She was one tough old broad. Maria Rosa Villalpando was born on the 12th of October, 1738. That is a long time ago. 276 years, to be precise. So I’ve switched up sides as my daughter Taylor says that I have focused too much on my mother’s family. But here is the thing: there is no one to do it on my mother’s side of the family. When I started doing Ancestry research (back in the 1980’s) my cousin Tommy Martinez Jr. had been doing ancestry research on my dad’s family for years. We owe him a great debt. If it weren’t for Tommy, my parents wouldn’t have heard all of this information. He is the one who discovered the stories and shared them and because of him, both my father and my mother knew the story of Maria Rosa Villalpando. Now it is time for my kids to know her story too.
I have done some additional searching and came across an article in the New Mexico Historical Review written by Jack B. Tykal called “Taos to St. Louis: The Journey of Maria Rosa Villalpando”. According to Tykal’s article, the Villalpando family came to the Taos valley in 1710 when Cristobal de la Serna became a landowner as the recipient of a fast grant of land just below Taos. Could this be an ancestor to my Uncle Joe’s family? I don’t know but it would be interesting to find out.
In 1680, the Indians of the northern pueblos grew tired of Spanish rule, and forced the Spaniards out of New Mexico. It wasn’t until 1710 that they returned to this area. They were successful in their return but they continued to have sporadic fights with the Indians.
A Spanish soldier of the Santa Fe garrison by the name of Juan de la Villa el Pando (which becomes Villalpando) marries a woman by the name of Ana Maria Romero. He was rumored to be a half Spaniard-half Indian. They had four children, Ambrosio, Pablo Francisco, Juan Rosalia and Cataline. Pablo Francisco Villalpando was born in 1710. Their records in the Rio Arriba area change from de la Villa el Pando to Villalpando by 1718.
At one point Maria Rosa Villalpando says her mother’s family name is Martin. I have found a wife listed for Juan de la Villa el Pando by the name of Francisco Lujan Martin-Serrano. This could be her mother’s name (she didn’t specify her mother’s first name) and possibly Pablo, her father, had two wives. At any rate, Maria Rosa Villalpando marries Juan Jose Jaquez.
By the 1750’s the area of the Taos Valley encompassed about 125 Spaniards along with an Indian tribe of 541. Many clashes between the Spaniards and the Comanche Indians was common and on August 1, 1760, the Comanche Indians attacked the Villalpando Estancia in the Taos Valley. All of the men in the estancia were killed, including Juan Jose Jaquez. His wife, Maria Rosa Villalpando, was kidnapped by the Comanche Indians, leaving her two year old child, Jose Julian Jaquez, behind. That must have been heartbreaking, knowing she was leaving her child. Jose Julian Jaquez is my 4th great-grandfather. Fortunately for her son, Maria Rosa’s father wasn’t at the estancia the day of the attack. I believe her father raised Jose Julian in his mother’s absence.
Maria Rosa Villalpando lived with the Comanche tribe for some time. Eventually, she was sold to the Pawnee Indian tribe and she had a second child during that time. That child was named Antoine and he was born in 1767. So, Maria Rosa was held captive with the Indians for at least 7 years. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for a young woman to be held captive with the Comanche tribe, only to be sold off like chattel to the Pawnee tribe. To be clear, this was very commonplace in the 1760’s in this area. There were many people who suffered in the same way but I think this shows her fortitude and inner strength, a true Jaquez woman.
Eventually Maria Rosa is traded to a fur trader of French origin, Jean Sale dit Lajoie, whom she marries in 1770. Her marriage contract of 1770 where she was now going by Marie Rose, said that she was the widow of Jean Joseph Jacques, “killed by the Laitanes” (Comanche) ten years previously. Jean Sale dit Lajoie must have felt like a savior to Maria Rosa, who was now going by Marie Rose. I can only imagine that she had changed her name and had become a different person than the person she was when she was kidnapped.
She goes off with Jean Sale dit Lajoie and they end up in St. Louis, MO and he is one of the founding 30 people to settle St. Louis. When they are ready to get married, a letter is sent to the church in New Mexico to verify that she is a widow and eligible for marriage. I can only imagine that the church in New Mexico gets word to her family because we know her son, Jose Julian, goes to visit his mother in St. Louis. That would have been a difficult trip for him to make, heading into unknown lands to locate the mother he lost as a baby.
I am so proud to be a Jacques. The spelling of our name has undergone so many transformations. My birth certificate is spelled Jacquez. The Spanish pronunciation is “ha-kess”. I am so attached to my name, in fact, that I gave that name to my son. I am pleased I did and that he is proud to be a Jacques, too. My Aunt Angie used to call my son ha-kess too. My father was very proud that I had named my son Jacques. Jacques likes his name, except for when it is misspelled, mispronounced or mistaken. Oh well, he can suck it up.
So now Maria Rosa, going by Marie Rose, is married to Jean Sale dit Lajoie and living in St. Louis, MO. Jack Tykal speaks of a Bishop Tamaron who gave a report of a visit to “the large house of a wealthy Taos Indian, very civilized and well to do. There is good reason to believe he is referring to Pablo Francisco Villalpando’s home, the largest in the area. He referenced to towers is plural and the Villalpando hacienda had four towers.” Maria Rosa grew up in a wealthy family and I assume that life with Jean Sale dit Lajoie is familiar and comfortable. It must have been a great relief to be rescued from the Indians. They married on July 3, 1770. Their marriage contract recognized Maria Rosa’s son Antoine Xavier and that child took Jean Sale dit Lajoie’s name and Jean Sale agreed to raise him until he was old enough to fend for himself. However, it was made clear that this child would have no status as an heir of either Sale or Marie Rose and no claim on either estate. They also had a son, Lambert, who was about twenty months old when they married, born when Maria Rosa was still in captivity with the Pawnees. That child was to be considered a legitimate heir. Other children were born to them, Pierre in 1771 and twins Marie Josephe and Helene were born in 1773. Only Lambert and Helene lived to adulthood. Jean Sale returns to France in 1792, taking his son Lambert, where he remained for the rest of his life. Maria Rosa and her daughter Helene stay in St. Louis. Lambert eventually returned to St. Louis and lived there until he died in 1834. Marie Rose must have been surprised by the visit from Jose Julian Jacques, her son who arrived in 1802. He would have been about 44 years old, traveling by horse back to visit the mother he lost as a baby. She had to have been pleased to see her child again, to know that he had grown up and was well. However, he signed an agreement in 1803 between himself, his mother and his half-sister Helene. Joseph Julian Jacques relinquished his share of his mother’s estate in exchange for two hundred pesos. Sad, right? Perhaps Marie Rose had to put her son from her heart, in order for her to go on without him and he might have understood.
Marie Rose died at the home of her daughter Helene Leroux on July 27, 1830. There is some discrepancy of her age and she could have been 97 or 107. Either way, that was a hell of a life she lived.