December 8, 2014

Round Robin Genealogy

One of the most erred family lines on Ancestry in Puerto Rico is the Betancourt line. There are so many stories floating around about this line and people claiming stories as facts that I'm constantly smacking my head and wishing that people wouldn't do that.

I want facts people and not stories past down that can't be validated. Providing descriptions is fine. Telling what they did for a living or their living conditions are fine but not dates and ages as factual as these things can change based on documents.

Have you ever played Round Robin with your friends or in the office as a team building tool in the past? If not, give it a try. Sit about 10 people at a table. One person gets to pick something to say, lean over to your right and whisper into the ear of the person next to you. They in turn pass the story to the person on their right until it comes back to you and have them say it.

You'd expect the same story you told to be passed however you'd be surprised that it doesn't even come close to what you initially stated. You then tell everyone what you actually stated to the table and watch the look of surprises. Well this exists in genealogy too.  Learning to use stories as clues and finding the facts is part of the family genealogist's responsibility.


One of the great things of passing oral stories in families is that you get key important information in helping to research your family. Being given those 'facts' I was able to find the truth. For example, I was told that my great grandmother Maria Diaz's name was Maria Diaz Betancourt. NOPE not her name. Then I was told that she lived to be 104. NOPE again.

I discovered that yes she did live a very long life but her documented birth and death tell a factual story that she did descend from the Betancourt line and she lived into her early 90's; still a huge accomplishment. She actually was the daughter of Valentina Diaz Betancourt and Juan Diaz Ortiz and she lived until she was 92. Where did I get the father's name? Easy, from many other documents filed by siblings with the municipalities. I suspect that the story went that she was a Betancourt via her mother's line and since people really didn't track their birthdays in many countries as they do here in the States, her birthday was also changed.

You can tell this by the different ages given in the Census every decade; 1910 - 1940.  I also discovered this was an issue with the numerous Censuses taken by Spain for Puerto Rico in the 1800's.

The reason I bring this all up is because I can actually hear the naysayers screaming "NO! She has got it wrong! She has got the wrong person!". Sorry to disappoint you but the facts are the facts and I validated exactly who she was via many documents.

Maria Dolores Diaz was actually born in Quebrada Negrito in Trujillo Alto on September 12, 1899 (Source: Trujillo Alto - Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz Church, Book 13 Baptism, Folio 28, #109).  She lived her entire life in Quebrada Negrito and passed away on October 7, 1991 (Trujillo Alto Civil Registration). 

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2 comments:

  1. My grandma was in her late eighties (born in Trujillo Alto 1878) one Thanksgiving and after clearing the table I began asking her about her family and to my amazement she began dictating her siblings of which she had 19 (plus 4 that died at birth) She gave me all their names and the people they married and the children they had!!! She also went back 2 generations on both her side and my grandfathers side of the family. I neatly copied all the info and stored it away for many years. In the last few years Ive come to appreciate what a gift that was when I got interested in doing real research. Also amazing is that I have been able document the info she gave me and it was all correct!!!! Truly blessed

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    1. You're very lucky to have that kind of information and that it is accurate. It was great that you documented the information and very rare that it is accurate. You lucked out in that aspect. There are some funny stories that have been passed down for many and they discover otherwise when researching. :)

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