The Baca / Douglas Genealogy and Family History Blog

01 October 2009

Socorro Spanish Methodist Church

I received a couple of emails from John E. Chavez of Santa Fe, New Mexico. People interested in Socorro, New Mexico history, specifically about the Spanish Methodist church in the area, should read on. Here are his words:



I am descended from the Socorro County Chavez (San Antonio, San Marcial) and Baca families (Socorro, Lemitar, Escondida) families - my grandfather Juan C. Chavez was the pastor at the "Spanish" Methodist Church in Socorro and my dad went to school in Socorro; another close relative, Samuel Santiago Van Wagner (his father lived in Valverde NM after mustering out from Ft. Craig; his mother was Barela) was a Presbyterian pastor in Socorro and Albuq.

There are many old families, Hispanic and Anglo, in the Socorro area that have difficulty tracing their ancestors during the NM territorial period (1849-1912) since those that were or converted to Protestant could no longer find records in the Catholic archives and most were not registered with civil govt. either. Also, many, if not most, Hispanic families automatically assume all their ancestors - and this is often not completely true, as many, many in the Socorro area had converted from Catholicism to Protestant.

The Socorro Public Library has a copy of Carlos Lopopolo's extraction and compilation of early Socorro Spanish Methodist Church records. This is by far the best single source of genealogical records for Hispanic (and Anglo) Methodist families in the Socorro area (and beyond) of the territorial era in NM. (I am related to most of those Hispanic families and family memberswere pastors or church leaders in many areas of NM).

It is in the reference section of the Socorro Library (cannot be checked out) and it is chock full of entries for baptisms, marriages and deaths Socorro has a great genealogical resource that may ONLY exist at the Socorro Public Library ths among the Socorro Methodists (and many Baptists and Presbyterians also). However, it is not found elsewhere - I've looked all over NM and the nation; I've also talked with Lopopolo who indicated that the copy in the Socorro Library may be one of the only ones left in existence.

Some of the Baca, Chavez, Torres, Pino, Gutierrez, Barela, Eaton, Stapleton, Sullivan, and many other Socorro area families are in the Lopopolo compilation. (Socorro was also home to the early Protestant churches of Rev. J.M. Shaw, Baptist and Rev. S.J. Fulton, Presbyterian and Rev. Matthieson, Presbyerian).

I would hope that someone would do a backup copy of Lopopolo's book as Lopopolo said that copy in the Socorro Library may be one of the few, or only, ones left; or perhaps the Socorro Library could put the book behind lock and key for
Library use only (I have seen similar records in the UNM Zimmerman Library that
had pages cut out with razor blades).

I would be glad to help any families who may have ties to those early Hispanic Protestant families. We have a lot of rare data and a website.

John E. Chavez, Santa Fe, NM
Click here for his email.


p.s. Accounts of the infamous murder of a Methodist church leader, Conklin, on the porch of the church on Xmas Eve 1880 by two young Baca brothers do not mention that those Baca brothers (Onofre and ??) were members of the Methodist Church - they show up in the above mentioned Lopopolo book.


The Baca cousins (not brothers) that John writes about are Antonio, Onofre and Abram Baca. I wrote about the murder on my blog, at this link. The article that I wrote itself caused a little bit of controversy because I used a source that some felt was biased and unreliable. However, it was not the only source I used, and I understood its bias and questionable validity when I wrote the article. Because of this, I believe that I used it, with other sources, to create a fair and balanced article.

John sent me another email that talks about what he calls "the NM Protestant Gap"

The info I sent you is particularly relevant in Socorro, as Socorro was one of the earliest and strongest footholds the very early Protestant churches established in NM. Many Socorro families doing their genealogy may be affected by this - and without even being aware that some of their antecedents were Protestant - regardless of if their family is or was Catholic (my mother is Catholic).

