Jose Leopoldo Montoya was my grand uncle – born 27 Aug 1902 in Bosque, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico – one of the sons of Maximiano de Herrera Montoya and Maria Juana Adelia Martin – and the older brother of my grandfather. Leo was christened in the San Juan de los Caballeros Catholic Church on 7 Sept 1902. Leo spent his childhood with his family growing up in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. We can find him there in the 1910 and 1920 census periods. Leo states that he has been attending school; that he can read and write; and that he speaks English.
In the 1930 census there is a Leopoldo Montoya, age 28, born 1902 in New Mexico living and working at the Sunnyside Mine in San Juan County, Colorado. (Sunnyside was a gold/silver/lead/copper/zinc mine.) Leo is indexed as a boarder and a Mexican. With him is a Joe Montoya, age 23. I don’t know for certain that this is Uncle Leo (and my grandfather Joe Montoya) – but it’s a strong possibility. My grandfather and my uncle were ore miners. They left New Mexico during the Great Depression looking for work. They ended up in Bingham Canyon, Utah where they worked the Kennecott Copper Mine (also known as the Bingham Canyon Mine).
Kennecott is located southwest of Salt Lake City in the Oquirrh Mountains. It is the deepest open-pit mine in the world. The mine has been in production since 1906 – and has been designated as a national historic landmark.
According to his death certificate, Leo did marry. I do not know when and where. His wife’s name was Ermelinda Herrera. Ermelinda was born around 1900 in New Mexico. I do not know what became of her – and would be interested in hearing from any of her children and/or grandchildren.
Unfortunately, Jose Leopoldo Montoya died young in life (as did many of Maximiano’s children) – he died of pneumonia after abdominal surgery at the Bingham – Salt Lake County Hospital at only 32 years of age on 16 May 1935.
Leo is laid to rest in the Bingham Canyon Cemetery in Salt Lake County, Utah. The Bingham Canyon Cemetery is defunct and abandoned and was taken over by Kennecott Mine several years ago. Most of the remains were moved to the newer Bingham Cemetery on old Bingham Highway. A volunteer checked the cemetery map for me. He found Jose Leopolodo Montoya – but sadly he is listed as “unknown.” He is one among 1,100 unknown burials. The majority of these people were employees at Kennecott Copper Mine. There have been several attempts to clean the cemetery, but most of the markers are in disrepair, and there was an estimate that 75 percent of the graves aren’t actually marked. The volunteer has visited the cemetery on many occasions and he stated that a good portion of the graves are marked with tin funeral home markers that are so worn from the elements, a name doesn’t even remain, just a weathered tin rod. There is a cemetery survey that was completed as part of a Boy Scout project a few years ago online:
Name: Leo Montoya
Birth: 28-Aug-1903, Lyden, New Mexico
Death: 16-May-1935, Bingham Canyon, Utah
Cause Of Death: Bilateral Lower Lobar Pneumonia. Surgery for Pyloroplasty, Cholecystectomy
Father: Maxiniono Montoya – New Mexico
Mother: Juanita Martinez – New Mexico
Spouse: Ermelinda Herrera Montoya
Cemetery section: UNKNOWN
Original Cemetery Reference #: M84 & M118
Information about this burial in old Bingham Mortuary records: YES