The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988


San Ysidro Chruch

The old church in Corrales

Stone entrance to the camposanto

Stone entrance to the camposanto

The old church, camposanto have lively past in Corrales


Known as the Alameda Land Grant, the land granted to Francisco Montes y Vigil in 1710 contained as many as 100,000 fertile acres of land tract bounded “on the north by the ruin of a pueblo, on the south by a small hill, on the east by the Rio del Norte (Rio Grande River), and on the west by prairies and hills.” Two years later when Vigil determined he could no longer uphold the obligations of ownership, he conveyed the property to Captain Juan Gonzalez who built a hacienda for his family and workers. Other settlers soon joined Gonzalez and by the mid 1700s there were about 200 people living in the small colony. Many of them raised sheep and cattle and built small corrals (hence the name Corrales) to hold their livestock. They cultivated the fields, raised their families, and attended Mass every Sunday at the Inglesia Jesus, Maria y Jose church located near the river. For the most part, life in Corrales was peaceful. Then disaster struck.

During flood season, the Rio Grande often rose above its banks and inundated the surrounding countryside, ravaging anything in its way. Although the details are sketchy, it is probable that such was the case in 1868 when the river flooded, literally changed course, and destroyed the church and its camposanto (cemetery). The July 1st edition of the Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican reported the incident:

At Corrales, the camposanto with all the remains, and a number of buildings, have been washed away, among them the church.

The people of Corrales “donated their labor, any building materials they could spare, and even their hard earned pennies” and built a new church dedicated to San Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers. Located away from the river, the church was built in the traditional cruciform style (shape of the cross) with three-foot-thick adobe walls, salvaged timbers, hand-hewn lintels, beams, corbels and vigas, and a flat earthen roof with a belfry over the main entrance.

A new camposanto was built on land donated by one of the original settlers. The first burials included caskets recovered from beneath the floor of the old church and its waterlogged graveyard. Most of the tombstones were hand-made, with wood or iron fences enclosing family plots. The graves of Catholics had their feet pointing toward the east so that the “departed” would be ready to rise up and face the new day when the “trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised.” Those of non-Catholics, servants, suicides, or unknowns were buried with their heads to the north

Over the years, time and weather took its toll on the church and camposanto. In the 1930s, twin buttresses were built to support the church’s deteriorating front wall, a pitched tin roof replaced the earthen roof, and “a concrete skirting was poured at the base of the building to protect it from erosion when rainwater rolled off the new roof.”

In the camposanto, rain dislodged and washed away many of the rocks; the sun baked and dried out wooden crosses and fences causing leaving them to fall away in splinters; snow and ice seeped into and eroded old cement headstones causing them to collapse. Many of the oldest graves and markers were lost forever but many others endured the onslaught of time and survived into the twenty-first century.

The village of Corrales has seen dramatic change since the 1800s. The once great land tract was subdivided into small farms and residential areas, the large herds of sheep and cattle were replaced by goats and horses, and many of the old homes were transformed into shops and restaurants. In the early 1960s, the old church, listed on both the state and national Registers of Historic Places, was deconsecrated and modified to serve as a venue for art exhibits, musical performances, lectures, and community celebrations.

The camposanto, still in active use, is often decorated with a profusion of coronas (floral offerings) made up into wreaths and bouquets. But these are not ordinary flowers—they are plastic. Originally made of flores enceradas (crepe paper dipped in wax), the use of plastic flowers seems understandable. The scorching sun, the relentless winds, and the infrequent rain quickly destroy real plants or flowers. Although the use of plastic seems like a lazy man’s way out of taking care of an unhappy chore, it is, in reality, the village’s loving and thoughtful way of preserving a legacy.

Mudders’ Day Weekend in Corrales

On April 26 and 27, the Corrales Historical Society will sponsor an event which has come to be called Mudders’ Day Weekend. Friends and neighbors come together to help mix and apply adobe mud to the walls of the Old Church and attend to any other details of restoration that need doing. No experience is needed—there are jobs for everyone of every age.

A great lunch is provided by the Historical Society docents and everyone seems to enjoy this shared experience of caring for the Old Church. For more information, contact Skip Erickson at 898-8749.

