July 24, 2016

Miguel Bayala Flores - Marriage Contract in Trujillo Alto

On a trip to Puerto Rico, a cousin of mine paid a visit to Puerto Rico’s Archives and brought back a really nice surprise. I cannot thank him enough for what he did. What he brought was a copy of a marriage contract of an ancestor. Although I do not directly descend from Miguel Bayala Flores, I do descend from his father, Miguel Bayala Gero.

Miguel Bayala Flores is my 4 great grand uncle and the marriage contract was for his first wife, Maria Encarnacion Colon Diaz. Miguel Bayala Flores is the fourth child between his parents, Miguel Bayala Gero and Gregoria Flores Fontanes. He was born sometime around 1826 in Trujillo Alto. How do I know this? The only thing I have to go by is the 1860, 1870 and 1872 Census for Trujillo Alto which you can obtain via microfilm from familysearch.org.

This makes Miguel 23 years of age. The church books for this time period that documented baptisms for Europeans or Whites are missing and are believe to be destroyed due to a fire in the church. The only book that managed to survive is a portion of Book 1 for enslaved Africans or African descent, free Africans or African descent, and Pardo which means of mixed race but not necessarily of African descent; it includes descendants of indigenous people.


The contract was drawn up on the 21st of September 1849. Based on what I’m reading it states that Encarnacion is an adult of 14 years of age. She is the daughter of Francisco Colon and Leonarda Diaz. The contract states that they are to be married by the 17th of March 1851. Their marriage actually occurred in August 1850 and their wedding record is found in book 1 of marriages for Trujillo Alto.  This book was not filmed by familysearch.org.

Maria Encarnacion does have a child named Pedro who is conceived sometime immediately after her marriage to Miguel. Pedro is listed as being 10 years of age on the 1860 Census living his paternal grandmother, Gregoria. Unfortunately Encarnacion must have passed after giving birth as there are no records of her beyond this period and Pedro was her only son. The contract goes into further details which I will leave for you to review.

Miguel goes on to remarry on the 13th of November in 1862 to Juana Rodriguez Figueroa.  He was obviously in a relationship with Juana prior to their marriage as they have a daughter, Juana Regina, who was born on the 4th of May in 1857 in Trujillo Alto based on her baptism on 24th of July of 1857.

Miguel Bayala Flores and Juana Rodriguez Figueroa Wedding Records

Miguel and Juana will have an additional 5 children name Trinidad (female), Nemecio, Jose Pio, Luisa and Juan. Miguel’s son Pedro can be found on many of the municipal records in Trujillo Alto as he was witness to many of the registered records up until his death in 1915. His signature can be seen on many of these documents.  The marriage record comes from familysearuch.org.  I’ve met so many cousins that descend from Miguel Bayala and hope this assists them in their research. 

July 21, 2016

Death of Enslaved and Freed Blacks in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, Book 1 of Defunciones

Going through Gurabo’s San Jose parish books, I documented from Book 1 of Defunciones the following slaves or freed people. I hope it will help someone researching their ancestors in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Book 1 covers from 1822 to 1840.  I didn't capture the folios (page) on these but it does provide you with dates. You will be able to locate the record in the books easily using the date.


Date of Death
Age
Person's Name
Place of Birth
Parents’ name
Slave Owner
4 Jul 1822
3 years old
Laureano
Gurabo
Juan Martin & Joaquina
Jose Morales
7 Jul 1826
60 years old
Maria Josefa
African Coast

Catalina Donis
26 Oct 1826
1 ½ years old
Dionisio
Gurabo
Maria
Antonio Carrion
1 Feb 1827
60 years old
Juan
Congo

Antonio de Castro
14 Feb 1827
40 years old
Maria
Curacao

Manuel de Castro
6 Mar 1827
30 years old
Manuel
St. Croix

Pedro Ximenez
16 Dec 1829
30 years old
Juana Rodriguez and married to Santiago
Gurabo
Juan Rodriguez & Ignacia Arroyo
Maria Diaz
2 May 1833
60 years old
Andres de Rivera (free) widow of Josefa Delgado
Africa


28 Oct 1835
60 years old
Juan Jose Castro (free)
Tortola (British West Indies)


14 Jun 1839
1 month 8 days
Juan Francisco
Gurabo
Catalina
Antonio Castro



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July 20, 2016

Using the International Genealogical Index for Research

When I first started off researching and heard about Family Search's website, I didn't realize how much information it held.

