your district.
Whatever favor you may deem worthy of extending to Mr. Rowland, I shall thank you for, and if ever you will require my services in this country, you may be sure that I shall have the greatest pleasure in affording al that may make it pleasant for you.
The letter of Avarez was useful, but had its limits. More was needed than political permissions and persuasions. John Rowland in the late fall of 1841 likely presented his own letter to Governor Alvarado requesting a tract of land “in the Ex-Mission of San Gabriel a vacant place at La Puente.”[xxxvi] The Catholic Church was still a very powerful institution in this northern frontier of the former Spanish Kingdom that was now the independent Republic of Mexico. The Franciscan priest of San Gabriel Mission that owned large swaths of land in southern California had much to say about who might inhabit and come to own property in the area. Although Rowland’s letter was not addressed to him, the priest was opposed to what it proposed.
Rowland and Workman traveled to the local political official in Los Angeles, and the official informed him that lands were to be obtained by the Governor of California with a recommendation of the Padre in whose area the lands were sought. Padre Tomás Elenerio de Estenaga received Rowland courteously, but made no lands available to him or to William Workman. Their letter from the U.S. Consul in Santa Fe, therefore, was not sufficient to overcome objections to Rowland and Workman’s becoming landowners in California.
Although Governor Juan Batista Alvarado in Monterrey expressed his approval for the La Puente Land Grant to Rowland, Father Narcisio Durán--Presidente of the Missions-- countered in a letter to John Rowland dated January 14, 1842. Durán appealed to an 1835 law of the Mexican Supreme Congress and wrote to the Minister of the Interior and Public Instruction: “…I solemnly protest in the name of the neophytes of the Mission of San Gabriel, once, twice, and three times as may be customary by law, against the sale or alienation of said Rancho of La Puente, as well as against the transfers of many other pieces of land which this territorial government has effected with flagrant wrong and prejudice to the poor neophytes…I declare all such sales or transfers null…particularly not to said Juan Roldan [sic]…”[xxxvii]
Political advocates for Rowland included Prefect Santiago Arguello in Los Angeles and José L. Sepúlveda, Second Justice of the Peace of Los Angeles who wrote on February 26, 1842 that the applicant has the necessary requisites to be favored. On the same date, Fr. Estenaga formalized his objection: “The land of La Puente belongs to this Community of San Gabriel, which occupies it with more than five hundred head of large cattle, and in no manner does this community consent that the land should be alienated since it is the on place which the Mission has for sowing and to support its cattle.”[xxxviii] Some jockeying among church and state officials continued, each trying to nullify the actions of the other. On March 9, 1842, Governor Alvarado issued another communication that the La Puente Land Grant be held “firm and valid [and] be registered in the proper book”[xxxix] so long as Rowland build a house on it and inhabit it within a year.
By late-summer 1842, John Rowland returned to Taos to retrieve his wife Encarnación Martinez and their family in order to settle in east La Puente (present day-Walnut-Rowland Heights). Rowland may have been apprehensive of further potential complications and objections from church people regarding his land grant. Now realizing the potential importance of a document from a priest to a priest, and wanting to fortify his documentations, he requested a letter of transit from Padre Antonio José Martinez with the intention of presenting it to the pastor of San Gabriel Mission and his superiors.
In spite of Padre Martinez’ Mexican nationalism and Governor Amijos’s denunciation of John Rowland for his Texas sympathy against New Mexico, Padre Martinez not only complied with the request for a letter, but penned a glowing recommendation. The Padre had known Rowland the businessman since his arrival in Taos in 1823, and in 1825 had helped the Anglo bridegroom prepare to marry his New Mexican fiancée, his own relative Encarnación Martinez. Padre Martinez’ letter from Taos dated September 3, 1842 graciously and effusively, yet precisely, bore witness that over the past eighteen years, John Rowland was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.[xl]
The Presbyter, Don Antonio José Martínez, pastor of Taos, Department of New Mexico, hereby certifies, in the most ample form fixed by law, that Don Juan Rowland, a foreigner from the United States of North America, married to Doña María de la Encarnación Martinez, a Mexican, and naturalized in this Republic, and hence a Mexican Citizen like his wife, is a Catholic as is all his family; that all of this is shown in the parish books of this parish, of which I am in charge;
that he is accustomed to partake of the Holy Sacrament; that he contributes to the support of the church; that he faithfully and religiously obeys the laws and enforces them when holding a position of authority; and yet with that degree of charity that day by day have been a greater credit to him; that it is also known to me that in his social life he is held in the highest esteem as an honored citizen faithful to the state and to the Government, and respects the laws;
that he is quiet and pacific in all his acts, meeting the duties and responsibilities that are his; that likewise this is his attitude toward the church; that he strictly complies with his promises and agreements when dealing with others; that he is well received by the inhabitants of this vicinity, and is highly esteemed by the authorities; that he has never been accused or even suspected of violating the laws for the reason that he never gave cause therefore; in short, that he has always been a man of fine deportment, his qualities being as set forth.
