Carmen Fierro (1913-1985) is the descendant of a strong line of women who lived in Mexico and the American Southwest.  She herself had a strong personality.  The deep ancestral origin of Carmen’s maternal line, based on the Mt-DNA haplogroup B2, is the Americas.  She is a descendant of one of the original mothers of the Americas.  Her very distant maternal ancestor lived in the Americas at least 12,500 years ago.  (The B2 haplogroup — a subgroup of haplogroup B — is one of the five haplogroups found in the indigenous people of the Americans.)  See the green in the map below:


Updates will made when research reveals additional information about Carmen’s ancestors.  (Subscribe to the Linealist blog  — enter your email address at Follow Blog at right hand bar.)

Below is a relationship chart between Carmen Fierro, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so on, for ten generations.

Relationship Chart Carmen Fierro:Barbara Ponze de Leon

1.  Maria Barbara Ponze de Leon

Valle de San Bartolome, now known as Valle de Allende, was at the south point of the Chihuahua Trail, which was the major land route used by tribes of the Utu-Aztecan languages and then the Spanish to trade goods.  The Spanish first settled in San Bartolome in 1569.

San Bartolome developed into a mostly agricultural region, with the Spaniards establishing haciendas and planting fruit trees and other agricultural products.  The demand for agricultural products increased as the mining industry in Chihuahua grew in the 1700s.  Most of the people who lived in the region were indigenous and “mestizo” (persons of mixed indigenous and Spanish backgrounds).  Comparatively, relatively few Spanish (español) lived in Chihuahua, but those who did were likely born in other parts of Mexico.

Along with Catholicism delivered by Franciscan missionaries, the Spaniards brought the institution of slavery into the region, particularly when mines opened in Chihuahua.  The Spanish captured indigenous people by force, including Apaches from the north, and often times baptized them and their children.  They brought persons of African descent to the region as slaves and workers.  Persons of mixed race with an African background were called “mulato,”mulato libre” and other names.  Based on a review of church records, the Spanish priests also baptized the children of mulato slaves.

San Bartolome in the early 1700s — at the time that Carmen’s maternal ancestor Barbara Ponze de Leon lived there — was rural and agricultural and also a trading point.  Barbara married Pedro Ronquillo de Amaya, who, based on one of their children’s baptismal records, was a “soldado de compaña,” a company soldier.  Another baptism record reflects that one of their children had a company soldier as a “padrino” (godfather.)  Thus, it can be assumed that the Spanish military had a presence in the San Bartolome area, most likely to engage with the indigenous Conchos and Apaches.

Barbara and Pedro had the following children, who were baptized at San Bartolome:

  • Joseph Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1715)
  • Ana Maria Ronquillo Ponce (b. 1722)
  • Maria Antonia Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1725)
  • Pedro Ramon Remigio Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1727)
  • Ana Rita De Los Dolores Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1729)
  • Thomasa Rosalia Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1731)
  • Pedro Julian Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1733)
  • Francisca Xaviera Barbara Ronquillo Ponze (b. 1937)

In the church baptism book, most of Barbara’s and Pedro’s children were described as “español,” which essentially meant that Barbara and Pedro were Spanish-speaking and that their infants were relatively light-skinned.

(Barbara’s husband Pedro may have been related to Captain Pedro Ronquillo de Amaya who lived in San Bartolome in an earlier era.  In 1645, Captain Pedro Ronquillo de Amaya was designated to defend Indian rights but then “seven years later was arrested for beating an Indian who had wounded his mulato slave.”  Thomas Naylor, The Presidio and Militia on the Northern Frontier of Spain, p. 344, fn. 56.)

2.  Ana Ponze (b. abt 1729)

The Spaniards first arrived in Santa Eulalia (now called Aquiles Serdan), Chihuahua in 1652.  It was located about 150 miles north of San Bartolome.  In the early 1700s, hundreds and then thousands of mine workers and slaves moved to Santa Eulalia, either voluntary or involuntarily.  Most of the workers were Mestizo, Indian and Mulato.  The mining operations were crude, with workers carrying heavy ores in their arms and on their backs up ladders to the surface.  (William Adams, On the Santa Eulalia Mining District and the Old Spanish Mines, 1909.)

