Saturday, May 31, 2014

52 Ancestors – #22 Damià Magraner Morell (1846-1910)

Today I want to focus on an ancestor who could potentially be or not be my 3rd great grandfather. The reason I decided to add him to the 52 Ancestors series is because I would like to work out the kinks of this theory. Whether it was possible for him to be the father of my 2nd great grandfather José Avilés Magraner and his brother Lorenzo, or if I'm just pulling straws here trying to make strange connections. Here is what I know about Damià Magraner, his connection to the town of Lares where my family lived, and how he could potentially be my 3rd great grandfather.

Damià is the Catalan spelling for the name Damián giving us some hints as to his origins. From records in Puerto Rico, we can tell that Damià was originally from Sóller, Mallorca - an island of Spain, on its eastern coast. Mallorca is considered one of the Balearic Islands also known as Islas Baleares in Spanish and Illes Balears in Catalan.

Spain & Balearic Islands [Wikipedia]
Mallorca, Balearic Islands [Wikipedia]

Backtracking a bit, there was always a tale in my family about a Spaniard arriving to Puerto Rico during the time of war. He settled in the town of Lares, specifically the barrio of Río Prieto. There he would meet my 3rd great grandmother a "native Taíno woman". He would father my 2nd great grandfather but never officially recognizing him, therefore he would take on his mother's surname of Avilés. José would later attach the name Magraner as his second surname.

After hearing this story, I wanted to search the Magraner family in Lares and try and find José's father. Since José and Lorenzo were born out of wedlock, there was no way to know for sure if the story was correct or not. Even now, the name of Magraner could have been simply a false attachment of who he thought was his father.

While visiting the AGPR (Archivo General de Puerto Rico), I decided to look for records of Lares. There I found a census record from 1897 -- I specifically wanted to find my Avilés family there and also see what Magraner man could potentially be the father of José and Lorenzo. Even though José and Lorenzo had two other sisters and a brother, they were the only two who took on the surname Magraner and mentioned in the census records that their father was from Spain. Their sister María Isabel who was born in between José and Lorenzo also could have been a Magraner daughter but she passed away at the age of 4. Potentially another daughter born named Ysabel about 1899 could have been a Magraner daughter but that time frame is iffy for a few reasons.

I was able to find a Damián Magraner Morey (Morell) living in Río Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico in 1897 as an owner of land and a home. There were a few other Spaniards listed living with Damián who probably immigrated to work the lands of Puerto Rico and find new opportunities. My 2nd great grandfather and his siblings were born in the years 1891, 1892, 1894, and 1899. Their other brother was born in 1904 and passed away the same year. Damià was said to have immigrated to Puerto Rico circa 1863, meaning that he was living in Lares, Puerto Rico for about 28 years before José was born. I'm not sure however if he migrated back and forth between that time.

Damià Magraner Morey [sic] – 1897 Río Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico

Damià however wasn't the only Magraner to live on the island and also not the only one from his family. So far I have been able to trace three others brothers arriving to Puerto Rico from Mallorca: Nicolás, Cristóbal, and Gabriel. Two of the three (Nicolás and Cristóbal) also appear to be living in Río Prieto on early census records. If my records are correct, Gabriel Magraner Morell passed away on the 5th of May 1871 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Interestingly, when you search for Damián Magraner Morell you can find a few things on him online. For example, a search on Google Book for Damián Magraner gives you a few hits of landing owning in Lares, Puerto Rico. In a book titled "Congressional Serial Set", there is a mention of Damian Magraner owning land in partnership with Nicolas Magraner, Cristobal Magraner, María Magraner; all from Spanish nationality living in Spain and their property is located in Lares. 

Congressional Serial Set [Google Books]

This book is interesting because it was published in 1918. It seems that the Magraner brothers moved back to Spain during the time of the Spanish American War, which is a bit different from what the story in my family says. Recently while I was speaking to my great-aunt about the Magraner connection she mentioned that her grandfather's father, the unknown Magraner, was said to have been married at the time he had his relationship with my 3rd great grandmother -- who was said to have been a Taíno woman, but likely she was mixed and just had prominent Taíno features. In the 1897 Census record, it does mention that Damian was married. He never appears in any of the census records past the 1897 record I found and we know that Puerto Rico was handed over to the United States in 1898, which means he probably migrated back to Sóller sometime in between 1897-1900 (I say 1900 because I don't have the exact date he migrated back). However, another search for Damian Magraner gives me a result to a Catalan written article about elections during the "second stage of restoration". From my understanding, it seems that Damian was voted as the president of a local party.

