Life History of Telesforo Montes and his Family


Telesforo Montes was born in San Elizario, Texas, in 1820. His father Ramon Montes and his mother Dolores Arroyo were also born in San Elizario, in 1795. Ramon and Dolores both died on July 18, 1848.  There is no explanation available as to why they died on the same day.  One theory is that they were attacked and killed by Apache Indians.  Telesforo died in 1888. Telesforo and his parents were buried in San Elizario Presidio (San Elizario Mission). The cemetery is now listed as Old San Elizario Cemetery.

Telesforo’s brothers and sisters, all born in San Elizario, were the following: Cecilia Montes, born in 1822; Anastacio Montes, born in 1824; Josefa Montes, born in 1826; Andres Montes, born in 1830; and Hermengieldo Montes, born in 1838. They were baptized and confirmed in the San Elizario Mission.

Telesforo Montes and Maria Quirina Alderete were married on December 3, 1840 at Nuestra Senora De Guadalupe, in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. They had the following children which were all born in San Elizario, Texas: Maria Angela Montes, born in 1842; Francisca Montes, born in 1845; Maria Rosenda Montes born in 1848, Juan Montes, born in 1849; Agapito De Jesus Montes (Jesus Montes), born in 1851; Carlota Montes, born in 1852; J. Antonio Severo Montes (Severo Montes), born in 1854; Jose Elizario Montes, born in 1855, Marina Jenara Montes, born in 1856; Guadalupita Montes, born in 1857; Maria Dolores Montes, born in 1858 and Josefa Montes, born in 1859. Telesforo and Quirina had all their children baptized and confirmed in the San Elizario Mission. Josefa Montes became a “Sisters of Loretto” nun and was known as Sister Petra.

According to the 1860 Census, Telesforo Montes lived between Gregorio N. Garcia and Tomas Garcia in San Elizario, Texas. Tomas was the son of Gregorio and was married to Telesforo’s daughter, Maria Angela Montes. Besides being neighbors, Gregorio and Telesforo were also compadres (Spanish word used to describe the relationship between the parents and godparents when the infant is baptized in the Catholic Church), in-laws, friends and colleagues. Like Telesforo, Gregorio had also been a captain in the Texas Rangers, a judge and a justice of the peace in San Elizario. Additionally, Telesforo’s daughter, Marina Jenara Montes married Carlos Garcia, the son of Gregorio. Telesforo’s son, Jesus Montes married Maria Maxima Garcia, the daughter of Gregorio N. Garcia.

When Telesforo was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Texas Rangers in 1874 he had in his command, 25 men. Under his command were his two sons, Jesus and Severo Montes. Although, Severo’s name does not appear in the original roster, he did serve in his father’s command (Severo’s name can be found in the Texas Adjutant General Service Records, 1836-1935, {See Links Page}). Also included in his command were Tomas Garcia and Carlos Garcia. Tomas Garcia was the Sergeant in Telesforo’s command, a very crucial and important rank during that rough period in Texas history. “These men were commissioned to provide protection of the frontier of the state of Texas against the invasion of hostile Indians, Mexicans or other marauding or thieving parties,” as noted on the original document, dated April 10, 1874.

According to my father, Conrado Virgilio Montes of San Elizario, Telesforo and Gregorio N. Garcia were instrumental in establishing the first catholic school for girls, which is now Loretto Academy in El Paso, Texas. “The idea was bold for its time. When Loretto Academy was founded by the Sisters of Loretto in San Elizario, Texas, in 1879, it was the first Catholic preparatory school for women in the Southwest. Here, young women could receive a rigorous and challenging education in a supportive environment,” as, acknowledged in the school’s history section. Telesforo’s granddaughter Maria, daughter of Marina Jenara Montes and Carlos Garcia, was the valedictorian of her graduating class at Loretto Academy in 1892. This was the last class to graduate from the Academy in San Elizario, taught by the Sisters of Loretto, before the Academy was moved to El Paso, Texas.


Excerpts, Quotes, and Accomplishments Concerning Telesforo Montes




Captain Telesforo Montes was named for Pope St. Telesphorus who lived about 125-136AD. Excerpt from “The Bells of San Eli” by Amelia Montes Skaggs.


Telesforo Montes was elected Justice of the Peace in El Paso County, Precinct 4, on July 1, 1872. This data was reproduced from the Holdings of the Texas State Archives (Texas Library and Archives Commission).


Telesforo Montes was a County Judge on September 5, 1872. This data was found in the book, “El Paso To 1900” by Nancy Lee Hammons. Header in her book read, “Names of El Paso County officials as they appear in the El Paso County Deed Records D, E, and F, and in the Minutes of the El Paso County Police Court, 1866-1875.”


“…Telesforo Montes of San Elizario, was authorized to muster a company on May 27, 1874. Like Garcia’s company, most of the members were local, and Montes’s Rangers were designated the Minute Company of the Frontier Battalion.” Excerpt from “The Men Who Wear The Star” by Charles M. Robinson III, ‘The Story Of The Texas Rangers.’




