Category Archives: Abiqiu




(Written in spring 2007 at request of Corina Santistevan, a self-proclaimed “preservationist” and Book Project Director for Taos County Historical Society, as contribution to her book Taos: A Topical History published by Museum of NM Press. Revised in fall 2013; Book Signing November 10, 2013.) 


Rev. Juan Romero

  Local iconoclasts in early 1993 maliciously torched the venerable east morada[1]of Abiquiú; about fifty miles northwest of Santa Fe, and then threw its santos[2] under a culvert off Highway 84. That sacrilegious act horrified most Catholics and almost all of New Mexico’s people of good will. A morada is a sacred dwelling place used for the prayerful gatherings of the religious folk society Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno,[3] better known as the Penitentes. The adobe morada that the vandals attacked, located on a hilltop a short distance east of the parish church of Santo Tomás, is considered one of the earliest ever constructed. The oral history of the brotherhood traces its beginnings at least to the early eighteenth century.  Its membership in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have for more than three centuries consistently maintained and promoted a deep devotion to the sacred passion of Our Lord.  Abiquiú has been one of the focal points of the confraternity, and the hermanos[4] have three distinct moradas in the vicinity of the church. 

  Within a few weeks of the desecration, Midwestern Presbyterian teenagers tempo
rarily residing at nearby Ghost Ranch, about fifteen miles northwest from the morada, answered a call to help repair the damage. They came and carefully helped plaster the outside of the scorched church, enjarrando[5] the charred adobe walls with a fresh coat of mud mixed with straw. Having recently arrived from Los Angeles at the Christ in the Desert Benedictine monastery in Abiquiú, I also helped the cause of restoring the damaged morada.  The monastery is about thirty miles northwest of the village of Abiquiú.  Almost half of the road, the more scenic part, has purposefully been left unpaved to promote the recluse nature of the monastery. 

  The ecumenical cooperation of these Presbyterian youths would have horrified their religious ancestors, but would have immensely pleased Padre Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos, born in Abiquiú in 1793.  As his tombstone recalls, Padre Martínez died in 1867, after serving the people “for forty-two years,” the last decade in sad disjunction from his bishop. For most of his ministry in Taos, Padre Martínez was moderator and spiritual father for the hermanos penitentes, and had a long-term and most important influence on their cofradías.[6]

  Antonio José Martínez was baptized at the parish church of Santo Tomás on January 17, 1793—the feast day of Desert Father San Antonio Abad. This scion of the Martín Serrano clan was born at the Santa Rosa Plaza that had its own chapel a couples of miles east of Santo Tomás beside the Chama River where the family had their home.  Fifteen miles or so northwest of Santo Tomas church on Highway 84, the majestic beauty of tall cliffs arise, layered in sandstone and sedimentary rock— yellow, brown, ochre, white, and pink.  They framed the high desert landscape, over 6,000 feet that surrounded the young life of Antonio José until he was eleven when the family moved to Taos. 

  Grandmothers tell tales about the brujas[7] that inhabit the mystic scape enchanting many spiritual seekers who call Abiquiú and its environs their home. Among them are monks—Catholic Benedictines and Muslim followers residing at the Bar Al Islam Mosque—reclusive movie stars and artists bewitched by the fascination of the area’s spiritual aura. For centuries, Abiquiú has been a welcoming place for Native American hunters, genízaros (Hispanicized Indians), buffalo soldiers,[8] and mid-nineteenth century trekkers on their way to Los Angeles or other destinations West.  For reasons of internecine warfare or draught in the thirteenth century, emigrant Anasazi from the Mesa Verde area traversed east and then south along the Río Chama and the Río Grande to construct and inhabit pueblos. A pueblo on Potsiungue hill ([spelling?] no longer standing) along the Río Chama near Abiquiú was one of the early Indian settlements, and another (still vibrant) was the Ohkay Owingeh village (San Juan Pueblo) at the convergence of the rivers Chama and Rio Grande about six miles north of present day Española. The Taos Pueblo is at the northern extremity of the Reio Grande.   Much before there were Native American or Spanish settlers in the area, there were dinosaurs in prehistoric days when the tectonic plates of Panama and New Mexico were embracing.  The secret of why dinosaurs became extinct is revealed in the especially sticky mud of the Chama River.

  Among the great merits rightly credited to Padre Martinez was his contribution to the education and formation of adults and children. In the two decades from 1826 to1846, he founded an elementary school (1826), a seminary (1833) and law school (1846).  He was also responsible for publishing on his printing press publications (broadsides, pamphlets, a newspaper and books) that covered religion, education, current events and politics. His greatest contributions, however, were to the religious and political life of New Mexico in its different incarnations under Spain, Mexico, and the United States.  His impact upon the Penitent Brotherhood of Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno must be counted one of his greatest contributions to the spiritual legacy of the history of New Mexico.

  Devotion to the sacred passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly consistent with the Holy Scriptures, Catholic piety, and especially with the passionate character of the Spanish psyche.  A few scripture quotes convey the message:   “Take up your cross daily, and follow me,”[9] was a frequent exhortation Jesus gave in various ways.  The author of the Letter to the Hebrews spoke of discipleship,
learning from the Master, in blood-drenched but healing terms: “For whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he receives.”[10]  “…all discipline seems a cause for grief…but later it brings forth the fruit of peace and justice…be…healed.”[11]  “In your fight against sin, you have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.”[12]

  The literal extent to which these exhortations reached became manifested in the new world.  Thirteen years after the Indian rebellion of 1680 and consequent expulsion of the Spanish colony, Don Diego de Vargas returned back to New Mexico with his soldiers, exiled settlers and companions from El Paso and territories further south. Also accompanying him were flagellants thoroughly imbued with the spirit and practice of the medieval societies that had deep devotion to the suffering Christ. A number of those accompanying De Vargas, including one of my own ancestors, Francisco Xavier Romero,[13] settled in the area of Santa Cruz de La Cañada, not many miles to the east of present-day Española.  It is not at all unlikely that some of these flagellants became the pioneers of what developed in an organization of Penitente Brotherhoods, and formed a hub for the practice and extension[14] of the cofradías.

 Activities of the Penitentes

  Membership in the Hermandad consisted primarily of men, but there are tales of groups of women members, one in the Monte Vista area of southern Colorado, and the other in Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos. The women of Colorado may still gather semi-formally to do corporal penance in a particular selected home, and the Arroyo Hondo women, La Sociedad de San Antonio, still meets at the Morada De Abajo.  The small village of Arroyo Hondo with its two moradas—an upper and lower one— used to faithfully keep the feast of La Porciúncula[15] on August 2, with the Vigil beginning in the evening of August 1.

  The Hermanos provided a powerful religious presence and leadership for the Spanish settlers, especially in the more isolated areas of the older core of northern New Mexico, southern Colorado, and a beyond. On

Fridays of Lent, Hermanos would often lead long processions for the public recitation of the Stations of the Cross. They sometimes led a procession, taking the large image of the suffering Christ, Nuestro Padre Jesús, from the church to the morada, and other times, they would be seen in flagellant processions on Friday nights of Lent. However, current activities of the Penitentes more frequently include leading rosaries at funerals and singing alabados.[16]  Members of the Hermandad, the Brotherhood, usually gathered on Wednesdays and Fridays for the purpose of prayer and acts of penance and to prepare for activities of Lent and Holy Week, the culmination of their year. Penitentes led the celebration for other important feasts such as All Saints and All Souls (November 1 and 2), and for the patron saint of the local village that was always especially noted.

  In the 20th century, many Penitentes while retaining memberships in their Cofradías also beame members of the Mutualistas, a secular counterpart with similar goals of charity to a neighbor.  The organization also served as a Hispanic pioneer insurance fraternity especially useful at times of funerals. Historically and until today, Penitentes organized themselves for penitential practices as well as for mutual human aid of almost every kind. They bound themselves under their honor and oath, “to protect themselves mutually…for all, and to all that which might be just and beneficial…”[17] (Emphasis mine)

 La Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno

  The more ample name of the Penitent Brotherhood is La Hermandad de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, an unwieldy but meaningful title. 

La Hermandad (or Cofradía): People from Mexico sometimes refer to people from New Mexico as “’manitos.” This comes from the custom that older New Mexicans retain in referring to a neighbor or anyone else of the community as “Mano Fulano.” “Mano” here has nothing to do with “hand,” but is an apocopated from of “hermano.” Addressing one another as “brother” and “sister” is certainly of the Gospel, a vocative based in the New Testament and currently used mostly in churches and labor unions. Its traditional use in northern New Mexican society until the twentieth century may be a reflection of the historical strength of the hermandades or cofradias, i.e., the brotherhoods.

 de Nuestro Padre: It might seem odd, if not heretical, to refer to Jesus as “Nuestro Padre.” After all, according to orthodox Christian theology, the First Person of the Blessed Trinity, is God the Father. (My emphasis) Jesus as the eternally begotten Son of the Father is the Second Person of the Trinity—equal to, yet distinct from the Father. Jesus succinctly states, “The Father and I are one.”[18] Jesus told Philip the Apostle, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”[19]

  Trying to discuss the mystery of the Blessed Trinity in human language is difficult, and in the early fourth century, Arius, the priest from Alexandria, got it wrong. He preferred to emphasize the biblical verse, “The Father is greater than I.”[20] He heretically taught that the Son is not equal to the Father, but this is not orthodox theology as defined by Catholic Church teaching in ecumenical councils. The heresy of Arianism effectively denied the divinity of Christ, and was finally defeated with the Council of Nicea in 325. The spiritual descendants of Arius in the fourth century considered God the Father as the only true God, and did not accept that Jesus Christ fully shared in the divine nature. Arians asserted Jesus Christ had a beginning and therefore was a creature. They taught that Jesus, although exalted, was not equal to God the Father. They also denied that the Holy Spirit was equal to both the Father and the Son, thus demoting the Holy Spirit to a third tier of spiritual energy.

