June 30, 2016

Gregorio Alvarez Cueto

In a prior post about PARES,Spain's online archives, I mentioned how I located Teresa Cueto in the records.  However I don't believe I explained how I knew who she was.  I've also posted about her granddaughter, Maria Florentina Alvarez Castillo.  So how did I make the connections?  Very easily!

You see wedding records are the best way to figure out who is who.  When Maria Florentina was married, her father was deceased and it stated so.  So I started looking in the Defunciones church records starting from her marriage date and working my way back.  It turns out her father, Gregorio Alvarez Cueto died the year prior.

I located him in the book 1799 to 1802 on Folio 187; folio means page.  There in the record it lists that he was from Cadiz, Spain and that he was the legitimate child of Antonio Alvarez and Teresa Cueto. It also states that he was married to Ana Maria del Castillo; Maria Florentina's mother.  What surprised me was that in the record it states that he received the sacraments but that there was no will since he was destitute.

I wasn't expecting to read that he was poor.  I can see why Maria Florentina had to marry as women didn't work outside the home.  Women had no way of respectfully sustaining themselves than through marriage.

Gregorio Alvarez Cueto Death Record in San Juan


In finding Gregorio's death record, I then decided to search for his wedding record to Ana Maria del Castillo.  I calculated 15 years and went backward from there to look for this couple. I located him getting married to Ana Maria del Castillo Ximenez (Jimenez) on the 27th of May in 1777.  Here in this record it notes his parents again along with Ana Maria's parents.  Her parents are Juan del Castillo and  Antonia Ximenez.  

I ended the search with this generation as your eyes do get tired from reading really old records, especially in old Spanish style.  I decided to search in PARES and it paid off since I found Gregorio's mother writing to the Spanish crown; read the PARES blog post to see those records. 

In addition, I am lucky since my maternal grandmother wrote similarly to some of the old styles which helped me in reading many records.  I'm sure she would be shocked at how well I am able to read them since I didn't speak the language until I went to live with her; my 11th birthday.

Gregorio Alvarez Cueto & Ana Maria del Castillo Ximenez Wedding Record

Most importantly when looking at records, abbreviations to names are common in these old records so it is important to know how to decipher them.  Hoping this post helps you with adding another generation to your tree.

June 22, 2016

Expansion of the Blog

In having my DNA done, one of things that I discovered is how my tree is nowhere near the size it should be. Although my family tree currently contains over 6,600 relatives, it is a far cry from what it should be displaying.  The family tree I have is from many years of researching and digging through documents and receiving assistance from family members.  So yes it is a family effort to create such a large tree. It also allows me to look beyond those who are living by finding more on those ancestors that have gone, and those that I knew about during my lifetime.  Having my DNA done has given me another opportunity to connect with our living extended families.  I've met some really amazing cousins along the way.



With the DNA results, I have discovered a multitude of cousins from many different islands in the Caribbean. What has taken me by surprise is that I have cousins from every single Central and South American country! And yes I do mean every single country!  Many of these matches have family trees going back generations within these countries. Some are showing up as 4th to 6th cousins while others are appearing as 5th to 8th cousins. Currently I have 653 4th cousins or closer that match me via DNA and it isn't a little bit of DNA, it is quite a lot with extremely high accuracy based on the amount of DNA we share together.  In total via Ancestry, I have 6,593 DNA cousins, enough to find answers to missing links in the family tree and getting to know more family members.  I was expecting connections to Argentina, Brazil, Columbia, and Mexico.  However I was completely taken by surprised how I have relatives in every nation in South America; traveling family. 

What was more surprising and a great plus is that Ancestry announced today that they now have 2 million DNA kits in their database.  I look forward to watch their database continually increase in size.

So since I have so many relatives from the different Caribbean, Central America, and South American countries, I plan to post for each island and or country where you can find resources for these countries.  This will take time but don't be surprised when you see more menu options at the top of this blog.  Happy hunting!

June 21, 2016

Ramon Soiza Ortiz

Ramon Soiza Ortiz is not a direct ancestor of mine but he is related to me.  He is actually my 4th great grand uncle.  He is also the son of Ignacio Soiza del Carmen and Casimira Cerefina Ortiz de la Cruz.  One of the things I found quite interesting is that although he was born prior to his parents' marriage, the church obviously didn't consider him to be legitimate. In his wedding record the priest lists him as 'hijo natural' or out of wedlock child of his mother, Cerafina Ortiz, when he marries Gregoria Montanez Flores on February 11th, 1871 and keeps his father off the record.

