Thursday, August 28, 2014

52 Ancestors – #33 Eglantine Lautin (1821-1889)

I have talked about my 5th great grandmother, Eglantine Lautin, before in previous posts. Many actually when I think about it, since it's only been a little close to two years since I found out about her. In one post titled "Tracing Eglantine Lautin" I discuss the possibility of discovering her ethnic origin through the mtDNA of female descendant. But I wanted to dedicate a post to Eglantine in the 52 Ancestors Challenge since she is a very interesting ancestress.

According to documents, Eglantine would have been born around 1821, which could be either correct or incorrect. Most of the French documents I have seen have been spot on for year estimations of births but seeing as how Eglantine was a slave, I don't know how reliable this given year is. Especially when you consider that she could have been (and probably was) taken from her family and traded amongst people who didn't speak her language. There is also the other option that she could have been very aware of her age and able to communicate it to someone along the way to or in Martinique. So many possibilities and so much to contemplate!

There is a very interesting website called "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" and I highly recommend it to anyone with slave ancestors or is interesting in the stats and information on the slave trade. There is a voyage database in which you can search by year and other variables such as: ship, voyage outcome, voyage dates, and slaves (numbers) to name a few. I decided to check for ships coming to Martinique between the years 1820-1844, I marked the last year as 1844 because my 4th great grandmother Julienne Malvina Lautin was born that year in Martinique meaning Eglantine had already been brought over. I image that Eglantine would have come probably in the 1830s as a young girl aged about 10, which according to one of the books I read states the children around that age were commonly brought over during the slave trade.

I then marked the principal landing place as "Martinique", there is always the possibility that Eglantine could have been sold from another island into Martinique but let's theorize that she was brought straight from Africa to Martinique. I then categorized the results by year to see which could be potential ships. The first trips between 1820-1826 I figure that Eglantine would have been too young and too small to be brought over. Slavery, however, knows no age and so who really knows if she could have been aboard one of those ships. But there were two ships in 1830 and 1831 that I feel could be more probable.

Voyages to Martinique [SlaveVoyages]

Both of the last voyages to Martinique appear to be completed by François Julien Santuary/Sentuary. The first voyage in 1830 was on a vessel named Auguste (a) Deux Frères while the second was on the vessel Bonne Aline. Again, not sure if Eglantine would have been on board one of these ships, but it's definitely interesting to think about and contemplate the possibility. Both of the ships picked up slaves in the area known as Bonny or the Bight of Biafra and the gulf of Guinea islands. This however doesn't indicate ethnic origin since there were slaves that were brought from inland countries and marched out to the western coast onto the ships.

The life Eglantine had on Martinique we know from records. We know that she had her first daughter Julienne in 1844 and later four more children: Pauline (1846), Jean (1851), and Marie (1855), and Rose (1858). Out of all the children, only one was recognized by their biological father and that was Marie Lautin, later known as Marie Boudré, her father being Adrien Boudré - another African slave. Eglantine was a slave to the Lapierre and Laroche family and later freed in 1848 with her two daughters Julienne and Pauline when they received the surname "Lautin" (I also imagine that Eglantine was not her origin name). Thanks to Julienne's birth record we know that Eglantine had previously been registered in a book of slaves under the number 192 in Register "C". Unfortunately, it seems that these books no longer exist or are nowhere to be found. If only these registers were available!! I imagine it would contain some sort of information in regards to Eglantine's origin, sale, and any other previous owners and/or characteristics to identify her. Hopefully one day these records can be recuperated if they are still around somewhere… one can only hope!

