Elijio Chavez (1912-2003) was a descendant of some of the ‘original’ settler families of New Mexico — the Chaves, Baca, Holguin, and Montoya and other families.  His surname ancestor Pedro Duran y Chaves migrated from Spain to Mexico in the late 1590s and then to New Mexico in about 1600.  Elijio also was a descendant of indigenous peoples of New Mexico/Mexico.  His mother sang at least one song to him in a native language.

The deep ancestral origin of Elijio’s paternal line (his father’s father’s father’s father and so on), based on his I-M253 DNA haplogroup, is most likely proto-Germanic/Norman/Viking.  Today, the I-M253 haplogroup has the highest frequency in Sweden and western Finland.  It is possible, based on his haplogroup and his Spanish descent, that Elijio’s ancestors were of the Suebi (Suevi) or Buri tribes, who colonized parts of northern Iberia — now Northern Portugal and Galicia, Spain.  The Suebic kingdom in northern Iberia lasted from about 410 to 584.   One of the areas settled by the Suebi was the village now known as Chaves, Portugal, where many persons with the Chaves name are descended.  Some Suebi also migrated to other areas of Spain, as far south as Seville, but lived in more concentrated levels in the north.  The Suebi and Buri eventually integrated with the Iberian populations and adopted the Portuguese and Spanish languages.

Elijio’s family originally spelled their name “Chaves” with an “s.”  The Chavez family of New Mexico did not start spelling their name with a “z” until the late 1800s.

(MARCH 2015 NOTICE: Please note that some corrections were made to this page on March 18, 2015. More information may be added and/or revised in the Winter of 2015.  Please re-visit this blog.  If you opt to “follow” this blog, you will be notified of updates.)

1.  Pedro Duran y Chaves (b. abt. 1566)

Pedro Duran y Chaves was born about 1566 in Llerena, Estremadura, Spain. Estremadura (now Extremadura, with an “x”) is at the western part of Spain near Portugal.  (Research hint: Pedro Duran y Chavez was not the same man as Pedro Gomez or Pedro Gomez Rico; the conclusion to the contrary by Fray Angelico Chavez in Origins of New Mexico families was incorrect.)

Llerena is located deep in the Extremadura in what is now the Badajoz province.  Badajoz is an Arabic word.  The Moors once had a small kingdom called the Taifa de Badajoz in the region from about 1022 to 1230.  The small town of Alburquerque (spelt the Spanish way, with an extra “r”) was nearby.  Today, Llerena is a relatively small town with a population of about 5000.

Since the Romans, the Extremadura was a relatively rough and tough place to live, compared to other regions of Spain, which may be why so many so-called “conquistadores,” including Francisco Pizarro and Hernan Cortes, left the region to find their riches by exploiting people and resources in other areas of the world.  But many people in the region and in others areas of Spain and Portugal in the 1500s were also Jewish conversos, including persons who would marry into the Chaves clan in New Mexico and from whom Elijio is therefore also descended; these conversos may have likely left for the Americas in the hope of creating a peaceful and prosperous new homeland for their families in the face of the Inquisition.  Conversos (or New Christians) was the word used for persons who were forced to convert to Catholicism during the Inquisition.  The term was applied to their descendants as well.  Many conversos, although baptized as Catholics, continued to secretly hold onto their Jewish heritage and often intermarried with other conversos.  Today, conversos who secretly practiced their Jewish religion (then called the “dead Law of Moses” by Catholics) are referred to as Crypto-Jews.

As an adult, Pedro migrated in the late 1590s from Spain to Mexico.  In 1599, while in Mexico City, he heard that the Viceroy of New España (at the urging of Juan Oñate) was calling for additional soldiers and families to colonize New Mexico.  In 1600, now a 50-year-old widower, he enlisted as a soldier.  In muster rolls, he was described as “a well-built man of good features.”  The recruits to New Mexico included men, women and children — Spanish, Mestizo and Mulatto.  (For an article about the women who joined the expedition, click HERE.)

Before heading north, in 1600, Cristobal Baca (Vaca) and Pedro Duran y Chaves proposed to the Viceroy that the colony in New Mexico be formed as a “re publica,” a non-miliary, non-religious entity.  (Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, at p. 1)  The Franciscans, however, would prevail and the colony in New Mexico would continue as a mission enterprise.  (Ibid.)