 Although defeated theologically in the first quarter of the fourth century, Arian influence lingered into the fifteenth century. Correctives to this heresy came from the Spanish Dominican priest Vincent Ferrer of Valencia (1350-1419), called the Angel of Judgment.  He forcefully preached that Jesus is equal to the Father, and some of his insistence influenced Spanish devotion expressed in the term Nuestro Padre Jesús.  (My emphasis)

  Vincent Ferrer, a famous preacher, called for unity in Christ and his Church, and inveighed against the scandal of disunity promoted by rival claimants to the papacy: one in Avignon, France, and the other in Rome. The rift within high-level ecclesiastical politics disillusioned Vincent. He dedicated himself to preaching the need for repentance throughout various parts of Europe. He traveled with a team of priests and laypeople—men and women—and helped reconcile repentant sinners and catechized adults.

  Among those who followed Vincent Ferrer were flagellants who scourged themselves in a penitential discipline. Vincent “had inspired [them] to make public atonement… without degenerating into fanaticism.”[21]  The flagellants expressed a strain of Christianity modern for the twelfth century that strongly emphasized the humanity of Christ. It was a reaction to the first centuries of Christian devotion that focused on the source of salvation as the risen Lord, the Christos Kurios, the Lord and Messiah proclaimed in the early church and whose glorious visage was reflected in the splendiferous icons of the pantocrator, ruler of the universe.

  St. Francis of Assisi was the quintessential exponent of devotio moderna, “modern devotion” of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Francis gave us the crèche and Stations of the Cross, and moreover manifested wounds of Christ’s passion on his own body—the stigmata. Francis helped the universal church of both the East and West to appreciate that the transcendent Lord of Hosts who became a little child and who, in full maturity, was yet touchable, reachable and passible, i.e., capable of human suffering and death. There were, in total, “seven leading founders of this new spirituality” that emphasized the humanity of Christ.[22]

  During the Second Vatican Council that ended in 1963, the theological pendulum had reverted back to the ancient emphasis on the resurrected one: Jesus Christ the Lord.[23] However, the experiences of believers and others oppressed in Latin America and Central America during the mid 1970s gave rise to a revived emphasis on the sufferings of Christ, His sacred passion and death.  This was the reality to which they could more easily relate.[24]   Either the cross or resurrection by itself is incomplete. For salvation, both are necessary, and the complete paschal journey is through the cross to glory. Jesus Christ “had to suffer and die”[25] before rising.  We are called to the same paschal journey.

Jesús Nazareno: The name Jesus was common enough in the first century of the Common Era. It means savior, and contains within itself a proclamation of faith in Jesus as savior of the world. “By his stripes, we are healed,”[26] the prophet Isaiah spoke in prophetic vision about the Suffering Servant some seven centuries before Jesus was born. One of the bultos of Jesus venerated by New Mexicans and other peoples of Latin America is the wooden and gesso image of Jesus standing in a red or purple robe, hands tied, and crown of thorns piercing his bloody head. This image is referred to as Jesús Nazareno or simply El Nazareno.  In Hispanic Catholic iconography, the title evokes the bloody image of the Suffering Servant. An Advent prophecy speaks of Jesus as a Nazarene: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”[27] The messiah’s birth is to be from the root, stem, or stump of Jesse, the father of King David. The Hebrew word for root or stem is natzer, and some scholars see the attribution of Jesus as a “Nazarene” from this derivation as well as from the fact that Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, his boyhood home until young adulthood.

 Padre Martínez and the Penitentes

  In his 1828 report, A Look At  [Una Ojeada] New Mexico, Licenciado Antonio Barreiro, a Mexican layman and tax assessor responsible to the secular authority, painted a grim picture of the “doleful”[28] financial situation of “the New Mexico” (La [Custodia] de Nuevo México). He gave it faint prospects for future potential revenue.  He also painted a similar picture regarding New Mexico’s spiritual situation for the Cathedral Chapter of Durango,[29] influencial in the process for the selection of the bishop to succeed Bishop Castañiza after his death.  After the death of Bishop Castañiza, who had ordained Padre Martinez, Rome in 1831 appointed Don José Antonio Laureano de Zubiría y Escalante to succeed as the new bishop of Durango. Bishop Zubiría appointed Don Juan Rafael Rascón as Visitor General and Vicar of New Mexico, and sent him to reconnoiter the northern extremity of the Diocese of Durango in preparation for a futue visit of the new Bishop to Santa Fe and Taos. Padre Martínez sent a couple of his parishioners from Taos to Santa Fe in order to meet with Vicar Rascón during his visitation.

  One of the delegates of Padre Martínez was Donaciano Vigil, later to have a very significant role in the history of New Mexico.[30] The purpose of the delegation was to speak with Vicar Rascón in the name of sixty hermanos of the Third Order of San Francisco.  They asked permission to fulfill their observances in Taos instead of at the headquarters of “The Third Order” in the Vila of Santa Cruz de La Cañada. These sixty “brothers” from Taos were most likely members of Los Hermanos Penitentes. Vicar Rascón had no objection that these Taoseños fulfill their religious duties as Third Order Franciscans at Taos instead of at Santa Cruz, but honoring proper jurisdiction, he referred the matter to the Superior of the Franciscan Order in New Mexico.[31]

  Padre Martinez, however, may have wanted something other than a convenience for his parishioners to fulfill a spiritual obligation closer to home. He seems to have coveted the role of spiritual leader in Taos of La Orden Tercera de Penitencia, the venerable and ecclesiastically approved religious society for lay faithful. The existence of the Franciscan Third Order in La Villa de Santa Cruz was as old as the settlement itself that dated to 1693.[32]   The Franciscan Custos, Guardian of the Province of St. Paul for New Mexico, was the superior of the secular Third Order for lay people. He was the one officially capable of delegating Padre Martinez to be the spiritual leader of the members of La Orden Tercera de Penitencia in the Taos area.

  Aware of the dicey reputation of flagellants in the history of the church, and their subsequent condemnations for exaggerations, Padre Martínez wrote Bishop Zubiría in February 1833.  In the letter that anticipated the first of three visits the Bishop would make to New Mexico, Martínez offered him quite a vivid description of the rites of the Hermanos who had been in existence “since time immemorial”:

During the time that I have had in my charge the spiritual administration of this parish, there has been a gathering of men belonging to the Brotherhood of the Blood of Christ who have been carrying on penitential exercises during Lent. They do this especially on the Fridays of Lent and during all of Holy Week from Good Friday until Pentecost, and on other such meaningful days of the year.  Their exercises consist in dragging large wooden crosses along the ground, in whipping themselves with scourges that they have for this purpose, and in piercing their backs with sharp rocks or blades of volcanic glass until blood spurts out. There are other forms of penitential exercises prescribed this way: walk barefoot, even in the snow and ice, and go without clothes except for loincloths or white pants over their private parts and a mask-neckerchief over the face so as not to be recognized but still able to see….  Moreover, they have the custom of walking in procession in front of the sacred images on the days of Holy Week. They say that this is the way allowed to them since time immemorial.[33]

  Padre Martinez admitted there were exaggerations.  His letter may have been with the intent of posturing himself as one who could moderate excesses with the purpose of avoiding the Bishop’s explicit condemnation of the Hermanos during his imp
ending visit. In asking the Bishop’s advice, Martínez identified their growth in number, and the discord in their midst. He claimed he was trying to moderate the penitential practices by restricting them to nighttime activities and isolated places. His letter resumes:

Nevertheless, for now I have suspended them from public manifestations. Since the manner in which they have carried out their rituals until now seems to me to be out of harmony [muy disonante]. I have permitted them to carry out their penitential exercises only at night or in solitary locations during the day. In the proportion that their number has grown, discord has also come about among them, and other followers are scandalized. In all, I am consulting your Excellency about what I should tell them in this case: continue their practices, modify them or take them away. For all that is said, I beg Your Excellency to please give me your response as to what I should do in this case.[34]

  Before he left Durango for his visitation to New Mexico, Bishop Zubiría[35] replied to Padre Martínez on April 1, 1833, as follows:

The indiscrete devotion of Penances that these Brothers or congregants, named for the Blood of Christ, cannot but excite one with a great disturbance of body and soul. In virtue of this, I heartily approve of what your words provide in order to suspend such excesses of public Penances. Hold fast to that prohibition, and call upon the help of the secular authority if necessary. With the pressure of things upon me, it seems more certain that I will not be able to see to it myself for now….