This letter of transit from Padre Martinez helped John Rowland and his family not only settle into their new homeland of California, but also to prosper. The compatriots of Encarnación Martnez de Rowland who were living in Politana-Agua Mansa-San Salvador also continued to prosper. In 1843, in exchange for protection from marauders, Californian-Mexican Ranchero Don Antonio María Lugo gave 2,200 acres of his land to the New Mexican settlers who had a reputation of being experienced Indian fighters. The 1843 settlers occupied the location just south of Colton on the northwest side of the Santa Ana River. By 1844, there were seventy-three New Mexican families living at Politana. However, within a year, Politanta was abandoned when Juan Bandini gave the New Mexican colonizers more land at Agua Mansa, and so the two settlements merged into one. Between 1844-45, the New Mexican colonists completed a move from Politana on the Lugo rancho to La Placita de los Trujillos on the Bandini Donation portion of Rancho Jurupa located on the southeast side of the Santa Ana River. Homes were built around a small plaza with an enramada (brush-covered altar) in the center. In the fall of 1845, another contingent of colonists arrived from New Mexico and settled along the northwest bank of the river (south of the Lugo rancho) at a community called Agua Mansa. Both communities continued to meet their duty of opposing Indian raiders and renegade white marauders. The two settlements were commonly referred to as one: the pueblo of San Salvador. [xli]
The California-New Mexico connection vigorously continued until the middle of the nineteenth century. The arrival of Juan Ignacio Martínez--Encarnación’s brother and John Rowland’s brother-in-law--at Los Angeles in December 1847 was a token of the continued development of that connection. Francisco Estevan Vigil led the New Mexican caravan of two hundred and twelve travelers including sixty boys on an already well-established trade route that departed from New Mexico and arrived in California. The caravan of 150 mules, arriving with New Mexican blankets and other goods, was ready by April 1848 to depart California with horses and mules for the trip back to New Mexico.[xlii] Meanwhile, the 1848 California Gold Rush began to deplete the southern California New Mexican colony as several young men tried out their luck at striking it rich in northern California--but to no avail.
John Rowland eventually gained clear title to his land, the first land grant given to an American in California.[xliii] William Workman was to share title, dividing the land grant into east and west La Puente.[xliv] Padre Martinez with his letter of transit on behalf of Rowland was definitely instrumental in the land development of southern California. Both John Rowland and William Workman took possession of the land, and built their homes not far from each other--Workman on Julian Road off Hacienda Blvd. in what is now the City of Industry, and Rowland in nearby Rowland Heights.[xlv] The La Puente Rancho that they divided between themselves has been further sub-divided into a myriad of independent southern California communities from Monrovia to Whittier.
The New Mexico colonization had peaked. Enlisted as an instrument of manifest destiny during the U.S.-Mexican War, the Mormon Battalion was born. Brigham Young wanted to colonize the Pacific Coast, and favored purchase of the Chino Rancho. In 1851, almost on cue at the very middle of the nineteenth century, the Mormons came into San Bernardino as a new wave of immigrants, bringing their own style and heritage. Emigrants left Salt Lake for California on March 14, 1851, and arrived at Cajon pass on June 11. Within a short time, almost a thousand Mormons arrived, and by the fall, they had purchased the Rancho San Bernardino from the Lugo family on credit for $77,550.[xlvi] The purchase included 75 head of cattle for food and eight leagues of land where they would grow wheat on land where formerly sheep and cattle grazed. In their common attempt to avoid a spurt of Indian depredations, Mormons and Agua Mansa settlers lived together for a brief time during 1852 in the High Lands of San Bernardino. By 1853, the Mormons themselves had scattered, and a new immigration era had begun.
