Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Emigration/ Migration / Immigration (Book of Me -- Prompt 43)

I bumped into this topic from the Geneabloggers emails which posts prompts (amongst other links) from a blog by Anglers Rest. Pretty much the prompts are created for you to fill out, that way you are building up some genealogical information about yourself as well! I think it's a great idea, especially since we focus so much on the past that sometimes we forgot -- one day we'll be a part of that past! And prompt #43 is a great prompt for me for many reasons, so I decided to give it a go!

Here are the questions for the prompt. I've reorganized a bit to my liking since I want to tackle them in a certain way. 
  1. Have you ever lived overseas from your place of birth? Would you want to? Could you?
  2. Did your ancestors or even a more recent generation?
  3. Do you feel akin to another country from that in which you were born?
  4. If so have you found any ancestral links in your research that perhaps explains those feelings?
The process of emigration, migration, or immigration have always been completely interesting to me -- And I think mostly because my parents are Puerto Rican. When they came to this country they technically weren't "immigrations", yet a lot of the experiences we share are those of "immigrants" (The language barrier, custom/cultural differences, etc.). I never saw my family as immigrants but more so as emigrants. Yet, I can't fathom the courage it takes to uproot your family (or yourself) and completely move away from everything you know, love, and cherish. 

I've experienced living abroad through my experiences from study abroad. I was able to spend a semester in Yaroslavl, Russia as an exchange student. And those four months changed my outlook on life completely. Being disconnected from the outside world (barely any internet to Skype back home properly) and the complete change of culture and language was definitely hard on me. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Russia yet I had the luxury of emails, Facebook, and occasionally Skype. I can't imagine how my mom came here at the age of 18 and her only communication with her own mother was through the occasional phone call and letters (and she 'migrated' in the late 1980s). I definitely think living abroad (even for just a short period of time) definitely makes you a stronger, more independent, and just overall livelier person. Now with my next adventure of living abroad on the way, I'm excited to compare and contrast how living abroad in Spain will be to Russia. Obviously, language, locality of country, and similarities in culture will play a huge role in my "easing" into the country but I wonder how easy it will be in Spain. I actually didn't suffer from culture shock in Russia but will I in Spain? 

Before my parents coming to the USA, pretty much every generation dating back to the 1800s/mid 1700s had been living in Puerto Rico. I can't imagine the jump from (A) to (B) being easy, both in the case of A being Puerto Rico and B being the United States. But also the jump of A being Spain and B being the new territory of Puerto Rico. Did the fears and concerns my family had in the 1980s mirror those of my ancestors in the 1600s/1700s? Leaving family and friends behind for a new land which they had only heard about through stories. 

My fourth great grandparents are currently super, über intriguing to me -- they immigrated (since they were crossing territories of countries) respectively from Guadeloupe and Martinique. I can't even begin to imagine their journey from a land of French/Créole to that of Spanish. A least when I went to Russia I had an idea of what Russian sounded like; I could read, write, and speak in the language pretty well by the time I landed in Moscow. But what about Gustave Jean-Charles and Julienne Malvina Lautin? Where did they muster up the courage to travel from their home islands and make their way to Vieques (a small island of Puerto Rico on its eastern coast). Were they scared they wouldn't fit into the culture there? Had they heard such wonderful stories of Puerto Rico and its people that they had to see, experience, and live it for themselves? 

How well did they 'mold' into the culture when they first arrived and in their first years? Living on Vieques probably wasn't an issue, they must have known some other immigrant families settling themselves in the island. But were they nervous when the appeared before the church in 1869 to get married? Or when they had to baptize and register the birth of their children? Did Julienne whisper songs in créole to Paulina and Tomás as small children? Did she feel the need to preserve her Martinican traditions, words, and mannerisms? Did she lug them from Martinique to Vieques and finally to Río Jueyes, Salinas or did they stay behind in Rivière Salée?

I often wonder and worry that as time continues I'll begin to lose my "Puerto Rican-ness". That I won't teach my children Spanish, how to sing La Borinqueña, or share with them the traditions, customs, and superstitions my family passed down to me. (Never walk with one shoe off and one shoe on, it means you want your mother to die!). Yet, deep down I know (and hope) this won't happen. My ties to the island, my culture, and the way I was raised are too strong and too important to just let go. But yet I still worry -- did Julienne and Gustave feel the same way? In just three generations, it seems that the ability to speak French/ Créole was lost (my great grandfather being one of the few who I was told spoke French). Will three generations after me not care what their 4th great grandfather Luis Rivera talked and preached about culturally? 

