Yngenio Rascon, San Luis Potosí, Mexico: Birthplace of Great-Aunt Lupe Robledo

My great-grandparents and their ancestors lived for centuries in the Armadillo and Villa Hidalgo area of the state of San Luis Potosí in central Mexico. Most of their births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials took place in these two present-day municipios (similar to counties) and accompanying parishes, or within what now amounts to a one hour driving radius. This ancestral home region is dry arid ranching and farming country.

Robledo Nieto Regional Map San Luis Potosi
Custom Google Map showing the four main towns, villages, and ranchos where my family has lived for centuries in the state of San Luis Potosí. These are shown in proximity to the capital city.

Looking for Great-Aunt Lupe

One particular record has stuck out in my mind since discovering it in late 2015 when Ancestry released its indexed Mexican civil registration collection—the 1910 birth registration for my great-aunt Lupe Robledo, who I knew as a very young child. Maria Guadalupe “Lupe” Robledo Nieto (1910-1975) was the oldest child of my immigrant great-grandparents, José Pablo Robledo Sanches (1879-1937) and Maria Hermalinda Nieto Compean (1887-1973). According to her civil birth registration, Lupe was born 4 July 1910 in her parents’ home.1 But that home was not at all where I suspected.

I had looked several years for a birth or baptism record for Lupe to no avail, until Ancestry released that indexed civil registration collection in October 2015. My hunt had been focusing on the municipios and parishes of my ancestors’ traditional homelands for centuries. But Lupe was not born in that part of the state—the same part of the state in which her parents married 2 years prior to her birth.

The newly released indexed civil birth registration collection was literally searchable for the first time, and a quick search for children born to my great-grandparents revealed that Aunt Lupe had been born outside of our ancestral region. She had been born 155 miles southeast of the family home, in a place identified on her birth record as Yngenio Rascon, located in the muncipio of San Nicolás de los Montes (now in the muncipio of Tamosopo), still in the state of San Luis Potosí.2

Guadalupe Robledo Nieto 1910 Birth Record
The 21 July 1910 civil birth registration for my great-aunt Maria Guadalupe “Lupe” Robledo Nieto, born 4 July 1910 in Yngenio Rascon, municipality of San Nicolás de los Montes.
“San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Civil Registration Births, 1860–1947,” entry for Guadalupe Robledo, 21 July 1910 [born 4 July 1910]; database with digital images, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com : accessed 19 November 2015; citing Registro Civil [Civil Registration] del Estado [state] de San Luis Potosí, México; San Nicolás de los Montes, 1909–1912; 1910, folio 3 front.
The young family did not reside here long. By 3 Match 1913 (the birth date of their next child) they moved back to our ancestral home in the municipio of Armadillo.3

Robledo and Nieto Region Map with Rascon
Custom Google Map showing my primary ancestral region in the state of San Luis Potosí (maroon pins), and Rascon (the blue pin) where Lupe was born.

Yngenio Rascon: What & Why?

Not being familiar with the term Yngenio (also spelled Ingenio), I turned to Google Translate and learned that in this context yngenio refers to a plant, like a manufacturing plant. A little more time searching via Google told me that this was (maybe it still is?) a sugar manufacturing plant.

This was starting to make sense now. The birth and baptism records for his Mexico-born children tell me that my great-grandfather José was a farmer/farm laborer. It is probable that the lure of work on a sugar plantation had drawn my great-grandfather and his new wife Maria away from their family home—possibly while Maria was pregnant with their first child.

According to family lore, Maria’s Nieto and Compean families owned considerable land in their home regions, but Maria’s father had lost the Nieto family lands by the time of his death in 1906. I am uncertain if José’s family (Robledo and Sanches) owned land in the Armadillo area as well. But surely it had to be the promise or prospect of a job on the Rascon sugar plantation that drew this young married couple away from their family region.

So why didn’t José and Maria remain at Yngenio Rascon? Why did they return home by 1913? Had the work just been temporary? Were they homesick? Was the tropical climate too much of a change for this family from a much more dry and arid region. Dad told me just this past weekend that his grandmother said she had contracted malaria back in Mexico. It seems likely this would have occurred during their stay in this tropical region.

Daughter Lupe was born in 1910, the year marking the official start of the Mexican Revolution. This family would flee the Revolution for the U.S. five years later in 1915. Had things become too unsettling for the family between the 1910 and 1913 births of their daughters, due to the revolution, prompting them to move back near their large extended family network?

