Maria Montez-Skolnik

Maria Montez-Skolnik


Both sides of my family trace their roots in the Santa Fé area to the 1600s.  In the earlier years they were primarily farmers, builders, craftsmen, artists (wood carvers and weavers), and educators.  I graduated from SFHS & NMSU and received my BA & MA in Speech & Language Pathology. I divide my time between Santa Fé and the San Francisco Bay Area.  


Santa Fe Living Treasures writes: "Dona Jesusita Aragon, healer and midwife of northern New Mexico, in her seven decades of on the job delivered more than twelve thousand babies--the population of a good sized New Mexican town.
"Born on a ranch in Sapello, known as El Rancho Trujillo in 1908, she delivered her first baby when she was only thirteen years old. "My grandmother, Dolores Gallegos, a midwife, taught me," Jesusita recalled. "She wasn't there that day because she went to deliver another baby. One of my aunts had a baby, so I had to help her. But I knew everything."
Her Tia Valentina, the curandera in the family, taught her the use of traditional healing herbs. Jesusita became interested in healing as well as delivering babies.
"I wanted to go to school to be a nurse," said Jesusita. "But years ago, they didn't believe in education. I only went to the eighth grade, and it was all in Spanish. It's a miracle that I can talk a little English. I learned reading the papers.
As a single mother with a son and daughter, she was sole provider for her family. She cut wood and carried it to build her own house as well as the furnishings. She cared for her family by gardening and raising animals. In 1942 she moved to Las Vegas, where she supported her children by washing clothes, cleaning houses, making tortillas, and delivering babies.
The birthing room she set up in the front of her house held ten beds. "I used to deliver nine or ten a night," she recalled charging $10 a birth. "I used to deliver 200 to 215 a year." Among her deliveries were twenty-seven sets of twins and two sets of triplets."

"Medicas y Medicos-A Healing Tradition in the SW"

Thursday, 07 March 2013 06:55

"Dennis Hopper" by Lisa Law

‎Lisa Law sent this original photo to post on Voces de Santa Fe. It was taken at her house on Ninita St., Santa Fe. The photo has been used in various print. When asked about the photo, this is what she said: "I think it was July, 2010. Dennis came over to visit me as he was on my board of directors for the Lisa Law Museum of the Sixties. I had the gun he had given me in 1969 to protect myself in Truchas. I asked him if he would hold it for me so I could prove it was he who had given me the gun. In the museum I could display the photo and gun together. He obliged."

His son, Stephen Earnest, was asked to give a summary of his father’s most remarkable life:


“My dad, Elbert Edgar Earnest, was born February 23, 1914 in his grandmother’s farm house just outside Mena, Arkansas.  He lived his first twelve years on the family farm in Arkansas then in Oklahoma.   Due to his mother’s poor health, the family moved to the Estancia Valley in New Mexico, where he continued to be a hardworking farm kid.


“Dad graduated from Estancia High School then went on to UNM where he paid his way as a janitor, worked at the library, ran the school post office, and had other odd jobs.  He married my mom, Atha Love Wright, in 1935 at the little one room church in McIntosh.


“My parents moved to Hot Springs where my dad taught Spanish at the junior and high school.  He also worked at Carrie Tingley Hospital for two summers.  At the start of WWII, they moved to California where he worked for Lockheed building airplanes during the war.


“They moved to Espanola in 1945 where my dad taught at Espanola High School and had a farm to meet the family’s needs. He built two houses for the family, which are still standing today.  Active and concerned about local issues, he dedicated himself to help establish the Espanola Hospital.


“In 1954 our family moved from Espanola to Santa Fe where my dad started his own insurance business.  For many years he had his office above Zook’s Pharmacy overlooking the plaza.  In 1985 he retired and sold his business to Mark Muth.


“As he was his entire life, my ninety-nine year old dad is devoutly but quietly religious and goes to chapel every Sunday.  He is a political observer, keeping up with local, national and international news.  He was one of the founders of Common Cause New Mexico and is an anti-nuclear activist, a pacifist, and an insatiable reader, loves old time hymns, classical music, Roy Orbison, New Mexico’s tri-cultures and sopaipillas!


“My dad has written two memoirs, one of his personal life and one of his political activist life.   At ninety-nine he has a wealth of memories still there for instant recall at any time.  I can spend hours listening to him tell stories of his life.  I love my old man.”


as told to Maria Montez-Skolnik

Thursday, 14 February 2013 19:17

Atha Love Wright Earnest -- Santa Fe Style

Atha Love Wright Earnest, born December 30, 1910, wrote an account of her life, From The Prairie To The Mountain, where she imparts her fascinating life journey, from her childhood in Oklahoma, in the early part of the last century, to her later life as a clothing maker in Santa Fe. 

Born in the prairie of Oklahoma, Atha describes her brave and solo move from her family home on the prairie to the Estancia Valley in New Mexico.   Working to support herself, she graduated from high school in Vaughn and soon  after married Edgar Elbert Earnest in 1935 in McIntosh, NM.  Before long, they created a life in Española, he as a high school teacher, she as a mother and homemaker. 

In the late 1950s, Atha and Edgar moved to Santa Fe where they would leave their mark on the community.  Atha opened her Birdwatcher boutique in 1970.  Located on Canyon Road, the shop carried her popular creations of velvet as well as ribbon shirts for men, and also fashionable broomstick skirts.   With a love of people and a fondness for creating, Atha was at home with her great array of customers, from locals wanting the perfect fashion to wear for the Santa Fe Fiestas, to the famous, such as Robert Redford, Bill Mauldin and Amado Peña, to name a few, who frequented her shop.  

