Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Solving A Mystery- Detective Style

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I didn't know too much about my mom's grandfather and his family. My grandmother had told me that his father, Manuel Correa (The elusive man in my family tree), worked in San Juan, Puerto Rico as a bus driver after meeting Ernesta. From my knowledge, I don't know if they married and didn't know when he died; on Ernesta's Death Certificate according to her brother she never married. So really I had no starting points for Manuel. My grandmother mentioned that Guayama, Puerto Rico is where my grandfather's family was from but after searching Manuel Correa, or just Manuel on the 1910-1930 Censuses there was no hint of a Manuel Correa that matched my great grandfather in Puerto Rico.

My grandfather (right), his sister and Manuel Correa

After a trip to Puerto Rico last year to visit my grandmother, I found in her closet some things that belonged to my grandfather (along with this picture above). Amongst the things were pictures of my grandfather as a kid, his army training in Fort Gordon in Georgia, my great grandmother's bible (and tucked away inside my grandfather's sister's birth certificate), along with some documents such as a copy of my grandfather's birth certificate. In the copy of the birth certificate, some things were cleared up: My great grandfather worked as a 'choffer' (driver) like my grandmother told me, he was marked as "T" - trigueño which means dark-skinned, was born about 1920 apparently from Ponce, Puerto Rico. After, I asked my grandmother for more information, asking her for everything she knew even if she wasn't sure if it correct. She told me that Manuel had separated from Ernesta and died in Hato Rey, San Juan, Puerto Rico around the early 1990s. With that new information I searched and didn't find anything except a potential social security death which matched, this Manuel was born in 1920 and died in 1993 in San Juan. With the SSN at hand I ordered his Social Security Application which cost 27$.

When I received the Social Security Application, I noticed similarities between these two Manuels. First that he had lived in San Juan, was born in 1920, worked for a Taxi Company called " Majestic Taxi Cabs, Inc." but was from Salinas (which actually isn't too far from Guayama or Ponce). Something else caught my attention, Manuel's second last name was "Rivera" (early that same year I had called my grandfather who did say that his father was Manuel Correa Rivera and I thought he was confusing him with his own mother who was Ernesta Rivera- but turns out Manuel was Correa Rivera!) Thanks to the power of Google Maps I was able to figure out that Calle Loiza where he lived in 1944 was only a 3 minute drive from Calle Julián Blanco were he lived in 1951 (picture below.)

Streets from 1944 and 1951 where Manuel Correa lived

Every fiber in my body told me this HAD to be my great grandfather Manuel Correa, being that everything seemed to add up and rather nicely! But I wanted harder evidence than just streets close by in San Juan and similar years, seeing my last post with what happened with Ramona Rivera Rivera I didn't want the same thing to happen again and end up back in square one. I kept looking at the documents, at every single fact on the papers. There had to be something that would prove that these two men were actually the same person! Reviewing the documents again, it hit me-- there had to be signatures on the documents!! This for me sealed the deal, look at the signatures below and see the similarities.

Manuel Correa's signatures in 1944 and 1951

Our signatures change as we get older, we develop more elegant hand writing and it later remains stable after we have decided to keep something that makes our names 'ours'. The first signature, took place in 1944, in the year my grandfather was born. You can see that it looks legible but neither perfect nor beautiful; in this year Manuel was 24 years old and he could have just learned how to write recently or barely practiced seeing as during these times not many children continued their education past middle school/ high school, as they were needed on their parents' farms to work or had to provide for their own families. It seems he had some trouble writing his last name on the first document. 7 years later in 1951, we see that Manuel's signature has changed but has kept some of the earlier features. The "M" in Manuel has a loop before beginning the letter in both years, the "C" in Correa has an inner circles that he starts both "C"s with in the documents and finally the "R"s in Correa have loops in the upper left corner which appear in both years. Besides the fact that he later writes Rivera in 1951 I'm pretty sure this is the same Manuel (Ernesta only writes Miranda as well in 1944.) I felt like a detective after finding this on both documents! After this I started searching for Manuel's family since both his parents were listed on his Social Security Application, Julio Correa and Amalia Rivera from Salinas, Puerto Rico I'll post about the research in another post!

Finally the brick wall that has been there since about 2004 has been broken down and can finally continue adding to my ancestry!!

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