Monday, December 30, 2013

A Volcano, a Man, a Typo?

A Volcano

Researching Martinique, I have come across many different events in history including the tragedy of the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902. Saint Pierre, located to the north of Martinique, suffered a terrible eruption which would completely wipe out the town and most of its 28,000 inhabitants (higher estimates say that over 30,000 people perished from the volcano's eruption).

Remains of St. Pierre after the eruption []

What I found interesting was that only two people survived (some say three) the eruption on the night of May 8th, 1902. The two main survivors of this event known as the worst volcanic event in 20th century were Léon Compère dit Léandre and Louis-Auguste Cyparis. Some say that the third survivor was a young girl named Havivra Da Ifrile- but I want to focus mainly on Louis-Auguste Cyparis because of his story.

A Man

Louis-August Cyparis []

During the eruption of Mount Pelée, it was Louis-Auguste's drunken stay in a jail cell that is credited for saving his life. Some reports say that he was put in the solitary cell after a drunken fight with a friend whom he attempted to stab. The cell he was placed in was "a single-cell, partially underground, bomb-proof magazine with stone walls. His cell was without windows, ventilated only through a narrow grating in the door facing away from the volcano. His prison was the most sheltered building in the city, and it was this fact that saved his life. The cell in which he survived still stands today" (Wikipedia). After surviving four days in the cell, he was finally rescued and despite being burned Louis-Auguste was able to survive the eruption. You can read more in the Wiki article or research more about him and how he survived, he apparently urinated his shirt and wrapped it around his face to prevent himself from breathing in much of the ashes. Interestingly enough, he later joined the Barnum & Baily Circus as Ludger Sylbaris retelling the tale of his survival. Here is a picture of his jail cell:

Cachot de Cyparis [Wikipedia]
A Typo?

I became really interested in this man and his life, I thought "wow, had he not been drunk and gotten into that fight, he probably wouldn't have survived the eruption!". I wanted to learn more about this man; he was said to be about 28 years old during the eruption and in a letter written in 1902 from Fort-de-France, Martinique it describes a little bit more about Louis-Auguste. The letter states: "Louis Cyparis (dit Souson) était un travailleur du Prêcheur, tantôt marin, tantôt cultivateur". This tells us that he was a worker originally from Le Prêcheur, a bordering town to the north of Saint-Pierre. Also, he sometimes worked as a sailor and sometimes as a farmer. Knowing his age, we know that he was born about 1874-5 when the volcano erupted and his life changed forever. The question now became: Could I find Louis-Auguste Cyparis' birth record in Le Prêcheur and learn more about him?

1902 letter mentioning Louis Cyparis []

Searching through the birth indexes of Le Prêcheur in the 1870s I didn't come across any "Cyparis" or even Ciparis but interestingly I did come across the birth of two "Cypriani" children in the late 1870s. Both were the children of a Marie Etiennette Cypriani, who lived in Saint Pierre and was working as a "marchande" or a trades woman, however no father is listed for the children. The first child was born in 1878 and was named Louis Marie Alphonse Cypriani, and their first and last names no doubt have a resemblance! I even checked in the Saint-Pierre 1870s birth indexes but didn't find any name closely resembling "Louis-Auguste Cyparis". There is however also the slight possibility that he was born as Louis-August and later picked up "Cyparis" as a last name but being that former slaves had already acquired last names by 1848 I don't know how likely this option is.

Louis Marie Alphonse Cypriani- Birth Record 

Louis Marie Alphonse Cypriani- Birth Record 

I do wonder if this is the same man, Cyparis and Cypriani are very close in spelling and there were no other last names that could be clumped with "Cypriani" as a possibility from what I have seen. We do know he went to jail once, so could he have changed his last name slightly to avoid the law? Or did they simply write his name wrong by mistake? I can't find anywhere an actual birthdate or year for him, all of them seem to be estimates, so it could be because there is no actual "Cyparis" but this was his birth record? Or maybe he was born in another town altogether and just said he was born in Le Prêcheur because he spent most of his time there? As we can see there are a lot of questions surrounding Louis-Auguste Cyparis before the eruption!

Until more information is found I can't tell whether these two men are one and the same. It's interesting when you try and tie together history and genealogy, especially with those who are both famous/infamous in history! Hopefully more will come of this man!

A Change in the Past, A Change for the Future

I haven't blogged in a while and with the holidays being both a busy yet relaxing time, I've decided to write a post!

Recently, a day passed in December that wouldn't have meant anything special to me until recently. December 21st would have been any other day for me this year; it was a Saturday, the first official day of vacation for me and a marker that Christmas was only four short days away. Yet, this year it meant much more to me. It was the day my 4th and 5th great grandmothers were officially recognized as French citizens (or people for that matter) after receiving the surname Lautin and being freed from slavery. This year marked 165 years of freedom between my 5th and 4th grandmothers and myself.

Anse Cafard Slave Memorial - []

Slavery's end came to the island of Martinique in 1848 in various stages. A decree is signed on April 27th but was only publicly announced on the 3rd of June, about a month and a half later. Guadeloupe also at this time was becoming an island free of slavery, thanks to it being a territory of France as well. Emancipation Day is celebrated on both islands in late May (the 22nd and 27th).

As the slaves became free, they were to receive last names- something which many didn't previously have since they were to work fields rather than be identified in high ranking positions. Each person was to report to registrars which had been set up in their towns in order to document the "new" people. These documents are known as Les Actes D'Individualités.

Luckily for me these documents have been placed online and I have blogged before about using these records to discover my 4th great grandmother who immigrated to Puerto Rico and her mother who was originally from Africa and brought over to Martinique as a slave. My 5th great grandmother appeared before Charles Fouchet to register herself and her two daughters, Julienne Malvina and Pauline - the former my 4th great grandmother and the latter my 4th great grand-aunt who sadly passed away in 1855. Their acts were taken on the 21st of December 1848, where they all received the last name "Lautin" most likely from Charles Fouchet himself. The previous slave owners were not surnamed Lautin but this was the surname they received for whatever reason.

Here are their Actes D'Individualités again:

Eglantine Lautin- 5th Great Grandmother

Julienne Malvina Lautin- 4th Great Grandmother

Pauline Lautin- 4th Great Grand-Aunt

I wonder a lot about my ancestors, their thoughts, their moods, their aspirations. I wonder what was running through my 5th great grandmother's mind the morning of 21st December 1848.

I imagine her raising early at the crack of dawn from having to work the fields so early after so many years. She stretches by the door of her home as she stares out onto the plantation has worked on for many years. She would take a deep breath and muster in her best French: Aujourd'hui nous sommes françaises. (Today we are French!) She would wake her daughters from their slumber, today they longer would be considered slaves but free people. Would Eglantine remember a past life in Africa when she was free and went by another name? Would she dream of returning to that land or would she look forward to her daughters' futures? Would she find this a joyous occasion or one of hard ship as she would have to look for work elsewhere now?

