Sarah Lilly Blair Chiposa


Sarah was born in 1856 in England to John & Eliza Lilly. She had seven siblings. Sarah's family immigrated to the United States in 1863 and settled in Riverville, Illinois near Wilmington, in Will County.  Sarah attended Sunday School at Primitive Methodist Church from which, on Aug 20, 1863, she received a small book. Sarah married Thomas Blair on March 20, 1872 in the presence of Thomas' brother George and his wife Annie Blair. They were married in Morris, Illinois in Grundy County by Justice of the Peace S. T. Sott. They had nine children, six girls and 3 boys. Robert, John, Eliza, Mary, Sarah Ann, Thomas, Margaret, Euphemia (Famie) and Cora. All were born in Illinois except Thomas who was born in Iowa.

Sarah's son John died in 1880 and her husband Thomas died in Illinois in 1893. Sarah and her 8 children moved on by train to Cerrillos, New Mexico in 1893 or 1894 where she ran a boarding house. There she met and married James Chiposa.  He was one of her boarders while working in the coal mine in Madrid, New Mexico.

James was born in Lacona, Italy on June 6, 1862. Lacona was a small fishing village. Nothing is known about his parents or siblings who were probably fisherman.  He immigrated to the United States in 1876 and became a naturalized citizen. He moved on to Madrid, New Mexico and boarded at Sarah's boarding house along with other miners. Sarah  and James had a daughter Hazel pearl Chiposa born on Sept 3, 1896. According to the 1900 census they lived in a rented house in Cerrillos.

James worked in the coal mines in Madrid, New Mexico but had been unemployed for 10 months. He eventually  ran a saloon/restaurant in Cerrillos boarding house "Chipusas Saloon & Restaurant". It was common for a saloon to open up in a place of residence back in that day. Anything was done to bring in income. Sarah ran the restaurant and did the cooking. Cerrillos had a largely Italian population in 1898.  The 1900 census was spotty. The population of Cerrillos was about 500. More than half the town were recent immigrants from Italy and a number of those spoke only Italian with English and Spanish both distant rivals. James being unemployed for 10 months probably survived by running a booze & food business out of the house. They had seven dependants so their house must have been pretty large.

One interesting story goes "On Aug 17, 1899 John Dughet an Italian coalminer, committed suicide here about 6:00 am by shooting himself through the heart. He bought a gallon of whiskey in Cerrillos and had tried to drink himself to death. He was brought into a room adjoining Chipusa's Saloon and Restaurant. Early in the morning he made his way into the saloon through the back door, which by some chance, had been left unlocked and after helping himself to whiskey, took a revolver, went back to his room and shot himself".  The Rail Road at this time was shifting from Madrid coal to coal from Raton and Gallup, NM and the demand for workers at Madrid diminished.

Robert, Sarah's oldest child, passed away on January 3, 1898 and is buried in Cerrillos Protestant Cemetery. He was a member of the Cerrillos "Knights of Pythias".  Her son Thomas Blair was a "stable hostler" and took care of the horses of travelers.  Eliza & Sarah Ann passed away most likely from some type of epidemic and are probably buried at the Protestant Cemetery but no markers remain.  Margaret, Euphemia (Famie) and Cora were students at Cerrillos School taught by Miss Fannie McNulty. Hazel was only 4 in 1900. Sarah had 10 children in all but by 1900 only 6 were living.  

Mary Blair married Andrew Dinsmore on April 12, 1901 in Cerrillos  and Thomas Blair married Charlotte Jones either in Cerrillos or Bisbee. Charlotte died during child birth.

In 1900/01 the family packed up and headed to Bisbee, AZ in the Mule Mountains of Cochise County. To get to Bisbee from Cerrillos, one took the train to Benson, AZ and went by stage coach on to Bisbee. Sarah worked in a boarding house run by Mrs. C. C. Blair and packed lunches for the miners at the Copper Queen Mine. James worked as a miner at the Copper Queen Mine. They resided at 318 Chihuahua Hill on property owned by the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining District. They had a brown and black dog named Curley for which they bought a license for one dollar in May 1904. They quit claimed their home, furniture and all, in November of 1904 for $1,000 to Mrs. Kindred and moved on to Redondo Beach,, CA. There they eventually purchased a home with several small rentals in the back.

James and Sarah resided in Redondo Beach until their deaths. Sarah in 1937 and James in 1946. They are buried in Inglewood Memorial Park Cemetery in Inglewood, CA.  Mary, Famie, Thomas & Hazel are interned there also.  It is assumed Eliza & Sarah Ann are buried in Cerrillos Cemetery near Robert but no gravestones can be located. Margaret & Cora are interned in Rancho Ralos Verdes, CA.

Jeanne Mitchell
Great granddaughter