There is also the possibility to find out more information on Eglantine in a family will from the Lapierre family. When Jean Jacques Catherine Lapierre died on 17 September 1845 in Rivière Salée, Martinique he possibly left Eglantine and her Julienne to either his wife Anne Alexandrine Forget or his daughter Rose Hélène Lapierre. In 1844, Madame Lapierre née Forget registers Julienne Malvina's birth but in October 1846 (a little over a year after Jean Jacques' death, Dame Laroche née Lapierre registers Pauline's birth. Possibly Jean Jacques left in his will the slaves who two years later would become the "Lautin" family to Rose Hélène and her husband Jean Françoise Garnier-Laroche. I'm not sure however who the family would have gone to notary wise. Jean Jacques Catherine Lapierre was born in Le Marin, married in Saint Esprit and passed away in Rivière Salée – all different towns in Martinique. Did he previously have a notary in Le Marin that handled his family's estate and slave transactions or did he find someone new in Rivière Salée before he passed away?  There are records in the south of France available for notaries in Martinique but I have no idea where to begin searching there.

Eglantine would pass away in Petit Paradis, a section of Saint Esprit on the 2nd of September 1889, after her daughter Julienne headed for and started her life in Puerto Rico. It doesn't mention what she died of but according to what we have she would have been around 68; she would have seen her native Africa, life pre- and post- slavery in Martinique, and her daughter head out to a new land. Hopefully one day I'll get to meet descendants of the other Lautin children who stayed and lived in Martinique. Maybe some of them immigrated as well to other countries like Julienne. It would be interesting to see if we are truly genetically related, potentially what Eglantine's maternal haplogroup was, and share stories about our ancestors. 

52 Ancestors – #32 Alonso Maldonado

Almost caught up, almost caught up!! Here is another post of a pretty old ancestor, this time my 12th great grandfather Alonso Maldonado. [Note: because these ancestors are so far back there is always room for error, for example: paper records were wrong due to a NPE (non-paternity event) that occurred somewhere in the family and was kept a secret.]

Parcial view of Chinchón, España [Wikipedia]
Alonso Maldonado is another ancestor with connections to Spain, he himself was born around 1502 in the town of Chinchón in what was the kingdom of Toledo, Spain. This town, just like Pastrana, is not too far away from Madrid. I love looking up these towns and reading up on all the information I can on them. Since I've researched and read about many of the towns from my family in Puerto Rico and Martinique, every time I find a new town for an ancestor I look up images, maps, and any other information I can get my hands on.

Chinchón's population, like Pastrana's, is also pretty tiny, in 2008 it hovered a little over 5,000 people. It's interesting to note that the town's church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, started construction in 1534 and was later finished in 1626. This means that my ancestors would have been in the town when the church's construction was underway but never saw its completion since my 11th great grandfather, Pedro Maldonado, left Spain for Puerto Rico in 1549. Alonso Maldonado, Pedro's father, on the other hand might have seen more of the church's construction. I'm not sure if Alonso stayed in Spain or moved to Puerto Rico as well but since he was born about 1502 he would have been in his mid-30s when construction began. I'm also not sure of his death, but I imagine he died by the late 1580s, any longer than that would be past the typical life expectancy and sooner than 1580 is possible as well.

View of Chinchón, España [Wikipedia]

Since Chinchón is a small town, there isn't too much going on or to see except the few historical monuments here and there. One of the interesting spots is the Castillo de Chinchón, also known as the Castillo de los Condes. I would love to visit this castle, since an event occurred here in 1520, which means my ancestors where still around. I'm not sure how easily or not it is to get to the town of Chichón and its castle, but I would love to attempt to go.

Alonso Maldonado was married to Elena de Torres, also a native of Chinchón. Both surnames, Maldonado and Torres, seem to be found in higher frequency in the south of Spain. I'm not sure of Elena's death date as well. There are many different trees online that include Alonso and Elena and since I'm not sure of who their parents are I'll hold off from believing or adding any of the information I see.

Excited to learn more about the town my ancestors lived in and hopefully see and walk the same streets they did! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

52 Ancestors – #31 Dolores Santiago Burgos (1859-1929)

Today's post is about my 3rd great grandmother Dolores Santiago Burgos -- a lot of recent posts from my 3rd grandparents' generation!