I am blessed to have a strong ancestress who physically and mentally prepared herself each day for the work that was to come, not knowing when it would end. This single event in history changed the future of her family and ultimately mine as well; who knows what sort of freedom Julienne would have been allowed if she would have to had live the rest of her life as a slave rather than a free woman. She probably would have never taken the journey to Puerto Rico.

Always remember those that came before you and their stories, their struggles and their lives for one day you shall join that chain of ancestors. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Día de los Muertos- Recognizing One's Ancestors

From November 1-2, a popular holiday from Mexico also known in the USA due to its closeness in date to Halloween was celebrated- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). And even though it's been a week since the holiday, I've been thinking a lot about how we remember our ancestors and the importance of remembering them.

Serendipitously, as a few members of 23andme chatted about our African results from AncestryDNA, someone posted a few links which I found interesting. They all dealt with remembering our African ancestors and how passing traditions along helped these communities remember their past.

The first article I read dealt with the Cuban town of Perico and how their strong connection to Africa allowed them to reconnect with their slave past. I'll post the link below and let you read about it, I don't want to ruin it for you too much!

How Cuban Villagers Learned They Descended From Sierra Leone Slaves.

The next two videos deal with the Gullah people near the Carolinas, Georgia and the sea islands nearby. This one was truly amazing because they were able to connect to their past both by music and lifestyle.

The first one I saw was "The Language You Cry In"which was AMAZING to watch! And the second one was "Family Across the Sea" (Both deal with the same topic and overlap a bit). They are a little over 50 mins in length so make sure to set up some time aside if you plan to watch them!

They made me think a lot about my African past- which I have discussed in length on some other posts, mainly about my Martinican connection.

However, it is also makes me think about Puerto Rico and its past. Are there places on the island where language is tied strongly to certain dances and traditions? I know of Bomba and Plena but have never heard of certain African languages being used to sing the songs. I know there are words in Puerto Rico that originate in Africa but how strong is the overall connection?

There are many questions that I would love to research and learn more about. Just as our history is connected to the native Taíno and the Spanish, we must remember that our history is just as connected to Africa and we must reconnect there as well!

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Puerto Rican look at: AncestryDNA 2.0 (African Portion)

This week something awesome happened- updated their DNA part of the website and added more ethnicity groups! More importantly, they now break down Africa into various sections which is amazing since this is the first time (to my knowledge) that a company has broken down the Autosomal DNA by African countries.

Part of the website introducing the new AncestryDNA

My original breakdown from AncestryDNA is provided below:

Original AncestryDNA Breakdown
Below is the new breakdown from the updated AncestryDNA:

New AncestryDNA Genetic Breakdown
Like I mentioned what's awesome is that there is a new African ethnicity breakdown which is the first time I've had some genetic hints (from my own DNA) as to where my African ancestors are from. As you can see from the picture above, my African percentage is estimated to be 23% which at 23andme is currently estimated at 16.1% (Standard) and 17.7% (Estimated).  The first country is mentioned as Mali at 12% then the rest (11%) is part of "trace regions". As you can see the Trace Regions include: African Southeastern Bantu, Africa North, Cameroon/Congo, and Senegal. The Africa North part is most likely from southern Spanish ancestors who mixed with the Muslim inhabitants who arrived from northern Africa and lived in Al-Andalus. 

Top African Country- Mali
What was so interesting is that I score 0% in the categories of: Ivory Coast/Ghana, Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers, Benin/Togo, and Nigeria. I was surprised since many slaves were brought over from these West African countries. My 1% in Senegal and Cameroon/Congo make sense since they are along the coast. Africa South Eastern Bantu interestingly matches with the Zimbabwean and Angolan 23andme cousin matches I have.

I was very surprised to receive Mali at 12%. With research I've realized that current day Mali was part of the Ghana Empire as well as the Songhai Empire, which were big players during the trans-Saharan trade. It is very possible that my ancestor(s) lived inland and were brought out to the coast and put on ships or already lived in the coast through migration within the Mali empire when borders weren't officially set. 

Mali Empire
Present Day Mali borders
According to AncestryDNA a typical native Malian is in the range of 39% due the various multiple ethnicities that exist in the country. And interestingly I am at 12% which isn't too too far off. 

Me vs. Typical Native Estimates

Having "Mali" listed in my countries is eye opening. Even though I wasn't raised "Afro-centric" I knew that I have slave roots throughout various lines in my family. With the recent discovery of my 5th great grandmother, Eglantine Lautin, being a native African brought to Martinique as a slave I wonder if current day Mali would be her homeland? Or where does this high percentage of Malian ancestry come from, various ancestors? Did they speak Bambara and a part of the Mandé people? Did they mix with the Tualeg/Berber people or were tensions already high between the two groups?

Ethnic Groups of Mali Explained

There is still MUCH to learn. Both about these results, myself and the possibility of other countries/ethnicities not yet listed. I am patiently waiting for the updated 23andme version of their Ancestry Composition to see if there are any trends/patterns. For now I will continue my research on Mali, its people and history!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Visiting the Archivo Diocesano

Walking in Old San Juan

This past summer, I knew that there was one new place in San Juan that I wanted to visit and that was the Archivo Diocesano. I had read a bunch about the place and wanted to visit to see if I could find anything related to my family. The Archivo Diocesano has many records on different towns (more of the San Juan area) related to marriage dispenses and solicitations of proving one's bachelor/bachelorette-hood. I knew that when my 3rd great grandparents married they had to say they were blood related and so I wanted to see if I could find a "dispensa" for them in the town of Toa Alta.

2º grado consanguinidad- Valentin González y Juliana Mojica
I decided to call ahead to make sure that the place was open and that the files were held there and not at another location. The lady, Elyse was extremely kind and helpful throughout the whole process- even at times where I wasn't too sure on where to look or what to look for. I got on the bus and headed into Old San Juan crossing my fingers that hopefully I'd find something buried in the old documents. When I got there the box I was looking for was already set aside for me (I had told her over the phone that I was looking for dispensas in Toa Alta in the 1860s). She asked for an ID in order to process my visit and then I started searching. 

Toa Alta-Toa Baja Dispenas 1841-1905

This one box had (pictured above) had many years and even two towns in it so I was afraid that I wouldn't find it that day OR that it wasn't in this box at all. So I began searching the packets within the box starting of course within the 1860s. Nothing was coming up and I was getting extremely nervous! Maybe the document was lost? Maybe it got ripped apart? I was becoming more and more frightened that I could not find anything on their marriage and that I wouldn't find anything new. Towards the end, something inside me told me to check the other Toa Alta packets in the box, it couldn't hurt right? So buried somewhere in the 1840 Toa Alta dispensas I found Valentin González's name!! My heart skipped a bit and I glanced further down the words "Juliana Mojica" caught my eyes! YES! I found it! Immediately I grabbed my little book and got ready to jot down any notes. 

