Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ancestor Hunting

Like most of us know, genealogy is both a blessing and a curse. It can be a nice side hobby, or it can eat up your holiday time like it is doing to me now. So this post I'll dedicate to the tough part of genealogy, because we all know it exists!

Mainly I want to dedicate it to one line in my family which is giving me the runaround!

This line is the Gustavo/Charles line from Martinique/Guadeloupe, and as you can see the uncertainty in name and place of origin is an 'uh-oh' from the start. I'm not 100% sure of this line but with all the evidence I have, I am strongly leaning to this family being part of my maternal line.

The origins of this family that have been mentioned in documents include: England, France, St. Thomas, Martinique, Guadeloupe, amongst probably others. In a previous post I mentioned the Catalog of Foreign Residents and there a Juan Carlos Gustavo is mentioned who I'm hoping is my 4th great grandfather and there it says he is from Martinique so I'm hoping he really is from Martinique.

So originally I thought Juan Carlos and his wife had only one daughter who is my 3rd great grandmother. Yet as I continued searching the census records I came across other Gustavo/Charles in the Southern area of Puerto Rico like where mine lived. So now, the pedigree looks like this so far:

Gustavo & Charles Pedigree

My 3rd great grandmother, who appears as Maria, Maria Paulina, Paulina or as Octavia was said to be born in either Vieques or Fajardo before moving to Salinas with her family. Some documents state Santa Isabel but I'm unsure if this was a place where they might have lived. Valentina, her sister, I found while searching a few months back and she is said to have been born in Martinique (but if in 1874, Juan Carlos was already in Puerto Rico, then this might/might not be possible) and she then later died in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Her brother, Alberto, I actually found today while doing research and he lived in Guanica with his wife until the 1930 Census where he appears living in Ponce; records point to him being born in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Juan Carlos's wife appears as a mess of names as well. She has appeared with the first names, Julia, Juliana, Barbina/Balbina, and Barbara while her last name started in an 1885 document as "Lotten" and has since then appeared as Loten, Lotiz, Loter, Soler, Sotiz, Sotims/Sotins. She in some documents for unknown reasons appears with the surname Perez. Yeah... confusing right! All the documents I have point to her dieing in Ponce sometime between 1895-1896 yet surprisingly even with that small window of time I still haven't been able to find her!!

I have yet been able to find the death records for either Juan Carlos or Julia and continue to search everyday, neither for Octavia who was last reported on documents to be living in Caguas, Puerto Rico. I have run across some other descendants from Juan Carlos and Julia but haven't been able to ask if they know anything about them. And it's very hard to keep track of them because the surname constantly changes back and forth between Gustavo and Charles. My guess is that (along with someone else I theorized with who has researched French ancestors) is that neither Gustavo nor Charles is the original surname but rather middle names that he had. Which then leaves me with, what IS/WAS his last name!?

Hopefully one day I'll be able to break down some of these brick walls and find out more information. What interest me most is their ethnicity because I keep getting German/ East European hits in my account strictly through my mom's dad's side which makes me wonder if it comes from these ancestors.

Only time will tell! Until then... search, search, search!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy 2,000 Ancestors!!

So sometime last week I reached over 2,000 ancestors on my family tree. (That does include branches such as aunts, cousins etc. as well as married in branches). None the less it is very exciting to reach these numbers! I remember when all I knew was my immediate family and only about two sets of great grandparents. Now I can count back most branches to a good solid six generations with some reaching into the 7-9th generations. Today specifically I made over 2,100; so the tree keeps growing!!

Over this break I just mainly plan to attach all the records I have to their respective ancestors and tie up some lose ends with certain ancestors. Today I ordered some records from the church in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico where my grandmother's family is from so hopefully they'll come in time while I'm still here and I'll be able to see them at the LDS center. (Fingers crossed!!)

I wonder how long it'll take me to reach 3,000! :)

Accepting your roots

So it has been a long time since I've posted but now that the semester is over I can add some posts to the blog!

This post is about something I've been noticing and kind of just wanted to write about from my point of view as someone that has been doing genealogy for a while.

I find it a little sad or distasteful (I don't know if this word sounds too strong) when people don't acknowledge ancestors whether or not they are aware of the possibility of them. For example, I've come across a few people who I've tried to connect with either through paper trail or even through DNA. Some are Puerto Rican, just like myself, which means that there background can be a hodge podge of different things. Yet every time I try and figure out a connection I would get a response that sounds like "Hi, my family are from X and X towns. Our roots go to Spain." ...What about your other non-Spanish ancestors? And what is most bothersome is that the only "research" or information they have goes to their grandparents! There are a TON of years before them! Puerto Rico is known for 3 main branches that contributed to the culture: the Taino (natives of the island), the Spanish settlers and the African slaves brought over. Yet there are sooo many different people that came to the island. Among them to give you just are taste are: French, Germans, Corsicans, Italians, Sephardic Jews, Venezuelans, Cubans, Dominicans, even some from as far of as Russia! So how could we be so sure all of our ancestors go back to Spain when there are multiple possibilities!!

Granted, when I first started my ancestry search, I myself wanted to find roots to Spain and kind of still do. Who doesn't? We grow up hearing about the Spaniards this and the Spaniards that, so somewhere inside we want to connect. Yet, as I kept going through with my ancestry I became more aware of myself and my roots. From the ancestors written down as 'mestizo' or 'de color' (both referring to people of varying color) to a pair of ancestors with the race of 'indio'. What rocked my world the most is the possibility of having ancestors from Martinique. I would have never guessed in a million years that I (bolded for emphasis) could potentially have ancestors from Martinique. And still there are so many other links out there that I haven't made yet. Maybe I have an Irish 10th great grandfather or Portuguese 9th grandmother? Granted, okay, they are WAY back to really consider them a contribution to my identity but in a way they are. These are the people not from Spain that have stories as well, the ones who contributed to your ancestry and pedigree with their lives.

So hopefully, one day, people will realize that 'not all branches go to Spain' and the same goes for most people. I guess once people begin to do more research and begin to discover their past will they realize what history has in store.