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!


  1. I was reading through your blog because of a google search of Eusebia Diaz (formerly Rosado Serra/Sierra), who is my great aunt if we are talking about the same person. U can email me at so we can exchange some notes.

    1. Hi,

      This Eusebia Díaz, was born Eusebia Díaz Pacheco and married Pedro Rivera Roman in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. I'm not aware of there being a Rosado Sierra connection to this Eusebia. Also this Eusebia Díaz was born in 1822, probably too far back to be your great aunt. There are many coincidences with similarities in names, etc.

  2. Hi just curious are you LDS? I stumbled across this blog while searching my own Puerto Rican ancestry. It's been an adventure tracking down info for them. I was wondering if you have any helpful tips or advice. I've been gathering census records via & than yesterday for the first time went to our local family history lib. & found a few Catholic baptismal records.

    1. Hey Diana! I am not a member of the LDS but I have used their online sources as well as the microfilms you can order through them from churches in Puerto Rico. I actually posted once with some genealogical tips to get started. Feel free to read the post here: