Friday, February 14, 2014

52 Ancestors – #7 Benito Orozco (1843-1923)

My third great grandfather Benito Orozco also lived his life in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico (like my 2nd great grandfather), though his marriage record points to him being born in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico – a town just to the north of Yabucoa.

Las Piedras, Puerto Rico [Wikipedia]

Benito's year of birth is unknown to me, currently I have him listed as being born circa 1843 and it could have been a little after or a little before. What's interesting about Benito as you might have noticed is that he has only one surname listed which is typically uncommon in Puerto Rico. Benito Orozco (sometimes written as Orosco) was born as a native (rather than legitimate) son to Estebanía Orozco who was born around the early 1800s, late 1700s. Benito lived to appear in the 1910 and 1920 census which gave me some insight to his life.

By 1910, Benito had been married 34 years to his wife Dolores de Santiago Burgos, a native of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. He and his wife were listed as "Mu" for Mulatto and he was working as a farmer on a farm which he owned, he was unable to read or write. He was living with five of his eight children (all still alive in 1910) and my 2nd great grandfather Pedro Dávila Ruiz was living in the same household seeing as he was recently married to his wife Francisca. There is a 15 year old girl named Sista Santiago listed as a "criada" living with the family – I wonder if she has some relation to Dolores' paternal side of the family? Criada could have meant that she was a housemaid or also that she was being raised by Benito and Dolores.

Benito Orosco, 1910 Census [Ancestry]

Interestingly in 1920, not much had changed about Benito's status. He still works on the land he owns in Calabazas, still is unable to read or write and doesn't speak English. He is listed as living with his wife, two children, a daughter-in-law, a boarder and a grandson (who was actually my great-uncle). But one very important thing did change, his surname. Benito had taken on the name "Santana" instead of Orozco. Oddly enough, other family members as well did the same thing. My grandmother told me that her mother used Orozco but some of her sisters used Santana and her cousins and would argue that Santana was the actual name and not Orozco. In reality the surname sort of came out of nowhere, since Benito was born well before the 1910 census and his mother was already deceased by then, we have no record currently pointing to the origin of the surname. 

Benito Santana, 1920 Census [Ancestry]

My theory however is that Benito's father was surnamed "Santana". As was the case with my 2nd great grandfather José Avilés Magraner, José was born only with the surname "Avilés" and later added "Magraner" to the end of his surname for his father. Benito, on the other hand, abandoned Orozco for Santana on the 1920 Census. Three short years later, Benito would pass away on the 18th of April 1923 of old age. His son, Pedro Orozco Santiago, appears to declare his death and lists his father as Benito Orozco, and his grandmother as Estebania Orozco. Similarly, the family continues to go back and forth on the use of Santana and Orozco throughout the following census records and birth/marriage/death records.

Benito had eight children in total with Dolores Santiago and I descend from his only daughter Francisca Orozco. Therefore, I would be unable to take a DNA sample of any of Francisca's children since none will carry the Y-DNA of Benito. However, luckily since there were seven other sons the odds of finding a male descendant of Benito are more increased. I have tried tracing each line and finding male descendants, their Y-DNA will allow to see if our family matches with any Santana surnamed men on the island, hopefully from the same area of Las Piedras/Yabucoa. 

I have been able to map out Benito's male grandchildren, which so far there is a grand total of 22 male descendants of Benito. Many of them in the 1930, 1935 and 140 hadn't produced another generation besides two grandchildren, Ernesto Orozco Álvarez who had his son Luis Orozco de León (however he appears as Luis Santana de León) and Juan Orozco Morales who had Primitivo Orozco Ruiz (also appears as Primitivo Santana Ruiz). As you can see the surname Santana had caught momentum and was being used throughout various lines and generations. Hopefully I'll be able to find a male descendant willing to test and help my search! 

Santana/Orozco Male Descendant Pedigree

I'll list out all the children just in case someone searches for one of them online it will appear! I'll list them both with Santana and Orozco since there is a possibility some might have stayed with Orozco while others switched over to Santana. 

