Date: Dec. 6, 2010, 2010
Media Contact: Paula Manini, Museum Director

Trinidad History Museum presents a New Book about Hispanos in Huerfano County

            Trinidad, CO- In her recently released book, Virginia Sanchez presents new information about Hispano settlers of Cucharas, including little-known topics such as Indian captives in Hispano households and the role of Hispanic women in Colorado’s water history.  Sanchez  will be at the Trinidad History Museum Bookstore, 312 E. Main Street, on Saturday, December 18, from noon-2:00 pm to visit with guests and sign copies of the book “Forgotten Cuchareños of the Lower Valley.”

            Sanchez, who lives in Denver, began her research when her mother-in-law gave her an acequia (irrigation ditch) ledger that dated back to 1884.  She spent several years researching land records, oral histories, irrigation ditch records, newspapers, maps, census records, and civil and church records. She discovered that the ledger referred to Cucharas, which no longer exists but was once located between Walsenburg and La Veta.  Gone are the main plaza, stage station, four schools, seven acequias, chapel and penitente (religious fraternal) meeting house, and the Denver and Rio Grande rail yard.

            Sanchez introduces Hispano settlers who settled in Cucharas as early as 1862 and became known as cuchareños, or the people of Cucharas. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the railroad worked with English-language newspapers to promote the availability of land in southern Colorado in order to attract businessmen and farmers. Sanchez relates how Hispano culture, tradition and norms came in conflict with the newcomers’ views about land, religion, water use, class, and ethnicity.
Sanchez is an independent historian whose articles have appeared in the New Mexico Magazine; La Herencia, Colorado History, New Mexico Genealogist, Colorado Hispanic Genealogist, and other publications. An article about the history of acequia governance and culture in Cucharas is scheduled for publication in a 2011 issue of the New Mexico Historical Review.

Sanchez has presented her research to historical and genealogical societies in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. In 2008, she was recognized in Denver by the Hispanic Annual Salute for her contributions to the Hispanic community in the area of history. Her ancestors were among the first soldiers/colonists to settle the Spanish Province of New Mexico in 1598.

The Trinidad History Museum, a property of History Colorado, will host the author’s appearance.  Established in 1879 as the steward of our state’s history, History Colorado engages state residents and visitors through collecting and preserving history, historic preservation grants and standards, statewide museums, educational services, and discovery programs for children and adults.

The Trinidad History Museum was incorporated into the state museum system in phases in the 1960s. The historic complex includes the Baca House, Bloom Mansion, Santa Fe Trail Museum, and Heritage Gardens.  The Bookstore, Davenport Gallery, and State Byways Tourist Center are located in the Barglow Building, across from the post office.

Special winter tours of the Baca House and Bloom Mansion will be available on the next two Saturdays, December 11 and 18, only at 10 am, noon, and 2 pm on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Each guided tour is limited to 12 people and a fee is charged. 

For more information, contact the Trinidad History Museum at 719-846-7217.