Monday, August 17, 2015

Another Mystery Solved?

As you can tell by now I've been away for a while but I'm happy to say I have finally completed my last semester and I officially have my Master's degree! But enough about that, more importantly I am here to update something I have been searching for a LONG time now and I think I have finally come to the end of that search. I've had many searches and brickwalls throughout my genealogical years and some have been tough, for example like searching for my ancestors in Martinique and Guadeloupe. This mystery though has been with me since the beginning of my searches in 2004 and even from before when I was being told tales of my ancestors; but today (hopefully finally) I have written proof on the father of my ancestor José Avilés Magraner.

For those who have been reading for my blog (many thanks and I hope you are enjoying my posts!) you know by know the mystery that surrounds José Avilés' father. And for those of you who don't a quick recap: José was said to be the son of a Spaniard who lived in Río Prieto, Lares and that his said surname was "Magraner". After searching for some years through various records, I was able to bring it down the potential father to Damián Magraner or one of his brothers who owned land in Río Prieto, Lares. I deduced that Damián had to be the father for multiple reasons: 1) My 2nd great grandfather and his brother Lorenzo both carried the surname Magraner after their mothers, 2) There were tales in the family about the relationship between a Spaniard and a Puerto Rican woman that produced José, 3) My ancestor worked Damián's land, therefore there was some sort of connection there already in place, and finally, probably the most important 4) Both José and Lorenzo named a son "Damián".

Now the problem lied in proving this relationship. In NO document that I have does Damián appear as the father of the children. This I ended up deducing had to deal with the fact that Damián was a married man back in Sóller, Mallorca to an Antonia Morell Pons and that a man of his status could not recognize bastard children. I was pretty convinced that Damián was the father and even traveled to Sóller, Mallorca while I was abroad to learn more about Damián, his family, and his life on the islands (both Puerto Rico and Mallorca). But I left with no real clue, still with just coincidences and theories in my head. But recently I discovered a single document that could finally piece it all together!

Recently I learned about the "U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007". At first glance I thought it was just the SSDI but when I typed in the search engine family names, I was getting information that the latter didn't have. For example, the Applications and Claims Index sometimes provides names of parents which the SSDI (Social Security Death Index) does not do. So I wondered, could these new documents shed light on my Avilés Magraner ancestors? At first, I started searching just for José Avilés Magraner with both surnames and just one, but I couldn't find anything. I actually have been having a lot of trouble finding his SSDI and death date since no one in my family is too sure when it was. My next best thing was Lorenzo Avilés Magraner who I did have a death record and date for, so I decided to give it a shot. My first results gave me a Lorenzo Avilés from Lares, Puerto Rico and I figured it definitely had to be my 2nd great grand-uncle.

Search for Lorenzo Avilés Magraner [Ancestry]

Even though it didn't mention a Magraner surname, I figured I should just click on it and see what the results would yield. There were the odds that nothing would come back besides his name and his birth and death date, so I crossed my fingers. Keep in mind that I've been constantly faced with a blank spot in the section of "father's name" so I really didn't expect anything new. Except this was the FIRST time that I was thoroughly surprised and completely elated. This time there WAS a father's name! And it mentions exactly who I thought it was: Damián Magraner!

Granted there is always room for error, and that goes without saying for everyone, not just me when dealing with names and genealogy. But I'm happy to FINALLY see a name for a father and that it was the one who I have been betting my money on this whole time. I've ordered Lorenzo's Social Security Application (form SS-5) and I'm hoping that there it does mention Damian Magraner as his father. I really am glad that I now have a record which mentions Damian as the father! I guess I can officially say I have a third great grandfather from Spain and that the tales that were told had some truth to them! 

I would still love to find an Avilés descendant and test their Y-DNA to hopefully one day find a Magraner descendant and see if they match up, this would truly be the only way to once and for all close shut this mystery. Until then, I'll wait for Lorenzo's social security application and be happy with how far I have gotten.

Take a look at those documents, you never know if they can answer some questions for you as well! Just remember the years are from 1936-2007! Happy hunting! 


  1. Congrats!! That is such great news. Hopefully once the application arrives in the mail you can post an update. I'd love to see if there is anything more to this mystery.

  2. Hi Luis, I found something you might find interesting.

  3. Did you ever end up receiving the original SS application? I wondered if it matched what you found online. Only because I've had a very similar experience except when the original arrived in the mail it had a different surname then the one posted online via It's been tripping me out & I'm trying to make sense of it.

    1. Hi Diana! I did receive the original SS application and it did mention the name exactly how they showed it on Ancestry. HMM! Interesting that that's happening to you, could it be a mix up of the father's paternal and maternal surnames? Haven't had that happen to me yet!