The following is the text of an interview with Miss Josephine Silva of Del Norte, a descendant of the La Loma de San Jose settlers. This interview was held in February, 1969 and published from the San Luis Valley Historical Society Historian, 1974, Vol 6, Issue 2.
"At the time that this group of Spanish people settled in the San Luis Valley, or in Rio Grande County, they settled below [west] what is now known as the intersection going to Seven Mile Plaza. Of course, at that time, this was called "La Loma de San Jose," because these settlers, being very religious, always had to have the name of a saint, which they thought would bring them good luck, success, and happiness if they had the saint's name. So, consequently, La Loma was named, "La Loma de San Jose."
This last group of people that came and settled there were the Silvas, the Luceros, the Espinozas, and the Martinezes. After they built their homes and a place where they could have their religious services, which at that time was a "jacal" and which was probably the first religious structure built in Rio Grande County; for a religious meeting of all those families that were together, was, I believe, when they decided to name it "La Loma de San Jose."
Gradually the families intermarried and that is when my grandmother, who was Rosalia Chavez, and my grandfather, who was Francisco Chavez, married. At that time the traveling priest, that came to their services of worship, was a Jesuit who came perhaps once a year on horseback.
At that time, also, they had a little store, which Antonio Le Blanc built because he was quite a carpenter by trade. This store served the purposes of all those families that had come in from New Mexico, who had previously been sent with land grants.
At this point, I believe, that then is when the Silva ditch came into being. The Silvas, who were experienced in irrigation, decided that they would make what is now known as the Silva ditch, so they could plant and have their crops. So the construction of the Silva ditch came about in 1864 .
At that time, I can remember my grandmother talking about the different classes of flour that they had grown in those days, after the grinding in the Blue Mill. She always talked about it as "el Molino," which was the mill, and which the flour was ground in and which it was graded. The first grade was always called the floor or the best of the meal, the second was the "semeta," which is pretty fair and the third, which was the poorest grade, was the "salvado," which would make a kind of a course biscuit or cookie.
My mother went to school up there on San Francisco Creek, as did all the other thirteen children in the family. I remember Mother mentioning that her teacher, Mrs. Wood, dropped by for them in her buggy and picked up all the children and took them to the little school up there on San Francisco Creek. Then she'd drive them home in the evening because of fear of rattle snakes.
There was always plenty of game, fish, deer, etc. So, they had a good life. They had plenty to eat, especially with the mill and with the irrigation project that they had. It was pretty good for awhile.
They decided to leave San Francisco Creek because of the trouble that they had, due to a fact, that they were diverting waters that they shouldn't have. So they decided to leave San Francisco Creek and come back to the Valley.
However, they did raise livestock and they did have their crops of corn and so on up there.
About in 1872 when they came down here to La Loma, where the grandparents and ancestors lived, Jesus Maria or J.M. Alarid, as he was known, who had come from New Mexico and was the professor, began teaching the children of the settlers, ranging in ages from ten to twenty. This was before any school district had been formed. He taught in an adobe building, which was built right next to where they lived, which is now known as the old Sylvester Ranch. Of course, he did not get any pay, but he did get grain, potatoes, meat, and other rations, I presume, from the children that he taught.
I remember my grandfather saying, that at La Loma de San Jose they had their own burial grounds. At one time they had all kinds of tombstones that they had made out of carved rock and wood.
My ancestors on both sides of my mother's family are buried there, as was the Martinez family, Jose Bonefacio and Manuel Martinez families, which, of course, were related to my mother through her mother's family. In other words, it was a very clannish deal. They were all intermarried and they were all related."