Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Consanguineous Family: The Martínez of Guayama/Maunabo

Earlier in the year (a few months ago actually), while I visited Puerto Rico I made sure to revisit the Archivo Diocesano in San Juan. Here, my goal is always to try and find marriage dispensas (marriage permissions) given to my ancestors who needed permission to marry cousins of varying degrees. This specific time I was searching for my 4th great-grandmother's marriage record who in Maunabo, Puerto Rico married for a second time on the 19th of July 1860. Her name was Dorotea Ramos Martínez and her second husband's name was Manuel Ruiz Soto. I was interested in finding out more about Dorotea and potentially finding how she and her husband were related.

Matrimonio - Dorotea Ramos Martínez & Manuel Ruiz Soto [FamilySearch]

Searching through the 1860 marriage dispensations of Maunabo I found no mention of Manuel and Dorotea. There could be a few reasons for this: misplacement of the dispensation, it was never actually registered, damaged and tossed, etc. However, I came across the surname Martínez on various dispensations. Since I couldn't find my ancestor, I decided to invest some time looking at these Martínez dispensas a bit. Interestingly enough, I discovered that each of these marriage dispensations all tied back to a family I had in my family tree. Out of the four dispensas in Maunabo with the surname Martínez I had located - all of them tied back to my 6th great-grandparents José Martínez and Águeda de Soto. In this post, I will explore this family's migration, connections, and a theory of consanguinity.


My connection to José Martínez and Águeda de Soto comes to me via my mother's side of the family. Their daughter, Andrea Martínez Soto, was born in Maunabo in 1804 and the next five generations would live in the Maunabo/Yabucoa area - meaning my family lived in this area at least 145 years! Andrea is only one child of the 13 that I have been able to identify for this couple - sometimes José appears as José Antonio, since I don't have a baptism record for him I haven't been able to confirm his full name though seeing as how the wife constantly appears as "Águeda de Soto" (sometimes just as 'Soto') I think it's safe to assume this is the same couple. Andrea is also not the first born of the bunch, she had a few siblings come before her. It seems that the family has its origin in Guayama based on some baptism records I was able to find, the earliest being in 1795 of their son Felipe Martínez Soto. Another son Pedro Martínez Soto is estimated to have been born in 1792 but so far I haven't been able to find a baptism record for him.  

Later, in 1804 Andrea was born in Maunabo. This means that around that 9 year gap the family was either in Guayama or Maunabo or even in Patillas, a town located between the aforementioned towns. Based on the older map I found of Puerto Rico, you can see that the towns were divided up differently and thus the borders of what was once Guayama are different than what they are today. A few other records help us narrow down where they were and when - For example, in May of 1798 José Martínez and Águeda Soto served as godparents to a child named Marcelina in Guayama, while in December 1801 they were godparents to a child named Saturnino Güisado in Maunabo. 

Family Migration - Guayama to Maunabo [Google Images]

Our timeframe for their move has now shortened to between May 1798-December 1801. This is why documenting other events that occurred in the lives of your ancestors is important, thanks to their service as godparents I can more accurately predict where certain children might have been born!

Family Structure

Through my searches, I have been able to identify 13 children  so far for my 6th grand-grandparents, which for the early 1800s isn't too surprising. Attached below is a chart for all of the children of this couple, they include: Florencia, Felipe, Pedro, Justa, Fabiana, María, Victoriano, Andrea, María 2º, Fermín, Hermenegildo, Cipriana, and Juan Martínez Soto. María (1802) and the rest of her younger siblings were born in Maunabo while her older siblings were probably born in Guayama. Fabiana who is guesstimated to have been born in 1798 falls within the cusp of years around their move.

Children of José Martínez and Águeda de Soto [Personal Photo]

I'm not exactly sure however when many of these children died or even when José Martínez and Águeda de Soto themselves died in Maunabo. For whatever reason the Maunabo death records were not digitalized and/or added to FamilySearch. I'm just hoping they actually exist and weren't damaged, lost, or destroyed!! 

Los Dispensados

(1828) Eleuterio Garay Martínez + María Martínez Soto
2º grado de consanguinidad en línea trasversal igual

This first marriage I have was dispensed was between María 2º (I title her with 2º -second- since she was the second María born to my 6th great-grandparents) and Eleuterio Garay Martínez, though I don't have their actual dispensa since most begin the 1840s, it mentions in their church marriage record that they have a 2º grado de consanguinidad en línea trasversal igual. Having their parents' names and looking at their trees, it would seem that Cayetana and José were both siblings seeing as how they're both Martínez and no other surnames overlap - with that being the case, it would seem that Cayetana and José were siblings and both from Guayama. 