Epidemics and food shortages hit periodically in the Santa Eulalia mining region between the 1750s and 1770s.  Food products, such as corn, were sold at inflated prices in Santa Eulalio and other mining towns in Chihuahua.  Many workers unable to pay for food to feed their families went into debt as they took advances on their pay from mine owners, who tended to encourage such debt to keep their workers in their service.  (See Cheryl English Martin, Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth Century, Stanford University Press, 1996.)

In the 1750s, Ana De Dolores Ponze, the daughter of Barbara Ponze de Leon and Pedro Ronquillo de Amaya, married Matias Nañes.  They lived in or near Santa Eulalio.  It is possible that Matias was a mine worker or in some other way was connected with the mining business in Santa Eulalio.  Ana’s and Matias’ children were all baptised in Santa Eulalio:

  • Maria De Guadalupe Sipriana Nañes (baptized on December 22, 1750 at Santa Eulalio, Chihuahua, FHL 162590, p. 115);
  • Ygnacio Candelario Nañes (baptized on February 17, 1753 at Santa Eulalio, Chihuahua);
  • Gertrudis Marta Nañes (baptized on February 22, 1755 at Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico);
  • Gabriela Josefa Encarnacion Nañes (baptized on March 29, 1757 at Santa Eulalio, Chihuahua, FHL 162596, p. 172)

Below is their daughter’s Sipriana’s baptismal record:

1750.Sipriana Nanes Baptism Image

In their baptismal records, Sipriana was described as “mestisa,” Gertrudis and Ygnacio as “español,” and Gabriela as “mulatta libre,” by three different priests.

3.  Sipriana Nañes  (b. 1750)

Sipriana Nañes, the daughter of Matias Nañes and Ana Ponze, married Miguel Peña.  Sipriana and Miguel’s children included:

  • Maria Juana de Dios Pena Nañes (born March 8, 1767 and baptised on March 15 at San Bartolome, Chihuahua);
  • Juana Francisca Maria De Los Dolores Pena Nañes (baptised on December 12, 1775 at San Bartolome, Valle de Allende, Chihuahua)

Based on church records, Sipriana and Matias lived in Valle de San Bartolome.

4.  Juana Francisca Peña Nañes  (b. 1767)

On November 13, 1793, Juana Francisca Maria De Los Dolores Peña Nañes, the daughter of Siprina Nañes and Miguel Peña, married Marcelo De Los Reyes Morales, the son of Bitorio Morales and Faustina Gutierres, at San Bartolome, Chihuahua.  Juana Francisca and Marcelo’s marriage record is below:

1793.Pena Morales Marriage Image

Their children included:

  • Maria Guadalupe Leogarda Paulina Morales Peña (known as Guadalupe Morales), baptized on June 22, 1795 at San Bartolome, Chihuahua).

5.  Guadalupe Morales (b. 1797)

On February 9, 1812, Guadalupe Morales, daughter of Juana Francisca Peña Nañes and Marcelo Reyes Morales, married (Jose) Felipe Olivas, son of Marcos Olivas and Trinidad Gonzalez, at San Bartolome, Chihuahua.  (FHL microfilm 162652.)  Their marriage record describes them as mestizos nativos:

1812.Olivas Morales Marriage Image

Guadalupe’s and Felipe’s children included:

  • Francisca Olivas;
  • Jose Eulalio Olivas Morales (b. 1816, baptized at San Bartolome, Valle Chihuahua);
  • Jose Francisco Olivas Morales (b. 1823, baptized at San Bartolome, Chihuahua);
  • Maria Saturnina de Jesus Olivas Morales (b. 1825, baptized at San Jose, Hildalgo de Parral, Chihuahua);
  • Maria Juana Rita Olivas Morales (b. 1834, baptized at Santa Cruz de Rosales, Chihuahua).

6.   Francisca Olivas

Francisca Olivas was the daughter of Guadalupe Morales and Felipe Olivas, according to the baptismal records of her children.

Francisca married Jacinto Carrillo, the son of (Jose) Felix Carrillo and (Maria) Leogarda Villa, (FHL microfilm 162471, 162651), who, based on baptismal records, were also from the San Bartolome area of Chihuahua.

The children of Francisca Olivas and Jacinto Carrillo included:

  • Maria Quinina Margarita Carrillo Olivas, who was baptized on June 24, 1833 at San Francisco de Conchos, Chihuahua;
  • Jose Luis Juan Carrillo Olivas, who was baptized on June 24, 1837 at Santa Rosalio, Camargo, Chihuahua.
  • Faustino Carrillo (b. 1843)
  • Maria del Rosario Cosme Damiana Carrillo Olivas, who was baptized on October 4, 1846 at Santa Rosario, Camargo, Chihuahua).

