Telles Coat of Arms


Last name origin & meaning: Portuguese (Teles): patronymic from the medieval personal name Tellus, probably of Germanic origin.

Read more on FamilyEducation

A Brief History

Although the journey of the name Telles/Tellez is a long and interesting one, I cannot sum it up on one page. However, I have gathered a lot of information from the following sources. The rest I learned from free and subscription services to which I will provide the links to on this website. The following is a brief history of the name and how the texts relate to my ancestor.

Before last names one name was probably sufficient for most small groups of people in the Iberian Peninsula through the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages were between 800 C.E. and 1500 C.E. and is the likely source of the name Tellez/Telles. (Tellez)

In his book Tellez, History and Genealogy, Carlos P. Tellez discusses historical research of surnames in Spain shows the name Tellez first appears in a publication in the Kingdom of Leon in the early 800's C.E. The reigning King was Alfonso II and it was he that authorized the Church of Valpuesta to use the name. The first person to be baptized with the name remains a mystery. According to Mr. Tellez' in his book it is likely he was a member of the King's Court and most certainly a male.

Historical evidence shows that the name Tellez' origin is in the first name Tel, which has its origins in the German tribes associated with the Visgoths. It was then that cultural conditions evolved it to the Spanish alternate, Tello. The name Tellez literally means, "Son of Tello", with Tello being a first name. Such was the common naming conventions of the land that was to become Spain and Portugal.(Tellez)

The book explores many specific people through the Middle Ages and discusses a fascinating link to warriors, court members, and even royalty. Then Mr. Tellez explores the growth of the family and the names arrival in the New World and up the Rio Grande. The passage that concerns my ancestor is as follows:

It seems highly probable that Jose Santos tellez and his five sons are the progenitors of some of the Tellez who later in the century became residents of Albuquerque, and western New Mexico communities such as Gallup, Grants, San Rafael, and Cebolleta.

Sketchy records of New Mexico history disclose that in 1875, Jose Leon Tellez was among the villagers of Cebolleta who resettles in San Rafael, New Mexico. The records further show that Jose Leon Tellez joined the United States Cavalry in 1882 as a First Lieutenant. Tellez served under the command of Major George Pratt in campaigns against renegade Navajos and Apache Indians. In July, 1885, Major Pratt addressed to his superior, Colonel Walter Marmon, a letter of commendation regarding the excellent and faithful service rendered by Captain Dumas Provencher, Lieutenants Ireneo Chavez, Roman Baca, and Jose Leon Tellez. After his military service, Tellez served as a justice of the peace for many years in San Rafael.(Tellez)

My ancestors did leave sketchy records, and I have seen some of the records that Mr. Tellez is referring to when discussing my great-great-grandfather Jose Leon Telles(z), but obviously would be highly interested in anything new. The major problem confusing me is I don't know anything about who his parents were. (UPDATE: 13 FEB 2013; His father is Tomas (Julio) Telles and his mother is Paula Montoya; as of this update I have used a variety of marriage sources to prove this line to the 2nd great-grandfather of Jose Leon Telles, named Joseph Telles-Xiron in the records of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe del Paso.) I have found information about his life, but other than a census record, I have nothing in him from his time in Cebolleta.

Another book that is a reference for many in the area my family comes from is by Fray Angelico Chavez, the Origins of New Mexico Families. This title covers the seventeenth and eighteenth-century and focuses on the Reconquest of Santa Fe in 1693.(Chavez)

TELLES (Telles Jiron) - This seventeenth-century family stayed at Guadalupe del Paso (I believe modern day Juarez, MX), except for some married women who returned with their husbands for the Reconquest of 1693. The name re-appeared at the turn of the century in the Rio Abajo and Socorro area, which shows that individuals, descended from this family, eventually moved north. For example, Jose Manuel Telles.(Chavez)

I have found no connection to any of the names mentioned in Mr. Chavez' book, although I probably will soon enough, but it does not have nearly the amount of information as Carlos P. Tellez' anthology.

Jose Leon Telles is mentioned in another volume titled El Malpais: In the Land of Frozen Fires. El Mapais is translated from Spanish to mean "the badlands". This is because of the cooled lava flow from the volcanoes that forged them thousands of years ago. It briefly mentions the history of San Rafael, New Mexico.

San Rafael rapidly became the center for sheep raising. Sheep ranchers acquired or controlled vast grazing empires blanketing an area south of the chain of craters and continuing eastward to the Acoma Reservation. The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Company, in a bid to remain solvent, began the process of selling off its vast land grants in Arizona and New Mexico. Jose Leon Telles, Manuel Padilla Y Chavez, Monico Mirabal, and Romulo Barela carved out huge holdings in the San Rafael Valley. Monico Mirabal and his son Don Sylvestre Mirabal, took advantage of the railroad's desire to liquidate its assets in the region. Monico purchased or leased over 250,000 acres of land, with property holdings extending south of Bandera Crater. [5](El Mapais)

More about my great-great-grandfather Jose Leon Telles can be found below.


Works Cited
Chavez, Angelico. Origins of New Mexico Families: a Genealogy of the Spanish Colonial Period. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico, 1992. Print.
Tellez, Carlos P. Tellez History and Genealogy. Albuquerque: Self Published, 1991. Print.
"El Malpais: In the Land of Frozen Fires (Chapter 7)." U.S. National Park Service - Experience Your America. Web. 07 May 2011. <>.

