Close to Identifying My Immigrant Great Grandfather Jose Robledo’s Birth Date and Parents’ Names

Jose Robledo

Last week I wrote about successfully finding (after 15+ years!) the final set of border entry cards for the Mexico-born members of my paternal grandfather’s immediate family, who immigrated to the U.S. on 27 October 1915. This family group included my great-grandfather José Robledo (1878-1937), great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda Nieto (1887-1973), oldest daughter Guadalupe Robledo (1910-1975), and oldest son baby Refugio Raphael Robledo (1915-?).

José Robledo Sanchez

In re-reading that post, I noticed that I mention Great-Grandfather José’s maternal surname of “Sanchez” being they key identifying factor in busting down this brick wall. A note written on the back of my great-grandmother Maria’s border entry card, which I had ignored for years, mentions her being seen and caught with a José Sanchez.1 I also mentioned having only recently discovered that Sanchez was José’s maternal surname. Until this maternal surname discovery, the name José Sanchez meant nothing to me.

Maria Nieto, 1915 Border Entry Card (Back)
Handwritten note on the back of the border entry card for Maria Nieto. Source:

This made me realize that I have not yet written about that maternal surname discovery.

I have blogged quite a bit about my great-grandfather’s line being one of my biggest brick walls.This is because nobody in our family seems to know any significant details about Great-Grandfather José Robledo–including his place of birth or the names of his parents. Even his sole living child doesn’t have this information; Jose died when that child was still very young, and before my dad was even born.

The First U.S. Record Clue

I tried a number of years ago to obtain a copy of Great-Grandfather José’s death certificate from the County of Los Angeles, but this mail-in request only resulted in a notice that they could not find his record. So on a work holiday back in mid-March, I set out in-person to order a long list of birth and death records from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Birth, Death, and Marriage Records Section in Norwalk, California. This time they found it! On 1 May 2015, I was thrilled to find in my mailbox an informational copy of the certificate of death for my great-grandfather.

My great-grandfather José “Joe” Robledo” died on 4 July 1937 in his Los Angles home, of something “non tuberculor” pertaining to his left lung (family has told me he had pneumonia).2 The certificate identifies the informant as Raphael Robledo. This would be Joe’s 22 year old son, my great-uncle Refugio Raphael Robledo.

Apparently even his oldest son Refugio–the baby who immigrated with him in 1915–did not know much about his father’s Mexico origins, or whomever took the information from Refugio did not think it necessary to provide much detail. Because Great-Grandfather José’s place of birth is noted as “Unknown” in Mexico.

But…Great-Uncle Refugio did not let me down!

Jose Robledo, 1937 Death Certificate
Certificate of Death for José “Joe” Robledo, 1937, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California. Click on image for a larger view.

This death certificate is the first piece of evidence I have ever found that identifies the parents of my great-grandfather José Robledo. Great-Uncle Refugio reported his paternal grandparents as Celbario [?] Robledo and Mary Sanches–both also of Unknown, Mexico.

Jose Robledo, 1937 Death Certificate
A close-up look at the parents’ names recorded on José Robledo’s 1937 death certificate.

 The First Mexico Record Clue

The following week, I hit quite a roll on those non-indexed, non-searchable, browseable-only Mexico Catholic church records on FamilySearch. Slowly, while painstakingly going page-by-page reading a language that is not my own, the genealogy gods smiled down on me, because I found a handful of key records that I had been seeking for years.

Including the 15 July 1908 marriage record for my great-grandparents!

After 15+ years of searching, for the second time in the span of a single week (on 7 May 2015, to be exact), I came across a piece of  evidence providing the names of José Robledo’s parents. The church record for his marriage to my great-grandmother Maria Nieto identifies his parents as Silveño Robledo and Jesus Sanches.3

1908 Marriage Record for Jose Robledo and Maria Nieto
The 1908 Mexico Catholic church marriage record for my great-grandparents José Robledo and Maria Nieto. Santa Isabel parish, Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
Courtesy of FamilySearch. Click image for a larger view.

There was that unusual given name again for my 2nd great-grandfather. What was noted as Celbario on my great-grandfather’s certificate of death is written on his marriage record as Silveño. Despite this naming conflict, I lean more towards the one noted on his marriage record, since–according to that record–José’s father was present at the ceremony.