Dolores Santiago Burgos was probably one of the first ancestors I found when I began researching my family. Because my grandmother knew the name of her parents and grandparents, this allowed me to easily search the census records for my ancestors on my maternal side of the family. I knew that my 2nd great grandmother Francisca Orozco was married to my 2nd great grandfather Pedro Dávila and they lived in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico (we knew however that Francisca died in the early 1940s because my grandmother never got the chance to meet her). I searched the census records for Yabucoa, specifically in the barrio of Calabazas, and found them in the 1910 census. Luckily my 2nd great grandmother was still living with her parents so this allowed me the chance to learn the names of my 3th great grandparents (Dolores being one of them). This 1910 census would later also become an important piece for making a connection to a cousin of mine who found me on ancestry.com.

1910 Census - Yabucoa, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]

With the help of the Puerto Rican Civil Registry on FamilySearch I was able to find Dolores' death record and also with the help of the microfilmed church records of Puerto Rico I was able to find Dolores' and her husband's (Benito Orozco) marriage record in 1876… which was pretty awesome to find!

Dolores in many of the records appears as either mulata or trigueña, I imagine that Dolores had some color to her! Dolores and Benito had eight children in totally and sadly I don't have any photos of any them, but I do have a photo of my great grandmother! From the research I have done, it seems that Dolores was an only child (which isn't too common in the 1800s in Puerto Rico). Many families had a number of children, anywhere from three to an upwards of ten, so for Dolores to be an only child is interesting and a bit strange to me. My spidey-sense tells me that there has to be more of them, but many there really aren't. None of the less, Dolores was the daughter of Manuel de Santiago and his wife Juana Burgos.

Dolores is also interesting to me because she is the carrier of my maternal haplogroup, C1b4 -- commonly referred to as a native haplogroup. Probably one of Dolores' distant ancestresses was a Taíno/Arawak woman who lived in the southern part of Puerto Rico and later mixed in with the people who came to populate the island. Many people think (and are taught) that the Taíno were wiped clean off the island of Borikén due to disease and slavery but the narrative is now changing with the help of DNA. It seems that over 65% of Puerto Ricans carry a native maternal haplogroup, which would mean that many assimilated into the changing culture rather than dying off. However, there aren't many male haplogroups (if any) on the island, which would mean that either the males were more likely to be killed or that the European paternal haplogroups overpowered in number and over time the native Taíno haplogroups began to disappear. I am proud to carry a piece of my history in my blood and to show that the natives are still with us, flowing through our veins and our culture.

Dolores passed away in 1929, already a widow of Benito Orozco. She was buried in Yabucoa, but unfortunately I don't think her grave would be around because she was most likely buried in the public town cemetery and the headstone (if there was any to begin with) is probably long gone by now. None the less, it would be nice walk through the barrio of Calabazas and visit the cemetery in Yabucoa to pay my respects to not only Dolores but also to my other ancestors who lived and were buried there. Without them, I wouldn't be here in the first place! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

52 Ancestors – #30 Pedro Fernández

It feels awesome to be back writing about my ancestors! I was a bit nervous at first that I would just get lazy and never get around to it, but I'm almost at the half way mark of the 52 Ancestor Challenge. This is definitely hard to keep up with, with the rest of live going on and what not -- but none the less I'm up to my 30th ancestor! This post will be about my 10th (woah!) great grandfather Pedro Fernández. If you notice, I didn't place a birth year and death year at the top and that's because I have no exact date for either (even the birth year is greatly estimated) but no fear, I'll post none the less!

One of my 10th great grandfather's via my maternal side of the family is Pedro Fernández. The only reason I have even a name for him is due to the help of other genealogists who have paved the way with hours and hours of research probably before I was even born! To them, I raise my (figurative) glass and can't thank them enough! Hopefully, one day I'll be able to do the same for the next generation of genealogists to come.

Pedro Fernández is one of my Spanish ancestors, literally -- he was born in Spain and later migrated to Puerto Rico. Pedro, from what we know, was born in a town called Pastrana located in the province of Guadalajara, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Manca in Spain (whew!). According to Wikipedia the town was especially important in the 16th and 17th century, around the time my ancestors would have been born there.

