Friday, December 12, 2014

52 Ancestors – #47 María de Carmen Chéverez Santiago

Today I want to focus on my 4th great grandmother on my maternal side of the family - María del Carmen Chéverez Santiago.

María del Carmen was probably born in Corozal around the 1830s, it is also possible that she was born in Toa Alta but from my search I haven't been able to find her there. María del Carmen was the daughter of Felipe Chéverez Rosado and Teresa de Jesús de Santiago, her parents themselves were born in Toa Alta and at some point move around to Morovis and probably lived some time in Ciales. María del Carmen later would marry José María Santos Avilés and together have five children (documented so far): María Guadalupe, María Leonor, Felipe, Gumercinda and Lorenzo.

Since María del Carmen wasn't born around the time of census taking I don't have much information on her or her life. I know that she had a sister named Simona Chéverez Santiago who lived in Ciales and married a man named Jesús Ortega Ocasio. Also, that María del Carmen probably died in Morovis around 1893-1909 but I haven't been able to find her death certificate.

The main reason I wanted to include her in this challenge, is because of just that reason, she has been quite a challenge to learn information about! I believe her family holds a potential key to finding a connection to my dad's side of the family. Equally her husband could also be related to my paternal side of the family being that both of their families comes from Toa Alta.

Hopefully I'll be able to trace some more information on her family and learn more about her. Let's see! 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

52 Ancestors – #46 Francisca Orozco Santiago (1885-1945)

Ok, not fun being behind but hopefully I'll be able to catch up and get these posts down before the year is over and my holidays start! Here is my 46th post about my 2nd great grandmother Francisca Orozco Santiago. When I first had started my research on my maternal side of the family, I had heard about her from my own grandmother but being that she passed away before my grandmother got a chance to meet her, I didn't have too much information on her. Luckily, with census records and the Civil Registry of Puerto Rico I was able to learn some more information on her and her life in Yabucoa.

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico [Wikipedia] 

My 2nd great grandmother was born in the barrio and town of Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on the 17th of October 1885. On her birth record she was registered with the surnames "Orozco Santiago" while some of her siblings were registered with a slight variation of the surname. Seems there was a bit of confusion with the order of the surnames as well as which ones to use. Francisca's parents were Benito Orozco and Dolores Santiago Burgos, and occasionally her father would appear as Benito Santana. My theory is that since Benito appears with only one surname, "Orozco", then Santana is probably his father's surname. However, records don't show any father for Benito and we can't know for such until we have some more proof and information about either his father or mother.

Yabucoa's Flag [CRWFlags]

Later Francisca would appear in 1909 marrying her husband Pedro Dávila Ruiz in Maunabo, Puerto Rico; his family's town of origin. One year later in 1910, she would appear living with her own parents back in Yabucoa along with her husband. This document would later help a cousin and I prove our relationship through the Orozco line in our families. It is also interesting to note that most of the time her and her family would appear as mulato or trigueño to describe their race.

From some reason, I can't seem to find the family in 1920 but in 1930, 1935 and 1940 the family still lives in Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Pedro and Francisco would have seven children in total: Modesto, Epifania, Josefina, Juan, Dominga, Juan, and Eulalia. It was this generation that would start to move out of Yabucoa and even Puerto Rico to find a better life for their families.

Francisca would also pass away in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico in the year 1945. Unfortunately from my knowledge there aren't any pictures of Francisca being that in that year cameras still weren't that popular, especially in the rural areas of Puerto Rico. Being that I have pictures for some of her children I can imagine that Francisca was a mulata colored woman probably leaning more towards Taíno looks. Francisca is my maternal ancestress that carries the C1b4 native line so she comes from a long line of native woman (either Taíno, Arawak, or other).

The library of congress has a series of photos mostly taken by Jack Delano and most of them were taken around 1942 during a sugar mill strike happening in Yabucoa. It's so interesting to see the pictures and imagine my family's life then and potentially knowing some of these people in the picture. Here are some of the pictures from Yabucoa. My great grandmother Francisca would have been in her late 50s and the children in their 20s-30s around this time.

Houses in Yabucoa, PR [LOC]

Family from Yabucoa, PR [LOC]

Homes in Yabucoa, PR [LOC]

Men from Yabucoa, PR [LOC]

Thursday, November 20, 2014

52 Ancestors – #45 José Severo Vélez Sepúlveda (1837-1894)

Today I'm going to focus on my 3rd great grandfather from my paternal side of the family. This will bring me into my November posts and only 7 posts away from finishing the 52 Ancestors Challenge!

José Severo Vélez Sepúlveda was born on 6th of November 1837 in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico according to his baptismal record which occurred on the 19th of November 1837. José Severo was the legitimate son of José María Vélez Pérez and his wife Bernardina Sepúlveda Román (who I've mentioned in this challenge!). His godparents were Valerio Pérez and Jacinta González, I'm not if Valerio was an uncle to José María via his mother but it could be possible.

I'm not sure how long José Severo would live in Adjuntas but it seems that the family spent time between both Adjuntas and Utuado, located in the central part of Puerto Rico. This family did some moving around seeing as José María was from San Sebastián, Bernardina from Mayagüez, both passed away in Adjuntas but José Severo himself would pass away in Utuado. All of these towns though are fairly close to one another so traveling around wouldn't be as bad as saying going from Mayagüez to Fajardo.

José Severo would marry sometime around the early 1860s to his wife Ana Ríos González, she was said to have been born in Lares but her own parents were born in San Sebastián (so possibly she was born in San Sebastián herself). Together they would have an astonishing number of children: 17!! This is the number I have been able to trace through records, but who knows if there are a few missing. It seems that José Severo and Ana both came from pretty big families themselves so probably for them it wasn't out of the ordinary. It seems that José Severo was one of 10 children and Ana one of 12, those are pretty big numbers!

José Severo like most of my other ancestors was most likely a farmer, but I was surprised to see that he could sign his name! José Severo was born in the early 1800s and I imagine the importance of education wasn't forced onto children, especially when they themselves grew up to be farmers. José Severo's death certificate in 1894 doesn't mention his profession but I would imagine it was that of an agricultural farmer. None the less, here is his signature:

Signature- José Severo Vélez Sepúlveda [FamilySearch]

It does make me wonder however about the kind of wealth his family had, seeing as his mother had slaves in 1872. This probably means that they owned some land and got enough profits off of it to own slaves and have their children educated. Could this be wealth that they inherited from old Spanish immigrant ancestors? Did they work their way up and earn money through hard work and dedication to farming? I'm actually not too sure. The Sepúlveda side of the family does have a line long of ancestors living in Puerto Rico tracing back to the early 1500s and some of the wealth could have come from that side of the family. Only digging further into more records could expose more information on this matter. José Severo died four short years before Puerto Rico became an American territory, but I do wonder about his political standing during the time. His wife on the other hand did live during the Spanish-American war and but died one year short of seeing Puerto Ricans become recognized American citizenships. It's always interesting to look at genealogy through a historical lens seeing as it does add to the story of the ancestor and your family in general. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Travel Tuesday – El Puerto de Santa María, Spain

I know today is no longer Tuesday but I wanted to write this post and heck why not still post it even though it's Wednesday! But I wanted to talk about my trip to Andalusia in the south of the Spain and the wonderful opportunity I got to visit a town in which I have ancestors from. This town is called El Puerto de Santa María!

Friday I traveled to Cádiz, all the down in the southern part of Andalucía, a town of importance during the Spanish's hold of their overseas territories and the import and export of goods to those colonies. 30 minutes a bit north by fast train is a town called "El Puerto de Santa María", a town in which my 9th great grandfather was born in!

