Sunday, March 1, 2015

52 Ancestors – #48 Nicodemus Vélez Ríos (1878-1934)

I unfortunately never got to finish the 52 ancestors series before the end of 2014, with traveling around Europe and getting back into the swing of things here in Spain I haven't really been able to write new blog posts. But hopefully I'll be able to finish up the 52 Ancestors Challenge and write new posts I have been waiting to write for a bit now. Today I want to focus on Nicodemus, my 2nd great grandfather.

Nicodemus Vélez Ríos at first was a hard ancestor to track, in most records he appeared as "Nicodemo" and I only knew he was "Vélez" but no maternal surname. With some more researching and digging around I was able to learn more about his life. Nicodemus was born in the barrio of Guayabo Dulce in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. His parents were José Severo Vélez Sepúlveda and Ana Ríos González. Both sides of Nicodemus' family seem to come mainly from the towns of Mayagüez and San Sebastián. Luckily, some of his lines have been traced back to the early 1600s and to Spain by previous genealogists.

In 1906, Nicodemus would marry his wife Domitila Mercado Cruz, and at the time of their wedding Nicodemus would have been 28 years old while Domitila would have been only 15 years old. I'm not too sure why there was such an age gap between them, maybe Domitila's parents wanted to marry their daughter off into a well-to-do family (which from my research seems to be the story behind Nicodemus' family) or potentially Nicodemus fell in love and asked for her hand in marriage. I would need to read up more on Puerto Rican marriage and family ties throughout the island's history to better grasp their situation. Nicodemus and Domitila would have a TON of children, so far I have been able to count up to about 19 children in total… which is a humongous family!

By 1910, Nicodemus was married with Domitila and living in a rented home working as a majordomo on a coffee farm; he was unable to read or write. The family spent a lot of time moving back and forth from Utuado and Adjuntas seeing as how in 1910 they were living in Utuado but in 1918 he was working for Alfredo Palmieri in Adjuntas, in the 1920 census he would still be listed with his family in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Throughout his life, Nicodemus mainly worked on coffee farms and never owned land of his own.

Nicodemus would pass away in the barrio of Juan González in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico in the year 1934. I had a really hard time finding his death certificate since I didn't know if he had died in Adjuntas or Utuado but finally I was able to track it down in Adjuntas. His cause of death was listed as "nefritis crónica" which is an inflammation of the kidneys and can be caused by toxins and infections. He and his wife died fairly young -- Nicodemus aged 55 and Domitila at the age of 48.

I didn't really grow up knowing too much about the Vélez family and most of the information I have learned is through genealogical searching, for example that Bernardina Sepúlveda (Nicodemus' grandmother) had owned slaves. I would like to learn more about this family and how things economically seemed to have changed for them within two generations. So far the Vélez family has been traced back to the mid-1700s in San Sebastián. I would love to learn about the paternal haplogroup of the Vélez family and see if I can trace them further back in Puerto Rico.

With 18 siblings for my great grandfather, I can only imagine that I have a ton of Vélez cousins spread around Puerto Rico and most likely the USA -- hopefully I can find some of them! 

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