Damià Magraner Morell (president) – 1901 [Google]

My guess is that Damià had a strong connection for his homeland of Spain and Mallorca, ultimately pulling him back when the territory of Puerto Rico was handed over in 1898 to the USA. However, it seems that by 1917 he and his siblings were still owning land in Río Prieto. The plantation was named "Hacienda de Café Margarita de Magraner". I had never heard of this place until I began searching for the Magraner family. What interest me, however, is how José and Lorenzo acquired land in 1925. Could parts of the hacienda been broken up and José and Lorenzo received some land? José had 10 cuerdas and Lorenzo 8 cuerdas which they both began using in 1925 and it seems that they had many coffee trees. I don't know however how they really acquired the lands, whether just through hard work or through a will which included them as heirs to plots of land. I don't know when Damià died so I can't be sure of anything.

Why do I believe that Damià is the father of José and Lorenzo? A couple of things match up for me that make it a bit more than coincidence that Damià could be the father. Not only do both José and Lorenzo claim to have a Spanish father, Damià does appear to be living in Río Prieto in 1897. Interestingly, José and Lorenzo both give the name "Damián" to one of their sons. Damián Avilés Vargas was born in 1920 but unfortunately passed away a day later, and Damián Avilés López was born about 1939. Damián definitely isn't too common of a name on the island back in the days and I have rarely come across the name while searching records. Could they have given their sons the name "Damián" in honor of their own father? 

Damián Avilés Vargas – Defunción 1920 [FamilySearch]

Damián Avilés López – 1940 Census [Ancestry]

Unfortunately, I have no records to directly tie Damià and José together. There is always the possibility that another Magraner man fathered my 2nd great grandfather or even that he just took the name on for whatever reason (though this doesn't happen too often from my understanding). I would love to visit Sóller, Mallorca and find out more about Damián and his time in Sóller after returning. Maybe he left behind other descendants in Mallorca that still live there now? Hopefully some time in the near future I'll be able to test a male descendant of the Avilés men from my family to find out more about their Y-DNA, and potentially find a connection a Spanish family/man surnamed Magraner. This however would take a lot of time, research, and of course money. Hopefully, one day I will be able to solve this mystery once and for well -- whether my 3rd great grandfather really was a Spanish man from Mallorca who traveled to Lares, who owned land, and who would eventually migrate back to Mallorca to serve his home country during its time of need. Or if not a Magraner descendant, then a descendant from what man?!

Fun Fact: "Magraner" means pomegranate tree in Catalan!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

52 Ancestors – #21 Juana Arvelo Vera (1872-1912)

I'm posting early since I won't have a chance to write this weekend! Today I want to focus on my 3rd great grandmother Juana Arvelo Vera. She is another ancestress I don't know much about and hope to learn more as I continue my research.

Juana's estimated year of birth is 1872 according to her death record, she is also said to be a native of San Sebastián, Puerto Rico. At the time of her death in 1912 she was about the age of 40, living in Coto, Manatí with her husband and categorized as "white" and her cause of death is listed as "anemia". Fortunately, Juana lived long enough to appear on the 1910 Census record. She appears to be living in the same household as José Meléndez Morán (my 2nd great grandfather), his wife Anicasia Sánchez Arvelo (one of Juana's daughter), and her husband listed as Francisco Sánchez Martinez (who actually was Francisco Sánchez Flores). Both Francisco and Juana are listed as mulato, along with everyone else in the household.

Juana Arvelo Vera- 1910 Census [Ancestry]

From the 1910 Census record, we can tell that Juana and her husband Francisco married around 1885 and had 5 children in total, 3 of who were still alive for the 1910 Census. So far, I have only been able to identity four out of the five children: Marcelino, Agustina, Anicasia, and María Aurora. It seems that Juana and her husband did some traveling since she was originally from San Sebastián and he from Quebradillas, one of their daughters was born in Utuado, and finally they ended in Manatí. We also know that Juana and her husband were unable to read and write, along with José and Anicasia (remember many low-income farming rural families really had no need for higher education back then). 

It's also very interesting to think that Juana and Francisco would have been in their late 20s when the Spanish American War broke out and Puerto Rico was handed over to the United States in 1898. How would have Juana and Francisco felt? Did they side with Spain or the US? Or where they unfazed by the change of hands between the two countries? It's very interesting to think about, especially with recent events in our own history such as the issues between Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia. 

Juana also is one of my only ancestors to carry a non-native maternal haplogroups. Juana through her mother Luisa Vera was a carrier of U5b1b1b, which can be found in Europe, Northern African, and the Near East. Luisa Vera herself is said to have been born in San Sebastián and would have been born roughly in the mid-1830s. I have no idea so far how the maternal haplogroup was introduced into our family and from where. 

There is much to learn about Juana Arvelo Vera, her life, her husband, her children and her background. Hopefully one day I can get my hands on some baptismal records from the church in San Sebastián and begin to ravel the mystery behind the Arvelo Vera family! 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

52 Ancestors – #20 Valentin Múxica (1785-1855)

Post #20! These posts are going by very quickly! Today I want to focus on Valentin Múxica (also written as Móxica and currently as Mojica). He was my 4th great grandfather on my dad's side of the family via my grandfather Felipe Rivera.

