Making my way to my Navajo line via Atanacio Ortega- The baptism of Jose Atanacio Ortega 15 August 1838 Belen, New Mexico

So, in my last entry I posted the marriage record for Atanacio Ortega & Cecilia Velasquez, my third great-grandparents. That record gave me the name of the couple’s parents. For now I’m going to focus on Atanacio’s folks because I’m anxious to get to showing the records for my Navajo ancestor.

I am including here Atanacio’s baptism record found in a Catholic church register book from Nuestra Señora de Belen in Belen, New Mexico. He was baptized the 15 August 1838.

Jose Atanacio Ortega baptism Belen 15 Aug 1838 cropped


Jose Atanasio

En esta Sta. Yga. Parroquia de Nura. Sra. de Belen, el dia quinse del mes de Agto. de mil ochocen. treinta y ocho. Yo el Br.(?) Oes(?) Franco. Ygo. Madariaga cura encargada de esta Parroq.a baptise solemnemte. puse los stos. oleos y sagrada crisma a un parb.a de un dia de nacido y le nombre Jose Atanasio, hijo de Ortega y Juana Montano. Ab.o Pat.os. Ant.o Ortega y Relles Quintana, Ab.os. Bartolo Montano y Dolores Ribali; fueron pat.o Ant.o Ribali y Ribali, ambos de esta jurisd.n a adverti su oblig.n y esp.l parentesco y pa. conste y lo firme. Yg.o Madariaga. 



Jose Atanasio

In this Holy Church Parish of Nuestra Senora de Belen, the 15th day of the month of August of 1838. I, the (some illegible abbreviation for a clergy member) Francisco Ygnacio Madariaga priest charged with this Parish, baptize solemnly, place the holy oils and sacred chrism on a child of one day old and give the name Jose Atanasio, son of Francisco Ortega and Juana Montano. Paternal grandparents Antonio Ortega and Relles Quintana, Maternal grandparents Bartolo Montano and Dolores Ribali; his godparents were Antonio Ribali and Francisca Ribali, both of this jurisdiction and whom are advised of their spiritual obligation and relationship and for this I sign. Francisco Ygnacio Madariaga. 

This record contains many abbreviations, and luckily I’ve read through so many records enough to know what most of them mean! Ay ay ay! Some records have beautiful clear handwriting and everything fully written out, and then there’s gems like this one where it’s a workout for the eyes and the brain. I like it. It’s fun, actually.

This record is great because it provides not only the parent’s names, but also the abuelos, the grandparents. This is what every researcher hopes to find. The key to my Navajo ancestry lies with the Montano’s in this record. I know, spoiler alert, right? But I am stating this so that it will make sense as to why I will now follow up the Montano line rather than the Ortega. For the moment anyways. I’ll return to the Ortegas later.


The marriage of Atanacio Ortega & Maria Cecilia Velasquez in Belen, New Mexico 4 November 1862

Atanacio Ortega & Cecilia Velasquez were Adelina Ortega’s grandparents, making them my third great grandparents. Below is their original marriage record found in the marriage records from Nuestra Señora de Belen, Belen, New Mexico. This particular record is found on FHL film 16734, available to view on the Family Search website.

Atanasio Ortega & Ma Cecilia Belasques marriage Belen 4 Nov 1862


Atanasio con Maria Cecilia. Pueblitos. 

A los 4 de yo case a Atanasio, solt. hijo leg. de Ortega. dif. y de Juana Montaño con Maria Cecilia, solt. hija leg. de Toribio Belasquez y de Teodora Rivera. ambos de los Pueblitos. Padrs. Juan Simon Gurule, Maria Trujillo. E. Paulet


Atanasio with Maria Cecilia. Pueblitos. 

On the 4th of November I married Atanasio, single legitimate son of Francisco Ortega, deceased and of Juana Montaño with Maria Cecilia, single legitimate daughter of Toribio Belasquez and of Teodora Rivera both from Los Pueblitos. Godparents Juan Simon Gurule, Maria Trujillo. E. Paulet


Discovery of a Navajo ancestor!

There are many wonderful souls in the genealogical community. There is one I consider a friend now who has been such an amazing help, Daria Landress. She offered to do a film lookup for me while she happened to be at her local FHC (Family History Center–a place to do research) and I remembered I wanted to look up a couple in my Ortega line. I told her their names and the date of their marriage, and that’s how it all started. They didn’t have the film I needed, but she owns some books of record transcriptions and was able to piece together a ton of information.

My great grandmother, Adelina Ortega was very dear to my dad and his brothers. They have many fond memories of her. It turns out she was part Navajo! She is descended from Mathias Montano, who was a genizaro criado. I have a lot to learn about the history of genizaro criados but basically they were Native American servants or slaves who could have entered Spanish society a number of ways. Captured and traded or sold by enemy tribes, or abandoned as children and raised by their owner, or expelled from their native communities, maybe captured by the Spanish– these are just some of the scenarios that could be encompassed in the term genizaro. From being involved in the New Mexico Genealogical Society’s facebook group I have learned just a tiny bit about this part of New Mexico’s history. I first became intrigued by this idea when I found a Castillo ancestor with three Indian “adopted” children and a female servant listed with him on a US Census. This was when I first began to realize just how complicated the story of my paternal family could be over the scope of history. I have not found any more info on that particular story, but fast forward to this weekend and what has been uncovered with my friend’s help on this Ortega line, and I am determined to learn more about the complexities of Spanish and native relationships.

I am just straight up floored that I am lucky enough to have this information. So many people who are researching their family history know they have Native American ancestors either through DNA or they assume or suspect it just knowing basic history or perhaps the way a great grandparent looked, or hazy family stories. But to find the actual proof, to find that first mestizo or indio on paper is big. Even more so to have proof of the actual tribe– I’m just beyond ecstatic right now!!!!

I wish I could know Mathias’ story. Was his name always Mathias or did his mother give him another name? Could she have forseen that her son’s descendants would become part of Spanish society and eventually be the head of their own households? Or did she despair that her people would always be subservient? Who raised him? Did he have ties to the tribe at all or was he cut off? How did his owner treat him? So much to ponder.