Life History of
Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo
and His Family
San Elizario, Texas in 1910.
The occasion was the baptism of Octaviano's
Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, on December 7, 1859. He was the son of Octaviano Larrazolo, a successful landowner, and Donaciana Corral. His grandfather was Jose Maria Larrazolo, an affluent businessman of the town. His mother, Donaciana Corral was a prominent, distinguished and educated lady from Parral, Mexico.
In 1860, because of the French invasion in Mexico, the Larrazolo family lost their land, home and all their personal assets. They never recovered from this misfortune. Ten years later, the Catholic Bishop of Arizona, Reverend J. B. Salpointe, a longtime friend offered to facilitate the family financial hardship by taking young Octaviano Ambrosio, who had served under him as an altar boy, to the United States. In 1875, Reverend Salpointe, who had become Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, enrolled Larrazolo in the Christian Brothers Preparatory Program also known as St. Michael's College. Upon the successful completion of his studies at St. Michael's of Santa Fe, Octaviano Ambrosio returned to Tucson, Arizona to teach. Three years later in 1878 Octaviano moved to San Elizario, Texas where he continued his teaching. It was also during this time that he met Telesforo Montes, a great and legendary man from San Elizario. Telesforo and young Octaviano became immediate friends and ultimately, Telesforo became Octaviano's mentor and family member as well.
Gregorio Nacianceno Garcia I, another famous man from San Elizario, constructed Los Portales, located in the town square next to the San Elizario Mission, in the 1850’s and lived there with his family for twenty years. In 1870, Gregorio donated Los Portales to the town of San Elizario for use as a school. The first teacher at this school was Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo.
In 1879, Octaviano's parents moved to San Elizario to join their son who at the time was teaching and farming. During this time, Octaviano met and fell in love with Rosalia Cobos, the granddaughter of his mentor, Telesforo Montes. Rosalia was the daughter of Jesus Cobos and Francisca Montes. Her father, Jesus Cobos was a famous, prominent and wealthy landowner from the San Elizario Valley. Her mother Francisca, a cultured and educated lady, was the daughter of Telesforo Montes and Quirina Alderete.
On April 25, 1881, Octaviano and Rosalia Cobos were married. Unfortunately, the following year, Octaviano's father died. In 1883, Octaviano and Rosalia had their first child and it was during this time that Octaviano, with Telesforo’s guidance, decided to study law.
In 1884, Octaviano became a United States citizen. During this same year, Telesforo Montes was serving as mayor of San Elizario. Mayor Montes decided on selecting Octaviano to serve as his secretary. Octaviano with enthusiasm accepted this position. He also continued his role as a teacher and his studies in law. Besides his responsibility as mayor, Telesforo Montes was also the President of the School Board of San Elizario. As president, he and the school board of trustees elected to bring the Sisters of Loretto to teach in San Elizario. Octaviano was appointed to teach in the new school, which would eventually become the celebrated Loretto Academy School for Girls in El Paso, Texas.
In 1885, Octaviano was appointed Chief Deputy of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas and in the same year he left the teaching profession. In 1886, Octaviano was elected to his first public office, District Court Clerk of El Paso County. In 1887, Telesforo Montes died and in the following year Octaviano and his family moved to El Paso, Texas, which at that time was a bustling metropolis in West Texas. In this same year, Octaviano was admitted into the Texas Bar to practice law. In 1889, he was elected district attorney for the 34th Judicial District of Texas at El Paso, Texas.
Octaviano Larrazolo was Best Man at the wedding of Alberto LeBreton and Francisca Lujan on June 7, 1889. His wife Rosalia Cobos served as Matron of Honor at the wedding. He was also Best Man to Faustino Alarcon and Carolina Aranda (1st marriage) on September 23, 1889. In 1891, sadly Octaviano's wife, Rosalia Cobos died. They had been married ten years and besides dealing with his immense grief, Octaviano was left with the commitment of raising his young family. Rosalia's cousin, Maria Montes Garcia had been helping with the family during the time of her cousin's illness and ultimate death. Maria was very close to her cousin Rosalia, Octaviano and the children. Maria like Rosalia was also the granddaughter of Telesforo Montes. She was the daughter of Marina Montes and Carlos Garcia. Marina was the daughter of Telesforo Montes and Quirina Alderete. Maria’s father, Carlos Garcia, a former Texas Ranger under Telesforo Montes, was quite prominent in the community and was the son of another famous lawman from San Elizario, Gregorio Nacianceno Garcia I. Maria had been the first graduate of Loretto Academy in San Elizario, Texas and had also been class valedictorian. Maria continued to help Octaviano with his children after her cousin’s passing. Eventually, Maria and Octaviano fell in love and they were married in August of 1892. Mournfully, the following year, Octaviano's mother died. It was during this time that he and his family began considering relocating to New Mexico. For political reasons and greater business opportunities, Octaviano and Maria finally decided to move to Las Vegas, New Mexico. In 1895, the Larrazolo family made their journey to their new home in Las Vegas, New Mexico where Octaviano resumed his law practice and Maria continued taking care of the home and raising the children.
