This fine photo, taken in the spring of 2011, is San Francisco Church, Santiago de Querétaro,
Querétaro, Mexico. It's the city's Mother Church and originally the church was Santiago Church.
Church records began in 1593 and the name change occured in 1921. It was the setting for the
marriage of Margaret's and Kathryn's fifth great grandparents more than 300 years ago. The
structure probably has changed considerably but the location is most likely the same.
|The new neighbors weren’t very neighborly because they tried
to force the “encomienda” system upon their hosts. The
encomienda program was popular with some of the Spanish
community and here is how it worked: The crown granted a
person a specified number of natives for whom they were to
take responsibility. The receiver of the grant was to protect the
natives from warring tribes and to instruct them in the Spanish
language and in the Catholic faith. In return, they could extract
tribute from the natives in the form of labor, gold or other
products, such as corn, wheat or chickens. The natives didn’t
buy into the indenture program for them and the issue was
|The future town was laid out professionally with the Spanish section located where the current historic center is and the former residents had their
section of the new town which was laid out in a manner conducive to their living style. Initially the settlement was called Pueblo de Indios, a city
council convened and a couple of years later, in 1537, the encomiendas ended, the Spanish probably realizing that it wasn’t a good program for
public relations. The program was abolished altogether in the New World by the end of the century. Franciscan Missionaries arrived in due time
followed by the Jesuits, Augustinians and others who built monasteries, intending to convert the natives. Church records began in 1593.
The settlement was considered a viable town by the early 1600s and in the middle 1600s only Spaniards occupied the town proper. It grew in all
directions—agriculture production, industry and educationally—so much so that Spain considered the town to be the third most important behind
Mexico City and Puebla. When Pedro Joseph arrived(1) in Querétaro the town probably was considered quite progressive for the times. By the
time of his arrival the area had been developing for over a century. Today’s population is a little over 800,000.
1—Pedro Joseph most likely arrived in the Querétaro from another area. Church records indicate no folks of the Niño Ladrón de Guevara family were residents of the
Querétaro area during the time period that he would have been a child or young adult.
The couple had a daughter, Clara Juliana, born in August 1711 and daughters Maria and Francisca Theresa stated that they were from Querétaro
when they married, but their baptisms haven’t surfaced. After a period of time Pedro Joseph must have yearned for greener pastures, and he and
Juana didn’t make the area their permanent home.
|The earliest information about Ygnacio’s great grandparents, Pedro Joseph Niño Ladrón de Guevara and Juana de Games, is when they
married Nov. 21, 1707 at Santiago de Querétaro in the state of Querétaro. The city, which is the capital, is located in central Mexico about 120
miles northwest of Mexico City in a fertile agricultural region at an elevation of 6,080 feet with a comfortable year around climate.
The name Querétaro most likely comes from the indigenous words k’eri ireta rho, meaning “place of the great people.” It must have been an
attractive area in which to live because archeological records show that the area was settled about the time of the third century, and during
Aztec reign from the early fourteenth century until the Spanish rule became effective in the early sixteenth century, it’s estimated that perhaps as
many as 15,000 indigenous natives lived in the general area.
The Querétaro area also must have been attractive to the Spaniards, because a few years after Hernán Cortés completed the finality of the
conquest over the Aztecs, Spaniards decided to occupy the area as well. The locals, being sedentary village dwellers going about their farming
activities, didn’t care for their new neighbors and unlike the Aztecs, were not inclined to make war. But they did skirmish and fight with their
potential new neighbors, but to no avail. In 1531, actually July 25, 1531 is the founding date, and only ten years after Spain began 300 years of
lording over that part of the world, Spaniards made themselves welcome at Querétaro.
This could be a view as the aqueduct appeared
in early times, of course, minus the railroad
tracks and train engine. The engine can give
an idea of the height of the marvelous structure.
This modern view of the 3/4-mile long aqueduct
shows how it blends in with the modern city of
Querétaro. It's a tourist attraction and is featured
in photographs of the city.
Between 1726 and 1738
the greatest work of civil
engineering in the state
was built. The aqueduct
that provided water to the
city of Querétaro from
nearby springs was
possible thanks to the
donations of Juan Antonio
de Urrutia y Arana, a
Legend has it that he was
in love with a nun from the
Convent of the Holy
Cross, thus the aqueduct
ended in a fountain in the
|Beginning in the 1970's Querétaro's governor established a historic preservation district in the center of the city. Zoning legislation made possible
the restoration of many square blocks of buildings dating from the eighteenth century. The system of andadores (pedestrian ways) coupled with
restricted traffic on some streets has brought the heart of the old city back to life.
According to the marriages of daughters Francisca Theresa, married December 1729, and Maria, married May 1730, each of whom stated that
they were residents for 16 years, Pedro Joseph and Juana relocated and arrived in Asientos, Aguascalientes about 1713. Asientos lies northerly
of Querétaro and is a distance of about 220 miles, passing through states Guanajuato and Jalisco, that is, if a direct route was taken.
