Celedonia Robledo, the Mexico-Born Sister My First-Generation Grandfather Never Knew

1914 Civil Death Registration for Celedenia Robledo
Two folios from the digitized civil death registration volume for 1914, in the municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí. The entry for Celedonia Robledo begins on the bottom left and carries over to the top of the next folio. Available on FamilySearch.1
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my recent discovery of a third child born to my great-grandparents in Mexico, before they immigrated to the United States in 1915. My great-aunt Celedonia Robledo was born 3 March 1913 to Jose Robledo (1875-1937 ) and Maria Hermalinda Nieto (1887-1974 ).2 Celedenia was the second of three children born in Mexico to my great-grandparents. Her birth was reported to local civil authorities three days later in the municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

That birth registration record was the first time I ever heard the name of this child, or heard of her existence. Same with my Dad, who was raised by my immigrant great-grandmother, mother to Celedonia. I mentioned in my last post that I suspected the child died before my family immigrated in 1915.

That is indeed the case.

A civil death registration record confirms that baby Celedonia died at just 18 months of age.

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The Death Record

Although generally not as rich in genealogical information as Mexico Catholic church records, civil registration records do also provide highly valuable information and clues.

Research Tip
Mexico Civil Registration
The civil registration system in Mexico is mandated, requiring that all births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones) be reported to local authorities. The system began in 1859-1860, but was not strictly enforced until 1867.3, 4

The Original Record

Just as with her birth record, the death registration entry for Celedonia is handwritten across two folio pages. It begins on the back (recto) side of folio 34, in the volume for 1914 deaths, and ends on the front (verso) of folio 35. For ease of reading and translation, I cropped each section to display a larger image and merged them together below.

1914 Civil Death Registration for Celedenia Robledo
A closer look at the 1914 civil death registration for my great aunt Celedonia Robledo, available on FamilySearch. Because the entry spans two folios, I cropped them together for ease of reading.5


Once again, my Spanish-fluent speaking/reading/writing Dad provided the translation.

In the village of Armadillo on the 12th day of September, 1914, in my presence, Memorio Alvarado, judge of the civil state of this village, Decidero Estrada, married 40 years of age, a resident of Temescal, appeared to report that the day before at 10 AM, Celedonia Robledo died of pneumonia at the age of 19 months, the legal [legitimate] daughter of Jose Robledo, married age 39 and of Maria Nieto, married age 28. Eulalio Alvarez, married witnessed this report. The body was sent to be buried in the Temescal Levantando [cemetery]. This report was read to the interested persons by me, Memorio Alvarado.6


What genealogical information does this record tell us?

  • Celedonia Robledo died at just 19 months old [per the birth and death records, she was not quite 19 months] of pneumonia on 11 September 1914.
  • She was the legitimate daughter of husband and wife Jose Robledo, age 39 [born about 1875], and Maria Nieto, age 29 [born about 1885].
  • She likely died in the village of Temescal, where the informant lived [Temascal is a village in the municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí].
  • Celedonia was due to be buried at the cemetery in the village of Temescal.

What doesn’t this record tell us?

  • It does not directly state that Celedonia or her parents lived in the village of Temescal. Further evidence would need to be evaluated to make a firm indirect claim, but at this point in the research process, Temescal is indeed the likely place of residence since the informant lived there and since Celedonia was to be buried there.
  • Who is the informant Decidero Estrada? Is he a relative, or is he a friend or neighbor?
  • The record does not confirm that Celedonia was buried in the Temescal cemetery or provide a burial date; that information is generally not reported in civil death registrations.

Next Steps

What comes next in learning about Celedonia?

  • I need to look for a burial record from the local church parish. I know that my great-grandmother (Celedonia’s mother) was a staunch Catholic, and Mexico was/is a Catholic country. A Catholic burial would have occurred.


#52Ancestors: Finally Finding a Death Certificate and Obituary for Great-Grandmother Laura Mae (Fields) Pace

My 30th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still quite behind on the challenge due to  a summer school course.

My 30th ancestor is my husband Jeff’s great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields (1896-1933). She married great-grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace (d. 1961), and was the mother of Jeff’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000) as well as nine younger Pace siblings.

I have discussed Laura Mae in this latest series of blog posts, first in the analysis I did of the family’s 1930 U.S. census record, next I pointed out how Laura Mae was missing from the family’s 1940 U.s. census record, and then in the post about the death of her 15 year old daughter Clara Irene Pace in 1933 from meningitis. In the post about Irene, we learned that Laura Mae died shortly before Irene from the same disease.

Striking Gold with an Obituary

A couple days after discovering Irene’s death notice in their local rural Texas newspaper, I was thrilled to find an obituary for Laura Mae in the same paper!

This obituary confirms what Irene’s death notice mentioned about the death of Laura Mae.1 It is the first record I have ever come across that gives a death date for her, and it is the first record I have found that provides a birth date, birth location, and any details whatsoever about my husband’s great-grandmother. Mother and daughter were admitted to the hospital the same day, with daughter Irene improving some (we learned she ended up dying a short time later). Laura Mae was buried the afternoon of her death, in the same cemetery where Irene would later be interred–at Whitharral Cemetery, in Whitharral, Hockley County, Texas.2

Courtesy of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.3
According to the obituary published in the Lamb County (Texas) Leader on 23 February 1933, Laura May [Mae] Pace died the Tuesday prior, which would have been 21 February 1933. She died, like her daughter Irene, of cerebral-spinal meningitis in the nearest hospital, the Lubbock Sanitarium, located in Lubbock, Lubbock County, Texas.

What new clues can we glean from this record?

  • The family lived in the Valley Gin community.
  • Someone (Laura Mae? Andrew Jackson? Doctors?) attributed the meningitis to recent flu attacks experienced by Laura Mae.
  • We now have a birth date and place for Laura Mae (8 October 1896 in Van Zandt County, Texas), and know that she has two siblings. Although the date reported or calculated for Laura Mae is incorrect. Based on her birth and death dates, she was 36 years old, not yet 37 years old.
  • Husband Andrew Jackson (the likely informant) provides their marriage date and place, 24 November 1912 in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas.
  • In 1913, Laura Mae joined, was baptized by, or was saved by the Baptist church in Donohue [Donohoe], Bell County, Texas. Donohoe is a now abandoned community that used to be located “on Donahoe Creek sixteen miles southeast of Belton in the southeastern corner of Bell County”, with a Baptist church that closed in the 1950s4
  • All ten children are attributed to Laura Mae as their mother. If you recall, I have not found birth records for all of the Pace children.

