Monday, November 17, 2014

52 Ancestors – #43 Blasina Pérez Vásquez (1850-1945)

Playing my favorite game once again -- the catch up game! Since I've been traveling around Spain most of the weekends (which I truly enjoy), I haven't been able to dedicate as much time to these final few posts. And since my finals are coming up, what better way to procrastinate than to write blog post?! Today I'll be focusing on my 3rd great grandmother Blasina Pérez Vásquez.

Flag of Corozal, PR [Google]
Blasina was most likely born in the town of Corozal, Puerto Rico around 1850. Corozal as most of you know by now is a town very close to Toa Alta which shares historical ties with it. Blasina was the daughter of Alejandro Pérez Lozada and Martina Vásquez Fuentes, interestingly Alejandro was born in Corozal in 1812 and Martina in Toa Alta in 1813. Alejandro is one of the few ancestors who I have been able to document (thanks to a cousin!) being actually born in Corozal. A lot of my ancestors that were born in Corozal were born in the 1830s-1850s+ which means that those records aren't accessible online (just yet!).

Corozal, Puerto Rico [Google]

According to the 1910 Census, Blasina and her husband Buenaventura Ortiz Rivera would have been married around the year 1869 and most likely in Corozal seeing as they lived in their entire lives there until their respective deaths. They lived specifically in the barrio of Palos Blancos which is definitely on my list of places I want to visit in Puerto Rico (and boy is that list long!). So far I have been able to document 10 children in total for Buenaventura and Blasina, potentially there are a few more hiding around in the records but so far these are the ones I have documented. Their son, Martin Ortiz Pérez was my 2nd great grandfather.

Seeing that Blasina was born around 1850 and she lived until 1945, we can for sure say that Blasina had a long life (yay longevity genes!). From what he have, she technically passed away somewhere mid 90s but also possibly her late 80s if her birth year was guesstimated wrongly (which is very possible!). From the census records we can learn a bit more about Blasina's life. For example, we know that in 1910 she was listed as 'mulatto' and married for 41 years having given birth to 11 children all who were still alive in 1910 (so it seems I'm missing one child on my list!). She along with Buenaventura were unable to read or write but it seems that Buenaventura owned the farm he worked on which is pretty cool to see; and it says he worked for himself! Similarly in 1920 we see that Blasina is still illiterate and listed as 'mulatto', I don't expect Blasina to suddenly pick up the ability to read and write but it's important to look because you never know!

By the 1930 census, Blasina would have been widowed for 5 years since Buenaventura died in 1925. I'm not sure how inheritance of property works in Puerto Rico but it seems that she was able to claim the land and was listed as the owner of the farm and that she herself worked the land! Amazingly and awesomely, because I don't know how often you see it, my 3rd great grandmother appears in the 1935 Agricultural Schedule with the land she owned! Interestingly, her race is listed as "white" in this record and that the land she owned has been in use since 1915, which there might be a discrepancy seeing has how the land they had was being used since at least 1910. It also states she had 3 cuerdas (a little over 3 acres) the worth of $150, which I imagine back in 1935 was a good amount of land/worth to own! The form unfortunately is a bit blurry so I can't make out all the details on the page too clearly, but it seems that she grew corn on the land amongst other things.

5. Color o raza: "M" for mulatto [FamilySearch]

Interestingly in the 1940, just 5 years before her passing, Blasina was still in possession of the land. Here her race is changed to "col", which in 1940 was used for negro y mixto (black and mixed), which to me means her color was dark enough to be considered non-white by the census taker. Yet interestingly when it came to owning land she was listed as "blanca" (white). Blasina and Buenaventura's race has always been an interesting topic for me. Blasina in her death record is listed as 'm' for mulatto but in Buenaventura's we see a reference to Indio which I have talked about before. I imagine they both had a mestizo/mixed complexion which gave them the identity of indio, mulato, mixto depending on the record and year.

I wonder what happened to the land they owned in Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico. Usually when a piece of land is owned and the owner dies, the plot gets divided into the children and they decide whether to keep the plot or sell it. With many children/descendants moving into San Juan, usually the property was sold and with that money they could invest in a home/place to live in San Juan. Between 11 children (and/or their descendants) I imagine they didn't get too much but I also can't be too sure what happened. Many some decided to live on the land and then later moved on? Or one sibling decided to care for the land him or herself? It would be awesome to find the land they lived on (at least the general area) or potentially even records that might point to more information of how they acquired the land, who bought it/passed it on, etc.

I have been in contact with one or two other descendants of Buenaventura and Blasina and it seems that their descendants also moved out of Palos Blancos and into other areas. With the industrialization of the island after the United States acquired the land, more jobs could be found in bigger cities and many families decided to give up their previous lives of agriculture and farming. Nonetheless, it would be nice to visit Palos Blancos and Corozal in general and see if I can find some remnants of their land, the plot, or even some cousins who could lead the way! 

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