Meanwhile, would you privately exhort them to contain their Penitential practices within the privacy of the church–taking care to always carry them out with moderation. If they wish to placate divine justice and give pleasure to God as should be their desire, the best way to please Him ideally is to listen to the voice of their pastors and follow it with docility. In regards to the request about establishing a Third Order in that parish, we will talk about it upon my visit, and that will not be long in coming.[36]

  In July 1833, Bishop Zubiría arrived in New Mexico, coming to the parish of Santa Cruz de la Cañada near present-day Española before going to Taos. He left notations in the books of parish records, giving his approval to the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and that of the Blessed Sacrament. However, he wrote a notation in the parish books stating that he did not approve of “a certain Brotherhood of Penitentes, [that the Hermanos claim is] already ancient, that has existed in this Villa [of Santa Cruz de la Cañada].” During his visit, the Bishop learned that the Hermanos observed some days of corporal penance that were very hard, carrying heavy crosses for the long distance of five or six miles. Before he left the La Villa de Santa Cruz in the fall, Bishop Zubiría wrote a special letter condemning the Penitentes–a document he wanted promulgated in other places as well. He asserted the Brotherhood, in spite of its long existence in the area, was without the authorization or knowledge of its bishops. Their forms of penance were too excessive and “contrary to the spirit of the [Catholic] Religion…not at all in conformity with Christian humility.”[37]

  The Bishop seemed to leave a certain opening to the activities of the Brotherhood by stating that prayer gatherings for moderate penitential exercises could be held in the church. However, Bishop Zubiría felt obliged to close the door to flagellant abuses that “at one time made Holy Church shed tears.”[38] Forbiding any priest of the Territory from officiating in any place for Penitentes, the Bishop annulled the Brotherhood of Penance and said it ought to remain extinguished. He exhorted everyone to most punctually obey his decision, reminding all that obedience was one of the most acceptable sacrifices offered to God. Bishop Zubiría remained in New Mexico until mid-October. Before returning to Durango, he wrote another letter, this one on the Sacrament of Penance.[39] Although he did not forbid moderate penance, calling it healthful for the spirit, he forbade the use of the large wooden crosses, asked that instruments of mortification not be kept in the church, and referred to certain practices as butchery  (carnecería).

  After visiting Santa Cruz, Bishop Zubiría, went on to Taos —still in July 1833, and acceded to the request of Padre Martínez to take charge of the Franciscan society for lay people that included women;[40] the Fra
nciscan Third Order had existed in New Mexico for almost a century and a half. At the behest of Bishop Zubiría, Fray Manuel Antonio García del Valle, OFM–as the superior of the Third Order in New Mexico and the Franciscan Custodian of the New Mexico Province of the Conversion of St. Paul—made the appointment official at the end of July. Padre Martinez was now the director of the venerable Orden de Terceras de Penitencia in Northern NM, and Fray Garcia del Valle entrusted the Padre “with power as full as that which we exercise.”[41] This enabled bringing the Penitentes under the general umbrella of the Franciscan Third Order.

  Within the folds of the habit of the secular Franciscan Third Order, it seems to me, Padre Martinez re-configured the Hermanos of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno and its practices in order to protect them from the effects of episcopal censure. In this way, the brothers not only survived but also flourished as an important and viable force of mutual help and religious devotion within the isolated and rural communitarian structure of New Mexico. Padre Martinez helped the brotherhood to maintain and deepen cultural and religious ties among the local community and beyond. He was a moderating influence, a spiritual father and guide, promoter, as well as organizer of the Penitent Brotherhood.

  Although layman Bernardo Abeyta,[42] founder of the Santuario of Chimayó, was the “kingpin of nearly all the Brotherhood activity until 1855, “from Conejos area to Cochití for sure,”[43] Padre Martinez was the one mainly responsible for molding the organization into its modern form.[44]  His role in the formation of the Penitentes’ organization–its practice and development –was influenced by the landscape of Abiquiú and Taos that imbued his boyhood, the religious heritage he personified, the circumstances of his own life and the developing history of New Mexico as it adapted to New Mexico’s changing history that Padre Martinez also helped shape.[45]

  The attitude of Padre Martínez toward Penitentes seemed to have changed from a negative perception, conveyed to Bishop Zubiría, to a very positive one. Some opine this was a result of the American occupation of 1846. “Changes in sovereignty in the introduction of foreign cultures symbolically transformed the Penitent brotherhood into the preserves of traditional Hispano spirituality.”[46]

 The Duran Chapel: Another Penitente Base in Taos

  Many moradas, “dwelling places” where Penitente devotions and activities took place, existed in the Taos area during the 19th century, and an significant cluster continues today around the Taos area: Arroyo Seco, Ranchos, and Talpa.  By 1827, six years after Mexican Independence from Spain and shortly after Padre Martinez arrived as the priest-in-charge of Taos where he had lived with his parents since boyhood, thirty or so families were living in the new plaza at Río Chiquito, a tributary of the Río de las Trampas in the vicinity of Ranchos de Taos. The village today is called Talpa after Our Lady of Talpa venerated especially in the sourthern mountainous region of Jalisco. Don Bernardo Durán, one of the more prosperous citizens of Río Chiquito, petitioned Padre Martinez on behalf of the families for the right to recognize the Virgin Mary as their special patroness under the title of Our Lady of San Juan (Bautista) de Los Lagos, venerated in the northern part of Jalisco. The following year, Bernardo Durán built the chapel of San Juan d Los Lagos.  On the occasion of his 1833 visit to the area, Bishop José Antonio Laureano de Zubiría gave permission to have Mass and other liturgical services at the chapel of San Juan.[47]

  The Marian shrine of Talpa in Jalisco is a place of pilgrimage dating to the mid seventeenth century. It is characterized by twin gothic spires, and is located more than a hundred miles southeast of Mexico City, and another hundred miles inland from Acapulco. The devotion to Our Lady of Talpa arrived in the Taos area about 1815, and flowered some twenty years later with the building of the private Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa for which the local village is named.  Nicolás Sandoval, an active and influential member of the Brotherhood in the Taos Valley, built the Talpa chapel at his
own expense next to his own home, and very near to the chapel of San Juan. 40  [48]A decade after the San Juan de Los Lagos chapel was built, Sandoval in 1838 established nearby his private chapel in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa. The northern New Mexico small chapel, named for the Mexican shrine in southern Jalisco, signaled lively commerce on La Caravana from Mexico City through Chihuahua to Taos.

The Coming of Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy

  On July 1, 1851, Lamy wrote to the clergy of New Mexico and announced his impending arrival. The roof of the Talpa Chapel was being re-roofed at the exact time that Jean Baptiste Lamy was arriving at Santa Fe as the new Vicar Apostolic and soon-to-be first Bishop of Santa Fe. Painted anew, dated July 2, 1851, an inscription on a plank (latilla) of the new ceiling announced that the chapel was for the “use of [a la dispocición de…] the priest Don Antonio José Martínez.”[49]  The person who helped refurbish the church and painted the plank signed his name as José Samora. The last name is not common in New Mexico. A person by the same name was the “President or Elder Brother (Hermano Mayor) and Councilman José Francisco Zamora”[50] in 1857, and he may be the same person.

  Although Padre Martinez initially tried to ingratiate himself with the new ecclesiastical authority, upon request lending his counsel in canonical matters and making a financial loan, the relationship never warmed. Almost from the start, Lamy was in tension with the powerful Padre Martinez of Taos. Within a year of his arrival, the new Bishop re-imposed a system of tithing[51] that Padre Martinez—as a young priest—had helped terminate. Martinez had claimed it was an excessive burden on the poor, but Lamy, within a couple of years of his arrival, threatened to bar from the sacrament of Eucharist those who did not comply. In the newspaper La Gaceta de Santa Fe, Padre Martínez publicly denounced his Bishop for simony and hucksterism[52] because of his insistence on tithing under pain of censure.

  Padre Martinez later tried to take back some of his intemperate public statements and, in other correspondence, told Bishop Lamy he was thinking of retiring because of health concerns.

  Because of an illness, Padre Martinez returned home to Taos in early 1822 shortly after ordination, but before finishing some course.  That lack impeded his becoming officially named a pastor, although he was in charge of various parishes, he went back to Durango where he had studied as a seminarian for a year’s sabbatical in 1840. Finally, after many years, Padre Martínez was canonically named an “irremovable pastor,” CURA PROPRIO of the parish of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Taos where he had grown up as a young man and where he had been serving as priest-in-charge (interim pastor) since 1826.  Now, according to the canon law of the time, Padre Martínez could not be removed from his parish except for grave cause and only after formally requesting a transfer in a letter.

  Padre Martinez wrote Bishop Lamy a letter complaining about health concerns. He also suggested that he was thinking about retiring at some future date. The Bishop chose to understand the letter as a request for retirement and accepted an offer that Padre Martínez did not explicitly make. Although it is not easy to remove a pastor, ultimately a Bishop can move or retire any priest from his diocese. Bishop Lamy appointed Padre Damask Taladrid, a priest had met in Rome, as the new pastor to Taos in May 1856. The former Spanish army officer did not at all get along with the former pastor of Taos, and their antagonism was mutual. Father Taladrid wrote to Bishop Lamy
to denounce Padre Martinez for celebrating Mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa.[53]

 Rules for Penitentes

  Father Taladrid apparently drafted series of Twelve Rules for the Penitentes in order to attempt to exert control over the Brotherhood, or at least codify their norms for easier reference by the Bishop or his surrogates.[54]  He urged Padre Martinez to relinquish his spiritual authority over the Third Order Lay Franciscans, but Padre Martinez of course demurred, saying he could not give up his sub-delegation of authority over the Third Order since it was given to him personally. On October 27, 1856, Bishop Lamy promulgated the Twelve Rules for the Penitentes and on the same day, officially suspended Padre Martínez from performing his priestly functions: celebrating Masses, hearing Confessions, and preaching.