Valentin Múxica would have been born, according to his death certificate, around 1785 in Toa Alta. He is part of my family that has lived in the town of Toa Alta for many, many years. The town of Toa Alta was founded in 1751 which means that potentially his parents could have been part of the town's founding families.

Toa Alta, Puerto Rico - Flag [Google]

Toa Alta, Puerto Rico [Google]

We also know that Valentin would have been classified racially as "pardo" (according to his death record). I have talked about this term before and what it truly might mean, whether the mix of Taíno and Spanish or Taíno and African. Valentin Múxica passed away on the 4th of April in 1855 in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico; already widowed. Valentin probably married his wife Julianna González González around the early 1800s seeing as their first child was born in 1808. In total, Valentin and Juliana had 8 children: Manuel, Andrea, Feliciana (my 3rd great grandmother), José María, Marcelo, Bernarda, Luisa, and Cayetano. 

On Valentin's death record he is recorded as "Valentin Móxica", and the legitimate son to "N" and "N" which means the parents were not known to whoever was recording the death. At the end of his record it states: "no recibió los sacramentos por la gravedad de su enfermedad." Meaning that he didn't receive the sacraments because of how severely ill he was, I'm not sure if this refers to the Last Rites in the Roman Catholic faith which the last prayers before someone passes away are done.

When I first came across the surname Mojica, I always thought it was a pretty strange surname since I don't and haven't commonly come across it while searching in the records for Puerto Rico. And when I saw that the original spelling was Móxica or Múxica I definitely found the name to be even stranger. I wonder if the surname is Basque in origin?

The church records on FamilySearch for Toa Alta begin in the early 1800s, therefore I can't search for Valentin's birth or baptism record. I'm not sure if the church of Toa Alta has records from the mid-late 1700s, I really hope they do! I would love to learn more about Valentin and potentially find the name of his parents. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Post #100 – Happy 10 Years of Genealogy!

Happy 10 Year Anniversary!
Who would have thought that 10 years would have flown by this fast!? It feels like just yesterday I began talking to my relatives, asking them about my ancestors, and typing names into to begin my search. I have definitely come a long way since then! Equally, this also marks the 100th post of my blog – who would have thought that would come whizzing by as well? I've learned so much over the years and have made some great discoveries. Looking back at my beginning years I of course was naïve at times (Hey, I was only 14!) and I have definitely learned from many rookies mistakes, and I'm still learning to this day. So I guess I just want to take some time to talk about my research from the last past 10 years – the good, the bad, and the ugly!

How I Got Started

I will never forget what fueled my now semi-obsessive passion – a photograph, some curiosity, and some elusive stories. Granted, at the time when I first became interested as a kid I had no idea what genealogy was and the internet wasn't even a thing yet, but I wanted to learn about my family. Who was that man in the photo? Why did that woman look native? Were they related to me? What?! My great great grandfather was from Spain and married a Taíno Indian? Why are abuela's eyes green?

I was always curious about my family and our origin; it wasn't until I was 14, however, that I began to search for my roots. I started asking questions but this time expecting answers: Who was my great grandmother? What was her name? When and where was she born? Who were her parents? Initially, I was greeted with a few genealogical-rich responses sprinkled her and there. Oh, that's your great grandmother Epifania Dávila Orozco. She was born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on the 6th of January 1914. Her parents were Pedro Dávila Ruiz and Francisca Orozco Santiago. However, after a while the well of knowledge in my family began to dry up and I had to turn to records. I wanted to prove whether or not I had Spanish and Taíno blood. Wanted to know where my family was from on the island and where our roots took us back to. I wanted to know where my grandfather's pride of his African roots came from. While working for the NYPL, a co-worker had mentioned that I could access the records from for free through the Public Library and off I was exploring through Census Records (1910-1930 at the time), as well as WWI and WWII Registration Cards. My mind was buzzing with new names, dates, and places in Puerto Rico.

Familia Vélez Avilés [Personal Photo]

What I've Learned

First and foremost – Patience! Don't expect to type in one name and find an extensive tree on your family dating back to Adam and Eve. Especially if you're the first one in your family creating a tree like I was, initially there might not be much. Expect to sit there for hours making sense of dates, names, and relationships. Expect to sift through hundreds and if not thousands of records and turn up empty handed. Expect to feel defeated at times because that one pesky ancestor is hiding somewhere in the records. But also expect pure bliss when finding that one record to connect your lines. Expect happiness and elation when you find a record to prove your theory. Expect to yell and scream with happiness when you've pushed your lines further back. Ultimately, expect to learn more about yourself.

10 years is definitely a lot of time – I have dedicated probably easily over 1,000+ hours (If not WAY more) to researching my family's lines. I regret none of that time, it was time well spent. For the moments I've felt most defeated and hopeless, I learned that I most search harder and find new methods. I also learned that staying optimistic is key! Cooped up in room and sitting there for hours on end to find absolutely not one record on your family can be nerve-racking – but I would do it again any day! I've also learned to be prepared to make mistakes, to back track, and to doubt yourself. Document, document, document! Make notes for yourself and leave clues about records that have been searched or need to be searched. I'm still working on how to perfect these techniques but I'm learning everyday!