El Rinconcito español

• Los amigos son como las estrellas—
no los ves siempre, pero siempre están allí.

Friends are like stars—
you don’t always see them, but they’re always there.

• El plato rajado es el que más dura.

The cracked plate is the one that lasts longest.

• El ratón le dice al gato: No te juegues con la comida.

The mouse says to the cat: Don’t play with your supper.

Submitted by, Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication skills.

Land Grant historic presentation draws large audience


It was standing room only at the San Antonio de Las Huertas Community Land Grant presentation on February 24 at the San Antonio Mission Hall, co-sponsored by the Placitas Community Library. Over ninety people gathered to share Land Grant Community members’ memories and stories of belonging to a two-hundred-fifty-year-old community.

Everyone learned about the origins and size of the Grant and how it has changed over the centuries, and then shared some ideas for providing sustainability for the Grant in the coming years. Land Grant Board President Tony Lucero and Board members Vivian DeLara, Wayne Sandoval, Ray Arriola, and Andrew Escarcida, along with lifelong resident Ora Correa, shared stories, maps, photos, and slides to illustrate the history of the area. Bert DeLara presented an overview of the acequia system and improvements that are underway to ensure a continuous supply of water to residents. Many people stayed long after the official program to enjoy the music of Willie Arriola, Bert DeLara, and Johnny Sanchez, ask questions, look over the photos and maps, and express their appreciation to the Land Grant Community for sharing their rich history. Many also expressed interest in attending future presentations to learn more about the Land Grant Community’s past and future.

Church members famous chile becomes community tradition


Las Placitas Presbyterian Church (LPPC) began serving dinners to raise money in the late 1950s, when the church was a simple adobe structure with a bell tower.

Siria Salazar, descendent of one of the Las Huertas Land Grant families, graciously presided over the preparations. In those years, there were no paper or Styrofoam plates. The ladies would ready the basement with festive tablecloths, china plates, real silverware, and beautiful centerpieces—complete with candles!

Supper menus included enchiladas, beans, salad, sopapillas, and dessert. On the day of a supper, the ladies would clean chile pods, roast them in the oven, and then grind them in preparation for making the famous LPPC chile sauce. The traditional red chile always had customers coming back for seconds!

When the growing church needed to add on to its building in the 1980s, the enchilada suppers lost their home. During construction—which was completed for the most part by the members of the church themselves—the suppers were moved to the Placitas Elementary School gymnasium.

The whole process of assembling the enchiladas at the school was a lot tougher because so much more work was involved. Traditionally, enchiladas are made in layers of corn tortilla, red chile, cheese, and onions. Then they are covered with the chile sauce and topped with a fried egg. As delicious as that sounds, it was impossible to do in the makeshift kitchen in the gym. The ladies had to adapt the process, frying the tortillas in hot oil and then rolling them with a cheese and onion filling on the inside. They carefully poured the chile over them and then topped it off with lettuce and tomatoes.

In the school gym days, crowds were usually about two hundred. The red chile was still the magic ingredient in the enchiladas. Some folks claimed that the LPPC ladies made the best enchiladas in the state of New Mexico!

In 1984, when the new sanctuary and fellowship hall were finally completed, everyone was ecstatic about being able to cook in the new kitchen. Styrofoam plates and cups were now part of the times. The church kitchen now had to adhere to public health regulations for serving food—the state strictly enforced standards for disinfecting and rules for keeping foods at a certain temperature. Of course, members were thrilled with their new kitchen and gladly conformed to the new standards.

With the expanded space and growing reputation of the LPPC chile, enchilada suppers began drawing crowds of three hundred or more. Encouraged by community response, and hoping to raise more money to pay off their brand new building, the faithful members continued holding suppers several times a year. For variety, the ladies expanded their menu to include Navajo Taco Dinners—which also became an instant favorite as soon as that wonderful traditional chile was poured over them.

On Saturday, April 26, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Las Placitas Presbyterian Church again offers their famous traditional chile on Navajo Tacos. Take out is available. Tickets for adults are $8 in advance and $10 at the door; tickets for children are $5. Children under age five get in free. For further information, call the church at 867-5718.