August 1872- Manuel de los Reyes Martínez Ban + Gregoria Lebrón Díaz
2º grado con 3º grado de consanguinidad

Manuel de los Reyes Martínez Ban is my 1st cousin 6x removed, the son of Fermín Martínez Soto - my 6th great-uncle. As you can see from the chart below, their relationship stands at a 2nd and 3rd degree of consanguinity by how they're related. Manuel de los Reyes' dad is a brother to his wife's grandmother, meaning Fermín and Justa are brothers and sisters.  

September 1872- Manuel de Jesús Martínez Colón + María Vicente Rivera Martínez  

3º grado de consanguinidad

Manuel de Jesús Martínez Colón is my 2nd cousin, 5x removed. His grandfather was Felipe Martínez Soto while his wife's grandfather was Fermín Martínez Soto, brothers to Andrea Martínez Soto - my 5th great-grandmother. This is the second child of Fermín Martínez and his wife María Josefa Ban to marry a cousin. 

1882- Luis Lebrón Martínez + Ramona Martínez Colón2º grado de consanguinidad

Both Luis Lebrón and Ramona Martínez are my 1st cousins, 6x removed. Their respective parents, Fabiana Martínez Soto and Juan Martínez Soto, were siblings. Here we have two more of my 6th great-uncles/aunts having their lines intermix. That brings it up to 5/13 siblings that have children marrying cousins - who knows how many others there are!

Another Martínez connection?

1860 Dorotea Ramos Martínez + Manuel Ruiz Soto
2º grado de consanguinidad 

As you saw earlier Dorotea Ramos and Manuel Ruiz were said to have a 2nd degree of consanguinity. This should mean that one of their grandparents was related to their spouse's grandparent. The question though is: who? I'm not sure how tangled this family becomes, is it just the Martínez that are all related or is there a connection through the "de Soto" branch as well? I'm not sure if there's an easier way to find out since I don't have the record to tie these branches together. However, as I continue to discover other relationships I am able to better determine the relationship between all of these cousins. 

The question then becomes: Why was this family constantly marrying into each other's lines? Based off records, it seems that this family was a pardo libre mixed family so there wasn't a need to keep pure lines. Yabucoa and Maunabo were towns full of other families, I have lines from Maunabo that managed to avoid marrying into themselves; so why didn't this Martínez family do the same? 

Truly, what stories are being held between the webs of this complicated family tree? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Puerto Rican Look at: My X-Chromosome

With Mother's day being this Sunday here in the United States, I decided to take a different and closer look at my DNA - I wanted to see how my X-Chromosome and those of my grandmother, grandfather, and great-grandfather were passed down; all exclusively inherited from my maternal side of the family. Since I am fortunate to have these members tested on 23andMe, I can visually see how this inheritance how trickled down via 4 generations. 

X-Chromosome Inheritance [Personal Photo]

Above you can see how I get my X-DNA through various generations and ultimately down to me. Having used DNAPainter (I've posted about it before) to trace my matches I have been able to trace which segments belong to which ancestors along potential my X-chromosome inheritance ancestors. It is important to note that as a male I have one X-chromosome inherited from my mother BUT from various ancestors including my BOTH maternal grandparents, both great-grandmothers, one great-grandfather, etc. This is demonstrated below:

X-DNA Male Inheritance [The Genetic Genealogist]

This would mean that by understanding which pieces of DNA came from which sets of ancestors I could have a better idea of part of their cultural inheritance passed down to me via my X-chromosome.

My X-Chromosome Inheritance [Personal Photo]

You can see above that mainly my maternal grandmother's DNA is the one I carry while my maternal grandfather's DNA "bookends" my grandmother's genes. Looking at my ancestors that have contributed to my X-Chromosome, I can start to unravel a bit of a story for my ancestors. It's also important to note that various siblings can inherit in similar but different patterns a X-chromosome, so while I may have a smaller amount of my grandfather's DNA my brother's may have inherited different segment start and end points along their X-Chromosome.

Genetic Breakdown

North African & Arabian; Broadly European
These two pieces of DNA here were inherited from my maternal grandfather's ancestors. I'm not sure from which specific ancestors these are from yet but these ancestors were from the areas of Toa Alta and Barranquitas/Morovis in Puerto Rico. The Toa Alta side includes surnames such as Santos and Chéverez while the Barranquitas/Morovis side includes Rivera and Rodríguez - these are the surnames from 7 generations back of my 4th great-grandparents.