One such database is the International Genealogical Index also know as the IGI.  The IGI contains millions of records that have been submitted by people that are directly related to the deceased person.  The database also contains vital and death records that have been indexed and will not be found in normal searches.  When the new Family Search website had been launched years ago, the database had been removed.  However after many complaints from the genealogy community including mine, it was brought back.

Why my complaint?  Well this is how I discovered for the first time that my maternal grandfather had siblings. Since my grandparents were divorced well before I was born, I had no idea since I didn't grow up around him. However one of his sister Elupina Marun appeared in the search results. Someone reported that she had passed away on December 21st, 1992.  I immediate called my grandfather in NY since he was 97 years of age at the time. I thought he was an only child since my great grandfather migrated to Dominican Republic in 1898.  Since then I have connected with cousins who descend from other siblings who are either living in the USA or in Dominican Republic.

So to access this database, click here, it will open in a new window.  Type in information, it accepts partial information.  You can even leave the name blank and type in only the country and see multiple records appear.

Once the search appears note that two tabs appear at the top, below is an image so you can see where the tabs appear.  One is for Contributed IGI and the other is the Indexed IGI.


A very simple tool with a possibility of finding some of your ancestors.

July 19, 2016

Dominican Blog In Spanish But Worth Reading

One of the best blogs out there about Dominican culture,our African roots and indigenous Taino culture is done by someone by the username Lemba. I'll refer to him this way to maintain his privacy since he is known as Lemba in many DNA and ancestry communities. The name of the blog is Cultura Campesina Del Noreste Dominicano.  

Lemba also happens to be a cousin of mine. At first I didn't realize the connection until he pointed out that I share DNA with his grandmother and grand uncle. While I knew I shared DNA with many of his family members including his grandmother, I didn't realize he was the administrator to her DNA kit when he accepted the DNA share request on 23andMe.  Unfortunately she has passed away by the time we met.

Lemba and I do not share DNA due to recombination of our DNA. We both inherited different DNA segments, me from my maternal line and he from his paternal line. However I just so happen to inherit the same DNA segments that his grandmother carried and thereby making the connection. Had this not happened, our connection would be lost and we would not be able to connect unless via paper documentation which we are both working on to solidify our connection.

I've listed some of his posts that are worth reading and I've learned plenty from them. Note that there are many more beyond what I list below...

!Feliz Dia del Cimarron!: Celebremos hoy el dia del Cimarron! En el dia de hoy Dec 25, pero en el 1521, se formo la revuelta mas grande de Esclavos Africanos en nuestra isla de Santo Domingo; Buscando libertad mas de 40 esclavos se escaparon del ingenio...

Confirmacion de la variedad Africana entre el Dominicano: En estos tiempos con el ADN se puede analizar varios pedazos de nuestro pasado que muchas veces sufrieron perdida por causa del tiem...

Palabras de Origen Africano: Bienvenidos a esta lista viva de palabras Africanas usada por toda nuestra isla. Estas palabras la e recojido de varias fuentes, sean orales...

Nuestros Origenes Africanos: En nuestro sancocho de razas mucho de nosotros podemos decir por lo menos yo de alguna familia que tengo que sea española, canaria, francesa. Muchos de nosotros podemos recitar "mi tatarabuela era española", y esto es muy bueno ya que tenemos una historia oral. Pero...

El Mujeriego Dominicano y sus origenes culturales: No hay fruto que nazca sin semilla, y así mismo no hay comportamientos que no nazcan sin aprenderse. La gran mayoría de nosotros cuando nos sentamos a hacer recuentos familiares al llegar al tema dos los padres, abuelos, bisabuelos, tatarabuelos, etc. nos damos cuenta que tuvieron varias...





