KIMBERLY: I’m Kimberly. I was born in Portales, New Mexico. I was raised in Huntsville, Alabama till about 95’ when we moved here. Basically I am from here, because I have been here ever since. From Albuquerque New Mexico. We have lived in McIntosh and various places in Albuquerque. I worked in the tourism industry since I was in High School. New Mexico has always been a big passion of mine.
My Mom got into genealogy big-time! We traveled a lot around New Mexico and I had to learn a lot of our family history whether I liked it or not (laughter)! 20 years later I ended up growing to love it!
REBECCA: My name is Rebecca Rodriguez Salazar. My mother was born in the early 40’s in Encino, New Mexico. If you follow the highway 3 and keep going south, cross over I-40, then you will hit Encino. She [Kimberly] was born there, and her father was Santiago Salazar. His father was born in Caranmuyo, New Mexico here in the Land Grant where I live. He was the only son from Faustin Salazar. He went to World War II in the early 40’s. He married my grandma and they had my grandmother, Maria Enriqueta Salazar. They lived in an adobe house in Encino. That’s somebody’s cuartito or store shed now. That’s how I started out with my genealogy, because when I moved from Alabama to New Mexico, my Mom said, “you know, your great-grandfather was buried in Santa Fe.” And that’s all it took!
A Start in Genealogy
I started researching him [grandfather] and found out that he was born in a small settlement called Carambuyo, New Mexico. I was going onto to the geneology forums online at the time, I was talking to a gentlemen by the name of Albert Padilla. Albert was the one who gave me history on the Padilla side of my great-grandmother.
My grandfather is Santiago Salazar. Santiago’s father is Faustin Salazar and his wife was Prestina Chavez from the Chavez’ in Anton Chico. Faustin has 8 to 9 generations on the Land Grant where I live. The house that my grandfather lives in, all the generations lived in that house. The house is over 100 years old. That’s the place I met my husband. They told me I should meet Ernest, and so I met with Ernesto, I went to his house. It gave me more of a feeling of where my great-grandfather lived. I met his son in Albuquerque when his son was doing construction. My father in law kept saying you have to meet Billy. He called me and we started going to lunch and the rest is history (laughter). And we got married. My Mom is Salazar and he’s Salazar, so we’re like 9th cousins, we are on the same family tree (laughter). He’s on this side of the family tree and I am on that side of the family tree.
When I went to Carambuyo, I had an epiphany. I said, this is where my great-grandfather was born. His mother was from a Pueblo and moved to Carambuyo and I am still trying to find where she is buried. It has been a mystery to this day. The descendants of the Land Grant where I live in, they were among the first ones from the Land Grants of 1836. In my genealogy, I have over 500 people. And I have about 4 or 5 last names, including my Dad’s side of the family which is Rodriguez. On my Dad’s side, he was born in Carn City, Texas, which is far east Texas. Close to Louisiana. His father’s mother, is Crisanta Zapata, who is first-cousins with Emiliano Zapata. There’s a town in Texas called Zapata, Texas. They migrated from Mexico to Texas when it was still Mexican territory. Emiliano and my great-grandmother were first-cousins, and they say they had written letters to each other. My great-grandmother, Crisanta, she wore dresses and heels everyday even though they [the family] worked in the fields. She carried a pistol, a 38 (laughter). No matter where she went! That family was part of the Mexican Revolution in Texas. My father and his father lived the lives of migrating and working in the fields… cotton, potatoes, spinach. They went from crop-to-crop in the fields of deep south Texas. He [Dad] has told me many times of growing up there, including of La Llorona. My Dad and his cousins would run along the ditch, one cousin would be on one side and there would be another one on the other side, and they would have a sheet over them and would say “La Llorona, La Lllorona.” And when they looked, they really saw La Llorona! They took off haulin’ ass! The Hispanic culture has many stories of supernatural things; home remedies, and I believe in all that because I have experienced things myself.
My grandmother before she moved to Encino, she lived in Palma, New Mexico, which is a dead settlement right on i-40 and Highway 3. In La Palma there’s a morrada, that’s where my grandmother’s land is. Kim and I have hopped the fence a couple of times, to walk up to the adobe dwellings to see the house where my grandmother was born and raised. There use to be a school house there. If you look at records, you will see the population is not more than 200. When the river dried during The Depression, that’s when they all dispersed.
REBECCA: When a lot of the people that came to this area, it was because of the railroad. This was part of the Santa Fe Trail. They wanted San Miguel to be a capital because it was thriving. As you know, Santa Fe was the one that became the capital of the state. When they brought people from Mexico through the Camino Real, some of them landed here. Some of them came from the east, coming this way on the Santa Fe trail, they ended up here in this area. They established the Land Grant in 1836. One of the first families, was the Salazar family. One of the first that I know of was a general, Tamacio Salazar. If you look at the old records, you can see the portions of the land of some of my great-great-grandfathers. It’s my great-great-grandfathers on my Mom’s side, but it’s my great-great-great-grandfathers in my in-law’s side (laughter).
