Manuel and Juanita Garcia

Manuel Savino Garcia was born about the year 1863 in a covered wagon. His mother - it is said - was pregnant while crossing over the mountains from Santa Fe to a new life in the Mora River Valley. Her name was Manuelita Sanchez (born about 1846). After settling in Mora County with her new baby, Manuelita married a local Spanish-American man named Jose Antonio Garcia (b. about 1842). Jose seems to have adopted the red-haired Manuel and given him his name. Jose and Manuelita eventually provided Manuel with a brother and three sisters: Jose, Juanita, Perfilia, and Adelida.

When Manuel came of age he married Maria Juanita Sanchez, the daughter of Jose and Manuela Sanchez. Juanita was born on 3 February 1874. Her ancestors are said to have emigrated from Espanola and Taos to the Mora River Valley in the 1850s. The families settled not only in the town of Mora but also as far east as Wagon Mound on the Santa Fe Trail.

Over the years Juanita bore Manuel fourteen children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Juanita is remembered as having been an excellent seamstress and the best midwife in Mora County. She owned a Singer sewing machine, using it to sew garments for her children and grandchildren. Often printed flour sacks were the only materials available.

As a midwife, Juanita assisted in the births of her neighbors' children as well as the births of many of her own grandchildren. When medical doctors finally came to the area in the early 20th century, examinations were set up for all those aspiring to be licensed midwives. Only Juanita and one other woman were able to pass the initial examination.

Juanita was also what the Spanish called a Curandera. In the absence of doctors, she used herbs and natural medicines to cure the sick. Once, when scurvy ravaged the mountain villages around Ledoux, New Mexico, Juanita toured the countryside, encouraging the local inhabitants to add wild grapes, apricots and chokecherries to their diets.

Manuel himself is thought to have worked for a time as a security guard, probably at the county jail in Mora, New Mexico. He also owned several plots of land in the mountains southwest of Mora near the little settlement that came to be known as El Morphe. On these plots he grew wheat, corn, oats, peas and pinto beans. To earn extra money, he hired out as a sheepherder and sheepshearer.

In the 1910 U.S. Census, Manuel was was listed as being 46 years old and living in the San Jose district in the settlement known as El Morphe. With him was his wife Juanita, who was 36. They had six children living at home: Augustin 17, Jesusita 15, Mathilde 11, Rafaela 8, Antonio A. 5, and Manuelita 2. By the time of the 1920 U.S. Census, the older children had moved away from home, leaving only Antonio, Manuelita, and Loreta. Jesusita and her husband Juan Tafoya lived right across the road. Next to them were Matilde and her husband Eligio Vigil. Further up the road were Augustin and his wife Margarita.

As time went on, the settlement at El Morphe came to include a dozen or so families, most of them related. A general store was built and a school started. When the town was gradually abandoned in the 1930's, Manuel moved what remained of his family down to Ledoux. His house was just down the road from the Catholic church, the third house into town along the road leading from Las Vegas, New Mexico. Here Manuel lived until his death in 1935.

Juanita survived Manuel by twelve years. After a lifetime of caring for others, she died on 31 December 1947 at the age of seventy-three. The cause of death is said to have been an infection in her hand.

The seven surviving children of Manuel and Juanita Garcia were:

Manuel and Maria Garcia

1- Austin (Augustin) Garcia (1893-1934) - Married Margarita Romero. Together they had six children: Pete, Augustin Jr., Josie, Beatrice, Rosabel, William.

2- Jesusita Garcia (1894-1945) - Married Juan Bautista Tafoya. Together they had ten children: Charles, Eva, Juanita, Patrick, Sam, Benjamin, Gilbert, Eleanor, Elsie, Johnny.

3- Eulalia (Julia) Garcia (circa 1896-1977) - Married Fidel Casados. Together they had two children: Violet and Martha. Later married George Whitkawye.

4- Matilde Garcia (1898-1964) - Married Eligio Vigil. Together they had seven children: Estolia, Josie, Manueleta, Jennie, Julianita, Tony, Orolio. Later married Jose Antonio Armijo. Together they had two children: Joe Nelson and Joseph Eligio.

5- Antonio (Tony) Garcia (1904-1995) - Married Requeta Tafoya. Together they had five children: Antonia, Levi, Floyd, Manuel, Paul. Later married Jesusita Gonzales. Together they had one child: Nancy.

6- Manuelita (Mela) Garcia (1907-1996) - Married Alejandro Garcia. Together they had three children: James, Joe, Susie. Later married Adelido Cisneros. Together they had four children: Joe, Fred, Ella, Johnny.

7- Loretta (Lare) Helen Garcia (1911-1993) - Married Modesto Chavez. Together they had seven children: Lee, Rose, Dora, Lawrence, Gloria, Virgina, Cecelia.

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