  Father Eulogio Ortiz, now the Bishop’s secretary, succeeded Father Taladrid as the priest in charge of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Taos. In the spring of 1857, “His Grace Don Juan Lamy graciously granted permission to continue the devotion [my emphasis] of the Passion and death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, as a penance, by all the devotees.”[55]   On March 9, 1857, the Bishop promulgated an additional Five Rules for Penitentes, a complement to the Twelve Rules that “[Father] Taladrid himself had formulated for the Brotherhood.”[56]  The promulgation of rules for Penitentes—Five Rules drafted by Father Ortiz in addition to the Twleve Rules presented by Father Taladrid—clearly showed that Bishop Lamy recognized the existence of the Brotherhoods and approved of them to the extent their members follow the rules. The 9th and 10th rules specifically require that all members of the Brotherhood obey and respect Bishop Lamy and their legitimate parish priest. The rules expressly permitted the Brothers to do penance, as has been their custom for many years back, with these provisos: that the penance be hidden, that it does not give scandal to the rest of the faithful, and is not done with excessive pride. These concerns echo the Special Letter that Bishop Zubiría had written for the Penitentes in 1833, but without any condemnation attached. The treatment of Penitentes under Bishop Lamy, it must be said, was happily more moderate and pastorally more sensitive to the popular religion of New Mexicans than either that of his Mexican episcopal predecessor Zubiría or fellow Frenchman and successor Bishop Jean Baptiste Salpointe.[57]

  Twelve years after the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy–exhorting the Penitentes not to allow themselves to follow “a false species of devotion,”[58] a formula later echoed by Protestant critics,[59] somewhat moderated his approval of the Penitentes. Archbishop Salpointe, almost twenty years after the death of Padre Martinez, forbade Penitente flagellation and public dragging of their wooden crosses.[60] Six years after that prohibition, in 1892, Archbishop Salpointe responded to a petition of the Penitentes to be recognized and approved by him, but now his response to the Penitentes’ request for recognition and approval was roundly in the negative.[61] Salpointe would later become the Bishop of Arizona,


  Father Taladrid under a cloud,[62] left the pastorate of Guadalupe Church in Taos. Padre Martinez was hoping that Padre Medina, one of his seminary students, would eventually become the pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but Bishop Lamy sent Father José Eulogio Ortiz in 1857 to replace Taladrid as pastor. Padre Martinez was at first pleased to welcome Ortiz, a native New Mexican and one of his alumni in the pre-theology seminary. Young Father Eulogio Ortiz was also the nephew of former Vicar Padre Juan Felipe Ortiz. However, as a young priest, Father Eulogio had accompanied Bishop Lamy on one of his trips to Rome, was a favorite of the Bishop, and not at all sympathetic to Martínez.

 Padre Martinez may have invited ecclesiastical censure for publicly denouncing his Bishop in the press, accusing him of simony: exacting tithes under pain of exclusion from Holy Communion for those who did not comply. He may also have invited censure for presiding at the marriage of his favorite niece to Pedro Sánchez in his newly built private oratorio after Father Taladrid had refused permission for Martinez to officiate at the wedding in the parish church. There were rumors, but no proof of unbecoming or illicit moral behavior, asserted Vicar General J.P. Machebeuf, although the Padre did sire children.  Nevertheless, Padre Martínez was not prepared for the most severe censure of excommunication thon the heels of a tiff with Father Eulogio Ortiz regarding accutrements from the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa during Holy Week of 1858.

 Father Eulogio Ortiz, the new pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe church in Taos, surreptitiously took from the Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa some Penitente-related images. Padre Martínez became irate and, expecting just recourse, passionately reported the incident to Bishop Lamy.[63] Instead of recriminating Father Ortiz, within two weeks after the Talpa Chapel altercation with Father J. Eulogio Ortiz, Bishop Lamy excommunicated Padre Martinez on Low Sunday, the Sunday after Easter!


  By 1861, Nicolás Sandoval was most likely the Hermano Mayor for the Brothers in Ranchos de Taos. In that year, he was one of thirteen Penitente leaders in the county of Taos whose names appear on the “Act to Incorporate the Pious Fraternity of the County of Taos, January 30, 1861.” This was an attempt to organize the moradas of the Taos valley into a legal entity for protective purposes. Sandoval was also one of the five leaders in Taos County to formulate the “Constitution of Rules for the Internal Government of the Pious Fraternity of the County of Taos,” written February 23, 1861. This 1861 Constitution included a statement affirming the Taos Brotherhood’s right to possession of “any buildings and possessions belonging to the Brotherhood since olden times,” and the right to “claim them before any civil authority using all possible means to gain possession or obtain a just and fitting restitution.” The intention here most likely was to prevent the Church hierarchy or institution form gaining title to their chapels and moradas. Padre Martínez, in spite of his excommunication, continued using unlicensed chapels throughout the County, such as Nicolás Sandoval’s Our Lady of Talpa, to celebrate Mass and the sacraments for a large portion of the Hispanic population. He continued “until his death in 1867 as the de facto spiritual leader in Taos County.”[64]

 Protestant Inroads

  Manifest Destiny provided a providential opportunity for Protestants to evangelize the “perverted”[65] Hispanic Catholicism of the Penitentes and of all people in the Southwest. “Calvinism—ministers of the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Baptist religions and others of that ilk—had a horror of ritual in the 19th century, but Congregationalists and Presbyterians eased up in the 20th century,” observed Father Steele.[66] Their missionaries published descriptions of the Penitentes as a part of their missionary strategy to demonstrate the importance of their task and to describe challenges and hardships they faced.[67] Their sentiment was that these neo-pagans of Spanish Catholic ancestry need a conversion to the real Jesus. Their descriptions of bloody rituals and practices were calculated to elicit horror from Eastern Protestants who would then become more disposed to support their missionary efforts with funds and personnel.

Presbyterians claimed that Penitentes became Protestants because of the indirect support of Padre Martínez who was excommunicated by Bishop Lamy. Some Penitentes did become Protestants and served as the core of several Spanish-language Presbyterian congregations in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. By the end of the nineteenth century there were about 3,000 adult Hispano Protestant church members organ
ized in about 100 congregations in New Mexico and southern Colorado.[68]

  Several family members and others close to Padre Martínez became Presbyterians, including Pascual Martínez, the Padre’s youngest and favorite brother. Pedro Sánchez, whom Padre Martinez married to his niece in his own oratorio, flirted with Presbyterianism in the 1860s, but was later reconciled to the Church during some missions the Jesuits under the leadership of Father Donato Gasparri gave in the Taos area after Padre Martínez died in 1867. Almost forty years later, in 1904, Sánchez authored his panegyric Memorias Sobre La Vida del Presbítero Antonio José Martínez, Cura de Taos wherein he makes no mention of church controversies.

  José Domingo Mondragón is reputed to have been an Hermano Mayor of the Ranchos de Taos area. He and Vicente Romero became elders of the first Presbyterian Church in Taos in 1873, located across the road from the residence of Padre Martínez and later at El Prado adjacent to the Taos Pueblo. Mondragón was a candidate for ministry by 1877 and obtained his licentiate in theology by 1878. He held the church title of Evangelist and served in Taos and Ranchos de Taos from 1880 to 1895, spending 1884 in Mora—about seventy miles away.

  José Vicente Ferrer Romero, also a lay evangelist, was an illegitimate son Padre Martínez, born in Taos of the widow Teodora Romero only two years before the American occupation in 1846. It was a highly conflictive time both in civil society and in the church of Santa Fe. Until his death in 1912, at the age of 68, Vicente Ferrer Romero served as an active and effective lay evangelizer for the Presbyterian Church in northern New Mexico.[69]

 Death and Aftermath

  After the death of Padre Martinez, Bishop Lamy invited Jesuit missionaries to attempt to bring heal the breach. In January 1869, the Italian Jesuit Father Donato M. Gasparri held a preaching mission in Taos of over two weeks duration. One account claims that more than 3,000 persons took part in the spiritual exercises and were reconciled through the sacrament of Penance, some relatives of Padre Martínez among them. It was reported that the Jesuit missionaries convalidated seventy-six marriages at which Padres Martinez and Lucero assisted, considered invalid because of their lack of jurisdiction.[70] Nevertheless, as E.K. Francis wrote in 1956,

The whole series of events left a wound in the side of the Catholic Church in New Mexico that was long to heal, and the scar can yet be felt. To the Spanish-American minority, however, the wholesale removal of the native clergy has been a tragedy, for it deprived them of their natural leaders capable of cushioning the shock of conquest from which as a group the Hispanos have never quite recovered.[71]

  Reyes N. Martínez of Arroyo Hondo[72] told a story claiming that a Penitente going to the calvario at the upper morada in Arroyo Hondo dropped to his knees, jolted the carriage with Doña Sebastiana inside, and “released the arrow that pierced his kidney and killed him.” Mi Comadre Doña Sebastiana rides the Death Cart, a wooden carving dear to the Penitentes and many older northern New Mexicans.  Death comes “in the wink of an eye”[73]—accoridng to a popular Latin saying pertaining to death, part of Catolic culture for centuries.  We are also exhorted to remember death because “time flies.”[74]  The figure represents Death, not as a macabre reality, but as St. Francis would have it, “Sister Death.” She is comadre, i.e., a member of everyone’s family. The family treats her with respect, calling her Doña. She is named after St. Sebastian, a post-logical allusion to the third-century Roman saint who was martyred with arrows.  This is supposed to have taken place in 1867, the year of Padre Martínez’ death.[75]
Maybe it is a metaphor of the dying of a people that took place along with its leader. However, even with—and maybe especially among—Penitentes, there is hope of resurrection.