One Find Leads to Another

Armed finally (after years of looking) for an exact date of death, I immediately looked at death certificates for 21 February 1933 in the county of Lubbock. Bingo. There it was….in no way identifying Laura Mae Fields by name. Her death and identity were recorded simply as Mrs. A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace.5 Which is why I could never find a death record when searching for variations of the name Laura Mae, or cross-referencing the search under the spouse name of Andrew Jackson, since her husband is indexed and identified just by initials. I should have looked for records under the broadest possible search…just by the surname of Pace.

Laura Mae Fields Death 1933
Death certificate for Laura Mae (Fields) Pace, recorded as Mrs. A.J. Pace.[Ibid.]
The death certificate corroborates what was reported in the obituary, but then husband Andrew Jackson was the likely the informant for both records–the death record clearly identifies him as its informant. The death date, cause of death, burial date and location, undertaker name and location, and Laura Mae’s birth date are all in agreement with the obituary.37

What new information do we learn from this record?

  • Daughter Irene was admitted to the hospital a few days before her mother. Irene was admitted 15 February 1933; Laura Mae on 18 February 1933. The obituary is incorrect in reporting they were admitted on the same day.
  • Laura Mae’s father had the surname Fields, according to husband Andrew Jackson, but A.J. apparently did not know the given name of Laura Mae’s father, the name of her mother, or the birthplace of either of her parents.

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Laura Mae Fields and her second oldest daughter Clara Irene Pace were buried in Whitharral Cemetery, Hockley County, Texas, near their family farm.8, 9 It is a tiny little rural cemetery, that one would miss if one blinked driving down the country road.

No other members of the Pace/Fields family are buried here, indicating the surviving family members moved out of the area before A.J. or the other children died.

Pace Whitharral Cemetery
Google Earth view of where Whitharral Cemetery is located in relation to the town.
Pace Whitharral Cemetery
A Google Earth Street View look at the entrance to Whitharral Cemetery, looking north from Kansas Avenue.

Where to Go from Here?

It feels so satisfying to finally get somewhere with the research about my husband’s great-grandmother Laura Mae Fields, however there is still much work to do.

A Lingering Unanswered Question

In the post I wrote about daughter Irene’s death, I asked the question, how did Irene and her mother contract meningitis? That question cannot be sufficiently answered from the newfound documents for Laura Mae and Irene, but Laura Mae’s obituary does mention the meningitis resulting from a series of recent flu attacks.

My husband’s cousins share a family story about how Laura Mae and Irene caught this horrible disease. “The family story was that Laura May and Irene went to help another family with the same illness. That family survived, but they both didn’t.”10

Next Steps

These newfound records for Laura Mae Fields provide information items that now set me on a more firm path towards researching her birth, childhood, and family life prior to marriage. These tasks will hopefully answer these research questions about Laura Mae, as well as how she and daughter Irene contracted such a horrible disease.

  1. Try to find a marriage record for Laura Mae Fields and Andrew Jackson Pace.
  2. Try to find a birth record for Laura Mae Fields.
  3. Investigate if the local Baptist church records were transferred anywhere after its closure in the 1950s. There may be records referencing the Pace/Fields family.
  4. Look through the Lamb County (Texas) Leader from 1932-33 for references to any other reported instances of meningitis or flu outbreaks in the area.


#52Ancestors: Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace Tragically Taken by Meningitis at 15 Years Old

My 29th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week. However with this post, I start deviating from the themes. I need to spend what little research and writing time I have now on my priority research projects.

My 29th ancestor is my husband’s Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace (1917-1933). Clara Irene, who went just by Irene, was the sister of my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace.

About Clara Irene Pace

I have mentioned Irene in my last two posts about this family, first profiling Grandpa Roy and the family in the 1930 U.S. census, and then tracing the Pace siblings in the 1940 U.S. census. Irene was the only Pace sibling absent from the 1940 census, because she had died by that time, although that information cannot be inferred from the census.

Birth Date & Place

Irene Pace was born 24 September 1917 in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas to Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae “May” Fields. Clara Irene is the oldest child of theirs for whom I have found a birth certificate.1

Clara Irene Pace, Birth 1917
Birth certificate for Clara Irene Pace, 1917.2
This birth certificate tells us that Irene, a female, was the third child born to this mother, all of whom were still living. The first child would be Grandpa Roy, the second is the oldest daughter Dollie. Parents A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace (40 years old, born in Alabama) and [Laura Mae] May Fields (21 years old, born in Texas) were both white and lived in Mesquite, Dallas County, Texas. Roy worked as a farmer, May as a housewife.

Do you notice what this birth certificate does not tell us about Irene?…her name. The name of the child was left completely blank. It is quite possible that Andrew Jackson and Laura Mae had not yet decided upon a name when this baby girl was born–I find the similar situation on other birth records for the family.

So how do I know this is Irene? I won’t go into the full proof argument here, but the date of birth is identical to the one listed on Irene’s death certificate (her father was the informant).3 The 1917 birth year is in agreement with the estimated birth year (1918) on the 1930 U.S. census, as is the birth order (the third child) and the gender (female).4

Unfortunately, I do not find an amended birth certificate reflecting a later filed name correction.


Irene grew up in a farming family, who seemed to move around quite a bit. Born and initially raised in northeastern Texas, the family up and moved across the state to the northwestern part of Texas sometime between 1924 and 1928.