7.  Rosario Carrillo (b. 1846)

Church records show that Rosario Carrillo was born on September 29, 1846 and baptized on October 4, 1846 at Santa Rosalia, Carmargo, Chihuahua, Mexico. She was the daughter of Francisca Olivas and Jacinto Carrillo.  Her full baptismal name was Maria del Rosario Cosme Damiana Carrillo Olivas.  (FHL microfilm 162471.)  Her baptism record lists the names of her parents and maternal grandparents:

1846.Rosario Carrillo Baptism Image

Rosario’s husband, Diego Mena, was the son of Petra Rivas and Jose Maria Mena, who were married in 1840 in San Pablo, Meoqui, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Rosario’s and Diego’s daughters were Juana Mena (b. 1875) and Julia Mena (1884), both baptised at  Santa Rosalia, Camargo, Chihuahua.  (FHL microfilm 162472, and FHL microfilm 162474.)

8.  Juana Mena (b. 1876)

Juana Mena (Carmen’s grandmother) was the daughter of Rosario Carrillo and Diego Mena.  Church records show that Juana was baptized on February 14, 1875 at Santa Rosalia, Camargo, Chihuahua. (FHL microfilm 162472.)

Below is an image of Juana Mena’s baptism record, which lists both her parents and grandparents:

1875.Juana Mena Baptism Record Image

In 1910, 35-year-old Juana was living with her husband Rafael Fierro (50), her son Guadalupe (18), son Melchor (15), daughter Toribia (12), daughter Rosario (10), Martin (8), Rafael (4), and Petra (almost 1) and her father Diego Mena (62), in Mesilla, Dona Ana, New Mexico.  (Rosario was probably named after her maternal grandmother and Petra after her paternal grandmother.)

That 1910 census record:


In 1912, Juana’s infant daughter Petra died of acute bronchitis in El Paso, Texas.  Click on death certificate below:

1911.Baby Petra Fierro Death Certificate

9.  Toribia Manuela Fierro (b. 1897)

Toribia Manuela Fierro was the daughter of Juana Mena and Rafael Fierro.  She was born on September 19, 1897.  She was called Manuela.  Her grandchildren remember that she had either blue or green eyes.

In 1910, according to the census, Manuela (12) was living with her parents, siblings and her grandfather Diego Mena in Mesilla, Dona Ana, New Mexico.


In 1913, at about 15-years old, Manuela gave birth to her daughter, Carmen.

In 1921, Manuela gave birth to a son named Jesus, in El Paso.  The birth record lists the father as Mateo Sanchez (24) of San Bernardino, California.

Later, Manuela married Mateo, moved to California and had other children with him, including Manuela Rafael, Alfonso, Socorro, Benita and Juanita and Guadalupe. They lived in San Bernardino.

Here are Mateo and Manuela:


Manuela’s grandchildren say that she occasionally worked as a field worker, and worked for a time at a Mexican restaurant in San Bernardino, California. (The 1940 census describes her husband Mateo as a laborer in an orange grove.)

On March 6, 1953, Manuela died in Los Angeles.  About three years later, her brother Melchor died in Los Angeles.

Manuela’s grandchildren have fond memories of her.

10.  Carmen Fierro  (b. 1913)

In 1913, Carmen Fierro was born in either Texas or Illinois, based on census and marriage records. She was the daughter of Toribia Manuela Fierro.

Below is a photograph of Carmen — she is on the right:


In 1930, at age 18, she lived in the Chavez Ravine neighborhood of Los Angeles with her uncle Rafael and his wife and daughter, and his in-laws. (The same year a census taker lists her being 15 and living with her parents Toribia Manuela and Mateo and siblings in San Bernardino.)

In 1933, Carmen married Elijio (“Leo”) Chavez, the son of Manuel Chavez and Rita De La O of Dona Ana, County, New Mexico.  Carmen and Leo raised four children in Los Angeles.

While she raised her children, Carmen worked at a toy factory near Lincoln Park in Los Angeles. Carmen was known for having a strong personality.

Here is a portrait of Carmen Fierro:




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