Now some of you might ask, "How do heck do you know who your great grandfather is?!". Luckily with my searching and the help of other genealogists I have been able to trace my line to Miguel de Miranda, my 9th great grandfather who would move to Puerto Rico, marry, and live there. Miguel de Miranda would marry in San Juan, Puerto Rico on the 7th of January 1668 to Andrea Rodríguez and there it would mention his town of origin. Knowing that there was a concrete place in Spain I could visit, I knew that at some point I had to go!

Marriage certificate - San Juan, Puerto Rico [FamilySearch]

I arrived through the train station to El Puerto de Santa María and was actually very giddy to get off the train and start exploring the streets and places of the town my family had lived in about 365+ years ago, which is absolutely mind boggling. I had jotted down some places I wanted to visit beforehand while in Cádiz the day before and wanted to visit as much as I could in the hours that I was there.

RENFE Station [Personal Photo]

I was fortunate enough that on a Saturday a lot was still open that I could go in and see. I stopped by the tourist office to pick up a map and then right across the plaza was a castle that I visited quickly. Being the only person there for the tour between 10:30-11:30 (in English), the security guard let me in for free and I was able to wander around alone since the tour guide wasn't around and was busy elsewhere. It was actually pretty cool and at the same time pretty creepy to walk around since there was literally no one else there except the guard who checked up on me twice and then left me alone wander around for the rest of my time there. 

Castillo de San Marcos [Personal Photo]

Inside Castillo de San Marcos [Personal Photo]

After, I headed over to La Iglesia Mayor Prioral which was pretty much the highlight of my trip to El Puerto de Santa María. I knew that the church was in use during the time that my ancestors lived there and so I wanted to go inside and see what the church was like. I have visited various different churches will traveling Spain but entering Iglesia Mayor Prioral was a completely different experience for me. I knew that this church had some sort of connection to me and I knew that visiting it would sort of reconnect me to Miguel de Miranda. I walked around, taking the church in as much as possible, prayed a bit thanking God for the opportunity to retrace my roots back to this church, and then headed over to the little office to see if I could buy something in order to remember my visit. Unfortunately, there weren't any rosaries that I could purchase but I did get a little cross that I hope but on a string/chain and wear.

Iglesia Mayor Prioral [Personal Photo]

I started chatting with the older man who was helping me and I asked about the use of the church. He told me that it was built in the XV century and has been in use since then, with some reconstruction in the XVII century after an earthquake (if I'm remembering correctly). I told him I was very interested in the church because I had an ancestor that migrated to Puerto Rico from this town and had lived here in the mid-late XVII century. He told me that if I knew some dates and names that I could potentially find some information in the church's parochial archives. I was super excited and ready to rattle off names, dates, and anything else to get me closer to new information. Unfortunately, the man who is in charge of the records wasn't there on Saturdays which was a bummer. Luckily, I asked for a phone number and name I could reach telling him that I was only in town for a day. He was very kind to provide the information and told me that they should be able to pull something up with the information I have. I'm very excited with the prospect of new information and hope to call soon to get some more information on Miguel de Miranda and hopefully of his parents, Miguel Martín and Isabel Rodríguez, as well. 

Inside - Iglesia Mayor Prioral [Personal Photo]

After visiting the church I headed to the Plaza de Toros and got to walk around the area where the Matadores go up against the bulls in the main ring. It was interesting standing there on the sand (vs sitting on the stands), where the bulls unfortunately are killed, as three young boys were practicing joyfully for their future career. I grabbed some lunch at a little Italian restaurant and saw some others places around El Puerto de Santa María. Luckily for me, the weather was amazing that Saturday and the sky was beautiful blue. Walking around the town and seeing palm trees made me feel like I was in the Caribbean, and I can see why so many southern Spaniards probably settled easily into islands such as Puerto Rico. 

Walking around El Puerto de Santa María [Personal Photo]

Hopefully I'll be able to find some more information once I call the church and do hope that Miguel de Miranda was baptized there and that his parents married there. Maybe they'll even be able to extend my tree further with the information they can provide? I might need to return in the spring if they aren't able to do over the phone requests of searching for information, but we shall see! Nonetheless, I had a great time walking around the town, seeing old sites, thinking about my ancestors, and their lives here in El Puerto de Santa María. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

52 Ancestors – #44 Alejandro Rivera González (1883-1958)

So I'm not gonna lie -- this is kind of a cheat post! Before the 52 Ancestor challenge was created I had gone about doing my own little series back in 2012 (has time flown by that fast already?), in which I would focus on ancestors' stories via the records I had of them. I started with Alejandro Rivera González and probably added a few more before I officially decided to go and join the 52 Ancestors Challenge bandwagon. So if you want to read some more about Alejandro's life click here  to see what I already knew about him through the records I had. I'll give a quick overview just in case the other post is too long or not worth reading (don't worry, no judging is happening here!). I want to add more to his story which I'll be doing here by closing any ends of the story which I previously didn't have information for and might have now!

Summary: Alejandro Rivera González was born in Toa Alta in 1883 to his parents Manuel de Jesús Rivera Díaz and Laureana González Mojica. Alejandro would marry three times throughout his life, his last wife being my great grandmother Mercedes Ortiz Marrero. In total, Alejandro would father 16 children in total from his three marriages. He was also a short little fellow of 5'4" :) who could read and write and owned land in Toa Alta before moving to the barrio La Perla in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

New Details: 

His first wife's death: With the release of the Puerto Rican Civil Registry on I have been able to track down certain death certificates extremely quickly or with much more ease than through FamilySearch. Fortunately, I was able to find Brigida Hernández Vélez - Alejandro's first wife's death certificate. Brigida passed away in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on the 28th of June 1913 to gastroenteritis. This would mean that Alejandro would lose his wife on the 28th of june and his last son Pedro from Brigida on the 16th of July 1913. I imagine this must have been extremely hard on Alejandro, losing his last born child from his first marriage and wife only a month apart.

Alejandro's death: Like the record above, I was FINALLY able to find Alejandro's death certificate by playing around with the settings of the ancestry Puerto Rican Civil Registry search. I was able to find out that Alejandro Rivera González passed away on the 5th of June 1958 in Puerta de Tierra, San Juan, Puerto Rico. For whatever reason, he was incorrectly written down as "Alejandro Rivera Marrero" even though his mother is correctly listed as "Laureana González". I imagine this was a mistake caused in confusion with the surname of my great grandmother and his wife "Mercedes Marrero". It says he worked in "obras públicas" which I really don't know what that means; he worked in that "field" up until 1951. Interestingly, the person who registered the death of my great grandfather was my own grandfather Felipe Rivera Ortiz who was probably still living with the family when his father passed away. His cause of death is registered as "senility", as well as fallo cardiaco "a heart attack", and derrame cerebral "a stroke". He was buried one day later on the 6th of June 1958 and thanks to my cousin I now know exactly where he is buried. I was very happy to have found his death certificate since it puts a close on his life and what happened to him and when/where he died. It's also interesting to put into perspective that my grandfather lost his dad at 22 which must have been hard on him, his dad was much older than a "typical" dad was in those days in Puerto Rico but still I imagine they had a close connection.

I would love to meet descendants of the siblings of Alejandro and maybe compare photos (if any are available) of them to see how they each inherited genes from their ancestors and how they similar/different. It's so interesting to see that my great grandfather was a pretty short man when I myself measure 6'0". Hopefully one day I'll be able to learn more stories about his family, his parents and maybe even what life was like for them back in Toa Alta and maybe find out what brought him to San Juan after living in Toa Alta for so many years. 