Hopefully, living in abroad in Spain will give me some more insights. Remind what it is to be in a land that isn't your own (no matter how similar they might seem). I wish to learn more about the immigrants who came from El Puerto de Santa María, from Huelva, and from Pastrana and made their way to Puerto Rico. To learn the stories of those who came from unknown towns to the beautiful island of Borikén and settled there. To learn the stories of those who against the odds made the various towns of Puerto Rico their home, their nest, their humble abode. Did other people in my family move to Puerto Rico without knowing Spanish? Or maybe those of different religious backgrounds into a Catholic territory? 

I don't know where I'll end up -- where I ultimately will set up my own nest and home. But I do hope that wherever that may be (either here in the USA or else where), that I bring along my heavy yet important Puerto Rican bags. That I open them up, air out the contents inside, and let them breathe old yet new life into my home. That my children and grandchildren will run around saying "Bendición papi, bendición abuelo". That most importantly, they'll know and care what it feels like to be Puerto Rican. Because I know I definitely do!

Monday, June 23, 2014

52 Ancestors – #25 Juan Francisco Sánchez Flores (1855-1916)

I'm kind of late adding my 52 Ancestors post for the week, but not too late! Today, my post is about my  3rd great grandfather Juan Francisco Sánchez Flores.

When I first began to search for my 2nd great grandmother Anicasia Sánchez Arvelo, I knew pretty much nothing about her. Luckily, she appeared on the census along with her father, mother, and her husband. Francisco (sometimes he just went by his middle name) here was listed as Sánchez Martínez, and was listed that way in many other records.  Francisco is listed as being married for 25 years as of 1910, employed on a sugar farm and could not read or write.

Francisco Sánchez Flores – 1910 Census [Ancestry]

Juan Francisco Sánchez Flores is stated to be from Quebradillas, Puerto Rico. Quebradillas is located on the north-western shore of the island. The town was originally founded in 1823 by Felipe Ruiz; possibly Francisco's parents were one of the first inhabitants of the newly created town.

Quebradillas Flag [Google]

Quebradillas, Puerto Rico [Wikipedia]

It wasn't until I searched for Juan Francisco's children with his wife Juana Arvelo Vera, did I find new information both on him and his background. One of their daughters was born in 1892 in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico. On this record I was able to find out that Juan Francisco was actually surnamed Sánchez Flores and that his parents were Blás Sánchez Martínez and Micaela Flores Valentin. I was also able to learn that Juana Arvelo's parents were Manuel Arvelo and Luisa Vera. I was very excited when I bumped into that record in Utuado because for so many years I had known so little about Francisco and Juana. To date I have been able to track down five children: Marcelino, María Agustina, Anicasia, María Aurora, and María Francisca Paula Sánchez Arvelo.

The way this family moved around was very interesting (and also gave me headaches trying to track them down!). Records point to the families beginning in two different towns, Quebradillas (Juan Francisco's town of origin) and San Sebastián (Juana's town of origin). Now, instead of moving into one of their respective towns, one of their daughters was born in Adjuntas while another was born in Utuado. The family then in 1910 appears to be living in the barrio of Coto in the town of Manatí! That's five different towns in the span of 3 generations! Which I feel like isn't too common from the research I have done so far. Many families seemed to have decided to stay rooted in their towns of origin of jump one town over. Take a look below at all the different towns they were living in!