My Favorite Discovery

I think hands down my favorite discovery (so far) of all time would have to be discovering my 4th great grandmother Julienne Malvina Lautin. For those of you who might have been following my posts for a while now you know how frustrated at first I was. Records from Puerto Rico mentioned any variation of the name Lautin as Lotten, Lotin, Lote, Lotett, Lotiz, Sotin, Soti. Records mentioned that the family could have been from Martinique, Guadeloupe, England, France, or Saint Thomas. To get an idea of some of the confusion about Julienne and her husband read the post "Tracing a Surname" to catch a small glimpse. With the help of a fellow genealogist I was able to learn about the BNPM which would eventually unlock the mystery of my slave-born 4th great grandmother Julienne and her mother Eglantine. I would discover that Julienne was born in Rivière Salée, Martinique on the 6th of February 1844 on a sugar plantation to an African mother (and likely to an African slave father). Unknowingly, this is where the pride of being negro came from within my grandfather. To learn more about the discovery feel free to read "Sparks, Sparks, Sparks, A-Flyin'".

I think the only other discovery that will top this one is of Julienne's husband Gustave Jean-Charles. I think once I have solved that mystery I'll be eternally happy! Of course there are many more brick walls in my family tree – who doesn't have more than a few good uncrackable walls?! And can a genealogist even be eternally happy?

My Worst "UH OH" Moment

Ramona Rivera Rivera [Personal Photo] 

One of my worst (well, worst is a heavy word but I'll use it) "Uh Oh" moments happened while researching Ramona Rivera Rivera, my 2nd great grandmother. At the time I was researching her I was using only the census records and stories -- my grandfather originally said her name was "Ramona Rivera Rodríguez". So I found a woman with the same name, from the same town, and around the same age to match the information I had on my 2nd great grandmother. I began to build this branch with the information I had discovered. When I found out about FamilySearch I quickly began to continue researching the line and didn't really bother to backtrack and see if I had the right woman (a bit naïve I know). It wasn't until I found my great grandmother's (Ernestina Miranda Rivera) birth record in Vega Baja that I realized I had the wrong woman and wrong line. I had been able to extend this other woman's line for a good 3-5 generations on various lines and with the help of another genealogist she was able to provide information from the family's origin outside of Puerto Rico. Again, things happen for a reason and I definitely learned a lesson from this experience – always double check your sources and cross-reference with other information on your tree. In Puerto Rico, since both surnames are used it's usually a bit easier to avoid these issues but when you work with common names like Juan, María, José and common surnames like Rivera, Rodríguez, Ortiz -- then it's more likely to have to double check!

Here's a quick post from 2011 where I talked about clearing up this little mix-up!

Words of Advice 

Advice for novice genealogists or for anyone wanting to get started in general? I would say document your family's stories first!! This is something that I'm actually going back and doing now! At first I sat and listened to others and only pulled out important information like names, dates, and places. But over the years I began to notice that even the smallest details or the family stories turned myths had some sort of truth or clues in them. Now when I ask my family about a certain ancestor I make sure to document what they told me even if they were unsure. Not only does this help for referring back to previous conversations but you never know when that person will leave this Earth. Listening to a story is a wonderful thing but when you try and recall details it might get foggy and you yourself unknowingly add twists to the story. Did she say this or that? Also, documents can't tell the full story of your family! And that's why stories, anecdotes, and family lore are important to your search. You never know if what you were told was fiction is actually reality. Never doubt the power of storytelling!

If I Could Tell Myself Something 10 Years Ago

If I could go back in time and talk to myself 10 years ago when I first began my search I would have probably told myself to record stories. I have definitely learned and done a lot in the 10 years I have done genealogy, I have cold-called relatives and cousins I never really knew and have asked all the important questions about my family even when sometimes the answers weren't so direct and informative. I would definitely tell myself to record some of the stories from older family members and ask them everything I wanted to know. The good thing however is that I'm fairly young and have enough of my family around to ask questions and start recording. The bad thing is that many of them are in Puerto Rico! Hopefully in the coming years (as early as this summer -- starting with my grandmother), I'll begin to record short interviews with my family members where I'll be able to ask them questions and record their answers. This will not only give me information to have for years to come but also an audio file of the voice of my family members. I wish I would have started early on so that I could have gotten the chance to interview my great grandfather before he passed away. Audio recordings will definitely add another layer to my researching and family tree.

