JOHN LAWRENCE, FOUNDER OF SAGUACHE, CO AND HIS "LA CULEBRA" CONNECTION - As written by Maria C. Martinez for La Sierra, a Costilla County Newspaper.
On September 8-10 I attended the convention of the National Society of Hispanic Genealogy in Denver, CO. I was so busy from Friday night through Sunday noon that I did not have time to look through the registration packet until several days after I got home. The packet contained some interesting information, not the least of which was the September 2000 issue of Colorado History/Now, published by the Colorado Historical Society. I read with interest the article entitled John Lawrence: El Valle Patron written by David Fridtjof Halaas, Chief Historian.
According to Halaas, John Lawrence was born in St Louis. He was orphaned at age six and ran away from home at age fourteen. He worked as a farm laborer, miner, soldier and freighter and ended up in Conejos Territory where he assimilated into the Spanish culture. On 28 Feb 1867, according to Halaas, Lawrence left Conejos for Saguache Creek, taking with him wheat, oats, provisions and farming implements, three Hispanos and a Navajo boy.
Lawrence recorded the event in his diary thus: "In accordance with a command of God, which says, "In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread all the days of thy life, I, John Lawrence, having passed thirty-one years of my life, eating bread, and rather poor bread, in this way was anxious to change it for better, and as to make such change it was necessary to change from my old to a new home. I therefore
changed from Conejos to Saguache."
Halaas goes on to explain the relationship between a Patron and his people, explaining that "the legitimacy of a patron-based society ran deep on the northern New Mexican frontier. A large landowner - a trusted and true man - obligated himself to the men and women who lived on or near his land. For a share of their profits, he represented their interests- political, financial, social - to an often hostile outside world". Lawrence apparently became a man of consequence, and although he had no formal education he was so well liked that he was elected mayor of Saguache three times and served in the state legislature.
I knew once I encountered the name Woodson in the article by Mr. Halaas, that I would find a link to the VigilÂ’s in La Culebra. Halaas states that Lawrence married the widow of his longtime partner and referred to her in his diary as Mrs. Woodson. Mrs. Woodson was born Julianita Vigil. Halaas states that the wedding took place on Christmas Day 1895 and Lawrence recorded in his diary that "Mrs. Woodson had a fine entertainment. She had a fine colations spread of Whiskey, wine, cakes, candies and a fine dinner for all. She only invited the Mexicans she had raised or had brought to the country, and their families, being 25 or 30 persons in all, children included".
The following is my research on Julianita: Julianita Vigil, daughter of Antonio Jose Vigil and Isabel Cordova, born February 1843 in Taos, NM, married James Woodson, son of James Woodson, SR, and Gracey Edwards, on 28 April 1858 in Arroyo Hondo, NM. The entry in the parish record states that the couple was from "Culebra". James and Juliana Woodson had at least one child together according to the baptismal records, she was named Bernarda and was born August 1860 in "La Culebra". Bernarda was living in the household of her maternal grandparents in the 1870 U. S. Census, Costilla County. An adopted daughter of James and Juliana Vigil Woodson was baptized on 5 September 1860 was named Catalina and she was eleven years old at the time of her baptism - she is listed as Navajo. Catalina Woodson married Rafael Martinez 7 Sept 1889 in Del Norte, CO. A third child, Andres Woodson, is found in Del Norte, CO when
he married Cenobia Romero on 26 Sept 1874. At that time he is listed as "Hijo natural adoptivo de Juliana Vigil. The marriage entry indicates the couple were from Saguache.
JulianaÂ’s relatives in La Culebra included her uncle Juan Miguel Vigil and his wife Rosa Vargas. They were the parents of Eduvigen Vigil who married Isabel Gallegos. The only surviving son of Eduvigen Vigil was Federico Vigil who married his second cousin Fulgencia Gallegos;
Other children of Juan Miguel and Rosa Vargas Vigil were Simonita, possibly married Dr. Joseph Kugler; Teresa, and Manuela who married William Meyer.
Another uncle of Juliana Vigil was Pedro Vigil who married Ana Maria Martinez. Pedro and Ana Maria were the parents of Luis Vigil (San Pedro) Rafael Vigil (San Francisco), Agapita Vigil who married Manuel Garduno, and others. A Tia of Juliana was Maria Guadalupe Vigil who married Antonio Maria Cortez.
JulianaÂ’s parents are enumerated in the 1860 U. S. Census, Taos Territory, Precinct of Culebra as follows: Household No. 1857, Antonio Vigil, age 44, farmer, $600 real estate, $100 personal property, birthplace Taos; Isabel Cordova, 36, pob: Taos; Ramon Vigil, 11, pob: Taos; Juan de Dios Vigil, 14, pob: Taos. Juliana is absent, having married two years earlier in 1858, she would have had her own household.