Researchers seek descendents of La Parida - Albuquerque Journal

Researchers seek descendents of La Parida

Archaeologist Brenda Wilkinson with the Bureau of Land Management’s Socorro Field Office has taken on the formidable task of trying to locate descendants of a town that was once located on the banks of the Rio Grande, east of Escondida.

For a brief period La Parida was a vital part of El Camino Real, and Wilkinson believes direct descendants of the community’s inhabitants may still be residing in the area.

“We’re resurrecting the memory of a long-forgotten town that succumbed to the raging waters of the Rio Grande a century and a half ago,” Wilkinson said. “Fieldwork is complete for the La Parida data recovery project, led by New Mexico State University’s Dr. Kelly Jenks.”

Wilkinson said the research explores the early to mid-19th century Hispanic community of La Parida on the Camino Real National Historic Trail. Jenks’ team consisted of both archaeology and history students, making for a well-rounded effort which included extensive archival work.

“Faint traces of adobe buildings were mapped, and analysis of surface artifacts provided insight into the daily lives of residents,” she said.

Historical records and census data were also consulted as part of the effort.

“Most artifacts fell into the expected range for a small farming village, but a few tantalizing fragments of imported porcelain and a handful of sherds of what may be Sangre de Cristo Micaceous pottery reflect the diversity that might be found on a major trade route,” Wilkinson said.

La Parida is one of the oldest Hispanic communities of the post-revolt period in the area. After the Spanish re-conquest in 1692 (following the 1680 Pueblo Revolt), the middle Rio Grande area was one of the last to be resettled.

“The areas near the present day U.S. Mexico border and along the northern Rio Grande were favored, leaving the Socorro/La Parida area uninhabited until about 1800,” Wilkinson said.

According to records, the town of about 200 people originated around 1820, the transition period between Spanish and Mexican rule, and lasted into the U.S. Territorial period. It was abandoned around 1860. After Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821 trade with the U.S. was no longer banned, and trade items made their way from the Santa Fe Trail south along the Camino Real.

The town was hit by several Rio Grande flooding events, rebuilt on higher ground, and eventually abandoned around 1860, 52 years before New Mexico statehood.

“Now we’re in the process of trying to identify descendants of the La Parida community in order to add family stories to the field and archival components of the work,” Wilkinson said. “History is, after all, about people.”

Wilkinson asked that anyone who believes their ancestors once lived in La Parida to contact her at the Socorro Field Office of the BLM; telephone 575-838-1276 or email bwilkins@blm.gov.

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