Hopes, Dreams, and Aspirations

I hope to continue doing genealogy for another 10 years (and hopefully even 50+ years)! I have thoroughly enjoyed searching for my family's past and learning the stories of the people that have contributed to making me who I am today. I aspire to becoming a professional genealogist one day with a focus on Puerto Rico and potentially the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe since I have ancestors from there, meaning I would also have to brush up on my French (another aspiration!). I would love to tie in my obsession for genealogy with my everyday life/profession. I don't know where my life will lead me but I know that having genealogy there with me will make me a happier person. I would love to become an expert on Puerto Rican Genealogy and help others discover their past and ancestors. I dream of traveling around Puerto Rico discovering the lands my families lived, worked, married, and were born on – I have only seen a limited amount of Puerto Rico and I dream of visiting the different municipalities my ancestors lived on and the churches they would have attended and married in as well. I dream of visiting Rivière Salée, Martinique, Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, and other places my ancestors immigrated from. I hope to find new names in my family tree, meet new cousins, and hear new stories. I dream of connecting Eglantine to a country and tribe in Africa.

These have been a great 10 years and can't wait for the next set of 10 years to roll by -- here's to 2024, my 20th anniversary of genealogy!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Puerto Rican look at: FtDNA's myOrigins

FtDNA myOrigins [FtDNA Email]

Recently I received an email about the release of FtDNA's myOrigins; this would replace the old version of the calculations given for ancestry breakdowns. I was pretty excited about this upgrade because it would add another view of my ancestral breakdown by another company. Currently I have 23andme's Ancestry Compositon as well as Ancestry's AncestryDNA. I have also used DNATribes for myself and a couple of other family members. So let's take a look through a Puerto Rican lens of the myOrigins release!

23andme Ancestry Composition
For comparison's sake let's look at my 23andme Ancestry Composition. Here on the left is what my percentages look like in Standard View. I go back and forth between the Standard View and Speculative View, but for this comparison sake let's stick to the main one. You can see that in solid, raw numbers I am approximately: 54% European, 15% Sub-Saharan African, 12% East Asian/Native American, 1% Middle Eastern/North African, and 18% Unassigned. I don't like the large amount of unassigned here in Standard View but we can't live in a perfect genetic genealogical world (Not yet at least!).  

FtDNA myOrigins 
Now take a look at my recently released myOrigin percentages! There are definitely a few similarities and some differences. Here on myOrigins you can see that I am slightly more European at 58%, which is only a ~4% difference from my Ancestry Composition. My African is listed as 21%, a good ~6% higher than 23andme. The Native percentage called here "New World" is a solid 10%. Here on myOrigins there is a Jewish Diaspora breakdown where I score 7% and then a Middle Eastern group where I score 3%. On AncestryDNA I do score 5% on their category of "European Jewish" but 0% on their "Middle East". 

The categories can then be expanded to show a more in-depth look at the main category. For example, my European breaks down into: North Mediterranean Basin, European Coastal Islands, and European Costal Plains. My African breaks down into: Niger-Congo Genesis, and East-African Pastoralists. While my Middle Eastern breaks down into: North African Coastlands (Which if you look at it that way I score a 4% on AncestryDNA). Here are the pictures of the breakdowns for my main categories. Note: New World is Bering Expansion which covers North, Central, and South American while the Jewish Diaspora hovers/radiants over and near Poland. 

European Ethnic Makeup [FtDNA myOrigins]
African Ethnic Makeup [FtDNA myOrigins]
New World Ethnic Makeup [FtDNA myOrigins]
Jewish Diaspora Ethnic Makeup [FtDNA myOrigins]
Middle Eastern Ethnic Makeup [FtDNA myOrigins]

It was definitely interesting looking at these numbers especially at the African and European scores. My African on myOrigins is at 21% while on AncestryDNA it's at 23%, the highest 23andme places me is at 15.7%. Also AncestryDNA predicts that 12% of my DNA is from the Mali region and here on myOrigins 17% of it is labeled as "Niger-Congo Genesis". I was also surprised that I scored 24% on the European Coastal Islands portion and I wonder if that has anything to do with the potential connection through Gustave Jean-Charles and also potentially through my great grandfather's Irish/English paternal haplogroup. 

All in all, I didn't think the ethnic breakdown was too far of from what I have seen with other companies. Whether or not it's true to my family is a completely different story! Since my family is pretty mixed for the last past 200+ years I don't really know where certain parts of Native, European or African come from -- rather it's coming probably from all my lines. I can only guess that my 4th great grandmother was 100% African because she was born on a sugar plantation in Martinique. I'm really interested to see if myOrigins develops a bit further and adds more specific breakdowns for African like AncestryDNA has done. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

52 Ancestors – #19 Luisa Rodríguez Masantini (1878-1913*)

My 3rd great grandmother has been one of my tougher genealogical brick walls and so I write this post in hopes that one day I will shed some more light on her and her past.

My 3rd great grandmother has been been written down with two names on documents, the most common one was Luisa Rodríguez and the second as Luisa Masantini. I have no idea where the name Masantini came from and whether or not it's actually a surname in my family but records have shown this as a surname for my 3rd great grandmother and 2nd great grandmother. Luisa's daughter Amalia was born in Patillas in the mid-1890s and so that is the only thing I know for sure – that Luisa lived at some point in Patillas, Puerto Rico.