They picked a great location, because there was so many Indian raids at the time they were establishing the Land Grants, they didn’t want new people here. The San Miguel Del Vado church had a brick wall around the whole church and that was like a fort. They did so they can keep the Indians out, because they were so bad, fighting and trying to keep the new-comers from establishing their lives here. If you look around, there’s mountains, so it’s a perfect spot, you can see anybody. The Indians coming over the hill and run for cover.
The Land Grant is called San Miguel Del Vado Land Grant. Some of the old records say who it was sold to and who it was sold from.
KIMBERLY: At first I was like, “I have to go explore and meet all these people.” I am now 28 years old and I think back and I am like, “Wow! It’s so amazing my Mom has so much information.” Sometimes that history gets lost. There’s many people that are family oriented, but they don’t know their family history. I feel like I am on a whole another level, I know who I am and where I come from. It helps me be more grounded on who I am and where I’ve come from. At first, I was so entitled about it.
It wasn’t until I was teenager that she [Mom] started to explore her roots. Before I knew I had a bunch of cousins and we are related to everybody (laughter). But you didn’t really know who you were related to and where you came from. Every Saturday we had to listen to 89.9 and we would travel for hours around the state and check out abandoned houses… I was like “I just want to sleep!” But now I think what I would do to give up a Saturday to drive for like 5 hours on my own time, do what I want and learn something so rich like that. And thankfully she [Mom] did all the hard work (laughter)! It’s amazing! She put in so much work! Even if I don’t understand all of it now, she has made tons of books that I can use to reference.
REBECCA: My grandfather Santiago when he was shortly married to my grandma he went off to the war from Encino. He went on the train. They drafted him into the army. My Mom intrusted me to give me this little box of letters, and I thought it might be like 2 or 3 of them… My grandfather never made it back from the war. But we have all these handwritten letters that he had written to my grandmother, and they are very simple, sweet, and short. And he would always say “Give a kiss to Ketita,” which is my Mom. She [Mom] had left Encino when she was 1 or 2 years old. My grandmother would always sit by the window and wait for him to come. In February, 1945, the Germans, or Adolf Hitler, was trying to ban the U.S. Army and he thought that if they flooded out this area where two rivers cross, that they would flood out the Americans. The Americans with all of their American troops made it out across and there was heavy artillery fire. A shot hit his tank. He perished on February, 1945. And he is buried in Marhanden, Holland at the U.S. cemetery.
REBECCA: We even have the final letters from the General that actually said, “We are sorry. We offer our condolences.” My grandmother’s mother-in-law said “You can not raise your daughter by yourself. You have to get married.” And they wanted her to get married to his step-brother. But that wasn’t going to happen. They moved from Encino to Vaughn, which is not even 10 miles away. She ended up meeting this man, Alfred Madrid, who she ended up marrying. My grandfather had died in February, and she re-married in November, and they went on to have 9 boys and 5 girls. But we have all of these letters that he actually hand-wrote. My Mom is still alive and she turned 75. She has glycoma and has limited vision, and we have recorded all of those letters to her. From a lot of those letters we have learned a lot of history.
My family now comes to me and asks me about our family history. Like “Who’s this? And what happened here?” My Mom’s first-cousin has wrote a book about him growing up in Encino and migrating to Portales.
I was also raised in Portales, New Mexico and there’s a lot of our family there. And I tell my Mom, “Why didn’t you tell me that we all come from this area?” (laughter)
REBECCA: I was born in 66. The way that Portales was laid out then was a railroad track that went through town. Most of the Hispanics lived on the north side, and on the opposite side of the tracks it was white. You hear a lot about segregation. Corales had their separate bathroom. They had their own separate water fountain. Prejudice was very rampant in Portales. My Mom was like the Martin Luther King of her day. She was part of the Civil Rights. She was helping other business women her age going door-to-door educating women on birth control, to go to school, improve quality of life, and that’s how she was involved with the Civil Rights. She was always working 8-5. We grew up in the 70s… We grew up in “Taco Town,” that’s what they called it where the Hispanics lived. There is only 1 Junior High and 1 High School. We all had to go together, by the time we got to Junior High, and there was a lot of conflict… It was always the Hispanics against the Whites. I remember there was such big fights with belts and weapons, that the whole city of Portales decided it had to do something about the school system to make everybody get along. They started dividing us between grades so we would learn to get along. And they still have it like that to this day.