I don't want to post up the pictures I took since they are a part of the Archivo Diocesano but I'll mention what I found: 
  • There was a transcription of Valentin's baptism which mentioned he was born in Corozal on the 13th of November 1828 and listed in the "pardo/moreno" book. I had gone crazy searching in Toa Alta for him and now I know why I didn't find him!
  • His parents were listed as Juan González and Isidora Quiñones. For some reason in later documents she appears as "María Vásquez". 
  • A brother named José María González came to testify that all the information provided was correct. 
  • Mentioned that Juan González (Valentin's father) and Juliana González (Feliciana's mother) were brothers and sisters. 

With all of this information I thought "Okay, how can I use all of this to find something new?". No names of the parents to Juan and Juliana were mentioned so technically nothing new came of this document (besides the actual birthdate of Valentin), but a brother of Valentin was mentioned which I never had before and it sounded familiar so where had I seen it before? 

In a desperate attempt to document and find the González family in Toa Alta I began to transcribe baptisms from a certain era to see if anything would pop up. So when I turned to my excel sheet I realized that I had a "José María González" with his wife baptizing children in the 1820s I knew that this could be him! And what was more interesting was that in one of the documents the father of José María appeared!! So now I had a the father's name of the González siblings-- Yldefonso González!! **Of course I'm hoping that this José María is the brother to my Valentin González**. 

So hopefully out of all of this I've gained the name of my 5th great grandfather and his wife Agueda González which I was able to find through a baptism record in Toa Alta in 1802 of their daughter Polonia. Now I am trying to locate death records in the available Toa Alta records to see if the information I have matches with everything else. 

Genealogy- proving and disproving family connections over and over again ;)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Losing a Loved One

A little over a month ago, I received a call from my mom who told me that my great grandfather had passed away. That quickly I had lost the oldest family member from my line, my maternal great grandfather Narciso Meléndez. I was fortunate to have met my great grandfather and visit him in Puerto Rico while I was on vacation many times throughout my life. His lines were some of the more difficult ones to crack and to this day I continue to work on them. Yet, my great grandfather's passing brought along many interesting and new things as well. A picture of his father was found while looking through the home along with other old family pictures; I was also able to visit his grave where his wife my great grandmother is buried and I was able to find out the date when they were married.

My great grandfather was born in Coto, Manatí, Puerto Rico on the 29th of October 1922. I remember while I was growing up my grandmother always said her father never really knew his birthday was but they always celebrated towards the end of October. I was fortunate to find his birth record and confirm that he was actually born on the 29th of October which makes sense since it is the day of Saint Narcissus.

Manatí, Puerto Rico

Even though being born in Manatí, my great grandfather headed to San Juan to find work. It was there that he met my great grandmother, Epifania Dávila Orozco who was originally from Yabucoa. He ended up moving to Yabucoa with her for a while and my grandmother was born there. They then moved back to San Juan together and would stay there for the rest of their lives. My great grandfather mainly worked in construction but I remember that my grandmother told me that he used to work in the restaurant "Casa de España" in San Juan. My great grandfather would bring home things that were hard to find in stores for the family to have to eat. I imagine there was some economic hardship being that he probably worked here sometime in the late 1940s-1950s.

Restaurante Casa de España

Finding my great grandfather in the Census records was a bit difficult at first. I couldn't find a "Narciso Meléndez" living in Manatí. So I decided to ask my grandmother for the names of his siblings to see if any of them would appear. My great grandfather had a brother named Anacleto Meléndez Sánchez and it was by typing in his name that I found the family in the 1930 Census. Turns out that my great grandfather was recorded as "Carmelo Meléndez Sánchez", a nickname which my family knows he used for all of his life. Interestingly, only in the 1935 Census does my great grandfather use the name "Narciso".

Meléndez Sánchez Family in Manatí, PR- 1930

My great great grandparents were José Meléndez Moran and Anicasia Sánchez Arvelo, as you can see per the 1930 Census. I didn't know much about them since I never got to ask my great grandfather about them. All I know about them is information I've attained through records. I know that they married in Manatí in 1908 but they came from different towns- José from Vega Baja and Anicasia probably from Utuado. Which in itself is complex because Anicasia's dad was from Quebradillas and her mother from San Sebastián. José was one of MANY children, he had about roughly 14 other siblings (12 of which I have documented through birth/death certificates, the other two appear in census records)! He also worked most- if not all of his life- as a farmer/laborer on a farm. It's also interesting to note that on his WWII Registration Card he was marked as 62" of height, which makes him roughly 5'2".

There are many unanswered questions about my great grandfather's ancestors. On one side of the family there is a mess of last names which we used both officially/non-officially on records while on his maternal side no church records were microfilmed by the LDS church so any records I want to find on his mother's side of the family I probably have to write to the church or visit with permission to search through the books; sometimes this is difficult because they are a) don't grant permission to anyone or b) the books I want to use are no longer available to the public.

However, I was fortunate to take a DNA sample of my great grandfather which will hold and show so much information as time continues. For example, recently a cousin born in Zimbabwe came up!

4th-Distant Zimbabwean Cousin!
I hope to continue learning about my great grandfather's ancestors and their respective stories!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hints to the Past?

Things have been pretty slow on my end here! I've been searching through church records in different towns in Puerto Rico trying to locate more ancestors and documentation. Just two days ago I found two sets of maternal 5th great grandparents which is awesome to add to the tree.

But more interestingly, the 23andme feature called "Countries of Ancestry" has given me some new interesting matches. Way back in the beginning I mentioned this feature and some of the interesting matches I've received. For example, my great grandfather tends to get some Irish matches while my dad's side has some Eastern European matches. Recently though, on my mom's side (specifically my maternal grandfather) I've gotten two very interesting matches.

Both are from Africa! Which is why I've titled this post "Hints to the Past"; the question mark, however, shows my uncertainty. The two places I've gotten in my grandfather's matches are Angola and Cape Verde. This was very interesting and a great surprise to me because these are my first matches to a Sub-Saharan area in Africa with their 4 grandparents born there. I've gotten Morocco but that isn't as surprising with my Spanish roots.

Angola and Cape Verde are very surprising for many reasons. We know that slaves were exported out of many parts of Africa, especially the western coast where they were taken to many different countries in the Western Hemisphere (as well as to Europe!). Angola was a Portuguese colony and gained independence in 1975. Cape Verde was also another Portuguese colony and also gained independence in 1975. Cape Verde on the other hand are a set of islands off the coast of Africa but were also important in the Atlantic slave trade because of their geographic location.

Here's a picture of the matches on the chromosomes!
Angolan cousin on Chromosome 7

Cape Verdean cousin on Chromosome 6

What's interesting to me is that these countries could be potential hints or clues to an ancestor's past. What I found the most interesting was that these cousins only matched me on my maternal side and specifically on my maternal grandfather's side who has Martinique ancestors. Could these be distant cousins to my slaves ancestors from Martinique? We know that Eglantine Lautin was from Africa, but whereabouts? If only these cousins were public so I could communicate with them about their families. What worries me though is that they'll be just Portuguese settlers who have stayed- but only time will tell! It would be amazing to find out that I have Angolan and Cape Verdean ancestors through my maternal family whether through Martinique or even through Puerto Rico.