Migration around Puerto Rico [Google Maps]

So far I was able to find three siblings to Juan Francisco: a sister named Lorenza, another sister named Ruperta and a brother named Basilio. They, unlike Francisco, didn't go to far off -- Lorenza lived and passed away in Quebradillas, Ruperta passed away in Lares, and Basilio passed away in San Sebastián. Unfortunately, I don't know much else about Blás Sánchez and Micaela Flores. I only know that they were deceased by the year 1887 according to records, both seemed to have died in Quebradillas. I hope to one day visit Quebradillas and San Sebastián and poke my head around the towns, discover their respective histories, and how my family ties into them. Hopefully I'll get to learn more about Blás and Micaela along the way as well!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ancestry.com Introduces the Puerto Rican Civil Registry

Puerto Rican Civil Registry [Ancestry]

Recently, Ancestry released the Puerto Rico Civil Registry within their records. Even though I have been using these records for five years now, the Ancestry version of these records allowed me to something I was previously unable to do: Search records by a inputting names, places, and dates option like most of their records. I was skeptical at first that it would work. Could Ancestry really have most of these records cataloged and searchable when even FamilySearch doesn't? I was happy that my answer was YES, it was very possible and real. Ancestry also released a guide to using the Puerto Rican records which is extremely helpful for those who might not speak Spanish as a first language but would love to delve right in to using the records. 

Puerto Rican Record and Research Guides [Ancestry]

I was blown away with the records I was able to find in under 10 mins flat. I was able to find: a great grandfather's death record, his infant son's death record, my 4th great grandfather's from Guadeloupe death record, and a pair of 3rd great grandparents' death records from my maternal side (I probably found a couple more but these were the biggest finds). Some of these records I had searched high and low for YEARS trying to find their records within the towns we thought they died in. For example, my 3rd great grandmother actually died in Guaynabo and not Cataño as we previously thought and her husband in Vega Baja and not in Manatí. My 4th great grandfather from Guadeloupe, Gustave Jean Charles actually died in Ponce in 1891 and I had thought he had died in Salinas with clues from other records. 

Last weekend, I did a marathon search for probably six hours straight researching my own family lines as well as collateral ones. What is great about this search is that if you type in both parents' names but no first name for the child, you could potentially find new family members. For example, I wanted to see if my grandfather Felipe Rivera Ortiz had any other siblings of which I had no idea of. I typed in "Rivera Ortiz" into the search bar for the surname and then added "Alejandro Rivera" as the father and "Mercedes Ortiz" as the mother, then I could parse through the results and see who matched the information I placed. Check out the results below: 

Searching Rivera Ortiz siblings [Ancestry]
Rivera Ortiz Siblings [Ancestry]

From the the top 10 results, here you can see that 7 of them were right on the money. Since I wasn't raised with my grandfather, I didn't have a full list of his siblings either living or deceased. I had information here and there from what family members knew, but from this list I was able to add another five siblings which I didn't know previously existed. Unfortunately, many of them died shortly after birth for various versions from malnutrition or stomach issues such as gastroenteritis. These search options allowed me to extend my family a bit more and really learn more about my great grandparents. It seems that during their first years together in La Perla and in San Juan things were rough since many of their children didn't make it to adulthood, probably from the difficult economic times they were facing. Even though I don't have stories from my grandfather, I was able to get a peak into the life of my paternal family. 

I am super grateful for Ancestry's upload of these records and I know that it will only get better from here. I'm still searching for some records and definitely won't stop until I have them in my hands! I actually just found my great grandfather's death certificate as I write this post just by playing around with the search options! Which you occasional have to do to find the record you are looking for, especially if something was spelled incorrectly or written wrong with the record or transcription into Ancestry. 

These records on Ancestry have given me more life and also has many my subscription to Ancestry much, much more meaningful! And I did't think I'm the only Puerto Rican that feels that way! Thanks again Ancestry, now to just wait for those church records and I'll be the happiest camper of them all! :)  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

52 Ancestors – #24 Juana Negrón Chéverez (1820-1920)

Juana Negrón Chéverez was my 4th great grandmother through my paternal side of the family. Juana is the woman from which my great grandmother, Mercedes Ortiz Marrero, receives her maternal haplogroup. Here is what I know about Juana!

Corozal, Puerto Rico [Google]
Juana Negrón Chéverez was either born in one of two towns, Corozal or Toa Alta. She is from the part of my family that migrated towards Corozal as the town separated from Toa Alta. I'm guessing she was born in Corozal because I haven't been able to find her in the baptismal records of Toa Alta. According to her death record, she was born about the 1820s. She could have been born a little early than that or maybe a little later, she I don't have a birth or baptismal record for Juana I can't be certain of how old she was when she died. Her death certificate says she was 100 years old and died on the 11th of November 1920 in Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico. A lot of my family lived in the barrios of Palos Blancos, Dos Bocas, and Palmarejo, which lie on the western side of Corozal -- closer to Toa Alta and even Naranjito.

