Sanchez Ancestral Connections to Billy The Kid

© 2011 By George A. Sanchez Two of the younger members of the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society (SEGHS), Vince Sanchez and Annie Lara, asked me if I could tell them how their Sanchez ancestors were connected to Billy the Kid. Vince’s father, Samuel Sanchez, is a long time member of SEGHS and served as the president of the organization, while Annie’s mother, Josephine Borrego Lara, was a long-time member of SEGHS (San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society). Both Samuel and Josephine are my first cousins since my father Abran Sanchez was a brother to Vince’s grandfather, Antonio Sanchez, and Annie’s grandmother, Cornelia Sanchez Borrego. This also makes Vince and Annie my second cousins.

Currently, both Vince and Annie are very colorful characters in El Paso’s entertainment group “Six Guns and Shady Ladies” and, as members of the San Elizario “Desperados”, they have reenacted the legend of the famous outlaw Billy the Kid many times.

Vince and Annie had often heard the story that their great-grandfather, Felipe Sanchez had moved his family from the Lincoln County area of New Mexico to San Elizario, Texas early in the 1900s. They also knew that their Sanchez ancestors had been living in Lincoln County during the Lincoln County Wars and that they were somehow connected to Sheriff William Brady, who was killed by Billy the Kid. Billy, who was living in Mesilla, New Mexico at the time, came to San Elizario to break out his friend Melquiades Segura who had been incarcerated in the local jail. Stories refer to this incident as “the only time Billy the Kid broke into a jail”. However, what many of Vince and Annie’s fellow actors don’t know is that there is a very strong ancestral connection to this same Billy the Kid who on the morning of April 1, 1878 was involved in the assassination of Sheriff William Brady in La Placita del Rio Bonito, now the town of Lincoln in Lincoln County, New Mexico. I was asked about our connection to Billy the Kid, since Vince and Annie were told that I am considered the Sanchez Family genealogist because I wrote three family history books, which are currently out of print: “The Gurule/Aragon Family of San Miguel County, New Mexico”, “The Sanchez/Padilla Family of Lincoln County New Mexico”, and “New Mexico Abuelos: 1598-1998”. These three books and the complete Sanchez and Gurulé genealogy can be found at the Los Portales Museum, in San Elizario, Texas in the computer with the Family Tree Maker program installed.

I have traced the Sanchez ancestry, with help from my fellow genealogists in Albuquerque, to the soldier colonists who came with Juan de Oñate to what is now New Mexico in 1598 and traced the Gurulé ancestry, to the colonists recruited by don Diego de Vargas for the re-conquest of New Mexico in 1692. The re-conquest occurred about twelve years after the 1680 Pueblo Revolt that resulted in many New Mexico Spanish colonists killed by the Pueblo Native Americans who wanted to get rid of their ‘so called’ Spanish oppressors. Those Spanish colonists who did survive the massacre managed to reach the settlements to the south in El Paso del Norte, now Juárez, México.

The 1692 El Paso Census taken by de Vargas in this area lists the progenitor of the Sanchez family, Jacinto Sanchez de Iñigo, along with his brother Pedro, and their sister Francisca. Jacinto was an 18-year-old Spanish soldier, probably from the presidio at the Villa de Santa Fé, when he mustered shortly after reaching the El Paso del Norte area in 1680. By 1699, he was married to María Rodarte de Castro Xabalera, a member of the Rodarte family from Sombrerete, Zacatecas, México. Maria is first mentioned in the list of colonists recruited by Lt. Governor Juan Paés Hurtado when he partnered her with a single Spanish soldier named Felipe de Soria, in an effort to cheat the Spanish crown by pretending there were more married couples in his expedition. Hurtado was receiving 300 pesos for every married couple he recruited, so he created additional families by pairing (on paper) single older girls to the single men.

Many male descendents of Jacinto Sanchez de Iñigo and María Rodarte are well known in the colonial history of New Mexico. For example, José Gregorio de la Trinidad Sanchez, a great-grandson of Jacinto and María and one of our direct paternal ancestors, was married to María Rita Baca, the daughter of Capitan Don Bartolome Baca who was the Governor of New Mexico from 1823-1825, one of the first governors at the start of the Mexican Period. Their story appeared in a previous SEGHS newsletter. José Gregorio and María Rita had five sons, Juan Christobal Sanchez, José Manuel Sanchez, Diego Antonio Sanchez, Santiago Sanchez, and José Mauricio de la Trinidad Sanchez, and one daughter Paula Sanchez.

Sometime before 1865, José Mauricio Sanchez, his wife, María Candida de Jesus Gonzales and their family migrate to near present day Roswell, New Mexico. Later the family moved to La Junta, present day Hondo, where the Rio Bonito and the Rio Ruidoso come together. Mauricio and Jesusita had seven sons, José Toribio Sanchez (died young), Antonio Sanchez, Estolano Sanchez, Francisco Sanchez, Juan Sanchez, José Manuel Sanchez, and Donaciano Sanchez, and three daughters, Reimunda Sanchez, Visitación Sanchez, and Jesusita Amada Sanchez. Mauricio and his sons operated large sheep and cattle ranches in Reventon near La Placita del Río Bonito, now called Lincoln, and from Hondo to present day Ruidoso, New Mexico.