A Closer Look at Yngenio Rascon

Yngenio Rascon at this time was the principal hacienda on a massive piece of property located in the states of San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas. It was owned by the U.S.-based Rascon Manufacturing & Development Company, a holding company chartered in 1905 by a group of investors primarily from Louisiana. The lands had been sold by the Rascon family, who received the land patent in 1844 from a Jesuit holding.4

It was a large sugar plantation, located in the tropical eastern side of San Luis Potosí,

Map of the Rascon Lands
A 1906 map of the Rascon Lands, with Yngenio/Ingenio Rascon highlighted in red. Public domain.
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 123; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

The Rascon lands were described at this time as abundant farmlands, with renters, and with rich pastures for raising cattle and horses.5

“The principal hacienda, in that it has been developed more largely than the others, is the Yngenio Rascon, upon which is Rascon Station. This place has an acreage of about 25,000, of which more than 5,000 is irrigable land of the character already described…It has a complete sugar mill of 200 tons capacity, situated at the headquarters of the hacienda about nine miles from Rascon station…There are on this place, at the present time, over a thousand acres in cultivation for the hacienda, and in addition a large acreage farmed by renters…On this place is a handsome owner’s residence, the houses of the administrator and various other employees, store, warehouses, granaries, chapel, etc.”6

Ingenio Rascon
What appears to be a manufacturing area. This image is from a public domain publication.
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 122; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

Aunt Lupe’s birth record just tells us that her father was a farmer who lived at Yngenio Rasco.2 It does not tell us if he was hired to work with the sugar cane crops, or if worked on some of the other crops or with the livestock, or if he was one of those farmers or ranchers who rented land from the company. All of these are possibilities.

Ingenio Rascon Banana Plantation - HathiTrust
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 124; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).
Ingenio Rascon Cane Field - HathiTrust
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 124; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

Remember my earlier statement about my great-grandmother Maria telling Dad she had contracted malaria back in Mexico? Malaria was a viable enough risk and worry at this time in tropical areas like Yngenio Rascon that a U.S. sugar industry trade magazine made a point of reporting the area as “demonstrated” to be free of malaria. “The section is singularly free from mosquitoes and files.”8

Did exploring Yngenio Rascon help me identify more ancestors for my family tree, or discover any new significant facts about my ancestors? No, but it has provided me with a bigger picture look at a short period in their lives.

Next Steps

Based on what I have learned from taking another look at this birth record and from my investigation into Yngenio Rasco, I have identified a few next steps to dig deeper into this era of my great-grandparents’ family history.

  • I still have not located a baptism record for my great-aunt Lupe.
    Because baptism is a Catholic sacrament that doctrine states affects one’s eternal salvation, Lupe’s parents likely would have baptized her shortly after birth. Most of the Mexico parish records are not yet indexed on FamilySearch, and consequently Ancestry (who gets this data from FamilySearch). Or if they have been indexed, those extracted index entries often are not yet linked to the actual digitized image. So searching for a baptism record on FamilySearch and Ancestry has not yet worked. However, the birth date and location specified in her civil birth registration should help me narrow down where to look (or browse) for Lupe’s baptism record.
  • I would like to know if any other family members moved with my great-grandparents to Yngenio Rascon.
    Families historically did not move in isolation; they moved with other family or community members. Neither of the witnesses identified on Lupe’s birth record have surnames relevant to my family, but civil registration witnesses often were not related to the family. My best bet is to conduct searches for civil registrations in this same muncipio for other individuals with surnames common to José and Maria’s extended family group.
  • I am curious if any business records exist from this time period for Yngenio Rascon that might mention my family or just provide more context about their life during this time.
    Since this was an American-owned company, these records stand a good chance (if they exist) of being held in by a U.S. Repository. I will start by looking at some of the larger archival record and archival finding aid portals, such as HathiTrust, NUCMC, DPLA, etc.

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Sources Cited

#52Ancestors: Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D.

Lt. Colonel, William Wallace Greene.
Lt. Colonel William Wallace Greene, M.D. U.S. Army, World War II.

My 5th week in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

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.

This week’s ancestor is my husband’s grandfather, William Wallace “Wallace” Greene (1908-2003), who my husband’s family believes shares a common ancestor with Revolutionary War Hero Major General Nathanael Greene (although I have not proven or disproven that yet through evidence). In preparing for my visit to the Family History Library this week during RootsTech, I have been going through family files passed down by my father-in-law, and came across this biography written by my father-in-law before Wallace died in 2003.

So, I am cheating a bit here since I do not have to write a history myself. I hope my husband, his brother, and his cousins know how lucky they are to have this type of history compiled while their grandfather was still alive. I wish I had this gift for any of my grandparents.

William Wallace Greene Jr.

Dr. William Wallace Greene was born on August 26, 1908, in Phoenix, Arizona, son of William Wallace Greene (1869-1944) and Veronica (Dorris) Greene (1883-1982). He attended McKinley Grammar School through 3rd grade, and Monroe Grammar School through 8th grade. He took a college prep program at Phoenix Union High School, during which time he worked as a stockboy at S.H. Kress. In his junior and senior year summers he worked for Valley Bank in Phoenix, first as a bank runner, then as a book-keeper running a posting machine. He said he almost went into banking because he enjoyed this job.

Willieam Wallace Greene 1929 Stanford
The Stanford Quad yearbook, Stanford University, 1929. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

In 1925, at the age of 16, he went to the University of Redlands as a pre-medical student. At Redlands he was on the track team (ran the half-mile against UCLA), and was on the Freshman and Varsity Debating team. He won entrance into Phi Kappa Delta, the national debating fraternity. He also was admitted to Theta Alpha Phi, the national drama fraternity, for his efforts doing scenery and so on. He joined Alpha Gamma Nu, a local social fraternity and the Pre-medical fraternity while at Redlands as well. To support himself he waited tables at the men’s dining room in the dormitory. He attended Redlands through 1927.

