Luis Ortega


Written by Louis N. Ortega. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”


Ortega: The name Ortega has its roots in Spain. It means dweller at the sign of the grouse; one with the characteristics of a grouse.

The Ortega name could probably be traced more easily, for the old missions are still there near Anton Chico, where members of the Ortega family reside today. The name Ortega first appears in New Mexico history in the 1660’s. Francisco de Ortega, a native of Zacatecas, was a fifty-three year old captain residing in the Sandia District in 1667. His wife was Isabel de Zamora. During the Otermin campaign of 1681, reference is made to his house near Sandia Pueblo. However, he must have died in the Indian Rebellion.

Tiburcio de Ortega appears among the 1680 refugees more as a clerk than a military man. He was married, having his wife, son, and daughter with him, as well as his mother, some brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and servants. In 1681 he was described as a native of New Mexico, twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, swarthy, with a good physique and curly hair. He was very likely the eldest son of Francisco de Ortega. The name Ortega continues to appear all through New Mexico history up to today.

Descendants of the Ortega families were given a land grant by the Spanish Crown near Anton Chico. The Ortega Land Grant has been turned into a co-operative. Ortega family members who can prove their ancestry can join the co-operative and have rights as family members.

In the 19th century, our forefathers lived there in a place called EL RANCHO ALEGRE (The Ranch of Cheerfulness) which was part of the land grant. Father, Luis Ortega was born there on the 13th of August, 1896.

He remained there until he was a young man. In 1920 he moved to Pueblo, Colorado where he worked for the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. He met our mother, Eleanor Vigil, and married her in 1925. Their first son, Luis, was born there on October 16, 1926.

In 1928, our parents moved to Las Animas County where our father worked in various coal mines. Eddie and Leonard were born in Ramey, a coal camp, in 1928 and 1930, respectively. The Ortegas moved to Trinidad in 1933. Byrdell was born there on the 24th of February, 1934. The family remained there where the four Ortega boys grew up, went to school, married, and had their first children.

The Ortegas have fond memories of Trinidad as they experienced growing up from childhood to manhood. Trinidad will always be our home town and it will always bring back nostalgia.

Father Luis Ortega was born on August 13, 1896 in Anton Chico, New Mexico. He worked in various coal mines in Las Animas County and died in Oakland, California on February 13, 1970.

Mother Nora (Eleanor) Vigil Ortega was born in Trinidad, Co in 1906. At the age of 52 she graduated from Trinidad State Jr. College and received her degree in nursing. She worked at Trinidad Nursing Home Before working at the Doctor’s Hospital in San Leandro, California where she retired. Nora now makes her home between Alburquerque, New Mexico and California.

Luis and Nora had four sons: Louis N., Leonard, Byrdell and Edmund. Louis N. Ortega has retired from the U.S. Navy and is now employed with the U.S. Postal Service. He is a graduate if Trinidad High School and Trinidad State Jr. College. He married Dora H. Duran at Holy Trinity Church on November 1946. Their daughter is Glenna L. and Son, Van Alan. Van Alan lives in San Leandro, California.

Leonard Ortega served in the U.S. Army in Korea. His son Leonard Jr. and daughter Victoria. Both were born in Trinidad, Co. Leonard started as a fireman in Trinidad and was transferred to the Albuquerque, New Mexico fire department. In 1985 he retired as fire chief and continues to reside in Albuquerque with his wife, Violeta.

Byrdell Ortega served with the Trinidad Police Force and the Colorado State Patrol. He was a star football player at Trinidad High School. He has three sons: Michael, Bruce and Harold and one daughter, Melinda. He is presently employed by Arco Oil Company. He resides with his wife Patricia Medina Ortega at Martinez, California.

Edmund Ortega has served with the U.S. Marine Corps. He has one son, Edmund Jr. and four daughters: Monica, Regina, Jackie and Francesca. His oldest son Nicholas died at Oxnard, California in 1984. Edmund was in Business in Trinidad, worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad and Various insurance companies. He is presently self employed in Capitola, California. This family story continues with Asencin Vigil.

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