Octaviano throughout his life had always been a kind and compassionate man. In a word, he was a humanitarian. He cared dearly for people in the community which led to his becoming quite active in local and county public affairs. He also became involved in the Democratic Party and during this time established a successful law office in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Because of his education, knowledge and public speaking ability, Octaviano became known as the "silver-tongued orator" throughout New Mexico and the Southwest. By the late 1800's, he had widened his reputation as a prosperous lawyer and as a celebrated public speaker. At the age of forty, he ventured unsuccessfully into politics running as the Democratic Party candidate for delegate to the congress of the United States. Not dismayed by his defeat, he persevered and also continued his successful law practice. Octaviano was fluent in English and Spanish and he found the time to write for various Spanish newspapers in his hometown. His articles, as well as his speeches, always emphasized the necessity for innovative and greater educational facilities in the young and developing territory. Throughout his life Octaviano passionately campaigned for everyone to be bilingual. He believed that being able to communicate in both English and Spanish served as the basis for a higher education and as a result would provide for a more sophisticated and informed community.
Although Octaviano was not present when the New Mexican Constitutional Convention met in 1910, his writings were significant regarding the Constitution and effective provisions that documented protection of all Spanish speaking voters. Even though Octaviano ran unsuccessfully for election as a Delegate to Congress from New Mexico many times, he never gave up. Because of his perseverance, Octaviano was ultimately rewarded with his long life dream, which was becoming governor of his state. Octaviano was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1918.
From The Deming Headlight Newspaper, Deming New Mexico, please note the following articles:
November 8, 1918: “Larrazolo wins office of Governor of New Mexico.”
January 3, 1919: “Inauguration address. Provision for the care of the returning soldiers, farmers and stockmen of the state are also to be aided, compulsory education for the youth of New Mexico, good roads, and this quote, ‘The address of the state's new governor was a model of brevity and conciseness, and it made an extremely favorable impression on those who were fortunate enough to be present at the inauguration, which was one of the most brilliant ceremonies ever witnessed in the ancient capital of New Mexico.’”
January 17, 1919: “Headline. ‘Thirty-five States Confirm National Dry Amendment.’ "We are going to railroad a resolution through the legislature today, said Governor O. A. Larrazolo, and make New Mexico the 36th state to vote for nationwide prohibition.”
January 31, 1919: “Governor Larrazolo introduced a bi-lingual bill that was fiercely opposed by Senator A. V. Lucero of Raton a Presbyterian minister and one of the best posted educators.”
June 18, 1920: “Governor Larrazolo asked three A. & A. M. College Regents to resign due to the board creating a deficit of $54,000 in excess of appropriation of the legislature.”
June 18, 1920: Headline. “Luna County Man Pardoned.” A very young girl came with an older woman to the governor's office to have her son pardoned, the governor refused and turned to the young girl, the girl told him ‘I want my papa’ with tears streaming down her cheeks. The governor investigated and found that the judge of the district court expressed doubt as to the man's guilt. The story goes on but after the investigation the man was pardoned.”
End of articles from The Deming Headlight Newspaper, Deming New Mexico.
In 1920, upon completion of his two-year term as governor he returned
home to his private practice.
In 1921, Octaviano and his family decided to move back to El Paso, Texas where he continued his law practice.
From The Deming Headlight Newspaper, Deming New Mexico, please note the following article:
August 12, 1921: Headline. “Larrazolo may run as Independent Candidate. He was preparing to enter the race for nomination for US Senator. Larrazolo still maintains his residence in New Mexico, although he is now practicing law in El Paso.”
In 1922, he once again packed his family and returned to New Mexico. He continued practicing law in both Texas and New Mexico. In 1926, Octaviano was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives where he served for two years. In 1928, he was elected to the United States Senate. He served as Senator of New Mexico for a short term due to poor health.
Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo died on April 7, 1930. During his long and distinguished career, Octaviano never forgot his roots and always fought for human rights. He remembered and helped the less fortunate and continuously promoted women’s rights. Throughout his life he was dedicated to his family, his profession and to his country.
Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Telesforo Montes, Jesus Cobos, Gregorio Nacianceno Garcia, Maximo Aranda and Juan Mauro Lujan were some of the legendary men that came from San Elizario, Texas. These great men were compassionate, brilliant and distinguished leaders that gave of themselves selflessly. We are indeed full of pride to be Americans with our roots in San Elizario, Texas and to share in our precious history with these illustrious pioneers.
My father, Conrado Virgilio Montes and my grandfather, Jose Jesus Montes provided me with some of the information regarding the life of Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo. Both of them were born in San Elizario, Texas and they knew Octaviano on a personal basis. My grandfather was first cousin to both Rosalia Montes Cobos (Octaviano’s first wife) and Maria Montes Garcia (Octaviano’s second wife).
Irma Aranda Perez contributed information that she retrieved from birth certificates, baptism certificates and census records. Irma Aranda Perez is a descendent of the Aranda Family of San Elizario, Texas. Irma also found the newspaper articles from The Deming Headlight Newspaper, Deming New Mexico that have been depicted throughout.
Additional information and the picture of Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo, Carlos Garcia and Marciano Rey came from the book of Amelia Montes Skaggs and Dr. Samuel R. Skaggs, "The Bells of San Eli."
I also obtained further information from the following sources: Family, friends, numerous books, and data retrieved from the Internet, The Salt Lake Family History Library and local Family History Centers, and The University of Texas at El Paso Library archives department, which contains film records of San Elizario Town Meetings from the mid to late 1800’s.
Richard Montes, my brother, did the final editing for this biography.