This genetic genealogy adds SO much more interesting stuff that can not be seen through paper trails! Hopefully I'll learn more soon!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

1935 Social & Population Census of Puerto Rico

Recently (as in just yesterday), uploaded the 1935-1936 Census for Puerto Rico. I have been waiting for this census for a while and I'm glad it's been released! It adds another set of records available on ancestry for Puerto Ricans to use for researching their ancestors.

Here is some background information given by ancestry:

This census is particularly helpful because it's right between the 1930 and 1940 censuses so if someone died between those years you'll be able to find out if it was after or before 1935. Also, there is a 1935 agricultural census which if your ancestors owned land on the island they would appear on and give you information on that.

So far the 1935 census has helped me in a few ways. I've been able to find all of my direct ancestors that were alive for that time period in the records, except for one pair of great grandparents who I'm still trying to track down.

Before the 1935 Census, I wasn't sure when my 2nd great grandfather Nicodemus Vélez Ríos died. I knew that it was sometime between 1930-1940 but that was a pretty wide area to cover. Luckily, I was able to find his wife Domitila Mercado Cruz living in Arenas, Utuado, Puerto Rico with her children and widowed. Now I know that Nicodemus must have died sometime between 1931-1935 and probably in Adjuntas where they had lived for a little over 12 years. Now I'm trying to track his death record between those years. Here is the 1935 census record of Domitila as a widowed woman living with her children in Arenas, Utuado.

1935- Arenas, Utuado, Puerto Rico
Secondly, the 1935 Census gave me another piece to the life of my great grandfather Manuel Correa. Manuel Correa was born in 1920 as "Isidoro Correa Rivera"; his father would later die in 1929 and his mother in 1933 leaving him and his siblings orphaned. From the information I have, Isidoro, who went by the name Manuel lived in 1930 with his cousin in San Juan, Puerto Rico while his sister Modesta still lived with her mother in Río Jueyes, Salinas, Puerto Rico. It seems that 5 years later, Isidoro moved back to Salinas and lived with his sister and their aunt Senovia and her husband Francisco Alvarado. Also in the house was Luisa another aunt, mother of Celedonio. Later in 1940 he would move back to San Juan and work for a Luis Vahamonde-Sanchez and it seems that Manuel would stay there for the rest of his life until his death. Speaking with a great-uncle confirmed that I have the right family but I hope that Isidoro and Manuel really are the same person! Here is the 1935 Census of them in Río Jueyes, Salinas.

1935- Salinas, Puerto Rico
As I search for extended family, the 1935 Census will help with tracking movement across towns, births, deaths and even new relationships that formed between 1930-1940. Now for finding my missing great grandparents in this census!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cultural Exchange: A Piece of Germany in Puerto Rico

I'm always interested and amazed by the diversity our small island of Puerto Rico has! Every time I'm doing genealogy and I come across a person from Corsica, France, Italy, Spain, Guinea, or whatever other country they were from, I just go "wow, where are my cool Puerto Rican ancestors?"- which I have found through my Martinican line ;)

While searching through the Utuado birth records I ran into a child being born in 1892, and what caught my attention was that both of his parents were from Germany. So I decided to jot down the information and see how far I could trace this family outside of Puerto Rico with the information I have. (I like to challenge myself in genealogy as you can see).


The child born was Heriberto Leopoldo Hess Klinger in Santa Rosa, Caguana, Utuado, Puerto Rico. He was born on June 26th 1892, the legitimate son of Jorge Hess Jung, a mechanical engineer from Freiburg, Baden, Germany and his wife Elisabeth Klinger "Wetterolh", a native of Nieder-Modau, Hessen, Germany.

What surprised me (which it shouldn't have) was that the grandparents of Heriberto were listed. Since they were from Germany, I imagined that maybe there wouldn't be able to communicate names besides their own to the person jotting down the information. But a lot was provided very accurately and as I would soon find out.

The paternal grandparents were John Jorge Hess, from Freiburg where he passed away and his wife Anna Maria Jung, a native of Emmendingen, Baden, Germany but lived in Freiburg. Her maternal grandparents were John Adam Klinger and Anna Wetterolh, both natives of Nieder Modau, where they passed away.

So right away I knew that these families originated in Freiburg, Germany and Nieder Modau, with one grandmother a native of Emmendingen.

My search took me to FamilySearch where I tried to see if they had civil records for Baden, which they did but truly I could not navigate that part of the site since I don't know the proper provinces and what was what back in those times. But I did find Marriages, Death & Burials, and Birth & Baptism sections which would provide me the information for these families.

I began by typing in the last names Hess, Jung, Klinger and Wetterolh into the different sections. Hess and Jung haven't provided anything so far but through the mother's family I found a lot! I was able to find Elisabeth Klinger was christened on 27 January 1856 and born 13 January 1856, the daughter of Johann Adam Klinger and Anna Wetteroth which matches with (John Adam) Klinger and Anna "Wetterolh". As you can see they were also residents of Nieder Modau which was awesome to see since they had it right in Puerto Rico!

Elisabeth Klinger's christening record

Now that I knew Elisabeth's parents' "German" names I would check for their marriage. Awesomely, I found that Johann Adam Klinger married Anna Wetterroth on September 18 1851 in Nieder Modau and the record stated both of their parents' names! Johann Adam's parents being Johann Adam Klinger and Anna Maria Rodenhäuser (sometimes spelled Rodenhäußer) and Anna's parents were Georg Nikolaus Wetterroth and Eva Maria Hiller.

Johann Adam Klinger and Anna Wetterroth's Marriage
Also notice that it mentions when they were born. Johann in 1829 and Anna in 1831, how awesome! To take it a step even further I found Johann Adam's father marriage to Anna Maria Rodenhäuser. However, one record states they were married in 1839 while another says 1828. The 1828 marriage only mentions the dads while the 1839 mentions both parents (with the dads being the same from the 1828 marriage). The 1839 marriage says Anna Rodenhäuser was widowed but to who? Did she remarriage and to a brother of Johann Adam Klinger? None the less, Johann Adam's father was Georg Wilhelm Klinger and Anna's father was Peter Rodenhäuser. This traces the Klinger and Wetterroth to the earlier 1800s!

More amazing is that I was able to find Georg Nikolaus Wetterroth's marriage as well!!!

Georg Nikolaus Wetterroth & Eva Maria Hiller's Marriage
Georg Wetterroth was born in 1795 and Eva Hiller in 1811, Georg's parents were Johann Conrad Wetterroth and Sussanne Haas while Eva's were Johann Adam Hiller and Anne Marie Funck. Here you can also see they are living in Starkenburg, Hesse-Darmstadt. 

To tell you the truth I can even go a bit further with the Hiller family as I found Johann Adam Hiller being christened in 1787 while living in Altheim, Hessen, Germany and marrying Anne Marie in 1810- but I think you get the point. 

Just with the name of Heriberto's parents and grandparents I was able to push the family's pedigree to the late 1700s in Germany, and potentially could go a bit farther if I put more energy into it. Also, it shows you the AMAZING work that has gone into FamilySearch indexing and cataloging of records. From sitting in my home I could track down 5-6 generations of Heriberto's family without having to travel to Germany and sit for hours searching records. Of course, going to Germany and visiting the Baden region would be amazing to really get the feel!