Texas counties in which Clara Irene Pace lived. Adapted from a public domain United States Census Bureau Image.5

Hunt County, Texas

Father Andrew Jackson Pace registered at age 42 for the World War I draft, on 12 September 1918 in Wolfe City, Hunt County, Texas. His draft registration card lists wife Laura Mae as his nearest relative, with the family living in nearby Campbell, Hunt County, Texas. 6 Campbell is located in eastern Texas, about 60 miles northeast of where Irene was born in Mesquite. Irene would have been just under one-year of age at this time.

Younger brother Genoa “Leo” Jackson’s 1924 birth certificate provides evidence that family still resided in Campbell, Hunt County, Texas when little Irene was six years old–although Leo was actually born in the bigger city of Commerce. Andrew Jackson continued to farm, and Laura Mae continued to keep house.7

Lamb County, Texas

By the time brother Earnest Ladell Pace (who went by Ladell, then later by Dale) was born in 1928, the family had moved to Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, when Irene was 11 years old. This brought the total number of siblings to eight. Ladell’s birth certificate confirms that Laura Mae had given birth to eight children, all of whom were still living. Andrew Jackson continued farming; Laura Mae continued keeping house.8 Littlefield is approximtely 415 miles west and slightly north of Campbell.

Hockley County, Texas

On 14 April 1930, the family of ten was enumerated on the 1930 U.S. census, living in Justice Precinct 6, Hockley County, Texas. They lived on a rented farm. Father Andrew Jackson worked as farmer, and mother Laura May “May” kept house. Irene (at 12 years old), is noted as attending school, as are her older brother Roy, older sister Dollie, and younger brother Huland.9

The family was living in either Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas again or Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, when brother Charles Wayne Pace was born in 1931. It is unclear which was the actual location of residence, although it is clear that Wayne was born in Levelland. Wayne’s original birth certificate claims the family lived in Littlefield, but an amended birth certificate filed in 1942 by father Andrew Jackson Pace in Hockley County says the family lived in Levelland at the time of the birth. The amended certificate indicates that Andrew Jackson was farming on his own farm by 1931.10, 11 Levelland is 24 miles due south of Littlefield.

In the 2014 obituary for Irene’s older sister Dollie, this area around southern Lamb County and northern Hockley County is referred to as “the Oklahoma Flats,” where the family farmed. The area is described as near Littlefield, but Dollie–and I assume her school age siblings, like Irene–attended school in Whitharral, Texas, an unincorporated community in Hockley County.12

A Horrible Illness

On 2 March 1933, the local paper–the (Littlefield) Lamb County Leader–printed a very brief update in its Personals column on page 2, advising that “Miss Irene Pace, who has been confined to the Lubbock Sanitarium for the past two weeks with meningitis, is much better, and has returned home.”13

Irene Pace Notice 1933
This is not how the original article appears. I have Photoshopped together the newspaper’s front page banner with the page 2 Personals brief about Irene.2
What does this news brief tell us about Irene?

  • She and her family, by 2 March 1933, lived near Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas.
  • Irene was admitted mid-February to the Lubbock Sanitarium due to meningitis.
  • By 2 March 1933, she experienced a significant enough recovery to be sent home.


Despite what appeared to be a strong enough recovery for Irene to go home, her condition took a fatal turn for the worse within a couple of weeks. Great-Aunt Clara Irene Pace died on 19 March 1933, at the young age of 15 years, 5 months, and 28 days. The local Lamb County Leader newspaper reports on Irene’s death and funeral services. She died in the hospital, so it appears she had to return when her condition turned for the worse. A funeral took place in the local school auditorium in Whitharral, and she was buried in Whitharral Cemetery.15 Lubbock Sanitarium was the first hospital in the city of Lubbock, Lubbock County Texas.16

Irene Pace Death Notice 1933
This is not how the original article appears. I have Photoshopped together the newspaper’s front page banner with the article on page 6.17
Towards the bottom of the newspaper article, we can see that Irene’s mother, Laura Mae Fields, had been hospitalized the same day as Irene for the same illness, but died earlier on 21 February 1933.2

The death certificate for Clara Irene Pace confirms the aforementioned date, place, and cause of Irene’s death.

Clara Irene Pace 1933 Death Certificate
Death certificate for Clara Irene Pace.19
What additional information does this death certificate tell us about Irene and her family?

  • Irene was still a student when she died, and she was single.
  • She had been in the hospital since 15 February 1933.
  • Her father A.J. [Andrew Jackson] Pace–born in Alabama, now living in Littlefield, Texas–served as the informant.
  • Her mother May [Laura Mae] Fields had been born in Van Zandt [County], Texas, according to Irene’s father.
  • Her father reported that Irene had been born in Dallas County, Texas.
  • Irene was buried on 30 March 1933 in Whitharral, Texas.

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Cause of Death

Irene Pace’s death certificate reports cerebral-spinal meningitis as the principal cause of death, with an abscess of the brain being a contributing factor. Meningitis is something we hear about every so often still in the U.S. (with current outbreaks still happening), but of which I know nothing. So I did some quick research on the causes of Irene’s early death.

Spinal Meningitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a description about the disease and its possible causes.

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. The inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses, but meningitis can also be caused by physical injury, cancer or certain drugs.20

Brain Abscess

Irene also suffered from an abscess of the brain. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “A brain abscess is a collection of pus, immune cells, and other material in the brain, usually from a bacterial or fungal infection.”21 The NIH classifies a brain abscess as a medical emergency, and describes, “meningitis that is severe and life threatening” as one of its possible complications.2


Irene’s death certificate states that she was buried 20 March 1933 in Whitharral, Hockley County, Texas, and that Hamman’s Funeral home in nearby Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas served as undertakers.19 The newspaper article reporting her death specifies Whitharral Cemetery as the place of internment.17 Find A Grave also has an entry for Irene at Whitharral Cemetery, although it is missing specific dates for birth and death.25

Pace Whitharral Cemetery
Google Earth view of where Whitharral Cemetery is located in relation to the town.
Pace Whitharral Cemetery
A Google Earth Street View look at the entrance to Whitharral Cemetery, looking north from Kansas Avenue.

Next Steps

How did Irene and her mother contract meningitis?