In 1868 a law was passed in New Mexico to provide county organization. Among other things it designated the county boundaries and authorized the election of a Probate Judge and County Sheriff. The citizens elected Richard W. Evans, who was opposed by Lawrence G. Murphy, as Probate Judge, and Jesus Sandoval y Sena as the first Sheriff of Lincoln County. Sena was opposed by Mauricio Sanchez, Silas W. McPherson, and George W. Pippin. The following month both Evans and Sena resigned their positions and on May 12, 1869, the acting Governor, H.H. Heath, commissioned L. G. Murphy Probate Judge and Mauricio Sanchez as Sheriff. Thus our GGGgrandfather Mauricio Sanchez became the first sheriff of Lincoln County! All of this happened during the very turbulent times of the infamous Lincoln County Wars. The famous Sheriff William Brady who was killed by Billy the Kid was elected sheriff following Mauricio Sanchez in 1869. All of this can be found at the Old Court House, from which Billy the Kid escaped, now a museum, in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Estolano Sanchez, the son of Mauricio Sanchez and Jesusita Gonzales, our direct paternal ancestor, married Cornelia Pacheco from La Placita del Rio Bonito July 21, 1871. They had five sons, Felipe Sanchez, Valentin Sanchez, Aurelio Sanchez, Presiliano Sanchez, Estolano Sanchez, Jr., and three daughters, Eluticia Sanchez, Celia Sanchez, and Rosario Sanchez. Estolano Sanchez was a member of the Lincoln County Riflemen, a group of men that Governor Lew Wallace organized on March 15, 1879 to help restore order in Lincoln County during the Lincoln County Wars.

Felipe Sanchez, the oldest sibling in Estolano and Cornelia’s large family, married Candelaria Padilla. Felipe’s youngest sister, Rosario Sanchez, married Willie Brady, a grandson of Sheriff William Brady, who was killed by Billy the Kid and other members of the McSween faction during the Lincoln County War. That, finally, is our Sanchez family connection to Billy the Kid! In about 1915, Felipe and Candelaria were very wealthy ranchers and farmers in the Hondo and San Patricio, New Mexico area. Felipe probably inherited most of his wealth from his wealthy parents, Estolano Sanchez and Cornelia Pacheco.

Candelaria’s parents were Andalesio Padilla and Paublita Mariño. They had a large ranch near Three Rivers about ten miles north of present day Tularosa, New Mexico. Andalesio is buried in that mountain chapel just south of the Petroglyphs in Three Rivers, New Mexico. A large iron cross marks his grave with “Andalesio Padilla” welded on it. Felipe and Candelaria had seven sons: Antonio Sanchez, Sipio Sanchez, Emiliano Sanchez, Abran Sanchez (Georges’ father), Reynaldo Sanchez, Benito Sanchez, and Onecimo Sanchez, and three daughters, Paublita Sanchez, Cornelia Sanchez, and Celedonia Sanchez (died young).

Sometime before 1920, Felipe and Candelaria moved their family to Guadalupe, Mexico across the Rio Grande close to San Elizario, Texas, where Candelaria‘s uncle Randolf “Tío Rendo” Reynolds had a large ranch. The reason for this move might have been Felipe’s dispute with the United States Government over land that he leased for grazing his animals and the fines that might have been assessed for certain violations. There is also a legend that Felipe and his men might have “strung up” or “pistol whipped” a government agent. When World War I started, Felipe, who was now living in San Elizario, Texas, sent his two oldest boys, Antonio and Sipio, to live with their Tío Rendo in Guadalupe, México. Felipe, who recently lost much of what he owned to the United States Government, had no intention of letting his sons serve in that war. Felipe and Candelaria’s oldest son Antonio Sanchez would eventually marry Juanita Caballero; they are Vince’s paternal grandparents. Cornelia Sanchez, one of Antonio’s sisters, married Alfonso Borrego; they are Annie’s maternal grandparents.

Endnotes: Colligan, John B., The Juan Páez Hurtado Expedition of 1695: Fraud in Recruiting Colonists for New Mexico, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995) p. 98-99. Archives of Archdiocese of Santa Fé, New Mexico [Marriages, Immaculate Conception of Tome 1800-1855], Microfilm #33, page 59, Frame 871 Lavash, Donald R., Sheriff William Brady: Tragic Hero of the Lincoln County War (Santa Fé: Sunstone Press, 1986) Keleher, William A., Violence in Lincoln County 1869-1881, (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1957) Contact me at or H (915)755-7135 or C (915)373-0127. **This article was first printed in the Winter 2011 issue of the Journal Nuestras Raices

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