Monday, July 4, 2011

What Started It All- Part II

I started searching for records, stories, and information at about the age of 14/15; at this time I was working for the New York Public Library and thanks to a co-worker I found out that I was able to search for documents, luckily, for free on the website. During those years, though young and naïve, I was able to figure out a lot of things. Thanks to some family members I was able to start my family tree slowly but surely. [Note: From my knowledge, I'm the only person in my family to have started/have a family tree; so for me this is a BIG achievement.] Due to the fact that Puerto Rico was only an American territory until after the Spanish-American War of 1898, the only available records I was aware of at the time were the 1910, 1920, and 1930 Censuses as well as the World War I and World War II Registration Records [These available only of course for male ancestors who fit the age ranges at the time of registration.] So with that information at hand I was only able to extend my tree to about 3 generations and barely 4 generations (which for me were ancestors born about the mid-1800s, and for many who I didn't have actually documents but just estimated dates of birth.)

So up until the end of high school, I wasn't sure that the story that started all this seeking and searching held any truth. Could I actually have a Spaniard for a great great grandfather and a Taíno woman for a great great grandmother? Was I even sure the people I found were MY ancestors? (I actually did have one great great grandmother wrong due to two women living with the same name in the same town- more about that later). I had hit many brick walls and many that I couldn't crack so easily due to no more records available records before 1910 (me being young and naïve I was unaware of church records or Civil Registration records on the island which I would find out about later.) So for a while I stopped searching and settled on the information I had, I was sort of content with what I had but hungry to find more. My main goal was to figure out whether or not my g-g grandfather WAS from Spain and if not to find an ancestor who actually was from Spain- I wanted to find a foreign born ancestor. I had heard about 23&me on a show once but never really payed any attention and didn't know if it was real. It wasn't until my sophomore year of college that I took a real interest in the website and what it was capable of for ancestral and genealogical purposes. I'll post more about it on the next post. 
José Avilés Magraner circa 1977
Pictured above and below is my great-great grandfather José Avilés Magraner, who according to the family story was born in Spain and immigrated to Puerto Rico [documentation of his birth shows me otherwise] but his father might have been from Spain. José was very tall and apparently had blue eyes, he was said to have lived to about 100 in Lares, Puerto Rico. I'm currently waiting for his death certificate from the Demographic Registry in Puerto Rico. (*Cross fingers* that it'll come soon!!)

José Avilés dancing at his granddaughter's wedding

As you can see in the 1920 Census (picture below), my great-great grandfather was living with his brother Lorenzo and at the time he was widowed with three children (my great grandmother being Rosa Avilés). Both have their father listed as born in Spain, even though they were born out of wedlock and received their mother's name Avilés, no father was listed on the birth certificate. There is some uncertainty about whether or not Magraner is really their father's last name. Both Lorenzo and José show up in the 1930 Census listed with the last names "Avilés Magraner" and both appeared circa 1917 according to their WWI Registration Cards working with a "Ramón Magraner" in Rio Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico (where they were from) who may or may not be a relative; Ramón never appears on any of the Census records. Family in Puerto Rico have said that Magraner is the paternal name but without any real proof I can't be too sure. And the search continues!! 

1920 Census from Lares, Puerto Rico listing my G-G Grandfather

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