His wife, Gregoria, happens to be the daughter to Estanislao Montanez Gonzalez and Maria Margarita Eduvige Flores Fontanes.  Her mother, Maria Margarita is the daughter of Juan de los Santos Flores del Rio and Juliana Fontanes Rivera.  Juliana is actually my six great grandmother via my Bayala line.  Estanislao is the son of Lorenzo Montanez de Rivera and Catalina Gonzalez. So yes my tree crosses over many different paths.  However getting back to Ramon...

Ramon Soiza Ortiz & Gregoria Montanez Flores Wedding Record

Ramon is listed as Ramon Soiza on the wedding record but he wasn't the only child born out of wedlock for this couple, he just happens to be the only surviving one.  In reviewing the 1860 Census for Trujillo Alto, I found both his parents. His father, Ignacio, is listed as Ignacio Soiza del Carmen with his wife, Casimira Ortiz de la Cruz. The 1860 record shows Ignacio as 67 years of age, on entry number 2321 and Casimira is 80 years of age on entry number 2322.

Ignacio Soiza del Carmen & Casimira Cerafina Ortiz de la Cruz 1860 Census for Trujillo Alto

In the 1870 Census for Trujillo Alto, Casimira was deceased.  I am sure that if we look for Casimira in the Trujillo Alto church death (defunciones) books, we will discover her exact death date.  These books are not digitized but are available at the Archdioceses of San Juan.  For now we know she died between 1860 and 1870.  Most importantly there was a will filed by Ignacio in Trujillo Alto on February 22, 1856 that can be found in the Archivo General de Puerto Rico in San Juan.  In this will, the surviving children are listed as one child born natural and two legitimate children.  The legitimate children happen to be girls, one being my 4th great grandmother, Dionisia, and her sister Maria de la Encarnacion Soiza. I believe Maria de la Encarnacion outlives all of her siblings when she passes away in 1908 as I haven't located Ramon's or Dionisia's death record. Dionisia dies before 1870 as her husband is listed as a widow on the 1870 Census.

Ignacio and Casimira did have other children but they all were deceased by the time the will was drawn in 1856. This is not uncommon for many families during this era.

Their son Ramon and Gregoria would have 9 children together.  Their children names are in the order of birth as Anastacio, Ramon, Emiliano, Carmen, Maria Leocardia, Alejandrina, Francisca, Jacoba, and Carmen.  They all carried the surname of Soiza Montanez. Through records I was able to discover that Ignacio Soiza del Carmen was from Portugal and it looks like he came alone. I hope this information can help you in your research.


June 13, 2016

Diego Fontanes Zamora and Juana Delgado de Castro

Diego Fontanes Zamora lived on the island of Puerto Rico in the 1600's and more than likely in the city of San Juan.  While I have not been able to locate his birth record, I was able to locate his wedding record, estimated his age, and used this information to locate his parent's marriage record.  It is the best way of locating any record on your ancestors.

I tend to estimate people's ages between 18 and 30 years of age on my tree when I don't know their age.  Since our ancestors didn't live as long as we do today, I'd expect them to be married very young, have children young and have many of them since birth control didn't exist, nor did TV, radio, or any other form of entertainment at night other than a bar or brothel.

Diego Fontanes married Juana Delgado de Castro on April 20th, 1664 in the Nuestra Señora de la Caridad Catedral in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  According to the marriage record, both were from San Juan.  As we know from my prior blog post, Diego's parents are Juan Rodriguez de Fontanes Garcia and Isabel Lopez de Zamora Malave.  Juana Delgado de Castro's parents are Captain Francisco Delgado and Francisca de Castro; more on them on another post. However yes, Francisco Delgado comes from the Delgado Manso family that is well known in Puerto Rico and the family goes back further on the island's history; just look at prior blog posts.

Diego Fontanes Zamora & Juana Delgado de Castro marriage record.
The location of this record is also found in Book 1 of marriages for the church on folio 281v (vuelto) which means the back of page 281.  There is more information on Juana Delgado de Castro's mother but that will also be on it's own post.

Book 1 of marriages for this church runs from 1653 to 1725. This means that this book has many marriage records for parents, their children and grandchildren.  Just be prepared to use Google Translate if you don't read, speak, or write in Spanish since it is all in Spanish.

