Rosario (Moraila) García (1854-1924)

Rosario (Moraila) García (1854-1924)

When I first began working on my family history, I was surprised to hear the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother María del Rosario García (1854-1924), carefully recorded by my mother in her bride’s book: Moraila. That was an unusual Spanish name. Could it have really been Murillo, or something similar? Her mother’s name was Verdugo; that was plain enough!

I would learn she was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, the daughter of Clemente Moraila and María de Jesús Verdugo, both of Culiacán. But then I hit a brick wall. For such an unusual name, there were too many Clemente Morailas in Culiacán at the same time. I had no way of differentiating between them—unless I could find the marriage record for Clemente and Jesús and find their parents’ names.

Recently I discovered that marriage record. It did not have the names of Clemente’s parents, although it did have the parents of Jesús: Remigio Verdugo and María Ines Viera. But it did eventually lead to Clemente’s parents, and a whole lot more.

Some Background on Culiacán

La Villa de San Miguel de Culiacán was founded in 1531 at the northern reaches of the Virreino de Nueva España, the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1562 the area was organized as the province of Nueva Vizcaya, covering the area of the modern Mexican states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Durango and Chihuahua.

New Spain in 1688

New Spain in 1688

The founder was Nuño de Guzmán, a conquistador locked in a bitter power struggle with the notorious Hernán Cortés, who subjected the Aztec Empire. In order to secure the northern frontier for himself, Guzmán chartered Culiacán as a villa. According to Oakah L. Jones in Los Paisanos: Spanish settlers on the Northern Frontier of New Spain (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press, 1979), a villa was a “chartered frontier settlement with limited rights and privileges such as right to self-government; next in importance to a ciudad.” So clearly there were big plans for Culiacán. The first pobladores were 60 to 100 soldiers assigned by Guzmán. In the century after Culiacán was founded, other places important in our family history were founded: the villa of San Sebastián de Chametla, the real de minas or mining community of El Rosario, and the port pueblo of San Juan de Mazatlán.

At the beginning of the 1600s there were likely no more than 300 people in all of Sinaloa, according to Jones, who notes that censuses, or padrones, were infrequent. Around 1760, there were about 2,216 Spaniards living in Culiacán, a number and date that will suffice for our work here, although we must note that “Spaniards” were not the only ones living in the area, although they were the only ones enumerated. But we’ll get to that shortly.

Breaking Through the Wall

It was not easy locating the marriage record of Clemente Moraila and Jesus Verdugo; many records are indexed online, but others require painstaking browsing of page after page of images of illegible, disintegrating and sometimes chaotically disorganized colonial church records. That’s how I found their 1841 record in the registers of the Cathedral of San Miguel in Culiacán, which cover the period from 1690 to 1967.

Marriage Record of Clemente Moraila and María de Jesús Verdugo from the Cathedral of San Miguel, Culiacán

Marriage Record of Clemente Moraila and María de Jesús Verdugo from the Cathedral of San Miguel, Culiacán

The transliteration of the entry goes like this:

Clemente Moraila con Ma. de Jesus Verdugo

En esta parroquia de Culiacan en veinte de Diciembre de mil ochocientos cuarenta y uno: yo el presvitero D. José Ramon de Villegas, cura encargado del turno de dentro de esta ciudad por enfermedad del cura proprio Br. D. Aron Ferrer Rojo: recabada la informacion matrimonial de estile de Clemente Morayla y Maria de Jesus Verdugo: corridas sus tres canonica moniciones en tiempo y forma conciliar (legan queda anotada al pie de dicha informacion y examinada por palabra de presente. Sobre su consentimiento mutuo y unanimes dedugeron asi que asomare ningun impedimento prebia confesion y comunion sacramental sera la velacion in facie eclecia [should be in facie ecclesiae] al referido Clemente Moraila de esta vecindad viudo en terceras nupcias de Prudencia Quintero con Maria de Jesus Verdugo, soltera de este misma vecindad, hija legitima de Remigio Verdugo y Maria Inés Viera, cuyo acto presenciaron Vicente Verdugo y Nicolasa Vidales y para constancia lo firme.

Where are the names of Clemente’s parents? But on second look, the most important words became apparent: Clemente Moraila de esta vecindad viudo en terceras nupcias de Prudencia Quintero. Clemente’s marriage to my great-great grandmother was his fourth marriage. All the other Clemente Morailas married to other women in Culiacán at the time were him! And here I won’t even get into whether he actually married a fifth woman, Josefa Sanchez, in 1878 when he would have been 74 years old.

