Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travel Tuesday- Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

Since I am in Puerto Rico for Spring Break I decided to rent a car and live out my long genealogical dream of traveling around the island to see the towns my family are from. Now, I didn't and won't get to visit every single town or barrio on this trip but just being in the actual town was an amazing first step. Having a car has been such a blessing on this trip and hopefully on another trip I'll be able to rent again and travel some more around the island. Today, I'll talk about my visit to Yabucoa - La ciudad del azúcar. 

Yabucoa, Puerto Rico [GozateaPR]
My grandmother was born in Yabucoa but a few short years later her parents decided to move to San Juan to find work since Yabucoa was (still is?) a fairly rural town. Her family has lived in Yabucoa for many years dating back to the early 1800s, and mainly lived in the barrio of Calabazas but other cousins have moved into the barrios of Guayabota, Playa, and I think even to Aguacate. Our family there has worked on sugar cane fields/farms and worked their own land to grow food for their families. My grandmother says that neighbors would share food with each other such as a pig since sometimes a whole family couldn't finish it and instead of it going to waste they would bring some over to their neighbors.

Getting to Yabucoa was fairly easy with the help of a GPS! The roads are windy in certain parts but nothing too treacherous I would say, I've only been driving for 6 months so if I can do it, you can too! There are some very small roads that barely fit two cars but luckily I had no problems along the way. The drive was very beautiful and weather-wise we were very lucky, I even stopped a few times along the road to get some shots. Here's one below!

Driving to Yabucoa! [Personal Photo]

Our first stop in the town was the church since it was in the actual 'pueblo' itself. The earliest record I have of my ancestors is in the year 1876 when Benito Orozco and his wife Dolores de Santiago Burgos married in this church, so it was pretty cool seeing the church and being able to walk inside.

Iglesia Santos Ángeles Custodios [Personal Photo] 

Santos Ángeles Custodios [Personal Photo]

Prepping for Semana Santa [Personal Photo]

After, we took a trolley to get around the center but we really didn't see much so we decided to head over to Calabazas. It was pretty cool being in Calabazas and seeing how green it was compared to San Juan. There were parts where you could overlook the town and look down even seeing the coast, my grandmother says she remembers that her father mentioned them living high up in Calabazas. 

Welcome to Barrio Calabazas [Personal Photo]

View from Yabucoa down to the coast! [Personal Photo]

"Please do not tie your horses" [Personal Photo]

View of the island [Personal Photo]

View of the island [Personal Photo]

I know there are some cousins around in Yabucoa and my next visit will probably be reaching out to them and visiting them to see the lands our family worked. For now, it was pretty amazing to just see the town itself and share that moment with my grandmother. I've been doing some traveling so some more Travel Tuesday posts will be coming your way! And maybe some Travel Thursday posts to not fall behind. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Searching La "Gaceta de Puerto Rico"

Now that I'm on Spring Break I'll try and write a few times and get back up to date on things since I am in Puerto Rico. One of the posts I've wanted to write is on the "Gazeta de Puerto Rico" and how I've recently looked more into using this resource to learn more about my ancestors.

Gaceta de Puerto Rico [Library of Congress]

The Gazeta de Puerto Rico (linked) ran from the mid-1800s to the early-1900s and at first ran only a few days a month and later began to run daily. On the Library of Congress' website you can search under state "Puerto Rico" and then enter a name into the search option. Looking at my family tree I decided to search various names one at a time to try and see if anything would pop up for my ancestors. There are possibilities that the person I found might not be my ancestors but seeing as how the dates, the names, and the towns match there are high possibilities that most of the hits I got in the Gazeta are ancestors of mine. I was able to find some possibly ancestors and then there were a few that were definitely ancestors, and it was interesting what I was able to find about them in the newspaper. Tip: Try different search options: with both surnames, one surname, different ancestors in your tree - anything that'll help bring up different results.