Juana Negrón Chéverez was the legitimate daughter of Juan Negrón and María Chéverez. The surname Chéverez has always been of an interest to me and also appears on my mother's side of the family - from the Toa Alta/Corozal area as well. The surname is sometimes associated with Taíno natives, such as Varin Chéverez Chéverez who was said to be a full-bloodied Taíno Indian from the town of Morovis. I'm not sure how many full-bloodied natives there were after the original population began to dwindle once the Spanish arrived. I do, however, know that the Taíno are being kept alive through our DNA and our maternal haplogroups. Juana Negrón Chéverez carried a native haplogroup from her mother María Chéverez and is still being passed down today to descendants of Juana Negrón Chéverez.

Juana Negrón Chéverez at one point, probably in Corozal, married her husband Juan/José Monserrate Marrero. I have been able to trace so far four of their children: María, Rosa, Casimira, and María del Carmen. I am a descendant from Rosa Marrero Negrón. Her husband must have passed away before 1885 according to many of the records I have found, which means that Juana Negrón Chéverez lived many years as a widow without her husband (a little over 35 years!)

Juana's long life means that she was able to see the island of Puerto Rico go from a Spanish colony to that of a U.S. territory. She would have been around her 70s when the island was handed over and she then she lived another 22 years under United States rule. I would have loved to hear her stories of being under both Spanish and American rulings of the island. I can't wait to start collecting stories from the older generations about living in Puerto Rico! 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

52 Ancestors – #23 Manuel Santos Marrero (1814-????)

My 23rd post will focus on my 5th great grandfather Manuel Santos Marrero. Manuel is from my mother's side of the family and finding him was interesting for a few reasons. At first, when I began to trace the Santos family, I started with my my 2nd great grandfather who was born in Morovis. His mother was apparently also from Morovis, but his grandfather was from Corozal. Since my 4th great grandfather José María Santos Avilés was from Corozal and born about the late 1830s-1840s, I knew that Manuel Santos Marrero was probably from Toa Alta. I was able to find Manuel's baptism record in Toa Alta.

Manuel Santos Marrero was born on the 26th of September 1814 and later baptized on the 10th of October of the same year. His godparents were Anselmo Colón and Rosalia Marrero. Very possibly Rosalia is related to Manuel through his mother, Bernarda Marrero -- possibly an aunt to Manuel. Manuel's parents were Antonio Santos/de los Santos and his wife Bernarda Marrero. He would have most likely been born at home and later taken to San Fernando Rey to be baptized. The church began its construction in 1752 and was finished by 1826, meaning that when Manuel was baptized the church was somewhere in its construction phase. I really want to visit this church someday!

Parroquia San Fernando Rey–Toa Alta, Puerto Rico [Google]

What's interesting to me is that Manuel was from Toa Alta, which is the town my paternal side of the family predominately comes from (via my Rivera family). When I found out that Manuel Santos Marrero was born in Toa Alta, I couldn't believe it! His family and my dad's ancestors were living in the same town in the late 1700s – early 1800s. The Marrero surname can be found in my family as recent as my great grandmother Mercedes Ortiz Marrero. My paternal 2nd great grandmother herself was surnamed Marrero Marrero and so I have two Marrero lines on that side of the family living in Toa Alta. Very possibly my parents could be related to one another through these families from Toa Alta. 

Manuel would marry Ferminia Avilés Pérez and have 5 children: José María (my 4th great grandfather), Carmen, Antonia, Clara, and Manuel. Ferminia herself also is from the town of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. I'm not sure whether Manuel and Ferminia would have married in Toa Alta or in the town of Corozal, Puerto Rico. It seems that all of their children were born in Corozal according to various records they appear on. 

Manuel himself was 1 of 9 siblings: Antonia, Francisca, Juan, María Josefa, Bartolome, Manuel (5th great grandfather), María Ramona, and Francisco. They themselves were all born in Toa Alta as well, the earliest birth occurring in 1802!

Until I'm able to access Corozal church records before 1885 I have a lot of information missing for certain ancestors pertaining to their births, marriages, and deaths. I have heard that you can view the books but you have to get permission from the church and obviously be in Corozal to view them. One day… one day!