The site of the future metropolis of Albuquerque—located in the central Rio Grande Valley—was considered a dangerous area that was susceptible to Indian attack. The village of Atrisco, located on the river’s west bank faced the site of the future villa
of Albuquerque. Atrisco was recognized as a community but in reality it was a collection of separated farms. Otherwise, the area was strewn with dwellings and properties abandoned during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
Governor Francisco Cuervo y Valdez knew that vulnerability to Indian attack kept people away so he sought to alleviate the major stumbling block to expansion into the area. In 1706, he announced that he would permanently station ten soldiers to the area. This gave incentive to at least nineteen families who agreed to migrate to the area where they were assigned individual land grants. Many of these families reclaimed properties that their immediate ancestors had lost. With the designation of a plaza, construction of a church, and the exaggerated and false reports of the governor in which he named the town the Villa of Albuquerque, the seed for what would become New Mexico’s largest city was established.
Unsaid, but obvious in this narrative story, is the role of women. Aside from those women already living—better put, surviving—in the area, twenty-two courageous and determined women have been identified as “founding women of Albuquerque.” As time marches on, and more research uncovers additional documentary evidence, historians will be able to add names to those that are known.
Whether known or not, these women deserve the accolades of everyone who came after them for their perseverance, fortitude, leadership, and courage. They are a major reason for the successful survival of the new Village of Albuquerque. They lived under dangerous circumstances and they were the glue that kept the community together. Their influence manifested itself in their roles as wives, mothers, aunts, in-laws, godmothers, and grandmothers. But they were not limited to those roles; some became heads-of-households and most quite literally helped defend the community. Without the founding women of Albuquerque, the community could not have survived.
Candelaria, Nash. “Albuquerque’s African Roots,” La Herencia,
Chávez, Fray Angélico. Origins of New Mexico Families in the Spanish Colonial Period,
(Albuquerque; The University of Albuquerque, 1973).
__________________. New Mexico Roots, Unlimited.
Sisneros, Francisco. “Ana de Sandoval y Manzanares”, a draft article.
Valencia y Váldez, Gloria M., José Antonio Esquibel, Robert D. Martínez, Francisco Cisneros, editors. Aquí se Comienza: A Genealogical History of the Founding of La Villa de San Felipe de Alburquerque,
(Albuquerque: New Mexico Genealogical Society, 2007).
Armijo, Don Isidoro. “The Information Communicated by Juan Candelaria, Resident of the Villa of San Xavier de Alburquerque, born 1692-age 84,” New Mexico Historical Review,
Vol. IV, (1929), 294-97.