Discussion Forum

TOPIC: Jose Rafael Sotero Chacon (1833-1925)

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: April 12, 2007 11:36 PM MDT
Comments: I would like to hear any comments on Rafael Chacon (1833-1925). A Bio is below. He is a hero in New Mexico and in Colorado. I am esp. interested in knowing anything about his children & their descendants. Rafael is my gggrandfather. I am related by way of: Maria Magdalena Chacon (grandmother); Donaciano Chacon; Jose Rafael Sotero Chacon; Jose Albino Chacon; Jose Felipe Chacon; Maria Rosa Chacon; Cristobal Chacon; José Chacón Medina Salazar y Villaseñor, Marquéz of La Peñuela. I've read his bio, Legacy of Honor by Jacqueline Dorgan Medketa. Rafael Chacon http://www.nmculturenet.org/heritage/civil_war/sketches/chacon.html "I am poor and my only inheritance is my honor." Rafael Chacon (1833-1925), witnessed the end of the Mexican Period and was a participant in commercial, military, and political events during the early decades of the American era. His account represents one of the few surviving documents to record the Hispanic point of view. Its publication in English provides an important new source- unique in its detail, anecdotal style, and human interest. Chacon wrote his memoirs in his seventies to record for his family the drama, adventure, and sorrow he had experienced. As a child in Santa Fe, he observed the execution of the leaders of the Rebellion of 1837; as a thirteen-year-old Mexican military cadet, he served with Manuel Armijo at Glorieta Pass when Stephen Kearny’s army marched on Santa Fe. During the 1850s, Chacon was an Indian fighter and trader, surviving several near fatal incidents in the Ute War of 1855 and in trading caravans onto the Great Plains. During his later service in the Civil War in New Mexico, Chacon repeatedly distinguished himself, even though he never mastered English. He commanded volunteer companies, including one at the Battle of Valverde, fought Indians under Kit Carson, escorted the first officials to the newly established territory of Arizona, and as one of the few Hispanics to attain the rank of major, commanded Fort Stanton at the end of the war. Following discharge, Chacon served several terms in the territorial legislature before homesteading near Trinidad, Colorado. “Rafael Chacon was a caballero (a Knight, cavalier, gentleman, horseman, horse- soldier.) in the fullest sense of the Spanish word, with all its implications of honesty, decency, kindness, concern for others, gallantry, dedication, and patriotism. An intensely devout and God-loving man, he built his life upon Christian principles. His word was his bond; he honored all commitments and obligations, whether made in war or peace, never veering from his path of righteousness regardless of the moral lapses he might have observed in some of those around him. Intelligent and educated, he passionately loved learning yet never disparaged those less erudite. Chacon accorded respect not only to his elders but also to his peers and to children, withholding it only from those who flagrantly violated ethical standards. His courage was truly impressive and was exhibited innumerable times with a valor sustained by his religious convictions that his destiny was held firmly in God’s hands. It would be simple and convenient to characterize Rafael Chacon as a special man for a special time, and then merely dismiss the matter. But this is not true. During the nineteenth century, and even before, there were many Rafael Chacons in New Mexico and throughout the rest of the Hispanic world, men steeped in the tradition of courtesy, integrity, responsibility for those less strong or fortunate, and scrupulous concern about upholding the moral standards so dear to their culture. It is indeed unfortunate that their quiet dignity was not more clearly discerned and appreciated by those Americans who emigrated to the area from the East and allowed their own vision to be clouded by the supercilious attitudes they brought with them. Many of us are fascinated by the world that Rafael Chacon knew, and rightly so. The nineteenth century in New Mexico was colorful, tumultuous, and exciting. It was a time of man against nature, without the buffer of technology to soften life’s blows, an era romantically enhanced by the knowledge that it has been irrevocably lost to progress. Never again will Americans struggle for survival like Rafael Chacon did, with so few of the tools which give today’s man superiority over his environment. There was a great sense of immediacy to life in New Mexico in the last century which is missing in the present day. It was a time when even the essential act of food-gathering could be fraught with mortal danger, when one’s very life depended upon having the skill to find the next waterhole or to discover the correct route through the solitude of a great wilderness. Today, the great plains, where Rafael Chacon observed the majesty of vast buffalo herds peacefully grazing, has been turned into enormous irrigated farms controlled by agribusiness corporations; miles of concrete highways decorated sporadically with garish neon signs extolling the delights of motels and fast-food chains; and sprawling cities blanketed under gray palls of noxious auto-emission fumes. Gone too is the society in which Chacon lived, where the rigors of survival fostered an essential climate of mutual help, generosity, and sharing. It is most gratifying that Chacon expended so much time and effort in recording the myriad anecdotes and details of his long life. He believed that he was bequeathing a legacy only to his children, little knowing that someday his story would appear in print and thus humanize for us his small portion of recorded history.”
Posted By: Karen Rourk

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: April 25, 2007 12:42 PM MDT
Comments: I have a book about him "Legacy of Honor" By Jaqueline Dorgan Meketa and live in the area (Raton NM/Trinadad, CO. The house where he lived when he died is still there and someone is still living in it. A true hero for NM/CO Hispanics.
Posted By: Preciliano Martín

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: August 2, 2007 5:19 PM MDT
Comments: Karen, I am also a direct descendant of Rafael Chacon. He was my Triple great grandfather. That is he is the grandfather of my great grandfather Amadeos Cordova. But that is all I know. The reason I am researching him is I am looking for a possible jewish connection. Judging by your post on the topic "jews of new mexico" it seems like we may have the same objective. I hope you respond to my post because I am passionately interested in trinidad's Crypto Jew population and I was really excited to see your post. Thanks.
Posted By: Jonas