Native American
The first Native American chunk seems to come from my maternal grandmother while the second Native American piece of DNA is from my maternal grandfather. Interestingly on the first native segment I have two matches from my dad's side of the family that match me on my X-chromosome. This would mean that somewhere along my 2nd-great-grandmother's line there is a shared ancestor that comes from my great-grandfather, to my grandmother, and to me who is tied to my paternal Rivera side. 

Surnames on the first Native DNA segment include Arvelo, Flores, Sánchez, Vera and were from the area of Quebradillas and San Sebastián in the 1700-1800s. The second DNA segment include the same ancestors from the previous "North African & Arabian; Broadly Europeanwhich where ancestors from the areas of Toa Alta and Barranquitas/Morovis. The Toa Alta side includes surnames such as Santos and Chéverez while the Barranquitas/Morovis side includes Rivera and Rodríguez.

Broadly Southern European; Spanish & Portuguese
This whole blue segment basically comes from my grandmother. The beginning broadly Southern European segment I think is tied to my great-grandfather while the Spanish & Portuguese I think is tied to my great-grandmother. Deducing that, that would mean that the Spanish and Portuguese DNA is mainly from my Maunabo and Yabucoa side of the family. Surnames on this side of the family include Burgos, Dávila, Orozco, Ramos, Ruiz, and Santiago. These family branches have been in this area for hundreds of years with some lines stretching back to Las Piedras and Humacao back in the 1700s. It be interesting to try and see if I can find more matches to try and parse down genealogically which of these Spanish & Portuguese segments are attributed to whom. Having recently discovered my Dávila line from Spain it would interested in seeing which of these segments could potentially come from that family. Also, these ancestors were mixed between identifying as "white" and "pardo" so it's interesting that such a big chunk is specific to Europe - it makes me wonder if it's specifically from a certain set of white ancestors. 


Studying my X-Chromosome has only given me a look into certain ancestors along my family tree. The more matches I have on my X, the better I will be at trying to triangulate which ancestors contributed to those segments and understanding their mixes. Of course, autosomal DNA and matching on other non-X-chromosomes is helpful as well but it's interesting to see that certain ancestors carried for example North African DNA to Puerto Rico and potentially those ancestors also contributed North African DNA to other chromosomes in my DNA as well. It's also amazing to see how the colors showcase the diversity of my family as well.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A Puerto Rican Look at: Y-DNA67 (Avilés/Magraner)

***Si eres descendiente de los Magraner de Sóller, Mallorca, especialmente a través de Damián Magraner Morell o uno de sus hermanos, me gustaría hablar con usted para ver si podemos establecer una conexión genética. Puedes dejar un comentario aquí en este blog para contactarte conmigo. ¡Muchísimas gracias!***

While in Puerto Rico for Spring Break, one of my goals was to test various family members through various companies. Since I don't have easy access to men who carry Avilés and Correa Y-DNA like I do the Rivera line (myself being a carrier of this Y-DNA group) since those members live in Puerto Rico, I decided I would focus on getting a male cousin from my Avilés family and my Correa grandfather to test. I decided to buy two Y-DNA67 exams for them from FTDNA. Recently, they had a DNA day sale and I decided to myself a Y-DNA111 exam to test my Rivera branch as well. So those are boxes I can check off on my genealogical goals for 2019! This blog will focus solely on my Avilés Y-DNA results.

Buying a FTDNA Y-DNA test is not cheap! I would recommend to get these tests if you are an experienced genealogist interested in learning more about your Y-DNA group or an amateur genealogist trying to crack a wall in your direct paternal family. I have been fortunate to test various branches and I have done so for genealogical purposes such as: Establishing whether I have an African or European Guadeloupean Y-DNA group (Charles family), potential Jewish/Arab Y-DNA group (Correa family), Mallorcan connection to the Magraner family (Avilés family), and trying to establish a stronger connection for a relatively uncommon haplogroup (Rivera family). 

