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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Genealogy is not only about connecting the dots within a family lineage, it is also the study of the family history and of its members. Therefore a thoroughly and professional research should allow us to reconstruct the life of the people that preceded us by using and investigating  as many different sources as possible. It is also important to take in account that the actions and life activities of our ancestors can have a direct effects on their future generations. You can read more about psychogenealogy here (Introduction to psychogenealogy) and here (Psychogenealogy: how does it work?).  

With this blog entry we will begin a series called “Forget me not” consisting in the biography of several ancestors using as many sources as possible along with their genealogy.

For the first entry of the series I will begin with one of my fifth grandmothers, a lady called María Rojas y Flores, one of the four “Damas de Palacio” of the Empress Charlotte of Mexico. The title “Dama de Palacio” is translated as “Lady of honour at court”(1) and this is the title she used during the historical period known as the “Second Mexican Empire” led by the Austrian Archduke Maximilian von Habsburg-Lorraine and his devoted wife Charlotte of Belgium, the tragic couple chosen as Emperors of Mexico from 1864 to 1867.

María Rojas y Flores

 

Her first records.

María Rojas y Flores was baptised in the Sagrario Metropolitano of Guadalajara, Jalisco on the 24th of April of 1826 as María Josefa de Jesús Borja Rojas y Flores. She was born the day before (23) at 6:00 am. Her parents were Vicente Rojas and María Jesús Flores. Her paternal grandparents were Ignacio Rojas and María Ximénez, her maternal grandparents were Juan Flores and Gertrudis Flores (2). Godparents: Matías Flores and Ana Jacoba Flores. Her father Vicente was the owner of “La Rojeña”, the present home of the Tequila Cuervo brand. 

Note for the readers: in hispanic baptism records the letters “h.l.” mean “hijo legítimo” or “hija legítima”: legitimate son or daughter.

With this document we are able to reconstruct her immediate family structure. We have her date of birth and baptism, the place, the name of her parents and even the name of her four grandparents. Her lineage Flores (Flores de la Torre/Flores Alatorre) is well-known and has been extensively studied that is why I do not include it here, it can be traced without shed of doubt to the Conquistador of the Kingdom of the Nueva Galicia Hernán Flores who was born in Salamanca, Spain in the XVI century. 

Her marriage record.

We have documentation proving that María married Jesús López-Portillo y Serrano the 22nd of November 1845 in the Sagrario Metropolitano of Guadalajara, Jalisco. Jesús, a prominent lawyer of Guadalajara was also the great-grandfather of the former Mexican president José López-Portillo y Pacheco.

Valuable information we can find in this record:

It is stated that her husband was the son of Pio López-Portillo and María Serrano. Also, that Jesús was 27 years old at the time of their marriage.

On her side it is stated that her father Vicente Rojas was alive at the time of her marriage and that her mother María de Jesús Flores died before this event. This information gives us a timeframe should we desire to search for their records.

Her title as Lady of the Imperial Court of the Empress Charlotte

 21 years after her marriage, on the 7th of April 1866 (Saturday) the newspaper of the Second Mexican Empire titled “El Diario del Imperio” in its number 380 published that the day before (6th of April) the Empress named the four following ladies as her “Damas de Palacio”.

  • María Rojas de López-Portillo, resident of Guadalajara.
  • Rafaela Pérez Palacios de Elguero.
  • Matilde Terreros de Cervantes. 
  • Refugio Pradel de Adalid.

This valuable document confirms us that María Rojas was, without any doubt, a Dama de Palacio named by the Empress herself and it also provides us with the exact date.

Activities during the Empire.

In this part we need to consult books of different authors who have had the opportunity to read primary sources that are not always easy to consult. In the book “La suerte de la consorte” by Sara Sefchovich (4), it is mentioned that the Empress gave María Rojas different tasks such as taking care and being charitable to the public institutions that provided education to women, convents and jails.  The book “Carlota de Bélgica: correspondencia y escritos sobre México” by Luis Weckmann provides copy of the letters that the Empress wrote, including those to María Rojas and her husband (5) confirming also what Sara Sefchovich wrote. 

Virgin of Guadalupe given by the Empress Charlotte to María Rojas. Museo Guillermo Tovar de Teresa. Photography courtesy of Gilberto de la Torre y Malacara.

 

Last Will.

María Rojas makes her first Last Will in 1896 declaring her husband as her sole heir. When her husband Jesús López-Portillo y Serrano made his own in 1885 he mentions that their only surviving children are José and Margarita López-Portillo y Rojas (AIPEJ: ANotG, ante Heraclio García Diego, tomo 34, 1fte hasta 5 fte).

Signature of María Rojas. 1896

 

Her death record.

The chosen Lady of the Empress Charlotte passed away on the 21st of April 1905 at the 13:00 am in the house number 24 of the Avenue Colón in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Her death record (*) mentions, in natural coherence with the data we have found in another records, that at the time she was 78 years, a widow of Jesús López-Portillo (he passed away in 1901 according to his death record) and that she was the daughter of Vicente Rojas and María de Jesús Flores. Her body would lay to rest in the municipal cemetery of Guadalajara. She died of a pneumonia. Thus we find her last record and her story ends.

 

Summary. 

Based on the documentation and information found we can present the following timeline for María Rojas y Flores.

1827 – Birth in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

1845 – Marriage with the lawyer Jesús López-Portillo y Serrano.

1846 – Birth of her son Alberto. 

1847 – Birth of her son Ernesto.

1849 – Birth of her daughter Margarita (1849-1886). 

1850 – Birth of her son José. 

1851 – Birth of her daughter Catalina.

1852 – Her husband is elected Governor of Jalisco.

1859 – Her father Vicente Rojas dies and she inherits part of La Rojeña. 

1866 – Named “Dama de Palacio” of the Empress Charlotte.

1866-1867 – Responsible of the charitable activities for the public education of women, convents and jails. 

1867 – End of the Second Mexican Empire. Death of the Emperor Maximilian von Habsburg.

1871 – During this time she is still in possession of an amount of business shares seemingly from La Rojeña. (Las intransitables vías del desarrollo: el proceso de industrialización en Jalisco durante el Siglo XIX. Carlos Riojas López. Universidad de Guadalajara. 2003)

1896 – Last Will naming her husband as her only heir. 

1901 – Death of her husband in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

1905 – Death of María Rojas in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Cause of death: Pneumonia.

Is this everything?

No, genealogy is a never-ending quest and we may be able to find new information in the future that we should already found about our ancestors. There are always more documents waiting for us, sometimes they are easy to find by searching in digitalized records for example, sometimes they are not and require more effort: researching in libraries, books, personal belongings, museums and so on. In this case I left aside more documentation such as the birth and baptism records of her children to focus solely on her but those documents are also a big help. In the case of María Rojas, we are lucky to find so much at our disposal.


(1) “Neuman and Barretti’s Dictionary of the Spanish and English Languages”. Vol 1. Boston. Hilliard, Gray, Little and Wilkins. 1831. Page 242.

(2) Registros parroquiales S.M. Guadalajara, Bautismos 1824-1828.

(3) Registros parroquiales, S.M. Guadalajara, Matrimonios 1827-1856.

(4) “La suerte de la consorte”. Sara Sefchovich. 2014. Océano exprés. 

(5) “Carlota de Bélgica: correspondencia y escritos sobre México en los archivos europeos (1861-1868)”. Luis Weckmann. Editorial Porrúa. 1989.

(*) Jalisco, México, Registro Civil, Defunciones, 1856-1987. Page 152. Register number: 1099.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]