The grave marker simply said “Mrs. McVay”

In 1856, Mary Isabelle Riley was born to Isaac Riley and Mary Dewit Higgins in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Her family later moved to Wilson County, Kansas – where Mary Isabelle met and married Miles Mallet McVay in 1876. They were soon blessed with a baby boy named Willie. She was pregnant with her second child when 8-month-old Willie died.

Four short months after she buried her firstborn, she gave birth on the 15th of December, 1877 to Edward Isaac McVay (my husband’s grandfather). In 1881, she had a daughter – Lillian May known as “Lillie” and in 1896, Gladys Madeline was born.

Mary Isabelle followed her railroad-working-husband all over New Mexico. She lived at about every spot where a train station was built. She often took the trains to travel with her daughters and to visit family and friends in Kansas.

She lost her husband in 1914 and in 1922, Gladys died. Last year, I found more information in New Mexico Deaths. Mary Isabelle Riley McVay died the 15th of July, 1925 in  in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

My husband, Ron, wanted to find the grave of his g-grandmother, so we took the information we had and headed on a road trip to Las Vegas, New Mexico.

We walked thru the weeds and graves at the Odd Fellows Cemetery for a long time before we found her marker. It simply said, “Mrs. McVay.”

Doña Ana, New Mexico

My husband, Ron Ruiz, and I recently took a trip to retrace his family’s history. One of the highlights was a visit to the town of Doña Ana, New Mexico. My husband’s g-g-grandparents, Pasqual De La O and Nicolasa Fernandez, settled here in about 1850 with their eight children. Their next daughter, Martina De La O, was born in Doña Ana in 1853 and was raised there and perhaps in the nearby area of Mesilla / Las Cruces. She married Juan Lopez in 1867 and they had two children in Doña Ana before they made the move to El Paso, Texas around 1873. Some of Martina’s siblings stayed in Doña Ana and raised their families and their De La O descendants still live there today.

De La O Saloon with patrons out front..jpg

The old De La O Saloon has been turned into a visitor’s center. IMG_0563.jpg

Martina’s Baptism Record 1853









Photograph of Martina De La O










Martina De La O and Juan Lopez’s youngest daughter, also named Martina, was raised in El Paso and married Manuel Ruiz. Below is a family photograph of Martina De La O with the Manuel Ruiz family.

Martina De La O Lopez w/Ruiz Family

Ruiz Children: Left to right – Isaac “Chapo”, Eloise “Loche”, Esther, and Joel