52 Ancestors – #43 Blasina Pérez Vásquez (1850-1945)

Playing my favorite game once again -- the catch up game! Since I've been traveling around Spain most of the weekends (which I truly enjoy), I haven't been able to dedicate as much time to these final few posts. And since my finals are coming up, what better way to procrastinate than to write blog post?! Today I'll be focusing on my 3rd great grandmother Blasina Pérez Vásquez.

Flag of Corozal, PR [Google]
Blasina was most likely born in the town of Corozal, Puerto Rico around 1850. Corozal as most of you know by now is a town very close to Toa Alta which shares historical ties with it. Blasina was the daughter of Alejandro Pérez Lozada and Martina Vásquez Fuentes, interestingly Alejandro was born in Corozal in 1812 and Martina in Toa Alta in 1813. Alejandro is one of the few ancestors who I have been able to document (thanks to a cousin!) being actually born in Corozal. A lot of my ancestors that were born in Corozal were born in the 1830s-1850s+ which means that those records aren't accessible online (just yet!).

Corozal, Puerto Rico [Google]

According to the 1910 Census, Blasina and her husband Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera would have been married around the year 1869 and most likely in Corozal seeing as they lived in their entire lives there until their respective deaths. They lived specifically in the barrio of Palos Blancos which is definitely on my list of places I want to visit in Puerto Rico (and boy is that list long!). So far I have been able to document 10 children in total for Buenaventura and Blasina, potentially there are a few more hiding around in the records but so far these are the ones I have documented. Their son, Martin Ortiz Pérez was my 2nd great grandfather.

Seeing that Blasina was born around 1850 and she lived until 1945, we can for sure say that Blasina had a long life (yay longevity genes!). From what he have, she technically passed away somewhere mid 90s but also possibly her late 80s if her birth year was guesstimated wrongly (which is very possible!). From the census records we can learn a bit more about Blasina's life. For example, we know that in 1910 she was listed as 'mulatto' and married for 41 years having given birth to 11 children all who were still alive in 1910 (so it seems I'm missing one child on my list!). She along with Buenaventura were unable to read or write but it seems that Buenaventura owned the farm he worked on which is pretty cool to see; and it says he worked for himself! Similarly in 1920 we see that Blasina is still illiterate and listed as 'mulatto', I don't expect Blasina to suddenly pick up the ability to read and write but it's important to look because you never know!

By the 1930 census, Blasina would have been widowed for 5 years since Buenaventura died in 1925. I'm not sure how inheritance of property works in Puerto Rico but it seems that she was able to claim the land and was listed as the owner of the farm and that she herself worked the land! Amazingly and awesomely, because I don't know how often you see it, my 3rd great grandmother appears in the 1935 Agricultural Schedule with the land she owned! Interestingly, her race is listed as "white" in this record and that the land she owned has been in use since 1915, which there might be a discrepancy seeing has how the land they had was being used since at least 1910. It also states she had 3 cuerdas (a little over 3 acres) the worth of $150, which I imagine back in 1935 was a good amount of land/worth to own! The form unfortunately is a bit blurry so I can't make out all the details on the page too clearly, but it seems that she grew corn on the land amongst other things.

5. Color o raza: "M" for mulatto [FamilySearch]

Interestingly in the 1940, just 5 years before her passing, Blasina was still in possession of the land. Here her race is changed to "col", which in 1940 was used for negro y mixto (black and mixed), which to me means her color was dark enough to be considered non-white by the census taker. Yet interestingly when it came to owning land she was listed as "blanca" (white). Blasina and Buenaventura's race has always been an interesting topic for me. Blasina in her death record is listed as 'm' for mulatto but in Buenaventura's we see a reference to Indio which I have talked about before. I imagine they both had a mestizo/mixed complexion which gave them the identity of indio, mulato, mixto depending on the record and year.

I wonder what happened to the land they owned in Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico. Usually when a piece of land is owned and the owner dies, the plot gets divided into the children and they decide whether to keep the plot or sell it. With many children/descendants moving into San Juan, usually the property was sold and with that money they could invest in a home/place to live in San Juan. Between 11 children (and/or their descendants) I imagine they didn't get too much but I also can't be too sure what happened. Many some decided to live on the land and then later moved on? Or one sibling decided to care for the land him or herself? It would be awesome to find the land they lived on (at least the general area) or potentially even records that might point to more information of how they acquired the land, who bought it/passed it on, etc.

I have been in contact with one or two other descendants of Buenaventura and Blasina and it seems that their descendants also moved out of Palos Blancos and into other areas. With the industrialization of the island after the United States acquired the land, more jobs could be found in bigger cities and many families decided to give up their previous lives of agriculture and farming. Nonetheless, it would be nice to visit Palos Blancos and Corozal in general and see if I can find some remnants of their land, the plot, or even some cousins who could lead the way! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

52 Ancestors – #42 Bernarda Marrero

I can't believe that there are only 10 ancestors left to complete this challenge! I've said it many times before, but I've had a great time searching and researching for these ancestors in my tree and through the records. I've been getting behind again with traveling around Spain but I'm going to try and catch up now that it's finally November and December will shortly be here around the corner!! Today's post will be about my 6th great grandmother Bernarda Marrero.

Bernarda would have been born sometime in the mid-late 1700s based on her children's birth years. She was from the beloved town of Toa Alta and probably lived there for most of her life. I'm not sure if she and her husband Antonio de los Santos Rivera would move to Corozal and pass away there but many of their children would move and live there themselves. I do know that Bernarda would live passed the year 1818, however. Between Antonio and Bernarda, I have been able to trace nine children in total so far. She is one of my ancestresses from my maternal side of the family, who surprisingly has roots in Toa Alta which my father's side of the family has lived in for many, many years.

The Marrero also appears a few times in my paternal side of the family, so who knows if Bernarda has some ties to those families being that they lived in the same town in the 1700s, I can't imagine Toa Alta having a ton of inhabitants that weren't related or connected somehow seeing as how Puerto Rico is pretty connected even now a days.

Seeing as Bernarda was born in a time that I don't have records for, she doesn't appear on any census records. Neither do I have a baptism, marriage, or death record. I do have most of her children's baptism records and I can probably try and piece together some more family members through the names of the godparents. Hopefully I can find more records from Toa Alta dating further back in the early 18th century to try and piece together some of the lines I have from that town. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

52 Ancestors – #41 María Paulina Gustavo Lotten (1867-1948)

Yay for writing a new post (and on time!) Today I want to focus on my 3rd great grandmother who I've mentioned multiple times throughout my blog but I wanted to dedicate a section of the 52 Ancestors challenge to her.

My 3rd great grandmother on my maternal side was María Paulina Gustavo Lotten, and boy did it take me a long time to figure out all of that information. Officially, my 3rd great grandmother's should either be A) María Paulina Jean-Charles Lautin or B) María Paulina Gustave Lautin. And I'll explain why!

María Paulina was born on the island of Vieques, a island on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico on the 15th of January 1867, and later baptized on the 14th of February of the same year. Paulina was the daughter of two immigrants who had probably just recently arrived to the island when she was born. Her father was Gustave Jean Charles (also known as Gustavo Juan Carlos/Charles or Juan Carlos Gustavo- know you can see why there are two options for Paulina) and her mother was Julienne Malvina Lautin (also known as Juliana Malvina Lotten). Both were from French islands, Gustave hailing from the island of Guadeloupe and Julienne from the island of Martinique. So far, I've hit a brick wall with searching Gustave's origins on the island of Guadeloupe. I was very fortunate to find Julienne's original town in Martinique, which was Rivière Salée, a section of Trois Bourgs. We know that Gustave was married previously in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe around the years 1851-1865, when his first wife Françoise Jackson passed away from Cholera. Hopefully I'll be able to find out where Gustave Jean Charles was from, whether it be Guadeloupe or another town!

