Gonzales Family Page


I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all of the following information. If you find obvious errors or have information to contribute, please contact me by email at kkgoins@comcast.net. --Kathy Anderson Goins

The Gonzales Family - Brief History

Unfortunately, not much is known about the Gonzales family. What I do know is that Virginia Gonzales (Maria Virginia Gonzales) was my great-great grandmother on my dad's mother's side. She was the mother of my great-grandmother, Frances Gonzales Baca Walters.

Relationship Chart:

Possible Timeline for Virginia Gonzales:

1830 - Approximate year of birth of Maria Virginia Gonzales to Tomas and Francisca Gonzales, in what would later become Lincoln County, New Mexico.

1853 - Approximate year of Marriage to "Mr. Baca" (based on 1854 year of birth of their first and only child, Frances, though it could have been a year or two earlier.)

1854 - Birth of daughter Frances Gonzales-Baca to Virginia and "Mr. Baca."

1859 - Birth of Virginia's daughter, Felicita Gonzales (later known as "Jenny Woods" ??) - See 1860 census.

1860 - US census, Rio Bonito (near Hondo), Socorro County (later Lincoln County), New Mexico, Fort Stanton Post Office, Family #1236 - Tomas Gonzales (age 60), his wife Francisca Gonzales (age 56), Maria Gonzales (age 30), Encarnacion Gonzales (age 6 - born about 1854), Felicita Gonzales (age 1 - born about 1859), and Jose Crespin (age 60). Note: This is the only Gonzales family found in the 1860 census in this area with so many occupants that correspond so closely to our ancestors.

1864 - Possible approximate year of Virginia's marriage to "Mr. Woods" (based on the 1865 birth year of their son "Joe Woods," though their marriage could have taken place a year or two earlier).

1865 - Possibly March 1865 - Birth of son "Joe Woods" to Virginia and her second husband, "Mr. Woods." (March 1865 per Joe Woods' obituary.)

1865 - Possibly June 1865 - Death of Virginia and her second husband, "Mr. Woods" after being ambushed and killed by Indians on the way to Tularosa (based on the obituary of Joe Woods and the approximate years of birth and ages of "Jenny and Joe Woods;" the obituary gives March 1865 as Joe's birth and June 1865 as the massacre that nearly ended his life).

Note: Re: the above 1860 census, it is believed by some that 30-year-old "Maria Gonzales" may have been our "Maria Virginia Gonzales Baca." Furthermore, it is believed by some that the 6-year-old girl listed as "Encarnacion Gonzales" may have been our "Frances Gonzales-Baca." And finally, it is believed by some that the 1-year-old girl listed as "Felicita Gonzales" may have been the girl known to us as "Jenny Woods" (daughter of Virginia Gonzales and her second husband, "Mr. Woods." (It is also possible that this girl may have been the daughter of Virginia but not the daughter of "Mr. Woods," perhaps born out of wedlock since no father is listed in 1860 census.) Jose Crespin (age 60) is thought to have been a relative or perhaps a hired man. Note: After Frances married James V. Walters, she named her first child, "Felicita Walters," perhaps after her sister, "Felicita Gonzales." It may be added here that James V. Walters was "white" while his wife Frances was Hispanic. It appears that all 12 of the Walters children were baptized by the priest under their "Spanish" names (undoubtedly given to them by their mother), but it also appears that they were each also given "English" names (undoubtedly given to them by their father), some of which corresponded to their "Spanish" names. My own grandmother, Vivian Walters, was baptized as "Bibiana Walters." Thus, the "conflicting" names in the 1860 census (Encarnacion being Frances and/or Felicita being Jenny) may not be so problematic after all.

Note: Almost all of my knowledge about Virginia Gonzales comes from the story written by Aunt Bess Walters. Bess Walters, my dad's aunt, wrote a "story" of her parents' lives. I obtained a copy of it from Barbara Funge Santos. That entire "story" can be found on the Baca Family Page on this website.

The Walters family lived in New Mexico in the middle to late 1800s, where Bess Walters' father, James V. Walters, homesteaded. I'm sure on quiet evenings, he and his wife told their 12 children stories about their earlier lives, and Aunt Bess wrote what she remembered. In recent years, some "questionable memories" of Aunt Bess have been cleared up, but most of her story can be relied upon.

See below for RELEVANT EXCERPTS from Bess Walters' handwritten story (edited and typed by Barb Santos).

Speaking of her mother, Frances Gonzales Baca Walters, Bess wrote:

As stated above, there are a few minor inaccuracies in this narrative, but surprisingly the main points about the massacre have been corroborated by other sources, which include the following:

My dad, Ellis David Anderson, Jr., had been told the story by his mother, Vivian Walters Anderson (daughter of Frances Gonzales Baca Walters), and he often related the story to other family members, as did several of his aunts and cousins who also had been told the story by their own families.

I found a fascinating newspaper article from the Santa Fe Weekly Post dated April 11, 1868, which includes a copy of a letter written to General John T. Russell of Santa Fe by George W. Nesmith, owner of Nesmith's Mill which was near Tularosa, New Mexico. In his letter, Mr. Nesmith is basically "begging" for more military troops in his area (near Tularosa) because the Indians were ambushing wagons, stealing the contents and killing the occupants on nearly a daily basis. After detailing three of those attacks, he said, "Within the short space of 48 hours, within four miles of the same spot, have been butchered 11 men, 2 women, a little girl carried into captivity, to which death would be a relief, and a babe injured for life, if it should recover from its present injuries."

I do not know if more troops were sent in response to his plea, but tragically, Mr. Nesmith and his own family were massacred in 1882. After searching the Newspapers.com website for an account of "our" Indian massacre, I became aware that Indian massacres were fairly commonplace in those days in that area. I had always been under the impression that it would have been so unusual it would have been "big news." Unfortunately, that does not appear to have been the case, and I was never able to find a newspaper account of the massacre that killed my great-great grandmother, Virginia. In my research, I also learned that it was not uncommon for the Indians to take children into captivity, often to sell them back to the U.S. Army later. I found evidence that some of the Army officers complained about this policy to Washington, because they were being approached so often by the Indians bringing "white" children to sell to the Army.

For more information about the Walters family, see the Walters Family Page on this website. For the complete writing by Bess Walters about her parents, see the Baca Family Page on this website.