Posible Finds

There were a few people that I found that I'm not sure if they are my ancestors, for example I found a mention of a Bartolo Marrero and Estefanía Marrero, both ancestors from Corozal and my 4th and 5th great grandparents. One article written in 1852 mentions a "Bartolo Marrero" (liberto) in Toa Alta who was placed in jail for 30 days for an infraction of art. 176 of the "Banda de policia". Despite by 4th great grandfather being born in Corozal, his ancestors were from the town right over which was Toa Alta so very possible this is him in his 30s being placed in jail. I tried looking up article 176 but couldn't find what exactly it was. What's interesting here is that this Bartolo Marrero was listed as "free", so it makes me wonder if at one point his ancestors were slaves and/or because of his color they mentioned he is free to not be confused with those still enslaved. Not too sure!

Bartolo Marrero (Liberto) [Library of Congress]

The next year in 1853 there's a mention of "Estefanía Marrero" in Corozal, exactly where my 5th great grandmother lived (and the same name!), it mentions that Estefanía Marrero had to pay "2 pesos" for publicly insulting the wife of Francisco García, Sinforiana de los Santos, and equally Francisco García had to pay for his wife's insults made. The article however states that both were insolvente or insolvent/bankrupt and thus had to pay in jail. I wonder what they could have been arguing about in public strongly enough to have them have to pay a fee. The year was 1853 so probably a simple curse word from a woman could have made people flip out. I guess we'll never know what was said unless there is some actual case or paperwork that had to be filled.

Estefanía Marrero [Library of Congress]

Interestingly enough I was able to find a possible record that could or couldn't be my 4th great grandfather. In an article from the 22nd of December 1840 newspaper there's a list of entries and exits from Puerto Rico and one lists: "de Guadeloupe: balandra francesa San Jou, capitan Jean Charles, con 7 hombres y bacalao". It lists a capitan Jean Charles who leaves from Guadeloupe with 7 men and codfish on the yacht or "sloop" San Jou. It's interesting seeing as how my 4th great grandfather was from Guadeloupe and also dealt with ships. Seeing as how "Jean Charles" seems very common amongst French names I wouldn't exactly say this is my ancestor but it would interesting if he did trade in Puerto Rico, like it, and eventually decide to stay here. Always possible!

Capitan Jean Charles [Library of Congress]

Definite Finds

There were however some definite finds in the newspapers of some of my ancestors in Puerto Rico. One especially interesting find was of my 4th great grandparents from Martinique and Guadeloupe and the mention of their daughter. I can't quiet figure out what happened with the type of language used in the article but it seems that there was some kind of problem with injuries/wounds. The article was written in 1886 meaning that Jean Charles would be in his 60s, Julienne Malvina would be in her 40s and their daughter only 19 years old. Despite the article being something negative that happened it was nice to see a mention of my foreign ancestors and seeing their names which at this point was a mix of French and Spanish.

Juan Carlos Gustave, Balbina Loten, Paulina Gustave [Library of Congress]

Also, my "I'm-fairly-certain" 3rd great grandfather is mentioned various times throughout the history of the Gazeta. Damián Magraner Morell, a native of Sóller, Mallorca, lived in Lares for various years throughout the mid-1800s but eventually returned to Spain where he passed away. The latest mention was in the article on the 10th of March 1900 granting some sort of licenses but no idea for what. It says it was endorsed by Francisco Seir and Ramón Cueto approved in Lares. In 1902 there's quick mention that some land bought borders Damián's land in Río Prieto, Lares on the east of the property purchased. 

Damian Magraner [Library of Congress]

The earliest records by name appear only the 1890s dealing with from what I gather with some elections and his contribution to said election. I imagined there would be more mentions seeing as how his siblings and he owned an hacienda in Lares and land there. His brothers Nicolás and Cristóbal do appear in the Gazeta as well. I am always willing to find out more about these siblings and about their time in Puerto Rico. 

For anyone researching their ancestors in Puerto Rico I would recommend to search these newspapers seeing as how you never know what/how your ancestor will be mentioned in. Maybe they played some role in local politics in their town or got charged for a loose pig or cow (it did happen!). But having a small mention of an ancestor can help you narrow down years, towns they lived in, and certain aspects of their daily live. Go and check what you can find!