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Ancestor 4: Julian Flores rumored to have left family to join Pancho Villa

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Julian Flores is a maternal great-great grandfather about whom little is known and yet he has a giant cloud over him. A rumor that he left his family to join Pancho Villa, the famous Mexican bandit and Mexican Revolutionary general, has survived to this day, but there is no proof to back up this oral history. That lack of proof does not stop descendants from being upset at him.

There are no birth or death records for Julian Flores. The only evidence of his marriage to Brigida Sepulveda is in the 1900 U.S. Census, where Sepulveda is listed as head of household living in south Texas, mother of six, and a widow. The census also states that she got married in 1872 and was married 28 years. If this is true, it means she was recently widowed at the time of the census.

If this census information is accurate, it makes it difficult to see how Flores could have joined Villa. At the time of the census, Sepulveda was listed as 50 years old. It is likely her husband was her age or older. In 1900, Pancho Villa was 28 years old. He always had men working for him as part of his army or who joined him in guerilla activity. It is not impossible that a man in his fifties could be part of Villa’s organization, but it seems a bit of a stretch.

What really casts doubt on the Pancho Villa story is why Sepulveda said she was widowed in the census. Of course, Flores could have died while working for Pancho Villa and word got back to Sepulveda.

Aaron Holt, archives technician at the National Archives Fort Worth, said it is not unusual for genealogists today to have conflicting stories about an ancestor if that oral history was not passed down in a deliberate way through the generations.

“I tell people all the time that it only takes three generations to lose a piece of oral family history,” Holt said. “It must be purposely and accurately repeated over and over again through the generations to be preserved for a genealogist today.”

It is clear that the accurate details of Julian Flores’ death were not deliberately passed down through the generations. Maybe there were no details and Brigida Sepulveda knew very little herself. Only one piece of the Julian Flores story has survived and no one is sure if it is true. But it makes Julian Flores a man of great mystery and the search for the rest of the story will continue.

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