Different Language ~ Getting to Know You ~ 52 Ancestors Week #46

I usually write about my ancestors, as I have gone as far as I can with my husbands Hispanic lines. I have told all of the stories I have gathered, so I consider myself finished with his ancestry. You may ask “Why”? Well, it is because of the language barrier.

My husband was raised by parents who are of Mexican and Native American descent. My father-in-law was born in the United States, however his Grandfather was born in Mexico. My mother-in-law was born in Mexico. Her Grandmother was born in the Arizona Territory, so when it became a State, she became an automatic citizen. Neither of them could speak English. When my in-laws got married and started having children, my mother-in-law learned to speak English. My husbands’ parents never taught any of their 8 children to speak Spanish.

Church in Caborca. Me and my in-laws standing in front.

When I joined the family 34 years ago, I encountered several awkward moments. Two months after my husband and I got married, his parents invited us to go to visit one of his aunts’ house in Caborca, Mexico. I had been to Mexico several times before, but only to border towns in Arizona and California. I was a little nervous about going deeper into the country, mainly because of stories my mother-in-law had told me. For me it was really like stepping into another world! I felt out of place because I couldn’t speak the language, and I couldn’t read the signs.

On our last night we were there, my in-laws and the Aunt and Uncle went out to eat, leaving my husband and I alone with 6 of the 12 adult cousins. We sat on the couches just staring at each other. My husband knew a little Spanish but not enough to comprehend what they were saying. They knew even less English. We all laughed as we tried to figure out what each other were saying. Finally, one of the cousins stood up and rubbed her stomach, put her fingers to her mouth like she was putting food in her mouth, and then she said, “Mooooo”. She then pointed at the door. I thought my husband say going to die laughing as he told me, they wanted to go eat. He said “Comida?” which means food. She smiled, and proudly said, “Follow me” while walking toward the door.

Over the years, we have spent many hours at my husbands’ Grandparents house or at his aunts and uncles houses. We always felt like the odd man out. My husband did try to learn more Spanish, but never enough to understand more than maybe 40% of any conversation.I never tried to learn it because to be honest, I often massacre English, so what would I do to a foreign language? Also, it is such a precise dialect that you could insult someone just by using the wrong greeting (I have done this) or by referring to a person with the wrong noun. However, I can now sit in a room and listen to conversations and understand most of what is being said.

Jose Maria Garcia Torres

Getting back to the above comment about the language barrier and my husbands family history. Since most of his ancestors had lived in Mexico, all of their documents are in Spanish, so it makes it difficult to verify documents. Also, because of the way children are named it makes it nearly impossible to be confident in the research. There are, in just 3 generation over 23 Jose Marias’ in my husbands maternal line. So for now, the difference of the language has won!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.

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 – https://wp.me/p4gvQU-Ih

Ramona Salazar – https://wp.me/p4gvQU-d8

Isidro Torres – https://wp.me/p4gvQU-8z


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: 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.