This discovery allowed me to work my way back another 100 years to identify the apparent progenitor of the Morailas of Culiacán as Manuel Moraila, most likely born about 1720. While there were other branches of the Moraila family in Chametla (220 km/136 mi from Culiacán), El Rosario (64 km/40 mi), Mazatlán (223 km/139 mi) and Cosalá (113 km/70 mi), It appears Manuel was the patriarch of the only branch in Culiacán. Because of the size of the population at the time, they had to be one family. I began to weave together all the Morailas of Culiacán, first in theory and then more decisively as I uncovered more original records.

Undated Photo of Culiacán, probably 19th Century

Undated Photo of Culiacán, probably 19th Century

A Family Emerges from the Mist

Below are all the known members of the Moraila family of Culiacán, reunited again for the first time as assembled by me from the cathedral records. There are more details to be filled out, as I have not yet found all the original record images. You can tell those baptismal records I have not yet found, for example, because they are generally missing the birth date. It will take some time to find them all. And then there is the question of where Manuel came from. El Rosario? Cosalá? Mazatlán? Or somewhere else?

All the records from the register below are from the Registros Parroquiales de Sagrario de San Miguel except of course for other life details of the fourth generation and the potentially significant move of Juan Sesario Agustín and his wife María Ysidra Labrada to Cosalá, where their daughter was baptized in the Church of St. Ursula in 1820.

But after the list, there’s another surprise.

First Generation

1. Manuel Moraila*, born say 1720.
Manuel first married Feliciana Medina.
They had one child:

2i.
Juana Gertrudis
On 2 Mar 1752 Manuel second married María Juana Josefa Madrigal* in Culiacán.
They had the following children:

i.
Juana Maria.

At the age of <1, Juana Maria was baptized in Culiacán, on 23 Apr 1762. Born in Apr 1762 in Culiacán.
3ii.
Joseph Maximiliano (Feb 1766-)
4iii.
Manuel
5iv.
María Ricarda
6v.
Joseph Toribio (Apr 1764-)
vi.
Marcelo.

On 1 May 1790 Marcelo married Rosa Quinteros in Culiacán.

Second Generation

Family of Manuel Moraila (1) & Feliciana Medina

2. Juana Gertrudis Moraila* (Manuel1).
On 4 Nov 1762 Juana Gertrudis married Thomas Hernandez* in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
Nicolas Jacinto.

At the age of <1, Nicolas Jacinto was baptized in Culiacán, on 24 Oct 1782. Born in Oct 1782 in Culiacán.

Family of Manuel Moraila (1) & María Juana Josefa Madrigal

3. Joseph Maximiliano Moraila (Manuel1). At the age of <1, Joseph Maximiliano was baptized in Culiacán, on 18 Feb 1766. Born in Feb 1766 in Culiacán.
Joseph Maximiliano married Petra Martina Rubio.
They had the following children:

7i.
José Nazario (Aug 1797-)
ii.
Anna María.

At the age of <1, Anna María was baptized in Culiacán, on 10 Aug 1801. Born in Aug 1801 in Culiacán.
8iii.
José Clemente (23 Nov 1804-)
9iv.
Petra
4. Manuel Moraila* (Manuel1).
On 26 Jul 1775 Manuel married María Juana Micaela Soberanes* in Culiacán.
They had the following children:

10i.
Juan Cesario (May 1792-)
11ii.
Jesús José
iii.
Juan José.

At the age of <1, Juan José was baptized in Culiacán, on 16 Aug 1777. Born in Aug 1777 in Culiacán.
iv.
Tadeo Estéban.

At the age of <1, Tadeo Estéban was baptized in Culiacán, on 1 Oct 1784. Born in Oct 1784 in Culiacán.
v.
José María.

At the age of <1, José María was baptized in Culiacán, on 7 Jun 1787. Born in Jun 1787 in Culiacán.
vi.
Gregorio Gil.

At the age of <1, Gregorio Gil was baptized in Culiacán, on 17 Jul 1789. Born in Jul 1789 in Culiacán.
5. María Ricarda Moraila* (Manuel1).
On 10 Mar 1783 María Ricarda married Ygnacio Oballes* in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
Juan Asencio.