My 3rd great-grandmother was the first born of seven children, as the family traveled the children were born along the way in different towns. María Paulina and Tomás Octavio were born in Vieques, Areopajita and Valentina were born somewhere between Vieques and Fajardo. Dionisio was born in Fajardo, Alberto Fermin in Salinas, and Martina Isabel in Santa Isabela. As you can see the family did some traveling! Finally the family would settle in the southern coast of Puerto Rico in the Salinas, Guánica, Ponce area. My 3rd great grandmother lived and married in Salinas, but later moved up north to San Juan, PR.

María Paulina married in the town of Salinas in 1896 to Manuel Correa Ortiz, son of Juan Nepomucino Correa Rodríguez and Bibiana Ortiz. Together they would have eight children together, my 2nd great grandfather being the 3rd to last born.

It's important to note that my 3rd great-grandmother probably received her name as a namesake from her mother's deceased sister. Julienne was born in 1844 and later a sister named Pauline was born in 1846, Pauline would later pass away in 1855 at the age of 8. I'm pretty sure this is where she gets her name, as a memory and dedication to her mother's deceased younger sister; both born into slavery and freed together with their mother in 1848.

By the year 1940, María Paulina (who sometimes went by the name 'Octavia') is found living alone in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Calle Progreso. Eight years later, on the 20th of September 1948 Paulina would pass away from cardiac troubles.

I wonder a lot about María Paulina and what kind of life she would have lived. Would she have been raised bilingual by her parents? Could she speak French, Martinican or Guadeloupean Créole and Spanish? Her mother would have been 23 when she was born and probably a recent immigrant to Puerto Rico, had she already begun to learn Spanish when Paulina was born? Did María Paulina know much about her parents' origins and about their past lives in the West Indies? Did she raise her own children by speaking créole to them and telling them stories about her parents?

Unfortunately, any of those stories would be cut short from me when my 2nd great-grandfather died in 1929 leaving my great grandfather without a lot of that information if he had any of it at all. I wish I knew more about this family and their cultural ties to Guadeloupe and Martinique. Did the children dream about visiting these islands themselves and seeing where their parents had spent the beginning years of their lives? Did Julienne or Gustave ever what to return? When I found out about this family and my sudden connection to Martinique and Guadeloupe I was completely surprised, flabbergasted, shocked (positively), and every other adjective there could possibly be. How could this information slipped by my grandfather, had his own father had no idea about their créole roots from the French West Indies??

I so far have met one other descendant from the Gustavo-Lotten clan but I would love to see if there are any other children from my other 3rd great-grandaunts/uncles. Were they raised with stories about the French West Indies and maybe kept some Créole words in the families? Maybe they use the names Paulina, Juliana and Gustavo/Juan Carlos in their families? Maybe they have pictures of those Gustavo-Lotten children/grandchildren of the family?

I would love to meet some more descendants and share the stories of our mutual ancestors if they don't know the stories already! When I found out I was very excited and I definitely want to visit these islands and walk the streets my ancestors walked. And maybe pick up on some French Créole! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

52 Ancestors – #40 Cayetano de los Santos

I can't believe this is Ancestor #40 already!! Boy has time flown by! I am happy to have finally caught up (yet again) and hopefully I'll be able to continue to post on the regularly scheduled Friday like I had done before. Today's ancestor will be Cayetano de los Santos, my 7th great grandfather.

Cayetano de los Santos, who's surname was shortened to Santos, was my 7th great grandfather via my maternal side of the family. Unfortunately, I don't have documents on him or exact dates but I'm glad to have found him and talk about him nonetheless. Cayetano de los Santos was from, you guessed it, Toa Alta, Puerto Rico! Except this time it's interesting because he's from my maternal side of the family. This means that my paternal and maternal side of the family lived in the same town and in the same time frame as one another. It is also very possible that my parents are related to one another through these ancestors, they do share certain surnames with each other from Toa Alta so who knows if they lead back to common mutual ancestors.

Cayetano would have been born sometime in the early 1700s in Toa Alta, there he would marry Gertrudis Rivera Rodríguez and to my knowledge have three children together. It is very possible and likely that they had other children but being that I haven't found anymore in the church records of Toa Alta I can only for sure say that there were three.

Cayetano and Gertrudis' children would eventually make their way into Corozal, from Corozal they'd make their way into Morovis, then Vega Baja, and eventually back up towards San Juan. The family did a loop of sorts throughout the generations. I can't be sure that Cayetano and Gertrudis died in either Toa Alta or Corozal, it is very possible that just the children moved into the next town and the parents stayed behind. Or also, that they all moved into Corozal together and start a new life there. Until I have further records I can't be too sure about where they died.

Interestingly, I have found a document that could potentially point to my parents' families knowing one another in the town of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. My 3rd great-grandfather had a brother named Ruperto Rivera Román born on the 25th of March 1819, son of Joseph de Rivera and Gertrudis Román. The family came forth on the 10th of April 1819 to baptize their son. In the document below you can see who the godparents were for Ruperto:

Ruperto Rivera Román - Bautismo,  1819 [FamilySearch]

That's right! Ruperto's godparents were a Cayetano de los Santos and Gregoria Rivera! It is very possible that Ruperto's godparents were my 7th great grandparents from my maternal side of the family. That would mean that my 4th great grandparents and my 7th great grandparents knew one another! I know that they are pretty far apart, 4th and 7th generation ancestors, but due to child birth, longevity, etc. and how some generations waited longer to have children and thus creating such a big gap. The years do coincide and so do the town and the names; I wouldn't be surprised at all if these were my Cayetano de los Santos y Gertrudis Rivera. It makes me think… could Gertrudis and Joseph have been brothers and sisters? Maybe she was an aunt or someone close to him, a cousin? They both are surnamed Rivera and living in 18th century Toa Alta it is very possible that they had some type of family connection. 

It's very interesting to consider that both sides of my family knew each other 200-300 years ago in a town I had no idea my parents had ancestors in. I think it's very cool to find such documents like this, makes you think about whether our future is already "set" and how things work in life. For example, the lady that I met who my 4th great grandparents were godparents to one of her great-aunts. Life works in very mysterious ways!! 

52 Ancestors – #39 María Higinia Ruiz Ramos (1859-1921)

Moving a little over towards the East from Patillas, we get to Yabucoa where my next ancestor entry will take place! This post is about my 3rd great grandmother María Higinia Ruiz Ramos.

María Higinia according to records was originally from Maunabo, Puerto Rico which makes sense since these two towns (Yabucoa and Maunabo) are very close to one another in the south-eastern part of Puerto Rico. Equally, her husband was also from Maunabo, PR. María Higinia would have been born around 1859, the daughter of Manuel Ruiz and Dorotea Ramos. Around 1875, Juan Bautista Dávila González and María Higinia Ruiz Ramos would have gotten married in Maunabo, Puerto Rico. Their marriage would produce ten children, which includes my 2nd great grandfather Pedro Dávila Ruiz.

By 1910, Higinia and the family were living in Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico- the place where at least three generations of my family would be born/live in. María Higinia appear as 'white', married for 35 years and a owner of land on which she worked on. I'm not sure if this was an error on the part of the census taker since it's only María listed as the head but I wouldn't be surprised if she herself worked the land. She is listed as living with two children, and three grandchildren; she was also unable to read or write.

María Higinia Ruiz Ramos - 1910 Census [Ancestry]

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to locate most of my ancestors from Yabucoa on the 1920 census, this includes María Higinia. I'm not really sure why this is, they were living in Puerto Rico and never traveled outside the island, they even appear on the 1930 census living in the same town and barrio so it's not like they moved somewhere else. Nonetheless, there is a gap there missing of information on who was where and did what in the 1920 Census. 