Seems that the Hess family stayed in Puerto Rico (not sure how many Hess siblings stayed and spread out throughout the island). Heriberto himself did father a son named Jorge Francisco Hess Garcia with a Puerto Rican woman . Maybe a Hess descendant will find this post and either contribute, verify or even learn more about their Germany ancestry. 

Goes to show how a family with deep roots in Germany uprooted themselves and came to the tiny island of Puerto Rico helping to enrich our culture. I know that in my tree somewhere lurks families like these who I hope to one day uncover and push back like how I was able to do for Heriberto's family. 

I really had fun doing this and maybe I'll give it a go another time with a different family! But for now I'll shake my tree a little more and see what falls out! :D

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Small World, Smaller Island!

It's always crazy when something finds you serendipitously, especially in genealogy! So far throughout my searches I've come across some interesting things that have made me say "WOW! What a small world!". I'll talk about 3 different events that have happened to me that showed me that not only is this a small world but that Puerto Rico is indeed a small(er) island!

Look up! 

Looking for baptisms of my umpteen grandparents can sometimes be a taxing job. Especially in a town like Toa Alta, Puerto Rico where in the early 1800s the baptism books were divided by race categories such as Blanco (White), Pardo & Moreno (People of color/Black) and Esclavos (Slaves). If you didn't know what category your family was placed under, you'd have to search and search until you found them.

Finding my 3rd great grandmother Feliciana Mojica González wasn't to hard of a task. I knew her family was usually categorized as "pardo" so I checked those books first and found that she was baptized in Toa Alta on the 14th of March 1813. Easy enough! But finding my 4th great grandmother, Martina Vásquez Fuentes wasn't too easy. Her descendants moved into Corozal, Puerto Rico where my great grandmother Mercedes Marrero Ortiz would be born. So I thought that she too was born in Corozal. Yet looking over Feliciana's baptism record and looking at all the names I noticed that right above her was a "Marta" being baptized- turns out to be my Martina!! Since Corozal originally started out as a part of Toa Alta, many families originally had roots in Toa Alta before moving into Corozal or just falling into the section of the new town. These two women are not related but Feliciana's grandson and Martina's great granddaughter would father my grandfather! It would be so funny if these women either lived near each other or were behind each other on a line to baptize their children in the church. Small world!! Here is the record of Feliciana and Martina!

Baptisms in 1813 of Martina Vásquez and Feliciana Mojica
Toa Alta, Puerto Rico

An odd reunion

While doing some genealogy at one of the centers I visit, I met a nice woman who's family was also from Puerto Rico. As we started to chat we realized that we both had family in Toa Alta but no similar surnames. She was stuck with finding some records and so I decided to help her out since I knew the Toa Alta church records pretty well. While searching for her great grandmother's baptism record, I came across a great-aunt of her's being baptized in 1856. While looking at the names, I noticed something super interesting- the godparents of this great-aunt of her's were my 3rd great grandparents! So our families 157 years ago gathered at a church to baptize her great-aunt. Finding that record revealed that we actually had the surname Rivera in common! So far I haven't been able to confirm that we are connected by blood but our families did know each other. How weird that 157 years later in a different town and a different country, two strangers would meet who's families once knew each other!

My 3rd great grandparents: Pedro Rivera & Eusebia Diaz
as godparents in 1856.

At last!

Earlier last week, I had one of the best moments of serendipity. While looking for my paternal 2nd great grandmother's birth certificate (or her sister's) in Utuado, Puerto Rico I came across very unexpectedly someone else. I saw the surnames "Sánchez Arvelo" and right away realized those names were on my mother's side of the family! Oddly enough I found a 2nd great granddaughter being born in Utuado, Puerto Rico despite her parents being from Quebradillas and San Sebastián. This whole time I was looking through Lares, San Sebastián, Quebradillas and Manatí for them when out of nowhere I find one of them in Utuado! Odds are my 2nd great grandmother was also born there but since the records aren't indexed I'll have to search 1 by 1. Finding this record gave me the name of 2 sets of my 4th great grandparents- I was so happy to find out more names in this family because I had searched for so long to find out more about them.

I'm constantly surprised by how small this world really is!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Exploring Maternal Haplogroups

In honor of International Women's day and because I was itching to write about a certain haplogroup, I decided that this was the opportune time for me to write!

So far with 23andme, I have been able to test 7 people in my family including myself and have been able to discover 4 different maternal haplogroups. What's interesting about our haplogroups is that they aren't from just one area- with the migration to Puerto Rico coming from many different areas and for many different reasons, our maternal heritage (just like our paternal heritage) tells many different stories. But the one I want to focus on mainly today is my great grandfather's European haplogroup U5b1b1b. First I'll talk quickly about the others.

My own personal maternal haplogroup came as a nice surprise to me when I first tested in 2009. When I got my results I was able to see that my maternal haplogroup was the indigenous C1b4. This group as you can see below is present in both Asia and the Americas. My guess is that somewhere along my maternal ancestress' line I descend from a Taíno/Arawak woman.

Similarly, another group found on the maternal side of the family that is also connected to Native Americans is called A2. A2 has a higher concentration up in North America near the Bering Strait. However, you can also see that it is evenly common and widespread throughout Central and Southern America. Again, this haplogroup was most likely introduced to my family through a Taíno/Arawak ancestress.

Found on my paternal side of the family is the only African Haplogroup I've discovered so far called L2a1. This haplogroup is found amongst African Americans seeing as how it is commonly found in Sub-Sahara Africa amongst the Bantu-speakers. Since it is so widespread it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where in Africa my ancestress would have originated from. Some speculate that its origin lies somewhere in Central Africa. Due to the Atlantic Slave Trade, many L2a1 carrying women entered areas such as the Caribbean, South America and North America which is why it is so commonly found there. I have not been able to figure out who my original L2a1 African born ancestress was, but hopefully one day I'll be able to know more about this line and haplogroup.

Lastly, my great grandfather is the only one in my family tested so far to carry a European haplogroup yet with an interesting history. His maternal haplogroup is known as U5b1b1b and can be found amongst the Basque and even amongst the Saami population in Northern Scandinavia.

U5b1b1b is part of the branch U5 which "arose among early colonizers of Europe around 40,000 years ago". But what's more interesting about this group is that is seems to have made its way back into Africa via Northern Africa where it can be found amongst people in Morocco and even as far south as Senegal. The big question for me is: Where did my U5b1b1b ancestress come from herself? Did she live in southern Spain before heading off to Puerto Rico? Was she a Moroccan woman who's family found their way to Spain and settled in Al-Andalus? Or was she just a European woman who's husband decided to head to the Caribbean and she agreed to the journey?

