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 ;)