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Death of Santa Fe Philanthropist Miguel Chavez Exposes A Long-Lost Love Child

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Miguel Chavez seated next to a bust of his image.

On Dec . 13, 1928, one of the Santa Fe’s most prominent, influential and wealthy individuals died. His name was Miguel Chavez. News of his death brought a burst of excitement to Santa Fe. Chavez was very wealthy with an estate of $800,000. Today, that amount would be the equivalent of approximately twelve million dollars.

A Legal Battle Ensues

The settlement of his estate became embroiled in a U. S. District Court case. In 1879 Chavez opened a mercantile store in northern New Mexico in the community of Parkview. That’s where he took up with Louisa Lovato. Their amorous relationship resulted in the birth of a baby girl named Carolina. Fast forward to 1928 and Carolina C. Salazar comes forward seeking her inheritance. Four attorneys, two from Albuquerque and two from Santa Fe, represented the plaintiff.

Carolina’s Defense

The defense team was able to get the court to acknowledge Carolina as the illegitimate daughter of Chavez. But Carolina wasn’t named in the will. To add insult to injury, numerous witnesses testified that Chavez loved Louisa, Carolina’s mother. But Chavez was married to Eliza Krummick, the daughter of a prominent Santa Fe druggist.

Money to the Church

The will of Miguel Chavez was admitted to the Santa Fe County probate court on February 4, 1929. To his living, close relatives Chavez bequeathed the house and a lot in Santa Fe and approximately $16,000. He bequeathed to Albert T. Daeger, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, and to his successors in office $100,000 in trust. That money was used for the completion of the Basilica Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

Children’s Endowment

The remainder of the of the estate was put into a trust to be managed and invested. Ironically, recipients of the endowment included St . Anthony’s Boys’ Orphanage in Albuquerque and St. Vincent Girls’ Orphanage in Santa Fe. Sadly, Miguel Chavez had made no provisions for his own illegitimate daughter Carolina.