Pastrana, Guadalajara, España [Wikipedia]
Here is an aerial view of some of Pastrana. The town is only 95km from Madrid, which is very exciting because I'll be there in a few weeks and hope to visit Pastrana! Also according to wikipedia, the town's population is that of…1,054 (extremely small!). There are a few monuments and museums to visit in the town, so I think a day-trip will be sufficient to see most of the town. There's even a Palacio Ducal (The Spanish Wiki has more information) and there are Jewish and Arab quarters.

I'm not sure what drove Pedro Fernández and his wife Isabel Ruiz to find a new home; whether religious, political, or economic reasons both Pedro and Isabel (whether together or separately I'm not sure) left Pastrana and headed over to Puerto Rico somewhere in the mid-1600s. I'm also not sure how many generations the Fernández and Ruiz family was there, whether many or a few, but it seems they were ready to begin a new life somewhere new. My 9th great grandfather, who took on two completely different last names, was born about 1645 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. His name was Pedro Díaz Muñiz de Pastrana, and he was also an Alférez from what he know about him. According to Wikipedia (my best friend today), an Alférez was "in medieval Iberia, was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The term is derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "cavalier", and it was commonly Latinised as alferiz or alferis". I'm not sure how or where he got the title from, seeing as how Pedro Jr. was born in Puerto Rico and not Spain.

Before, it wasn't necessary that a child had to take on either of the parents' surnames; if a grandfather or grandmother had a higher ranking surname by which the child could go by to get better footing in society, the parents could choose to give them that surname. I'm not sure if Díaz and Muñiz are paternal or maternal surnames but I'm guessing they held some sort of title or importance to the family. There is also the slim (yet possible) fact that Pedro and Isabel were trying to escape some sort of past in Spain, whether religious or political and didn't want their child involved or followed by those surnames. Both Fernández and Muñiz seem to be found heavily on the north-western side of Spain, so potentially my ancestors moved down from there into Pastrana.

I don't know how possible it is to get specific information on Pedro Fernández and Isabel Ruiz since they lived over 400+ years ago but I would love to know what kind of Spain they lived in, or rather how the town of Pastrana was set up and why they would want to leave. Who knows if there is a common descendant of the Fernández and Ruiz lines living amongst those 1,054 inhabitants. It's kind of surreal to think of a 10th great grandfather, because that is REALLY far removed from where I am today. If and when I step into the town of Pastrana, it will have been somewhere near/close to 370 years (a rough estimate passed around the time Pedro Díaz Muñiz was born in Arecibo) since that family left the town for good. How odd that will be to return and walk potentially the same streets they did. If and when (because I really want to) go I will definitely give another update on the town!

52 Ancestors – #29 Valentin González Quiñones (1828-1907)

With this post of my 29th ancestor I'll have concluded the posts from July!! I'm definitely very excited to get into my posts for August and then line up my next ancestors for the next months to come. So without further ado, here is my 29th post about my 3rd great grandfather Valentin González Quiñones. (Note: I've rearranged the posts a bit, so this technically isn't the last post for July anymore but that's still okay :D)

Valentin is another one my 3rd great grandfathers, distant yet so close like Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera. Because Valentin was born in 1828, he comes from an older line in my family (aka a family that waited longer to have children), he seems much more distant than Buenaventura. Valentin was born according to a record I found in his marriage consanguinity record (more to come on that in a bit) on the 13th of November 1828 in Corozal, Puerto Rico. Even though he was born in Corozal he spent the remainder of his life in Toa Alta and that's probably because at that point the towns were in limbo between together and separate entities. Valentin is the son of Juan González and Isidora Quiñones, who sometimes appears as María Vásquez on other records. Valentin's birth record is mentioned to be in the "pardos y morenos" section of the books in Corozal.