Patillas, Puerto Rico [Google]

Since Luisa and Amalia's father, Cruz Rivera Collazo, never married it makes the search for her even more difficult. I have searched for the name Masantini in Puerto Rico and haven't found anyone else with it. I've also searched the Foreign Records of Puerto Rico and have found nothing as well. I did a search for the surname Masantini in Italy and got some hits in Firenze; I wrote about the experience here in What's in a (sur)name?. The 1910 census provides some interesting information about Luisa's life. I know that she was alive in 1910 and was deceased by the 1920 census, but she wasn't living with Cruz in 1910 -- so where was she? I think I may have found her in the 1910 Census in Guardarraya, Patillas, Puerto Rico living with a Juan Carrasquillo and their seven children, the last being a step-daughter named Amalia Rodríguez! It is interesting to note that this Luisa was noted as "N" for negra (colored). In her daughter's marriage record in 1919, it listed the mother as Luisa Rodríguez, de raza de color (of the colored race).

Luisa Rodríguez - 1910 Census [Ancestry] 
Amalia Rodríguez - 1910 Census [Ancestry]

Since Juan and Luisa were listed as CC this would mean they were never married by the church and the children were most likely listed under Rodríguez since they were all natural children, just like Amalia was. I had searched the death records of Patillas for a Luisa Rodríguez Masantini or Luisa Masantini and had no luck finding anything, the years I searched were from 1910-1920 since I knew she was deceased when her daughter married in 1919 to Julio Correa.  

Recently, in preparation for this post I began to look through some of my old documents and I came across an image of a baptism I had discovered in the Patillas church records. The record was a baptism for a Amalia Rodríguez in either 1895-1896, the daughter of a Luisa Rodríguez. This matches the date from the 1910 census record! In this record however the grandparents are listed as Dionisio Rodríguez and Francisca Laboy – no mention of a Masantini! Could this Luisa Rodríguez Laboy be the same Luisa Rodríguez, my 3rd great grandmother?

I decided to further research Luisa Rodríguez Laboy, could I find more evidence to plead a stronger case? I checked the 1910 Census records for a Luisa Rodríguez Laboy living in Patillas, PR. I found one living with a Guillermo Laboy but it seems she was alive in 1930 and no Amalia daughter was listed. I searched the death records from 1910-1920 in Patillas for a Luisa Rodríguez Laboy this time. I ended up finding the death record of Luisa Rodríguez Laboy in 1913, daughter of Dionicio Rodríguez and María F. Laboy (written that way in the death record). She is listed as single and twenty-five y/o (I think the age is off by a few years, it doesn't mention how the person who declared her death is related to her). 

Luisa Rodríguez Laboy - Defunción 1913 [FamilySearch]

I have researched this Luisa's line but I have no clue if she is my 3rd great grandmother. So far, there are a few pieces of evidence that help support my case: 1) This Luisa had a daughter named Amalia born in Patillas in the same timeframe my 2nd great grandmother was born, 2) She died in the same timeframe as my Luisa Rodríguez, 3) Was classified as the same race and around the same age as my 3rd great grandmother, and 4) Wasn't married like my 3rd great grandmother. Hopefully this is her, but I won't know for sure until I find a few more pieces of evidence. If this is her then it makes me question where the surname Masantini originated from. I haven't researched Dionisio's side of the family yet so who knows if it's hidden in there somewhere! 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Cultural Exchange: The Italian Challenge, From Italia to Puerto Rico

So, a few good moons ago I challenged myself by searching a German family named Hess Klinger that had arrived to Puerto Rico. While searching for my family in Salinas I came across an Italian family and decided to challenge myself to finding more about their background. I had some experience with Italian records but primarily with Sicilian records. Despite not knowing Italian, the use of my Spanish and Google Translate took me a long way. 

Italia! [Google]

It started with finding the death certificate of Carmen Elena Mugno in Salinas. She passed away at the age of 23 (my current age!) and was naturally from Santa Isabel, but her parents and grandparents were from Italy. So I got interested and started poking around some more. I ended up finding her birth certificate in Santa Isabel which I hoped would point to the towns of origin in Italy for her parents and grandparents. The certificate did just that! Her father, Vicente Mugno Delisa, came forth to declare her birth - the record mentions that he was a native of Padula, Italy. His wife was named Rosalia Marotta Canello, and she was a native of San Giovanni a Piro, Italy. Turns out that both of these towns are communes of the province of Salerno in the region of Campania. The record also goes on to mention that her paternal grandparents were Carmen Mugno and Carmen Delisa, also natives of Italy, yet he was widowed and living in Italy while the maternal grandparents were José Marotta Marotta and Dominga Canello Petrilli, also natives of Italy but living in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. I decided to turn to FamilySearch to see what else I could dig up from Padula and San Giovanni a Piro.