So far any of these stories and many others are possible. What's interesting is that my great grandfather does carry, according to Ancestry Composition, North African genes. Pictured below is his Chromosome 4 on "Standard Estimate" and the dark blue on the top is the North African he carries. There is a smaller chunk of it as well on Chromosome 7. Who he receives these genes from is still a mystery to me! Also in Ancestry Finder he receives a match with all 4 grandparents born in Morocco.

Chromosome 4- North African Genes
Chromosome 7- North African Genes
Chromosome 2- Moroccan Match
Hopefully one day I'll be able to name who these women were and talk about the lives they would have lived!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

My Gustave-Lautin Family

This genealogical year has been off to a good start! The mystery of my Martinican ancestors is almost coming to a close (though there is still much to sort out!) Last week the Vieques church records I ordered to the LDS center arrived and I was pumped to search through them.

I knew that my 3rd great grandmother was, as far as I know, one of 7 children. She being the first born and the next 6 in chronological order being: Tomás, Valentina, Areopajita, Dionisio, Alberto Fermin, and Martina Isabel. I had Dionisio's (born in Fajardo), Alberto's (born in Salinas) and Martina's (born in Santa Isabel) birth/baptismal certificates but I didn't have my 3rd great grandmother, María Paulina or Tomás', Valentina's and Areopajita's. Here is a pedigree I made of the Gustave-Lautin siblings and family. 
The Gustave-Lautin Family who immigrated to Puerto Rico

Luckily in the Vieques church records I was able to find both María Paulina's and Tomás' baptism records. My 3rd great grandmother was born on the 15th January 1867 and baptized on 14th February 1867 in Vieques, Puerto Rico. While her brother Tomás (who's picture I found in the passport records) was born in Vieques as well on 28 December 1869 and baptized on 20th February 1870. What I found very interesting is that they both were surnamed "Charles" in these records. Also Tomás' middle name is "Octavio" and my 3rd great grandmother went by Octavia sometimes, so the name might be passed down from another family member! It mentions that the father's name was Gustavo Juan Charles, mixing around the order of the names. The paternal grandparents were listed as Juan Charles and María and the maternal as Eglantina Lotin. This helps me to solidify the Lautin line which I had theorized about in a previous post but had no solid proof. The baptism record helped to show that Juliana was indeed the daughter of a Eglantina Lotin (Eglantine Lautin) and helped to tie up all the loose ends. 

Now, the problem lies with figuring out the origins of Jean Charles Gustave. I fear that his surname might have been "Jean Charles" rather than "Gustave". Yet for now I will believe it is "Gustave" because he signed his name on the two documents I have as "Jean Charles Gustave". It could be plausible that his last name was "Jean Charles"; if his dad was a freed slave who was just named Jean Charles then his son would have taken his whole name as the surname. Which is most likely the origin of Gustave as well. Jean Charles Gustave's parents are listed as Jean Charles Gustave (which could mean he was named after his father or they didn't know the name of his father so they just duplicated his) and his mother appears as María Lucia, María Morianga and sometimes just María. So my guess is that she was Marie for certain but whether she was Marie Lucie or Marie-Ange (probably from Morianga) beats me!

We know Jean Charles Gustave (Juan Carlos Gustavo) appears in the the Catalog of Foreign Residents living in Fajardo in 1874. Juan Carlos Gustavo is listed at the age of 55 making him born circa 1819 and was married and "domestico" meaning he probably didn't work at the time. What's interesting is that there is a "Balbino Gustavo" also listed in the book with the age of 29 making that person born circa 1845. My guess is that the "Balbino" was actually my 4th great grandmother who's middle name was Balbina and she herself was born in 1844, it was probably transcribed incorrectly in the book. 

Here's a image I made from Google maps showing them hopping around Puerto Rico from Vieques, to Fajardo, to Salinas with years attached showing when they were living in those towns. Martina Isabel was born in Santa Isabel for whatever reason but the family lived for the most part in Salinas before spreading out along the southern coast. 

Gustave-Lautin family moving around Puerto Rico
I'm currently stuck on finding more about Jean Charles Gustave. So far I've checked all the towns of Martinique between the years of 1818-1820 for the birth of a Jean Charles Gustave. So far--- no luck! There is a Gustave family living in Ducos (previously known as Trou-Au-Chat) which could be promising though they were there towards the end of the 1800s. Also, there is a Charles Gustave being born in 1821 in Le Carbet to a Marie Olympe, he is the only closest match I have. My guess is that Jean Charles Gustave was of some kind of Mulatto mix born out of slavery (in the 1848 records of the slaves being entered, I found no Gustave-surnamed family that could match). I'm also not 100% sure that he was truly born in 1819. That would make him much older than Julienne, could be possible of course!

My next hope is to get the 1870s Catalog of Foreigners (I'm currently trying to get it through the interlibrary loan). The only thing that worries me is that because by 1867 they were already in Puerto Rico, they might not appear in it. Estela Cifre de Loubriel had to have seen their name in some type of document to jot them down in her book- the only thing is which document!!

Hopefully this mystery will be wrapped up soon enough! I wonder if Jean Charles was fixed with French/some European ancestor or just a descendant of slaves. I'll update once I figure out more!

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Ending to a Search?

Sometime late last month, I decided to fully explore the possibility of Juliana Balbina Lotten's death in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I had checked before but to no avail, nothing came up. I checked for the surnames Charles, Gustavo, Pedro, Pérez, Lotin, Sotin, and pretty much every other possibility that I knew was out there. I knew that Juliana died some time between June 1895 and June 1897 according to other documents I had. In most, if not all of the documents I had from that time period, it was that stated that Juliana was alive, widowed, but that she was living in Ponce. Yet I never knew why Juliana would move away to Ponce- Juliana's children lived in Salinas, Guánica/Yauco and only one daughter lived in Ponce around the time she would have. The daughter was Areopajita (spelled that way according to documents) and she would pass away in Ponce on the 11th of June 1900 of Tuberculosis Pulmonar. Pedro Rosado Sierra reported her death and despite it saying he was the 'neighbor', Pedro was actually Areopajita's husband (not wed through the church though) and they had one son named José Laureno Rosado Gustavo who lived with his maternal uncle after the death of his mother.

Searching in Ponce through the indexes I couldn't quiet figure out why Juliana did not appear. I checked the towns of: Yauco, Guánica, Ponce, Santa Isabel, Salinas, Guayama, Fajardo, Vieques, and Guayanilla, San Juan- Pretty much any town and neighboring town possible where either she lived or could have lived. Yet for some reason- absolutely nothing! It wasn't until that I decided to check in Ponce between 1895-1897 under "J" for a 'Juliana'. I imagined that if she died and someone were to report her death who didn't know her well, they might have not known her last name or had changed it around even more than from what it originally was. Lo and behold, in Ponce in May of 1897, there would occur the death of a Julia Juliana! I figured this was highly possible for it to be her.