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July 18, 2016

Researching Panamanian Ancestry

Panama has a rich history with connections to many in the Caribbean islands of Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.  No matter which island you are from, you will discover cousins from Panama.  Personally I'd like to see an increase in people from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America to have their DNA tested. I recommend AncestryDNA since they have the best breakdown on African DNA.

If budget is an issue then test the oldest family members first.  I have seen people mentioning in genealogy groups on Facebook that funeral homes are now keeping DNA kits on hand to test family members to preserve family lines.  These same DNA kits can be used to assess potential medical issues that you may have inherited.  I for example inherited high cholesterol issues. I kind of figured that was the case when I saw that my great grandmother died from hardening of the arteries, which is associated to high cholesterol. 

So lets begin with that Family Search has billions of records for many countries across the globe. Their mission is to digitized all of their records and eventually have them all indexed and free to the public.  So what does that have to do with Panama?  PLENTY!

It turns out that Familysearch.org has a project that needs indexing.  There are two additional projects that in the process of arbitration; it is where records are interpreted different from one to the other and the arbitrator needs to step in to see which is correct.  You can read about the arbitration process on their website.

Below is what is currently available to indexed. With your assistance, it easier for you and everyone else to research ancestors quickly. Just imagine just typing in a family member's name and up comes all their records.  So click on the below link to access available project...


As for what is available online, there are three databases you can search.  They are as follows and each is a clickable link.  The databases contain records for many different regions throughout the country.


There is also Panama, Catholic Church Records, 1707-1973 which currently has 240,799 images.  When you click on the image number, it will lead to many regions being available to view. 

PARES:  My favorite archive and loaded with lots of information.  If you don't speak Spanish or not strong in the language, use Google Translate.  This archive is Spain's archive going back to Middle Ages.  It has extensive information for Panama with many images.  I have blogged about their archives in the past.  Look for my blog post on how to use the website. 

Familysearch.org has many records available for the country.  Visit their catalog and see what films are available to view at one of their Family Search Centers.  In the catalog you have the following:


July 17, 2016

Indexing Project for Dominican Republic Underway - Assistance Needed

Currently there are two projects for Dominican Republic that Family Search is looking for volunteers to transcribe records for their free index. www.Familysearch.org provides free access to digitized records for the entire globe is looking for assistance wint transcribing records written in Spanish.

To ensure that records are indexed correctly and accurately, they need our help in helping those searching for ancestors by simply using the search window versus going through images page by page.  Think of the time saved in researching our ancestors and having them indexed properly since we fully understand the language.  You can spend just 30 minutes per day indexing but the reward at the end is even more.

The two projects are:

  


Make this a possibility for many including yourself. When you click on the above link, it will lead you to the project.  Please note that they are also looking for arbitrators to volunteer. You will find all information on the website. 


Marriages from Book 1 of Cathedral in San Juan - Nuestra Senora de los Remedios

I have spent a lot of time pulling marriage records out of book 1 of marriages for Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.  This is the cathedral in San Juan that was originally built in 1521, was destroyed by a hurricane in October 1526 by San Francisco and rebuilt in 1529.  It is the 2nd oldest church in the Americas behind Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The images of this book were taken back in the 1990's and based on the images the book was in really bad shape. I would hate to see its condition today since the weather, bugs, etc. in Puerto Rico can pretty much destroy old documents if not stored properly.  Some of the books were thrown out because they were in such bad shape.  It is a shame that many of these books are gone for good which means it deters people from being able to trace their ancestors.  Most of the records going back beyond this book are no longer around which is why you have to rely on other sources.  This issue exists on many of the Caribbean islands, it isn't something that can be avoided.

Below is an image of two wedding records.  I will interpret the most important pieces.  On the left hand side of the image, it is the wedding of Francisco Sanchez Ravelo and Maria Bernarda del Rosario.