Tracking the Andrew Jackson Pace Family in Rural Depression Era Texas, 1930 and 1940 US Censuses

Ray Pace and Leo Pace, 1940s
Roy (left) and younger brother Leo, 1940s.1
I wrote a couple days ago about trying to identify the birth place of my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000) before I visit Roy’s home state of Texas next month.

In that post, I analyzed the 1930 U.S. census record that places Roy, his parents, and most of his siblings on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas.

I also mentioned that this census analysis raises some questions about Roy’s parentage:

  • whether he was simply born before his parents Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields married,
  • if Roy might be Laura’s child from a previous marriage,
  • or if the census just contains wrong ages and math?

Planning My Texas Research

I am focusing most of my current research work on my husband’s Texas ancestry, in preparation for a trip I am taking to Texas in late October. If I get any time at the state archives, I need to make the most of that brief time, tackling records that can only be researched in-person, versus what I can access online from home or at the Family History Library.

The Initial Research Question

As stated in my last post, my first research question is who were the parents of Roy D. Pace, father of Betty Pace (deceased) and grandfather to my husband Jeff Greene?

The Prerequisite Research Question

Because I cannot find a single record that documents a specific place–even just the county–where Grandpa Roy was born, I have to track and trace the movements of Roy’s parents in an attempt to narrow down the geographic scope in which to search for sources that might shed some light on Roy’s place of birth. This means building a timeline for the family, identifying dates and places associated with the oldest children prior to the family moving away from their childhood farm in rural Texas.

But to do that, I have to first identity Roy’s siblings–their names, birth dates, and places of birth, which took a few days to tackle. Not all children appear to have birth certificates. Some who do have birth certificates were initially recorded with no given name (I only find one amended certificate so far). Plus some of the children going by a different given name on later records.

This prerequisite research question is, who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?

The 1930 U.S. Census

This census serves as my information baseline to answer the above research question. I spent quite a bit of time in my last post analyzing it, so I will not repeat that same data here, aside from names and ages. The 1930 U.S. census identifies 8 children attributed to head of household Andrew J. Pace.2

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census
The family on the 1930 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
1) Ray [Roy] Pace Male Est. 1914 (age 16) Texas
2) Dollie Pace Female Est. 1916 (age 14) Texas
3) Irene Pace Female Est. 1918 (age 12) Texas
4) Huland Pace Male Est. 1920 (age 10) Texas
5) Willie Pace Female Est. 1922 (age 8) Texas
6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 6) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male Est. 1926 (age 4) Texas
 8) Ladell Pace Male Est. 1928 or 1929
(age 1 year, 4 months)

The 1940 U.S. Census

I am using the 1940 U.S. census as the termination point for this Pace childhood timeline, since it combined with the 1930 U.S. census provides a snapshot look back in time at biographical details about every member of this family. More robust stories about some of these family members will appear in later posts.

Great-Grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace can be found on the 1940 U.S. census, still farming and living on rented property in rural Hockley County, Texas. Five children live with him, including two sons born after the 1930 census, bringing the total number of children to ten.3

Andrew Jackson Pace Household, 1940 US Census
The main family on the 1940 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
 6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 16) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male  Est. 1926 (age 14) Texas
 8) Ladell pace Male Est. 1929 (age 11) Texas
 9) Wayne Pace Male Est. 1931 (age 9) Texas
 10) Jack Pace  Male Est. 1933 (age 7) Texas

Andrew Jackson and all of the boys, except Jack, are noted as living in the same locality (but not in the same house) on a farm back on 1 April 1935. The 1940 U.S. census required that enumerators ask the place of residence on 1 April 1935  for every person 5 years of age or older, yet there is no notation at all written down for 7 year-old Jack, so it is not possible to tell if Jack lived with his father and brothers in 1935 or lived someplace else (such as with one of his older married sisters).4

  • 6) Leo: Attending school, 5th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 7) Ray Earl: Attending school, 6th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 8) Ladell: Attending school, 3rd grade highest grade completed.
  • 9) Wayne: Attending school, 2nd grade highest grade completed.
  • 10) Jack: Attending school, no grades yet completed.

What is Different?

A look at the change in household membership since the 1930 U.S. census.

Who is Missing?

A number of family members are missing from the household by this time.

  • May/Laura Mae Fields (wife): Andrew Jackson is identified as a widow, so the logical assumption is that his wife Laura Mae Fields died sometime between the two census dates, but after the estimated 1933 birth of youngest child Jack Pace.5 Laura Mae is indeed deceased by this time, but that is a topic for the next post in my Pace series.
  • 1) Roy Pace (son): Roy (26 years old, born about 1914) is living in New Mexico at this time, in Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, where he works as a miner. His residence is not on a farm. Roy is married to my husband’s grandmother Rebecca Haley (a nurse), their one month old son Larry and a lodger/fellow miner named Joseph Galoway are living with the couple. Roy lived in the same locality on 1 April 1935 (not the same exact residence), but his wife Rebecca still lived back in Nashville, Tennessee at the time, indicating they probably married after that date. Roy is noted as having completed one year of college.6
  • 2) Dollie Pace (daughter): Dollie (24 years old, born about 1916) is living in nearby Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, but not on a farm. She is married, and the couple lives with her husband’s father and sisters. All household members lived on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas on 1 April 1935. Her husband worked as a cook at a cafe. Dollie is noted as having completed the third year of high school.7
  • 3) Irene Pace (daughter): Irene, the daughter who should be about 22 years old in 1940 is also deceased by this time, but unlike her mother’s death (which can be inferred from Andrew’s 1940 status as a widow), Irene’s death cannot be inferred from her absence in the 1940 census. Her story will also be shared in the next Pace series post.
  • 4) Huland/Hulon Pace (son): Hulon (20 years old, born about 1920) is living in nearby Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, with his wife and infant son. They reside with Hulon’s wife’s family. Hulon is employed as a truck driver, and indicates he lived in rural Lamb County, Texas, on a farm (not the same place as his wife and her family) on 1 April 1935. Hulon is noted as having completed the first year of high school. 8
  • 5) Willie Mae Pace (daughter): Willie Mae  (18 years old, born about 1922) is living further southwest in Williamson County, Texas, with her husband and their infant son. They reside on a rented farm, and her husband is a farmer. Willie Mae and her husband both lived on a farm in Hockley County, Texas, on 1 April 1935. She is noted as having completed the first year of high school.9

Who is New?

