Oral histories passed down from generation to generation can bring a family’s story to life and can be an effective way of capturing information that is difficult to obtain by any other means. They are often entertaining and, while the stories are mostly unsubstantiated, they capture memories and can provide tantalizing clues to help focus our research.

  • Casimir Bauer (1876-1962) – Casimir grew up with his three brothers on a "Bauernhof" - a large German farm in Bavaria near Tuetschgenreuth. We don't know the names of Casimir's brothers, although Casimir’s grandson thinks that one of them might have been named Hans. All of the brothers knew about brick making because the “Bauernhof” had its own brick kiln, which was used to supply bricks and tiles for small construction projects around the farm and in the neighborhood.

    When their father died, the family estate was settled per German tradition of the time: the oldest brother inherited the farm, while the three younger brothers, including Casimir, received money. Knowing about the brick-making trade, the three younger brothers pooled their money to buy a brick factory in nearby Forchheim, a medium-sized city located north of Nuremberg. The brothers built their factory at the base of a hill on the eastern side of Forchheim (it is thought to have been in the vicinity of 49-42-60N 011-05-32E). They extracted the clay for the bricks from the hill, and fired them in three large kilns. The factory made primarily building bricks because the clay was not pure enough to make roof tiles. The brothers divided their responsibilities: Casimir was in charge of the machinery and so ensured that the plant had the power necessary for operations; one brother ran the administrative offices; while the third was in charge of sales.

    The factory apparently prospered for a while. At some point, however, the factory began to accumulate debts. One of the largest debts was to the factory's coal supplier. When that debt grew to sufficient size, the coal merchant gave the owners one week to pay, or he would foreclose. The brothers could not come up with the payment, so they lost the factory. According to one family story, the reason that the factory could not pay its debts was because one of the brothers stole all the money and ran off to America (possibly immigrating through Philadelphia).

    The details of this story have been lost over time and it's doubtful we will ever know the truth. However, the Bauer's will always speculate about the whereabouts of their long-lost relative and wonder if he made it big after he got to America.

  • Senon Reyes (1841-1933) – Senon Reyes, his wife Hilaria, and their young daughter Matilde, immigrated to the United States from the Sonora region of Mexico, arriving in Bisbee, Arizona, sometime between 1880 and 1890. Oral family history claims that Senon was originally from Spain (although this claim is not supported by any of the available documentary evidence, which all suggests that he was from Mexico), and that his wife Hilaria was a Yaqui Indian who could only speak her native Indian language. In Hilaria's Yaqui heritage the family history may be correct, since the tribe did in fact inhabit Sonora (specifically the area around the Yaqui River, or Río Yaqui in Spanish), and the family's arrival coincided with migration of many Yaqui's to the United States, particularly Arizona, to escape a conflict that was in progress between the Yaqui tribe and the Mexican government.

    We don't know for sure how long the Reyes family stayed in Arizona, but we do know that their son Vicente was born there on 4 May, 1890, and that they had arrived in Dona Ana, New Mexico, by the time of the 1900 census, which was enumerated on June 1, 1900.

    According to family tradition, Senon and his family arrived in Dona Ana with all their possessions stacked in a horse-drawn wagon. Tied to the back of the wagon was Senon's riding horse. As the family was passing through Dona Ana, they were approached by a farmer, who admired Senon's riding horse and asked what he wanted for it. Senon asked the farmer what he would offer, to which the farmer allegedly pointed to his parcel of land and replied: "you can have that piece of land, from there, to there, to there, to there." And thus, the horse was traded and the Reyes family homestead - about one and a half acres - was born!

    The Reyes family quickly assimilated with the community. They became neighbors with families such as the Escalante's, Giron's and Lopez's. And they married into two relatively long-established Dona Ana families: the Cuaron's and the Miranda's.