Wedding Records in San Juan's Book 1


The record states that on the 30th of November of 1702, that Pedro Zenteno, priest, presides over the marriage of Francisco Sanchez Ravelo, naturally from the city of San Juan and legitimate son of Juan Sanchez and Maria Ravelo, who are residents of Coamo and Maria Bernarda del Rosario, legitimate daughter of Juan del Rosario and Elena Melendez and residents of Coamo.  The witnesses to this marriage are Juan Alanso Gonzales, clergy from Menorca ( Balearic Islands), Juan Fernandez (sic) and Manuel Gomez. 

Juan del Rosario and Elena Melendez are actually my 8th great grandparents. I descend from another daughter, Maria Leonor, so this makes Maria Bernarda my 7th great grand aunt.  Juan del Rosario is actually originally from Ireland.  He was sent over as a slave to Puerto Rico during Cromwell's era. You can find those records in PARES.

The wedding record on the right side actually starts at the bottom of the left page.   This wedding occurs on the 3rd of June in 1703.  Pedro Zenteno is the priest that presides over the marriage between Juan Albertos and his bride Serafina. He is actually my 8th great grand uncle.  I descend from his brother Julian Albertos Lin.

It states that Juan Albertos Lin is naturally from San Juan, meaning born there.  He is the legitimate son of Juan Albertos Lin and Maria de los Remedios.  I have Maria de los Remedios last name listed as Moreno Garcia.  I believe I got those surnames from other records within the family.  Juan's bride, Serafina de Figueroa is naturally from Provincia de Piritu y Cumana Nueva Barcelona, Venezuela and the legitimate daughter of Manuel de Matos and Isabel Maria Figueroa.  Notice that she didn't take her father's last name.  This is very common during this era so keep that in mind when researching your ancestors.

The witnesses to this marriage are Juan Alanso Gonzales, clergy from Menorca, Domingo Sanchez and Juan de Figueroa.  Juan can possibly be a brother or uncle of the bride.  I didn't research which one he is as I don't descend from the line.

There is a 3rd wedding record that starts at the bottom right but I didn't review or capture it.  I can tell you that this image is of Folio (page) 292 vuelto (back) which is image 7 on Familysearch.org.  I have many other records and will share in future posts.


July 14, 2016

Researching Your African Ancestry in the Caribbean

One of the greatest ways of researching African ancestry in the Caribbean is by actually reading many history books and from different resources and countries.  If you don't have the time to go through so many books in the beginning then there is a shortcut.  I found that UNESCO Publishing is the best shortcut to take.  The book is called General History of the Caribbean, Volume III, The Slave Societies of the Caribbean. The books is well written and the publisher is known to write history books as unbiased history.  This book is in a set of 6 books but this one is the one you'll need out of the set. The book provides many references for sources used so that you can research at your leisure.

The book discusses social structures within the slave societies in the Caribbean; yes there were social societies among them.  The book is insightful with providing you with slave caste as well as freeman caste. The book discusses the difference in slavery from one Caribbean island to another.I found the book maintaining my attention and not boring at all.  However I'm bias in saying that because I love reading up on history, especially when I'm attempting to apply what I've learned to my own ancestry.  By taking this approach, it has helped me in direction of where to look for my ancestors.

This book has actually assisted me in understanding how is it that I have cousins throughout the Caribbean, South America and even within the USA once I received my DNA results.  I have many African American cousins who have no connection to the Caribbean as far as they know but yet we share significant amount of DNA.  This book actually opened my eyes as to how that is even possible.


What I found interesting was that there are images from a document in 1683, a subversive rebel message from Barbados.  A painting of Toussaint Louverture from around 1802, a painting of punishing slaves in Cuba, the Kalinda dance (stick dance) in Dominica, the sad imagery of slaves being hung alive, and then the image of a private in the 5th West Indian Regiment in 1814; yes he is of African descent. There are many more images of paintings in the book.