Family members who joined the household since the 1930 U.S. census.

  • 9) Wayne Pace (son): Born about 1931.
  • 10) Jack Pace (son): Born about 1933.

Back to the Research Question

My research question–Who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?–cannot be answered from these two census records alone, in a manner that meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). More records and analysis are needed.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1961
The Pace siblings, 1961.
Bottom Row (L-R): Ladell, Dollie, Willie Mae, Roy Delmar.
Top Row (L-R): Ray Earl, Jack, Hulon.10

The Pace Siblings

Based upon these census records, ten children are attributed to Andrew Jackson Pace:

  1. Roy Delmar Pace (son).
  2. Dollie Pace (daughter).
  3. Irene Pace (daughter).
  4. Huland/Hulon Pace (son).
  5. Willie Mae Pace (daughter).
  6. Leo Pace (son).
  7. Ray Earl pace (son)
  8. Ladell Pace (son).
  9. Wayne pace (son).
  10. Jack Pace (son).

The census records cannot, however, tell us if Laura Mae Fields was the mother of the children, since these two censuses only specify a relationship to the head of household–which was Laura Mae’s husband Andrew Jackson. We can only infer at this point in the research process that Laura Mae was the mother. As with the actual research question, more sources and analysis are needed to establish the parentage of the ten children.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1991
The Pace Siblings, 1991. (L-R) Willie Mae, Jack, Roy Delmar, Dollie, and Hulon.11
Establishing and proving the parentage of Roy’s siblings, is not part of this research question and plan, so I will not go into that in posts about Grandpa Roy’s ancestry. The dates and places of birth of the older children, however, can help me narrow down a geographic scope for where in Texas my husband’s Grandpa Roy might have been born.

Working Timeline

Tracking and tracing the movements and life events of the Pace siblings is a very helpful tool for identifying sources that can answer the research question. At this point, the timeline reflects the information provided by just the two census records: which family member, what life event, on what date, where it happened, and how we know (which source, F = footnote/citation).

When What Who Where How
About 1912 1st Marriage Laura Mae Fields probably  Texas F2
About 1914 Birth Roy Delmar Pace Texas F2, F6
About 1916 1st Marriage Andrew Jackson Pace probably Texas F2
About 1916 Birth Dollie Pace Texas F2, F7
About 1918 Birth Irene Pace Texas F2
About 1920 Birth Huland/Hulon Pace Texas F2, F8
About 1922 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F9
About 1924 Birth Leo Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1926 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F2
About 1926 Birth Ray Earl Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1929 Birth Ladell Pace Texas F2, F3
14 April 1930 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Laura Mae Fields
Roy Pace
Dollie Pace
Irene Pace
Huland Pace
Willie Pace
Leo Jackson
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Hockley County, Texas F2
About 1931 Birth Wayne Pace Texas F3
About 1933 Birth Jack Pace Texas F3
1933-1940 Death Laura Mae Fields probably Texas F2, F3
1 April 1935 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6
Dollie Pace Hockley County, Texas F7
Hulon Pace Hunt County, Texas F8
Willie Mae Pace Hockley County, Texas F9
4 April 1940 Residence Hulon Pace Littlefield, Hunt County, Texas F8
11 April 1940 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
13 April 1940 Residence Willie Mae Pace Williamson
County, Texas
17 April 1940 Residence Dollie Pace Levelland, Hockley County, Texas F7
7 May 1940 Residence Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6


Close to Identifying My Immigrant Great Grandfather Jose Robledo’s Birth Date and Parents’ Names

Jose RobledoLast week I wrote about successfully finding (after 15+ years!) the final set of border entry cards for the Mexico-born members of my paternal grandfather’s immediate family, who immigrated to the U.S. on 27 October 1915. This family group included my great-grandfather José Robledo (1878-1937), great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda Nieto (1887-1973), oldest daughter Guadalupe Robledo (1910-1975), and oldest son baby Refugio Raphael Robledo (1915-?).

José Robledo Sanchez

In re-reading that post, I noticed that I mention Great-Grandfather José’s maternal surname of “Sanchez” being they key identifying factor in busting down this brick wall. A note written on the back of my great-grandmother Maria’s border entry card, which I had ignored for years, mentions her being seen and caught with a José Sanchez.1 I also mentioned having only recently discovered that Sanchez was José’s maternal surname. Until this maternal surname discovery, the name José Sanchez meant nothing to me.

Maria Nieto, 1915 Border Entry Card (Back)
Handwritten note on the back of the border entry card for Maria Nieto. Source: Ancestry.com.

This made me realize that I have not yet written about that maternal surname discovery.

I have blogged quite a bit about my great-grandfather’s line being one of my biggest brick walls.This is because nobody in our family seems to know any significant details about Great-Grandfather José Robledo–including his place of birth or the names of his parents. Even his sole living child doesn’t have this information; Jose died when that child was still very young, and before my dad was even born.

The First U.S. Record Clue

I tried a number of years ago to obtain a copy of Great-Grandfather José’s death certificate from the County of Los Angeles, but this mail-in request only resulted in a notice that they could not find his record. So on a work holiday back in mid-March, I set out in-person to order a long list of birth and death records from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Birth, Death, and Marriage Records Section in Norwalk, California. This time they found it! On 1 May 2015, I was thrilled to find in my mailbox an informational copy of the certificate of death for my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather José “Joe” Robledo” died on 4 July 1937 in his Los Angles home, of something “non tuberculor” pertaining to his left lung (family has told me he had pneumonia).2 The certificate identifies the informant as Raphael Robledo. This would be Joe’s 22 year old son, my great-uncle Refugio Raphael Robledo.

Apparently even his oldest son Refugio–the baby who immigrated with him in 1915–did not know much about his father’s Mexico origins, or whomever took the information from Refugio did not think it necessary to provide much detail. Because Great-Grandfather José’s place of birth is noted as “Unknown” in Mexico.