I decided to transcribe the entire document to pull out any and all details to make the claim that this was Julienne Malvina Lautin, the woman born into slavery in Rivière Salée, Martinique and who would later move to Puerto Rico as a free woman with Jean Charles Gustave to become known in documents as Juliana Balbina Lotten. Here is the information in Spanish with bolded important/interesting information which I'll translate over:

"En la cuidad de Ponce, a las tres y media de la tarde del veinte y ocho de Mayo de mil ochocientos noventa y siete antes Don Carlos Lopez de Toro, Juez municipal y Don Enrique Colon y Ferrer secretario interno compareció Juan Santos Ocasio, natural de Peñuelas, soltero, empleado y domiciliado en la calle del Coto de esta cuidad, manifestando que Julia Juliana sin otro apellido de treinta y ocho años de edad (Ygles) digo, Ynglesa [sic] y asilada en el Hospital de dementes de esta cuidad falleció ayer a las seis de la tarde a consecuencia de diarrea ygnorando las demas circunstancias personales y demas datos preciso para justificar su personalidad y de ello daba cuenta como encargado de dicho. En vista de esta manifestación y de la certificación facultativa presentada el Señor Juez dispuso se extendiese esta acta y que la finada se entierre en el cementerio de esta cuidad. Fueron testigos Victor Sanchez y Santiago, natural de Ponce, soltero, empleado y domiciliado en la calle del Mendez Vigo de esta cuidad y Serafin Perez Garcia natural de Muesa, Provincia de Salamanca, casado, empleado y domiciliado en la calle del Coto de esta cuidad…"

  • She died on the 27th of May 1897.
  • Juan Santos Ocasio appeared to announce her death. He was employed (which will be important in a minute).
  • She was named Julia Juliana, with no other surname (remember in Puerto Rico both the paternal and maternal surnames are carried). 
  • She was 38 years old and known as "the Englishwoman". 
  • She was 'asilada' (an asylee or had asylum status in the hospital of the insane). 
  • Victor Sanchez Santiago was a witness, also employed. 
  • Serafin Perez Garcia was also a witness, also employed. 

There a few interesting things about this. For starters- she was in a hospital for the insane!! She was known as Julia Juliana the "Englishwoman". And all three people to appear where employed, my guess in the hospital. I've yet to find this so called "Hospital de dementes" in Ponce so it might not exist now but existed in the late 1900s. Also, she was known as the "Englishwoman". Could it be possible that while in the hospital she would have bouts of speaking French or Creole and the employees just thought: "Oh, she must be speaking English again". There are documents which misstate where she was from, so they could have also easily thought she was from the English Caribbean rather than the French Caribbean and political correctness isn't always top priority when nicknames are being dealt out. 

I'm not 100% sure this is my Juliana but for the time being I will believe she is! Everything seems to fall into place- the year (1897), the place (Ponce), and this nickname (La Inglesa). The only thing that doesn't match is the age which states she is 38 at the time of her death placing her being born around 1859. Of course, the man who reported her death most likely underestimated her age and could have rounded down. I remember seeing a death certificate for an ex-slave woman in Puerto Rico with the age of 125. Of course, it could be possible that she was around 100 but 125 is probably overestimated. My Juliana was born in 1844, so 1844 and 1859 aren't really too far apart considering that it was most likely estimated. 

Unless I find an English background woman born around the 1860s who lived in Ponce, Puerto Rico and was named Julia Juliana, I will hold this record as the death certificate for Julienne Malvina Lautin.

UPDATE: I was able to find my 3rd great grandmother's death record! Ironically she died the same year, 1897, but in Salinas, Puerto Rico under the name "Balbina Pérez Glantin". All the information about her matches and I can surely say it is 100%. Though this Julia in Ponce, Puerto Rico isn't my ancestor, I will leave this post up since it is a part of genealogical research. Always check, re-check, and confirm that you have the right ancestors and family branches! 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making Ends Meet!

Last week I was pretty fortunate to be able to search through the Adjuntas church records which were microfilmed by the LDS. I knew that some ancestors in my family through my paternal side lived in Adjuntas for a while thanks to the Census records.

Adjuntas, Puerto Rico- a town nestled in the Central Mountain Range
Picture: Wikipedia

I knew that my great grandfather, Felix Vélez Mercado, was born in Utuado in 1905 but his parents somewhere between 1911 and 1914 moved to Adjuntas and some of the birth records of Felix's brothers and sisters pointed to their parents being naturally from Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Felix's father, Nicodemus/Nicodemo Vélez Ríos and his wife Domitila Mercado Cruz were a bit of a mystery to me. I didn't have any birth records for them and neither any death record. I knew that they married in 1906 in Utuado, Puerto Rico- but besides that I had nothing.

Utuado, Puerto Rico
Picture: Wikipedia

The Adjuntas church records were able to clear up some things about this side of my family! I was fortunate to find a lot of baptismal and death records in the church documents, which would help to prove some lines and extend others. Nicodemus Vélez Ríos was born in Adjuntas in 1878 to his parents José María Vélez Sepúlveda and Ana Ríos González. I knew that his dad, José María Vélez, was a part of a pretty extensive line of Vélez and Sepúlveda family members that dated back to the 1600s in Puerto Rico and even to towns in Spain. Now that I have confirmed that Nicodemus is the son of José María Vélez, I have been able to solidify that line. Thanks to all the research of those that came before me, I was able to extend some of these lines like I mentioned to the early 1600s. Nicodemus is also the grandson of Bernardina Sepúlveda Roman who I wrote about before, who owned a few slaves in Guaynabo Dulce, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico when the slave census was taken in 1872. My Riós González family is still missing a bunch of ancestors and this is due to the fact that this family probably originated in San Sebastián and those records aren't microfilmed with the LDS so to figure out more I'll probably have to visit the church itself.

My Mercado Cruz line on the other hand had eluded me for a long period of time! Most of the records say that Domitila's father, Cayetano Mercado was born Lares and would end up dying there. Cayetano's wife, Cristina Cruz Pérez was also said to have been from Lares but she was still alive in the 1910 census living in Utuado, Puerto Rico with her daughter.

Surprisingly, Domitila had a few sisters who were born in Adjuntas! Finding the baptism records of these sisters allowed me to extend these lines one generation further. Now I know that Cayetano's parents were Francisco Mercado and María Isabel Cajigas and that Cristina's parents were Francisco Cruz and Gabriela Pérez (she is sometimes written with the last name Gerena). The records state that the Mercado Cajigas family was from San Sebastián while the Cruz Pérez family was from Lares. I've tried to find some of these grandparents' death records in their respective towns as well as in Adjuntas but so far no luck.

I was pretty happy to be able to push the Mercado Cruz line one generation further on the paternal side because I had been struggling with that line for so long now. And hopefully I'll be able to find Domitila's birth certificate which I've also had a hard time locating. Hopefully more will be discovered about this family!

It's also interesting to note that San Sebastián and Lares are actually neighboring towns in Puerto Rico demonstrated below:

Lares, Puerto Rico

San Sebastián, Puerto Rico

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Year in Review: 2012

Since I wrote about my 2013 New Year Resolutions I decided to review 2012 and all of the genealogical achievements, discoveries and even unanswered questions that came with that year. That way I'll have a summed up version of all the posts of that year and can aspire to learn even more about myself, my family and their journey from all parts of the world to make me who I am today.