In about 1602, Pedro married Isabel de Bohórquez de Baca (Vaca), the daughter of Cristobal Baca and Ana Ortiz.  Isabel was born in Mexico City and  was significantly younger than Pedro;  she was about sixteen at the time.  The author Stanley Hordes has suggested that the Baca family were Jewish conversos.  (Stanley Hordes, To The End of the Earth: A History of The Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, p. 199.)  

Pedro’s and Isabel’s children included:

  • Fernando Duran y Chaves
  • Pedro Duran y Chaves

Pedro and Isabel eventually settled near present day Albuquerque at an estancia they called El Tunque, which abutted the estancia of the Baca family.  In 1609, the Duran y Chaves and Baca families were on hand at the official founding of La Villa de Santa Fe de Los Españoles, now called Santa Fe.

In 1613, according to records, Pedro may have attempted to collect tribute from Taos Indians in vain.  (Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, p. 4.)  By 1626, he became an “encomendero” in Sandia and San Felipe, which meant he extracted goods or labor from Indians as part of the encomiendas system.  It was a system by which the Indians would give goods or labor to the Spanish in exchange for ‘protection.’  Reportedly, Pedro was comparatively the kinder-more-gentler encomendero in a system that could be brutal and essentially turn Indians into slaves.  (Id. at p. 7.)  In any case, such a system could never be equitable or fair and, when combined with the harsh crackdowns by Franciscans against people for practicing their native religion, created intolerable conditions for the native Pueblo people.

Pedro himself had his own conflicts with the Franciscans, particularly relative to their respective relationships to the “Indians.”  In 1621, Catholic friars made charges to the Office of Inquisition established by the Spanish in Mexico City that Pedro Duran y Chaves had told Indians not to obey the friars except for hearing Mass, and that his aim was to “undue the missionaries.” (Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, at p. 3-4).  The same type of allegations were made against Pedro about five years later.  (Id. at p. 4.)  In 1626, he was called an “enemy of the Church” for more or less the same reasons.  (Id.)  That same year, at the age of 70, he appeared before the Inquisition in another case and identified himself as “one of the first settlers of this Villa (Santa Fe) and maese de campo of these provinces.”  (Id. at p. 5.)

Pedro Duran y Chaves died in New Mexico.  He is referred to as the “first progenitor” of the Chaves name in New Mexico.

4.  Pedro II Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1611)

Pedro II Duran y Chaves was born about 1611..  His parents were Pedro Duran y Chaves and Isabel Bohorquez Baca of New Mexico.  Pedro had two wives, the first with whom he had at least one child, Fernando Duran y Chaves.

Pedro II’s second wife was Elena Dominguez de Mendoza, the daughter of Tomé Dominguez de Mendoza and Elena de la Cruz y Mendoza.  Pedro II and Elena’s daughter was Isabel.

Conflict between the Duran y Chaves family and certain authorities continued.  Allegations were made that Pedro’s brother Fernando Duran y Chaves and Agustin Carvajal, members of the Baca family (brother-in-laws Antonio and Alonso Baca) and others were part of a “cabal,” who assassinated Governor Luis de Rosas.  (Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, at p. 17.)   Eight of the twelve men were arrested, including Antonio Baca, in Santa Fe in 1643.  Antonio Baca was beheaded. But Fernando Chaves, Carvajal and Alonso Baca were spared with a pardon and survived. (Id. at p. 18.)

After the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pedro and his extended family moved to Paso del Norte.  In about 1684, Pedro II, his son Thomas, his daughter Maria and her husband Pedro Marquez, and other family members moved to the Coyachic Cusihuiriachic valley.  Pedro II acquired land at San Nicolas de Carretas, and his daughter Maria acquired land at nearby Cieneguilla.  For more, read HERE.

5.  Fernando Duran y Chavez II (b. abt. 1651)

Fernando Duran y Chaves II was born about 1651 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  His father was Pedro II Duran y Chaves.

Fernando II married Lucia Hurtado de Salas y Trujillo in about 1679 in Sandia Mission, New Mexico.  She was the daughter of Andres Hurtado and Bernardina de Salas Orozco Trujillo.  The area around the Sandia Mission, which was about 15 miles south of Albuquerque, was relatively heavily populated by the native Pueblo people when the Spanish arrived.  The mission was destroyed during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Fernando’s and Lucia’s children were:

  • Bernardo Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1680, Sandia Mission)
  • Pedro Duran y Chaves (b. abt. 1682, Sandia Mission)
  • Antonio Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1684, Sandia Mission)
  • Isabel Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1686, Sandia Mission)
  • Francisco Javier Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1688, Guadalupe Del Paso, Chihuahua)
  • Nicolas Duran y Chaves (b. abt. 1692, Guadalupe Del Paso, Chihuahua)
  • Pedro Duran y Chaves (b. abt. 1693, Guadalupe Del Paso, Chihuahua)
  • Maria Magdalena Duran y Chaves (Guadalupe Del Paso, Chihuahua)
  • Catalina Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1696, Guadalupe Del Paso, Chihuahua)

Fernando’s family lived at El Tunque, which he called Bernalillo after his oldest son Bernardo.   (Bernalillo is now the name of a county is New Mexico.)