But…Great-Uncle Refugio did not let me down!

Jose Robledo, 1937 Death Certificate
Certificate of Death for José “Joe” Robledo, 1937, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. Click on image for a larger view.

This death certificate is the first piece of evidence I have ever found that identifies the parents of my great-grandfather José Robledo. Great-Uncle Refugio reported his paternal grandparents as Celbario [?] Robledo and Mary Sanches–both also of Unknown, Mexico.

Jose Robledo, 1937 Death Certificate
A close-up look at the parents’ names recorded on José Robledo’s 1937 death certificate.

 The First Mexico Record Clue

The following week, I hit quite a roll on those non-indexed, non-searchable, browseable-only Mexico Catholic church records on FamilySearch. Slowly, while painstakingly going page-by-page reading a language that is not my own, the genealogy gods smiled down on me, because I found a handful of key records that I had been seeking for years.

Including the 15 July 1908 marriage record for my great-grandparents!

After 15+ years of searching, for the second time in the span of a single week (on 7 May 2015, to be exact), I came across a piece of  evidence providing the names of José Robledo’s parents. The church record for his marriage to my great-grandmother Maria Nieto identifies his parents as Silveño Robledo and Jesus Sanches.3

1908 Marriage Record for Jose Robledo and Maria Nieto
The 1908 Mexico Catholic church marriage record for my great-grandparents José Robledo and Maria Nieto. Santa Isabel parish, Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
Courtesy of FamilySearch. Click image for a larger view.

There was that unusual given name again for my 2nd great-grandfather. What was noted as Celbario on my great-grandfather’s certificate of death is written on his marriage record as Silveño. Despite this naming conflict, I lean more towards the one noted on his marriage record, since–according to that record–José’s father was present at the ceremony.

Jose Robledo Marriage, Parents Names
A closer look at the 1908 church marriage record for José Robledo and Maria Nieto, identifying the names of José’s parents. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

Once again, Great-Grandfather José’s mother is noted as a Sanches. That part is consistent across all three records. Although here her given name is noted as Jesus, not Mary, as reported on the death certificate. While Jesus is generally thought of as a male name, I find quite a few women in my Mexican family history with the name Jesus. It is usually a Maria Jesus, applying the traditional Mexican naming convention of a given name (Jesus) preceded by a saint or biblical name (usually Maria for females). Although in this case, Maria and Jesus are both biblical names ;-). I discussed this convention in a post I wrote back in April, about my 4th great-grandfather José Victoriano Compeán.

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Two new records, in the span of one week, identifying my 2nd great-grandmother’s paternal surname as Sanches, turned on that lightbulb in my head last week when re-reading the note on the back of my great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda Nieto’s border entry card, which referenced a José Sanches.4 I had found José Robledo’s border record at long last!

Birth Date Discrepency

Aside from disagreement over the names of his parents, these two new documents bring forth a discrepancy over great-grandfather José Robledo’s date of birth. Many of the U.S. records I have for José indicate an 1875 year or birth. However his death certificate clearly states 1878 as his year of birth.5 And his 1908 marriage record, which identifies him as 30 years old, also supports an 1878 birth year.6 Yet, oddly, that border entry record from 1915 also indicates an age of 30 years for Jose, which would have him born about 1885.7

So I certainly have some work to do here.

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Next Steps

While these two significant finds (three really, including the border record confirmation) put me 99% closer to verifying the names of my great-grandfather José Robledo’s parents, I still have more work to do for that task. The key missing document is a baptism record and/or a civil birth registration for José Robledo. Either of these documents should allow me to verify:

  • The correct/full name of José’s mother. Is it Maria Jesus Sanches? Just Maria Sanches? Or just Jesus Sanches?
  • The correct name of José’s father. Is it Celbario Robledo? Or Silveño Robledo?
  • The correct date of birth for Jose.

In the last couple of days, I looked through every single page of those non-indexed, non-searchable, browseable-only Catholic church baptism records for 1878 and 1879 in the parish where José and my great-grandmother married, and found nothing at all referencing a male child with parents’ names similar to Silveño or Celbario Robledo and a Jesus or Mary/Maria Sanches. So I need to check the records for neighboring parishes and/or for additional years. Once I exhaust that effort, I will look into civil registrations for birth.


Finally Confirming the Name of My 2nd Great-Grandfather, Refugio Nieto

Nieto Family CrestMy last two blog posts focused on my 2nd great-grandmother Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), and in particular on the discrepancies over her birth year and age. Aurelia immigrated to the U.S. in 1919, with some of her children, from their home state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She spent the last 44 years of her life starting anew in Los Angeles County, California. Aurelia, according to U.S. Census records and family recollections, primarily lived at different times with two of her children — her daughter (my great-grandmother) Maria Hermalinda “Nana” Nieto (1887-1973), and her son (my 2nd great-uncle) Juvenal Joseph Nieto (1898-1978).

Aurelia, affectionately referred to as “Little Grandma” was well known by my paternal grandfather and his siblings, and also by my dad and his own cousins. Because Dad went to live with his grandmother (our “Nana”) when he was five years old, he also lived with and grew very close to his Little Grandma, who resided with her daughter Nana at that time. Dad recently shared with me how traumatic it was for him to lose his great-grandmother in 1963. Although I have only just started to make progress on Aurelia’s history, her name has been well known to me despite never having met her.

The name of Aurelia’s husband, however, has been a big mystery. All we have ever known is that his surname was Nieto, and that he died in Mexico before his family immigrated here.

Name Not Known

Dad doesn’t remember ever hearing a first name for his great-grandfather (Little Grandma’s husband). No one in our branch of the Nieto-Robledo family knew his name. Not even Nana’s lone living child (my great-uncle, and Aurelia’s grandson). In a family history questionnaire that I asked my great-uncle to fill out back in 2003, my great-uncle left the name of his maternal grandfather blank (he only filled in the name of his grandmother, Aurelia). The 1963 obituary for Aurelia fails to include my 2nd great-grandfather’s name — he is simply referred to as “her husband.” How does a spouse’s name get left out of an obituary? Aurelia still had living children at that point, who certainly knew their father’s name. Didn’t they realize what sort of frustration this would plunge future generations of family historians into???