Encarnación Martinez de Rowland died towards on November 21, 1851—after twenty-six years of marriage to John Rowland and the birth of ten children. Soon after her death, Santiago Martinez moved back to Taos where his son Daniel was born. Four of the Rowland children, ranging in age from 8 to 19, remained in John’s care. Charlotte Grey, a young widow, was among the first American settlers that came from back east to the San Gabriel Valley in that year. She lived in a squatters’ village in the area of El Monte, and one day traveled to John Rowland’s portion of Rancho de La Puente to buy fruits and vegetables.[xlvii] In the summer of 1852, romance bloomed and John and Charlotte got married in the fall of 1852, a year after the death of his New Mexican wife. Encarnación was buried in the private cemetery at the Workman hacienda on Julian Rd. (named for William) off Hacienda Boulevard near Hacienda Heights in the City of Industry that is adjacent to La Puente. That is the finally resting place for so many women from Taos, New Mexico. An era had come to a close, and--with the marriage of John Rowland to Charlotte Gray--a new era began.
APPENDIX: EARLIER EXPLORATIONS AND NM-CA EXPEDITIONS
Antecedents of that pattern of migration from Baja California or New Mexico to California go back before the founding of the United States. In 1765, a Ute Indian sold an ingot of silver to a blacksmith in Abiquiu, the small village northeast of Santa Fe that was to play such an important part in the New Mexico-California connection. This led Juan Maria Antonio Rivera to take some Spaniards to explore western Colorado that at the time was part of New Mexico, but they soon returned to Santa Fe without discovery of the precious metal. Governor Tomás Velez de Cachupín instructed Rivera to return and explore the region once again—this time not for precious metal, but to reconiter the area for the possible presence of other Europeans. He found none, and again returned home after leaving a large inscribed cross near what became Moab, Utah.
In 1769, the year San Diego Mission was founded, Gaspar de Portolá with an expedition that included Franciscan clergy, made his way from Baja California north to Monterey. One of the stops was near today’s entrance into Elysian Park along North Broadway in Los Angeles where a river flowed from the area of San Fernando to the San Pedro Harbor. The date was August 2, the Franciscan feast of the “Porciúncula,” named for the small chapel in Assisi where St. Francis used to like to pray. His transitus (death) in the thirteenth century took place in that former Benedictine oratory, and his followers in the sixteenth century built a large Basilica around that oratorio, dedicating it to Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles, Our Lady Queen of Angels. Fray Juan Crespi of the Portolá expedition made an entry into his diary on August 2, 1769, and called the river Río Porciúncula in honor of that Franciscan feast. The “L.A. River,” twelve miles west of San Gabriel, received its name twelve years before the City of Los Angeles was founded in 1781 as an asistencia of the San Gabriel Mission. This mother mission of Los Angeles, founded in 1771 two years after San Diego Mission, was the fourth in the chain of twenty-one missions of Alta California, most of them by the sainted Junípero Serra.
In 1774, Captain Juan Bautista De Anza led his first military expedition from Tubac, Mexico to Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel. It was the first overland route to safely supply the mission outposts in Alta California. Friar Francisco Garces accompanied the expedition that traversed the desert to the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and emerged on the other side. The expedition turned north, and forded the Santa Ana River at Riverside where Father Garces celebrated the first Mass in the region on the first day of spring—March 21, 1774. [Cf. John DeGano, Archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino, “History of the People of the Diocese of San Bernardino,” in 2003 Diocesan Directory, p. 5.] Exactly two years later, in early 1776, Father Garces again came into the area—this time from a northern route-- and recorded his sighting of the San Bernardino Valley then called the San Jose Valley. Fray Garces successfully traveled from Mission San Gabriel through the California Gulf to Hopi villages in Arizona, and his journey opened the road from west to east.
