Friday, January 24, 2014

52 Ancestors – #4 Pedro Dávila Ruiz (1884-1963)

I can't believe that this will already be the fourth post in the 52 week series challenge! I have been thoroughly enjoying searching my tree for ancestors which whom's stories I can share. When the digits start doubling up, the going will get tough as I try to figure out who to write about. But until then, I will enjoy sharing the stories of my ancestors that I know fairly well. Number 4 will focus on my 2nd great grandfather, Pedro Dávila Ruiz, on my mom's side of the family.

Pedro Dávila Ruiz was born abt 13 March 1884 in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Originally I thought my 2nd great grandfather was born in Maunabo, Puerto Rico where his parents were from. We always believed he was from that town, yet while researching his family I found that his older brother and sister, Juan de la Cruz and Josefa María, were born in 1879 and 1882 respectively in Yabucoa so it is very likely that he himself was born in Yabucoa. Pedro would live in Yabucoa for about the next 60 years until he and his daughter with her family would move to San Juan. Pedro was 1 of 10 children born to Juan Bautista Dávila González and his wife María Higinia Ruiz Ramos.

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico [Google]

Pedro Dávila would end up marry Francisca Orozco Santiago in Maunabo, Puerto Rico on the 27th of December 1909 – this shows to me the strong connection he had to his family's hometown which was just a stone's throw away from where they lived in Yabucoa (Pedro's ancestors were probably some of the first residents of Maunabo when it officially became a town in 1799). My 2nd great grandparents, great grandmother and even my grandmother were all born in Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Pedro's family originated across the border of Yabucoa in the area of Matuyas Alto/Bajo of Maunabo. In the maps below you can see how close both towns are, so going to Maunabo for marriage isn't considered out of this world.

Maunabo & Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Pedro Dávila Ruiz and Francisca Orozco Santiago lived in Calabazas, Yabucoa, Puerto Rico for many years. In 1910, Pedro was living as a son-in-law to Francisca's parents Benito Orozco and Dolores Santiago Burgos. Their marriage had yet to produce any children since they were recently married. Pedro was employed on a farm at the time of the census and it is very possible that he was working for his father-in-law since Benito owned the land he himself worked on. At the time of the census no one in the house was able to read or write and Pedro was the only person in the household listed under "B" for White while the rest of the family was listed as "Mu" for Mulatto.

Oddly enough, I haven't been able to find Pedro and Francisca in the 1920 census with their children. I tried searching Yabucoa and Maunabo, but nothing could be found. I don't know if they just avoided the census taker for that year's census but by that year, 4 of their children would have been born including my great grandmother Epifania Dávila Orozco. Another issue I have is that I can't find any of the children's both records until 1923 when Juan Dávila Orozco was born. By 1930, Pedro, Francisca and their children were living on land they owned and Pedro worked the lands most likely with his son Modesto while Francisca took care of the home and was listed as a "costurera" or seamstress. It's also interesting to see that by the age of 15 my great grandmother was no longer attending school however was able to read and write; she was also listed as "being able to speak English" but that's probably because they had taken it while attending school. 

I was very fortunate to find the 1935 Special Agricultural Census record for Pedro as not many ancestors of mine owned the land they worked on. It's amazing to see the information about the land and the kind of stuff they grew on it. 

Pedro Dávila Ruiz- Agricultural Census 1935

According to the census my 2nd great grandfather began using the land in 1928, this could also be the year he purchased the land. It says that he owned 5 cuerdas of which 2 cuerdas were used for harvesting in 1935. In total, the land had a worth of $175 and it seems he owed nothing on the farm, meaning it was in his complete possession. It also states that 5 whites and 5 of color people were living in 1 home, which I'm guessing is his family. That year they produced 1 cuerda of potatoes and 1 1/4 of tobacco, of the potatoes 20/20 bushels were produced and of the tobacco 600 pounds. They also produced bananas and avocados and owned 2 goats, 3 pigs and 12 hens/chickens. Interestingly, at the end it asks if they had a paved road accessible for a vehicle to which they answered "no". It's awesome to see that my family owned and worked the lands they lived in and to see all the details of what they grew and how much of it.

My grandmother tells me that despite her being born in Yabucoa, the family soon moved up to San Juan. Pedro became a widower when his wife Francisca passed away on the 15th of June 1945 which her death certificate states was of heart failure and rheumatism. Pedro would follow his daughter and my great grandfather to San Juan where we would pass away in 1963. I imagine Pedro sold the land before he moved to San Juan. 

The way my 2nd great grandfather passed away was always a tragic story to me. He was out with one of his grandsons when all of sudden they could hear a screeching sound coming down the street. When Pedro turned around he saw a car dragging a fence along with it as it drove towards them. Pedro then pushed his grandson to the side as the car raced towards them, which would end up saving his grandson's life. Unfortunately, Pedro was killed by the oncoming car which was being driven by a student driver. The death certificate states the he was killed in an accident and suffered from heart failure and trauma to the skull and chest. Despite my 2nd great grandfather's life being taken away he was able to save the life of my great uncle who is fortunately still alive thanks to Pedro. 

My grandmother was fortunate to have lived with her grandfather and would describe him to me as a man with light complexion and with light eyes. There are family stories that he has roots in Spain. He would sit and listen to the radio and my grandmother knew when to return to school based on his radio station where we would listen to novelas back when they were broadcast on the radio. She says that her grandfather could tell you the time based on where the sun was on the ground. 

Pedro and his wife Francisca had six children in total: Modesto (1911-1984) Epifanía (1914-1989), Josefina, Juan (1919-1944), Dominga, Juan (1923-1923) and Eulalia (1926-2000). Modesto, the oldest of the six moved to Detroit with his wife and children while the rest of the the Dávila Ruiz family stayed in Puerto Rico – I wonder what brought Modesto to Michigan? There is always still much to learn!

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