Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors – #27 Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez (1779-1819)

This post will focus on my maternal 6th great grandfather Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez.

Sebastián according to his death certificate would have been born around 1779 in Coamo, Puerto Rico. It was very exciting when I found his death certificate because Sebastián is part of a maternal line that took a VERY long time to crack, this line coming from my Correa ancestors. By the time Sebastián was born the town had already been founded for over a good 100 years. The town is located in a valley towards the center of the island and original was known as "San Blas Illescas de Coamo" to its first settlers.

Coamo, Puerto Rico [Wikipedia]

Iglesia San Blas de Illescas [Wikipedia]
Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez was the son of Donato Rodríguez and Prudencia Rodríguez. His death record states that he died in Coamo on the 29th of December 1819. His wife, María de Gracia Ruiz Sánchez was still alive at the time of his death. Together they had ten children (to date) and one of them, María de la Cruz Rodríguez Ruiz, was my 5th great grandmother.

There are a few interesting things to note about Sebastián: He was written as "pardo" on his death certificate. I have talked about this identity in records a while back and there are theories that pardo means a mix of Spanish and Taíno parents/ancestors. 

Also, there is a part that states: "...del Baño fue…" and literally that means "he was from the bathroom" (which was pretty hilarious to read at first). After some digging, I ended up finding out that he wasn't actually from a bathroom but likely from an area of Coamo known as "los Baños de Coamo". Los baños are actually the only thermal spring source on the island of Puerto Rico. Originally used by the natives, the springs were thought to have healing powers and eventually drew the interest of the Spanish to that area. Due to the attraction, a resort was built and incorporated the springs. 

According to Wikipedia: "According to local legend, the first governor of Puerto Rico Juan Ponce de León, heard about the healing powers of the Baños from the Taínos. Believing that the baths were the Fountain of Youth which he was seeking, Ponce de León asked where they were located, however he misunderstood the instructions given to him and instead headed by sea towards a new land which resulted in the discovery of Florida and his death". 

I'm not sure if that story is true or not of course but it's a pretty good story to tell! And even more interesting knowing that one of my ancestors lived in that area!

Here is a picture of the baños from Google Maps based on the coordinates. When you zoom in on Google Maps you can actually see the waters and the hotel/resort built around it. 

Los Baños de Coamo [Google Maps]

Besides that information, I don't know too much else about Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez. For example: could his parents have been cousins/distant cousins since they both share the surname Rodríguez and live in Coamo in the mid-1700s? Also, was Sebastián actually born in Coamo? I searched the church records of Coamo between 1778-1783 for a Sebastián Rodríguez Rodríguez and didn't come across anything. Could his family have been from a nearby town or the capital of San Juan? Also interesting that he is pardo, I have other ancestors with that racial categorization yet I haven't been able to find a Spanish ancestor on those lines since they are very old and the documents aren't readily available for many of the years. 

None the less, super interesting and I can't wait to find out more!!

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