  The esteem in which Padre Martinez was held by the villages of Taos, and particularly by the Penitente Brothers, is attested by the fact that upon his death—after a Vigil of thirty-six hours–more than 300 members of La Fraternidad Piadosa de Condado de Taos and other Hermanos from all over northern New Mexico marched in his funeral procession.[76]

“Never” is long time, and the “never” that E. K. Francis talked about may be near. The healing process is slow, but full recovery of the enlightenment brought to New Mexico is once again on the horizon of this reluctant dawn because of the renewed interest in Padre Martínez and a greater appreciation of his rightful place in the history of New Mexico and the Catholic Church.


[1] Cf. Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 70. A morada is a special gathering place of the Hermanos Penitentes of New Mexico

[2] Images of a patron saint or sacred theme crafted by a santero, either traditionally painted with vegteble dyes on wood or carved from a piece of wood.

[3] Literally translates to Our Father Jesus the Nazarene, a folk brotherhood in northern New Mexico with great devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ.

[4] The Penitentes are a lay religious franternal organization, a “brotherhood” or cofradía.

[5] The adobe churches of New Mexico are made of “living stones,” i.e. dried mud bonded by straw.  It is mixed by hand, and renewed by massaging (plasterning) new wet med and straw for renewal and repair.  The communal process is called ejarrar.

[6] A brotherhood or fraternal organization with charitable or religious purposes whose membership meet from time to time to carry out their purposes.

[7] A witch in Hispanic mythology is a woman with spiritual power, for good or evil.  Most witches in New Meican folklore are benevolent, e.g. Ultima of Rudolfo Anaya’s 1972 novel Bless Me, Ultima recently made into a film.

[8] Native American tribes gave this nickname to African American soldiers of the 10th Army Regiment of the U.S. Army, formed at Fort Levenworth in 1866.  Several of these retired soldiers settled in the Abiquiu Area.

[9] Mt. 16: 24; Mk. 8:34; Lk. 9: 23; Lk. 14, 26; Lk. 18:29-34

[10] Heb. 12:6

[11] Heb. 12:10-13

[12] Heb. 12:5

[13] My uncle Tomás Romero researched the patriarchal family tree by from documents handed down in the family.

[14] The area of Santa Cruz de La Cañada was a stronghold of Penitente activity.  By 1739, Santa Cruz was a point of departure for migration westward to Abiquiú and Tierra Amarilla, and by 1775 northward to Taos and into southern Colorado.

[15] This is a very Franciscan feast in honor of Our Lady Queen of Angeles who is honored at a basilica built at Assisi in the seventeenth century.  The basilica was constructed by devotees of the Povorello, St. Francis, who in the thirteenth century used to pray at a Benedictine-built wayside chapel at Assisi.  After Francis gathered followers, they used to meet there, and he died there (his transitus) on October 3, 1226.  The small chapel within the large basilica came to be called Porciúcula or little portion.

[16] Hymns of praise whose tone modality was often doleful, frequently sung at the Rosary vigil the evening before funerals.

[17] Weigle, p. 214.  Appendix XII – Archbishop Salpointe’s Circular on the Penitentes, English Version – February 7, 1892.

 [18] Jn. 10:30

[19] Jn. 14: 8

[20] Jn. 14:28

[21] Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, p. 681, Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C., c. 1967.

 [22] Steele, S.J., Rev. Thomas, “Late Medieval Spirituality” in Alabados of NM, pp. 81-17, especially pp. 81-10.  The other six besides St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) were the following: saints Romuald (d. 1027), Bernard (d. 1153), Dominic (1221), and Bridget of Sweden (d. 1153).  Numbered among the top three “for New Mexican purposes,” besides St. Francis, were Peter Damian (d. 1072) and Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109).

[23] Durwell, F.X., C.Ss.R., The Resurrection: A Bilbical Study, NY, Sheed and Ward, 1960, pp. 359.

 [24] Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J. is the quntesenntial proponent of liberation theology with a renewed emphasis on the passion of Christ.  His books include the following: Christology the Crossroads (1978), The True Church and the Poor (1984), Jesus the Liberator (1991), Christ the Liberator (1999), Spirituality of Liberation (1990), The Principle of Mercy: Taking the Crucified People from the Cross (Orbis, 1994), No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays (Orbis, 2008).  Born of a Basque family in Barelona, Sobrino became a Jesuit and seved in Guatemala for several years.  Like the assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, the Jesuit order teaching at their Catholic University in El Salvador were outspoken in their efforts to bring resolution to the civil war.  On November 19, 1989, Army agents brutally murdered six of Sobirno’s fellow Jesuits stationed there, as well as their housekeeper and her daughter.  However, Father Sobrino escaped beause he was out of the country at the time. In March of 2007, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a monitum, a “notification” or warning against certain “dangerous or erroneous” porpositons held by Father Sobrino.

 [25] Luke 24:26

[26] Is. 53:5

[27] Is. 11:11

[28] Weigle, op. cit. p. 23

 [29] The Cathedral Chapter is responsible for any important decisions that must be made before the selection of a succeeding bishop.

 [30] Donaciano Vigil succeeded Charles Bent as Governor of New Mexico after his assassination.  Vigil most prominently severed as the second Governor of New Mexico under military rule.  In February 1847, he convoked a Territorial Convention that met on October 14, and it selected Padre Martinez as the President of this Convention for the establishment of a government “purely civil in character.”  Cf. Benjamin Read, Illustrated History of New Mexico, Santa Fe, 1912, pp. 453-54; pp. 439, 456, 461, 539, and 608. 

 [31] Weigle, op. cit., pp. 45-46 and p. 200, Appendix V – Acts of Vicar Rascón.  My translation follows: “There is no objection in this ecclesiastical government that those present make a request to the Superior of the Order of St.  Francis or his sub-delegates who may be in this Territory or Republic to make shorter the practice of those religious acts of devotion in the parish of Taos where those called Tertiary are living.”

 [32] “The Third Order of Penitence of Our Holy Father St. Francis has existed, although the exact year for is not fixed, since just about the [time of the] re-conquest of the Province [in 1693].” Weigle, op. cit., p. 197, Appendix III, Report of Rev. Custos Fray Cayetano José Bernal to Governor Fernando Chacón, October 1794.

 [33] Letter from Padre Martínez to Bishop Zubiría, February 21, 1833. Mary Taylor, an amateur and competente historian, El Paso residident whose husband Paul served in the NM House of Representatives, unearthed the significant letter in the Archives of the Cathedral of Durango, Mexico.  She copied and sent it to William Wroth who quoted it in his Images of Penance, Images of Mercy: Southwestern Santos in the Late Nineteenth Century, Taylor Museum, published for Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center by University of Oklahoma Press, c. 1991.  Translation of Spanish text of the letter is mine, Appendix 1, p.172.

 [34] Ibid.

 [35] Note by Fr. Steele, proofreading a draft for this essay, inserted at this point a comment distinguishing the politics of Bishop Zubiría from that of his predecessor Bishop Casañiza: “After the American and French Revolutions, the Spanish Crown went totally paranoid, demanding that responsible clerics—ideally gachupines [born in Spain]—oversee all cofradías.  Ironically, that led to a desire for liberty…called “Grito de Dolores”…. Castañiza [Former Bishop of Durango] was a rabid Tory, while [his successor] Zubiría was a moderate, but he was a Neo-Classic type—didn’t like anything medieval/Gothic, etc.  Romanticism hadn’t come to Durango, much less to Taos.”

 [36] Wroth, op. cit., Appendix II, p.173, from the Archives of the Cathedral of Durango – Microfilm roll 16, frame 689.

 [37] Bishop Zubiría’s Pastoral Letter of July 21, 1833 to priest and people of Santa Cruz de La Cañada quoted in Weigle, Appendix I – pp. 195-96.  The letter was also intended for clergy and laymen wherever Penitentes were found. Spanish transcribed by Marta Weigle from the Microfilm Edition of the Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM State Records Center and Archives, Roll 50, Frames 0147-0149.  Books of Patents, No. 73, Box 7, described by Chávez, Archives of the Archdiocese, p. 156.  English translation mine.

 [38] Cf.
Weigle, op. cit., p. 29, and p. 234, footnote #38.  Flagellant sects emerged two different times in Europe, and were powerful and schismatic enough to provoke Church denunciation.  The first time they emerged was in Italy following the Black Plague in 1260, and the second time was in Germany during the fourteenth century.  The Council of Constance in 1417 decreed against them.  Public flagellations were not common until the end of the fourteenth century (1580s) when the apocalyptic preaching of St. Vincent Ferrer contributed to their rise in cities such as Valencia…and Seville.