Diego and Juana had 4 children that I'm aware of and have located records.  There may be more but these are the four that I have found.  I descend from their son Diego, yes another Diego.  I was able to locate their son's birth and marriage record so I have a lot more data on him.  He is also the 2nd eldest of their children.  The children are as follows:

  • Antonio Fontanes Delgado (born: 11 MAR 1695, San Juan death: 15 DEC 1775, Bayamon)
  • Diego Fontanes Delgado  (born: 15 JUN 1698, Caguas death: unknown)
  • Benedicto Fontanes Delgado (born: 13 JUN 1700, San Juan, death: unknown)
  • Geronima Fontanes Delgado (born: 04 MAR 1706, San Juan, death: unknown)

On all four children I located all baptism records online so they shouldn't be so hard to find.  I didn't provide baptism dates due to lack of space, however you should be able to locate the records with the birth dates. Just remember that baptism occurs after the birth when searching. If you're aware of any other siblings, feel free to share.  Hope this information will help you either with validating ancestors on your tree or providing the ability of adding them on.  If they are your ancestors then I've just added another cousin to my growing family.  Feel free to click on the image to blow it up and download.

June 12, 2016

Juan Rodriguez de Fontanes Garcia & Isabel Lopez de Zamora Malave

Juan Rodriguez de Fontanes Garcia is my 9th great grandfather. To many of you he may be your 8th great grandfather or even 10th great grandfather.  It all depends which generation you connect with him.  While I was able to find my Bayala 5th great grandfather arriving in Puerto Rico in 1803, he happened to marry a direct descendant to Juan Rodriguez de Fontanes Garcia.

In tracing back the line, I found it easier to connect the dots via marriage records and some birth records.  The good thing is that locating records for this line has been much easier due to the marriage records being available.

So Juan Rodriguez was actually born sometime around 1640 in Guevara, Alava, Pais Vasco, España.  I will have to search records in Spain to see if I can locate his birth record.  However his marriage record to my great grandmother, Isabel Lopez de Zamora Malave can be found online.  They were married on February 2nd, 1669 in the cathedral, Nuestra Señora in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It was through this record that he states where he was born and that his parents were Alvaro de Fontanes and Maria Garcia.  You can locate the record in Libro 1 of marriages on Folio 103v.  This means Book 1 and on the back of page 103.

Juan Rodriguez de Fontanes Garcia & Isabel Lopez de Zamora Malave Marriage Record


His wife, Isabel, was identified as being born on the island and that her parents were Miguel Lopez de Zamora and Augustina Malave.  Their son, Diego does drop Lopez and keeps Zamora, he is my 8th great grandfather Diego Fontanes Zamora.  I'm sure this couple had other children but I haven't captured or research for them. I believe that eventually I will have to add any siblings that I come across.  I do see some Malave DNA cousins and they may be related via Isabel, however it will require deeper research to find the connection to my genetic Malave cousins.

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June 8, 2016

An Amusing Discovery - Jean-Jacques Philippe Guerrier and Juan Antonio Alvarez Cartagena

So as usual, I'm always coming across some really interesting facts about my ancestry and things that occurred in the past.  First I was very surprised to discover that my Dominican Cartagena line was very political and involved in the revolution and independence of the country.  I came across a surprising article about my 2nd great grandfather, Felipe Alvarez Cartagena Hinojosa being in exile and living in Veracruz, Mexico because he was considered an enemy of the then President, Ulises Heureaux.  He remained in exile until he was advised that Heureaux had been assassinated in 1899.  Below I provide you with images of both men. 

Ulises Heureaux
Felipe Alvarez Cartagena Hinojosa




















However this isn't where the story ends and I suspect it will go further back as I continue to research.   Look at the two men below.  Well my children descend from both of them.  Each one of these men are their great grandfathers and here is where it gets quite interesting.  You see, I wanted to know more about my own 2nd great grandfather, Felipe Alvarez Cartagena Hinojosa.  In doing so I come to find out that he is the son of a famous general that was instrumental in the Independence of Dominican Republic from Haiti; Juan Antonio Alvarez Cartagena.  There is a street named after him in Santo Domingo. In addition, the other man, is no other than the sitting President of Haiti during the same era, Jean-Jacques Philippe Guerrier.  I'm sure that these two men potentially fought their own causes against each other and probably hated one another.  I wonder if they are both having fits from the grave in discovering that they have two great grandchildren that they share.  Like did we ruin their plans? I'm actually quite amused by uncovering that my children have two famous great grandfathers who probably couldn't stand one another.  Now how is that for uncovering skeletons in the closet?! Oh boy!!

Jean-Jacques Philippe Guerrier
Juan Antonio Alvarez Cartagena

June 7, 2016

Gurabo, Puerto Rico - Where to search?

I kind of touched on Gurabo in responding to questions that I have received privately.  I didn't really provide details but there is more than just Census records from the 1900's. Gurabo is a municipality that is on the eastern side of the island. The town or barrios that exist in the municipality are, Rincon, Gurabo the town, Hato Nuevo, Celada, Jaguar, Jaguas, Mamey, Masas, Navarro, and Quebrada Infierno.  So let's begin with what is available online and then what you can find offline.

