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 THURSDAY, AUGUST 6, 1998 The Chronicle'son-line edition. Our award-winning weekly newspaper
covers the beautiful Moreno Valley and the Southern Sangre de Cristo
mountain towns of Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Red River and Cimarron, New Mexico.
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Rousing reunion...
'Familia Martinez reunion draws 200

Rousing reunion...

'Familia Martinez reunion draws 200

Jeff Broddle, staff writer

BLACK LAKE - Four-hundred years ago Juan de Oñate led a group out of Mexico to establish the first permanent settlement in Northern New Mexico. And 400 years later, descendants of members of that group gathered last weekend at Coyote Creek State Park to celebrate their heritage.

Up to 200 Martinez family members gathered at the park for the Severino Martinez Family reunion, July 31-Aug. 2. Besides New Mexico, relatives came from Colorado, Texas, Virginia, Arizona, California, Nevada, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

Most of the three-day reunion events were on Saturday, including a program that afternoon. There were family introductions, a short talk entitled "Reminiscing Black Lake" by Ben Martinez of Albuquerque, yodeling by Maria Sanchez of Roy, a speech by Larry Torres of Taos chronicling the Martinez family history, a gift presentation, and raffle drawing.

A delicious dinner including ham, beef, chili, posole, and much more followed that evening. Another popular pastime was poring through a family genealogy prepared by Reunion Chairman Dolores Mitchell of Raton and Maxwell.

The reunion celebrated the family of Severino Martinez, who homesteaded in Black Lake in the 1870s. Severino's roots have been traced to Juan de Onãte's pioneering group. "Members of this group included Luis and Hernan Martin Serrano, who are known to be the fathers of the Martinez," Mitchell said.

Severino married Lupita Guadalupe Mares in 1877, and through 1900 they had eight children: Doroteo, Tedorta (who died in infancy), Rafael, Enrique (Henry), Louis, Christoval, Amelia, and Lucia.

Ben Martinez shares memories

Among those attending the reunion was Albuquerque resident Ben Martinez, 81, the oldest descendent there. He was born in 1917 to Louis and Drucilla Martinez.

Ben recalled attending one of two grammar schools in Black Lake, the "Lower Black Lake School" near the junction of Hwy. 434 and S.R. 120. The school housed about 40 children from first to eighth grades. "In those days we were crowded. We didn't have any choice," Ben said.

What did they do for fun?

"We would go to dances, have rodeos, play baseball," Ben said. The dances were held at the schoolhouse. But there was plenty of work to do, too. The Martinez family farmed and ranched, growing mostly wheat and raising cattle, sheep, and pigs, and had a sawmill as well, from 1932-42.

They grew wheat because "that's about the only thing we could raise in Black Lake because it's so cold, it's so high," Ben explained. The wheat was taken to a mill in Mora, where they could trade about 5,000 pounds of wheat for 2,000 pounds of flour.

"In the Depression we didn't suffer because we had everything we wanted to eat, but we didn't have any money. There was very little market for lumber, and we sold the cattle for practically nothing."

Severino died in 1929, but helped bring about the community of Black Lake by urging folks to move there. Under the Homestead Act of 1861 settlers could receive a 160-acre parcel from the government if they agreed to live on it for five years and make improvements.

But many families didn't stick around, and when they left, Martinez bought them out. By the time of his death, Martinez had 18 claims of 160 acres each.

Severino's descendants still living in the area include great-granddaughter Tana Tavenner, wife of David Tavenner, and their three children who live in Black Lake in Severino's old home and great-grandson Ramon Gonzales and his four children, who live on part of Severino's original land holding in Black Lake with Ramon's wife, Cindy. Great-grandson Andres Santistevan lives in Angel Fire with wife, Heather, and two of Andres' three children.

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