The Muñoz-Mazpulez Saga 1: The Forebears

The Muñoz-Mazpulez saga is a collection of pictures that record family images of the seven children of the marriage of Jesus Muñoz and Julia Mazpulez. To a limited extent, pictures of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other family are included. While we were recently delighted to receive a picture of Martina Muñoz, our paternal grandmother, we are chagrined to report that there are no available pictures of the paternal grandfather, J Refugio Muñoz G. So we will use what we have, including two funeral notices, and then proceed with photos of the maternal grandparents, Higinio Mazpulez Gutierrez and Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez.


J REFUGIO MUÑOZ G- There are no pictures of our paternal grandfather available. Below is a copy of the funeral notice announcing his memorial service. He died at age 77 in October of 1938, which means he was born in 1861. The “J” may indicate that his first name was “Jose” or possibly “Jesus”, both common given names in Catholic culture. The “G” at the end of his name indicates that Refugio’s mother’s maiden name began with that letter. Gonzalez? Gutierrez? Don’t know.

J Refugio Muñoz’ Funeral Notice

Above is our paternal grandfather's funeral notice.

MARTINA HERNANDEZ MUÑOZ- Here is the only known picture of our paternal grandmother, Martina. Below that is a copy of the funeral notice announcing her memorial service. She died on September 15, 1921 at age 55 in El Paso, Texas, where she is entombed at Concordia Cemetery. In her short life she had given birth to 10 children! She was born in 1866, 5 years after her future husband was born. Since our father, Jesus, was born in 1901, that would mean she was 35 when he was born. If he was one of her youngest children, as we understand he was, that means she began having children at a very early age. The “H” in her name stands for Hernandez, her maiden name.

Martina Hernandez Muñoz, Paternal Grandmother of the Magnificent Seven
Martina Hernandez Muñoz, Paternal Grandmother of the Magnificent Seven

Martina’s Funeral Notice

J Refugio Muñoz G and Martina Hernandez Muñoz were the parents of ten children, three daughters and seven sons. At this point we guess/know that the oldest child may have been named Jose, after his father. After that came Benjamin (an exceptionally tall man who was murdered during the revolutionary unpleasantries in Mexico), then Daniel, then another boy who was a stone mason (name not yet known), then sisters Elena and Guadalupe (Lupe), then brother Manuel, sister Josefina, brother Leandro and finally, the youngest child, our father, Jesus.



Higinio Mazpulez

The Wandering Spaniard– This is the earliest known picture of Higinio Mazpulez, who was born in Spain in 1874. He was orphaned at age 12 when his mother died and was left to look after his two younger brothers (whose names we will add later) with no assistance from an uncaring society. Higinio, was a tough, resilient, intelligent young man who joined the Spanish army at age 18 and later became a member of the Spanish Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), a respected branch of Spanish law enforcement. As a young man his life was difficult as opportunities for bettering his life were scarce at that time in Spain. So, after marrying Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez and fathering three children, a son, Emilio, and two daughters- Julia and Consuelo– he saved what money he could with the intent of some day leaving Spain. He checked out nearby countries but eventually emigrated to the US and came with his family to Virginia.

More Wandering and a Settlement- (Most of this section has been revised to reflect facts revealed in the book Borderline Life, the unauthorized autobiography of (and by) Jaime F. Hervella, who was Higinio‘s first grandchild. The book, which tells the story of J. F. Hervella‘s life, is available on the internet.) In 1910, the family settled in Norfolk, Virginia where Higinio and his son Emilio worked in the shipyards, operating steam shovels. To be fair, we must note that Emilio has to have been in his very early teens at this time but, though underage, worked in the shipyards with his father. The Mazpulezes may have thought they had reached the promised land but at about that time some US immigration act put the kibosh on certain immigrants by putting a quota on Spanish immigrants. So in 1913 the family had to ship out to Veracruz, Mexico. The family made the treacherous overland trip from Veracuz to the north during the 1913 Mexican revolution, which may have made them wish they had stayed in Spain. But they earned safe journey to the north and eventually arrived in Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo) from El Paso, Texas. Then the family moved to Tyrone, NM and later Morenci, AZ where together Higinio and his son Emilio worked in the copper mines. At this juncture, 1913 or so, Higinio would have been 39 years old. Emilio maybe 13, Julia 8 and Consuelo barely 5 years old. The family saved as much money as they could during three years of hard work with the intent of returning to Juarez. Around 1916, Higinio moved the family back to Juarez where they rented a large home and opened a store. The business prospered and Higinio finally felt settled. But a mere year later, when Pancho Villa‘s rebel forces took over Ciudad Juarez, the insurgents arrested Higinio because a “federal” troop had taken refuge in his corral and shot two rebels. Higinio was, at one point, moments from being summarily executed by a firing squad in the courtyard of his very property. But a dramatic show of hysteria by his young son, Emilio, who literally ran up to his blindfolded and handcuffed father, wrapped his arms around him and pleaded for mercy from the Mexican ruffians, saved Higinio‘s life. The firing squad had relented in the face of such a display of unbridled passion. Unfortunately, while sparing his and his family’s life, the rebels set fire to the Mazpulez compound and, in a flash, destroyed everything Higinio and his family had worked for so many years to put together. Fearing for their lives, the family crossed back into the US and, with the help of the Spanish consul, returned to the copper mining communities in New Mexico to start over, which they did. Another several years of hard work and self denial and Higinio had put together the capital necessary to return to Mexico, by then a more tranquil country. This time he bought property across the street from where his prior business had been and not only built a big adobe house there but also opened another store. He then proceded to expand his operations to include farming and other interests as well as becoming a sort of justice of the peace in his neighbohood. The house he built for his family is where he lived for the rest of his life.

