'Familia Martinez reunion draws 200
Jeff Broddle, staff writer
- Four-hundred years ago Juan de Oñate led a group out of Mexico
to establish the first permanent settlement in Northern New Mexico. And
400 years later, descendants of members of that group gathered last weekend
at Coyote Creek State Park to celebrate their heritage.
Up to 200 Martinez family members gathered at the
park for the Severino Martinez Family reunion, July 31-Aug. 2. Besides New
Mexico, relatives came from Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Arizona, California,
Nevada, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.
Most of the three-day reunion events were on Saturday,
including a program that afternoon. There were family introductions, a short
talk entitled "Reminiscing Black Lake" by Ben Martinez of Albuquerque,
yodeling by Maria Sanchez of Roy, a speech by Larry Torres of Taos chronicling
the Martinez family history, a gift presentation, and raffle drawing.
A delicious dinner including ham, beef, chili,
posole, and much more followed that evening. Another popular pastime was
poring through a family genealogy prepared by Reunion Chairman Dolores Mitchell
of Raton and Maxwell.
The reunion celebrated the family of Severino Martinez,
who homesteaded in Black Lake in the 1870s. Severino's roots have been traced
to Juan de Onãte's pioneering group. "Members of this group
included Luis and Hernan Martin Serrano, who are known to be the fathers
of the Martinez," Mitchell said.
Severino married Lupita Guadalupe Mares in 1877,
and through 1900 they had eight children: Doroteo, Tedorta (who died in
infancy), Rafael, Enrique (Henry), Louis, Christoval, Amelia, and Lucia.
Ben Martinez shares memories
Among those attending the reunion was Albuquerque
resident Ben Martinez, 81, the oldest descendent there. He was born in
1917 to Louis and Drucilla Martinez.
Ben recalled attending one of two grammar schools
in Black Lake, the "Lower Black Lake School" near the junction
of Hwy. 434 and S.R. 120. The school housed about 40 children from first
to eighth grades. "In those days we were crowded. We didn't have any
choice," Ben said.
What did they do for fun?
"We would go to dances, have rodeos, play
baseball," Ben said. The dances were held at the schoolhouse. But there
was plenty of work to do, too. The Martinez family farmed and ranched, growing
mostly wheat and raising cattle, sheep, and pigs, and had a sawmill as well,
They grew wheat because "that's about the
only thing we could raise in Black Lake because it's so cold, it's so high,"
Ben explained. The wheat was taken to a mill in Mora, where they could trade
about 5,000 pounds of wheat for 2,000 pounds of flour.
"In the Depression we didn't suffer because
we had everything we wanted to eat, but we didn't have any money. There
was very little market for lumber, and we sold the cattle for practically
Severino died in 1929, but helped bring about the
community of Black Lake by urging folks to move there. Under the Homestead
Act of 1861 settlers could receive a 160-acre parcel from the government
if they agreed to live on it for five years and make improvements.
But many families didn't stick around, and when
they left, Martinez bought them out. By the time of his death, Martinez
had 18 claims of 160 acres each.
Severino's descendants still living in the area
include great-granddaughter Tana Tavenner, wife of David Tavenner, and their
three children who live in Black Lake in Severino's old home and great-grandson
Ramon Gonzales and his four children, who live on part of Severino's original
land holding in Black Lake with Ramon's wife, Cindy. Great-grandson Andres
Santistevan lives in Angel Fire with wife, Heather, and two of Andres' three