Growing Up in Albuquerque
KIMBERLY: My Mom is the older of 4 sisters and they all have kids, so I have a bunch of cousins. And they all grew up in Portales. I feel that my brother and I really lucked out on having the parents that we did. Portales is nice, but there’s only so much for kids to do. We saw that with a lot of our cousins and with the news or in general that there is nothing to do but get in trouble. Either you excelled and got out of there, or you stayed there and got hooked on drugs. My brother and I being in Albuquerque, I think we have had a lot more opportunity. I have talked to several of my cousins who have told us they are envious of us growing up in Albuquerque. Now, we have been traveling the U.S., we have been outside of the country. Many of the cousins who are still stuck there have this mentality thinking they can’t rise above or a stigma that they have and it’s really unfortunate.
Her [Mom} growing up in Portales sounded super awesome… like not worrying about going out or worrying about who your neighbors are… growing up in the city, you had to be very careful. There are a lot of pros and cons. We lived out in McIntosh for a while which I loved because we were away from everything. I can see there is also a lot of wrong opportunities out there. Unfortunately a lot of these kids are so susceptible that do it because that’s what their siblings or parents did. That’s what their friends do or whatever. I realize I was really blessed growing up in Albuquerque, for sure.
Us the kids, we live in Albuquerque. She [Mom] lives in Villanueva but she also lives in Rio Rancho.
REBECCA: We have a house here in Villanueva and in Rio Rancho.
KIMBERLY: We can see her without having to live out here in Villanueva. It’s nice… we are going to camp out in her house tonight. It’s so beautiful and so great to get away from the city and everyday stuff.
At first coming here, I totally felt like an outsider. I came out here on her first trip out here to explore her genealogy. Having that a little beneath my chin, I felt like I did belong here. My family had been here for generations. When I come out here it is definitely a sense of peace. I have been doing some volunteer help here with the community center and everybody is amazing. But I am not here long enough to get here into all the drama (laughter). But I don’t mind, everybody seems to be super friendly (laughter). Everybody seems to love me, so I am cool with that.
The fact that there is people trying to revive it [Villanueva] from our generation, that speaks so loud! I think everybody has been real cool. I think people are happy that I am here to help. It’s a really nice area… there are beautiful, beautiful birds!
REBECCA: I have been married for 10 years and living here [Villanueva] for 10 years. The job that I was working for, they are allowing me to work from home and go to Albuquerque for a few days out of the week. I was able to do that. It was a contractor business, so I got laid off in 2010. I went to go work for Coca-Cola which is in Albuquerque, but my house was still here. And then I migrated to Coca-Cola Santa Fe. I was kind of in the middle so I can go to Albuqerque if the kids needed me. The biggest [challenge] for me is traveling all the time. Kim’s Dad, my ex-husband, he passed away in 2012 with pancreatic cancer. At that time, I was asking myself if I should get a job with the state and get my foot in the door… but it was in Rio Rancho, but I wanted to be in Santa Fe so that I can be right in the middle… so I felt it was my calling to take the job because it was right at the time that Kim’s Dad passed away. I took the job in Rio Rancho, so I am still going back and forth. I’ll work there during the week, and come over here over the weekend. And if they need me to volunteer in the library, then that’s what I was doing. When things settled down, I was able to get a job with the state in Santa Fe, and that’s where I am at now. I am so used to traveling back and forth from Albuquerque to the Ranch that I am kind of settled now. Either way the kids know where I am at… Traveling is always the hardest thing. There is no jobs here in this area.
I started out as a volunteer about 8 years ago with the library. I was at a workshop and I met David Cargo, and he said he was trying to establish a library in Villanueva. I have been volunteering ever since. The lady that was managing the library moved to Boston about 3 years ago, so I took over the library ever since.
KIMBERLY: Transportation is the biggest thing. For me coming out here is more of a retreat than a necessity, unfortunately. I hate to say that in front of my Mom. You don’t have a lot of the amenities out here… I am a city kid. But once you get to Mom’s, she has WIFI, Mom’s cooking, she has plenty of cable to watch. There’s tons of VHS to watch around (laughter)… The challenge for me… is getting out here more often…[My brother and I] work in Art Production. We put up walls and lighting for art shows. Like “Art Miami,” “Art San Diego.” Or contemporary art shows. We did “Art Miami,” which they call the Olympics of the art world. There’s so many art shows going on. For being from New Mexico and never seeing the ocean, it was really cool to finally see the ocean for the first time.
I’ve always worked for tourism, various stations of tourism, in Albuquerque and around New Mexico. I always thought New Mexico was the best, but I hadn’t really traveled outside of New Mexico a whole lot. When I finally ventured out and then came back home, I realized how small Albuquerque is, but how good the food is! It’s definitely made me change my perspective for sure, if anything, it has made me appreciate it more.