I was able to find Valentin's marriage record thanks to the FamilySearch Toa Alta church records and it shows that he married my 3rd great grandmother Feliciana Mojica González on the 12th of September 1863. What's interesting is that Feliciana was 15 years his elder, who had five previous children and was widowed. In their marriage record it mentions that they were "2º grado de consanguinidad" which means that they were related to one another. At first I was kind of indifferent about it, I knew it was common in Puerto Rico for endogamy to occur and I didn't really know how the grados worked so I wasn't too creeped out by it. But it does make me think: Was this some sort of arranged marriage by the family to save Feliciana's status? Or maybe Valentin's status? He wasn't coming into this marriage as a widower like Feliciana was but he was also 35, an old age for the "average" couple having children in colonial Puerto Rico. I knew that Feliciana's mother was Juliana González and figured that the relationship had to be through that surname since Valentin didn't have Mojica in his tree.

When I visited Puerto Rico last summer, I headed to one of the offices where records are stored wanting to find consanguinity records for Toa Alta. Luckily, they did have the years I was searching for and the lady kindly pulled the records from the back room before I arrived to have them ready. I arrived, gave in my ID to have it photocopied, and started looking through the files. I was very discouraged at first because I had searched all the marriages within the 1860s with consanguinity records but didn't find a Valentin marrying a Feliciana. Towards the end of my search I looked in another packet that wasn't that set of years and found the record (almost giving me a heart attack from the excitement!). I was too excited, I actually had found the actual consanguinity record of 1863 for my 3rd great grandparents.

What the record pretty much stated, in short, was that they were related and there were witnesses that came forward to attest to their relation and their wanting to get married. In order to respect the Dioceses of San Juan I'll put some of the transcriptions of what the records say in stead of the images, which rereading them now is very interesting:

"Valentin González natural del pueblo del Corozal y vecino de este partido de Toa Alta, soltero e hijo lego [legitimo] de Juan y de Isidora Quiñones difuntos ante V.I. respetuosamente dispone: que habiendo tenido la desgracia de vivir en el concubinato con Feliciana Mogica [sic], hija lega de Valentin y Juliana González, natural y vecina de Toa Alta y viuda de Remigio Mogica, descando?? ponerse en estado de gracia alejándose para siempre de aquella mala vida, sin que en su concepto […] el 28 de enero 1862, por haber hecha diligencias antes del tiempo allí preferido para con aquella dispensa del parentesco de consanguinidad en segundo grado, cuyas diligencias no tuvieron efecto en atención a la insuficiencia de sus […] según la consta el noble padre cura de este pueblo de Toa Alta y a los testigos de que intentan valorme para que justifiquen…" [bold added by me for emphasis]

The words I highlighted myself because it seems like the church had no problem calling out Valentin and Feliciana on the sins they committed by having 1) having sex without being first married and 2) with someone from the same family in such a close range of cousins. Looking at it now, my 2nd great grandmother Laureana González Mojica was born out of wedlock in 1855 when Valentin was only 27! It is evident that they applied for the ability to marriage because they wanted to remove themselves from that bad life of disgrace in which they were living in, which the church called concubinage. Seems very extreme to me, but in the mid-1800s in a very Catholic-centric Puerto Rico I can image how serious it really was. Even today, we can feel the influence of the church on the island and in the Puerto Rican culture.

The records goes on to state: "Sí saben que Juan González y Juliana González difuntos fueron legítimos hermanos, primer grado, si de Juan procedió el pretendido Valentin y de Juliana la pretendida Feliciana, primeros hermanos y segundo grado." 

Here we see that their parents Juan and Juliana were brothers and sisters therefore making Valentin and Feliciana first cousins (of the second degree consanguinity). Various witnesses came forward to attest their relationship and consanguinity, for example: Facundo de Rivera, Alejo de Rivera, Joaquin Rodríguez, and Severo Camacho. These "de Rivera" men are probably related to me somehow through my 4th great grandfather Joseph/José de Rivera. The most important witness of them all was José María González, hermano mayor del pretended… al referido hermano Valentin." So here we see that his older brother José María González came forward for his little brother's marriage.

