Monday, July 4, 2011

What Started It All- Part I

My great grandparents, my grandmother and her siblings  

This portrait of my great grandparents, Felix Vélez Mercado and Rosalia Avilés González along with my grandmother Carmen Avilés Vélez (seated close to her father) along with her brother Antonio (older boy) and a baby sibling I don't know the name of, was the start of my interest in genealogy.

The picture hung in our apartment where I lived when I was younger and I always remember seeing it in the dining room and asking myself two questions: 1) Who were these people? and 2) How did MY brother end up in this picture? (I was convinced my older brother was the little boy in the picture, hey- I was young at the time!). Along with the picture came a story that also sparked my interest in genealogy.

I was told that my great grandmother (pictured above) was from Spanish and Taíno descendants (if you look at my great grandmother, holding her baby, you can notice her straight black hair and rather small, slanted eyes); this coming from her mother, a "pure" Taíno Indian. [I haven't confirmed this claim, but I have high doubts it is completely true being that around the time her mother was born (abt. 1892), there weren't too many full bloodied natives running around the island- from what I've gathered from research.] I was also told that her father came to Puerto Rico during the "war" (my guess the Spanish-American War) where he fell in love and decided to stay and had my great grandmother. I was completely enthralled by this story, could I really have Spanish blood as close as 4 centuries back and have a full-bloodied Taíno great-great grandmother?!? I was too young at the time to actually begin research, sadly, and wasn't able to ask my grandmother the necessary questions about this picture and her family. But it was up to me to solve this mystery and many more about my family's past.

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