Mexican Friar Anastacio Dominguez was appointed in 1775 as canonical visitor to the missions of New Mexico. His task was to evaluate the clergy and inspect the condition of the archives in Santa Fe, mostly destroyed in the 1680 Indian uprising. [Thomas G. Alexander in Web <Utah History to Go>.] Spanish-born Fray Silvestre Velez de Escalante who had worked at Zuni Pueblo was already in Santa Fe. NM Governor Fermin de Mendinueta encouraged both of them to explore territories to the west to find out if any other Europeans were there. They began a journey toward the Pacific on July 4, 1776, but a Comanche attack gave them second thoughts. Just as Friars Dominguez and Escalante were about to scuttle their plan to transverse an overland route to Monterey in Alta California, they learned of Fray Garces’ successful trek, and this spurred them on. With the full support of Governor Mendinueta, they recruited help from El Paso, southern Colrado and Utah. With further help of Genízaro guides from Abiquiu and the Indian boy Joaquin from Laguna, they again took up their expedition from New Mexico to California. Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, a retired military officer living in Santa Fe, served as map-maker marking the latitudes of their travels and suggesting future presidio locations. However, because of a snowstorm in the Grand Canyon, the explorers were forced to cross the Colorado River by Lake Powell’s Padre Bay. After traveling over 1700 miles, they returned to Santa Fe on January 2, 1777. Nevertheless, they did become the first white men to explore the magnificent Arizona canyon.
After Mexican independence from Spain in 1821, trade between the United States and New Mexico--now no longer part of the Kingdom of Spain, but belonging to the Republic of Mexico--freely flowed between St. Louis and Santa Fe. Trails are customarily initiated by prehistoric animals and then traversed by ancient hunters and gatherers. They are later tamed by people interested in trade routes for missionary and/or military use as well as for commercial purposes. EL CAMINO REAL was the roadway through Mexico-Durango-Chihuahua-Santa Fe (including Abiquiu-Taos) that was used to transport church, military, and household goods to and from its various points. When this camino extended into California, it morphed into what John C. Fremont called the “Spanish Trail.”
Capitan José Romero, born near San Francisco, was a cavalry captain in command of the Presidio of Tucson. He followed his own route making three journeys from Arisze in the Sonora Desert and Tucson to San Gabriel Alta California from 1823 to 1826, and is considered one of the first white men to explore the desert area of the Agua Caliente tribe, present day Palm Springs. Not too much is known about his personal life or background, but his travels are well chronicled in his dairies. [Cf. Romero Expeditions-Dairies and Accounts: 1823-1826, edited by Lowell John Bean and Wiliam Marvin Mason, Palm Springs Desert Museum, c. 1962, pp. 117.]
When emperor Iurbide assumed political control in Mexico, he sent Rev. Agustín Fernandez de San Vicente, a canon of Durango, to inspect California in order to ascertain the extent of foreign activities in California as well as the loyalty of the Californians. By 1822, Russians had a presence in Fort Ross, and Mexico had great interest to open up an inland route from California to Sonora. San Bernardino was recognized as a point of departure for such a route to Tucson, and it was also on the route from San Gabriel to the Colorado River. Besides opening up commerce, the route would also open up the possibilities for evangelization. Emperor Iturbide’s Minister of Relations through Governor Sola requested Captain Jose Romero to invent a mail route between the points, and to take a party of sixty to map it by way of the lower Colorado River. Romero began the tasks in September 1822, and continued until 1826. Jedediah Smith, a tall mountain man over six feet, trekker and author of Commerce of the Prairies, he traversed the southwest. In his travels, he connected many regions including Taos and Mission San Gabriel where, by his own testimony, the Padres twice receive him well in 1826 and again in 1827. He died young at the age of 32 after an altercation , it is said,with Comanches.
[i] Cf., John De Gano, Diocesn Archivist, “History of the People of the Diocese of San Bernardino,” 2003 Diocesan Directory, 25th Anniversary Edition, p. 5.
Captain Juan Bautista De Anza led a military expedition from Tubac, Mexico to Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel in 1774. The purpose was to open up an overland route to supply missionary outposts in Alta California. (Franciscans from New Mexico had been trying to do the same thing, but got only as far as Arizona.) At Riverside, De Anza forded the Santa Ana River, and Father Garces celebrated the first Mass on the first day of spring. Exactly two years after his first encounter with the region, De Anza again came through San Bernardino—this time coming from the north.
In 1842, Governor José Figueroa secudlarized the missions, and in that same year, a contingent from Abiquiu, New Mexico settled along the Santa Ana River near present day Colton.