Family Tree DNA Home Page [FTDNA]


For anyone that has been following my blog (thank you kindly!), you have probably seen the surnames Avilés and Magraner various times throughout many old posts. My trying to solve this family's mystery dates back to the beginning of my blog in 2011, wondering about my 2nd great-grandfather's origins. I spent time researching and writing about José Avilés Magraner in 2014 for the 52 Ancestors Challenge. I learned the name of my potential 3rd great-grandfather, Damián Magraner Morell, and traveled to Sóller, Mallorca a year later in 2015, his hometown, to learn more about the man who made his way to Río Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico. The closest I've gotten to confirming this on paper has been José's brother Lorenzo Avilés who mentions Damián Magraner  on his Social Security Application as his father. I stepped on Lares land for the first time in many years in 2017 but didn't make it up to Río Prieto. This year though I did! 

Also, having a DNA match with a fellow genealogist with a grandmother  from Sóller, Mallorca through various family members connected to the Avilés family helped me to help prove that genetically there is something there! 

Collecting DNA

With my grandmother and great-aunts in tow we headed over to Río Prieto by car, my great-aunt wasn't too comfortable driving up the steep and narrow roads so I took charge of getting us there. The ride ended up not being too bad and I got to visit a few members connected to my paternal grandmother and great grandmother, I was introduced to the family as "el nieto de Carmen" (the grandson of Carmen) since they had never met me before and my dad spent his childhood between San Juan and New York and not in the mountain town of Lares. The ride over was amazing and here are some photos of getting to and being in Lares, it was amazing to see the land transform as we made our way up the mountain! 

Driving up the mountain [Personal Photo]

Nature at its best! [Personal Photo]

The view from my cousin's land [Personal Photo]

The "two way road" near my cousin's land [Personal Photo]

Our first stop was the house of my 1st cousin 2x removed. After seeing his land, talking about the effects of Hurricane María, and being gifted many fruits, I gathered up the courage to ask if he was willing to take two DNA tests for me. I was a bit scared he would say "no" for fear of not knowing what the test would do, but he was very willing to help out. I collected his DNA, wrote down some important information, and when we got back to San Juan mailed off the DNA test. 

My reason to test this line was because I wanted to know where in the world it was connected to and whether or not it could prove that my family was related to the Magraner family. The test results came back pretty quickly and so I took a look at them!

Interpreting results

Magraner Haplogroup? [Personal Photo]

Getting a Y-DNA67 gave me basic results, in the sense that R-M269 is a fairly common group and doesn't give too many specifics into the smaller, more recent branches of this Y-DNA branch. My next step would be to upgrade the test to get more detailed results and potentially make more educated results of my connection in R-M269. Under matches, I currently have 2 matches at the Y-DNA67 level but at a genetic distance of 5 and 7, this would mean that our connection is much farther back in history versus having a genetic distance with a smaller number which would mean having a closer relationship in generations. My genetic cousin at the "genetic distance 5" reached out to me and we quickly chatted and noticed our relation was too far to discover at the moment but interestingly noticed that our surnames both had to deal with fruits - Magraner being a surname connected to the pomegranate tree! Lowering my markers to 37 for example gives me more matches but again, at a pretty far distance. The cousins seem to be wide spread across various countries in Europe, I do have some matches from Puerto Rico but they are at Y-DNA12 which is fairly distant as well. As you can see below my Y-DNA67 match has recent roots in the US but he said his family has older roots in southern France.

Y-DNA67 Match [Personal Photo]

My goal is that by hopefully writing about this branch and taking a Y-DNA test I'll be able to confirm my connection to the Magraner family of Sóller, Mallorca. If you descend from this branch, I'd love to chat and see if we can figure out our potential connection!


Though in a sense my results were "inconclusive", there still is hope! Y-DNA usually takes longer from what I know to establish stronger connections because it's such a specific group that is being tested versus for example autosomal DNA. 23andme has given me a bit of a deeper glance into the R-M269 group and hopefully as I upgrade to Y-DNA111, I will have stronger/clearer results and hopefully a Magraner descendant tests as well. This will in turn allow me to make a genetically educated guess about my Avilés family and whether our roots really are in Mallorca. 

Haplogroup R-Z209 [Personal Photo]

Here's to hopefully solving a 128 year mystery in the making! 

Sóller, Mallorca [Google Images]

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Chromosome 7 - An African American Connection

Chromosome 7 - Myself [Personal Photo]

With the continued use of DNA Painter, I have been able to see (in a sense) my results through a more magnified lens. Being able to break down genetic cousins via a comparison to my other tested family members has allowed me to better parse down a bit from which branch of my tree they come from. To learn more about DNA Painter you can read my previous post. As I continued to add cousins to my DNA Painter, I noticed that on Chromosome 7, I matched up with a few cousins via my mother's side of the family that had no known connection to Puerto Rico. Intrigued I decided to continue exploring this specific segment and set of cousins, two of which were African American.