Maria Aurelia Compean Scanned Obituary Clipping
Clipped obituary, from family files. Independent. Long Beach, California, United States Of America.

And for years, I have struck out on locating a Mexico marriage record for Aurelia and her husband, or a baptism record for their children Maria and Juvenal.

Possibly Raphael

Over the last handful of years, I have come across other grandchildren, grandchildren-in-law, and great-grandchildren of Aurelia who have public trees on Ancestry. Those that identified a spouse for Aurelia recored him with the name Raphael — although no source documents are attached on any of the trees as evidence to support that name.

But, Raphael became  the working name for my 2d great-grandfather, as I kept searching on Ancestry and FamilySearch for records that might substantiate that fact.

Last month, I finally received a copy of my great-grandmother Nana’s 1973 death certificate from Los Angeles County. Noted on her death certificate is the name of her father (Aurelia’s husband)…Raphael Nieto.

The same name in those Ancestry trees. We were starting to get warmer.

Maria Hermalinda Nieto Death Certiificate
Personal data section of the 1973 Los Angeles County death certificate for my great-grandmother, Maria Hermalinda Nieto (married name Robledo).

The death certificate identifies Nana’s second youngest son, my now-deceased uncle Alfred Robledo, as the informant. So Uncle Alfred was most likely the person who provided the names of his mother’s parents. Nana’s father is listed as Raphael Nieto. But the maiden name of Nana’s mother is incorrect. Nana’s mother (Aurelia) is identified with the maiden name Sanchez. It should be Compean. Sanches is Aurelia’s maternal surname (apellido materno), not her paternal surname (apellido paterno) — or what we call a maiden name. Uncle Alfred was clearly not too sure about his grandparents’ names.

I also ordered a copy of Aurelia’s death certificate from Los Angeles County at the same time, however the county sent me a notice that the were unable to locate a death record for her. I had hoped her death certificate would identify a spouse’s name, a name that was hopefully identified by one of Aurelia’s children, who had to know the name of their father.

Possibly Refugio

In that same batch of Los Angeles County vital record requests, I had asked for the 1978 death certificate of my 2nd great-uncle Juvenal, hoping it would provide some clues about Juvenal and Maria’s parents — particularly their father, my 2nd great-grandfather Nieto.

When I received Juvenal’s death certificate in the mail, I encountered a new name for my 2nd great-grandfather — Refugio. The informant on Juvenal’s death certificate is his wife Mary, who might likely have known my 2nd great-grandfather back in Mexico. Mary also got the surname correct (Compean) for Juvenal’s mother, my 2nd great-grandmother Aurelia.

Juvenal Nieto Death Certiificate
Personal data section of the 1978 Los Angeles County death certificate for my 2nd great-uncle, Juvenal Nieto.

This is the first time I encountered the name Refugio used in connection with my 2nd great-grandfather. But it wasn’t the first time I had heard that name used in connection with my family. Refugio is the name that Aurelia’s daughter Maria (my great-grandmother Nana) gave to her first-born son. My great-grandparents Maria Hermalinda Nieto and Jose Robledo named their first boy Refugio Raphael Robledo (born 1915 in Mexico). There were both of those names…Refugio…and Raphael. It would seem my Nana named her first son after her father.

Was Refugio Raphael the name of my 2nd great-grandfather? Was Raphael the name he preferred to go by, which might explain why those Ancestry trees and my uncle Alfred identify him as Raphael?

The namesake grandson, my now-deceased great-uncle Refugio Raphael Robledo (the baby born in 1915) also preferred to go by the name Raphael, or his parents just called him Raphael, because much of the documentation I have identifies him as Raphael. Although his sole living sibling, and his nieces and nephews, say that he actually went by the nickname of Ray.

The search to learn my 2nd great-grandfather’s name was definitely getting warmer now.

Refugio Confirmed

And then last week, that search grew hot. Really hot.

As stated in my last blog post about my 2nd great-grandmother Aurelia, on May 6th I finally — after 15+ years — found the marriage record for Aurelia and her husband, in the non-indexed/non-searchable browse-only collection of Mexico Catholic church records on FamilySearch! The marriage records identifies my 2nd great-grandfather as Refugio Nieto.

Maria Aurelia Compean married Refugio Nieto (1863-1909) on 18 October 1883 in the Villa de Yturbide (now Villa de Hidalgo), a municipality in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Marriage declaration by Aurelia Compean to Refugio Nieto, FamilySearch
Marriage declaration made by Aurelia Compean to Refugio Nieto. From the full record of marriage. FamilySearch.”México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-20440-23372-37?cc=1860864&wc=MC48-NZS:167672101,167668102,168345101 : accessed 6 May 2015), Villa Hidalgo > San José > Información matrimonial 1880-1886 > image 491 of 755; parroquias Católicas, San Luis Potosi (Catholic Church parishes, San Luis Potosi).

Now that I had my groove down browsing through those non-indexed/non-searchable Mexico records on FamilySearch, I was on a roll. That same afternoon I came across another record I had been hunting for 15+ years — the Mexico Catholic church baptism record for my great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda “Nana” Nieto. Nana’s baptism record identifies her parents as Aurelia Compean and Refugio Nieto.

Maria Hermalinda Nieto Baptism Record
Baptism record for Maria Hermalinda Nieto, 08 November 1997.
“México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-20131-27076-52?cc=1860864&wc=MC4Z-RP8:167672201,167672202,167990403 : accessed 13 May 2015), Armadillo de los Infante > Santa Isabel > Bautismos 1877-1892 > image 629 of 943; parroquias Católicas, San Luis Potosi (Catholic Church parishes, San Luis Potosi).
Click to view larger image.

I think I may also have found the baptism record for my 2nd great-grandfather Refugio Nieto, but I will save that discussion for another post.

What About Raphael?

At this point, I have to consider Raphael to be a nickname. The name is used by family members too often for it to be dismissed as simply a mistaken name. And since Refugio’s granddaughter Maria Hermalinda (my Nana) named her first-born son Refugio Raphael, I have to think that the name Raphael is rightly associated with my 2nd great-grandfather.