Valentin lived a relatively long life, until the age of 78, when he died of cirrhosis on the 3rd of July 1907. Valentin was still living in Toa Alta (the barrio of Río Lajas) and Feliciana had recently passed away three years before him.  His daughter, my 2nd great grandmother, was still alive and still living herself in Río Lajas. Again, I can only retell the information that the records have provided me. I can't tell if he was happy in his marriage with Feliciana, whether they chose to marry each other or whether it was a move by the family to protect themselves from something. I'm not sure how aware the family was of this marriage and that they were fairly close cousins, I'm not sure if it was something they talked about. And I really do wonder around what circumstances this was all happening!

This post was rather long winded and no pretty pictures to distract you guys but I do hope you've enjoyed hearing about Valentin and probably a somewhat (from what I imagine) difficult life he might have had. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

52 Ancestors – #28 Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera (1850-1925)

I'm kind of on a roll here so I'm going to continue with my 28th post about my 3rd great grandfather Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera!

It's kind of funny to think about a 3rd great grandfather. I was fortunate to meet two of my great grandparents and my father meet his great grandfather (My second great grandfather) – so in reality a third great grandfather isn't actually that far removed. I unfortunately don't have any stories or knowledge of Buenaventura; he passed away in 1925 when my great grandmother would have been in her late teens. I unfortunately didn't get to meet her and I wasn't raised around her son (my grandfather) so therefore another chain is broken. Kind of sad that I didn't hear too many stories of my ancestors but thankfully with records I can start to reconstruct some of their lives and pass on what I've learned about them!

Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera would have been born around 1850 in the town of Corozal, Puerto Rico. Corozal is the same town my great grandmother Mercedes Ortiz Marrero was born in herself and I have various other ancestors/extended family who lived there, many via the town of Toa Alta. Very possible that Buenaventura was born in the town of Palos Blancos since that is where he stayed the rest of his life. He was one of nine children and was the son of Ramón Ortiz and Sotera Rivera Pacheco, unfortunately I don't have Ramón's second surname since it seems that he passed away before 1885. Buenaventura's siblings include: Felipa, Manuel, Ramona, Francisco, Juan, Estanislao, Estevan, and Isabelo (the last three I haven't been able to find documents for yet).

Somewhere around 1869, Buenaventura would marry my 3rd great grandmother Blasina Pérez Vásquez (also spelled Vázquez). Very interesting name Blasina, I hadn't heard it until I found her in my tree. Buenaventura and Blasina also had a big family themselves, 10 children in total so far, including: Santos, Clemencia, Martin, Mercedes, Isidro, José, Juan, Buenaventura (Jr.), María, and Julia. Martin Ortiz Pérez was my 2nd great grandfather and I was fortunate to hear a few stories about him from my great-aunt before she passed away.

It's interesting to note that in 1910 the family was listed as living in Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico and all as mulattos. There is a house guest named "Petra Figueroa" living with them. Buenaventura according to the census lived in a farm which he owned and worked on. No one in the house was able to read or write, so I'm proud to see that Buenaventura owned his own farm (and he is the one only on that sheet to be living on a farm!) Next to Buenaventura's house on the next page of the census was listed Manuel Ortiz Rivera his brother who also owned a farm, could they have inherited some type of land from their parents?


1910 Census - Corozal, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]
1910 Census - Corozal, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]

Later in 1920, the last census Buenaventura would appear on shows him still living in the barrio of Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico. This time there is a new daughter listed named Mercedes and this time there are three house guests or boarders with the last name López. I'm not aware of any López ancestors on that side of the family but potentially they are some cousins or the neighbors children whom they let live with them. The family is still listed as mulatto and unable to read or write, it's interesting that none of the children were sent to school yet the children listed are girls so who knows if that's the reason they were never sent (of course, there is the possibility or rather the reality that they probably lived in poverty and couldn't afford education for multiple children). On the census out of the 25 people listed on the page, only three are able to read and write. Two are siblings, Juan and Casimiro, aged 13 and 10 respectively and the other, another Casimiro, is 14 years old. Again we see that he is living on property he owned and was working de su cuenta which pretty much means of his own accord. I'm guessing he sold and grew whatever he wanted and felt was necessary; according to the census it seems he grew mostly coffee!