European Ancestry - Spanish & Portuguese [Personal Photo]

Above you can see the highlighted segments in my Chromosome 7 that are attached for example specifically to Spanish and Portuguese DNA. My focus however are to the smaller segments that are cut up and distributed more unevenly across Chromosome 7 - amongst those pieces of DNA you can see Native American, Congolese, Senegambian & Guinean, and Ashkenazi Jewish. Knowing where these segments lay and where your cousins fall amongst them maybe helpful to better understand the genetic diversity of your ancestor from which you descend. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that ancestor was 100% Native American, for example, but carried those genes in that chromosome which allows you to match with other cousins.

Mixed Ancestry - Indigenous, African, and Jewish [Personal Photo]

Simple Generational DNA

Remember that just because you match with someone on a certain segment of DNA doesn't mean that all of your siblings for example will match them as well. Each sibling may receive a range of combinations that might be similar or a bit different to your own. In a "simple generational" comparison, looking at my brothers and myself on Chromosome 7, you can see there is a difference in inheritance on that section. Below you can see exactly what I mean:

Chromosome 7 - Myself  [Personal Photo]

Chromosome 7 - Older Brother [Personal Photo]

Chromosome 7 - Younger Brother [Personal Photo]

My older brother for example received a Congolese + Senegambian/Guinean segment towards the end of his Chromosome 7, we both share the Congolese bit while my little brother seems to have received a mix of Native American and Senegambian/Guinean but no Congolese DNA in that segment. Notice however that he does share the Ashkenazi DNA segment with me while my older brother does not. DNA is crazy, huh?!

To strengthen my theory here a bit more, I searched both of my brothers' DNA relatives on 23andme. My younger brother does not share the African American cousins while my older brother does share them on his relative list. Analyzing this on a deeper level would probably show us that my younger brother received a different segment from a different maternal ancestor compared to my older brother and I who received this same bit from the same maternal ancestor.

Complex Generational DNA

Looking backwards a few generations, you can see where these segments come from. I knew going in that these African American cousins matched me via my mother, I have been fortunate enough to have tested my mom along with her parents which allowed me to easily make this distinction. The question now was: Would my mother, and one of her parents also have Congolese DNA on this segment? See below to see where the Congolese DNA segment can be found: 


Chromosome 7 - Mother [Personal Photo]
Chromosome 7 - Maternal Uncle [Personal Photo]


Chromosome 7 - Maternal Grandmother [Personal Photo]
Chromosome 7 - Maternal Grandfather [Personal Photo]


Chromosome 7 - Maternal Great-Grandfather [Personal Photo]

As you can see, my mother and one of her brother's inherited the Congolese DNA (there's another sibling but currently he is not tested). At the next level you can see that this piece of DNA was inherited from their mother (my maternal grandmother) and not their father (my maternal grandfather). At the 3rd generation you can see that my maternal great-grandfather did not have this Congolese DNA, which would mean that they inherited it from my great-grandmother. Testing my grandmother's siblings would probably give me a better idea as to who inherited which DNA from my great-grandmother amongst them. 

DNA Painter

Using my DNA matches from 23andme I began to set out which cousins I received from my maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother - here on out just referred to as "grandmother/grandfather" seeing as how this is all on my maternal side. From there I was able to see who matched my great-grandfather and any cousins who might match anywhere in between. Below you can see that the yellow bit inherited is from my grandfather while the rest of the chromosome is from my grandmother. The light green denotes my great-grandfather while the darker green my grandmother, these dark green segments I imagine are from my great-grandmother. The beige color is for a cousin who matches me with 2nd great-grandparents via my Meléndez-Sánchez great-grandfather while the purple segments are cousins I match via my Dávila-Orozco great-grandmother. As more cousins match me on these sections with a paper-trail the better I will be at figuring out from which great-grandparents and further this DNA came from.

DNA Painter- Chromosome 7 [Personal Photo]

Chromosome 7 - Luis Rivera [Personal Photo]

Looking at where the Congolese DNA is, you can sort of see that it falls where the dark green chunk of DNA my grandmother passed onto me in Chromosome 7. Expanding the matches, you can see where various of these cousins fall. 

Expanded DNA Matches - Chromosome 7 [Personal Photo]

Above you can see that the 2 African American matches fall in the square of matches inherited via my grandmother. In that same box are 3 more segments on top, these being Puerto Rican cousins. Usually when matches fall under one another, it means that they probably share DNA and are related to you via a same ancestor as they are to those cousins as well. The question now was: Could these African American matches also share DNA with those Puerto Rican matches on Chromosome 7? Would they also match each other? It was time to test out my question!

