Frank Nieto Lujan

1 Dec

In 1989 I made my first trip to Redford, Texas, and across the Rio Grande to Ojinaga, Mexico.  Within five years, what began as family research resulted in a database containing over twenty-thousand names!  Twelve trips later I’d had contact with the descendants of all but three of my grandpa’s siblings, and made countless new friends.  However, none of this would have taken place without the help and support of primo, Frank Nieto Lujan.

Still vigorous and sharp at age 75, he drove my daughter Monie, prima Dolly Lujan Salazar, and me to Redford, Texas, and across the Rio Grande to Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico!  Ever a brilliant conversationalist, the poetically inclined Frank regaled us with tales of woe and the struggle for survival in southwest, Texas.

The first leg of our trip, from Las Cruses New Mexico to Marfa, Texas, flew by rapidly because Frank had an interesting tale to go with every landmark we passed.  By the time we were approaching the Rio Grande, our heads were swimming with endless tales of Indian sequestrations, hair-raising narrow escapes, and the endless struggle for survival along the border.

In the border town of Presidio, Texas (directly across from Ojinaga, Mexico) the homestead home of Lucy Rede Franco served as our “headquarters”.  It is there that we first heard of the diary that Frank kept during the days preceding and following “D-Day” of WWII.  Frank recited his heart-wrenching Ode to his Patron Saint,  “La Virgin de Guadalupe”, and promised to read from the diary when we returned to his home in Las Cruses, New Mexico.

Soon after Frank’s passing, I was a guest of his daughter Linda when she presented me with a copy of her extraction of the Dairy.  I read far into the night. What most amazed me were the numerous implorations to God and La Virgin de Guadalupe following each entry.  Even during the most precarious moments, Frank had taken the time to jot them down!

When I returned to California, all I could think about was that over fifty of Frank’s grandchildren, and his numerous great-grandchildren would never benefit from Grandpa’s Diary because they don’t read Spanish!

I don’t know how I did it, (my Spanish is not perfect), but within two weeks I had translated the diary, and the Ode to his “ Virgin Morena”.  The day that I presented the translation: “A Testimony of Faith” to Frank’s widow and children, remains as one of the most gratifying moments of my life.

Frank Lujan is indisputably the most unforgettable man that I will ever know.  His remarkable persona radiated love and concern for all. Never, never did I hear him speak ill of anyone.  A true hero to his seven children and his many grandchildren, he lived his final years as a Deacon, and went to Heaven as his adoring family sang his favorite hymns.

Prima Elisa

4 Responses to “Frank Nieto Lujan”

  1. Jerry Lujan December 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM #

    Unfortunately, my dad’s WWII Diary has “mysteriously” disappeared, while in Paco’s custody. Que lastima!

  2. oscar December 1, 2010 at 5:34 PM #

    Elisa – Greetings. I got your web address from Enrique Mardid this morning, who urged me to get in contact with you. I had called him to follow up on an article I have been working on for some time and to ask about term ‘ pueblo follonico’ that was used by the Catholic Church in Mexico in the 1800’s. He said you are undoubtely my cousin, given the surnames in my geneology, and that you would be interested in the issue I raised. To be sure, my family tree extends pretty much to all corners of the Ojinaga region, but it goes no further than Julimes and Cuchillo Parado. Among others, I am related to the Lujans and Montoyas of San Carlos and El Mulato. The Peres/z and Juares/z of Cuchillo Parado and Canada Ancha. The Ramirez of El Tecolote. And the Francos, Baezas and Armendariz of Julimes. No doubt our lines cross many places.

    Raised both in Odessa and Ojinaga, I know that part of the world in great personal detail and I have read a lot of the history and anthropology that has been written about the region. I would be happy to share any of that knowledge with you any time you need it, including where everthing barrio is located and what it looked like from when I was living there in the early-1950’s until today.

    In the meantime, I am working on my application for enrollment in the Lipan Tribe of Texas. It is not a terribly complicated process, but does hinge on documentation of ancestors. In looking through the available records that the Mormons have put on line through FamilySearch, continually run into the problem that most Indians have which is that my folks quickly fall off the record. There is one very promising record, however, that may prove the breakthrough I was hoping for. It is the marriage record in 1879 in Ojinaga’s Parish log (Jesus Nazareno) that notes the marriage of my great great grandfather Antonio Peres, orphan and son of Bernardino Peres and Guadalupe N, and “originario del Pueblo Follonico al occidented de esta villa desde chico.” to Candelaria Juares, also orphan and daughter of Estanislao Gonzales and Concepcion Balenzuela. There are a couple of interesting questions here. The first is, where is Follonico? Enrique and I have never heard of such a place ever mentioned in any records. My relatives never heard of it either. So we’re thinking it is a refence to a people, instead of a place. So who were the Follonicos? Again Enrique and I have never heard of them in any way. So we’re thinking it is a euphamism for Indians. The term follon in Spanish is mele, riot or hullabaloo. So we’re thinking the term is meant to denote Apaches, or the people causing trouble to the west of Ojinaga.

    Have you every heard of such a term of any of our ancestors in Ojinaga? Do you have any more information on this line of Perez that would shed light on this? Do you have any records on Peres/Rodriguez/Carrasco/Anaya/Lujan/Ramirez/Franco/Armendariz/Baeza/Montoya/Salazar that identify any of them as Indians?

  3. Debbie Rede Lopez Pimentel February 20, 2011 at 8:08 PM #

    Beautiful Elisa my praises to you for all that you have done for your family, The Love you have put into each and every entry, a testimony to who you are, words cannot express the Pride that I have reading your story’s as well I am sure the rest of our family will fill when they themselves are able to read them. The Testimony Of Faith is a wonderful story, so pleased to read this morning. God Bless you. deb

  4. Martha R Aceves August 13, 2011 at 6:31 PM #

    Elisa, I remember Frank Lujan so well, especially when he was telling us his days in WWII and how he missed his family and prayed to the Virgen de Guadalupe. I remember when you first told me you were traveling to Texas and you asked me if I had any recollections of Mexico when I lived there for 3 years in 1956 to 59. I never would of thought that you would become such an ardent geneologist. Keep up the good work.

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