The people behind the names: the Archuletas

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Judge J. T. Martinez is shown here overseeing the shearing of his sheep. This Martinez family played a significant role in the history of Archuleta County and is the source of the name of Martinez Creek. They owned a ranch on upper Martinez Creek. Sheep also played a significant role in our early history.

We are exploring the source and meaning of the name of the county we live in, Archuleta County.

The territory of Colorado was created in 1861, replacing the Jefferson Territory, which had been created in 1859, shortly after gold had been discovered in “them thar mountains.” Colorado was created mostly from parts of Kansas, Utah, Nebraska and New Mexico.

When originally created, the territory of Colorado had 17 counties. The name of one of those counties, Guadalupe County, was soon changed to Conejos County. Conejos County covered much of southwestern Colorado. Archuleta County was created from Conejos County in 1885. It was named for Antonio D. Archuleta, who was instrumental in motivating the state legislature to create Archuleta County.

Last week, we described the origin of the Archuleta surname back in the 10th century in the part of northern Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains. Today’s column will explore the genealogy of the Archuleta family in the San Luis Valley and some of their activities in the early days of Archuleta County.

Manuel and Ruperta (Gomez) Archuleta, of Conejos County, had four sons: José Marcelino Jr. (J.M.), Presiliano (Pres.), Donaciano (Don), Delfido and a daughter, Reuben, who married Gasper Ortiz.

In 1877, J.M. received a government contract to supply meat to the Jicarilla Apaches. He moved to what is now Edith, where he had the first homestead, flour mill and the Sunny Brook Saloon. J.M. had married Genevieve Gomez in 1877 at Conejos. Following her death, he married Eduvigez Salazar at Parkview, now Los Ojos, N.M.

Their son, Lionel M., married Ruben (Miss Ruby) Gomez on Sept. 17, 1928, at St. Francis Church in Lumberton, N.M. Their daughter, Margaret, married David A. Daugaard, of Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 14, 1934.

The Colorado Tavern on Pagosa Street in Pagosa Springs had been opened by Dominick and Angelo Dellabetta in 1937. Four years later, the Archuletas purchased the tavern and renamed it La Cantina. During the early 1900s, J.M. Archuleta established Archuleta Mercantile on main street where the Liberty Theatre is today.

Margaret’s Uncle Don, mentioned earlier in this column, is the man who created Archuleta County.

The Archuleta family located on the Conejos River in Conejos County 1856. Antonio, son of José Manuel Archuleta, was born there on Sept. 2, 1855. From 1865 until 1869, he attended school at the Conejos home. From 1870-1874, he attended school in Denver. Shortly after he turned 21 years old, he was nominated by the Republican Party and elected to the Colorado Legislature in 1876, serving two terms as the representative of Conejos and Costilla counties. In 1883, he was elected to the state Senate and in 1883 introduced the bill to create a new county from the western portion of Conejos County.

Continued next week.