Taking the cousin who shares 15cm with me, I compared that cousin to my Puerto Rican cousins and to my other African American cousin match within that shared segment. Below you can see that YES! they do share DNA with one another, both the African American cousins and to the Puerto Rican cousins. This mostly likely means that somehow on my grandmother's side of the family we all descend from a shared ancestor(s). With the ranges being between 11-16cm, this would mean that the relationship would be rather far back. DNA Painter estimates that at those CM the match lies at a ~60% chance of being anywhere between a 4C2R (4th cousins 2x removed) to as distant as 8C (8th cousins) - there are other scenarios such as 3C3R, 6C2R, or 7C1R. We would have to triangulate using everyone's results and family trees to be able to start to figure out and narrow down from where exactly we match. 

Chromosome 7 Comparisons [Personal Photo]

Taking a look at Chromosome 7 for my Puerto Rican cousins, you can see that they also inherited the Congolese DNA in that area as well.

Puerto Rican Cousin #1 [23andme]

Puerto Rican Cousin #2 [23andme]

African American Cousins

These two cousins have roots in the South and towards the mid-West respectively which makes it a bit harder to say exactly where they might match me since they don't overlap in similar states. However, these are probably recent states of residence and going further back might show an overlap in family both being from a certain state in the south, for example.  A look at their Chromosome 7 shows one cousin with "Broadly West African" and another with Congolese DNA in that general area. It is possible that they might have other cousins themselves tested who can help narrow down which side of the family I would match them on. 

African American Cousin #1 [23andme]

African American Cousin #2 [23andme]

You can also see that there is no European DNA in those areas for both cousins which would mean that our match is likely through an either mixed ancestor or ancestor directly from Africa. It is kind of amazing to see that amongst these 10 people, 9 of us have a classified Congolese DNA piece there. 

Many slave ships made their way first to the Caribbean and later made their way to either North or South America. It is very possible that along one of those routes a slave or various slaves were left in Puerto Rico and another, genetically related either as a parent, sibling, cousin, etc., was brought to the south in the United States. Take a look at "The African-American Migration Story" from PBS to learn more about the journey from Africa to the Americas. There are many sources that talk about the transportation of slaves to the New World, the various journeys taken, and the various stops the slave ships made. 

"Lehrbuch der Weltgeschichte oder Die Geschichte der Menschheit", William Rednbacher, 1890 [Wikipedia]

Further Research

I was both surprised and not surprised when I came across these DNA segments. For starters, I knew there were slaves in my family which was not surprising, but to be able to narrow it down to a Congolese segment inherited through various family members and traced back to my grandmother and shared by two African Americans was surprising. It's interesting to see how much can be discovered with the advent of genetic genealogy - these types of discoveries were only considered dreams back in the days. I'm lucky to live in a time where this type of genealogical work can be completed. 

My next step would be to try and figure out how we are related, though this task is quiet a big one. I have reached out to these cousins and have already started conversations with one, who equally was surprised to see our match. It might be easier to see how these two cousins are related and see how I am related to the other Puerto Rican cousins and then go from there. Though seeing as how these matches are through an ancestor from Africa, it is possible that we might not, at least for now, know exactly how we are related. 

The fact that we have been able to get this far has been nothing short of amazing!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Testing, Testing...

DNA tests ready to go! [Personal Photo]

Just like that I'm back home from my spring break trip to Puerto Rico! Though it was a quick trip I was able to get a lot of genealogical work done, among one of those tasks was fulfilling my goal to get DNA testing done from various companies (FtDNA, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA) from various relatives. These test are in line with my genealogical New Year's Resolutions of getting my Avilés and Correa line Y-DNA tested and adding more autosomal cousins to the mix of relatives currently tested. Here's the breakdown of the testing I got done while in Puerto Rico.


This DNA test was only one and it was an autosomal test for my maternal grandfather. I wanted to add him to AncestryDNA since they also have an African breakdown that I would like to see how he scores in and also to widen the pool of genetic cousins I receive. Though AncestryDNA isn't my first choice for autosomal DNA testing since you don't get the maternal/paternal haplogroup(s) or chromosome segments, I decided to add him anyways. 