Visiting with Dad this weekend, he had another suggestion. That Raphael might be my 2nd great-grandfather’s Catholic confirmation name. That theory will have to wait to be explored when I have time to browse through the non-indexed/non-searchable Mexico Catholic church confirmation records.

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#52Ancestors: Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), Lived to Be 105 or 100 or 95 Years of Age

Maria Aurelia CompeanMy 16th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 16 is – Live Long. Time to feature a long-lived ancestor. Any centenarians in the family?

My 16th ancestor is my 2nd great-grandmother Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), who lived to the age of 105 years. Or so my family has always thought. Other records place her at 100 years and 95 years old.

Aurelia was one of at least three daughters born to Jose Santiago Compean (b. abt. 1840) and Maria Eutimia Sanches (b. abt. 1834). Her full name was Maria Aurelia Compean Sanches — with Maria being her Saint/Biblical first name, Aurelia her common first name, Compean her paternal surname, and Sanches her maternal surname (see last week’s post about Mexican naming conventions). U.S. records often identify her by the last name of Nieto, the surname of her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather.

Age Discrepancies

Why the discrepancy and uncertainty about Aurelia’s age?

As Reported by Her Children

Aurelia’s children and grandchildren claim she was born in 1858. Whichever of them reported her death on 17 February 1963 gave an 01 January 1858 date of birth to officials for Aurelia, and they also ran an obituary in the Long Beach, California Independent proudly crediting her with 105 years of age. The death record info I have is just the transcribed entry from the California Death Index — which has Aurelia’s birthplace wrong (it lists Maine instead of Mexico!). I am still waiting on the death certificate I ordered from Los Angeles County in March.

Compean Maria Aurelia Obituary 1963-02-19
Obituary from 19 February 1963. Ancestry.com. Independent (Long Beach, California) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Maria Aurelia Compean Scanned Obituary Clipping
Same clipped obituary, from family files. Independent. Long Beach, California, United States Of America.
Aurelia Compean, California Death Index
California Death Index, 1940-1997. Index entry for Aurelia Compean. Index transcribers have her birth place incorrectly identified as Main instead of Mexico. Source: Ancestry.com.

As Reported on the Census

The 1920 U.S. Census and the 1930 U.S. Census estimate a birth year of 1868, based upon the age reported (52 and 64 respectively). Not ages that support the 1858 birth year noted on the California Death Index or in her obituary. I have not yet been successful at finding Aurelia on the 1940 U.S. Census.

Robledo, Nieto, Sanches, Perez Households - 1920 Census - Long Beach
Robledo, Nieto, Sanches, Perez Households. 1920 US Census, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Aurelia is highlighted in yellow, line 21. Click image for a larger view.
Juvenal Nieto and Aurelia Compean, 1930 US Census
Juvenal Nieto household, with Aurelia Compean. 1930 U.S. Census, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Click image for larger view.

As Reported on Her Baptism Record

Aurelia was baptized 10 January 1864 in San Nicolas Tolentino, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The baptism transcription index card says she was 10 days old at the time, which would make her born 01 January 1864 or 31 December 1863 — depending on how that 10 days was calculated. Either way, this record does not jive with the 1858 birth year claimed by our family, nor does it correspond with the estimated 1868 birth year calculated in the censuses.

Aurelia Compean baptism entry in transcribed index. Mexico, Select Baptisms, 1560-1950. Source: FamiilySearch.

As Reported on Her Border Crossing Record

The border crossing record for Aurelia, estimates her birth year as 1864. Aurelia was admitted into the U.S. on 14 March 1919, in Laredo, Texas, destined for Long Beach, California. The age noted on this record matches what her baptism record age would calculate out to in 1919.

Aurelia Compean Border Crossing Card
Aurelia Compean Border Crossing Card, 1919, Ancestry.com. Click image for larger view.

My Hunch

My suspicion is that 1864 is the accurate year, since it is the year most contemporaneously reported at the time closest to her actual birth (10 days after her birth, at her baptism), and the year that was likely self-reported by Aurelia to (Spanish-speaking?) immigration officials at the time of her border crossing.  Besides, if she were born in 1858 as her family claims, that means Aurelia’s parents waited six years to have her baptized — something that would never have been acceptable to practicing Catholics. I mentally noted that issue when I first came across her baptism info years ago, and it never sat right with me.

The Census records are close, with an 1868 estimated birth, but somehow I doubt Aurelia is the one who talked to the Census takers — it seems more likely her children would have done so. Although I would think that Aurelia — who did not work outside of the home — would have been present as well.

Although my extended family probably doesn’t want to hear that “Little Grandma” did not live to be 105 years old, I think that 1858 date is the most unlikely of birth years noted for Aurelia, since it was information provided by older children upon Aurelia’s death. Also because I can’t imagine her parents waited six-years to baptize their daughter in a staunch Mexican catholic home and community.

Next Steps

But, I still have more digging to do:

  • Locate the actual microfilmed baptism record. If it is included in the Mexico Catholic Church records that have already been digitized, it has not yet been indexed by FamilySearch.
  • Investigate if a Civil Registration record exists for her birth. Civil Registration went into effect in Mexico in 1859. If Aurelia was born 1858, there won’t be a record. But if she was born after 1858, there is a chance a record exists, although Civil Registration did not become strictly enforced until 1867.
  • Locate the microfilmed copy of her 1883 marriage record, since the Catholic Church usually noted ages for each spouse. If it is included in the Mexico Catholic Church records that have already been digitized, it has not yet been indexed by FamilySearch.
  • Locate a Civil Registration record for her 1883 marriage.

I have never found any evidence that Aurelia applied for a Social Security card or for naturalization. If she had, those applications would be written in her own hand (or verbally reported by her to someone who filled out the applications on her behalf), and would include her self-reported birth year.

Once I verify the records outlined above, I will update my database, trees, research log, and the Snapshot box below. Until then, I will let my extended family have their claim to 105 years.

Still…living to “just” 95 years old is pretty darn admirable. I hope Dad inherited her genes!

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