Tale of Three Cristobals

by Joyce Gonzales, Updated March 10, 2020

Cristobal I: Progenitor of Baca Family

 Cristobal Baca (1567- 1613) was the Progenitor of the Baca Family in New Mexico and the South West. Cristobal was a Captain born in Mexico City, New Spain. He and his wife Ana Ortiz (1563-1620) and their children came to New Mexico in 1600 with other reinforcement soldiers. These soldiers were sent to help protect the newly established Spanish Colony set up by Juan de Onate in 1598 at Ohkay Owingeh (formerly San Juan Pueblo).

Henrietta Christmas, President of the New Mexico Genealogical Society, has estimated that there are about five million descendants from Cristobal Baca and Ana Ortiz. Almost any person who has seven or more generations in New Mexico will descend from one of the many Baca lines, if not several times.

Cristobal II: Possible Father of The founding grandparent of the CCM1 Common Hispanic Mutation

Cristobal Baca II (1625-1697) was the grandson of Cristobal I. Cristobal II was the father of Manuel Baca.  Research identifies Manuel Baca or his wife Maria Hurtado de Salazar (1656-1730) as the possible Founding Grandparent of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations (CCM1), also called the Common Hispanic Mutation (CHM) in New Mexico and the Southwest. At this time, we do not know of any other children of Cristobal II who carried the mutation.

Manuel Baca and Maria Hurtado de Salazar had nine known children. Research to date has identified at least four of these children who probably had the CCM1 mutation. Maria Josefa Baca (1685-1746) was one of those probable-affected children. Josefa had six children, several of whom probably had CCM1.

Cristobal III: Probably had the highest number of descendants with the CCM1 Common Hispanic mutation

 Cristobal Baca III was the son of Manuel Baca and Maria Hurtado de Salazar. He was married to Apolonia de la Vega y Coca (1701-1734) and Maria Manuela Marquez. Research indicates that Cristobal III probably had CCM1. This Cristobal probably had the biggest impact on families affected with CCM1 because of the sheer number of children that were born into his family. Cristobal III had fifteen known children with his two wives, and his grandson Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca had twenty- three known children with 3 wives.

Research to date has identified at least two children of Cristobal III who probably carried the CCM1 mutation. These children were Maria Agustina Baca, married to Antonio Armenta, and Juan Antonio Baca, married to Maria Romero (de Pedraza).

Juan Antonio Baca married Maria Romero and they had ten known children.  Research to date indicates that five of their sons probably had CCM1. They were:

  • Jose Maria Baca (1761-)
  • Jose Miguel Baca (1765-)
  • Jose Manuel Baca (1767-1713)
  • Juan Esteban Baca (1768-)
  • Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca (1754-1827)

Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca was the grandson of Cristobal Baca III. Luis acquired several land grants, one of which was in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Some believe that he and his family were descendants of the Spanish explorer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca. Although this theory has not been proven, Luis Maria changed his and his children’s surnames to Cabeza de Baca.

Luis had approximately 23 known children with three wives. Luis Maria was killed in 1827 for harboring a fur trapper. Most of the children of Luis Maria went on to have their own large families, many of whom probably had CCM1. We know that this illness does not skip generations and that each of his 23 children had a 50% chance of inheriting CCM1. If approximately half of Luis Maria’s children inherited this illness, then the impact this family had on the CCM1 gene mutation would have been huge.

The grandchildren of Luis Maria and their descendants abbreviated their surname from Cabeza de Baca to C’de Baca. We know that all C’de Baca today descend from Luis Maria Cabeza de Baca. Much more research will need to be done on this specific family line to identify more of Luis Maria’s affected children. Research to date has identified at least two of Luis Maria’s children who probably had CCM1. They were:

  • Juan Antonio Cabeza de Baca (1783-1835)
  • Prudencio Cabeza de Baca (1800- )

In the case of Prudencio Cabeza de Baca, he either married twice or there are two men with the same name. This is not uncommon in this family; Luis named several of his children Antonio after his father. Research to date has identified at least one of Prudencio’s children who probably had CCM1. This child was: Valentine C’de Baca (1861-1911) who married Elvira Gallegos (1859-1938) and lived in Peña Blanca, NM.

Valentine C’de Baca and Elvira had fifteen known children.  Research to date has identified at least four of these children that probably had CCM1.

I have only followed one line which includes three family members with the name Cristobal Baca. As research continues, the validation team will continue to add more identified lineages.

We are also following the Dominguez de Mendoza family from which most of the CCM1 families from Mexico trace. For example, I have CCM1 and I go back through both the Baca and the Dominguez de Mendoza families. Therefore, I could have inherited CCM1 from either one of these families.

Surnames identified as possible CCM1 carriers are listed below. These descendants have validated genealogies back to Manuel Baca and Maria Salazar de Hurtado or the Dominguez de Mendoza families.


New Mexico Families Possibly Affected (to date)

Apodaca, Aragon, Armijo, Baca, C’deBaca,  Campos, Casaus, Chavez (DYC), Espinoza/sa, Garcia, Gonzales, Lopez, Lucero, Luna, Maez/Maes ( Maese), Martinez, Mora, Ortiz, Padilla, Quintana, Rivera, Romero, Sandoval, Silva, Sais/Saiz, Vigil

Mexico Families Possibly Affected (to date)

Aguirre, Chavez, Contreras, Dominguez, Dominguez de Mendoza, Grijalva, Mendoza, Perez, Ponce (de Leon), Rascon, Vejar