Genealogical Society to host Farmington researcher Saturday


By Cora Broderson

Special to The PREVIEW

The merging of two kingdoms would one day prove advantageous for the beginning of a world power. In 1478, King Ferdinand of the kingdom of Aragon married his second cousin, Queen Isabella, of the kingdom of Castile.

Their five children’s arranged marriages would further solidify the strength derived from the original two kingdoms eventually called Spain.

In 1497, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, devout Roman Catholics, along with their alliances, were able to defeat the last Moorish stronghold in Granada. At that time, a decree ordered that all Moors and Jews remaining in Spain would be allowed four months to convert to the Roman Catholic church or otherwise must leave the country. The Spanish Inquisition was a period of time with an intense, harsh and unfair investigation regulated by the Catholic church.

The duration of those years was when Christopher Columbus sailed across the ocean to the New World. Many of his crew members were of Jewish descent, giving these Jewish citizens a way to avoid the horrific consequence taking place during the Spanish Inquisition trials. Nevertheless, this Jewish populous felt the need to keep its Jewish heritage a secret and, consequently, were named Spanish Crypto-Jews.

Rebecca Atencio Hunter, Ph.D., from Farmington, N.M., was educated through the University of New Mexico. She became fascinated in the concept of genealogy research when one of her cousins, Lucille, shared with Atencio Hunter the information she had been able to collect. It included Atencio Hunter’s father’s paternal side on Atienza-Atencio that was most appealing to her.

Atencio Hunter had been seeking confirmation about family members through DNA testings. When her youngest brother’s Y-DNA returned, his results connected the family to the other results found through the Atencios. Atencio Hunter’s research has enabled her to discover the area where the Atencio family originated in Spain, and DNA results revealed the family are descendants of Spanish Crypto-Jews.

On Saturday, April 7, Atencio Hunter will share the steps that helped her in unraveling secrets in the family to find necessary facts in discovering her roots.

Meetings of the Archuleta County Genealogical Society, where Atencio Hunter will be guest speaker, are held at the Community United Methodist Church on Lewis Street every other month.

The next meeting is scheduled this Saturday, April 7, at 11 a.m. Visitors are always welcomed and encouraged.