Mexican-Born 2nd Great Grandfather Francisco Jimenez is My 1st Identified Civil War Ancestor

US Secession map 1861. Civil War.
US Secession map 1861. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. The Territory of New Mexico at this time included present-day Arizona.

Although I have been a history buff my entire life, and majored in history in college, studying the American Civil War never held much interest for me. Mainly, because I have lived in California my entire life — a state that did not actively participate in the war. No Civil War battles took place here. But my disinterest was also due to not being aware of any ancestors that fought in the Civil War. Both sides of my family primarily immigrated to the U.S. after the Civil War — from Mexico, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada. It wasn’t until I married my husband Jeff and started researching his family history that I found ancestor connections to the Civil War.

So what a pleasant surprise it is to finally discover a Civil War soldier ancestor of my own! And even more of a surprise to find that this ancestor is Mexican-born!

To add a bit more complexity to this surprise, this Civil War ancestor is from a family line that I only learned about less than 2 years ago — the maternal line of my paternal grandmother, Rosie Salas (b. 1923). I have mentioned before that Rosie did not raise my father and was never really a part of our lives, so Dad knows almost nothing about Rosie’s childhood or her family history. It wasn’t until May 2013 that I discovered the names of her parents, and their New Mexico origins.

My first identified Civil War veteran ancestor is my 2nd great grandfather Francisco Jimenez [Jimenes] (1841-1911).

About Francisco Jimenez

According to 1900 and 1910 U.S. Census records, Francisco was born in Mexico in April of 1841. He immigrated to the United States in 1852 or 1853 as an 11 or 12 year old boy. I don’t find a trace of Francisco again until his 27 November 1879 post-Civil War marriage to Clara Salas in Belen, Valencia County, New Mexico. Francisco was 38 years old at the time of this marriage; his wife Clara was just 16 years old. Clara and Francisco went on to have at least 6 children together, including my great grandmother Victoria J. Jimenez (1890-1940). They spent their lives in New Mexico, primarily in Grant County. Francisco died on 18 May 1911 at the age of 70. He would never know his granddaughter (my grandmother) Rosie, who was born after his death.

Civil War Service

Francisco Jimenez served with the 1st New Mexico Cavalry, who fought on behalf of the Union. This is confirmed on his Civil War Pension Index card. His dates of service and places of service are not noted. The index card lists his wife Clara Salas as his dependent and widow. Francisco’s pension was first applied for in 1898 — while Francisco was still living — due to the applicant (I assume, Francisco himself) becoming an invalid. His pension was once again applied for on 21 June 1911, one month after his death, by Francisco’s widow Clara.

Now the hunt begins to find more details about my 2nd great grandfather’s Civil War service!

New Mexico did not become a state until after Francisco’s death, on 6 January 1912. During Francisco’s life there and Civil War service with the 1st New Mexico Calvary, New Mexico was a U.S. Territory.

Francisco Jimenez, Civil War Pension Index Card
Civil War Pension Index card for Francisco Jimenez. Source: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.

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