I do know however that María Higinia Ruiz Ramos passed away on the 24th of September 1921 in Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. It took me a long time to find her death certificate. I had searched multiple times in Yabucoa and Maunabo but I had no idea when or where she died. Her husband on the other hand died in 1933 and was widowed by the time he passed away, so I had a short range of years for her... but still nothing! It wasn't until Ancestry uploaded the Civil Registry that I was able to type in names and play around with the settings that I was able to find a "María Ramos" passing away in Yabucoa. It turns out that this was my 3rd great-grandmother! For whatever reason, her first surname "Ruiz" was dropped on this document, but it does state she was the wife of Juan Bautista Dávila which helped to prove this was her. 

Her cause of death was kind of interesting/shocking to see. It states that at 10 in the morning of the 24th day of September of 1921, María Ramos asphyxiated (underwater). It doesn't, however, state if this was  on accident or on purpose. She would have been around 62 years old, so I can see this happening as a horrible accident but it doesn't state whether it was home or at a nearby river. I don't have anymore details than what is written on the death certificate and I haven't heard any stories of this as well in my family. I don't think my family even knew about this ancestress, let alone the cause of her death. 

María Higinia Ruiz Ramos - Defunción, 1921 [Ancestry] 

This is the third direct ancestor to die from something that was not of natural causes/ or a sickness. It's a bit morbid to find these death certificates and see sometimes the horrible ways someone passed away. For example: my 2nd great-grandfather, José Miranda Santos, who unfortunately hung himself at about the age of 50. It is however important to learn about the birth, lives, and deaths of each of my ancestors - the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I have pretty deep roots in Maunabo, dating back to the early 1800s/late 1700s so I would love to head down there and see the area; as well as with Yabucoa which is one town over. I really need to head to Puerto Rico and discover these towns and barrios that my families were from… I'm seriously itching to do it in the near future!! Hopefully I'll collect more stories, see the lands they lived & worked on, and even meet some distant cousins!

52 Ancestors – #38 Cruz Rivera Collazo (1860-19??)

Okay, finally moving our way out of Toa Alta (just for a bit, since I have some more Toa Alta ancestors in the near future to write about). On this post I want to focus on my 3rd great grandfather, Cruz Rivera Collazo - another man of much mystery!

I was first introduced to Cruz's name when I came across my great grandfather's birth record in 1920. It mentioned that his maternal grandfather was Cruz Rivera, mestizo, native from Patillas (where he currently lives in 1920) and his wife Luisa Masantini, native of Patillas and deceased (another ancestor of much mystery!).

Cruz Rivera & Luisa Masantini [FamilySearch]

Cruz Rivera, appears on the 1910 census with a daughter named Amalia Rodríguez who I'm pretty sure are my Cruz Rivera and Amalia, since Luisa's surname was also "Rodríguez", this further solidifies that Cruz Rivera Collazo, born about 1860 and living in barrio Guardarraya, Patillas, Puerto Rico is my 3rd great grandfather.

Cruz Rivera Collazo - 1910 Census [Ancestry]

Since his daughter married in 1919 and was living in Salinas, we find Cruz Rivera living in Patillas with his grandson, Felix Santiago y Rivera, son of Amalia but from an unknown father. Both times we see Cruz listed as single, since he never officially married Luisa and unable to read or write.

Cruz Rivera Collazo - 1920 Census [Ancestry]

Unfortunately, that's the last time Cruz officially appears on a record for me. It is possible that he moved to Salinas and lived the rest of his life there, but I haven't been able to find a "Cruz Rivera Collazo" in census records past 1920; I did find a Cruz Rivera living with a cousin surnamed Santiago in Salinas, potentially related to Felix's father. However, I don't have conclusive evidence that it's the same man. I also have no idea what Cruz's parents' names were. Since Amalia was born out of wedlock, I have found a record (which I think is her baptism) that only lists a Luisa Rodríguez but no Cruz Rivera. This was pretty common for children born out of wedlock, to list one of the two parents and sometimes a father would "recognize" their child in the record. We know Cruz is the father from records, yet we don't know who the parents Rivera and Collazo are. I'll have to keep searching for more information and ties to try and figure this out, I haven't even been able to find brothers and sisters for Cruz who might help fill in some gaps.

Here's to hoping that I'll be able to crack this brick wall soon and find out more about my ancestors in Patillas! Patillas is on the southern coast of Puerto Rico and the barrio in which Cruz and Amalia lived in faces out to the Caribbean Sea! I would love to visit Patillas one day! Also Patillas is about 2-3 towns away from Salinas so I wonder how Amalia and my 2nd great grandfather met! Here is a picture of where Patillas geographically is on the map of Puerto Rico as well as its barrios. 

Patillas, Puerto Rico [Google]

Guardarraya, Patillas, Puerto Rico [Google]

52 Ancestors – #37 Gertrudis Román (1790-1844)

I'm going to keep this ball rolling and continue posting about my ancestors. So here's post 37 about yet another ancestor from Toa Alta, my 4th great grandmother Gertrudis Román.

When I first discovered Gertrudis through the Toa Alta church records I was really excited, being the wife of my 4th great grandfather, Joseph de Rivera, it made her a part of the oldest set of ancestors on my direct paternal lineage.

I started digging deeper into the records searching for their death records, I was fortunate to stumble upon a "Gertrudis Romana" who I'm pretty sure is my 4th great grandmother. It states… "al cadaver de Gertrudis Romana [sic] como de veinte y seis años viuda de José Rivera, pardos libres". 

Gertrudis passed away on the 29th of December 1844, having already been widowed of her husband José Rivera. Her age is listed as "26 years old" which would mean she would have been born about 1818 which I know is incorrect. This is the only little bit of information that is very inaccurate, and for now I do believe this is my Gertrudis Román but it does bother me a bit that it's so wrong. Very possibly, her age was guessed at the time of her death. She could have been in her late 40s and someone gave a wrong age and that's what was written down. I'm not sure if there was another Jose Rivera and Gertrudis Roman couple in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico at the time (at least I haven't found one) so even though the age is wrong I believe firmly she is my 4th great grandmother.

What's interesting is that it states she is a "pardo libre", and the fact that it's in plural probably means it was referring to her late husband as well. I have talked about this term before in other posts, how "pardo" for a while was a term used to describe people of color in Puerto Rico and later the term "trigueño" kind of substituted this word, sometimes the word 'mulato' was used as well. However, there is some debate to what the "pardo" mix actually entails. I'm under the impression (and agree with) the belief that pardo was a term used for mixed Spanish and native Taíno people. It is also very possible that it was used for mixed Spanish and African people (and possibly for someone of all three). We know for sure that José Rivera would have been a descendant on his paternal side from a European man seeing as he (and I) are I2a1*, a European haplogroup. This is the first time I noticed on the record that it was in plural and that it could be a reference to the husband. Potentially both José and Gertrudis were mixed free people of color in the Toa Alta society and married because they were in the same social class.

Gertrudis and José would have nine children in total, from what I have so far! I'd have to look and see how they were identified in terms of "color". In my 3rd great grandfather's death record there is no note of his color, probably because the entries were much shorter during the time period he passed away in. None the less, it's very interesting to see my 4th great grandmother listed as "pardo libre", I would love to do some more research into that term and see what kind of life - whether they enjoyed certain privileges or hung in between two worlds - and how this category would impact their lives and that of their children. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

52 Ancestors – #36 Isabel de la Fuente

Okay, finally getting into my September ancestors! I can't believe that this is ancestor #36, so let's get started! This will be about my 5th great grandmother Isabel de la Fuente.

