House built by Juan María Luján adjacent to the house of his father Jesús Luján on the plaza in San Elizario

House built by Juan María Luján adjacent to the house of his father Jesús Luján on the plaza in San Elizario

Last week I visited family in El Paso, and one of the things I did with my dad and some cousins was to see historic San Elizario, just outside El Paso.

Aside from checking out the historic presidio chapel, founded 1789, where my ancestors were baptized, married and buried, I was curious to see the historic Juan Maria Luján House, pictured here, which I already knew from research was still standing.

Juan Maria Luján (1835-1914) was my great-great-grandfather, whose daughter Apolonia (1872-1929) married Ludwig “Louis” Stoltz (1866-1958). Just before leaving for El Paso I heard from a distant cousin in another state the family story how they met. And that’s why I really wanted to see the house.

We already know that Louis was a bit of a handful. He left the family homestead in the Dakota Territory probably around 1889, which is when a local girl gave birth to a son conceived by him — the generally-accepted reason why he decided to skip town. He wound up in El Paso (or as we shall see, perhaps more likely San Elizario), where the story says he rented a room from a family. He fell ill and was cared for by one of the daughters. They fell in love and married even though he knew no Spanish and she knew very little English.

So that daughter would be Apolonia, my great-grandmother. The first record of Apolonia and Louis is their marriage on 4 Jun 1895 in El Paso. So if the Lujan family was still living in the above house around that time, this would be where the family story took place.

According to a San Elizario walking tour compiled by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society, the Luján family would have been residing here at the time. Here’s what is said about the Luján Store (Caspar Giron Home):

This building may have been constructed near the main entrance to the presidio. After the presidio was finally abandoned in the mid-1840s, the property was acquired by Jesus Lujan. On it, he constructed a large hacienda encompassing the existing structure and adjacent field. His son, Juan, built the structure you see before you in the 1880’s. The Lujan family operated a general store from the corner building and used the other portions as a residence until the late 1800s. Later, the building was acquired by the G.N. Garcia and Giron families for both residential and commercial purposes.

So it seems probable this is the very house where that unusual love affair blossomed.

4 comments on “A Luján House of Love

  • My family Salazar/Montes were born in that same house which my grandfather Joaquin and Josefa Montes Salazar owned. They owned the whole corner including the pelota court in the back of this structure. My father was Jose Gustavo Montes Salazar. Do you have any information about when it was sold to them? I, also, know Ana Margarita Giron Sanchez who is my comadre to my eldest daughter. She was married to Frank Sanchez who passed away a few years back. Hope you can get in touch with me and maybe we can exchange stories of our lives in and around San Eli.

  • I wrote the above entry regarding the Lujan home and need to correct it. I confused that home as the (Salazar Hall) Lujan store which is at Glorietta and Main where Joaquin and Josefa Montes Salazar lived. My father, Gustavo Salazar and his brothers and sister were born there as did my two brothers and I. I would love to hear from you regarding any information you may have come across regarding my grand-parents on the Salazar side.

  • My name is Rosalie Garcia Northeimer., I am a cousin of Eric’s on my father’s side. But I read your note above and was curious about surname Montes. My material grandmother was Montes her name was Octovia she had 2 sisters and possibly brothers; she was born in Guadalajara along with her siblings. Her parents were Lazaro Montez and Maximiana Vargas; does any of these name sound familiar to you?

  • My maternal grandmother was Josefa Montes and she married Joaquin Salazar.
    My grandmother’s sisters were Francisca Montes, Adeliada Montes Madrid, and I can’t remember the other aunt’s name. I only remember the two above cause I was raised near both of them and lived with Josefa and Joaquin.
    I know there is a long line of Montes, and in fact, the area where the Veterans
    Hall is located used to be my grand father’s property and we lived in part of it. My grand parents were both born in San Eli as were most of my Montes and Salazar families. I don’t remember those names being mentioned by my family, but the Montes were a large clan, so who knows.

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