The town was founded in 1548 and was named Our Lady of Mercy. Later it was called Our Lady of Bethleham Asientos Ibarra, in honor of its
co-founders, Francisco and Diego de Ibarra. In 1713, about the time that the Niño Ladrón de Guevara family arrived, the villa was officially
Asientos, which is translated to Seats in English.
In the middle 1600s the exploitation of mining had begun and by the end of century Asientos was quite involved in producing gold, silver, copper
and zinc and at one time had more inhabitants than Aguascalientes, the major town in the area, which was founded in 1575 and had about 100
years to develop. Asientos did depend greatly on Aguascalientes for food and materials and the road, which was a distance of about 40 miles,
must have been busy with pack animals and wagon traffic. And the mining was productive until the late 1700s. Actually 1789 is the date given
when the mines closed for the first time due to mine performance and mercury consumption. The work force at the time was over 1600 men.
It appears that the Pedro Joseph family arrived in Asientos about the time that the mining boom was doing well and perhaps that was his motive
for leaving Querétaro and seeking a better life for his family. After arriving in Asientos an additional member of the family was welcomed---the
Niño Ladrón de Guevara progenitor, Ylario Lazaro, baptized in January 1715. A year and a month later, February 1716, mother Juana passed
Juana's obituary stated that her husband, Pedro Joseph, was a barber.
The earliest known organization of barbers was formed in 1096 in France when William, archbishop of Rouen, prohibited the wearing of a
beard. The barber-surgeon, or chirurgeons, began to thrive all over Europe. They were the doctors of the times and the royalty as well as the
common people came to the barbers to have their ills treated as well as for shaving and haircutting. Barbers also performed dentistry.
The oldest barber organization in the world, still known in London as the "Worshipful Company of Barbers," was established in 1308, and the
Barbers Guild of the 14th Century was undoubtedly more powerful than any of the modern unions. The king and council sanctioned the Guilds
and so they could enforce their regulations. It was not uncommon for violators of Guild regulations to suffer prison terms for their misdemeanors.
The more prominent physicians and surgeons, European, native and creole, who practiced their art in New Spain during the XVI century, are
remembered. There were improvised surgeons among the Spanish soldiers, who faced the American natives in the name of universal empire and
church. There were also native physicians, organized around an important cultural center: the Franciscan college of Holy Cross in Tlatelolco. They
perpetuated the ancestral medical traditions. In the dawning of New Spain, some physicians and surgeons arrived having trained in important
Pedro Joseph married Gertrudis Nunes in May 1718 at Asientos. A son, Pedro, was born in August 1723 at Asientos and a son, Antonio, age
7, passed away in March 1737 at Asientos. Antonio's baptism hasn't appeared.
In July 1719 Pedro Joseph was a witness at a prenuptial investigation at Asientos.
On March 7, 1729 Pedro Joseph Niño Ladrón de Guevara, the patriarch of this story passed away at Asientos.
Asientos, one of Mexico's famous "magic towns" in the state of Aguascalientes, awaits you with its wonderful colonial treasures, including
stunning architecture and magnificent works of art whose history spans more than five centuries. On October 30, 2006 Mexico Federal Tourism
classified Asientos a historical town. It joined 29 other towns in the country with the distiction of “magic town.” It's also referred to as Royal
Is this how Pedro Joseph applied his skills as a barber in the
early 1700s? He was probably more sophisticated and
professional. His apprenticeship would have been from 2 to 7
years and barbers in his time period were also entrusted to do
surgical and dental procedures.
medical centers, such Sevilla, Salamanca, and Alcalá de
Henares. Medical books arrived, printed in Europe, and in
the second half of the century, appeared new Spanish
medical books. When the first chair of medicine was
established in the Royal University of México in 1578, the
number of medical publications increased and in the same
year appeared the first medical thesis printed in America.
As the science of medicine, surgery and dentistry advanced,
the barbers became less and less capable of performing the
triple functions of barber-surgeon-dentist. The surgeons
wished to be separated entirely from the barbers and they
petitioned parliament to sever the ancient relationship of the
barbers and surgeons and compel each profession to adhere
strictly to its own provinces. A committee was appointed by
parliament to investigate the matter and the petition was
favorably reported to parliament. By an act of parliament,
which received the sanction of the king, the alliance between
the barbers and surgeons was dissolved in June, 1745.
Barbers were very much favored by the monarchs and
preserved their privileges until the middle of the 18th
century. Henry VIII, Charles II and Queen Anne presented
the barber-surgeons with valuable gifts and raised many of
them to high offices.
This view of Asientos, nestled in the mountain range of Sierra de Asientos, is a view that the Guevaras must have enjoyed
almost 300 years ago.
