history research–tracing the Charles A. Bottger family tree

I’ve been doing some historical research on Charles A. Bottger, the man who had the Bottger Mansion built in 1910.  It’s an appropriate thing to do in the 100th anniversary year of the house, right?

We’ve been given lots of oral history stories from local residents, Bottger family descendants, and some self-proclaimed historians. Since we had become aware of a few discrepancies, I decided to do factual research, beginning at the Special Collections Library in Albuquerque.  The Special Collections Library is full of records of marriages, deaths, births, baptisms, census records, property deeds, and newspaper archives, to name just a few.  There are some gaps in their records, which may be filled by documents elsewhere, like the Albuquerque Museum archives or the State Archives in Santa Fe, which I’m told has pretty much everything.  I’ll see how much I can get in Albuquerque before I take that day trip to the State Archives in Santa Fe.  It’s also amazing how much is available online.

What I’ve uncovered so far is a fascinating, convoluted history of the Bottger family, their own ancestors and descendants.  It turns out that much of that oral history we had been given is incorrect.  The factual documents and records that I’ve found disprove many of those stories.  On the other hand, there is documented evidence that many of those stories are true.

Part of the challenge in genealogy is that names were spelled incorrectly, families tended to use the same names over the generations (making it both easy and difficult to trace them), and there were a lot of multiple marriages.  Thomas D. Post (Miguela Bottger’s father or step-father, not sure which yet) married a widow with a daughter.  Miguela Bottger had already been married, had two children, and was a widow when she married Charles Bottger.  Zachary Ortiz, Sr., Bottger’s grandson, was a widower with four young boys, who later remarried and had an additional three children.  It is both fascinating and complex.

I’ve been encouraged by one of the librarians at the Special Collections Library to put all of this factual information with sources cited into a self-published book and donate a copy to the library.  Someday one of the Bottger family descendants may want to do some research on their own and would find it useful.