[ii] Although the place in Elysian Park is much better known as Chavez Ravine, named for Julian Chavez of Abiquiu, some residents of the hilly area have prefered to call it Palo Verde for the name given it in a 1912 map of residential tract #12. Tom Marmolejo, a native of Palo Verde, has written his memories of his boyhood neighborhood, and objects to the identification of his home territory with the name of Chavez Ravine that he does not consider part of his territory of “Tract 12.”
[iii] Soon after Hipolito Espinosa and his family joined them, their place became known as “Politana”—located on “Bunker Hill” across from the present-day location of San Bernardino College near the City of Colton and the intersection of the 10 and 210 Freeways.
[iv] Rowland, Donald E., John Rowland and William Workman: Southern California Pioneers of 1841, Historical Society of Southern California, 200 E. Ave. 43, L.A. 90031. [(323) 222-0546; Don (& Jean) Rowland - Camarillo, CA 93010 (805) 482-8129, p. 20. Don Rowland mentions that Encarnación’s father Felipe Martinez had a business relationship with John Rowland, and may have been the one who introduced the couple to each other.
[v] Ibid. p. 74.
[vi] Ibid., p. 27. José Sepuveda sold six horses to Encarnación and her mother Ana María (Trujillo), and the bill of sale was sent from La Puente, CA to Ranchos de Taos.
[vii]Another young man of altar server age, also living in Abiquiu at the time, was Miguel Gallegos who later went to the Padre’s elementary school in Taos, then to his minor seminary, studied in Durango and became a priest. Later, Gallegos served as New Mexico’s first congressman.
[viii]His brother Lt. José María Chavez went continued with trips between New Mexico and California. Lt. José María Chavez went to jail the following year for his part in the Battle of San Buenaventura, California. After serving a short prison sentence, José returned to New Mexico to continue trading within the Ute territory into the 1850s.
[ix] Online Document: “County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors: Julian Chavez – 1852, 1858, 1861.”
[x] Bruce Harley, Ph. D., “CHRONOLOGY: The Founding of Agua Mansa – First Settlement East of Mission San Gabriel,” Nuestras Raíces – Winter 2002, Vol. 14, No. 4, Genealogical Society of Hispanic America, pp. 144, 147.
[xi] Spanish Trail Website: “Expedition Chronology between NM and CA. The site features names and dates and events that consist of several persons making many exchanges of California horses and mules (some allegedly by theft) for New Mexico blankets and “serapes.”
[xii] Lorenzo Trujillo had originally named this place Archuleta Springs in honor of his own wife Dolores Archuleta.
[xiii] Harley, Archivist, Diocese of San Bernardino, The Story of Agua Mansa: Its Settlement, Churches and People—First Community in San Bernardino Valley, 1842-1893, Diocese of San Bernardino Archives, 1998, pp. 111, p. 12.
[xiv] Harley, From New Mexico to California: San Bernardino Valley’s First Settlers at Agua Mansa, San Bernardino County Museum Association Quarterly, Vol. 47, No. 3,4 - 2000; 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, CA 92374-4560, p.5. This place was located on Bunker Hill by the Santa Ana River at the juncture of the 215 and 15 Freeways. The property included what is today the Greek Orthodox of St. Elias the Prophet.
[xv] Harley, compiler and Archivist, Diocese of San Bernardino, “Mission San Gabriel Expands Eastward, 1819-1834, ” Readings in Diocesan Heritage – Vol. II, August 1989, p. 7. This was the supposed location of a prior Indian settlement that Padre Dumetz—one of the very last friars who had walked with Padre Junípero Serra—had visited. Spanish priest Father Juan Cabarellía claimed that Padre Dumetz celebrated Mass there on the feast of St. Bernardine on May 20, 1810, and for that reason this area was called San Bernardino. However, historian Bruce Harley, historian and former archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino vigorously disputed that theory, although historian George W. Beattie gives it credence.
[xvi] Cf. Harley, opera omnia, passim.
[xvii]So many northern New Mexicans settled in historic area of Agua Mansa-San Salvador in the middle of the nineteenth century. It is south of the town of Colton, along the 10 Interstate Freeway between Rancho Ave. exit and the 215 Freeway that follows the Santa Ana River. It is just behind (to the south of) a very visible landmark: the lone cement hill, Stover Mountain, named for Isaac Stover, a Taos trapper who came to Los Angeles in 1837, and later settled in the Agua Mansa area. At an advanced age, Stover was killed by a bear in the San Bernardino mountains. Since the Word War I, the hill has been topped with an American flag that can easily be seen.