 [39] Bishop Zubiría, October 19, 1833, quoted in Weigle, p. 196.

[40] Father Steel notes that, “In Taos County, women need not apply.” However, there is a tradition that women at Arroyo Hondo were involved in penitential practices and devotions at the Lower Morada dedicated to the honor of San Antonio.

 [41] Santiago Valdez, Biography of Padre Antonio José Martinez, Cura de Taos, 1877, Ritch Collection, Huntington

Library, San Marino; unpublished manuscript, English version by Juan Romero, prepared 1993, p. 45.

 [42] Bernardo Abeyta’s son attended the minor seminary of Padre Martinez in Taos, and was ordained a priest.

[43] Notation of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J. on essay.

[44] Notation of Fr. Tom Steele, S.J.: “In 1860, Taos got itself organized, and I’m willing to bet that Padre Martinez was involved….the [civil] incorporation [of the Hermanos Penitentes] probably had his fingerprints all over it.”

[45] Cf. Marta Weigle, op. cit., pp. 47-51, “Enigmatic Role of Don Antonio José Martinez.”  Father Steel in proofreading this manuscript noted, “AJM worked both sides of all streets.”

 [46] Albert López Pulido, Sacred World of the Penitentes, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 2000, p. 92, n.30 summarizes the argument Wroth makes in Images of Penance, pp 51-52.

 [47] William Wroth, The Chapel of Our Lady of Talpa, The Tayor Museum of Fine Arts, Colorado Springs, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, Colo. 80903, 1979, p. 24.

[48] Cf. Wroth, ibid., pp. 103 sq., passim.  It was later called the Duran Chapel after one of Sandoval’s daughters who married Francisco Duran.  My paternal grandmother Margarita Vigil was a granddaughter of Nicolas Sandoval who built this chapel
in the 1830’s.  Margarita’s grandmother was Juana María Sandoval, the daughter of Nicolas.  Juana María married Francisco Duran for whom the chapel came to be known.

   The Talpa chapel was the one Padre Martinez used mostly after his estrangement from Bishop Lamy in 1858.  A U.S. census taker in 1860 referred to it as a “schismatic church,” but Fray Angelico Chavez roundly repudiated that term as appropriately describing the reality.  Cf. Fray Angelico Chavez, But Time and Chance, Sunstone Press, 1984, pp. 146-147.

   Since the mid 1960s, this chapel has existed only in the rubble and miniscule ruins of its foundation, hidden from view, located on private land near the highway. The adobe of the once stately chapel returned to the elements for lack of care.  However, the chapel is the subject of one of the scholarly and informative publications of the Taylor Museum in Colorado Springs.  A replica of its interior used to be prominently displayed there. May it someday be rebuilt as a house of prayer dedicated to the reconciliation of people who live in conflict.

 [49] Wroth, Ibid.

 [50] Weigle, op. cit., Appendix VII: Bishop Lamy’s Five Rules for the Penitente, March 9, 1857, p. 205.

 [51] Father Steele noted on the draft of this manuscript, “Tithes and Frist Fruits—diezmos y primicias—are NOT the same as aranceles.”  Bishop Lamy effectively cut the income of the native clergy by lowering the stole fees (aranceles) for baptisms, marriages, and burials.  Father Steele suggests the “cuts were 66% to 75%…!”  Bishop Lamy reinstated tithes and first fruits under the pain of an ecclesiastical censure that may have included exclusion from Christian burial.

 [52] Letter of Padre Martinez to Bishop Lamy, Nov. 12, 1856. Fr. Philip Cassidy, native priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, translated the letter in a manuscript her wrote in the late 1960s.  Quoted in Juan Romero, Reluctant Dawn, Second Edition, 2006, The Taos Connection – Palm Springs, CA, p. 48.

 [53] AASF (Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe), L.D.  1856, No.  24.

 [54] AASF, L.D. 1856, No. 33.

[55] Bishop Lamy may have wanted to ingratiate himself with the natural powerbase of Padre Martínez, the Hermanos Penitentes. 

 [57] Father Steele notes, “I am sure that… Lamy was infinitely better than Zubiría or Salpointe for the Hermanos Penitentes.”

[58] Weigle, op. cit., pp. 206-207. Bishop Lamy’s Lenten Pastor
al of 1879.

 [59]  “These serious seekers, by a false road for salvation [my emphasis: title of an article by Juan F. Martinez] have not been forgotten of God, ever on the watch for the sincere…” Alexander Darley, quoted in Juan Francisco Martinez of Fuller Seminary for CEHILA Discussion Paper-Draft, n.d., p. 10.

 [60] Weigle, pp. 207-208, Archbishop Salpointe’s 1886 Circular on the Third Order of St. Francis.

 [61] Ibid. p. 214-16. The quotes are from the Circular Letter of Ab. Salpointe, February 7, 1892, to be read in all the churches.  Their set of rules is described as nothing but “a bombastic appeal to all males from the age of fourteen up to join with them…. They condemn themselves, by professing the principles of Masonry…They ask [for an] oath of perpetual obligation…The Church … does not want to… approve the disorderly, indecorous and indecent practices of the Fraternity…Protectors of the Penitentes, are doing so more for political reasons… To those who have…resisted our orders, we consider them as rebels…[and] will be deprived of the reception of the Sacraments….They go out by persisting in their disobedience.”

 [62] Father Damasio Taladrid was a serious drinker, had a difficult temperament, and did not get along with parishioners who retained their love for Padre Martinez.  The mutual animosity between the priests Taladrid and Martinez lessened, and they were able to get along.  Padre Marteinez kept asking for a native New Mexican as an assistant priest, and requested Padre Ramón Medina.  However, Bishop Lamy eventjually did send a native New Mexican priest: Father Eulogio Ortiz, former student of the Padre and nephew of Vicar Juan Felipe Ortiz of Santa Fe.  In addition, Father Ortiz enjoyed the confidence of the Bishop, having accompanied him to Rome on a visit, and later becoming his priest-secretary as well as preist-in-charge of Guadalupe parish.

[63] AASF, L.D. 1858, No. 17, quoted in Talpa Chapel, Ibid. p. 36. Padre Ortiz appeared before the District Court in Santa Fe, and this is documented in a letter written April 12, 1858 by Judge Kirby Benedict of the Federal District Judge for Taos and Santa Fe.  (Ibid. p. 36)  The Taos Brotherhood’s Constitution and own rules of February 23, 1861, drafted by Nicolás Sandoval and four others, was a clear attempt to protect the Brothers from any further attacks of this kind.  “The Hermano Mayor may also apprehend any person who is not a member of the society and who ridicules, disturbs, or in any way hinders the spiritual exercises of the said fraternity.  He may enter legal action against him before the civil authorities in the name of the Fraternity of the County of Taos.”  Quoted in Ibid, pp. 36-37.

 [64] Ibid. p. 37

 [65] Cf. Juan Francisco Martínez, Ph. D., “Origins and Development of Protestantism among Latinos in the Southwestern United States: 1836-1900” (Fuller Theological Seminary, 1996).  Note on manuscript by T. Steele, S.J.—Protestant missionaries whom Juan Martínez cites as especially noteworthy for their zeal and effectiveness include the following: Thomas Harwood (Methodist, good in every way), Charles Sumner (Congregationalist), and Alexander Darley (Presbyterian, “a rather wild person not even mentioned in his minister-brother’s autobiography.”)

 [66] I sent Father Steele a draft of this essay for his comments.  This was one of the notations on the returned manuscript.

 [67] Darley called Penitentes “serious seekers, by a false road, for salvation, have not been forgotten of God, ever on the watch for the sincere, even though ignorant and, therefore, false seeker for light…” Passionists, pp. 58-59, quoted in Juan Martínez.

 [68] Juan Francisco Martinez, quoting Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA (1877- 1900).

[69] Cf. Randi Jones Walker, Protestantism in the Sangre de Cristos: 1840s-1900s.

[70] AASF, L.D. 1858, No. 17, Troy, n.d. Ch. IV: 2-3 quoted in Ibid. p. 37.

 [71] E.K. Francis quoted in Romero, Reluctant Dawn, second ed., p. 54

[72] Brother of Cleofas Jarfamillo, author of Shadows of the Past, and author in his own right.  He wrote several items for the Works Projects Administration during the 1930s.

[73] In ictu oculi – In the wink of an eye, i.e. quickly, unexpectedly.

[74] Tempus fugit, memento mori. = Time flies, remember death.

[75] Wroth, Talpa Chapel, p. 170.

[76] Weigle, op. cit., p. 49.





CEHILA-USA Conference at Miami, Florida

June 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.[1][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 trail master 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 Abiquiú in Southern California had various degrees of kinship
with Padre Antonio José Martínez who was also in Abiquiú. Although popularly
known as the Cura de Taos, Padre Martínez 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 Martínez, Comandante José Antonio Martínez, Lorenzo Trujillo, and Encarnación Martínez de Rowland.

Julian Chavez had come 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”[2][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.[3][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. ”[4][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.[5][vi]

Padre Martínez 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.