Original Document Listing Of The Men That Served Under Telesforo Montes(721KB)



"Among our citizens of Mexican origin who stood by the side of law and order at the risk of their lives, I can mention Captain Gregorio Garcia and his sons, Telesforo Montes, Jesus Cobos, Judge Gregorio N. Garcia, Juan N. Garcia, Maximo Aranda, Pablo Mejia, Porfirio Garcia, Pablo Romero, all intelligent and leading men. "Excerpt from: “Texas Border” by Robert Joseph Casey.

Note: The original quote can be found in: House of Representatives, 45th Congress, 2nd Session, Ex. Doc. No. 93, Page 98.


“Telesforo Montes, who had replaced Garcia (Captain Gregorio N. Garcia) as justice of the peace in 1871, now replaced him in the field. With a company of Texas Rangers, Montes battled the Apaches for the next two years.” Excerpt from: “San Elizario Spanish Presidio To Texas County Seat” by Rick Hendricks and W. H. Timmons.


“ ‘Ba, ba ba, que burrada!’ growled Father Borrajo, and he went out among his people telling them to pay no attention to the crazy American laws. Telesforo Montes, an ex-Ranger captain and a great man in San Elizario, had a daughter sixteen years old when Ellis was sheriff. She was a young lady, not merely too old to be in school with boys, but too old to be in school at all. Consequently she did not go to school. Others followed her example. Ellis was reminded repeatedly that he had a duty to perform, and finally he did it. He put Telesforo Montes and two of his friends in jail, where they enjoyed martyrdom for three weeks. At the end of that time Ellis turned them loose to save worse trouble.” Excerpt from “The El Paso Salt War 1877” by C. L. Sonnichsen. Illustrations by Jose Cisneros.


“Along with this powerful padre a good many prominent Mexican – Americans were associated with Mills and his organization. Among them was J. Lujan – Don Mauro – who lived in big adobe house near the church in San Elizario, the county seat. His fellow townsman Telesforo Montes, a famous Ranger and Indian fighter, was another, as were Maximo Aranda, judge, legislator, collector of customs, businessman, and Gregorio Garcia, justice of the peace. Martin and Benigno Alderete of Ysleta, leaders of a prosperous and prominent clan, belonged to the group. In fact, almost everybody who was anybody was on the side of the Mills – Fountain – Borrajo faction.” Excerpt from “Pass of the North” Volume 1 – 1529 – 1917, Four Centuries on the Rio Grande by C. L. Sonnichsen



Testimonies Regarding Frontier Troubles in Texas




Testimony taken Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Issue: Texas Frontier Troubles. Depredations by Indians and Mexicans. Austin, Texas, January 1, 1878.

“November 1875 – El Paso County Frontier Company followed trail of three Indians, who stole nine horses and one mule from Socorro. Killed one Indian and recovered the stock, besides capturing three Indian ponies.”

“March 1876 – Lieutenant Telesforo Montes, El Paso County Frontierman, reports that Indians were in last week and stole horses.”

“April 1876 – Lieutenant Telesforo Montes, El Paso County Frontier Company, followed the trail of Indians (who on the 16th stole horses at San Elizario) for two days and nights until they saw the Indians go over the mountains into their reservation at Dog Cañon (Canyon). While resting, company was fired into by about 200 Indians armed with needle-guns and pistols, and company escaped during night.”

The compilation of selected testimony shown above came from the following:
House of Representatives, 45th Congress, 2nd Session, Report (No. 701) and Accompanying Documents of the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Relations of the United States with Mexico, April 25, 1878.


Testimony regarding the Resolution of the House of Representatives, transmitting reports of the commission appointed to investigate the El Paso Troubles in Texas, May 1878.

Note: The trouble surrounding this investigation had to do with who owned the rights to the salt ponds located ninety miles from San Elizario, Texas. What resulted from this crisis became known as the, “El Paso Salt War” or the “Salt War of Texas.”

Following is the testimony (House of Representatives, 45th Congress, 2nd Session, Ex. Doc. No. 93, Page 39) taken by Porfirio Garcia from Telesforo Montes on January 10, 1878 in San Elizario, Texas:

“Personally appeared before me, the undersigned authority, Telesforo Montes, who, being duly sworn according to law, deposes and says:

That he was born in San Elizario, Texas, fifty-eight years ago, and has been a resident of that town ever since that time. that he was present during all the recent outrages here; that he knows of fourteen of the mob coming from the Mexican side of the river; saw them in this town armed; that they did not come over in organized bodies; that their chief object was to assist their friends on this side against Howard and his party, whom they considered their worst enemy, and to rob and plunder and seize all the arms they could; that he is further of the opinion, that they had no intention of offering any resistance to the United States troops, or to become involved in any manner with the Government of the United States; that as soon as they heard of the United States troops approaching the town they dispersed and went over on the other side; that in his opinion no armed parties crossed from the other to this side of the river subsequent to that time.”