[xviii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 74. Underscore – my emphasis.
[xix] Interview with June Wentworth member of City of Walnut Planning Commission, in August of 2002 [(909) 595-4706]. She informed me that 1) Santiago was the name of resident of the (now razed) Martinez Adobe in Walnut; 2) that he was a relative of Encarnación Martinez; and 3) that Encarnación employed him, and invited him to come and live nearby. She also confirmed that the site of the (Santiago) Martinez Adobe used to be on property of Vejar School located in that part of La Puente that later became the city of Walnut. It is near the original Walnut City Hall at the intersection of Lemon Ave. and Valley Blvd., twenty-six miles to the east of central city Los Angeles. In the early 1960s, it was razed to make room for Vejar Elementary School at 20222 W. Vejar Rd. in Walnut, CA 91789 [(909) 595-1261]. Ray Mc Mullen of Human Resources of Walnut School District, [(909) 595-1261], informed me that farmer Randy Bennet had painted an amateur picture of that [Santiago Martinez] adobe upon a hill. School secretary Yadira [(909) 594-1434] was well disposed to find out if the painting of the Martinez Adobe was still around.
[xx] Joyce Carter Vickery, Defending Eden, Department of History, University of California, Riverside, and the Riverside Museum Press; Riverside, California, 1977, total pp. 130; p. 120.
From Beattie and Beattie, Heritage of the Valley, p. 60. Other names include Feliciana Valdez “(widow of Apolio (sic) Espinosa),” Lorenzo Trujillo, and Luis Slover (Isaac Slover) for whom the lone cement mountain off Hwy 10 and Rancho Rd. just south of Colton is named. The Agua Mansa-San Salvador settlement is just behind that landmark.
[xxi] Carter Vickery, op. cit., Re: “La Rosa”- pp.116 (Spanish) and118 (English).
[xxii] The original Spanish settlement of Abiquiu established1739-1740.
[xxiii] Ibid., p. 118 where author records an oral tradition of “‘La Placita Story’ from the Patterson file) as told to Miguel Alvarado by an original pioneer, propably (sic) a Martínez….As can be seen there are several discrepancies in this version that can be attribute to confused memories as well as family loyalty.”-- Joyce Carter Vickery
[xxv] David Weber, On the Edge of the Empire: The Taos Hacienda of los Martínez, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, c. 1996, pp. 120, p. 44. Weber cites as his source A. B. Tomas, “Documents…Northern Frontier, 1818-1819,” in New Mexico Historical Review for April 1929: pp. 152, 158 and 159.
[xxvi] The maternal grandfather of my maternal grandfather was also named José Antonio Martinez. Ricardo Garcia, my maternal grandfather, was born in 1881 at Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos. It was settled in 1804 by uncles of Padre Martinez at the same time that Severino Martinez, the Padre’s father, was establishing his homestead in Taos. The timing works out so that he could have been one or the other José Antonio Martínez—the Colorado adventurer of 1819, or the experienced comandante who helped settle Agua Mansa, but never resided there. ¡Sabrá Dios!
Ricardo’s wife, my maternal grandmother whom we called Titia, was Gaudalupe Gonzales, and her mother was also a Martínez. By family lore, we have some Padre Martinez connection through my mother’s side of the family.
[xxvii] Harley, compiler, “The Agua Mansa Story: A collection of papers compiled on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the settlement of Agua Mansa,” San Bernrdino County Museum Association QUARTERLY, Vol. 31 (1), Winter 1991, p. 19.
[xxviii] Harley, CHRONOLOGY, op. cit., p. 145.
[xxix] However, upon the untimely death of her elderly husband, his lands had already been distributed to other members of the family, and Matilde received no inheritance. However, she later married again to a landed person, and inherited his land.
[xxx] Carter Vickery, op. cit., pp. 119-120. Lorenzo Trujillo was wagon master for the trek, and its real leader. Episcopal Bishop James D. Mead was listed as a physician in the manifest of twenty-six persons and things that John Rowland presented to Justice of the Peace Jose Dominguez in Los Angeles upon the groups arrival on November 5, 1841. Only William Workman and another brought their families on this trip. John Rowland would return to NM to bring back his family the following year.
