Chosen Family ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #34

group-hugThis week’s prompt of “Chosen Family” made me think of the family that we chose by choosing a spouse. Since I have been married more than once I think I understand that term very well. Since I have been married to my husband for almost 34 years, I decided to focus on his family.

My heritage is Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, and German. My husband is Mexican and Native American. Believe me, there is a big difference in our upbringings and family dynamics. I had a brother who was 18 years older than me and a sister who was 4 years older. We were not a close family at all. His family consisted of 9 children, 3 daughters, and 6 sons. Most of them were born 2 years apart! I have 2 nephews from my brother’s first marriage, he has 19 nieces and nephews. This is my chosen family.

It has been fun researching my in-laws family. First of all researching Mexican Genealogy is very difficult. Because of the way they switch their given surname with their married one or their mother’s surname, it can be hard to follow an ancestor’s line. There is also the language barrier. I do not speak Spanish, however, I can understand a lot of what is said and I can read it pretty well. My husband is the same. His mother was born in Mexico, and she learned to speak English after she married his dad. They never taught any of their children the language.

My “new” family history is fascinating. My father-in-law, Arthur “Art” Francisco MartinezMartinez (1930-2017) had some rather strange events happen in his family. The not so odd member of his family was his Dad, Francisco Martinez (1902-1995). He worked on the railroads his entire life, moving so many times that Art attended over 30 schools while growing up. Francisco was an accomplished musician, playing several instruments but his favorite was the violin. Arthur’s Grandfather, Eutimio Francisca VegaMartinez (1874-1947) wanted a wife, so he held up a stagecoach in Texas, killed all the travelers on the coach except a young girl named Francisca Vega (1882-1956). He took her and married her. Francisca’s older sister, Lorenza Vega (1874-1958) was married to Carlos Lozano who was forced to join Pancho Villa and his reign of terror. Lorenza joined her husband as they traveled around Northern Mexico and Texas raiding villages.

My mother-in-law Minnie (1936) family lived in Arizona before it was aRamona State. When it did become a State in 1912, her Grandmother Ramona Salazar (1898-1974) who was born in Tubac, Arizona became a United States citizen. In November that same year, she married Francisco Acuna (1892-1902) and they moved to Mexico returning to Arizona shortly before their first child was born in 1915. At the beginning of WWII their oldest son joined the army. Being a very devote Catholic, Ramona made a vow to God. If her son returned home safe from the war she would cover her beautiful hair with a scarf and wear it until she dies. He came home safe and Ramona kept her promise. Minnie’s Isidro Torresgrandfather, Isidro Torres (1862-1927), was ½ Yaqui and ½ Spaniard. In the 1880s the Mexican Government decided that they wanted to take control of the Yaqui land in the Northern State of Sonora because it was very fertile and any crop could be grown in it. The Yaqui’s rose up in rebellion against the Government and a war ensued. Having been raised with no connection to his Yaqui heritage, Isidro began to do scouting for the Government. It was a dangerous job and during one scouting mission, he was fired upon by a band of Yaqui’s. He was able to escape but was surprised when he removed his hat and found a bullet hole through the crown of it. From that day on Isidro wore that hat proudly.

So, I feel blessed to have “chosen” such a colorful family and their unique stories.

You can read their stories here:

Francisca Vega/Lorenza Vega –

Ramona Salazar –

Isidro Torres –


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

8 thoughts on “Chosen Family ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ Week #34

  1. Valerie – sometimes our parallels are so freaky. I also married a Mexican American man – we have been together 31 years! I don’t think his family has such a colorful history – although my husband did say that his grandmother insists that his grandfather came and stole her away from her family in Mexico to marry her, which would have been in the 1920’s!

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