Isabel is also another ancestor from the town of the Toa Alta who I don't have clear years of birth and death due to her being only present in church documents. Isabel, like Juan de Dios Marrero, was most likely born in the early 1700s since her first child I have documented is in 1809. Isabel after a while dropped her surnamed to just Fuentes, which was common amongst those who had compounded or longer surnames; you see the same thing happening with the surname de la Torre/Torres. Isabel's husband was Paulino Vásquez and together I have been able to document 14 children - that's a lot of kids! From the information I have children births span across 50 years!! Paulino and Isabel passed away after 1828, where and when I don't know. What is interesting to note are the godparents of the children for Paulino and Isabel. Usually, a godparent is someone close to the family - either a family friend or uncle, aunt, cousin, etc. There are various couples who have come forward to become the godparents of the Vásquez Fuentes children, and amongst them there are various Fuentes individuals. Here are the list of godparents I have been able to accumulate for their children, listed by year of baptism:

1809- José María Ferré y Rosa Fuentes 
1811- Pedro Ferrer y Bárbara Martínez
1813- Marcelino García y Eugenia Fuente
1816- Fermin Fuentes y Juana Quiles
1817- Juan Angel Quilez y María Vásquez
1818- Marcelino Fuentes y Gregoria Fuentes
1820- Julian Fuentes y Juana Quiles
1823- Juan de la Fuente y Gertrudis Vásquez
1824- Manuel Ortiz y Cayetana Rosado
1826- Juan de la Fuente y Feliciana de la Fuente
1828- Remigio Vásquez y Juliana López

As you can see there are quiet a few Fuentes/de la Fuente godparents, both men and women. I haven't been able to tie them to Isabel de la Fuente so far. Julian Fuentes for example appears in my family tree as the son of Joseph Luciano Fuentes/de la Fuente, potentially this is someone in Isabel's family whether an uncle or even her father. I can't be too certain until I have Isabel's death record or some mention of grandparents for the Vásquez Fuentes children where it lists their grandparents. Truly, I wouldn't be surprised if all of these Fuentes godparents were related by blood to Isabel, it would definitely explain why she and Paulino chose them as godparents.

Again, Isabel probably died in Toa Alta but I have no record yet to prove that. Based on all the information I have of her I only know that must have been after 1828 (officially), there are a few 1840-1850 children born to Paulino and her but since they aren't officially documented with birth/baptism records I'll only go off the last official one I do have. One can only hope to extend their lines further, myself included! 

52 Ancestors – #35 Juan de Dios Marrero

My 6th great grandfather is a man of both very little and very interesting information. By FamilySearch uploading Toa Alta church records a while back, I was able to extend my once unknown paternal line far back; Juan de Dios Marrero being part of this family. My great grandmother, Mercedes Ortiz Marrero, is related to Juan de Dios Marrero (but it's not where she gets her maternal Marrero surname from).

Juan de Dios Marrero was mostly likely born in the early-1700s, seeing as how most of his children were born at the beginning of the 1800s. We don't know Juan's parents' names or if he/they were originally born in Puerto Rico, but I would imagine that Juan himself was. Juan de Dios Marrero was married to Rosa de Rivera and so far I have been able to trace six of their children in the Toa Alta/Corozal area. I only know that Juan and wife Rosa died sometime after 1818 but I haven't been able to find their death records in Toa Alta just yet. Who knows if they potentially died in Corozal? Also, potentially Rosa de Rivera might have some connection to my own direct paternal Rivera/de Rivera which were also in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico around the same time.

Juan de Dios Marrero and Rosa de Rivera, I have mentioned before somewhere in my blog. They were probably active members of their community seeing as how they served as godparents for other families. In 1809, they appeared as the godparents of Juliana Martínez Vázquez. Since both appear together I'm pretty sure these are my 6th great grandparents. Also, Juliana's family is tied into my family in Toa Alta somewhere far back probably marrying a descendant of the Rivera-Marrero family which also helps to strengthen the case that these are them.

Bautismo - Juliana Martínez Vázquez [Ancestry]

My interest lies in Juan's wife Rosa de Rivera, mainly because I have found records of slaves belonging to a woman of the same name. It is very possible that there was another woman of the same name who owned slaves in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico; but seeing as how we are talking about the early 1800s about a town that was founded in 1751, I wonder how many Rosa de Riveras there actually were. The only thing is that there is no mention of a Juan de Dios Marrero, could Rosa de Rivera have handled the affair of the slaves for the family? I won't know for sure until I have a clearer document but for now I do believe that it is very possible. Here are two slaves baptized/confirmed in Toa Alta mentioning their slave owner as Rosa de Rivera:

Teresa, esclava de Rosa de Rivera [Ancestry]

Joseph Bonifacio, hijo de Marcelina, esclava de Rosa de Rivera [Ancestry]

Hopefully I'll be able to find more information on Juan de Dios Marrero and his wife Rosa de Rivera. Potentially these Rivera and Marrero ancestors are tied to my other Marrero and Rivera lines of the same town. Especially in a time when endogamy was much more likely, I wouldn't be surprised to find cousins marrying each other either on purpose to "keep lines pure" or even by mistake. I'm not sure if there are any older documents for the town and church of Toa Alta but if there are I would sure love to see them!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

52 Ancestors – #34 Agustin Calderón Meléndez (1859-1947)

Ahh!!! I know, I know! I'm late again with my posts (by about a month this time)! With settling into life in Spain, and three back-to-back weekend trips I haven't been able to dedicate much attention to my blog! But I'll try and catch up this week little by little posting more ancestor posts, I want to have all 52 done - I think it'd be a great feat! This post will be dedicated to my 3rd great grandfather Agustin Calderón Meléndez. Let's get started!

What's interesting about my 3rd great grandfather Agustin is the usage of surnames. Working my way backward from what I knew about him, I knew that he lived in Manatí and married Ana Morán Nazario and had many, many children with her. My second great grandfather would use the surnames Meléndez Morán and to this day the Meléndez surname is still being used by my family. In the 1940, 1935, and 1930 census records Agustin goes by Meléndez but in the 1910 Census we see him listed as Calderón Meléndez. Heads up: This branch for some reason has a scrambled use of surnames, sometimes Agustin uses Nazario as a maternal name, then sometimes Calderón, sometimes Meléndez, etc. Potentially there were mistakes on the records as a confusion with Ana who is Nazario through her mother.

We know that this Agustin is the same as mine because of the wife's name and the name of the children as well. They are living in the barrio of Coto, in Manatí where my family lived for a while. He is listed as living next to a Ramón and Manuel Calderón Meléndez, two of his brothers. Also his son, my 2nd great grandfather lived next door as well.

Agustin Calderón Meléndez - 1910 Census [Ancestry]
Agustin Calderón Meléndez - 1910 Census [Ancestry]

It seems that Agustin was born out of wedlock and never officially carried the surname "Calderón". In most records we just find him as Agustin Meléndez, illegitimate son of Cresencia Meléndez. But what helped crack the wall/mystery of the father, were sibling records that did acknowledge the father's name as Juan Calderón Nazario (and this is also probably a reason why Agustin appears with Nazario, his father had the name as well!) Both Juan Calderón and Cresencia Meléndez are natives of Vega Baja, Puerto Rico where Agustin was said to be born as well. 

Kind of crazy how one small event in your family's history, like not getting married can change your entire family tree, especially when it comes to the usage of surnames. Both of my surnames from what I know have been passed down from men Rivera and Correa but who knows if there was an ancestress how passed down the name. It goes to show you that how we view our families can change with just a document, in my case showing that Meléndez wasn't the name that was technically supposed to be past down. I'm not against maternal surnames being passed down and I'm so used to hearing Meléndez and actually like the surname so no need to worry about me being too patriarchal ;). 

