My folks are from Los Altos de Jalisco....which translates to "the highlands of Jalisco".
I'm working on my geneology tree as well.
To Clarify what Carlos said, Jalostotitlan is a city that is about a 35 minute drive from Tepatitlan.
Here are some suggestions to help you in researching your geneology tree.
1) You need to educate yourself more on the history, geology, and geography of
the area where your ancestors came from. Learning this will give you a better
understanding of the state of mind of our ancestors. For example, historically,
Los Altos de Jalisco are hills that have low yields in crop production. The soils
are poor and typical crops that survive are certain strains of corn, chiles, and
beans. For a long time people from that region were subsistence farmers. The region
has had a history of draughts. Most towns and cities are perched on the sides of hills
and mountains near a source of water, ie. rivers or mineral springs. The region of Los
Altos de Jalisco during pre-Columbian times had a thriving culture of Texues and Cascanos (sp?)
tribes. The area was conquered by Spain circa 1541. The main cities in Los Altos de Jalisco
are Jalostotitlan, Tepatitlan, and San Juan de Los Lagos with Guadalajara being the state
capitol. With respect to the municipality of of Jalostotitlan, the municipality was settled by
12 spanish families that formed haciendas. Those 12 last names are very common in the region.
The main catholic church in Jalostotitlan has birth records dating back to 1698 and has marriage
records dating back to 1707. Some church records were destroyed during the Mexican Revolution as
well as during the Christian Rebellion.
The people of Los Altos de Jalisco are also referred to as "altenos" referring to the region they're from.
For most of the 450 years of history in that region, people have remained in the same valleys. Interestingly
enough, when you walk through the towns you can see that the natives all share similar physical traits (lots of the
same DNA). The three largest historical moments where the people of the valleys left occurred during the
Mexican Revolution, the Christian Rebellion (1926-1929), and during the 1950's due to the Bracero Program.
Most of the people of Mexican ancestry residing in the U.S. immigrated during the late 1920's and 1950's to 1960's.
During the 1950's the population in Los Altos started booming with the introduction of modern medicine and
and a decrease in the infant mortality rate. The local economy, primarily agriculture, could not provide
enough food and jobs for the increasing population. Also, during the Christian Rebellion the Mexican Federal government
made it mandatory for all farmers and people living outside the city to live in the cities or be hanged for
not following orders. During the 1926-1929 time frame the alteno cities' population exploded with the addition
of farm familie moving in to the cities. Due the violence few families returned to live on the farms, even after
the rebellion was crushed. Most farmers chose to live in the city and work on the farm during the day. During the
1950's the federal government implemented a national public-free school to its citizens. Most peasants and farmers
remained in the cities so that their children could learn how to read and write, a first in many campesino families.
You mentioned that your grandmother talked about washing her clothes in Lake Chapala. Lake Chapala is south of Guadalajara
and is a main source of drinking water for Guadalajara as well as for Mexico
City. Lake Chapala had many small fishing villages along its shores and in
all likelihood your grandmother lived in one of those fishine towns, such as the
town of Ahihique.
With respect to poverty, one should define poor. For most of the last century
people that lived on farms, villages, towns, and cities all washed in creeks, rivers,
and lakes by hand. There was very little technology available so most washed by hand
regardless of wealth. It was common for the wealthy to hire a girl to help do the wash.
The Depression era in the U.S. also had secondary effects on the Mexican economy and as
a result many people were out of work. This mexican generation of that era is notorious
for being very frugal with their money, their food, and their personal assets. It would
not be uncommon to see people from this generation wearing old patched clothes around the
By finding out when your ancestors immigrated to the U.S. you will be able to find out using
historical records the most likely areas of Jalisco where they might have come from. Also,
every village had it's own niche in the local market. For example, most men from the city of
San Miguel El Alto are artisans in the area of carving a pink stone known as cantera rosa. This
stone is used to cover the exterior of homes and the town's home are all covered in it. San Juan
de Los Lagos is known for being a religous center since there is a virgin in their church that has
performed many miracles. The local economy thrives from the tourism. San Marcos is known for its
dairy industry. Jalostotitlan is known for the clothing that was hand made with hand made lace and
embroidery. Valle de Guadalupe is known for the tablecloths and pillow cases hand made from cross-stitching.
Try looking through you ancestors' personal belongings to see if they have any handmade items from
those regions. There are certain patterns in the artisan work that repeats itself in each village.
This will give you a better idea of what villages they might come from.
Hope this helps!