Tag Archives: Maximiano Montoya

Hitting the Lotto – Family History Style

Over the last several years, I have reconnected with many of my Montoya uncles, aunts and many cousins.  Most of them I barely know – some of them I have never met – most live in Utah and California.  One of my younger cousins (everyone is younger than me these days), Syndi, set up a family group page for us on Facebook.  There we have shared our lives with each other – told family stories – and exchanged family pictures.  We are all the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Jose Celestino Montoya – and we share his common ancestry.  In this family line there is a real interest in learning about our family heritage – I wish it were so easy with every family line!  I am planning a trip to Utah next year where we are hoping to organize a family reunion.  Really looking forward to that.

This brings me to the point of this short little entry – you just never know when a brick wall will fall, when you find a new document or story, or when a new and spectacular photograph of your ancestors will surface.  While cleaning and sorting through some things at her mother’s house, my cousin, Melissa, found this old photograph tucked away in the pocket of an old jacket.  Thinking perhaps that the younger man was our grandfather, Joe C. Montoya, she posted it on the family page on Facebook for identification.  I immediately recognized the woman as being Juana Martinez Montoya, my great-grandmother.  Sure enough – according to the writing on the back of the photo the people in the photo are:  Juana Martinez Montoya and Maximiano de Herrera Montoya (my great-grandparents) and their youngest son, Raymundo Montoya.  Raymundo died in 1939 at the age of 20 years – which dates the photo prior to 1939 (probably taken in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico).

I love this photo so much because it is only the second photograph that I have seen of my great-grandparents.  As my father aged, he looked just like Max does in this photo. (I inherited those great big giant ears too.)  When I look at the face of my son – I see these men in him.  After receiving the photograph – I walked around with a giddy grin on my face for days.

A huge thank you to my family – and especially Melissa – for your willingness to share what you know and what you have.  Together we are weaving our family story.


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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Montoya


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Maximiano de Herrera Montoya – the Spaniard – El español

Maximiano de Herrera Montoya – known in life as Max – was my great grandfather.  Max was born 21 Aug 1871 in Estaca, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, one of the sons of Jose Ylario Montoya and Maria Augustina de Herrera.  

Maximiano de Herrera Montoya

The village of Estaca is located in the Espanola Valley on the “high road” to Taos. 

Estaca, also known as the Plaza de San Francisco, is home to the descendants of early Spanish settlers.  (The village names of “Plaza de San Francisco” or “Estaca” and even “Bosque” seem to be used interchangeably.)  I believe that Max’s genealogy will eventually be tied to that of Bartolome de Montoya (born in Cantillana (near Seville), Spain) who came to New Mexico via Mexico City with the Second Onate Expedition in December of 1600. 

It does not appear that Max’s parents were married.  Max’s mother, Maria Augustina de Herrera seems to have been the mistress of Max’s father.  She lived in the same village – in fact, directly across the street from Jose Ylario Montoya and his wife Josefa.  I image THAT could have been awkward. 

Max married my great grandmother Maria Juana Adelia Martin on 6 Apr 1896 in the San Juan de los Caballeros Catholic Church in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.  The couple had a large family – Maria Romancita (“Aunt Ramona”) born 1897; Elisa born 1899; Maria Francisca (“Aunt Frances”) born 1900; Jose Leopoldo born 1902; Jose Celestino (“Grandpa Joe”) born 1905; Juan Nepomuceno born 1908; Jose Amadeo born 1912; Augustina Felipa born 1914; Jose Hilario (“Larry”) born 1915 and Crecensio Raymundo born 1918.

Max and his wife owned a lovely property in the Espanola Valley bordering the Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo del Norte).   On it stood the Montoya adobe compound along with the fruit and vegetable orchards which supported the family.  As written to me by my cousin Carma:  “In 1980, I traveled with my parents to New Mexico.  We saw the home of Max and Juanita and it was made of adobe and was beginning to show its age.  It had been vacant for many years and the center beams were falling.  As my dad remembered the fun times at his grandparents, he told of wonderful meals, loving hugs and well wishes, of chile ristras and corn hanging from the porch, and of the happier times of youth.  Dad told me several times that he truly felt loved by his Grandpa Max and Grandma Juanita.” 

Remains of Montoya adobe home (Dated 1974 - Photo Courtesy of Carma Owen)

 When my husband and I traveled to Estaca in 2009 – my goal was to find the remains of the Montoya adobe – and we DID find it!  Sadly it is almost in ruins – but still there nonetheless.  Very near that location – in Velarde – we found a street named Camino Montoya (“Montoya Way”).   

 Maximiano de Herrera Montoya died in Lyden, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico on 30 July 1945.  He is laid to rest in the Velarde Cemetery – his gravestone is not identified but may “possibly” be marked as M.M.

Montoya Section of Velarde Cemetery - There is a stone marked "M.M."


Posted by on January 1, 2011 in Montoya


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