At the age of <1, Juan Asencio was baptized in Culiacán, on 16 Dec 1784. Born in Dec 1784 in Culiacán.
6. Joseph Toribio Moraila (Manuel1). At the age of <1, Joseph Toribio was baptized in Culiacán, on 26 Apr 1764. Born in Apr 1764 in Culiacán.
On 30 Dec 1788 when Joseph Toribio was 24, he married María Rita Ochoa in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
José Simon.

At the age of <1, José Simon was baptized in Culiacán, on 9 Mar 1790. Born in Mar 1790 in Culiacán.
Undated photograph of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Culiacán, completed 1885, with previous cathedral still standing next to it

Undated photograph of the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Culiacán, completed 1885, with previous cathedral still standing next to it

Third Generation

Family of Joseph Maximiliano Moraila (3) & Petra Martina Rubio

7. José Nazario Moraila (Joseph Maximiliano2, Manuel1). At the age of <1, José Nazario was baptized in Culiacán, on 8 Aug 1797. Born in Aug 1797 in Culiacán.
On 25 Aug 1825 when José Nazario was 28, he married Josefa Medina in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
María Simplicia.

At the age of <1, María Simplicia was baptized in Culiacán, on 4 Apr 1842. Born in Apr 1842 in Culiacán.
8. José Clemente Moraila* (Joseph Maximiliano2, Manuel1<). At the age of <1, José Clemente was baptized in Culiacán, on 2 Dec 1804. Born on 23 Nov 1804 in Culiacán.
On 29 Aug 1827 when José Clemente was 22, he first married María Eudocia Medrano, daughter of Maximo Medrano & María de Jesús Carillo, in Culiacán.
José Clemente second married María Andrea Hernández.
They had the following children:

i.
María de Jesús.

At the age of <1, María de Jesús was baptized in Culiacán, on 8 May 1832. Born in May 1832 in Culiacán.
ii.
José Buenabentura.

At the age of <1, José Buenabentura was baptized in Culiacán, on 15 Jul 1833. Born in Jul 1833 in Culiacán.
iii.
María Yrinea.

At the age of <1, María Yrinea was baptized in Culiacán, on 9 Apr 1837. Born in Apr 1837 in Culiacán.
iv.
María del Refugio.

At the age of <1, María del Refugio was baptized in Culiacán, on 4 Jul 1838. Born in Jul 1838 in Culiacán.
José Clemente third married Prudencia Quintero.
They had one child:

i.
José Francisco Benancio.

At the age of <1, José Francisco Benancio was baptized in Culiacán, on 19 May 1841. Born in May 1841 in Culiacán.
On 20 Dec 1841 when José Clemente was 37, he fourth married María de Jesús Verdugo, daughter of Remigio Verdugo & María Ines Viera, in Culiacán.
They had the following children:

i.
José Gabriel.

At the age of <1, José Gabriel was baptized in Culiacán, on 16 Apr 1843. Born on 12 Aug 1843 in Culiacán.
On 23 Feb 1867 when José Gabriel was 23, he married María Cleofas Rangel in Culiacán. Born in 1852 in Rosario, Sinaloa, Mexico.
ii.
María Petra.

At the age of <1, María Petra was baptized in Culiacán, on 3 Aug 1844. Born on 2 Aug 1844 in Culiacán.
iii.
María Laura.

At the age of <1, María Laura was baptized in Culiacán, on 25 Aug 1850. Born in Aug 1850 in Culiacán.
iv.
María Julia.

At the age of <1, María Julia was baptized in Culiacán, on 16 Apr 1852. Born in 1852 in Culiacán.
12v.
María del Rosario (3 Jul 1854-17 Nov 1924)
9. Petra Moraila (Joseph Maximiliano2, Manuel1).
On 2 May 1828 Petra married Tiburcio Rodriguez in Culiacán.
They had the following children:

i.
José Antonio.

At the age of <1, José Antonio was baptized in Culiacán, on 9 Nov 1835. Born in Nov 1835 in Culiacán.
ii.
María Ignacia de la Cruz.

At the age of <1, María Ignacia de la Cruz was baptized in Culiacán, on 22 Jul 1838. Born in Jul 1838 in Culiacán.
iii.
José Sesario Agustín.

At the age of <1, José Sesario Agustín was baptized in Culiacán, on 28 Aug 1842. Born in Aug 1842 in Culiacán.
iv.
María Martina.