Jose Leon Telles

Jose Leon Telles

Born April 11, 1837

Website Links: GEDCOM Output, Find A Grave

In addition to the above, my ancestor Jose Leon Telles is written about in a pamphlet by Josephine Barela of San Rafael titled: Ojo Del Gallo - A Nostalgic Narrative of Historic San Rafael. The information contained about our ancestor has been transcribed by Valerie S., and is available on The pamphlet is out of print and hard to come by. It contains an invaluable amount of information about the daily specifics of life in San Rafael in the late 1800's up to the 1950's, including the personal experiences of the author.

Excerpts from Ojo Del Gallo by Josephine Barela

References to Jose Leon Tellez(s)


Page 8

On August 17, 1857, the Camel Caravan under Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, camped at Ojo del Gallo where they found a good supply of water and grass.

In 1861, the following pioneers, while not yet residing in Ojo del Gallo, volunteered for service in the Civil War: Jose Leon Telles, Monico Mirabal, Jose Fermin Gallegos, Romulo Barela, and perhaps many others whose names have been dimmed in the mist of history.

Jose Leon Tellez was born in Ranchos de Atrisco, New Mexico, and enlisted in Albuquerque as First Sergeant in Co. G. 3rd Regiment, New Mexico Volunteer Mounted Infantry.  After he ws discharged, he moved to Ceboyeta, New Mexico, and lived there for twelve years, then moved to San Rafael in 1874. He was one of th efirst to file for a homestead, and established his claim for 159.77 acres in San Rafael on June 20, 1881.  He also served as First Lieutenant, Co. K, 2nd Regiment Militia, Apache Campaign, under Captain Dumas Provencher, December 27, 1882.  For many years he served as Justice of the Peace at San Rafael, and took a very active part in the civic and political life of the community. He owned extensive prperty and had a large orchard, garden and farm acreage. He died in 1914 at about 77 years of age.


Page 10

In 1872-1876, a serious conflict developed between the Acoma Indians and San Rafael residents over the boundary of the Acoma Grant. Evidence seems to indicate that some of the Acoma Indians were given liquor and then persuaded to give false evidence as to the location of the Ojo del Gallo, according to information given to me by Dr. Myra Ellen Jenkins, State Historian, New Mexico State Record Center and Archives. After the matter was settled in favor of the Spanish settlers in 1876, early pioneers filed claims for homesteads and established them. Jose Leon Tellez was first, as previously mentioned, and was followed by Pablo Salazar on May 23, 1891; Francisco Mirabal on July 14, 1895; Manuel Garcia on December 30, 1881 and Perfilia C. De Otero on January 31, 1903.


Page 13

Many of these early settlers were sheep and cattle raisers who also owned large alfalfa farms and garden plots. Persons who did not own land were given a chance to plant farms and gardens on shares. Other crops raised in San Rafael were wheat, sugar cane, corn and beans, much of the latter temporal (dry farming). According to my sisters, Mrs. Ignacita B. Romero, and Jose G. Sanchez, living now at Grants, Don Mose Leon Tellez (sic) owned a type of mill operated with a horse where sugar cane was processed and the syrup boiled and sold in the community. Another mill was owned by Preciliano Archunde. Wheat was taken to the pueblos where it was ground for flour.


Pages 14 & 15


The Provenchers moved to La Jarita (Cuberito) where he established a saw mill. Later they moved to Blue Water where he bought mules for the government, according to Mrs. Moises Mirabal of Grants, New Mexico, Fr. Brun's niece. Don Damacio, as he was called by the Spanish people, later moved to San Rafael and as a member of the Militia, during the uprising of the Apaches in 1882, he organized and served as Captain-commander of Co. K, 2nd Regiment, New Mexico Volunteer Militia, December 27, 1882.

The Following San Rafael residents served under his command:

Jose Leon Tellez -     1st Lieutenant

Antonio Marquez -    2nd Lieutenant

Juan Salazar Otero - 1st Sergeant

Monico Mirabal -       2nd Sergeant

Teodoro Chavez -     3rd Sergeant

Fermin Gallegos -     4th Sergeant

Manuel Garcia  -       5th Sergeant

Jose D. Chavez -      1st Corporal

Claudio Baca -         2nd Corporal

Juan Gallegos  -       3rd Corporal

Donaciano Dominquez 4th Corporal

Anisato Gonzales -    Musician

Luciano Baca            Musician

*Other family members mentioned in this list are  Jose Sanchez, Juan Serna, and Able Tellez son of Jose Leon Tellez


Page 22


Law and order were maintained under the justices of the peace and deputy sheriffs. Unfortunately, no records of the early-day justices of the peace were found in Los Lunas, Santa Fe Records Center or the Zimmerman Library at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, but the men definitely known to have served as justices of the peace in the 1880's and early 1900's were Jose Leon Tellez, for many, many years; Teodoro Chavez Y Otero, Jose Leon Dominques, Juan Salazar Y Otero, Manuel Padilla Y Chavez and Casimiro Lucero. Casimiro Lucero was also a very fine goldsmith and all wedding rings and jewelry needed were handmade by him.