Saturday, January 11, 2014

52 Ancestors – #1 Felix Vélez Mercado (1905-1953)

I guess I'll start this challenge with a man who I know both some about but yet know nothing about. This man is my great grandfather Felix Vélez Mercado. Felix's family photo was what catapulted me into genealogy and it was featured in my first post ever in my blog!

L-R: Felix (standing back), Carmen (kneeling),
José (standing), Rosalia (sitting w/ baby)
[Personal Family Photo]
Felix Vélez Mercado was born on the 17th of November 1905 in Salto Abajo, Utuado, Puerto Rico. Interestingly, when my great grandfather was born, he was listed as an illegitimate child since his parents hadn't yet married. His father, Nicodemus (sometimes written as Nicodemo) Vélez Ríos, was the one who registered his son's birth yet no mother was listed! His father later married in the same town on the 14th of December 1906, just a little over a year after Felix was born, to Domitila Mercado Cruz. I worry about this not being his mother since he was born out of wedlock but being that the parents married soon after his birth and we always knew his last names were "Vélez Mercado", therefore I assume that Domitila is his biological mother. 

The reason why Nicodemus and Domitila probably weren't married during Felix's birth is evident in their marriage record. When Nicodemus Vélez and Domitila Mercado appeared to get married, it stated the Nicodemus Vélez was 32 years of age while Domitila Mercado was only 15 years old!!! In Puerto Rico, since many people weren't literate or properly knew their birth years, ages were either exaggerated a few years or people scratched a few away here and there. Nicodemus during his marriage was actually 26 years old- this I know because I have his baptism record from Adjuntas, Puerto Rico where it states he was born in the year 1878. I have yet to find Domitila's birth record but it's probably somewhere in the 1890s. What's also interesting is that according to the 1910 Census record, Felix had an older sister and younger sister both named "Amelia" yet in the column where it asked how many children has the wife had and how many of them are alive it only states "1" and "1". So something there isn't adding up. Could it be that it only states "1" because that was the number of children born "officially" since their marriage?

"who has 15 years of age"- Domitila's marriage record

Felix appears in the 1910 Census living with his parents and two sisters in a rented home in Arenas, Utuado, Puerto Rico. However, in the 1920, 1930 and 1935 Census Felix has disappeared! My great grand-aunt told me that Felix would travel around selling goods and so this could potentially be the reason why he doesn't appear with his family. In 1940 he resurfaces in San Juan, Puerto Rico living in the Santurce area already living with my great grandmother and one of his children. It seems that his profession of selling is still with him since he is listed as "vendedor de billetes"and as "ambulante" which means he travels.

My family says that Felix Vélez Mercado passed away around 1953 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Which means my grandmother was about 13 years old when her father passed away leaving her mother widowed with three children (there was another child born around the 1940s but passed away in his infancy). Despite Felix coming from a gigantic family I know very little about his family. In totally I have about 17 different children listed for Nicodemus and Domitila, including Felix himself. 

1) Amelia Vélez Mercado 1902-?
2) Ramón Vélez Mercado 1904-?
3) Felix Vélez Mercado 1905-1953
4) Amelia Vélez Mercado 1912- 1942
5) Amelio Vélez Mercado 1911-1936
6) Ana Vélez Mercado 1914-?
7) Juana Vélez Mercado 1918-?
8) Evaristo Vélez Mercado 1919-?
9) José Miguel Vélez Mercado 1922- ?
10) Jesús María Vélez Mercado 1925-?
11) José Vélez Mercado 1926-?
12) Nerco Vélez Mercado 1926?-?
13) Ramón Vélez Mercado 1927-?
14) Jesús Vélez Mercado 1928- ?
15) Monserrate Vélez Mercado 1930-?
16) María Mercedes Vélez Mercado 1931- ?
17) Juan Moises Vélez Mercado ?-?

Seems like the family also spent time moving between Utuado and Adjuntas, the parents' respective towns of origin. So while Felix was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico, his sister Ana Vélez Mercado was born in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico in 1914. His daughter (my great-aunt) says that he met my great grandmother while traveling which means he might have met her in her hometown of Lares, Puerto Rico. Hopefully I can learn more about Felix, his life and his siblings. I wonder if there are more pictures of Felix somewhere in my family's possession? 

No comments:

Post a Comment