Before you go running to Amazon or any website that sells books, I say stop.  They are way too overpriced on these websites with some of them going for over $300.  You do not need to spend that kind of money.  Instead I recommend that you purchase it from the publisher; this is where I got the book and it sells for 25 pounds which is close to about $34 US dollars.  Note that the exchange rate fluctuates so the price is based on the exchange rate at the time of purchase, however the price should not fluctuate drastically.  I highly recommend the book to anyone researching their African ancestry.  Simply click here to be taken to the page where you can order a copy for a very reasonable price.


July 9, 2016

Interesting DNA Results from AncestryDNA

Logically you want to say that you are 50% from your mother and 50% from your father.  The reality is that it isn't exactly 50% from each parent.

I am of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent and first generation born in the US mainland while my husband is Haitian born.  I had my husband and two children tested and the results finally came in this week with my son's ethnicity finally coming in today.  The results are making an individual eat crow and I do mean eat crow for many reasons.  I'm actually enjoying the creme pie in the face. LOL

For one, both my kids inherited more of my DNA as far as centimorgans (cMs) with my son having the most. He also has more of my cousins on his list than my daughter which I was surprised and not expecting.

One of the proven points with my husband was breakdown of ethnicity. Knowing what I have learned in my research of the island of Hispaniola, I knew that our DNA could not be so far off and different when it came to African ethnicity breakdown.  However my husband insisted that he was 100% from Cameroon.  I have yet to know how he could have known that but DNA doesn't lie.

So here are our results. I labelled each so you can see each breakdown. His DNA truly proved him wrong; I'm grinning and enjoyed that discussion.

My Results
My Husband's Results

As you can see he inherited a combination of 32% Nigeria, 21% Benin/Togo as his two highest regions from his parents.  I inherited 14% Benin/Togo and traces from other African regions.  The results for our two children are quite interesting.

Below are both of our children. 

Daughter's Results
Son's Results


So looking at my daughter, you can see that she inherited more Benin/Togo DNA with 28% whereas my son is only 12% Benin/Togo.  The huge difference is that my son has 20% Nigeria whereas my daughter only inherited 3% Nigeria.  So yes the results can be drastically different.

I can tell you that I only show 3% Ivory Coast/Ghana but my maternal uncle who is my mother's full brother has a large amount of Ivory Coast DNA.  As a matter of fact it was his biggest African contribution.  This is why it is helpful to test as many family members as possible.  In researching your Ancestry and ancestors, you need as much help as possible.  I know that due to recombination and randomness of inheritance of DNA from your parent, you will lose matches to cousins.  Keep this in mind while you research your ancestry.

July 2, 2016

Researching Your Belizean Ancestry

Researching your ancestry from Belize formerly known as British Honduras is actually not as hard as some would think.  There are many resources available to you where you shouldn't have to visit the country to find information.  Like many other regions of the Caribbean, Central America and South America, names have changed over the years.  This can cause a person to easily get frustrated when researching the family tree.

However I always recommend that you should always attempt to learn about the region's history as your first step and avoid the feeling of frustration.  Even if you know the history, it doesn't hurt to review it once more or multiple time during your research, it will actually help you further.  We all know that at one point that Belize was known as British Honduras and something important to keep in mind.

Below is our first stop, the government archives.  While at the time of my post the website is under maintenance, they do supply a contact number and eventually the website will be back up and working.

Belize Government Archives

There are Belize records available on microfilm via Familysearch.org, a great resource for researching your ancestry:

Belize Microfilmed Records:  Familysearch has a large number of records for Belize. This link will lead you to church, civil, census, etc. for the country. Eventually these records will become available online for all to research.  However for now you'll have to visit a local Family History Center that can be found all over the globe.

Belize City Cemetery: This one is only available in book form and books can only be viewed in Utah. Noted it here as an option if you ever plan to visit. 

Familysearch Search option: Use the link and you can type in ancestor last names or simply leave the name blank, select the "Any" option and then type in Belize or British Honduras in the field.  You can filter the results once the lists come up by selecting the "Collections" tab at the top of the search results and then checking off the catalogs you want to review.  Passenger lists to New York, Florida, and Louisiana are great options to select. Then go back up to the top and click on the "Filter These Results" to update your list.