The Inevitable End- Higinio was said to be a free thinker and not much interested in the teachings or practices of his culture’s dominant religion. Using his intelligence, persistence and self discipline, he was successful in improving his family’s situation to the point where they enjoyed a very good life. Sadly, Higinio was felled by cancer on February 10, 1952 at the age of 78, leaving behind his widow, Maria, a daughter and a son and 11 grandchildren. The Muñoz children had always known him as Papa (puh-PUH) Gordito. His passing caused great sadness, of course.

As noted above, Higinio Mazpulez Gutierrez and Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez were the parents of three children, a son Emilio, the oldest but we don’t know his DOB, and two daughters, Julia, born in 1905, and Consuelo, born in 1909.


Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez Mazpulez

Mama Maria- Above is one of the most recent photos of Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez de Mazpulez. The “de las Nieves” was part her given name. The “de Mazpulez” was (is) the cultural norm in Hispanic societies and indicates that a woman is, in a sense, the property of her husband, in this case Mr. Mazpulez. Maria de las Nieves Gonzalez was a blue eyed redhead from the northern province of Spain now called Cantabria but once known as Santander. The photo above was taken in Juarez, Mexico in 1951 when she might have been in her early 70s. She married Higinio Mazpulez in northern Spain (Santander Province) in the late 1800s and there they had three children, Julia, Consuelo and Emilio whom they raised in the small town of Coo. In the early 1900s they left that little village and emigrated to North America, not once but twice. Mama (Muh-MUH) Maria, as we called her, was a relatively devout Catholic but pretty much devoted to her husband and children and not much into the gossiping and clique mentality not uncommon for women in her culture. She was a loving wife to Higinio and she died on August 5, 1959, about 7 and a half years after her husband’s passing.

Higinio’s Brother and Cousin

Seated:  Antonio Tezanos, Cousin;  Standing:  Jose mazpulez, Brother
Seated: Antonio Tezanos, Standing: Jose Mazpulez, Cousin and Brother of Higinio Mazpulez. Both were Spaniards who crossed the Atlantic at the turn of the 20th century and ended up in the El Paso, Texas-Juarez, Mexico area. Photographed at Ft. Bliss, Texas, 1910

Jesus Muñoz Hernandez

Jesus Muñoz Hernandez

Jesus, the son of J Refugio Munoz of the state of Jalisco, Mexico and Martina Hernandez de Muñoz, also from Jalisco, we presume, married Julia Mazpulez in El Paso, Texas in 1935, when Jesus (Heh-sooz) was 35 and Julia was 30 years old. Jesus was born on June 30, 1901 and died at age 64 on September 5, 1965. He was the father of the seven Muñoz kids and intent on making it an even dozen when Julia laid down the law. He himself was the youngest of 10 children, all tall and skinny. The Mexican revolution (circa 1910) disrupted life for the Muñoz Hernandez clan in Jalisco as a result of which Jesus and his brother Leandro were sent north to avoid being conscripted by the rebel forces then running rampant in Jalisco. The brothers were denied an education as a result of the relocation. Both spent their young adulthood in Juarez and the rest of their lives pretty much in El Paso. Each brother found a wife in time. Jesus found Julia while Leandro, an Errol Flynn lookalike and a snazzy dresser, found Marina for a bride. Jesus worked for the railroad during World War 2 and ran his own oil distribution company after the war. He later owned and managed the Uptown Courts, a motel at 3231 Alameda Avenue that was converted to an apartment complex once tourist and trucker traffic was diverted from Alameda Avenue to the Paisano Drive bypass. He was a quiet man who did not share much information about himself. As a result of his quiet ways, little else is known of his youth.

Julia Mazpulez Muñoz

Julia Mazpulez Muñoz

This picture shows Julia Mazpulez as a young girl, probably six years old. This picture may well have been taken in the village of Coo in what is now the province of Cantabria in northern Spain. Julia was born in Santillana del Mar (St. Julia of the Sea) in that province in 1905. The town records at the municipal building there still contain the document that registers her birth. The family soon moved to Coo, a nearby village where Julia, her sister Consuelo and their brother Emilio frolicked in rural splendor before their idyllic childhood was disrupted by the family’s departure for the United States.

Julia Mazpulez de Muñoz

Julia Mazpulez de Muñoz

Julia Mazpulez, not yet “de Muñoz“, is shown here at age 23 in 1928. First daughter of Higinio and Maria de las Nieves Mazpulez, she married Jesus Muñoz Hernandez (Hispanic cultures are big on last names) in 1935. In rapid succession they became parents to Maria Yvonne (Sept. 6, 1936); Herminia Alicia (August 4, 1937); Enrique Horacio (January 8, 1939); Graciela Irene (Nov. 5, 1940); Ricardo Artemio (Nov. 6, 1941); Corina Lilian (July 6, 1943) and, last but certainly not least, Armando Carlos (July 26, 1946.) Poor Mom, she must have been tired after all that. Julia was born in Santillana del Mar, once Santander but now Cantabria, Spain on February 10, 1905. She passed away on July, 6, 1987. Her life had many interesting chapters including two voyages as a young girl from the old world to North America.

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