For this one, I got two autosomal DNA tests done. I brought an extra DNA test just in case I came across another cousin but I decided to test two Avilés cousins from Lares, Puerto Rico since I was already there and could benefit from having two cousins from this line. One test was for my 1st cousin 2x removed, his father was my great-grandmother's full brother, and he's a male descendant from the Magraner line - having him tested will help separate out my DNA from my 2nd great-grandparents in DNA Painter. I also tested my 2nd great-uncle, son of my 2nd great-grandfather and from his second wife. I'm hoping that by testing another generation closer to my 2nd great-grandfather connections to Spain will be stronger. Interestingly enough, my 2nd great-uncle's mother, though not my 2nd great-grandmother is my 2nd cousin, 4x removed - her paternal grandfather is my 5th great-uncle via a line that came from Yauco to Lares, Puerto Rico... that'll be interesting to see how it interferes with the DNA segments we match together!   

FtDNA (Y-DNA 67)

Y-DNA Test [Personal Photo]

This was my first time getting a Y-DNA test done in recent years, I had tested a Gustave/Charles cousin a few years back and so far I don't have any super helpful/relevant matches, besides the fact that it's a European line that matches men from the UK/Ireland/Scotland area. It was, however, the first time I administered a Y-DNA test myself. I tested two men on this trip - my 1st cousin, 2x removed and my maternal grandfather. Some people aren't very interested in haplogroup testing but for me these two tests will help shine some light into two very mysterious lines. My Avilés line which is supposed to be Magraner from Sóller, Mallorca and my Correa line which I'm not sure where it's from and 23andMe says the line is commonly found amongst Arabs/Jews. Hopefully these tests will help better understand those lines in my family. 

Cheek swaps ready to go! [Personal Photo]

Once my DNA results appear for these various tests I'll update with some posts my findings. I'm glad I was able to get this done and excited as well to learn more about my family!

Friday, March 22, 2019

A Look at my 5th Great-Grandmother's Testament

Currently I am in Puerto Rico for Spring Break, and instead of laying down at the beach soaking in the sun, I have been visiting various genealogical places in order to get research done that I can only do while on the island. One of the places I visited was the Archivo General de Puerto Rico (AGPR) in search of my 5th great-grandmother's testament (amongst others). This post is in fact two fold, today March 22nd is the day Puerto Rico celebrates its abolition of slavery. Though I want to bring to light the possibility of finding records such as wills & testaments while here in Puerto Rico, it is also important to highlight the information found in them - in my case, the fact that my ancestor(s) had owned slaves in the 1800s. This fact has been something I have been aware of for a while now but seeing these names listed in her will was both saddening and raw. I think it's important to acknowledge the role our ancestors played in the past, whether good or bad, and to acknowledge the benefits we have reaped from them and learn from their actions.

Gazeta de Puerto Rico, 03 May 1873

Visiting the Archivo General de Puerto Rico

There was a lot of worry that after Hurricane María, many genealogical places would be closed or have received irreversible damage. Luckily, the AGPR is open and running and even offers visiting hours on Saturday. With a simple email of the information of my ancestors (their names, year they made their testament, and name of the notary) they were able to find two protocolo boxes. Unfortunately, other ancestors' testaments were not available for viewing - some because their records might have never made it to the AGPR or because they never came before a notary and just made their testament amongst witnesses. Luckily, María de la Cruz Román, my 5th great-grandmother, did leave behind a will in front of a notary and they were able to find the box. So I headed to the archive to find out more about her life and the worldly possessions of my 5th great-grandmother.

María de la Cruz Román - Defunción 1854 [FamilySearch]

Going into this search, I knew that Bernardina Sepúlveda Román, my 4th great-grandmother, had owned slaves right before their freedom in 1873 but I wasn't sure if they were inherited from María de la Cruz Román (her mother) or purchased separately. Taking a look at my 5th great grandmother's testament provided me with some more clues and information. 

Viewing her Testament

Notary Records, AGPR [Personal Photo]
Notary Records, AGPR [Personal Photo]