Agustin ends up passing away in Manatí, Puerto Rico on the 6th of February 1947 from edema pulmonar (Pulmonary edema) at about the age of 88. He was already widowed by the time of his death for three years but I think a good number of his children were still alive (he and Ana did lose some children while they were young). Apparently Agustin and Ana married about 1886, either in Manatí or Vega Baja but I can't seem to find their marriage record. Their first child is born in 1888, so very believable that they married in 1887 as well. 

Hopefully I'll bump into another Calderón Meléndez cousin one day and see if they know anything else about the choice of surnames in the family! 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

52 Ancestors – #33 Eglantine Lautin (1821-1889)

I have talked about my 5th great grandmother, Eglantine Lautin, before in previous posts. Many actually when I think about it, since it's only been a little close to two years since I found out about her. In one post titled "Tracing Eglantine Lautin" I discuss the possibility of discovering her ethnic origin through the mtDNA of female descendant. But I wanted to dedicate a post to Eglantine in the 52 Ancestors Challenge since she is a very interesting ancestress.

According to documents, Eglantine would have been born around 1821, which could be either correct or incorrect. Most of the French documents I have seen have been spot on for year estimations of births but seeing as how Eglantine was a slave, I don't know how reliable this given year is. Especially when you consider that she could have been (and probably was) taken from her family and traded amongst people who didn't speak her language. There is also the other option that she could have been very aware of her age and able to communicate it to someone along the way to or in Martinique. So many possibilities and so much to contemplate!

There is a very interesting website called "Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade" and I highly recommend it to anyone with slave ancestors or is interesting in the stats and information on the slave trade. There is a voyage database in which you can search by year and other variables such as: ship, voyage outcome, voyage dates, and slaves (numbers) to name a few. I decided to check for ships coming to Martinique between the years 1820-1844, I marked the last year as 1844 because my 4th great grandmother Julienne Malvina Lautin was born that year in Martinique meaning Eglantine had already been brought over. I image that Eglantine would have come probably in the 1830s as a young girl aged about 10, which according to one of the books I read states the children around that age were commonly brought over during the slave trade.

I then marked the principal landing place as "Martinique", there is always the possibility that Eglantine could have been sold from another island into Martinique but let's theorize that she was brought straight from Africa to Martinique. I then categorized the results by year to see which could be potential ships. The first trips between 1820-1826 I figure that Eglantine would have been too young and too small to be brought over. Slavery, however, knows no age and so who really knows if she could have been aboard one of those ships. But there were two ships in 1830 and 1831 that I feel could be more probable.

Voyages to Martinique [SlaveVoyages]

Both of the last voyages to Martinique appear to be completed by François Julien Santuary/Sentuary. The first voyage in 1830 was on a vessel named Auguste (a) Deux Frères while the second was on the vessel Bonne Aline. Again, not sure if Eglantine would have been on board one of these ships, but it's definitely interesting to think about and contemplate the possibility. Both of the ships picked up slaves in the area known as Bonny or the Bight of Biafra and the gulf of Guinea islands. This however doesn't indicate ethnic origin since there were slaves that were brought from inland countries and marched out to the western coast onto the ships.

The life Eglantine had on Martinique we know from records. We know that she had her first daughter Julienne in 1844 and later four more children: Pauline (1846), Jean (1851), and Marie (1855), and Rose (1858). Out of all the children, only one was recognized by their biological father and that was Marie Lautin, later known as Marie Boudré, her father being Adrien Boudré - another African slave. Eglantine was a slave to the Lapierre and Laroche family and later freed in 1848 with her two daughters Julienne and Pauline when they received the surname "Lautin" (I also imagine that Eglantine was not her origin name). Thanks to Julienne's birth record we know that Eglantine had previously been registered in a book of slaves under the number 192 in Register "C". Unfortunately, it seems that these books no longer exist or are nowhere to be found. If only these registers were available!! I imagine it would contain some sort of information in regards to Eglantine's origin, sale, and any other previous owners and/or characteristics to identify her. Hopefully one day these records can be recuperated if they are still around somewhere… one can only hope!

There is also the possibility to find out more information on Eglantine in a family will from the Lapierre family. When Jean Jacques Catherine Lapierre died on 17 September 1845 in Rivière Salée, Martinique he possibly left Eglantine and her Julienne to either his wife Anne Alexandrine Forget or his daughter Rose Hélène Lapierre. In 1844, Madame Lapierre née Forget registers Julienne Malvina's birth but in October 1846 (a little over a year after Jean Jacques' death, Dame Laroche née Lapierre registers Pauline's birth. Possibly Jean Jacques left in his will the slaves who two years later would become the "Lautin" family to Rose Hélène and her husband Jean Françoise Garnier-Laroche. I'm not sure however who the family would have gone to notary wise. Jean Jacques Catherine Lapierre was born in Le Marin, married in Saint Esprit and passed away in Rivière Salée – all different towns in Martinique. Did he previously have a notary in Le Marin that handled his family's estate and slave transactions or did he find someone new in Rivière Salée before he passed away?  There are records in the south of France available for notaries in Martinique but I have no idea where to begin searching there.

Eglantine would pass away in Petit Paradis, a section of Saint Esprit on the 2nd of September 1889, after her daughter Julienne headed for and started her life in Puerto Rico. It doesn't mention what she died of but according to what we have she would have been around 68; she would have seen her native Africa, life pre- and post- slavery in Martinique, and her daughter head out to a new land. Hopefully one day I'll get to meet descendants of the other Lautin children who stayed and lived in Martinique. Maybe some of them immigrated as well to other countries like Julienne. It would be interesting to see if we are truly genetically related, potentially what Eglantine's maternal haplogroup was, and share stories about our ancestors. 

52 Ancestors – #32 Alonso Maldonado

Almost caught up, almost caught up!! Here is another post of a pretty old ancestor, this time my 12th great grandfather Alonso Maldonado. [Note: because these ancestors are so far back there is always room for error, for example: paper records were wrong due to a NPE (non-paternity event) that occurred somewhere in the family and was kept a secret.]

Parcial view of Chinchón, España [Wikipedia]
Alonso Maldonado is another ancestor with connections to Spain, he himself was born around 1502 in the town of Chinchón in what was the kingdom of Toledo, Spain. This town, just like Pastrana, is not too far away from Madrid. I love looking up these towns and reading up on all the information I can on them. Since I've researched and read about many of the towns from my family in Puerto Rico and Martinique, every time I find a new town for an ancestor I look up images, maps, and any other information I can get my hands on.

Chinchón's population, like Pastrana's, is also pretty tiny, in 2008 it hovered a little over 5,000 people. It's interesting to note that the town's church, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, started construction in 1534 and was later finished in 1626. This means that my ancestors would have been in the town when the church's construction was underway but never saw its completion since my 11th great grandfather, Pedro Maldonado, left Spain for Puerto Rico in 1549. Alonso Maldonado, Pedro's father, on the other hand might have seen more of the church's construction. I'm not sure if Alonso stayed in Spain or moved to Puerto Rico as well but since he was born about 1502 he would have been in his mid-30s when construction began. I'm also not sure of his death, but I imagine he died by the late 1580s, any longer than that would be past the typical life expectancy and sooner than 1580 is possible as well.