In 1680, after many decades of brutal exploitation and attacks on their religion, the native Pueblo peoples organized and fought a very effective revolt against the Spanish.  At least 70 indigenous communities took part.  By the time the revolt succeeded, over 400 Spanish were killed; Spanish missions, villages and haciendas were devastated and depopulated.  Fernando and his family, and all other Spaniards who survived, were forced to flee south.  Christianized Piros indians, mulatos and mestizos also fled.  They all escaped to the mission of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Del Paso Del Norte, near present day El Paso, where they established several refugee camps.

According to a roster, Fernando arrived at Guadalupe Del Paso “with eight lean and sore-backed horses, and harquebus, and a sword; he is married with four small children and two servants.”  (Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, p. 46.)  His family would live in Guadalupe Del Paso for 13 years, where he and Lucia had more children.  He also had a relationship with a mestiza woman, who bore his daughter Clara.

Most of the refugees from the Pueblo Revolt would not return to New Mexico.  However, Fernando and others were determined to return to the land that they considered their home.  As a prospective re-settler he signed a declaration receiving provisions from the Spanish authorities:

The capitan Don Fernando Duran y Chaves, vecino, who declared that he had received the equivalent of two hundred and fifty pesos in silver which his majesty gave him, in the form of clothing in the same quality as the rest, along with a plow, an axe, and hour hoes.  He is married, and has as distinguishing marks a good stature and fair complexion.  He is a native of New Mexico and is about thirty years old.

(Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, p. 47.)  In addition to the other items, Fernando received a suit of armor.  (Id.)

The Spanish royals designated (Governor) Diego de Vargas of Madrid, Spain to reconquer New Mexico.  Vargas then tapped Fernando as capitan and arranged for Spanish families in Mexico to be recruited for the resettlement.  In advance, nine hundred head of cattle were driven from Guadalupe Del Paso up the Rio Grande.  Then in 1693, more than 800 men, women and children — including Fernando and his family — started up the Rio Grande.  More families arrived a year later.   By orders of Vargas, the families had to live in Santa Fe for a few years.  This resettlement of New Mexico by the Spanish is known as the Reconquista.

In recognition of his reconquering efforts, the Spanish authorities granted Fernando a large land grant for Los Ranchos de Atrisco, near Albuquerque.  The name Atrisco derives from the Nahuatl word “Atlisco,” which means “surface of a body of water.”  The area was most likely named by Nahuatl-speaking Mexican Indians.  (Joseph Sanchez, Between Two Rivers: The Atrisco Land Grant in Alburquerque History (2008), p. 11.)  But first Fernando and his family  re-settled in their ‘ancestral’ home El Tunque in Bernalillo, until Governor Vargas gave permission for families to settle elsewhere.

Before Fernando moved to Atrisco, a few of his sons settled there, with a few other families.  From time to time, Apaches raided Atrisco and once drove all the livestock off the land.  Governor Vargas led the soldiers of the Spanish Army to combat the Apaches, but he became gravely ill and was taken to Fernando’s home in Bernalillo, where he died.

In 1705 or 1706, after his oldest son Bernardo died in an accident, Fernando sold El Tunque to a member of the Baca family.  He and his wife Lucia, along with their unmarried sons and daughters, moved to Atrisco.

The Chaves men of the Atrisco-Alburquerque area were relatively influential and politically powerful.  But they got ugly when their political power was threatened.  In 1712, Fernando confronted a man named Juan Gonzales Bas, who was a political enemy and had become the mayor of Alburquerque.  Fernando called him “perro mulato.”  Later Fernando and his sons, Francisco and Antonio, were arrested for physically attacking Gonzales, but Gonzales soon dropped the charges.

Fernando died at his Atrisco estancia in 1716.  His wife Lucia lived for another thirteen years.

