Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Travel Tuesday – Sóller, Mallorca

This post will be about my visit to the island of Mallorca, specifically about the town of Sóller, where the Magraner family originally came from before arriving to Río Prieto, Lares, Puerto Rico. I came to Sóller to learn more about Damián Magraner Morell and his life before and after Puerto Rico. I believe that Damián is possibly my 3rd great grandfather on my paternal side of the family.

I headed to Sóller from Palma on the touristic train hoping to catch some views of the island as I headed to the northern town of Sóller. Every time I visit a town where my ancestors lived there's a weird feeling of euphoria. Not only because I am visiting a new place, but because of this deeper connection with the town. Knowing that an ancestor lived their lives in a certain town, gives new meaning and appreciation to being able to travel there. One of my first views as I stepped off the train and towards the main square was the church of Sant Bartomeu, where Damián would have been baptized circa 1846.

Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu [Personal Photo]

While in Sóller I was able to learn more about Damián's life; he served as mayor for two years in the mid-1880s and was able to learn that he passed away in 1910. I was fortunate to see the "padrones" showing him and his family in Sóller. Since two of his sons traveled to Puerto Rico in 1911, they listed their mother's address in Sóller allowing me to easily find them listed by their address. Also, since the address still exists I was able to visit the street and the houses they would have lived in. I was told the addresses could have moved up or down one house since 1910, but generally they were in that same vicinity. Here is a picture below of the house(s) which were listed in Damián's death certificate where they would have been living since about 1880. I asked in the supermarket across the street if there was a Magraner family here in these houses but I was told the houses were currently being rented out.

Calle Sant Jaume [Personal Photo]

I also headed to the cemetery in search of Damián's tomb since the archives don't have him listed, most of their records start after his death and so there is no evidence of where exactly he would be buried though he is buried there. I walked around the cemetery looking for any Damiáns or Magraner tombs and I couldn't find many that really that tied into my family. I was, however, lucky to find the tomb of a Nicólas Magraner Morell, most likely the brother of Damián. Unfortunately, it doesn't list who else from his family is buried in the plot but it was nice to see at least one person's tomb. Here are pictures of the view as I walked up towards the cemetery (absolutely amazing!) and a picture of the tomb itself. 

View near the cemetery [Personal Photo]

Tomb of Nicólas Magraner Morell [Personal Photo]


Even though I learned a lot more about Damián, his family, and his life in Sóller I am still unsure of his connection and whether or not he is my third great grandfather. Damián spent some time coming back and forth between Puerto Rico and Sóller and so knowing whether or not he was officially in Puerto Rico to be José's and Lorenzo's father is a bit difficult. He was listed as living in Puerto Rico around 1887, but there is no proof (that I know of) that he was there in the years of 1891 and 1894. We do know that Damián would eventually return to Sóller, helping the town during the time of the Spanish-American War. In Palma, I tried to retrieve Damián's last testament/will to see if there was any mention of land being given to a José Avilés, but unfortunately I would have to prove my connection to Damián via a paper trail in order to see his will. Which, as we know, would be impossible since I am basing this on family lore, information from census records, and coincidences (which don't sound like too much to rely on really!)

Recently, while looking at the 1910 and 1920 census records and José Avilés' WWI Registration Card I was able to finally figure out who the "Ramón Magraner" on his WWI card was! It seems that there was a mistake on various WWI cards for a "Ramón/Raimundo Rullán Pons", who was the administrator of a coffee farm. Ramón Rullán Pons was living with Damián in the late 1880s and it is highly likely that he was working on the Hacienda Margarita de Magraner, which belonged to the Magraner Morell siblings -- Damián being one of them. So we know that José and Lorenzo did work on Damián's lands before owning their own; which helps to establish a connection between both families. 

While I was in Sóller, I began to think a bit more of Damián and the probabilities of him being my 3rd great-grandfather. It seems that Damián held some sort of status in Sóller: he helped build the Banc de Sóller, was mayor for 2 years, and probably held other positions before his death. If Damián truly was the father of José and Lorenzo, I think there were little odds back then for him to recognize his illegitimate children. Imagine a man of status and married, accepting these two children as his own -- there would have been much stir in Lares, Puerto Rico and Sóller, Mallorca about his relationship with a Puerto Rican woman and would have probably been scandalous. As we know, many of our ancestors did things that either were unearthed then or are being unearthed now by us genealogists. If I were able to establish a firm connection to Damián I really don't know how the Magraner family would react to this. Did the family know about it? Could the descendants already be informed about potential Puerto Rican cousins? Hopefully I'll be able to answer these questions one day and the million others surrounding my ancestors! 

I hope to return to Sóller one day and do more research. I would love to visit during the summer and stay a month to learn and research more about the Magraner family. Hopefully I'll able able to find some descendants of Damián and see my theory proven or disproven, and I'm really hoping for the former! 


  1. Amazing post. What a blessing, I can't help but too feel like he is related to you. I kind of hope he is now that you've learned so much about him. Hope you find more answers & then post an update later on.

  2. Love that you asked at the shop across the street. One of the things which strikes me about your blog is that you plant your feet in the soil when you can--you go beyond the Internet and make it interpersonal not only for yourself but for anyone reading your blog. I really connect with the human element--the thrill of stepping into a location where an ancestor would have worked, walked, laughed...that's good stuff.

    1. Thank you Brian, I really appreciate the comment! I definitely enjoy the part where after putting so many hours into paper genealogy, I can finally become a part of it by visiting the place the person lived, especially this specific ancestor who lived so far away in Mallorca. Hopefully, one day soon I'll be able to visit all the towns of my ancestors in Puerto Rico as well!