Born: About April 1855, likely in Sonora, Mexico
Married: 22 Nov 1882 to Refugio Jordan de Hermosillo
Died: Unknown (likely between 1904-1910)
Very little is known about Manuel Miranda, including his origins and early life. On many documents, he is listed with the middle initial “F,” although no found document yet lists the full name. Family lore held that was a Yaqui Indian, and the only family photo we have of him at left appears to show Native American features. The undated photo at left (likely from mid-1880s) shows him with short hair and wearing a suit. Yet we know he was not a full-blooded Yaqui based on male line DNA testing that linked our direct male line (Miranda) back to Western Europe, specifically Belgium. The testing also matched our volunteer to within one genetic marker of three other testers, all with the last name Fimbres. Ultimately this meant that the “Miranda” line was actually a Fimbres line. The Fimbres DNA matches have traced the Fimbres name from Sonora, Mexico back to the Basque country in Spain and ultimately to a Johannes Fimbres in 17th Century Belgium. All this said, we are still attempting to learn where exactly Manuel Miranda was born (likely in Sonora State) and why he carried the surname Miranda instead of Fimbres. One theory is that Manuel’s father was a Fimbres but may have abandoned the family, leaving Manuel to carry his maternal last name of Miranda. A piece of evidence discussed in more detail below may possibly address this theory.
What is certain is that as a resident of Arizona Territory in the early 1880s, Manuel was an early settler of the region. There is a Manuel Miranda listed in the 1880 census (clickable thumbnail at left) for the town of Clifton living with his mother – L. Miranda. One curious fact from the census is that Manuel’s relationship to the head is noted as “illegitimate,” a fact would be consistent with the above noted theory regarding the Miranda-Fimbres connections. In addition, with a population of only some 600 people in the town of Clifton at the time of the 1880 US Census and the fact that our Manuel Miranda was married in Clifton just two years later (see details below), it would seem likely this is the same Manuel.
According to his civil marriage record, Manuel married Refugio Jordan on November 25, 1882 in Clifton, Arizona. The document, one of the earliest recorded marriages in Clifton, notes that both were residents of Clifton. The Justice of the Peace performing the wedding ceremony was named S.W. Pomeroy, and witnesses at the event included Jesus Vega, Clemence Miranda, and Leonce Fraissinet.
The church record is from the Saint Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, Arizona and appears to date from December 12, 1882. The record includes eight marriages that were celebrated that date, which likely indicates Clifton did not have a resident priest at the time. A common practice prior to 1900, considering the lack of priests and constructed churches in the Southwestern frontier, was to arrange monthly or bimonthly clerical visits to smaller towns and mining camps to celebrate Mass and perform baptisms, weddings, and funerals. The witnesses to Manuel and Refugio’s wedding were Eusebio Cordova and Jose Marques.
One of the more interesting pieces of documentation uncovered so far is an article from the March 23, 1884, edition of the Tucson-based, Spanish language newspaper, El Fronterizo. The article actually is a letter to the editor dated March 7, 1884, responding to a letter from November 1883 that sought information on a missing person. The letter begins on paragraph three and describes how the missing person was last seen in Clifton, Arizona before being shot and killed on suspicion of being a thief. The writer of the letter (in red block at the bottom of the clipping below) is Manuel Fimbres Miranda from Clifton. This could very well be the same Manuel, for which we know the middle initial is F. It may also reflect the old Spanish naming customs, whereby the middle name for Latin Americans in the United States often was the patrilineal name. It might also not be the same person, but with slightly more than 1,000 residents in the mid 1880s, it would be an incredible coincidence that another Manuel F. Miranda was living in Clifton at the time of the letter.
There is a Manuel F. Miranda who declared, before the district court of Graham County, Arizona Territory, his intention to become a citizen of the United States on October 13, 1884. While the declaration notes that Manuel was from Mexico, unfortunately it does not include additional background information on Manuel.
Manuel appears in the Graham County property tax rolls beginning in 1886 through at least 1899. In each document he declared that he owned a house in Clifton, for which he paid taxes. Below is the tax roll for the year ending 1894, for which Manuel F. Miranda is the third person listed.
The only documented information about his birth that we have comes from the 1900 census (clickable thumbnail at left), which lists his date of birth as April 1855 in Arizona Territory. It also confirms that by 1900 he had been married for 17 years and had only one child (Francisco). There is no listed occupation, which seems odd considering he was about 45 years old at the time. The census also notes that he could read, but neither write, nor speak English.
One of the bigger events of the year in Clifton involved the celebration of Mexican Independence Day on September 16. The Mexican and Mexican-American citizens of the town planned two days of festivities that included 21-gun salutes, ceremonial raising of the Mexican and U.S. flags, parades with floats, food, music, and a Grand ball. As per the below September 12, 1901 clipping from the Copper Era And Morenci Leader, Manuel F. Miranda participated in the events as one of 13 singers/vocalists.
Manuel is named in a November 1903 Sale Deed, whereby he, his wife Refugio, and son Francisco sell lot 43 in Clifton to a J.C. Gatti for the sum of $10 gold coin. The document is valuable for a few reasons. First, it firmly links the middle initial “F” to Manuel since it also lists his wife and son. For this reason we can, with confidence, link any reference to a Manuel F. Miranda in Clifton (to include the above clippings and documents) to “our” Manuel. Secondly, it demonstrates that Manuel owned property and was involved in property transactions in Clifton. Finally, it is one of the last documents in which Manuel appears, making it likely that he died within a relatively short period of time afterward.
Manuel’s name is on his son Francisco’s church wedding record in 1904, although he curiously he is not named on the wedding invitation. In the 1910 census, his wife Refugio is listed as widowed, and so Manuel is presumed to have died between 1904 and 1910. No death or burial record was located at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Clifton. A Clemencia Miranda, possibly the same person listed as a witness at Manuel’s marriage to Refugio, died in Clifton in March 1900 at the age of 52.