Carmen Elena Mugno - Defunción [FamilySearch]
Carmen Elena Mugno Delisa- Nacimiento [FamilySearch]

I first turned to the town of Padula to see if I could find the birth record of Vicente Mugno Delisa born there in the mid-1800s. Since they were Italian, I had to be on the look out for the Italian version of their names- therefore, instead of Vicente, I would be looking for a Vincenzo Mugno. I ended up finding Vincenzo Mugno's birth record on the 15th of September 1867 (if my Italian reading is correct), stating that his parents were Carmine Mugno and Carmela de Lisa, matching what we have in Puerto Rico! (again, Carmen= Carmine and Carmen= Carmela). It also states that Carmela de Lisa (aged thirty five) was the daughter of Andrea de Lisa, while Carmine Mugno (aged forty) was the son of the deceased Nicola Mugno. With this new information I wanted to try and dig deeper and see what else I could find.

Padula, Salerno, Campania, Italia [Google Maps]

I tried to see if I could find out more about Carmine's father Nicola Mugno. I ended up surprising myself by finding Nicola Mugno's marriage record in 1810 to Eduvigia Breglia. Here is the document below with a transcription and translation of the text: 

Nicola Mugno- Matrimonio [FamilySearch]

Oggi che sone li due del mese di Gennaio presente anno mille ottocento dieci, ad ore ventiquattro. Avanti di noi incaricato del registro degli atti degli stato sono comparso Nicola Mugno, minore, cioè di anni diciannove de professione negoziante, naturale e domiciliato in Padula strada os? Croce, figlio di mastro? Carmine Mugno calzolaio e Marianna Padrone, ed Eduvigia Breglia, minore cioè d'ani sedici contadina, domiciliata in Padula strada Spirito Santo figlia di Felicano Breglia benestante, e Giuseppa Bricaza. 

 On the 2nd of January of the present year 1810, before us those in charge of the registry of this state, appeared Nicola Mugno, minor, of 19 years of age, merchant, native and domiciled in Padula, son of master? Carmine Mugno shoemaker and Marianna Padrone, and Eduvigia Breglia, minor of 16 years of age, peasant, domiciled in Padula, daughter of Felicano Breglia, well-off and Giuseppa Bicaza. 

Definitely very interesting information! It seems that Carmine Mugno, son of Nicola Mugno was named after his grandfather Carmine Mugno (it is/was common in Italy for the firstborn male to receive the name of the paternal grandfather, meaning Carmine could have been Nicola's firstborn son). I haven't delved too much further into the Mugno and De Lisa families but I know there must be more information to be found there in the records!

The next stop was San Giovanni a Piro to find the Marotta and Canello family. Like I had mentioned before, both are areas of Salerno, so actually not too far from one another. 

I knew that José Marotta and his wife Dominga Canello were both born in San Giovanni a Piro and that their daughter Rosalia was born there as well. They also had a son named Francisco who was born about 1876 so I knew that they had to have married before then (by 1910, only 2 of their 7 children were alive). I searched for a marriage certificate mentioning Giuseppe Marotta and Domenica Canello (remember to always search for the names in their native language!)

I ended up finding a marriage record for Giuseppe Marotta and Domenica CARIELLO, which seems to be the original spelling of "Canello" which we find in Puerto Rico. They were married in 1874 and the record gives us some new information as well. It mentions that Giuseppe was born to a padre incerto e Rosalia Marotta. This means that the father was unknown and his mother was Rosalia Marotta, this would explain why he appears with the doubled surname Marotta Marotta in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. His wife Domenica Cariello was the daughter of fu Francesco Antonio Cariello e della vivente Maria Petrillo (the deceased Francesco Antonio Cariello and the living Maria Petrillo). Here we see how some of the surnames took a new spelling in Puerto Rico Cariello<Canello and Petrilli<Petrillo. Giuseppe would have been born around 1854 while Domenica was born around 1851, these years don't have records available on FamilySearch and since I found Rosalia's parents marriage record I didn't put that much of an effort to find Rosalia's birth certificate. 

Italy and Puerto Rico [Google Maps]

I think it's amazing that these two families from Padula and San Giovanni a Piro found their way to Puerto Rico, these small pockets of culture add to the overall "Puerto Ricanness" we have on the island.  San Giovanni a Piro's current population is near 4,000 while Padula's is near 6,000; I imagine that back in the early 1800s the numbers were probably maybe even smaller than that but no higher I imagine. I wonder how the transition from Italy to Puerto Rico would have been for them. I also wonder if there are more Marotta and Mugno descendants around Puerto Rico as well. If so, I hope they find this page and learn more about their Italian connection! Ciao!

Friday, May 2, 2014

52 Ancestors – #18 Dionisia González Padilla (1892-1918)

Today's ancestress, my 2nd great grandmother, Dionisia González Padilla is a very interesting ancestor because her death was very different than most of my other ancestors. Dionisia died fairly young at about the age of 26 and it was due to the 1918 Flu Pandemic.

