Wednesday, August 20, 2014

52 Ancestors – #30 Pedro Fernández

It feels awesome to be back writing about my ancestors! I was a bit nervous at first that I would just get lazy and never get around to it, but I'm almost at the half way mark of the 52 Ancestor Challenge. This is definitely hard to keep up with, with the rest of live going on and what not -- but none the less I'm up to my 30th ancestor! This post will be about my 10th (woah!) great grandfather Pedro Fernández. If you notice, I didn't place a birth year and death year at the top and that's because I have no exact date for either (even the birth year is greatly estimated) but no fear, I'll post none the less!

One of my 10th great grandfather's via my maternal side of the family is Pedro Fernández. The only reason I have even a name for him is due to the help of other genealogists who have paved the way with hours and hours of research probably before I was even born! To them, I raise my (figurative) glass and can't thank them enough! Hopefully, one day I'll be able to do the same for the next generation of genealogists to come.

Pedro Fernández is one of my Spanish ancestors, literally -- he was born in Spain and later migrated to Puerto Rico. Pedro, from what we know, was born in a town called Pastrana located in the province of Guadalajara, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Manca in Spain (whew!). According to Wikipedia the town was especially important in the 16th and 17th century, around the time my ancestors would have been born there.

Pastrana, Guadalajara, España [Wikipedia]
Here is an aerial view of some of Pastrana. The town is only 95km from Madrid, which is very exciting because I'll be there in a few weeks and hope to visit Pastrana! Also according to wikipedia, the town's population is that of…1,054 (extremely small!). There are a few monuments and museums to visit in the town, so I think a day-trip will be sufficient to see most of the town. There's even a Palacio Ducal (The Spanish Wiki has more information) and there are Jewish and Arab quarters.

I'm not sure what drove Pedro Fernández and his wife Isabel Ruiz to find a new home; whether religious, political, or economic reasons both Pedro and Isabel (whether together or separately I'm not sure) left Pastrana and headed over to Puerto Rico somewhere in the mid-1600s. I'm also not sure how many generations the Fernández and Ruiz family was there, whether many or a few, but it seems they were ready to begin a new life somewhere new. My 9th great grandfather, who took on two completely different last names, was born about 1645 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. His name was Pedro Díaz Muñiz de Pastrana, and he was also an Alférez from what he know about him. According to Wikipedia (my best friend today), an Alférez was "in medieval Iberia, was a high-ranking official in the household of a king or magnate. The term is derived from the Arabic الفارس (al-fāris), meaning "horseman" or "cavalier", and it was commonly Latinised as alferiz or alferis". I'm not sure how or where he got the title from, seeing as how Pedro Jr. was born in Puerto Rico and not Spain.

Before, it wasn't necessary that a child had to take on either of the parents' surnames; if a grandfather or grandmother had a higher ranking surname by which the child could go by to get better footing in society, the parents could choose to give them that surname. I'm not sure if Díaz and Muñiz are paternal or maternal surnames but I'm guessing they held some sort of title or importance to the family. There is also the slim (yet possible) fact that Pedro and Isabel were trying to escape some sort of past in Spain, whether religious or political and didn't want their child involved or followed by those surnames. Both Fernández and Muñiz seem to be found heavily on the north-western side of Spain, so potentially my ancestors moved down from there into Pastrana.

I don't know how possible it is to get specific information on Pedro Fernández and Isabel Ruiz since they lived over 400+ years ago but I would love to know what kind of Spain they lived in, or rather how the town of Pastrana was set up and why they would want to leave. Who knows if there is a common descendant of the Fernández and Ruiz lines living amongst those 1,054 inhabitants. It's kind of surreal to think of a 10th great grandfather, because that is REALLY far removed from where I am today. If and when I step into the town of Pastrana, it will have been somewhere near/close to 370 years (a rough estimate passed around the time Pedro Díaz Muñiz was born in Arecibo) since that family left the town for good. How odd that will be to return and walk potentially the same streets they did. If and when (because I really want to) go I will definitely give another update on the town!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a great story & what a great trip you have coming up.