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.
John Chavez, Santa Fe NM