Sensitive to the representation of the heritages she saw around her, it would be fair to say that Atha was one of the original forces behind Santa Fe style. 

by Maria Montez-Skolnik

Thursday, 14 February 2013 06:14

Happy Valentines Day/Remembering Our Parents

Go to the following link:


Friday, 08 February 2013 19:15

Ramon Montes and Emma Jaramillo Wed

Ramon Montes from Santa Fe and Emma Jaramillo from Chimayo were married on May 9, 1947 at the St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe.

Sunday, 16 December 2012 23:58

Happy Holidays from vocesdesantafeorg

So we will always remember


  • Honoring our ancestors and our senior community
  •  Archiving our family stories

Discover the personal stories of our community and to add your stories to the dialogue.

Saturday, 25 August 2012 13:51

Connie Hernandez--A Santa Fé Icon

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Connie Hernandez
Photo by Lisa Law at Rancho de Chimayo, Saturday July 28th

The public is invited to celebrate the life of Connie Hernandez
This Saturday, August 25th, 11:00 to 4:00
This celebration is being sponsored by Voces de Santa Fé
Hope to see you all there!

The following is the write-up to the New Mexican by Jaima Chevalier:


"Voces de Santa Fé Hosts Community Event Honoring Beloved Santa Fean Connie Hernandez.

"(SANTA FE) Voces de Santa Fé announces its sponsorship of a community celebration marking the 87th birthday of Consuelo "Connie" Hernandez, beloved Santa Fean. The event will be held on Saturday, August 25, 2012 at 529 Old Santa Fe Trail from 11 am to 4 pm, open house style. Attendees will be treated to mariachi music, birthday cake, and an opportunity to record their favorite memories of Hernandez on video. Local officials and dignitaries will present Hernandez with proclamations, certificates, and other forms of recognition for her 47 years of profound community service. Hernandez is a past recipient of a "Ten Who Made a Difference " award and she has been named as one of the Governor's Outstanding New Mexico Women. Her deep ties to Santa Fe are everywhere; in the key junctures of birth, marriage, and death, Santa Feans find solace and comfort at her door. Truly a "woman of the gente," Hernandez's personal history reflects people from every walk of life, and that stroll brings back Hernandez's recollections of a past peopled by luminaries such as Fray Angelico Chavez, Witter Brenner, Gustav Baumann, and photographer Laura Gilpin, who captured Hernandez in a silver gelatin print taken circa 1950.

"Hernandez is a true Santa Fe icon. Her story has been the subject of books, doctoral dissertations, blogs, and magazine and newspaper articles, in large part due to her family's long history of community service. For over 250 years, her ancestors have served in various official capacities in service to Santa Fe's La Conquistadora, Our Lady of Peace. Hernandez herself served as sacristana to the religious statue. Hernandez's memories of childhood include feeding itinerant workers and hauling water up to the Carmelite Monastery. Her brother Dr. Joe Hernandez was one of the founders of the Santa Fe Community College. Through her Old Santa Fe Trail Giftshop (the site of her childhood home), "Connie" as she is known to all, has dispensed wisdom, spiritual advice, tourist directions, and thousands of blessed St. Benedict medals for over 47 years. She has donated auction items to countless organizations (Girl Scouts, Acequia Madre school, La Union Protectiva, Elks, Eagles, FOP, and the Spanish Colonial Museum, to name a few). For families undergoing the pain of separation from their loved ones headed to military conflict, she has given away rosaries, prayer cards, and medals. For those who have lost a loved one, she has donated rosaries, milagros, and other items for services. People visit her shop from all over the world, including Italians who make their way to 529 Old Santa Fe Trail to see the woman who has maintained a shrine to Padre Pio for over 40 years. She sends donations from the shrine to San Giovanni Rotondo. Groups from Spain, Japan, and Australia have all beaten a path to her door, along with a nun from Paris who makes regular visits.

"People of all faiths have all found something to love about their visit to the store. It contains an enchanting collection of New Mexican memorabilia, native art pieces, and mementos of times gone by. In order to preserve New Mexican heritage, Hernandez supports many of the santeros from northern New Mexico by collecting their work over many decades. Examples of works by the Ortegas, David Alvarez, Larry Jacquez and many others line the walls of her store. Many pieces are not for sale--she preserves them as examples of New Mexico's ancient art forms. She herself learned to carve bas-relief from one of the itinerant carvers who worked on the San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe. Several of her own pieces adorn the walls of the store.

"Recognizing Hernandez's many contributions to the community is an example of Voces de Santa Fé’s goal to honor local people and to provide a forum for them to tell their own stories in their own words. Voces de Santa Fé was created by a group of native Santa Feans with a shared focus of preserving the family histories of the area. Members of the group represent a wide spectrum of diverse voices, but with a unanimity of purpose. The group's overarching theme, "telling our history in our own voices," is captured and memorialized on the interactive website, which contains fascinating stories of the descendants of those who shaped the area's rich history. Anyone with an interest in personal local history is invited to join this site's important dialogue, and to contribute material in the form of interviews, photos, film, audio, maps, documents, artwork and other content. An educational nonprofit website this is a collaborative project developed by Mike Lord, Maria Montez-Skolnik, Jim Baca, Pete Scott, Stephen Earnest and Adelina Ortiz y Hill.

"Voces invites everyone to share their stories and those of their ancestors and families, to leave a legacy of these lives to future generations. For additional information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"Voces members Virginia Vigil and Maria Montez Skolnik will emcee the event. Voces member Stephen Earnest presents mariachi music performed by Mariachi Sonidos del Monte. Officials of Santa Maria de La Paz school will be on hand to recognize Hernandez with a bronze plaque expressing the school's appreciation for a gift of a large art piece made by her and donated to the school by a collector.

"Members of the public are encouraged to use public transportation and parking off-site (PERA building and Roundhouse lots)."
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