Spring 2016: The Life of Rev. José Ynéz Perea

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We are fortunate to have received an assortment of baby clothing, c.
1920s or 1930s; however, we don’t have information on the donor. If
you are the donor, or have information for our records, please call the
library office at (505)343-7480, or email Jim Prewitt at
From the Editor:
This edion of the Review provides insight into the life of one of the found-
ers of Las Vegas, New Mexico Presbyterian Church, Rev. José Ynéz Perea,
courtesy of a paper by Rev. Randy Campbell. Coincidentally, the Albuquer-
que Museum has a current exhibit, “BACK TO LIFE: The Community of His-
toric Fairview Cemetery,” that includes Perea. The exhibit will show from
March through September. We also recognize last year’s donors to the Li-
brary. You provide us much needed support to connue to build the Li-
brary. We hope you like our choice of subjects. We are also open to receiv-
ing suggesons from you, our readers, of topics you would like to see in the
Rev. José Ynez Perea
Rev. José Ynez Perea
Randy Campbell, when he’s not gallivanting off on an adventure somewhere, is usually found writ-
ing something. In June of last year he finished a very interesting paper on Rev. José Ynez Perea,
who worked hand-in-hand with Rev. John Annin in Las Vegas to build the Las Vegas Old Town
Mission Church. You can find Randy’s paper, Rev. José Y nez Perea: First Native New Mexican to
be Ordained by the Presbyterian Church, Rev. James R. (Randy) Campbell, H. R., June 5, 2015, at
the Library.
We provide here a few excerpts from Randy’s paper to entice you to the Library to read the rest:
[Perea] was the grandson of Francisco Xavier Chavez,
second jefe politico, or Territorial Governor, after Mexi-
co’s independence from Spain. Don Francisco owned
huge flocks of sheep and was also a wealthy merchant
on the lucrative Santa Fe Trail and Camino Real trade
routes. José’s father, Don Juan Perea, likewise gained
wealth from sheep ranching and trade. The families’
wealth and political power is also reflected in the fact
that José’s brother, Colonel Francisco Perea, was elect-
ed as Territorial Representative to the 38th United States
Congress during the second term of President Abraham
Lincoln, 1863-65.
Possibly noting the studious nature and intelligence of their son at an early age, José’s parents de-
clared that he would be a priest in spite of the difficulty presented by the lack of church leadership or
institutions in the region. They made sure that José Ynez was baptized, even though the nearest
priest was at Isleta, several miles to the south of their home in Bernalillo—and on the other side of
the Rio Grande, besides. A descendant remembered the story that the baptismal entourage, in cross-
ing the river, was almost dumped into it when the barge on which they were crossing was hit by a
rogue wave. Still flustered when they finally made it to the priest, José’s godmother forgot what his
middle name should be. She hesitated when asked, so the impatient priest saddled him with the name
of the saint whose day it was—Ynez, or Agnes in English. José Ynez’s middle name was very im-
portant because there were so many other Josés in the Perea and Chavez families that the confusion
would have been immense without it. So he lived with it, maybe knowing it would have been the
much more dashing “Ignacio” if not for that rogue wave.
Las Vegas Old Town Mission Church
After early schooling in New Mexico (age 5) and Chihuahua (age 7), José’s father sent him to
Monsieur Peugnet’s School in New York. In spite of the heavy academic load, it was here that
some of the more daring, or at least curious, students secretly imported, read and discussed the
“forbidden book”, breaking the rules of both school and Vatican. José was, for the first time in his
life, actually able to study the Bible for himself instead of memorizing the catechism and learning
about the ancient history surrounding it. This drastically re-oriented his life yet again, in ways
beyond his father’s control or approval. He writes, “It was there I made my second and last con-
fession, after which I took up the Bible as my guide in the way of life, refusing positively the con-
fessional, though threatened with many hardships.” In the near future, these hardships certainly
became more than threats.
José became a rebellious student, and his father sent him first to Mr. Pingry’s Collegiate Institute at
Fishkill-on-Hudson, New York, West Point, a school in Guilford, Connecticut, and another French
school in Hoboken, New Jersey. Finally his father brought him home, then escorted him once again
across the Santa Fe Trail to St. LouisTherefore, in 1855, when he was 18, José found himself on his
own, disowned by and afraid of his parents, in an unfamiliar American city, working in the dry goods
store, Cooper, Wilson & Co. This experience did not dampen his rebellion against his parents but in-
creased it. On July 4th, 1855, José…purchased a steamer ticket and began the trip down the Mississippi
River to New Orleans…He joined the crew of a ship, perhaps other ships after that, which visited many
ports around the world…it seems he sailed a few of the seven seas, possibly visiting ports in England
and India, South America, California and Hawaii….when he was in port in Boston in 1860…He re-
ceived a letter from his father which asked him to come back home…
After the deaths of his parents…He now became a full-
time shepherd…[eventually at a camp] about 70 miles
southeast of Las Vegas…So it was during a trip to Las
Vegas in the fall of the year 1869 that a Mr. Chapman
introduced him to…the Rev. John Annin. This was the
Presbyterian missionary who would become his partner
in the project of forming a spiritual community centered
in Las Vegas and building a home for it. What a home it
was—and continues to be: The Old Town Mission
In his paper, Randy goes on to describe José’s work as an evangelist, seminary student, translator,
and ordained Presbyterian Minister. Read the entire paper at the Library.