Francisco Antonio Sisneros
May 7, 2021
As with many stories, this website, www.sisneros.org, begins with an ending.
Only days have passed since we lost a dear member of the Sisneros Family. His name was Francisco Antonio Sisneros.
Heartbreaking to those of us who know just how much we have lost this week; a brilliant, witty and gracious man who seemed to know the many secrets of our ancestors. An educator, author and historian, he was well-known in the academic world. But more importantly (to us) Francisco was our very own historian and genealogist. He held a great distinction and honor in the Sisneros family and all the families that networked us.
Enthusiastically, he focused a large portion of his lifetime, on keeping the memories of his New Mexican family alive. He was a geologist and an archaologist of sorts, digging up records of births, deaths, baptisms, marriages, and written records of all sorts and documenting them. He connected lost pieces of history and curated the mosaic of many family journeys and paths in the history of our people as they navigated through the New Mexican story.
If we were lucky enough to sit with him at a cousin's wedding or anniversary party, we would quiz him, bombard him with questions and expect answers and details from him that seemed impossible for mere mortals to remember. But he knew. He never tired of the subject of los ancianos. He loved them. He lived with them on a daily basis, and he left us in awe after every conversation. He was so skilled and had such a deep knowledge of New Mexican history that if he asked a stranger a simple series of questions, right on the spot, he could tell these people who their ancestors were and detail their lineage and how their families entered the kingdom of Nueva España.
Francisco became such a good historical sleuth that he helped hundreds of New Mexican families discover their own genealogy. His work helped establish the Hispanic Genealogical Research Center. Over 60 articles were written by Francisco, as well as many collaborations on the books of other authors. Not only did he write stories, but stories were written about him. Articles can be found in the News-Bulletin, Albuquerque Journal and other publications.
I found this quote in the Albuquerque Journal, and it is so clarifying. "I have found that by tracing their families' roots, they unlock a rich and deep-rooted heritage." Sisneros, for one, can't get enough. He says it's a project that doesn't have an end. "That's why it's so intriguing,"
In 1996, Francisco published a book called Sisneros: A New Mexico Family History.This book was a big eye-opener to many in the family because it was a genealogical study that not only showed us the recorded history of our family in Nueva España from the 1600's, but also showed us records from the year 1111, where the name Cisneros "Sire of the House of Cisneros" originated in Castilla La Vieja in Spain.
More profoundly, just several days before he passed, Francisco published a new book about his early life in the tiny hamlet of Abo Viejo. A Boy From Abo Viejo: My New Mexico Childhood Memoirs. He was determined to share the colloquial language and unique stories that will probably be gone with his generation. More than simple childhood stories, he shows just how unique a place in history that this humble group of families actually are. Poor in materialism, isolated from much of the outside world, these stories fill the senses with vivid recreations of his childhood world - the world that influenced him throughout the days of his life.
Sisneros (or Cisneros) literally means "Keeper of the Swans". But to this family, Francisco will always be the Keeper of the Tome - from the historical record to the sweet and dear memories. We owe him gratitude for his wisdom, knowledge and love for family.
So, here is hoping that, in the telling and sharing of the stories created by the kind and gentle spirit of our brother/cousin/nephew/father/grandfather, that the generations that follow will keep the torch alive and the stories flowing.
Our prayers, sympathies and deepest love to Francisco's wife, Inez, daughters, Andrea and her husband, Stuart, Rebecca and her husband Johnny Ray, grandchildren, Esteban, Anja and Aurora.
A post script: I am by no means the curator of Francisco's work, which spans his entire lifetime. I have just gathered what I could to honor our querido primo. I would LOVE for any friends or family of Francisco to add to this article or share any photos or stories to commemorate Francisco. Thank you!