Maria Tiznado (later Torres) was born in 1902 in Concordia, Sinaloa, Mexico. Her parents lived on a ranch in Concordia and they were well-to-do until her father passed away. At some point, she moved with her family to Mazatlan.
Maria was the first to go to the United States in 1924, probably picking vegetables in Carpenteria, California. She gave birth to twins in that same year. At the time, her daughters Hortencia and Dora were born in Carpenteria, California. Her son Jesus was born in Los Angeles two years later, in 1926.
Maria was married to Mateo Manzano. Little is known about Mateo, however, he went back to Mazatlan where he died in the 1940’s. During Maria’s time in Los Angeles, she told the story of bootlegging with her brother. They were making beer in their house, which was a crime during the Prohibition Era in the United States. Federal agents came to the house and Maria was the one who opened the door. They took her to jail, but it just so happened the guard fell in love with her and wanted to marry her, so he let her be a seamstress sewing shirts for prisoners. Apparently, she was in charge of sewing the collars on the shirts and became very good at it. She wasn’t in jail long and then returned to living in Los Angeles.
Maria married Lazaro Torres in 1938. They never had children together.
Lazaro Torres (b. 1897 in Topia, Durango) left home early — at the age of fourteen — and began fighting in the Mexican Revolution in 1910. He even achieved the rank of Captain 2 in Villa’s army. Lazaro’s sister, Julia, was also a fighter in the Mexican Revolution. Following the revolution, very little is known about Lazaro before he came to the United States.
Lazaro crossed into the United States in his early twenties. He had a first wife in Los Angeles and together they had three children. However, his wife passed away. While in Los Angeles, he worked as a baker. He was an artist and made beautiful cakes. He also worked in a soap factory where, along the way, he learned to make soap.
Lazaro’s Mother was Apache from Durango Gregoria Carrasco Torres his father was Camilo Torres from Spain. His parents owned a bakery. He married his first wife in Sonora Mexico she was Yaqui Maria Gonzalez. They had three children Jesse, Henry and Alice. According to Lazaro they lived at the San Carlos reservation. In 1926 Maria commited suicide. The children were raised by relatives in Los Angeles. His second wife was Sophie Ramirez. She was a baker and cake decorater. They had a daughter named Mavis.In 1938 he married his third wife Maria. (Added information given by Anita Albanez Torees Robles)
Shortly after Lazaro and Maria married in 1938, they went to live in San Ysidro at 235 Main Street. Lazaro bought some equipment and thanks to his previous training, he began a soap business in Tijuana. At first the soap business flourished. He had a manual soap machine that cut bars and stamped them with the word “Torres.” However, when the company Fab came to Tijuana, Lazaro went out of business.
Sometime in the 1940’s or 1950’s, Maria and Lazaro began to have a new hobby of looking for rocks in the mountains of Mexico. The couple’s descendants believe they might have been looking for gold. (Certainly Baja has had quite a history of prospectors searching for precious metals.) The family remembered that Lazaro used to have a pan for mining and he would go to the stream to show his grandchildren how to find the glittering specks. He also taught the grandchildren how to hunt and shoot. Maria taught the children to look out for snakes and spiders as they hiked mountains collecting firewood. They were always looking at the ground until Maria would say, “There’s a vein.” If she saw a little shiny white, Lazaro would take a look and decide if it was a good place to start.
Within two decades, Lazaro owned several mines, including El Nevado (near El Carrizo), Rosarito (in Valle de Las Palmas) as well as La Huerta in Ensenada, Valle Redondo and La Rumarosa. The mines were usually located on private property, so he would make an agreement with the owner. If he could mine the land, he would give the owner a cut of his profits. Lazaro would then go into the City of Ensenada where he would register the mines officially. In addition, right by his mines, Lazaro would build a cement monument. These mojoneras still stand today and are visited by Maria and Lazaro’s grandchildren on excursions.
Lazaro hired locals from Tecate to mine for manganese, white quartz and rose quartz. He would have crews of about five or six men. Lazaro and Maria became good friends with many of the mine workers who wanted their children baptized by them. Both became Godparents and Compadres to many throughout Baja California.
Maria and Lazaro also hired Kumeyaay Indians. In one picture, Fernando, the chief of the Kumeyaay, stands with Maria and another woman named Lupe. Lazaro and Maria’s grandchildren would play hide and seek with them. (The original picture says: “Maria y los paisanos de la Huerta.”)
Lazaro would buy supplies in downtown San Diego at Krasne’s, including shovels and perhaps dynamite. Krasne’s would then buy stones from Lazaro. Mr. Krasne would at times join Lazaro in the mountains and Lazaro occasionally used Krasne’s trucks. (The owners of Krasne’s are the same family who now own Triple K Gun supplies and Extraordinary Desserts.) Lazaro would then take the equipment down south to his workers. Every week on Friday he would take his family and sometimes friends to the mines with him, mainly in Tecate. He built one-room shacks where everyone would stay for the weekend. The grandchildren fondly remember going to the mines most weekends, often joined by aunts, uncles and cousins. Weekend camping events were common and always fun. The family members and grandchildren would hunt, hike and play, camping for the weekends while Lazaro and his crew worked. At the end of the day Lazaro would bring a musical band from Tecate for the family party.
Lazaro and Maria sold their rocks to Mexican businessmen who re-sold the rocks for use on roofs, walkways and yards. In San Ysidro, the couple lived across the street from a Mr. Patrick Young who owned a small museum and they would also sell their rocks to him.
In 1968 the couple had to move because their house was going to be razed down to make way for the I-805 freeway. They remained in San Ysidro, buying about a ¾ acre property near Sunset School.
Both of Maria’s twin daughters, Hortencia and Dora (b. 1924), went on to live in San Ysidro for their entire lives. In the 1940’s they were riveters for Convair. They also worked at the Bumblebee fish cannery and an olive cannery in downtown San Diego. Hortencia married Donaciano Tapia (b.1926 Albuquerque, New Mexico). He worked for the railroad in Oceanside for a time.
Lazaro died in 1978 and Maria died in 1985. Lazaro only learned a little English and Maria never learned. They also remained Mexican citizens with U.S. immigrant status all their lives. They have many descendants who were born in the United States and many who still live in San Ysidro.
(Interview on August 19, 2016 with sisters Olivia Tapia and Lina Yorba [daughters of Hortencia–Maria’s daughter] and sisters Pilar Rose and Maria Manzano [daughters of Jesus—Maria’s son].)