  • Talked about the cousin I was able to meet through my blog. 
  • The release of the 1940 Census!!
  • Discussed the Y-DNA results I got from GeneTree.
  • Got to see for the first time the 1940 Census after its release and found some ancestors.
  • Posted about being able to visit the grave of my great grandparents (Alejandro Rivera González and Mercedes Ortiz Marrero) as well as some great-aunts. 
  • Talked about some potential slave owning ancestors in my family- Juan de Dios Marrero and his wife Rosa de Rivera from Corozal, Puerto Rico).
  • Delved into the topic of race and its perception after receiving my grandfather's 23andme results. 
  • Discussed the 'evolution' the surnames Gustave and Lotten went through in Puerto Rico. 
  • Posted various times about the Finding Your Roots series and its guests. 
  • Began my first series of "An Ancestor's Story Through Records". 
  • Discussed the possibility of "Manolo Correa Rivera" being my great grandfather Manuel Correa Rivera in the 1940 Census. 
  • Talked about 23andme's new ability to break down cousins by maternal and paternal sides. 
  • Did some research on the surname Masantini and its potential connection to Tuscany, Italy. 
  • Analyzed my results from DNA Tribes. 
  • Categorized and discussed the Antonetti family slaves from Salinas, Puerto Rico. 
  • Posted the second part of my "An Ancestor's Story Through Records" series. 
  • Talked about my chat via telephone with one of my great uncles. 
  • Looked at AncestryDNA through the lens of a Puerto Rican. 
  • Discovered a sister to my Gustave Lotten ancestor who was born in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico- would lead to many new discoveries!
  • Probably the best moment in my genealogical year-- discovered documents for a Julienne Malvina Lautin, Eglantine Lautin and Pauline Lautin in Martinique which pretty much coincide with Julianna Balbina Lotten ancestor in Puerto Rico. Learned a lot about Martinique, those ancestors, and what those documents helped show. 
  • Discussed my future plans about learning more about Martinique and my ancestors. 
  • Talked about another Gustave Lotten ancestor I was able to find except this time I was able to find a picture of him, his wife and children due to their applications for a passport being Couldn't believe my luck and considered myself lucky many-a-times. 
  • Analyzed my Ancestry Composition results through the lens of a Puerto Rican. 
  • Discussed my previously unknown connection to the Ashkenazi Jewish population. 
  • Explored my slave roots in Martinique a bit more and how I was able to find Julienne Malvina's birth record. 
  • Explored my slave roots some more but this time focused on the family which owned the Lautin women in Martinique. 
  • Talked a bit about the topic of genetic memory and its correlation to my Martiniquan ancestors. 
  • Lastly, discussed the book Texaco and what I learned from novel. 
In total, I posted 30 times last year which I think is pretty high! Its nice going back and seeing what I felt while discovering those documents and the process I underwent to find what I was looking for. I'm excited for this year to start rolling and for me to start my discoveries!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Tracing Eglantine Lautin

Ever since I discovered the document for Julienne Malvina Lautin and her mother Eglantine Lautin (as well as Pauline Lautin) in Rivière Salée, Martinique I can't stop thinking about this family! I was super lucky to find Julienne's and Pauline's birth records in Trois Bourgs despite them being slaves and I also discovered that Eglantine was originally from Africa.

A couple of days ago, after finishing "Texaco" I began to read "Women and Slavery in the French Antilles, 1635-1848" by Bernard Moitt. Despite the fact that this was actually the last book in the sequence of books I purchased, I decided to bump this one up the list because I wanted to learn more about Eglantine's life as a woman on Martinique with the job of a cultivatrice or farmer. The book has been very informative with both statistical information and descriptive information of what their lives would have been like. For example, many field slaves began their work at 5AM and didn't finish until 11PM depending on the cycle of the crops they were tending to. I could never imagine working those hours, especially with very minimal rest in between and the constant stress on my body from lifting, digging, etc. The book is definitely putting a new perspective to what women went through in the French Antilles during slavery and also providing a nice factual background to "Texaco" as well.

The reason I named this post "Tracing Eglantine Lautin" is because I want to do just that; I'll explain:

With the recent advances of DNA tests, we can see where a person's ancestral line originated from through Y-DNA (males only) and mtDNA (both females and males) exams. Since Eglantine was a woman she passed down her Mitochondrial DNA to her female and males descendants, yet since many of her male descendants are deceased by now it is only the females who continue to pass down that line of mtDNA. For example my 3rd great grandmother, María Paulina Gustavo Lotten, would have had Eglantine's mtDNA seeing as how that's her grandmother. Julio Correa Rivera, my great grandfather also had Eglantine's mtDNA; yet because Julio married Amalia and had children with her, they in turn inherited Amalia's mtDNA rather than Eglantine's. So by tracing Eglantine's female descendants I would be able to find what maternal haplogroup Eglantine belonged to. Why is that important you ask? Well, because we know that Eglantine was from Africa, by having the mtDNA tested we would be able to see which haplogroup she belonged to from Africa and potentially even be able to pinpoint a certain part or even ethnic group which she would have belonged to.

Since I trace colateral lines when I do genealogy, it was easy to just check my tree and find who was a female descendant of Eglantine Lautin. I'll post them here so hopefully through the graces and cosmic wonders of genealogy I'll be able to find one of them still alive or even their daughters who would be willing to help me out!

By way of María Luisa Alvarado Correa (daughter of my 2nd great grand-aunt, Senovia Correa Gustavo) and her husband Marcelino Santana:
  • Carmen Francisca Santana Alvarado
    • Born: 8 March 1929, Rio Jueyes, Salinas Puerto Rico
  • Ana F. Santana Alvarado
    • Born abt 1930, Salinas, Puerto Rico
  • Raquel Santana Alvarado 
    • Born abt 1935, Salinas, Puerto Rico
By way of Francisca Correa Gustavo (my 2nd great grand-aunt, sister of Senovia) and her husband Juan Bautista Velasquez Negron:
  • Inocencia Velasquez Correa
    • Born: 14 September 1921, Jobos, Guayama, Puerto Rico
This one is a long shot since I don't know anything more recent, but still none the less a female descendant of Eglantine

By way of Marie Boudré Lautin (my 4th great grand-aunt, daughter of Eglantine herself) and the child's father Gaëtan Cellia:
  • Lucie Cellia Boudré/ Lucie Boudré (she was born out of wedlock):
    • Born 1 June 1873, Rivière Salée, Saint Esprit, Fort de France, Martinique
Equally, the only potential Y-DNA carrier of the potential father (who appears as Pedro in Puerto Rican records) to Julienne Malvina, that is if they share the same father would be: 

By way of Jean Lautin (my 4th great grand-uncle, son of Eglantine herself) and his wife Cunégonde Mérida:
  • Jean Gualbert Lautin Mérida
    • Born 12 July 1890, Petit Paradis, Saint Esprit, Fort de France, Martinique

Hopefully I can discover more about the Lautin family through a genetic aspect, which I think would be very cool to learn their stories through genes!