Telesforo Montes

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 10th day of January 1878.
Porfirio Garcia
J. C. C., No. 4

True copy.
      Thos. Blair,
            Captain, Fifteenth Infantry




Continuation of Testimony regarding the Resolution of the House of Representatives, transmitting reports of the commission appointed to investigate the El Paso Troubles in Texas. The following is an excerpt from testimony from H. H. Harvey. The entire testimony can be found in the House of Representatives, 45th Congress, 2nd Session, Ex. Doc. No. 93, Page 64.

“H. H. Harvey appeared in person before the board of officers and gave the following testimony: I reside in this town and keep a saloon, and am deputy sheriff of the county.

…I was here the day Louis Cardis was killed, and was in the store about five or ten minutes after he was killed…

…During the last days of the fighting at San Elizario, I was in El Paso, Mexico, and I asked two young ladies why the Feast was so poorly attended this year, and she said that most of the young men were down at San Elizario. I asked them to go to the theater, and they said they couldn’t go, and when I pressed them for the reason, they told me that their cousin had been killed at San Elizario, and they were in mourning…

…They belonged to the Silver City crowd, Tucker’s or Kinney’s ‘gang,’ but they had been discharged by the sheriff. They said that shots had been fired on both sides; and Captain Montes, called the commandant of the city guards, told me that five of the party of Americans came to him and asked him for protection, and he arrested four more of them and locked the five and four men up and kept them all night. Mexicans and Americans he locked up about twenty-six in all, to stop the row. They were all released, and came over the next morning. They were not fined.”

H. H. Harvey
El Paso, ----, 1878



Other Citizens of San Elizario, Texas that Testified


The following citizens testified in accordance with the Resolution of the House of Representatives, transmitting reports of the commission appointed to investigate the El Paso Troubles in Texas, regarding the Salt War:


Gregorio N. Garcia: Telesforo Montes and Gregorio Garcia were compadres, friends, colleagues, and in-laws. Testified in San Elizario, Texas, January 2 and March 2, 1878.


Hermengieldo Montes: Brother of Telesforo Montes. Testified in San Elizario, Texas, March 2, 1878.


Maximo Aranda: Friend and colleague of Telesforo Montes. Testified in San Elizario, Texas, March 2, 1878


Jesus Cobos: In-law, compadre and colleague of Telesforo Montes. Testified in San Elizario, Texas, February 4 and March 2, 1878.


Benigno Alderete: Sergeant under the command of Telesforo Montes, Minute Company of the Frontier Battalion, April 1874. Testified in Ysleta, Texas, March 2, 1878.


Cipriano Alderete: Telesforo Montes and Cipriano were compadres, friends and neighbors. Testified in San Elizario, Texas, February, 1878.



Note: Porfirio Garcia took testimony from Telesforo Montes and other people during the Salt War investigation. According to the 1860 Census of San Elizario, Texas: Porfirio was 25 years old at the time and Gregorio Garcia and Telesforo Montes were his neighbors.


Regarding the Salt War, my grandfather and grandson of Telesforo, Jose Jesus Montes of San Elizario, Texas once told me that his father Jesus on many occasions recounted him stories about Telesforo and his numerous accomplishments. Jesus said that his father Telesforo, a prominent, respected, admired and well-loved man in San Elizario had attempted to settle the Salt War peacefully but was unsuccessful, as history has revealed.


The majority of the above information is based on San Elizario Catholic Church Records, Congressional Document Indexes, 1789 – 1969, Census Records, and Family Contributions. Further information came from friends, numerous books and data retrieved from the Internet. The Salt Lake Family History Library and local Family History Centers provided added information.


The following information was retrieved from the University of Texas at El Paso Library. This documentation came from the archives department, which contains film records of San Elizario Town Meetings from the mid to late 1800’s.

Telesforo Montes served as Mayor of San Elizario, Texas in 1884. His secretary was Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo. At the same time, Telesforo Montes was the President of the San Elizario Board of School Trustees.

On August 30, 1884, the San Elizario Board of School Trustees ruled on the following: “By a unanimous vote of said board, Mr. Octaviano A. Larrazolo of San Elizario, State and County of El Paso aforesaid, was duly engaged to teach the public white female free school, in and for the town of San Elizario, for the scholastic year beginning on the 1st day of September A.D. 1884 and ending August the 31 A.D. 1885.” The Board of School Trustees members were the following: Jose Talamantes (Secretary), Benito Chasco, Rafael Telles, Bonifacio Madrid and Romulo Baca. Sister Mary Margaret was the principal at the school where Octaviano would be teaching. Gregorio Nacianceno Garcia I donated Los Portales to the town of San Elizario for use as a school in 1870, which is where Octaviano began teaching. When Octaviano A. Larrazolo accepted his teaching post, he resigned his position as secretary to Mayor Montes. Following Octaviano’s resignation, G. N. Garcia II took over the secretarial responsibilities for the mayor. In 1919, Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo became Governor of New Mexico. In 1928, he became a United States Senator also for New Mexico. Octaviano married Maria Montes Garcia who was the granddaughter of Telesforo Montes and Gregorio N. Garcia I.

Telesforo Montes successfully executed his position as mayor of San Elizario through 1885.

Los Portales now serves as a Museum and Information Center operated by the San Elizario Genealogy and Historical Society.


Conrado Montes
October 15, 2002