In addition, here are some additional resources available online...

First Parish Register of Belize: Book is available for purchase and covers from 1794 to 1810 along with the first 4 Census done for Belize under British rule. 

Second Parish Register of Belize:  Book is available for purchase and covers 1813 to 1827 as well as the 1829 Census.

Third Parish Register of Belize:  Book is available for purchase and covers registers from 1828 to 1841. 


Find A Grave:  Volunteers are always adding records from cemeteries from around the world. The website has records for cemeteries for Belize City and Belize the country.  It is definitely worth looking at the records.


PARES:  This is Spain's Archive portal. I have two blog posts that speaks to how to use the website.  There are many digitized records on this website.

 Most importantly you should:

  • Create a family tree on Ancestry.  Make sure you add at least the country of birth if you're not sure what city a person was born.  There are thousands of records available on Ancestry.
  • A generation consists of 20 to 30 years.  So if you are not certain of when your grandparents or great grandparents were born, just minus 20 to 30 years of age from your parent. In the date of birth type in "ABT" followed by space and the year.  I tend to start with a person being 20 years of age.  When you do this it will help search engines provide you with hints on Ancestry.  It may even connect you to a cousin you didn't know was out there that may have the information you seek.
  • Have your DNA tested.  Look for Holiday sales on DNA kits.  I recommend Ancestry because they provide a good breakdown on African DNA and also have the largest database around with over 2 million people who have tested.  
  • They sell their kits in Europe which should help in your research; specifically England.
  • Join many of the genealogy groups available on Facebook.  
  • Speak to your oldest relatives, you'll be surprised of how much they know.
  • Have your eldest relatives DNA tested, test is very simple with them spitting in a tube, just make sure you register the kit online.





Researching Your Haitian Ancestry

Recommendations in researching your Haitian ancestry:

  • Document what you know about your family. 
  • Create a family tree on Ancestry.  Make sure you add at least the country of birth if you're not sure what city a person was born.  
  • A generation consists of 20 to 30 years.  So if you are not certain of when your grandparents or great grandparents were born, just minus 20 to 30 years of age from your parent. In the date of birth type in "ABT" followed by space and the year.  I tend to start with a person being 20 years of age.  When you do this it will help search engines provide you with hints on Ancestry.  It may even connect you to a cousin you didn't know was out there that may have the information you seek.
  • Have your DNA tested.  Look for Holiday sales on DNA kits.  I recommend Ancestry because they provide a good breakdown on African DNA and also have the largest database around with over 2 million people who have tested.
  • Join many of the genealogy groups on Facebook.  
  • Speak to your oldest relatives, you'll be surprised of how much they know.
  • Have your eldest relatives DNA tested, test is very simple with them spitting in a tube, just make sure you register the kit online.


I do not speak or read the language but can decipher it.  If you can't read or write the language, don't get intimidated, there are many out there who are willing to assist.  You can start with the two below links:

 Now as for resources, I'm providing a few below.

History of Haiti : All in English and there is a map of the Taino tribes that existed on the island, this map can be found on many articles on this website and many other websites. Great read whether you do or don't know the history.

Association de Genealogie d'Haiti:  A great website to research your ancestors with many resources.  The website contains a database with over 700k names entered that starts in 1793.

FamilySearch Digitized Records:  This collection contains civil records for Port-au-Prince for birth and death records.  The collection covers from 1794 - 2012.

FamilySearch Catalog for Haiti:  The catalog at FamilySearch provides you with the ability to order microfilms to view records.  There are Family History Centers in all parts of the globe.  Simply use the link to find the closet one to you.  You can then order films to be delivered to the location.  As previously explained on Dominican and Puerto Rican posts, call ahead or visit to see if the film is already at the location, it will save you money and time.  Make sure you also visit the website's wiki page on Haitian Genealogy.

The following are listing for different cities/regions of Haiti.  Each has different results so look at what is available.  Also remember that borders and countries do change.  A perfect example is Hincha (DR) or Hinche as known in Haiti.  You can find records in Dominican Republic under La Vega.