Abiquiú 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, Abiquiú–a beehive 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, Abiquiú was near Panama—slowly 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 Abiquiú, were discovered in 1947 near Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian Retreat Center located on Las Animas land grant. Over the centuries, Abiquiú has been a welcoming place for different kinds of people. Indians of every stripe and mixture made it their home. After internecine warfare and intermarriage, many had migrated from the four corners areas before the thirteenth century. Indian children captured in warfare among different tribes or with Spanish settlers sometimes grew 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 fighting for the North in the Civil War—also have their honored place as residents in Abqiuiú’s history. New Mexico in general, but especially Abiquiú, is famous for its brujas/brujos whose transcendent and spiritual nature is conveyed by folk tales. They cohabit the stark yet supremely beautiful landscape with its hills and high cliffs shaded in textures of yellow, brown, orange, ochre, white and rust that nourish 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 appearing in Georgia O’Keefe paintings.

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. The Chavez family lived across the parish church of Santo Tomás where Antonio José Martínez was baptized and where he had married a distant cousin, María de La Luz Martín. Julian’s elder brother was in the military, and young Julian was a teenager when Padre Martinez returned to Abiquiú as widower and young curate to serve as priest-in-charge of Santo Tomá parish.[vii] Julian Chavez was among the sixty men that Antonio Armijo led in 1830 from Abiquiú into California through northern Arizona (the Gila River route) and southern Utah. After almost three months 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 Porciúncula
, twelve miles west of the Mission and a short distance northeast of what is now central city Los Angeles. His residence was at a good location along El Río Porciúncula (the L.A. River), not far from today’s North Broadway bridge. A bronze memorial plaque at the entrance to Elysian Park, also a portal to Chavez Ravine, commemorates the Portolá expedition traveling in 1769 from newly founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá to Monterrey, the capital of Alta California. The Gaspár Portolá expedition on August 2 stopped at a cool resting place on a nearby hill overlooking the river. Fray Juan Crespín, Franciscan chaplain to the expedition noted in his diary the Franciscan feast day of Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles, and named the river in her honor. The small chapel in Assissi and where St. Francis often prayed, met with his religious brothers, and had his “transitus,” i.e., where he died in 1226 was also dedicated to her. Three centuries later, the followers of St. Francis dwarfed the chapel by building a large basilica around it. The little chapel remained within the basilica, and became known as the “small portion” or “La Porciúcula.” Franciscans dedicated the chapel and basilica to Our Lady of the Angels, and celebrate its dedication on August 2.

Mission San Gabriel, established in 1771, is one of the twenty-one Missions founded by Blessed Junípero Serra. Colonists from Sonora, a decade later in 1781, established a settlement twelve miles west of San Gabriel Mission, and named it for the river and called the new village El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Angeles de Porciúcula, today more commonly known simply as L.A. On August 2 in the bicentennial year of 1976, Archbishop Cardinal Manning of Los Angeles placed a mosaic of the Annunciation—in honor of Queen of the Angels– over the portal of the Plaza Church that is mother church of Los Angeles.

Americans claiming their Lone Star independence from both Mexico and the United States lost the battle of 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.[6][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.

On July 25, 1879– feast of Santiago (St. James), the patron of Hispanic America so revered in New Mexico, and almost twelve years to the day after the death of his fellow Abiqueño Padre Martínez– Julian Chavez died at the age of 70 in his Chavez Ravine home.[ix]


The first trade caravan had left from Taos to Los Angeles in 1829,[1][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,[7][xii] an oasis in the high desert near the southern end of Death Valley”[8][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 Abiquiú to protect the Lugo San Bernardino Ranch. The young Santiago Martínez family lived on a “bluff overlooking the Santa Ana River near today’s San Bernardino Valley College campus.”[9][xiv] Santiago, his wife and child stayed there, but Lorenzo and the others returned to Abiquiú 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”[10][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.[11][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 likely related to Encarnación.”[12][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.[1][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).”[13][xx]


The rather mysterious figure of military man Comandante Antonio José Martínez, considered one of the founders of Agua Mansa, was “from the town of La Rosa,” i.e., Santa Rosa Plaza, the first Spanish settlement of Abiquiú named for St. Rose of Lima, Peru and the first saint of the American continent. The ruins of the Santa Rosa Chapel on the outskirts of Abiquiú along NM Highway 84 are still extant. The Comandante and Padre Martínez were both from the Abiquiu Plaza of “La Rosa” founded in 1739 a few miles east of Abiquiú along the Chama River. Either flooding of the Chama River or
Indian depredations from the Indian village upon the nearby hill
(Potsiunge) occasioned the Santa Rosa community to move about four miles
upriver to Santo Tomás that became the main church of Abiquiú.

Comandante Martínez escorted the expedition from the triangular areas of
Taos-Abiquiu-Santa Fe to the rectangular regions of La Puente-Walnut. 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.”[14][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”[15][xxv]
who reconnoitered the San Luis and Arkansas valleys of today’s southern Colorado and was also active in northern New Mexico in 1818 and 1819. Could this be
the same José Antonio Martinez who, after more than twenty years still vigorous but much more experienced, helped colonize southern California with New Mexicans?[16][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…”[17][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 married María Dolores Archuleta Martin, and they had seven children. His own family, as well as the Rowland-Workman party, was in the fall caravan of 1841 that Lorenzo Trujillo led from Abiquiú to Rancho San Bernardino. Traveler from Tennessee Benjamin Davis Wilson contracted Lorenzo’s four sons (Tedoro, Esquipulas, Doroteo, and Julian ) to herd a flock of sheep over the 1200-mile route.[xxviii] This was the principal food source for the party and for another group that joined up with them on the way to California. Trujillo’s daughter Matilde married a Sepulveda who owned land in the area of Pasadena and Altadena[18][xxix] where B.D. Wilson later resided and took up the timber industry. Mt Wilson is named for him, and he later became a governor of California. For all of Trujillo’s contributions to the area, including helping to organize regular Catholic Church services in the area, Lorenzo Trujillo is one of the Founder of Agua Mansa AKA San Salvador on the west side of Santa Ana River tributary. His homestead, Plaza Trujillo, is on the eastside of that same tributary where the Agua Mansa Cemetery is located, and a replica of the San Salvador church stands on the hillcrest.

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 godparents—not something usual. His stepmother adopting him was one of the large and well-connected Martin-Serrano clan of Abiquiú. 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. The so-called Rowland-Workman treks of 1841 and 1842 are better known than his earlier treks to Los Angeles in 1838 when he brought Santiago Martinez as well as his wife and son to California. These latter treks 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.[1][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 the1842 trek.


Of all these New Mexican transplants to southern California, Encarnación Martínez of Taos was the most significant person connected to Padre Martinez. Besides a likely kinship, the connection was two-fold: the marriage he helped to arrange between her and John Rowland, and the Letter of Transit that the Padre wrote in 1842, eighteen years after
their marriage. 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,[19][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, 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[20][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 Americans, but not family members of William Workman. 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 not available to write a letter of transit for John Rowland’s first trip to California. It may not have even occurred to Rowland to ask for a letter from his parish priest Padre Martínez, Rowland, a naturalized Mexican citizen through his marriage to Encarnación Martínez, knew he would need a Document of Transfer, and asked for one from Manuel Alvarez living in Santa Fe, American Consul and an employee of the U.S. Government. Alvarez wrote the letter of transit for safe passage on August 11, 1841, and addressed it to the Governor Juan B. Alvarado living in Monterey, then the capital of Upper California still part of the Mexican Republic.[21][xxxv]

Upon arrival to California, Rowland and Workman traveled to the local political official in Los Angeles, and an official informed him that lands were to be obtained through the Governor of California with a recommendation of the Padre in whose area the lands were sought.

Excerpt of letter from Consul Manuel Alvarez

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 [of New Mexico], since the year 1823. I have associated with him since the early years of his settling here, and I have known him very well as an industrious and peaceful man, respected in this country.


The object of his journey to your district is, besides that of spreading the use of the goods of his country, that of seeking goods in yours; it presents–as is rumored–greater advantages so that he may transport himself and his numerous family to your district.


I shall thank you for whatever favor you may deem worthy to extend to Mr. Rowland. If ever you will require my services in this country [New Mexico – a Deputación of the Republic of Mexico], you may be sure that I shall have the greatest pleasure in affording all 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 “a vacant place at La Puente.”[1][xxxvi], an area that was formerly a part of Mission of San Gabriel. After his long journey of two months, Roland finally got around to presenting his credential to Padre Tomás Estenaga of San Gabriel Mission. Padre Tomás Elenerio de Estenaga received Rowland courteously, but made no lands available to him or William Workman. The Mission owned large swaths of land in southern California, and had much to say about who might inhabit and come to own property in the area. 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. Although Rowland’s letter was not addressed to him, the priest was opposed to what it proposed.

Nevertheless, Governor Juan Batista Alvarado in Monterrey expressed his approval for the La Puente Land Grant to Rowland, Father Narcisio Durán, Franciscan President
of the Missions and holding the “line”, countered in a letter to John Rowland dated January 14, 1842. Padre Durán appealed to an 1835 law of the Mexican Supreme Congress, and formalized his objection in a letter 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]…[22][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 again formalized his objection:

The land of La Puente belongs to this Community of San Gabriel that occupies it with more than five hundred head of large cattle. In no manner does this community consent that the land should be alienated since it is the on place that the Mission has for sowing and to support its cattle.[23][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”[24][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 Martínez 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 secular 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 and William Workman for their Texas sympathies 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 helped the Anglo bridegroom prepare to marry his own relative Encarnación Martinez. The letter from Padre Martínez of Taos dated September 3, 1842 graciously and effusively, yet precisely, bore witness that over the past eighteen years that John Rowland was a faithful parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, besides being spouse of his relative.[25][xl]

Padre Martínez Letter of Transit for John Rowland


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.