Benjamin Davis Wilson of Tennessee was a fur trapper in NM who in 1841 settled in Agua Mansa and married into the Californio Yorba family. He purchased from Bandini half of his land, then moved to Pasadena, and became Mayor of Los Angeles in 1851. Mt. Wilson was named after him. Isaac Givens was an engineer who kept a journ of the trek (at UC Berkeley), and made a map of the La Puente land that was a cattle station for the San Gabriel Mission. It later became the Roland-Workman land grant, stretching east to west from the City of Industry and Hacienda Heights to Roland Heights-Walnut.
[xxxi] Rowland, op. cit., p. 74.
[xxxii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 27 refers to a bill of sale dated April 25, 1834 for six white horses that took place at La Puente, California—a championship horse-cattle ranch and grounds for San Gabriel Mission. Ignacio Martinez bought the horses from José Sepulveda for Encanación Martinez and for Rafael Martinez, and addressed the bill of sale in care of Encarnación’s mother Ana María Trujillo at Ranchos.
[xxxiii] In an effort to populate the territory, the Mexican Congress passed a law on August 18, 1824 that eleven square leagues of land were to be given to any good [Mexican] citizen or any foreigner who accepted Mexican citizenship and the Catholic faith (religion). One league is equivalent to 4,438 acres.
[xxxiv] John Rowland and William Workman became successful merchants in Taos. He a general merchandise store specializing in furs and pelts. They personally trapped them or more often bought from the Indians or French Canadian trappers or Yankee mountain men. However, already by 1826, the beaver fur trade was already beginning to fade as beaver hats were becoming less fashionable in Europe. Rowland began to look at other interests in California, such as otter fur, and also began to diversify his business operations in Taos. He operated a flourmill, cut lumber, and made a local brew of whiskey. The distillery or Viñatera was about three miles up the little Rio Grande Canyon, and was in the care of Pedro Antonio Gallegos. Northern neighbor and fellow entrepreneur Simon Turley also operated a multipurpose timber mill. He would later perfect the brew as "Taos Lightning" and sell it to thirsty trappers, mountain men, Pueblo Indians, or descendents of the Spanish settlers of the area.
[xxxv] Letter of Credential for John Rowland from Consul Manuel Alvarez of Santa Fe, addressed to the Governor of Upper California, and dated August 11, 1841, quoted in Donald E. Rowland, op cit., pp. 61-62.
[xxxvi] Ibid., p. 63.
[xxxvii] Ibid., p. 69.
[xxxviii] Ibid., p. 65.
[xxxix] Ibid., p. 66.
[xl] Ibid., p. 73. Quoted from Mrs. Lillian Dibble, granddaughter of John Rowland who owned the original letter written in Spanish that was first privately printed in Romance of La Puente, pp. 13-14. James M. Sheridan, Attorney and Counselor at law made first translation into English.
[xli] Cf. Harley, Opera Citata, passim.
[xlii] Spanish Trail Assocition, op cit.
[xliii] When Pio Pico succeeded as the last Mexican Governor of California, John Rowland and William Workman on June 22, 1845 confirmed their land grants that they had possessed for three years. After the American occupation of California in 1846, a question about legitimate ownership was raised. The American government wanted to lay claim to ownership of the land, but on October 3, 1852, Rowland and Workman filed a petition to the U.S. Land Commission. Two years later, on April 14, 1854, the Land Commission allowed the claim to stand. The U.S. Supreme Court ratified that decision, giving patent rights to the Rancho La Puente on April 19, 1857.
[xliv] The John Rowland homestead was in Rowland Heights, and the William Workman homestead was in today’s city of Industry. A non-exlusive list of the communities that today make up this area of the La Puente land grant includes what are now the areas of Monrovia, Covina, West Covina, Temple City, Walnut, Rowland Heights, La Puente, Valinda, La Puente, City of Industry Hacienda Heights, and Whittier.
[xlv] Address of original John Rowland homestead: 18800 E. Railroad – Roland Heights, CA 91748.
[xlvi] Cf. <californiageneaology.org/sanbernardino/mormons>
[xlvii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 130.