Jose Robledo Marriage, Parents Names
A closer look at the 1908 church marriage record for José Robledo and Maria Nieto, identifying the names of José’s parents. Courtesy of FamilySearch.

Once again, Great-Grandfather José’s mother is noted as a Sanches. That part is consistent across all three records. Although here her given name is noted as Jesus, not Mary, as reported on the death certificate. While Jesus is generally thought of as a male name, I find quite a few women in my Mexican family history with the name Jesus. It is usually a Maria Jesus, applying the traditional Mexican naming convention of a given name (Jesus) preceded by a saint or biblical name (usually Maria for females). Although in this case, Maria and Jesus are both biblical names ;-). I discussed this convention in a post I wrote back in April, about my 4th great-grandfather José Victoriano Compeán.

Two new records, in the span of one week, identifying my 2nd great-grandmother’s paternal surname as Sanches, turned on that lightbulb in my head last week when re-reading the note on the back of my great-grandmother Maria Hermalinda Nieto’s border entry card, which referenced a José Sanches.4 I had found José Robledo’s border record at long last!

Birth Date Discrepency

Aside from disagreement over the names of his parents, these two new documents bring forth a discrepancy over great-grandfather José Robledo’s date of birth. Many of the U.S. records I have for José indicate an 1875 year or birth. However his death certificate clearly states 1878 as his year of birth.5 And his 1908 marriage record, which identifies him as 30 years old, also supports an 1878 birth year.6 Yet, oddly, that border entry record from 1915 also indicates an age of 30 years for Jose, which would have him born about 1885.7

So I certainly have some work to do here.

Next Steps

While these two significant finds (three really, including the border record confirmation) put me 99% closer to verifying the names of my great-grandfather José Robledo’s parents, I still have more work to do for that task. The key missing document is a baptism record and/or a civil birth registration for José Robledo. Either of these documents should allow me to verify:

  • The correct/full name of José’s mother. Is it Maria Jesus Sanches? Just Maria Sanches? Or just Jesus Sanches?
  • The correct name of José’s father. Is it Celbario Robledo? Or Silveño Robledo?
  • The correct date of birth for Jose.

In the last couple of days, I looked through every single page of those non-indexed, non-searchable, browseable-only Catholic church baptism records for 1878 and 1879 in the parish where José and my great-grandmother married, and found nothing at all referencing a male child with parents’ names similar to Silveño or Celbario Robledo and a Jesus or Mary/Maria Sanches. So I need to check the records for neighboring parishes and/or for additional years. Once I exhaust that effort, I will look into civil registrations for birth.


  1. “Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964,” digital images, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 June 2012), nonstatistical, Laredo, Texas, 27 October 1915, Maria Nieto, age 23.
  2. Los Angeles County, California, standard certificate of death no. 10138 (1937), Joe Robledo; County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Norwalk.
  3. “México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” digital images, FamilySearch ( ; accessed 07 May 2015), José Robledo (and) Maria Nieto, 13 July 1908, p. 111 (stamped); citing Santa Isabel parish (Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosí, Mexico), Información Matrimonios 1900-1909.
  4. “Border Crossings: From Mexico to the U.S., 1895-1964,” 27 October 1915, Maria Nieto, 23.
  5. Los Angeles Co., Ca.,standard certificate of death no. 10138 (1937), Joe Robledo.
  6. “México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” Información Matrimonios 1900-1909, 15 July 1908, José Robledo (and) Maria Nieto.
  7. “Border Crossings: From Mexico to U.S., 1895-1964,” digital images, Ancestry ( ; accessed 20 June 2012), nonstatistical, Laredo, Texas, 27 October 1915, José Sanchez, age 30.

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0 thoughts on “Close to Identifying My Immigrant Great Grandfather Jose Robledo’s Birth Date and Parents’ Names”

  1. I am looking for my Great grandmothe’sr birth place all I know is she was left at a doorstep of an orphanage don’t know where in Mexico. Zacatecas or something like that. She had one son named Miguel but his last name must have been changed because my abuela already had my grandpa before she got married. I believe I should try and find my grandpas birth certificate. But don’t know where he was born unfortunately those who could help me are already dead. Thank you very much
    I also did my DNA on ancestry. I figured that would be a start.

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