Grandsons of Benito Santana/Orozco (Total: 22):
  • Ernesto Orozco Álvarez/ Ernesto Santana Álvarez
    • Luis Orozco de León/ Luis Santana de León
  • Enudio? Santana Álvarez/ Enudio Santana Álvarez
  • Eladio Orozco Morales/ Eladio Santana Morales
  • Juan Orozco de Jesús/ Juan Santana de Jesús
  • Alfonso Orozco de Jesús/ Alfonso Santana de Jesús
  • Enrique Orozco de Jesús/ Enrique Santana de Jesús
  • Juan Orozco Morales/ Juan Santana Morales
    • Primitivo Orozco Ruiz/ Primitivo Santana Ruiz
  • Teofilo Orozco Morales/ Teofilo Santana Morales
  • Epifanio Orozco Morales/ Epifanio Santana Morales
  • Félix Orozco Morales/ Félix Santana Morales
  • Primitivo Orozco Morales/ Primitivo Santana Morales
  • Vasilio Orozco Gómez/ Vasilio Santana Gómez
  • Pedro Orozco Ruiz/ Pedro Santana Ruiz
  • Marciano Orozco Ruiz/ Marciano Santana Ruiz
  • Patricio Orozco Ruiz/ Patricio Santana Ruiz
  • Bienvenido Orozco Pinto/ Bienvenido Santana Pinto
  • Gil Orozco Pinto/ Gil Santana Pinto
  • Hipólito Orozco Pinto/ Hipólito Santana Pinto
  • Agapito Orozco Pinto/ Agapito Santana Pinto
  • Braulio Orozco Delgado/ Braulio Santana Delgado
  • Raimundo Orozco Delgado/ Raimundo Santana Delgado
  • Román Orozco Delgado/ Román Santana Delgado


  1. I've been keeping up with all your posts & love reading about all your discoveries.

    I have a question for you.

    In all your time researching is it possible that someone's birth was undocumented in PR? My great grandmother I found a death record for. On it it says her birth date which was in 1900, but I'm pretty sure it's wrong. Plus, they even got her gender wrong on the death certificate so this leads me to think nothing on it is very accurate. Also, It doesn't make sense with looking at all her census records & with 1 marriage record I found for her. I'm guessing she was born closer to 1880's or 1890's. I've searched in all the possible birth records I found under Juncos, PR & her name does not show up. However, the other puzzling thing is that neither do any of her siblings. From the census info I found it looks like no one in her family including her were literate. Could this maybe have something to with why none of the births were recorded?

    1. I have a similar situation in my family with my great grandmother and her siblings. I know they were born in Yabucoa but I can't find a good number of their birth records until one of them is born in the 1920s. Could be possible she was not registered on time or at all. Are there any church records available for that town at the time? Maybe they were baptized but never officially signed up at the Registro Civil. Also, check the barrio they lived in and if it bordered any other town, very possible it was easier to hop the border to another town where the register was closer than actually go to the center of the town they actually lived on. A lot of my family members weren't literate but it didn't really interfere with signing them up, if anything it would interfere with spellings of names and accurate dates. Good luck with the search!

  2. Hi! I was searching my deceased grandparents online and came across your blog. My grandfather was Raimundo Orosco from Yabucoa. I asked my dad about his grandparents but he said he didn't have a relationship with them because my grandmother, Cecilia Roldan-Cruz (also deceased) didn't get along with his mother. I have always asked my dad for pictures of my grandparents while they were young but he said they didn't take a lot of pictures back then. I am so curious about my roots and this blog has made me even more eager to investigate. My dad goes to Yabucoa all the time. We still have family out there. I took my oldest son with my last summer and it was so beautiful! So are you and I related? Have you connected with any of the family since you started searching? I was wondering, would be father be a person who could do this test you are talking about? I don't know if he would even agree to it but I am just curious. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Erica! Not sure how this message got passed me! We actually are related!! Raimundo Orozco was the son of Inocencio Orozco Santiago (sometimes he appears as Inocencio Santana) and his wife Josefina Lebrón Delgado. Inocencio being the son of Benito Orozco.

      I have connected with a few cousins here and there from the Orozco side but haven't found a male descendant, your dad would be the first! I recently got a chance to visit Yabucoa and go to Calabazas but didn't meet any cousins, just went to tour around. If he would be willing to take the test that would be awesome since we don't have that Y-DNA for Benito Orozco. If you would like to chat more my email is Hope to hear from you soon!

  3. Hello,

    I am doing an ancestry trace because my father left property in Yabucoa. In some paperwork I came across Ernesto and Marcela. Can you tell me more about Marcela? My father had a sister Marcela that was rumored to have passed away but I could never locate a death record. My father was Pedro Morales deLeon. Their mother Sixta died when they were both very young and My father was raised by his father Eloy Morales Lebron and the housemaid who married my grandfather several years later, Epifania Rodriguez Sanchez. No one seems to know what happens to Marcela as my father was only 3 yrs old and nothing else was really carried on for him.