Fernando is known as the “second progenitor” of the Chaves clan of New Mexico.  His sons Antonio and Francisco would marry Baca women.  Some historians have claimed, based on speculation, that Fernando was the only Chaves family member to “resettle” in New Mexico; they are wrong.

6.  Pedro Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1682)

In about 1682, Pedro Duran y Chavez was baptised at the Sandia Mission, Bernalillo, New Mexico.  He was the son of Fernando Duran y Chaves II and Lucia Hurtado de Salas y Trujillo.

In 1703 at Bernalillo, Pedro married Juana Montoya de Hinojos (Ynojos), the daughter of Diego de Montoya and Maria Josefa de Hinojos.  Juana’s mother Josefa was part-Zuni Indian and was an adopted sister of Fernando’s mother, Lucia Hurtado de Salas.  Juana’s father was a descendant of Bartolome Montoya The First, one of the first Spanish settlers of New Mexico, who was from Seville, Spain.

Pedro and Juana moved to a place that would be named Alburquerque the following year, and hence they would become one of the founding families of Albuquerque.  In Albuquerque, Pedro was a solider in a small military guard.  He eventually took part in at least one military engagement in Mexico, including a campaign against the Moqui Indians in 1716.

By about 1728, Pedro’s wife Juana died, leaving him a widower with ten children, including:

  • Manuela
  • Moncia
  • Josefa Duran y Chaves (b. 1708)
  • Efigenia
  • Francisco Xavier
  • Quiteria Duran y Chaves (b. 1714)
  • Juana
  • Diego Antonio Duran y Chaves (b. 1716)
  • Maria Lucia Duran y Chaves (b. 1720)
  • Eusebio

(See Chavez: A Distinctive American Clan of New Mexico, p. 84-85)

Shortly after his first wife’s death, he married Maria Gertrudis Sanchez, the daughter of Jacinto Sanchez de Inigo and Maria Rodart de Castro Xabalera.  She had children of her own, and had  additional children with Pedro, who were reportedly left out of his will.

7.  Diego Antonio Duran y Chaves (b. 1716)

Diego Antonio Duran y Chaves was born about 1716 in Los Ranchos de Atrisco, New Mexico.  He was the son of Pedro Duran y Chavez and Juana Montoya Hinojos.  He married Barbara Varela, which marriage ended, it is assumed, by her death.  In 1740, he married Juana de Silva, the daughter of Antonio de Silva and Gregoria Ruiz.

Diego Antonio’s and Juana’s children were:

  • Tomas Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1741)
  • Bernardino Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1743)
  • Pablo Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1748)
  • Jose Maria Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1756)
  • Francisco Antonio Duran y Chaves (b. abt. 1757)
  • Ventura Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1762)
  • Juan Duran y Chaves (b. abt 1764).

Diego Antonio died December 7, 1786 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

8.  Jose Maria Duran y Chaves (b. 1756)

Jose Maria Duran y Chaves was born about 1756 in Atrisco, Bernalillo, New Mexico.  He was the son of Diego Antonio Duran y Chaves and Juana de Silva, according to church records examined by Fray Angelico Chavez.

He married Maria Ygnacia Jaramillo on April 20, 1782 in San Felipe de Neri de Albuquerque Church, in Albuquerque.  She was the daughter of Cristobal Jaramillo and Manuela Armijo.

Their children (all born in Atrisco, Bernalillo, New Mexico) were:

  • Juliana Chaves
  • Juan Bartolo Chaves (b. abt 1782)
  • Juan Francisco de los Dolores Chaves (b. 1785)
  • Juana Maria Chaves (b. abt 1786)
  • Bartolome de los Dolores Chaves (b. 1786)
  • Maria Josepa Chaves (b. abt 1791)
  • Nicolas Chaves (b. 1796)

Most or all of their children were born at Atrisco.

9.  Juan Bartolo Chaves (b. 1782)

Juan Bartolo Chaves was born about 1782, most likely at or near Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  His baptism is recorded in the Albuquerque Baptisms book, p. 134.  He was the son of Jose Maria Duran y Chaves and Maria Ygnacia Jaramillo.

Juan Bartolo married Maria Micaela Sanches on March 26, 1816 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She was the daughter of Felix Sanches and Ana Maria Aguirre.  Their marriage is referenced at Roots, Ltd, p. 329.