Another source is the El Buen Samaritano Spanish Methodist Church in Albuq. near 6th and Granite (by the old Harwood Girl's School). They have a history room, and some of the families in that congregation have ties back to the Socorro area.

My fellow researcher, Crystal Baca Slater, and I have done a LOT of records searches for what we term "The NM Protestant Gap" (a gap in the Catholic and civil records during the NM territorial period).

We also have/had a website: go to www.myfamily.com, but lately have difficulties accessing or instructing others to access it; it leads to "Early NM & CO Protestants" and has a LOT of early photos, files, a few trees, history, etc. (I'll try to get you username and password that work - remind me if I forget).

Another source is the NMGS "First 40 Years" CD which has searchable files including some court records and extractions of baptisms, births, marriages and deaths from Socorro and Valencia County (the early Chavez and Baca families mostly migrated to Socorro from Valencia County - Albuq. to a lesser extent).

It can be VERY difficult of these early Hispano Protestant families to track their Protestant ancestors; but Crystal and I are available to help.

Regards,
John Chavez, Santa Fe NM

5 comments:

Robert Baca said...

The following was sent to the NMGS website editor, and forwarded to me. I wish to state that, although I am the president of NMGS, this blog is my own personal work and is not a publication of NMGS.

- Robert Baca

"The lynching of Onofre Baca is old business as it was written about back in 1995 by David Gonzales and myself (see Herencia Journal Issue #1 January).

"You and Mr. Chaves just repeated (with less information) what we wrote about back then. The only question I still have is were Onofre and Abran brothers or cousins. We deduced that they were cousins? I believe that
Crystal Baca Slater knows about that article.

"Col. Ethan William Eaton the leader of the vigilantes was married to a Chavez woman from Galisteio (they baptized several of their children in Santa Fe before they moved to Socorro)."

- Jonathan A. Ortega

Robert Baca said...

Now, for my rebuttle.

As I mentioned to Mr. Ortega in an email I sent him earlier, it may be old news, but most people probably don't know about his article. Therefore, I decided to post the information here.

I added a citation to my article Conflict in Socorro, New Mexico. I neglected to cite Mr. Ortega's article, even though I used one piece of information for my article. I apologize for that omission.

If you get a chance, please read Mr. Ortega's article in the volume 3, issue 1 of the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center's journal Herencia.

Robert Baca said...

I'm so used to rejecting comments on my blog that I accidentally rejected a legitamate comment. I'll repost it here:

Crystal Baca-Slater has left a new comment on your post "Socorro Spanish Methodist Church":

Thank you Robert for posting John Chavez's emails regarding the "Protestant Gap". I also wanted to thank Jonathan Ortega for his original Socorro Vigilantes article and help to me early on. I personally descend from three major Socorro Baca branches 1 Catholic and 2 Catholic turned Protestant. My grandparents were Catholic and for several years I stumbled around the Protestant question without knowing it. John Chavez helped me understand why I was unable to find the records I needed in the Socorro Catholic Records. I then discovered my Shaw/Baca connections and have since been able to complete my family tree. Like most I'd assumed we had always been Catholic. Thank you for sharing, it may help a few more...It is a very interesting history and speaks to Socorro's diversity in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Felecito said...

My grandfather Alfredo Torres and his father Pedro Torres were Methodist and were miners at Rosedale and Kelly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I would like Methodist church records if possible. My Dad and Mom buried their first born son at the Escondida Cemetery and I understand that it was a Methodist Cemetery and that there was a church there. Does anyone know if there is a photo of that church or any information on it? Thank you and Take care.

Felix Torres Jr.

Felecito said...

My grandfather Alfredo Torres and his father Pedro Torres were Methodist and were miners at Rosedale and Kelly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. I would like Methodist church records if possible. My Dad and Mom buried their first born son at the Escondida Cemetery and I understand that it was a Methodist Cemetery and that there was a church there. Does anyone know if there is a photo of that church or any information on it? Thank you and Take care.

Felix Torres Jr.