Dionisia was born probably in the year 1892 in Lares, Puerto Rico where she lived the entirety of her life. Since she was actually born out of wedlock most of the times she just appears as "Dionisia González". Her parents never officially married and had been together for 19 years when the 1910 census was taken; her mother Antonia González passed on her surname while her father's surname José Padilla, became the second surname on the few documents she appears on.

Lares, Puerto Rico Flag [Google]

Dionisia lived in the barrio of Río Prieto with her parents and five siblings (three were full siblings, and two were half-siblings from her father). According to the census record they lived on rented land and the entire family was unable to read or write - none of the children were attending school as well.

Río Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico [Google]

A year after the census was taken my 2nd great grandmother would marry José Avilés Magraner, also a resident of Río Prieto, Lares (and also a son born out of wedlock). They would marry on the 22nd of July 1911 in Lares, Puerto Rico. From their marriage, Dionisia would mother four children: Pedro, Rosalia, Pedro, and Natalia. The first Pedro Avilés González passed away at only three months old from bronquitis aguda [acute bronchitis]. 

Dionisia would shortly pass away on the 10th of December 1918 from Influenza. What is interesting is that during this time there was a pandemic occurring which infected more than 500 million people across the world making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. (Wikipedia) Something interesting that the Wikipedia articles states is that: 

"Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients; in contrast the 1918 pandemic predominantly killed previously healthy young adults. Modern research, using virus taken from the bodies of frozen victims, has concluded that the virus kills through a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body's immune system). The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups." (Wikipedia). 

Affected Soldiers in Fort Riley, Kansas [Wikipedia]

I imagine that Dionisia was a part of the healthy young adult group, she would have been around the age of 26 and was raising four children, the youngest Natalia born in November of 1917. I wonder how Dionisia got the virus, who would she have caught it from? The Wikipage states that with the introduction of modern travel, the virus was easier to spread amongst people. Also, the movement of sailors, soldiers, and civilian travelers was a factor in the worldwide spread. It seems that Dionisia died from the second wave of Influenza (also known as the Spanish Flu) which began in August of 1918 and had mutated to a much deadlier form.  

It was possible to survive the influenza and I wonder if José had introduced the flu due to an interesting piece of information on Dionisia's death certificate. Throughout all of José's life he was listed as farmer or laborer on a farm, yet on Dionisia's death record he reported a different profession. The record listed José Avilés as a widower, of the military profession, native of Lares Puerto Rico, living on the street Camp. "Las Casas" in San Juan. 

Death Record 1918 - Dionisia González [FamilySearch]

There is no family lore of José serving in the military (there is however lore that his Spanish father was a soldier), the record even goes on to state that José: was twenty eight years old, white, widower, a soldier in the Company L. No. 374 Camp. "Las Casas"… When and why did José head to San Juan to become a soldier? What's so interesting is that there is a Company Number and everything! Did he temporary look for work as a soldier in San Juan, return to Lares because he was sick and ended up passing it onto his wife? Two years later he is living again in Río Prieto with his brother, sister-in-law, their children, and José's own children. He is employed on a coffee farm as a celador or "watchman/guard". Apparently Camp. Las Casas was the main training base of the "Porto Rican Regiment of Infantry".  I actually just found his name in a book titled "Historia de la guerra del Mundo" by Frank Herbert Simonds.

Company L, Regiment 374 [Google Books]

Looking at his 1917 WWI Draft Registration Card, it states that he has a wife, and a daughter (3 y/o) and son (1 y/o) who solely depend on him (thus if I am correct granting him exclusion from serving). Again he is listed as working on a farm this time with a Ramón Magraner (this name is driving me ABSOLUTELY insane since Magraner is his paternal surname yet no Ramón is recorded living in Lares in either the 1910 or 1920 censuses!!)

WWI Registration Card - José Avilés [Ancestry]

I don't know if José would have introduced the virus to his wife or if it was another person from the town. (Lares is a small mountain town towards the central-west and I don't know how much travel there would have been in 1918). I can't even imagine what José would have felt, he himself was about 27 years old when his wife died and was left with three small children all under the age of 5.

Since Dionisia passed away so early on I have no pictures of her. At that time the family was too poor to afford the luxury of getting photos taken or even affording a camera. It is always interesting to view the lives of my ancestors, but when things tie my ancestors to historical events it is so much more interesting. Digging through some old emails I found some information on the Regiment 374 which José would have been a part of: "In June 1918, the 373rd, 374th, and the 375th, were created. The Puerto Rico Regiment of Infantry provided the cadre for the three. The units were trained in Puerto Rico and ready for overseas deployment when the war ended. All were inactivated in January 1919." What if José would have stayed in Camp. Las Casas, what if he was drafted to war and served overseas? Would Dionisia have lived a longer life? Too many questions I can't even begin to answer from 96 years ago!