Juan Bartolo and Micaela’s children included:

  • Jose Manuel Chaves (b. 1816),
  • Diego Antonio (b. 1823)
  • Maria Antonia Chaves (b. 1824),
  • Maria Rosa Chaves (b. 1825)
  • Jose Antonio Chaves (b. 1827),
  • Maria Refugia de La Luz Chaves (b. 1828),
  • Maria Trinidad Chaves (b. 1830),
  • Maria Gertrudes Chaves (b. 1832),
  • Maria Refugio Chaves (b. 1835),
  • Juana Chaves (b. 1840),
  • Maria de La Luz Chavez (b. 1840).

10.  Manuel Chaves (b. 1816)

Jose Manual Chaves was born on April 1816 in New Mexico.  He was the son of Juan Chaves and Maria Micaela Sanches.

Manuel left northern New Mexico for El Paso Del Norte, where he met his wife, Maria Marta Marcelina Marcos Escontrias, the daughter of Jose Pantaleon Escontrias and Maria Trinidad de Carmen Romero.  In 1838, records show that Manuel Chaves was stabbed by Jose Maria Orosco in Paso.  But Manuel recovered.

Manuel, his wife Marcos and children eventually moved to Doña Ana and then Mesilla, New Mexico.

Their children included:

  • Maria Juana Zenona Chaves (b. 1839, baptized at Nuestra de Guadalupe, El Paso Del Norte (Juarez) Chihuahua
  • Monico Estanislao “Estanislado” Chaves (b. 1841, baptized at Nuestra de Guadalupe, El Paso Del Norte, Chihuahua, and died 1928)
  • Concepcion Chaves (b. abt. 1851)
  • Jose Miguel Chaves (b. 1852, baptized at San Albino Church, Mesilla, Doña Ana, New Mexico, and died 1925)
  • Jorge Chaves (b. 1854, baptized at San Albino Church, Mesilla, Doña Ana, New Mexico)
  • Francisca Chaves (b. 1860 at San Albino Church, Mesilla, Doña Ana, New Mexico

Below are the baptismal records of Maria Juana Zenona and Estanislado, which list their paternal grandparents as Juan Chaves and Micaela Sanchez (the Sanchez name is abbreviated).

1839.Juana Zenona Chavez Baptism Microfilm

1841.Estanislado Chavez Baptism Microfilm

In the small town of Mesilla, Jorge’s godparents were Jose Maria Flores and Maria Encarnacion Madrid, whose daughter Maria de la Luz Flores would marry their son Miguel Chaves.

The 1860 census of “Free Inhabitants in Mesilla in the County of Dona Ana of New Mexico” shows that the New Mexican-born Manuel (45, farmer) was living with his wife last name “Marcos” (40) and their children:

  • Tomas Chaves (19 years)
  • Ramona Chaves (11 years)
  • Concepcion Chaves (9 years)
  • Miguel Chaves (7 years)
  • Jorge Chaves (5 years).

(In addition, they were living with an eighteen-year-old “servant” named Juan Romero and a man named George Corn (37) from New York.)  The census showed that Manuel owned land.

In 1868, both “Chaves Manwell” and “Flores Jose” are listed in a voter registration record for a precinct of Dona Ana County.  Most likely, this is Manuel Chaves and family friend and future in-law Jose Maria Flores.

1868 Voters Registration Dona Ana

11.  Miguel Chaves (b. 1852)

Jose Miguel Chaves was born on May 28, 1852, in Mesilla, Doña Ana, New Mexico.  He was baptized at San Albino Church, Mesilla, New Mexico on May 30, 1852.  (FHL microfilm #0016827).  He was the son of Jose Manuel Chaves and Maria Marta Marcelina Marcos Encontrias.

Here is Mesilla as seen in 1854:


At about the age of 18, in 1870, Miguel was living with his older brother Estanislado, 28, and Estanslado’s wife Serefina Costales in Doña Ana.  (See census record HERE.)  Next door lived Luz Flores, Miguel’s future wife.  (See HERE.)  Miguel married Luz on January 10, 1873 in Santa Genevieves Church, Las Cruces, New Mexico.  She was the daughter of Jose Maria Flores and Maria Encarnacion Madrid.  (Estanslado’s daughter, Celsa, married Luz’s younger brother Francisco.)

Here is a screenshot of Miguel Chaves’ and Luz Flores’ marriage’s listing on familysearch.org — click to enlarge:

1873.Chavez Flores Marriage

Miguel and Luz’s children were:

  • Manuel Chavez (b. 1873)
  • Hilario  Chavez (b. 1875)
  • Elijio Chavez (b. 1877)[the first Elijio]
  • Simon Chavez (b. 1882 – 1947)

The 1880 census shows Miguel (24, laborer) and Luz (25) living in Doña Ana, Doña Ana, New Mexico with their children Manuel (5), Hilario (4) and Elijio (3).

