Friday, August 26, 2011

A Visit to the AGPR (Archivo General de Puerto Rico)

So while I was in Puerto Rico I decided to visit the AGPR which is known to have records. I knew that the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña was located near El Morro and in Old San Juan so I headed there first thinking that was where the AGPR was but I was wrong and so had to head to its actual location which is across the street from the Luis Muñoz Rivera park.

You have to sign in when you go in and to your left is the AGPR. Truth be told, I wasn't too happy with the way the guy treated me. I went in and asked if there were any records available for me to use in order to work with for my family tree. He responded in a snotty manner that I needed to first start with my grandparents and work my way back. Okay, I understand what he means, but at the same time how many random people know about this place that haven't actually already started doing some sort of genealogical research? Also, I'm only 21 so I understand if they don't get too many people my age asking for old records. I told him that I had most of branches to the 1800s and he then asked me what towns I had family in. From all the towns I gave him there were only two which had records which were Lares and Utuado; I listed about 10 different towns and I was surprised they only had records for two of them.

I decided to order records from Lares since I knew my great great grandfather was born there and I still have distant family there, which I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet. I ordered three different cajas (boxes) which is the maximum you can order and was told to come back the following Thursday. When I came back the next week I was both surprised and upset/shocked. I ordered different records ranging from Population Census in Lares to records of who had what farms, lands, etc. I was excited to touch old records but I was upset at the condition of the records. You are not required to put on gloves and some records are falling apart- have they even microfilmed these records?!?

Going in I was looking specifically for two last names: Avilés and Magraner. I knew that my Avilés line lived in Rio Prieto in Lares where my great great grandfather José Avilés was born while the Magraner name is believed to be surname of José Avilés' father. Since José was born out of wedlock he carries his mother's name. I searched the records for any hint of these families living in Rio Prieto, Lares; I kind of regret not looking at the other barrios but since my great great grandfather was born and lived in Rio Prieto his whole life I didn't want to waste time searching in other places. Sadly, I didn't come across ANY Avilés person in Rio Prieto on neither the 1897 Population Census or property records which was upsetting because where in the world did they go?!? José would be around 6 years old at the time the population census was taken and so he couldn't go wandering off alone. But this isn't the first time I've come across a Houdini act by the Avilés family, for some reason I can't find them in the 1910 Census either! Which is extremely weird because in 1911 José Avilés married my great great grandmother Dionisia Gonzalez. 

However, I was able to find a Magraner living in Rio Prieto. I don't know if this IS my 3rd great grandfather but it could be possible. This Magraner was born in Spain, moved to Puerto Rico and lived in Lares (which all fit the tale my family tells). This man's name is Damian Magraner Morey and was born in Sóller, Mallorca about 1847 and immigrated to Puerto Rico at about the age of 26. He appears as a resident owning a farm and living with other Spaniards who seem to work on his farm. The only thing is that Damian appears to be 'married' on the Census, so where is his family? Could his family be my Avilés family or was his wife waiting back in Spain?

I googled for this Magraner and found a Damià Magraner Morell from Sóller as well and this could easily be the same man since Morey/Morell are very similar just an orthographic difference and my guess is Damià is the Catalan version of Damian. It seems that by the following year in 1898 Damian had returned to Sóller, Mallorca and from the records I've found and from what I can make out from Catalan he assumed some position at a company. For example: 

"Damià Magraner Morell i Guillem Colom Rullan han estat elegits vocals de la junta del Banc de Sóller que, en el darrer any ha tingut uns beneficis de 78.423’04 pts. Ramon Marquès és el nou president."  

"Damià Magraner Morell ha estat nomenat president de la fàbrica de teixits La Solidez en el lloc del recentment desaparegut Pere J. Coll."

While a article written titled "Una Emigració Forçada: la Participació dels Sollerics a la Guerres de Cuba, Puerto Rico i Filipines (1895-1898) i els seus efectes a Sóller" stated that Damià Magraner Morell was a 'tinent de batle' a deputy mayor. So maybe this could be my 3rd great grandfather; part of the tale in my family is that he had come to Puerto Rico because of the Spanish-American War but maybe it was that he had returned to Mallorca to help the Spaniards fight the war. He never appears on any of the census records and neither in the death records of Lares. I have to read the entire article and look for more information on this man to see what I can come up with- I'm surprised that I'm pretty much able to read Catalan since it's a mix of French and Spanish I can understand about a good 85-90% of it.

The only way to be 100% of this Magraner connection would be to find a male descendant from José Avilés and test them for Y-DNA that would match the Magraners from Mallorca. But until then I can only hope this is the actual father, we'll just have to wait and see. 

Here are some of the records I found for Damian Magraner Morey (Morell):

Magraner in Rio Prieto, Lares claiming his home

No. 21 Damian Magraner claiming his land in Rio Prieto, Lares

Damian Magraner in the 1897 Census w/ other Spaniards

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