The following Depositions are in the Mexican War Pension file of John S. Watts (1827 KY - 1901 UT). Juana Ormena de Vera was the widow of Bravlio Vera. She was married to John S. Watts in 1860 by a Catholic Priest at San Juan Bautisa, San Benito Co., where she owned a ranch. She owned another ranch in Stanislaus Co. where she was living in 1904 when the depositions were taken. People in the community described her as a wealthy Mexican widow who was a reliable witness.
After John S. Watts died in 1901, his widow Dell Delores Patten Watts filed a claim for the pension. The examiners soon found that Watts had been married three times and interviewed many people to find out whether his third wife was his legal widow. The following depositions show that Juana Ormena de Vera de Watts was his legal widow. She subsequently received the widow's pension.
23 April 1904 La Grange Stanislaus County, California.
Deposition: Joseph Vera My name is Joseph Vera aged I don't know, I am about 60 years old, I guess, P. O. Address La Grange, Dalifornia, laborer by occupation.
Juana Ormeno de Watts is my mother, my father was Bravlia Vera. He was my mother's first husband. He died while we living at Big Creek, Tuolumne Co., Cal. I can't give the year, I think I was ten or twelve years old. My father had gone to the mountains and had got lost, and we all thought he died in the mountains. He could never be found. If he had not died he would have come back. He never was heard from after that. I went to Equador some years after that where his relatives live, but they had never heard from him or seen him. We all thought he had died in the mountains.
I can't tell how soon after my father was lost when my mother went to San Juan with John S. Watts where they were married, but I can't say how many years after my father's susposed death, but I think 3 or 4 years. I can't say for sure. It may have been 5 years. My mother and John S. Watts lived together as husband and wife until he left here. I cant say when that was. She has never married again since then. My mother had 2 children by John S. Watts, but they are both dead. My mother was never divorced from John S. Watts. She has never been to see him nor he her since he left here. I don't know anything further about John S. Watts. I was in Equador when he left this part of the country.
I feel sure that my father must have died in the mountains or he would have come back or since one would have heard of him or seen him.
(Signed) Joseph X Vera his mark
(Marie F. Donahue was the translator)
Deposition Josephine Vera De Silva 24 Apr 1904
Menlo Park, San Mateo Co., CA
Age 58. I am the daughter of Juana Orenea Vera Watts. My mother was married in Equador, but I don't know the date. Neither my father nor my mother were ever married before they married each other, I know that from what they both said often. I was about a year old when my parents came to the United States and after living in San Francisco for a while my father bought a ranch near San Juan (Bautista), Cal. and then they went to Tuolumne Co., Cal. We lived at Big Creek and when I was about 6 years old my father, Bravlio disappeared and was never seen nor heard from since. I was at home with him at the time and he left Big Creek to go to Big Oak Flat to see a man. When my father was gone two days a man went to Big Oak Flat to look for my father, but he had never reached the man he went to see and others looked for my father too, sent out by my mother. There was no reason for my father leaving home, he had a good ranch at San Juan, and there had been no trouble between my father and mother, but he had been sick a year before he left home but had recovered, only that he was weak.
Our family always supposed that my father was dead as he had never been away from our home before.
My mother met John S. Watts some time after my father disappeared, but I cannot give the dates.
Then my mother and John S. Watts went to San Juan to sell her ranch there and while they were there they were married. At the time my mother married Watts she believed my father to be dead. She had two children by Watts, John and Nick Watts and they are both dead. Nick died in my house.
Watts was arrested in Merced County and was in jail there and my mother went to see him and then his brother took him away and I never saw him after that but he used to write to her from Washoe County, over the mountains and told my mother he was coming back but he never came back. I cannot give the exact dates.
I know that my mother is still the widow of John S. Watts, and so considers herself as she was legally married to him and was never divorced from Watts, nor did she ever marry any man after Watts left her to escape the law.
I lived right at home with my mother until 1875 and I know she was never served with any notice of a divorce, on the contrary, she always looked for Watts to come back. All of my mother's children are dead except for Joe and I. This statement is correctly recorded.
(signed) Josefina V. de Silva
Deposition : (translated through Maria F. Donahue) 23 April 1904 La Grange, Stanislaus Co., CA
What is your name? Mrs. Juana Ormena de Watts. I dont know exactly how old I am but I think I am 75 years old. I was born in Equador, So. America. I was first married in my old country in Equador to Bravlio Vera. We came to California in 1849. We first lived in San Francisco, Cal. then we went to San Juan (Bautista). I got a ranch at "Bicina". We lived there for a while, then we went to Sonora, Toulumne Co. to cure my daughter, then we went to Big Oak Flat, Tuolomne Co. Cal, then to Big Creek, now Groveland, Tuolumne Co., Cal. My first husband died while we lived at Big Creek. He got lost in the mountains and nothing was ever heard from him again. No his body was never found. No one ever saw him again. He had been drinking very hard and went off in the mountains where he was lost and never found. The men went and looked for him but he could never be found. Nothing was ever heard from him. I had eight children by my first husband Vera and two by my next husband John S. Watts. Only two of all of my children are now living now namely Joseph Vera of this place and Josephine Vera Silva, a widow and lives on a ranch near Menlo Park, San Mateo County.
My next husband was John S. Watts. I first saw and met John S. Watts at Big Creek, Cal and then when we moved to New Years Diggings, he and I went down to San Juan (Bautista) to sell my ranch down there and while we were there, I and John S. Watts were married at San Juan , Cal. by the Catholic Priest there. I have my marriage certificate. I had to get a dispensation from the Bishop at San Francisco, CAl. to marry him because Mr. Watts was not a Catholic. I dont like to give up my marriage certificate. You can make copies of them. After we were married we came back to New Years Diggings where we lived awhile and then we went to Dom Pedro, and we lived there awhile then we went on a ranch to what was called Marshall's Flat in Tuolumne. We lived there in that ranch when John S. Watts was arrested when charged with stealing cattle, but he did not steal them, it was his Vanqueros who took them. Mr. Watts got away from the Sheriff. I got a letter from him about four years afterwards, he said he was coming back. I wrote him one letter, but I never heard from him again. I then lost all track of him. Never heard that he had married any other woman after he left here. No I was never divorced from John S. Watts. He never was divorced from me. No I never had any papers come to me telling me that he applied for a divorce. I know we were never divorced, U gave never married since he left here. Mr. Watts told me he had been in Mexico. I could not understand English and he talked Spanish very well. Our children were named Nick Watts and John Watts, they lived to be men . . / . . died. Nick died at Menlo Park and John died here in this town about 6 years ago. My husband had three brothers, Teeny Watts, Jack Watts and D. Watts. I cant remember first name. Last year my husband's nephew, Charley Watts, came to see me and told me my husband John S. Watts had died, and he wanted me to sign some papers and give him my marriage certificate, but I would not do it, so he went away. I dont know where he lives.
My husband, John S, Watts, told me he was born in Kentucky. He was tall, very tall and heavy, light complexion, dark gray eyes, hair brown. I cant tell how old he was, I dont remember the name of the place where John S. Watts wrote me that letter from but on the other side of the mountains, I cant be sure but I think it was Nevada though I would not be sure. I dont know any one who knew my first husband Vera and who would know anything about his death. The old timers all died. He was lost I think in 1855, and I married Mr. Watts in 1860. I cant give better dates.
(signed) Juana Ormena de Watts
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