In 1900, according to the census, Miguel (45) and Luz (46) were living in Doña Ana with their sons Hilario (25) and Simon (17).  They were living next door to Luz’s younger sisters, Leonor and Adelaida. Reflected on the same census page is a listing for Manuel’s brother, Estanslado, who lists his father as being born in New Mexico.  See HERE.

In 1910, Miguel was widowed and living in Cambray, Luna, New Mexico, with his son Hilario (34), railroad section foreman), Hilario’s wife Clara and his grand-daughter Lucy.  Next door, his son Simon (28, railroad section hand) was living with his family.

In 1920, Miguel (66) was living in Santa Rita, Grant, New Mexico, with Hilario and Hilario’s family.

Miguel died on May 5, 1925 in Las Cruces, Dona Ana, New Mexico and was buried the following day in Doña Ana.  His “occupation” at the time of death was “retired farmer.”  (Film 2032891, Reference No. Item No. 3.)

12.  Manuel Chaves (b. 1873)

Manuel Chavez was born about 1873 at or near Las Cruces in the New Mexico Territory.  He was the son of Miguel Chavez and Maria De La Luz Flores, both of New Mexico.

In about 1894, Manuel married Rita De La O, the daughter of Severo De La O and Nestora Apodaca.

Manuel and Rita’s children were:

  • Encarnacion “Chona” Chavez
  • Guadalupe Chavez
  • Miguel Chavez
  • Juana Chavez
  • Miguel “Mike” Chaves
  • Nestora “Florence” Chavez
  • Manuel Chavez
  • Elijio “Leo” Chavez (named after paternal uncle)
  • Jorge “George” Chavez

The 1900 census shows Manuel (27) and Rita (25) living in the Territory of New Mexico, County of Dona Ana, with their young daughters Encarnacion “Chona” (4), Guadalupe (3) and infant son Miguel.  This son Miguel soon died, based on a comparison of records.

Below is a photograph of Manuel and Rita, with (probably) baby Chona:


In 1910, according to the census, Manuel (36) and Rita (33) were living in the “Precinct of Doña Ana” with their children Chona (15), Guadalupe (13), Juana (8), Miguel (4), Nestora (3) and an infant Manuel. The four-year Miguel is their other Miguel son.  Manuel’s trade and occupation is listed as “labour” and “general farm.”

By 1920 (and very possibly earlier), Manuel (46) and Rita (43) lived in Santa Rita, Grant, New Mexico with their children Guadalupe (22), Miguel (14), Nestora (13), Manuel (10), Elijio (8) and Jorge (6).  Manuel was working as a “service car driver” at a “copper camp.”  (His brother Hilario had the same job.)  Working and living conditions for non-Anglo workers in Santa Rita were generally harsh.  Read more about Santa Rita by clicking HERE.

New Mexico was admitted as the 47th state of the United States on January 6, 1912, just six month before Elijio was born.

Rita got very sick while living in Santa Rita.  She also reportedly lost a few children due to the Spanish Flu, which, according to her son Elijio, “broke her heart.”  The family left for Los Angeles for jobs and to be near sea level for the sake of Rita’s health.  In Los Angeles, the family lived across from a brewery near North Broadway then moved to Lincoln Heights, then to West Avenue 34 near Highland Park.  Rita died in Los Angeles when Elijio was thirteen.

13.  Elijio Chavez (b. 1912)

Elijio Chavez was born in 1912 in Dona Ana, New Mexico.  His parents were Manuel Chavez and Rita De La O of New Mexico.

In 1933, Elijio married Carmen Fierro in Los Angeles, where they raised four children.

In 1940, Elijio and Carmen were living on West Avenue 34 with two of their children. Next door, Elijio’s sister (32) and his brothers Manuel (31) and Jorge (26) were living with Jorge’s wife Louise and daughter.

Elijio worked as a machinist and then a tool and die maker at Smith’s Mailer, a small company that made machines for the US Postal service and other goods.

In about 1943, Elijio’s and Carmen’s family moved to a new housing project called Maravilla, located at 422 North Rodena, in East Los Angeles.  At the time, there was a critical housing shortage in Los Angeles.  It was a three-bedroom residence.  Later, the family moved to 378 Ferris Street, and then to Dorner Drive in 1958.

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