1920 Census - Corozal, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]
1920 Census - Corozal, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]

Buenaventura would later pass away at the age of 75 passing away from "Enterocolitis Enteritis Crónica". What's interesting to note on his death record is his identification of race. His race is placed as "Yndia". At first I thought "Indian?!? as in from India?" But with the names Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera I was pretty sure that he was not from the country of India. My next guess was that he most likely looked very mulatto or pardo that they identified him as indio. I haven't seen this categorizing on many records and really can't think of any other in my family besides this one. Checking the next few records I did find a few more "raza india" individuals, so I'm guessing that for the man writing down the information he used three classifications: blanca (white), negra (black), and india ("indian/native"). 

Raza India [FamilySearch]

I wish there was a picture of Buenaventura to see how "native" he really looked. I do have a picture of his granddaughter (my great grandmother) and she definitely has some color to her. When Blasina, Buenaventura's wife, passed away in 1945 she was categorized as mulata. So I do wonder how much Taíno ran through their blood, or even African at that! So thanks to the power of documentation I have been able to learn about my 3rd great grandfather. Hopefully I'll be able to meet some descendants of Ramon Ortiz and Sotera Rivera Pacheco, as well as Buenaventura and Blasina, who can share more information or even pictures with me!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors – #27 Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez (1779-1819)

This post will focus on my maternal 6th great grandfather Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez.

Sebastián according to his death certificate would have been born around 1779 in Coamo, Puerto Rico. It was very exciting when I found his death certificate because Sebastián is part of a maternal line that took a VERY long time to crack, this line coming from my Correa ancestors. By the time Sebastián was born the town had already been founded for over a good 100 years. The town is located in a valley towards the center of the island and original was known as "San Blas Illescas de Coamo" to its first settlers.

Coamo, Puerto Rico [Wikipedia]

Iglesia San Blas de Illescas [Wikipedia]
Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez was the son of Donato Rodríguez and Prudencia Rodríguez. His death record states that he died in Coamo on the 29th of December 1819. His wife, María de Gracia Ruiz Sánchez was still alive at the time of his death. Together they had ten children (to date) and one of them, María de la Cruz Rodríguez Ruiz, was my 5th great grandmother.

There are a few interesting things to note about Sebastián: He was written as "pardo" on his death certificate. I have talked about this identity in records a while back and there are theories that pardo means a mix of Spanish and Taíno parents/ancestors. 

Also, there is a part that states: "...del Baño fue…" and literally that means "he was from the bathroom" (which was pretty hilarious to read at first). After some digging, I ended up finding out that he wasn't actually from a bathroom but likely from an area of Coamo known as "los Baños de Coamo". Los baños are actually the only thermal spring source on the island of Puerto Rico. Originally used by the natives, the springs were thought to have healing powers and eventually drew the interest of the Spanish to that area. Due to the attraction, a resort was built and incorporated the springs. 

According to Wikipedia: "According to local legend, the first governor of Puerto Rico Juan Ponce de León, heard about the healing powers of the Baños from the Taínos. Believing that the baths were the Fountain of Youth which he was seeking, Ponce de León asked where they were located, however he misunderstood the instructions given to him and instead headed by sea towards a new land which resulted in the discovery of Florida and his death". 

I'm not sure if that story is true or not of course but it's a pretty good story to tell! And even more interesting knowing that one of my ancestors lived in that area!

Here is a picture of the baños from Google Maps based on the coordinates. When you zoom in on Google Maps you can actually see the waters and the hotel/resort built around it. 

Los Baños de Coamo [Google Maps]

Besides that information, I don't know too much else about Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez. For example: could his parents have been cousins/distant cousins since they both share the surname Rodríguez and live in Coamo in the mid-1700s? Also, was Sebastián actually born in Coamo? I searched the church records of Coamo between 1778-1783 for a Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez and didn't come across anything. Could his family have been from a nearby town or the capital of San Juan? Also interesting that he is pardo, I have other ancestors with that racial categorization yet I haven't been able to find a Spanish ancestor on those lines since they are very old and the documents aren't readily available for many of the years. 

None the less, super interesting and I can't wait to find out more!!