William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless Honeymoon
Honeymooning in Arizona, after their quick weekend wedding.

In Fall 1927, he matriculated at Stanford University as a premedical student. For the first six months he lived at Encina Hall, and then pledged Phi Sigma Kappa. He also belonged to Phi Rho Sigma (medical fraternity) and played the baritone horn in the Stanford Marching Band. He entered medical school (at Stanford)in 1928 and received his A.B. in Pre-Clinical Sciences in 1929. His internship was spent 1932-33 at Lane-Stanford Hospital in San Francisco where he also met Jean Alice Harless (1912-2011) who was in nursing school. She became his wife on May 18, 1933, the same year he was awarded the M.D. degree. They went to Baltimore during 1933-34, where he was an intern in surgery at Johns Hopkins. 1934-35, he was back at Lane-Stanford as assistant resident in surgery. 1935-36, he was senior house officer in surgery at San Francisco Hospital (Stanford Service), and 1936-37, he served as resident in surgery at the same hospital.

Stanford Lane Hospital
Stanford-Lane Hospital in San Francisco. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace (he preferred to go by this name) began his private medical practice in San Francisco in 1937, with a specialization in abdominal surgery. The same year he joined the part-time faculty of Stanford Service as Instructor of Surgery, a position he held until 1941. Then life changed. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, he knew that his country would be needing medical personnel. On April 6, 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was given a commission as Major, assigned as a surgeon in the Medical Corps with the 59th Evacuation Hospital. Most of his time in the Army was spent in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Germany. He was discharged with the cessation of action in the european part of World War II, in September 1945. He had attained the ran of Lt. Colonel. He returned to San Francisco and resumed his medical career in private practice. Prior to leaving for the service Wallace and Jean had two children [names, dates, location omitted for privacy reasons].

59th Evacuation Hospital
59th Evacuation Hospital. Courtesy of Stanford Medical History Center.

Wallace’s son recently told me that his father said many of the doctors in the 59th Evac came from Stanford. They all  joined up together.

With his return to private practice, he also resumed teaching part-time with the Stanford Service as Assistant Clinical Professor or Surgery from 1946-49. From 1949-61, he was Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery, again at Stanford Service. When Stanford moved its medical school to Palo Alto, he became Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery for the medical school at University of California at San Francisco, where he served through 1971.

William Wallace Greene and Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his wife Jean, in practice together.

Wallace and Jean moved from San Francisco to Tiburon (Marin County, California) in 1961, but Wally kept his practice in San Francisco. In 1971, they moved to Kauai (Hawaii) where he took the position as Medical Director and Surgeon at G.N. Wilcox Hospital in Lihue. He went into semi-retirement in 1976, and finally retired in December 1981, whereupon he and Jean returned to California and bought a home in Oakmont near Santa Rosa.

William Wallace Greene and Jeff Greene
Wallace with two of his grandsons, my husband (middle) and brother-in-law. I just love this photo! The boys are obviously pestering their grandfather while he tries to read the paper.
William Wallace Greene Jean Alice Harless
Wallace and his bride Jean, late in life.

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Our Family History Tie To The Civilian Conservation Corps, Established 79 Years Ago This Week

Roy Pace CCC Baseball1930s
CCC Company 819 baseball team, 1930s. Roy D. Pace is in the front row, second from left.

On April 5, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6101, establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program that lasted until 1942.

My husband’s grandfather, Roy D. Pace, worked in the CCC as a young man — serving in, according to my husband’s family, the Grand Canyon. When looking through old photos recently, I came across this photo of Roy Pace and his CCC baseball team from the 1930s. Doing a search for the company name noted in the sign (Co. 819) revealed that Roy’s CCC company was the first of many CCC companies to indeed work in Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon’s first CCC company (Company 819) arrived on May 29, 1933 and continued on the South Rim until the end of the program in July, 1942.

The men of Company 819 built the stone wall along the rim between El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge, improved the Bright Angel Trail, landscaped the Grand Canyon Village area and, constructed the Community Building. — Source: National Park Service

I also found this cool video produced by Grand Canyon National Park about the work done by the CCC.  Projects — noted above on the NPS site — that Roy’s Company 819 worked on include the Rock Guard Wall (video spot 1:27), and the Community Building (video spot 2:05) built 1934-1935. My father says he remember hearing, growing up, that his grandfather worked on the telephone lines being strung across the canyon.

The video notes an official CCC history walking tour (.pdf download) in the park, which you can be sure Jeff and I will venture out to do soon now that I’ve confirmed his grandfather’s association with Company 819.

Searching for a bit more history about Company 819, I was thrilled to find Roy Pace listed in the camp yearbooks for the first and second year Company 819 was based in the Grand Canyon. Page 12 of both books states that Roy played first base on the company baseball team.

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