If you have a membership to Ancestry then you should be aware that US Census for Puerto Rico municipalities exist and Gurabo is one of the municipalities in Puerto Rico.  Currently you can locate 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 US Census on Ancestry's website.  However there is the 1935 special Census done by the US for Puerto Rico. 

There is a population census and an agriculture census that provides details on whether the land was owned or rented, the size of the land in hectors and what was grown on the land.  I used this census to determine that one of my great grandmothers was alive in 1935 but she was deceased in 1940.  I have narrowed down the year of her death to 1938 based on cousins I have spoken to but have yet to locate her death record.  Looking at this census assists in providing missing information on ancestors.  It can also help you narrow down when to find a child's birth record or even a marriage record to an ancestor.

There is a 1872 Slave Registration Census.  This census does provide slave names, their owners, their parents, approximate age, and whether they were born on the island, another island, or Africa.  This census has helped many with tracing their roots.  I have found plenty using this census. Some family researchers may be surprised that their ancestors migrated from Haiti. 

You may come across many French last names; that is a hint on the origins of your ancestor.  A perfect example is the last name Nelson. This last name has been discussed in genealogy circles, it turns out that the line settled in Mayaguez but came from Haiti. Another example is Barbot (with the "t" being silent) and Guay (sounds like Way).  Both are French last names but these names migrated from Haiti.  You'll have to read up on Caribbean history to understand why.


The US Census of 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 are also available on FamilySearch and they have their own index of the records.  FamilySearch provides Civil Registration records that start in 1885.  These records are for birth, marriage and death records.  The earlier records read as narratives or stories.  These narratives provide details such as parents, grandparents, sex of child, whether legitimate or naturally (out of wedlock) born, the parents and grandparents origins and whether they are alive or deceased.  It has a treasure trove of information that will help you research your ancestors. If the child was born out of wedlock, it will not contain paternal grandparents but don't give up as you'll discover their names via records provided by the grandchild down the road or the child listing the father's information on records.

So does it end with 1872? No!  There is much more available and you can actually go back into the 1700's.  Gurabo was founded in 1815 by Luis del Carmen Echevarria.  Gurabo was originally part of Caguas.  For Caguas there is the 1800 Census and church records going back to 1730.  Just Google up information on the municipality and you'll learn more.

Now as for church records, they are available, just not online. In order to access them, visit FamilySearch and search the catalog.  You'll discover many church records available. You can order the film and have it delivered to the local Family History Library in your area.

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June 6, 2016

My Ancestry - Benin & Togo - My Culture

So I had my DNA done with Ancestry DNA.  One of the great things about having your DNA done with AncestryDNA is that they provide a breakdown on your African DNA if you descend from African ancestry.  Most Dominicans have African ancestry just like its neighbor, Haiti.  The same can be said about Puerto Rico.  One great series to watch on PBS Online is Professor Henry Louis Gates'  "Black in Latin America".  If you have not seen it, I highly recommend it.  The show is very informative and makes you realize that the United States didn't receive the highest volume of slaves during the slave trade. It also helps you realize why things are a certain way in many of these countries and how they recognize their culture.  It is a definite must see series.

Now showing certain percentages doesn't mean that you do not have other regions, it means this is what you have inherited via DNA recombination from your Ancestors.  So yes it can be different from sibling to sibling, uncles to nieces and nephews, etc.

So my AncestryDNA states that I carry 14% Benin / Tongo region of Africa.  Am I surprised? Not at all. I am half Puerto Rican and half Dominican with my dad being Puerto Rican and my mother Dominican. I also happen to inherit more African ancestry than my siblings.  In researching Benin, I discovered that the religion of the natives is Vodun.  Well on the island of Hispañola, not only is Voodoo practiced but so is Santeria, both originate from Vodun. This made perfect sense to me.  You have the Yoruba people who also come from this region.



The region has a rich history that I will be reading up on.  There is plenty to find online regarding the rich culture and history from this region.  I am extremely interested to know more about the people, their history and culture. For example, the native people in Benin built huts on stilts over water to avoid warriors who kidnapped their people to be sold into slavery.  Warriors did not believe in war over water and this help save many from being sold into slavery.

So while many do not realize they have African ancestry, I embrace my entire heritage and wear it as a badge of honor.  Yes I descend not only from European ancestors but most importantly I also inherited a total of 28% African ancestry which is a large portion of my DNA.  In addition, I also inherited Middle Eastern and Taino Indians from both islands.  I am a first generation US mainland born American and I love my country but I also love and recognize my heritage because without my ancestors, I would not be here to share my culture.  Hasta la proxima!