View of Chinchón, España [Wikipedia]

Since Chinchón is a small town, there isn't too much going on or to see except the few historical monuments here and there. One of the interesting spots is the Castillo de Chinchón, also known as the Castillo de los Condes. I would love to visit this castle, since an event occurred here in 1520, which means my ancestors where still around. I'm not sure how easily or not it is to get to the town of Chichón and its castle, but I would love to attempt to go.

Alonso Maldonado was married to Elena de Torres, also a native of Chinchón. Both surnames, Maldonado and Torres, seem to be found in higher frequency in the south of Spain. I'm not sure of Elena's death date as well. There are many different trees online that include Alonso and Elena and since I'm not sure of who their parents are I'll hold off from believing or adding any of the information I see.

Excited to learn more about the town my ancestors lived in and hopefully see and walk the same streets they did! 

Friday, August 22, 2014

52 Ancestors – #31 Dolores Santiago Burgos (1859-1929)

Today's post is about my 3rd great grandmother Dolores Santiago Burgos -- a lot of recent posts from my 3rd grandparents' generation!

Dolores Santiago Burgos was probably one of the first ancestors I found when I began researching my family. Because my grandmother knew the name of her parents and grandparents, this allowed me to easily search the census records for my ancestors on my maternal side of the family. I knew that my 2nd great grandmother Francisca Orozco was married to my 2nd great grandfather Pedro Dávila and they lived in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico (we knew however that Francisca died in the early 1940s because my grandmother never got the chance to meet her). I searched the census records for Yabucoa, specifically in the barrio of Calabazas, and found them in the 1910 census. Luckily my 2nd great grandmother was still living with her parents so this allowed me the chance to learn the names of my 3th great grandparents (Dolores being one of them). This 1910 census would later also become an important piece for making a connection to a cousin of mine who found me on

1910 Census - Yabucoa, Puerto Rico [Ancestry]

With the help of the Puerto Rican Civil Registry on FamilySearch I was able to find Dolores' death record and also with the help of the microfilmed church records of Puerto Rico I was able to find Dolores' and her husband's (Benito Orozco) marriage record in 1876… which was pretty awesome to find!

Dolores in many of the records appears as either mulata or trigueña, I imagine that Dolores had some color to her! Dolores and Benito had eight children in totally and sadly I don't have any photos of any them, but I do have a photo of my great grandmother! From the research I have done, it seems that Dolores was an only child (which isn't too common in the 1800s in Puerto Rico). Many families had a number of children, anywhere from three to an upwards of ten, so for Dolores to be an only child is interesting and a bit strange to me. My spidey-sense tells me that there has to be more of them, but many there really aren't. None of the less, Dolores was the daughter of Manuel de Santiago and his wife Juana Burgos.

Dolores is also interesting to me because she is the carrier of my maternal haplogroup, C1b4 -- commonly referred to as a native haplogroup. Probably one of Dolores' distant ancestresses was a Taíno/Arawak woman who lived in the southern part of Puerto Rico and later mixed in with the people who came to populate the island. Many people think (and are taught) that the Taíno were wiped clean off the island of Borikén due to disease and slavery but the narrative is now changing with the help of DNA. It seems that over 65% of Puerto Ricans carry a native maternal haplogroup, which would mean that many assimilated into the changing culture rather than dying off. However, there aren't many male haplogroups (if any) on the island, which would mean that either the males were more likely to be killed or that the European paternal haplogroups overpowered in number and over time the native Taíno haplogroups began to disappear. I am proud to carry a piece of my history in my blood and to show that the natives are still with us, flowing through our veins and our culture.

Dolores passed away in 1929, already a widow of Benito Orozco. She was buried in Yabucoa, but unfortunately I don't think her grave would be around because she was most likely buried in the public town cemetery and the headstone (if there was any to begin with) is probably long gone by now. None the less, it would be nice walk through the barrio of Calabazas and visit the cemetery in Yabucoa to pay my respects to not only Dolores but also to my other ancestors who lived and were buried there. Without them, I wouldn't be here in the first place! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

52 Ancestors – #30 Pedro Fernández

It feels awesome to be back writing about my ancestors! I was a bit nervous at first that I would just get lazy and never get around to it, but I'm almost at the half way mark of the 52 Ancestor Challenge. This is definitely hard to keep up with, with the rest of live going on and what not -- but none the less I'm up to my 30th ancestor! This post will be about my 10th (woah!) great grandfather Pedro Fernández. If you notice, I didn't place a birth year and death year at the top and that's because I have no exact date for either (even the birth year is greatly estimated) but no fear, I'll post none the less!

One of my 10th great grandfather's via my maternal side of the family is Pedro Fernández. The only reason I have even a name for him is due to the help of other genealogists who have paved the way with hours and hours of research probably before I was even born! To them, I raise my (figurative) glass and can't thank them enough! Hopefully, one day I'll be able to do the same for the next generation of genealogists to come.

Pedro Fernández is one of my Spanish ancestors, literally -- he was born in Spain and later migrated to Puerto Rico. Pedro, from what we know, was born in a town called Pastrana located in the province of Guadalajara, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Manca in Spain (whew!). According to Wikipedia the town was especially important in the 16th and 17th century, around the time my ancestors would have been born there.

Pastrana, Guadalajara, España [Wikipedia]
Here is an aerial view of some of Pastrana. The town is only 95km from Madrid, which is very exciting because I'll be there in a few weeks and hope to visit Pastrana! Also according to wikipedia, the town's population is that of…1,054 (extremely small!). There are a few monuments and museums to visit in the town, so I think a day-trip will be sufficient to see most of the town. There's even a Palacio Ducal (The Spanish Wiki has more information) and there are Jewish and Arab quarters.

I'm not sure what drove Pedro Fernández and his wife Isabel Ruiz to find a new home; whether religious, political, or economic reasons both Pedro and Isabel (whether together or separately I'm not sure) left Pastrana and headed over to Puerto Rico somewhere in the mid-1600s. I'm also not sure how many generations the Fernández and Ruiz family was there, whether many or a few, but it seems they were ready to begin a new life somewhere new. My 9th great grandfather, who took on two completely different last names, was born about 1645 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. His name was Pedro Díaz Muñiz de Pastrana, and he was also an Alférez from what he know about him. According to Wikipedia (my best friend today), an Alférez was "in medieval Iberia, was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The term is derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "cavalier", and it was commonly Latinised as alferiz or alferis". I'm not sure how or where he got the title from, seeing as how Pedro Jr. was born in Puerto Rico and not Spain.

Before, it wasn't necessary that a child had to take on either of the parents' surnames; if a grandfather or grandmother had a higher ranking surname by which the child could go by to get better footing in society, the parents could choose to give them that surname. I'm not sure if Díaz and Muñiz are paternal or maternal surnames but I'm guessing they held some sort of title or importance to the family. There is also the slim (yet possible) fact that Pedro and Isabel were trying to escape some sort of past in Spain, whether religious or political and didn't want their child involved or followed by those surnames. Both Fernández and Muñiz seem to be found heavily on the north-western side of Spain, so potentially my ancestors moved down from there into Pastrana.

I don't know how possible it is to get specific information on Pedro Fernández and Isabel Ruiz since they lived over 400+ years ago but I would love to know what kind of Spain they lived in, or rather how the town of Pastrana was set up and why they would want to leave. Who knows if there is a common descendant of the Fernández and Ruiz lines living amongst those 1,054 inhabitants. It's kind of surreal to think of a 10th great grandfather, because that is REALLY far removed from where I am today. If and when I step into the town of Pastrana, it will have been somewhere near/close to 370 years (a rough estimate passed around the time Pedro Díaz Muñiz was born in Arecibo) since that family left the town for good. How odd that will be to return and walk potentially the same streets they did. If and when (because I really want to) go I will definitely give another update on the town!