At the age of <1, María Martina was baptized in Culiacán, on 9 Aug 1846. Born in Aug 1846 in Culiacán.

Family of Manuel Moraila (4) & María Juana Micaela Soberanes

10. Juan Cesario Moraila (Manuel2, Manuel1). At the age of <1, Juan Cesario was baptized in Culiacán, on 6 May 1792. Born in May 1792 in Culiacán.
On 17 Jan 1818 when Juan Cesario was 25, he married María Ysidra Labrada in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
María Carlota.

At the age of <1, María Carlota was baptized in Cosalá, Sinaloa, on 28 Apr 1820. Born in Apr 1820 in Cosalá, Sinaloa.
11. Jesús José Moraila (Manuel2, Manuel1).
On 25 Sep 1810 Jesús José married María Gerarda Rosalia Sebayos in Culiacán.
They had one child:

i.
José de Jesús.

On 11 Mar 1831 José de Jesús married Isabel Magayan in Culiacán.
Location of Sinaloa state in modern México

Location of Sinaloa state in modern México

Fourth Generation

Family of José Clemente Moraila (8) & María de Jesús Verdugo

12. María del Rosario Moraila (José Clemente3, Joseph Maximiliano2, Manuel1). Born on 3 Jul 1854 in Culiacán. María del Rosario died in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, on 17 Nov 1924; she was 70. Buried in 1924 in Ensenada, Baja California. At the age of <1, María del Rosario was baptized in Culiacán, on 3 Aug 1854.
María del Rosario married Francisco García, son of Trinidad García (~1820-) & Lugarda Vaca. Francisco died in Sonora, Mexico, on 6 Nov 1896; he was 53. Born abt 1843 in Michoacan de Ocampo, Mexico.
They had the following children:

i.
José María “Chema” (abt 1870-)
ii.
María Jesús “Jessie” (24 Jul 1871-12 Nov 1966)
iii.
Trinidad “Trini” (abt 1878-)
iv.
Francisco Mendez “Chico” (11 Nov 1883-26 May 1957)
v.
José Antonio (11 Feb 1885-)
vi.
Clemente (13 Oct 1885-)
vii.
María Rosario “Rose” Nora (26 Jun 1886-11 Mar 1975)
viii.
Abraham Mendez (16 Mar 1888-5 May 1982)
ix.
Jovita R. (7 Mar 1893-28 Jan 1984)

A Harsh World

In the register above, an asterisk after a name indicates I have examined the image of the actual baptismal or marriage record and found a particular notation. Below is an example: the 1752 marriage record of Manuel Moraila and María Juana Josefa Madrigal.

Marriage record of Manuel Moraila and María Juana Josefa Madrigal, 2 Mar 1752

Marriage record of Manuel Moraila and María Juana Josefa Madrigal, 2 Mar 1752

In the margin, after the names, you can see a notation that would affect their entire lives: mulatos libres. In fact, we can safely say that the entire Moraila family was composed of mulatos libres. This means they were all of mixed European and African origin; not enslaved, hence libre rather than esclavo, but still the descendants of slaves. If you want to know what my ancestors looked like, see the painting below.

De español y negra, mulata (From Spaniard and Black, Mullato) detail of casta painting by Miguel Cabrera, 1763.

De español y negra, mulata (From Spaniard and Black, Mullato) detail of casta painting by Miguel Cabrera, 1763.

Colonial Mexican society was highly stratified along racial lines. I first encountered African heritage in our family when I discovered the Chametla baptismal record of my great-great grandmother Eugenia Tamayo. Having seen an exhibit of casta paintings at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I had assumed that being interracial in colonial Mexico was somewhat benign. I was wrong.

In Fire and Blood: A History of Mexico, T. R. Fehrenbach says of the casta system: “The Spanish did not create a single, brutal racial bar, but rather a system that had many hurdles and doors. They believed in the theory of ‘dominant blood.’ The Spanish broke people of mixed blood down into many different categories and gave them a certain hierarchy of status according to predominant white, Amerindian and African genes.”

As a result, there existed social and legal limits on those who were not of European descent. While not exactly apartheid or Jim Crow, Spanish colonial society had mechanisms to keep non-Europeans impoverished by a higher rate of taxation and exclusion from professions and trades.