Domenici praises El Zócalo in Bernalillo

On March 17, officials from Sandoval County gathered to give U.S. Senator Pete Domenici a tour of the nearly completed renovation of the historic El Zócalo in Bernalillo. Domenici praised the cooperative effort that has led to the development of the El Zócalo, or gathering place, in downtown Bernalillo—a project intended to better serve the growing community’s needs.

Domenici met local officials to review the development, for which he helped gain a $1.4 million federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. The county used those funds, combined with local and state funding, to rehabilitate historic old structures into a community complex.

“Bernalillo can no longer be considered a sleepy, rural suburb of its neighbor. In its own right, this is a growing community. Its leaders have turned a vision into a reality with the El Zócalo. This project should strengthen the heart of this historic community today and well into the future,” Domenici said. “It is good to see how a little effort on my part to help a local effort can result in good things for a New Mexico town.”

The EDA awarded the grant to Sandoval County on the premise that it, with the exception of Rio Rancho, is fundamentally rural and suffers from higher rates of poverty and unemployment rates. The renovation of what was once an old convent and school is almost complete. The complex will be used for county offices, community meetings, and other purposes.

Monument sponsors photography workshop

Friends of Coronado State Monument are sponsoring “Light and the Grand Landscape,” a photography workshop at 9:00 a.m. on April 19. The workshop will be led by Alex Candelaria Sedillos, editorial and advertising photographer, and member of the Coronado State Monument staff.

The workshop is for all levels of experience and for any type of camera. Topics will include: “How to use this dang thing,” “Seeing the bosque through the trees,” and everything else you never knew you needed to know to get that one great picture. Bring your gear.

The cost is $20 per person and participation is limited. Reserve your space by contacting Pat Harris at 822-8571 or

Master Gardener hotline now open

The Sandoval County Master Gardeners telephone “hotline” is now open at 867-2582 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Veteran Master Gardeners will answer “hotline” general gardening questions, from what grows in New Mexico, when to grow it, what insects and diseases may be a problem, and much more. The hotline is sponsored by NMSU Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Service and Sandoval County Master Gardeners, and will run through October 23, 2008.

Master Gardeners present home landscape lecture

As part of their ongoing lecture series, Sandoval County Master Gardeners will sponsor a program entitled “Grading, Erosion Prevention, and Water Harvesting in the Home Landscape” on April 7 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The speakers are Loren Meinz, Sandoval County Master Gardener, and the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension. The program will be held at the Meadowlark Senior Center, 4330 Meadowlark Lane SE in Rio Rancho. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Sandoval County Cooperative Extension Office at 867-2582

Friends of Monument host Arroyo Hondo lecture

The Friends of Coronado State Monument are sponsoring a presentation by James B. Walker, Southwest Regional Director and Vice President of the Archaeological Conservancy on April 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sandoval County Historical Society’s DeLavy House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. The topic of his presentation is “In the Shadows of the Sangre de Christo: Arroyo Hondo Pueblo.”

Arroyo Hondo Pueblo, a one-thousand-room fourteenth century pueblo located just south of Santa Fe, was partially excavated in the 1970s. Mr. Walker’s lecture will discuss the ecology of the region, a review of the excavation and research process, the origins of the occupants of the pueblo, the cultural history of the site, and Arroyo Hondo’s relationship to other settlements in the surrounding area. He will also present larger issues concerning fourteenth century ancestral pueblo archaeology.

As a follow-up to his lecture, Mr. Walker will lead a field trip to Arroyo Hondo Pueblo on April 26. Details for the field trip will be available at the lecture and reservations will be required.

The presentation is open to the public. No reservations are needed for this program. Admission is $5 per person; the event is free to members of Friends of Coronado State Monument.

Historical Society meeting features gambling queen

The Sandoval County Historical Society meets Sunday, April 6 at 2:00 p.m. at the DeLavy House Museum, located off of Highway 550, west of Bernalillo, between Coronado State Monument and Santa Ana Star Casino.

The featured speaker for April will be Van Ann Moore who will present “Dona Tules Barceló,” the famous gambling hall queen of Santa Fe, courtesy of the Historical Society of New Mexico.

Artist Nancy Hawkes will be exhibiting her paintings. Refreshments will be served. The meeting is free and open to the public.

For further information, contact Martha Liebert at 867-2755.







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