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: March 23, 2008 5:42 PM MDT
Comments: I just discovered this website by chance a few days ago and I'm compelled to join the conversation. Rafael Chacon was my great-grandfather, his son Eusebio was my grandfather. My grandmother was Sofia Barela Chacon, the daughter of Casimiro Barela, the "perpetual" Colorado state senator. I grew up in California and listened to many stories about the Chacons/Barelas from my mother, Dolores Chacon Craig. However, no matter how proud our heritage, I wasn't encouraged to identify with my Mexican side (or as she said "Spanish") due in part because of the prejudice she had both seen and experienced. Totally assimilated, I waited until college to learn Spanish (poorly) and study colonial Mexico. It was then she told me about our Sephardic background (amidst the multitude of crucifixes, rosaries and missals, we actually had a mezuza). It makes historical sense since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 lead to a diaspora that took some to the New World. I remember someone saying if you scratch the arm of a New Mexican, Jewish blood flows. Anyway, just a few of my thoughts and my hope that that this online communication will continue. I'm including a link to an interesting (and very sad) article that was published last week: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7307563.stm -Elizabeth (now in Massachusetts, of all places!
Posted By: Elizabeth Craig-McCormack

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: June 22, 2008 8:59 PM MDT
Comments: Correction on name of person I referred to in my message. The correct name is Elizabeth-Craig McCormack, not Montgomery.
Posted By: Don Martin

Subject: Nationalism
Posted: June 29, 2008 11:24 PM MDT
Comments: Hello, we're a Nationalist organization, we want to be in contact with New Mexican historians regarding the Mexican period and the 1846 invasion. This is a good opportunity for local historians and national-oriented New Mexicans to make themselves known and collaborate with the liberation of our country. Long life the nation info@voluntad.org.mx coordinacion_ovn@live.com.mx
Posted By: National Will Organization

Subject: Genealogy of Chacon
Posted: July 6, 2008 9:39 PM MDT
Comments: Hi to Karen Rourk, I note the genealogy of your post connects Cristobal Chacon to José Chacón Medina Salazar y Villaseñor, Marquéz of La Peñuela. I too am a decendant of Chacon from his wife's side of the family and am interested in his genealogy. Can you please quote the documentation that you have that makes this genealogy connection. Thank You Paco
Posted By: Frank Paiz

Subject: Chacón Family Connections
Posted: October 2, 2008 9:08 AM MDT
Comments: Elizabeth, Fascinating! The Jewish piece is something I never heard. But then there was very little I heard in my growing up. Our mothers were sisters and I would hear about your Mother. Doe-Doe she would call her. My Mom was Ann or Ana and also known as Dee-Dee. I grew up in Michigan very disconnected from family, history and culture, so every morsel of information I gather is another piece of the puzzle. I would love to hear more... I can be reached also via e-mail: chaconlontin@mac.com Good to meet you.
Posted By: Ed Chacon-Lontin

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: February 1, 2009 12:14 PM MST
Comments: Hello Elizabeth Craig-McCormack, Could you please email me at krourk1 at prodigy.net or anyone else who wants to discuss Chacon. Eusebio was a writer and poet and a professor is publishing his works in Spanish and hopefully in English as well. Has anyone descended from Rafael Chacon done a DNA test? I'm trying to find anyone who knew or heard of Donaciano Chacon (Dann aka Chono). I heard of the Jewish connection. I'd like to read more about it if anyone has info.
Posted By: Karen Rourk

Subject: Rafael Cahone
Posted: July 27, 2009 12:15 AM MDT
Comments: He was my great great grand father thu my moms side of the family so far the family has been traced back to 1692 and not a hint of being jewish has been if u have posted here please contact me a Dandy2156@msn.com Jonas please contact me Amadeo Cordova is my Grandfather so i would like to knw who your grandparents are
Posted By: Kevin

Subject: Was Rafael Chacon a Jew?
Posted: July 27, 2009 7:48 PM MDT
Comments: Personally I do not think so. There is no proof of any Jewish connection in Colonial New Mexico prior to 1810. But there are people who claim to be Jewish. And there is a lot of noise on the subject, but no proof. And DNA does not screen for religion, it cannot. At best it would tell you if you have a semite background. Which could indicate you are Hebrew or Arab. Not Jew or Moslem.
Posted By: Preciliano Martin

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: July 29, 2009 6:31 PM MDT
Comments: To Preciliano Martin Do you have a connection to the Chacone Family ? Please contact me Dandy2156@msn.com thank you Kevin
Posted By:

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: December 31, 2010 1:22 AM MST
Comments: I too have The Autobiography of Rafael Chacon. It was given to me by my father, Ernest Chacon, who claims we are related to him. My grandfather, also Ernest Chacon, was born in Las Vegas or Trinidad, New Mexico. In regard to some of the posts here I have also been told of a Jewish connection to the name. If anyone has any information or would like to contact me in regard to the Chacon\\\\\\\'s I would be happy to communicate.
Posted By: Michael Chacon

Subject: Rafael Chacon
Posted: February 5, 2011 9:00 PM MST
Comments: don Rafael was a great New Mexican, no doubt, one of our great heros. But posts like Ms. Rourk\'s and others trying to make don Rafael a John Wayne figure do not do him justice. He was not a John Wayne figure. He was not a coboy figure nor was he Jewish. Let New Mexicans know him as he was as compared to what others would make him in death.
Posted By: Preciliano Martin

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