New Mexico Spanish Surname help please

+3 votes
Hello! I've run into something new with a surname and wanted to make sure I format it correctly on WikiTree since there will be several with this same surname.

A woman I'm creating a profile for is from a family known with the surname C' de Baca. This is an abbreviation from the surname Cabeza de Baca. Cabeza de Baca was passed down for a couple of generations before it was abbreviated. The Cabeza part of the surname (abbreviated or not) is an important distinction from other Baca surnames. This family is descended from Cabeza de Vaca, the explorer who came from Spain.

I have seen the abbreviated version written as C' de Baca or C. de Baca. I would love to hear from those familiar with Spanish surnames and how best to write the surname for WikiTree purposes. Thanks!
in Genealogy Help by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (694k points)
Don’t abbreviate it.
The abbreviated version was used on all records during this time period.

Hello Emma!   smiley

I'd use "Cabeza de Vaca" (the correct modern Spanish spelling. Pre-1500 example here), adding any other different spelling you could find in other sources as "Other Last Names".

(Most researchers/genealogists search for "Cabeza de Vaca" in Google or WikiTree, instead of searching for "C de Baca", "C de Vaca" or "Cabeza de Baca")

Gracias, Rubén! laugh

1 Answer

+1 vote
All the Baca family members started out with the Cabeza de Vaca name but for some reason it turned into just Baca in New Mexico.  According to Fray Angélico Chávez (the father of New Mexico genealogy), "Although it is derived from 'Cabeza de Vaca,' a title and name received by a Spanish hero in the 1212, the full name was never once used by this New Mexico family for over two centuries." (Origins of New Mexico Families, 11)  You may want to double check that the full name was used by this family in New Mexico, even if it was the name they used in Mexico or Spain.

ETA: however, do what Rueben says because he has a lot more experienced than I do.
by Marcie Ruiz G2G6 Mach 2 (24.8k points)
The name C'de Baca (abbreviated in this way)  was used consistently in this family line. Occasionally it's written as Baca, but that's usually a census taker's abbreviation.

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