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. Yet with a degree of charity that day by day has been a greater credit to him, 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. He is quiet and pacific in all his acts, meeting the duties and responsibilities that are his. He complies with his promises and agreements in his attitude toward the church, and likewise strictly when dealing with others. He is well received by the inhabitants of this vicinity, and highly esteemed by the authorities. He has never been accused or even suspected of violating the laws for the reason that he never gave cause. In short, therefore, 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 Martínez 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. Between 1844-45, the two settlements merged into one. 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 pueblo of San Salvador, the name of the church at Trujillo Plaza. [26][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.[27][xlii]
However, by then, the 1848 California Gold Rush began to deplete the southern
California New Mexican colony since several young men left to try 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.[28][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. William Workman built his family home in what is now the City of Industry on Julian Road (Hispanicized William) off Hacienda Blvd. John Rowland in set up his ranch near what became Rowland Heights.[29][xlv] The La Puente Rancho that Roland and Workman 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. Emigrants left Salt Lake for California on March 14, 1851, and arrived at Cajon pass on June 11.In 1851, almost on cue at the very middle of the nineteenth century, Mormons came into San Bernardino as a new wave of immigrants, an brought their own style and heritage.
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.[30][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, after twenty-six years of marriage to John Rowland and the birth of ten children, died towards on November 21, 1851. Soon after her death,
Santiago Martinez moved back to Taos where his son Daniel was born. Four of the Rowland children, ranged 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.[31][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 off Hacienda Blvd. near Hacienda Heights in the City of Industry that is adjacent to La Puente. The small cemetery chapel is a mausoleum that is the finally resting place for so many women from Taos, New Mexico. An era had come to a close, and—with the second marriage of John Rowland to Charlotte Gray–a new era began.




Antonio Rivera – Colorado

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 Abiquiú, 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 Cacpuchín instructed Rivera to return and explore the region once again—this time not for precious metal, but to reconnoiter 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.

Gaspár de Portolá  

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 de Porciúcula
, 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.

Juan Bautista de Anza and Friar Francisco Garces

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. His journey opened the road from west to east, enabling Friars Anastacio Domiguez and Silvestre Velez de Escalante to travel. 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. This spurred them on, and–with the full support of Governor Mendinuet– they recruited help from El Paso, southern Colrado and Utah. With further help of Genízaro guides from Abiquiú 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.

Capitan José Romero

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.


This was the roadway through Mexico-Durango-Chihuahua-Santa Fe (including
Abiquiú-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, 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 Comanche Indians.


[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 secularized 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 Abiquiú, some residents of the hilly area have preferred 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 Interstates 10 and 210.

[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 ] Juan Chavez may have been of altar server age, and so Miguel Gallegos also living in Abiquiu at the time, and who later went to the Padre’s elementary school in Taos, then to his minor seminary, studied in Durango and was ordained a priest. After an altercation with the American occupation, 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,
, 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 Interstates 215 and 15. 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 had visited. He was one of the very last friars who walked with Padre Junípero Serra. 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. Historian George W. Beattie finds that plausible, but Bruce Harley–historian and former archivist for the Diocese of San Bernardino–vigorously disputed it.

[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 called Stover Mountain, named for Isaac Stover, a Taos trapper who came to Los Angeles in 1837 and later settled in the Agua Mansa area. Since Word War I until recent years, Stover Mountain has been capped with an easily seen American flag. A bear killed Stover at an advanced age in the mountains of San Bernardino.


[xviii] Rowland, op. cit., p. 74. Underscore – my emphasis.

[xix] Interview with June Wentworth member of City of Walnut Planning Commission, in August 2002 [Phone: (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 and invited him to 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 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, p. 120, total pp. 130.

From Beattie and Beattie, Heritage of the Valley, p. 60. Other names include Feliciana Valdez “(widow of Apolnio (sic) Espinosa),” Lorenzo Trujillo, and Luis Stover
(Isaac Stover) 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 Abiquiú was established1739-1740.

[32]. [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, probably 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

[xxiv] Ibid.

[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] José Antonio Martínez, the name as the Comandante of Agua Mansa, was also the name of the maternal grandfather of my maternal grandfather Ricardo Garcia whom we called Tito. I have no proof that the namesakes were the same person or even related. My grandfather Tito was born in 1881 at Arroyo Hondo, twelve miles north of Taos, and that makes it possible the two were contemporaries. Uncles of Padre Martinez settled Arroyo Hondo in 1804 by about the same time that Severino Martínez, the Padre’s father, was establishing his homestead in Taos. The timing works out so that he could have been either one or the other José Antonio Martínez, or both–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 Tita, was Gaudalupe Gonzales, and her mother was also a Martínez. By family lore, we have a 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 Bernardino 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 the following year to bring back his family.

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. Wilson purchased half of his land from Bandini, and then moved to Pasadena, and later became Mayor of Los Angeles in 1851. Mt. Wilson was named after him. Isaac Givens was an engineer who kept a journal 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.

[33][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, and descendants 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-exclusive 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. <>



[xlvii] Rowland,
op. cit., p. 130.



This website is dedicated to the person and legacy of Padre Antonio Jose Martínez (1793-1867) who during his life was known as the Curade Taos (Priest of Taos).  Upon his death in 1867, the NM Territorial Legislature called him La Honra de Su País (The Honor of His Homeland). He was orginally buried in his private chapel by his home in the center of Taos, and twenty-four years later his remains were removed to the “American Cemetery” on land that the Padre had donated for the burial of the Americans killed in the 1847 Uprising, located in what is now called Kit Carson Park.  The encomium LA HONRA DE SU PAIS/THE HONOR OF HIS HOMELAND was inscribed on his upright gravestone as part of the epitaph.  The NM State Legislature in 2004, under the leadership of Senator Carlos Cisneros, reprised that phrase in a unanimously passed resolution that provided funding for a public arts project.  Two years later, that phrase became the title for the larger than life-sized bronze memorial of Padre Martinez sculpted by San Luis artist Huberto Maestas and erected in the Taos Plaza.


Antonio José was born along the Chama River in Abiquiu, avillage established in 1739 west of Santa Cruz (next to Española) along the RioGrande. When he was eleven, in 1804, he moved to Taos together with his parentsand younger siblings.  At nineteen,Antonio José married Maria de La Luz Martinez, a distant cousin.  Within a year, his young wife died as shewas giving birth to their daughter who was named for her mother. 


The widower decided to study for the priesthood, left hisdaughter with her maternal grandparents, and made his way to the seminary inDurango where he excelled in his studies, especially canon (church) law andphilosophy. A major influence in his life was Padre Miguel Hidalgo, father ofthe Mexican nation.  From his parish ofOur Lady of Sorrows and under the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in 1810,Padre Hidalgo shouted for independence from Spain.  Eleven years later, in 1821, a year before Antonio José wasordained a priest, Hidalgo’s shout for independence bore fruit.  La Nueva España, including New Mexicoand all of what is today called the “southwest,” became La Republica deMéxico.


Shortly after his ordination, Padre Martinez returned to hisnative home in Taos.  He was supposed tohave stayed for another year in Durango to obtain some pastoral experience andcontinue his theological studies.  However,he was sickly—asthma (?)—so he returned to live for awhile at his parents’ homewhere some of his younger siblings were still living. The young Padre Martinezhelped the aging Franciscan priest who was the pastor of San Geronimo (St.Jerome) parish, the main church of Taos founded at the Indian Pueblo at thedawn of the seventeenth century.  PadreMartinez also helped with baptisms, funerals, and wedding preparation at thechurch of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Taos Plaza, about three miles to thesouth.  Guadalupe was not yet its ownparish, but was still a mission dependent on the main church of San Geronimo.


After he recuperated from his illness, Padre Martinez wasassigned to a couple of parishes where he had the opportunity to show hisspecial love for the poor—at Tomé located south of Alburquerque and at theparish of Santo Tomás in Abiquiu where he had been baptized as an infant, andwhere his wife was buried and his daughter was living with hergrandparents.  By 1825, the young Maríade La Luz also tragically died at the very young age of twelve, and within ayear, Padre Martinez was reassigned to be the priest in charge at Taos.  This was his fondest hope, now realized.


This blog will explore in some detail—through biography,correspondence and other documentation– the forty-two years that PadreMartinez spent in Taos from 1826 until his death in 1867.  I warmly invite you to MARK THIS BLOG AS ONEOF YOUR FAVORITES.  Beinteractive, and share what especially intrigues you with others who may beinterested.  Please help get the wordout.  Invite others to track this blog.


Padre Martinez distinguished himself as a religious leader,educator, journalist, author, printer, publisher, rancher, lawyer andstatesman. The last decade of his life was clouded by serious controversy withhis new bishop, the Most Rev. Jean Baptiste Lamy.  Martínez was a “liminal man” straddling the threshold of variouseras of New Mexican history–the Spanish period that lasted until 1821, theMexican period that lasted until 1846, and the American period that BenjaminRead called that most “transcendant epoch.” [Illustrated History of NewMexico, 1912]