Getting to see the testament was very cool, the documents were very old and fragile but in fairly good shape and very easy to read. I was lucky the notary had an index of all of his transactions of the range of years I was searching, such as: transferring of power, selling land, testaments, freedom records, etc. I was easily able to find María de la Cruz Román's record, as well as while sifting through I was also able to find other documents that I'll focus on in another post. My 5th great-grandmother's testament was 5 pages long which started with fairly religious jargon about her soul, forgiving her sins, and believing in God and the Trinity, etc, etc. She left behind money to pray for her in the church (30 masses of San Gregorio) and to pay her debt mainly to her son (Juan Lorenzo Sepúlveda) and to a neighbor (Juan Soto, originally from Lares) residing in Adjuntas. In her will she left behind 450 cuerdas (acres) of land which she states has planted coffee, plantain, fruit trees, pastures and "montes" (which depending on how you use it could be wooded area, hills or mountains). She listed having 8 cows (5 with their offspring), 1 bull, 1 calf, 2 horses, 2 mares, 2 cows, and 1 sow. Interestingly enough, she left behind 18 cuerdas of land in Limón, Mayagüez. I find this interesting since she was originally from San Sebastián while her husband was the one from Mayagüez. It is possible that when he passed in 1829, he passed this land onto his wife who then passed it to her son Juan Lorenzo Sepúlveda Román. Unfortunately his testament was made in front of witnesses so it is likely to have never been officially recorded and sent to the AGPR. 

What shocked me, but I expected, was a list of slaves she left behind, which on her will she lists as "siervos" - known as serfs or servants in English. They are given no value, nor age, or relationship between them but only listed by first name. Listed are: (1) Pedro José, (2) Teresa, (3) Severino, (4) Belén, (5) Francisca, (6) Tomasa, (7) Miguel, (8) María del Rosario, (9) Juana Bautista, (10) Petrona, (11) María Antonia, (12) Blasina, and (13) Manuela. In total, 13 slaves are listed in her will. There is nothing in her will about who they are going to, whether they received freedom, or what the plan is after she passes away. She made her will in 1852 and passed two years later in 1854, freedom from slavery didn't come until 1873. So what happened to these slaves? 

I have only been able to track a few so far (some of those who passed before María de la Cruz's will, which means they aren't included in the total 13 at the time of her will) and those that had children which Bernardina Sepúlveda inherited. Before 1852, María de la Cruz would have 7 slaves pass away (so far this is the number I have, which is possible to raise as I continue to search Adjuntas church records). These are those who passed: 
  • 1829, Rafael 40 years old, married with María
  • 1833, Ignacia, 35 years old, married with Ramón
  • 1834, Saturnino, son of Pedro José and Teresa
  • 1835, Juan Xavier, son of Ramón and Ignacia
  • 1836, Marcos, son of Martín and Petrona
  • 1836, María Cipriana, daughter of Pedro José and Teresa
  • 1836, Juana Cipriana, daughter of Pedro José and Teresa

Here, you can see that some of the slaves from María de la Cruz's will got married and had children within their group. With these deaths it brings the current total to 20 total slaves

The next time slaves appear are in the slave registry of 1872, just one year shy of abolition. These appear listed as Bernardina Sepúlveda's slaves. In total she was 4 slaves: (1) Felipa, daughter of Martín and Petrona; (2) María Tomasa, daughter of Pedro José and Teresa; (3) Juan, son of Gerónimo and Felipa; and (4) Lorenzo, son of Ramón and Felipa. Here we can see some of María de la Cruz's slaves' children belonging to Bernardina. This would make me think that Bernardina inherited some of the 13 slaves and they had children which she continued to own up until abolition in 1873. 

My goal is to try and track down what happened to the slaves María de la Cruz Román listed in her will. Did some of them receive freedom? Did they go to her children or were sold to other families? Part of this mystery could be solved with notary records but finding them could be like a needle in a haystack and take much more time in the AGPR that I unfortunately do not have. Interestingly, two slaves left a "deposit" of money to María de la Cruz Román which after her death is said should be paid back to them with 5% annual interest starting the 19 of August 1848. Was this a deposit for freedom? For insurance of freedom for their children? I don't think it's the latter since one of them was Pedro José and Bernardina owned one of his daughters. 

With the abolition of slavery being today it's an interesting day for me. As someone who descends from both slaves and slave owners, it is hard to understand what this day means for me. Interestingly enough, my slave ancestors were freed before 1873 - those that came from the French islands were freed in 1848 and early where my Puerto Rican slave ancestors seemed to have received freedom in the 1700s, for example like my recently discovered Manuel Ruiz, pardo slave ancestor. Overall, it is a great day to celebrate that equality was somewhat given (though as we know not fully) to slaves and at the same time it stings to know that some of my ancestors took part in a dark part of history. Yet, we need to face our past, as Germans put it - Vergangenheitsbewältigung ("struggle to overcome the 'negatives of' the past" or "working through the past"), in order to better understand the society we currently live in and the struggles people face each day in order to make a better tomorrow.