For the Spanish, there were three races:

  1. Españoles (European descent), divided between peninsulares (those born in Spain) and criolles (those born in the Americas). Peninsulares always had the highest social status.
  2. Indios (Indigenous peoples)
  3. Negros (Africans)

Beneath these three races in the Spanish worldview were those who intermarried. While the lack of European women cased the Spaniards to intermarry or simply to select women of other races as casual partners (the more frequent choice, according to Fehrenbach), the Spaniards in turn made the offspring of those unions shameful, and oppressed their own children.

So those children of interracial unions were called castas. By later interbreeding with “pure” españoles their children could eventually achieve “purity of blood” and become “Spanish.” But if they continued to marry among their own kind, as in the case of the Moraila family, mulatto marrying mulatto, their children would always be mulatto; it was not just skin color that decided one’s fate, but a whole variety of aspects, mostly self-fulfilling prophecies.

There were outs. Stories exist of those who bought or fought (through military service) their way out of casta status to become officially españoles on paper. Some shed their status through pioneering the dangerous frontier. Some even became dons and doñas. That was rare, but we don’t know if our ancestors crossed that river.

The Spanish had an elaborate genetic hierarchy of the castas. There are various systems described, but Fehrenbach’s tables below are typical. Church records were not so nuanced; the priest would decide the casta—sometimes rather arbitrarily—and in records I have only seen español, indio, mulatto, mestizo, coyote, and lobo. Presumably by the time of our family in Culiacán there were few pure Africans.

Castas of Españoles (Criolles or Peninsulares)

Español father and Negra mother Mulato
Español father and India mother Mestizo
Español father and Mulatta mother Cuarterón
Español father and Mestiza mother Criollo
Español father and China mother Chino blanco
Español father and Cuarterona mother Quintero
Español father and Quinterona mother Blanco

Castas of Indios

Indio father and Negra mother Chino
Indio father and Mulata mother Chino oscuro
Indio father and Mestiza mother Mestizo claro
Indio father and China mother Chino cholo
Indio father and Zamba mother Zambo claro
Indio father and China chola mother Indio
Indio father and Quintera or Cuarterona mother Mestizo pardo

Castas of Negros

Negro father and Mulatta mother Zambo
Negro father and Mestiza mother Oscuro
Negro father and China mother Zambo
Negro father and Zamba mother Negro
Negro father and Cuarterona or Quintera mother Mulato oscuro

From around the time of the birth of the family patriarch Manuel Moraila, casta paintings became very popular. This genre was characterized by sets of paintings, usually 16, that depicted the various interracial couples and children of New Spain. According to Ilona Katzew (Casta Paintings, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2005), “The production of casta painting reached its apex in the second half of the eighteenth century, coinciding with the implementation of the Bourbon reforms. Most extant sets were painted between 1760 and 1790.”

Miguel Cabrera, one of the key casta painters, used the following 16 classifications in his works, which may be more familiar than the above classifications:

Classifications in Pinturas de Castas

De Español y d’India Mestiza
De Español y Mestiza Castiza
De Español y Castiza Español
De Español y Negra Mulata
De Español y Mulata Morisca
De Español y Morisca Albina
De Español y Albina Torna atrás
De Español y Torna atrás Tente en el aire
De Negro y d’India China cambuja.
De Chino cambujo y d’India Loba
De Lobo y d’India Albarazado
De Albarazado y Mestiza Barcino
De Indio y Barcina Zambuigua
De Castizo y Mestiza Chamizo
De Mestizo y d’India Coyote
Indios gentiles (Heathen Indians)
Person from the Coast. Negro from the Area of Vera-Cruz (Santa Fe) in Sunday Dress, Claudio Linati. From Costumes et moeurs de Mexique [Dress and Customs of Mexico], 1830

Person from the Coast. Negro from the Area of Vera-Cruz (Santa Fe) in Sunday Dress, Claudio Linati. From Costumes et moeurs de Mexique [Dress and Customs of Mexico], 1830

In fact, in the cathedral records of the Moraila family we see less attention paid to including race or casta in church records as the generations progress. Ultimately, the system, already dying, would end with the Mexican Revolution and split from Spain in 1821. By the time Clemente and María de Jesús were married, racial classifications no longer appeared on official records. The oppressive casta system, so defining for our ancestors and so crucial to their Spanish overlords, would be forgotten by their descendants and the world.

Download the Moraila Family Register Report in PDF format

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