Royal Seating, located on the edge of the central
states of Aguascalientes and Zacatecas, is known
for its mining landscapes and lined with pink stone
facades. It is also distinguished by the mountain
range of Sierra de Seats, as well as having the third
highest peak in the state, called Altamira which is
8,518 feet above sea level.
Two of its main attractions are the tunnels and art
gallery of the parish of Our Lady of Bethlehem. The
tunnels are underground aqueducts, which reflect
original engineering of the eighteenth century, and
pass under the parish to protect it from the many
leaks that threatened its structure. In the gallery you
will find a priceless collection of retablos
representing the Stations of the Cross, dating from
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and some
of the clothes worn at that time by the priests.
Asientos is a typical example of Mexico, displaying
a window into times often forgotten in history,
culture and traditions.
This picture shows Asientos' aqueduct which
is a mini version of the beautiful aqueduct at
Asientos' main aqueducts are
subterranean built in the 1700s
to protect the local parish.
Church records for Nuestra Senora de Belen Church
begin in 1705. There was activity for the Guevaras in
births, marriages and deaths.
This structure is part of Guadalupe Cemetery
at Asientos, the state's oldest, dating from the
eighteenth century, where lie the remains of
the early settlers of the state. Interesting are
the murals with allegories of death, found in
the cemetery. Are Pedro Joseph and Juana
Those Niño Ladrón de Guevaras, ah yes, that particular line of Guevaras. What an interesting family to research. The name is great.
And how lucky can one be to have such a family to investigate. When the search began years ago it was thought that perhaps, just
perhaps, that the family might be traced back to Spain. That thought and hope have been dimmed because of the circumstances that
befell our patriarch Pedro Joseph.
When trying to trace a family and regress it's almost essential to find marriages, which would name the couple's parents, and
sometimes, grandparents. Also, the document would mention the towns that the parties were from. The marriage document of Pedro
Joseph and Juana was brief and gave no information that would help. Pedro Joseph's and Gertrudis Nunes' marriage document was
comprehensive and gave the valuable information to help trace a family. It declared that Pedro Joseph's parents were “no conocidos.”
No conocidos, are the most dreaded words to someone working on genealogy and has halted many endeavors to trace a family back
in time. Conocido comes from the word conocer, which means to be acquainted. Yet, even the priests at the time would think that the
parents must have been somewhat acquainted to produce a child. It's the expression used and by all priests and scribes and in all
parishes that have been searched. It must be universal in the Spanish language. And it begins at the baptism of a child. The child's
given name is given but not the names of the parents although it has been noted in some instances the mother's name was given, but
never the father. Probably in most cases the child would be given the father's surname. If the father of the child was suspect, then the
term “natural' would be used and most likely the child would be given the mother's surname. It's a stigma that would follow a person
through life. And it began when the parents weren't married by the strict laws of the church.
A “los padres no conocidos” isn't a death knell, but it makes for a tough situation. There's still hope but it has to involve a certain
amount of luck, in fact, a lot of luck. It is known that Pedro Joseph's surname came from his father. A female was entitled to inherit
Niño Ladrón but not pass the title to her children. But who was his daddy?
The Querétaro Connection---
It appears that Pedro Joseph didn't have his roots in the city of Querétaro. Santiago Church's baptisms, marriages and confirmations
records were carefully checked and there were extractions of baptisms and marriages and there was no activity for Niño Ladrón de
Guevaras. A baptism for a Juana Games doesn't appear in the Querétaro church records and if one were to appear it wouldn't
necessarily be the right Juana, not knowing the names of her parents, which her marriiage didn't provide. Normally, a marriage would
be in the home parish of the bride. There would be godparents and witnesses and usually a family member would be documented.
There were no Games' mentioned as to give a clue as to who were the parents, or a relative, of Juana. There was some Games
activity in the church records. And when Clara Juliana was born her godparents weren't Games'. Daughters Maria and Francisca
Theresa stated that they were from Querétaro when they married, but their baptisms didn't appear in the church's records. Hopefully
their baptisms will appear somewhere and perhaps give a clue as to who their grandparents could be.
Was Pedro Joseph unassuming and modest to the point that he didn't care to exploit his title of Niño Ladrón? Or did he figure that
that the complete name was just too long? The documentation of his two marriages showed that he preferred Niño, as well as when
his children Ylario and Pedro were baptized. When he signed the diligencia he used Niño only. The entire name was used in Clara
Juliana's baptism. Daughters Maria and Francisca Theresa were proud of the entire name and it was documented as such when they
married. Also his title was included in his obituary, but he didn't have much to say about that. The title was a birth right of son Ylario
and was in effect for almost 160 years, ending a few years after the Civil War in New Mexico.
More searching is needed during the Pedro Joseph time period and hopefully some information will surface that will make it possible
to take the family back further in time. Some indications are that the Niño Ladrón de Guevara family could be one of the early families
in the New World, and perhaps there are more stories to be told.