July 30, 2017

Digitized Ponce Church Records 1835 to 1948

Ponce was established in 1692 and had settles prior to this year.  While churches did exist prior to 1836, it is the earliest records that were filmed for the region.  I cannot say if books prior to this date exist and if they do, they were never filmed.  Most importantly, Ponce has a large connection to the Independence of Haiti during the revolutionary years. It pays to read the history as it will potentially lead to connections if you notice cousins via DNA from Haiti.

After breakdown the film images for Caguas, I do not believe that Ponce would be as bad. While the number of films are 16, it is no longer intimidating to me as I go through the films. One lesson here is that you take your time as you go through the images.  When I discovered the books for the town where my Bayala line came from, I went through pages quickly trying to find every Bayala.  It was not until as time progressed in my research, I realized that many of the records I sped through were actually many of my ancestors. Names such as Silverio, Betancourt, Diaz, Delgado, Aleman, Soiza, and Mangual.  It is why I say to all, slow and steady will get you what you seek. You just never know who you just passed over.

While going through the civil records for Ponce makes me cringe at the task, I must say that the church records for Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe are not so bad. I know many have been waiting for this, but remember, go back to what you know before reviewing these records to ensure correct year. I give every generation of parents 20 to 30 years. So if your ancestor is born in 1900, you can look for their parents between 1870 and 1880 baptism books.

Books of Baptisms Indexes


Includes Baptisms, Marriages, and Deaths  


There are some 1836 records in this mix.  I did not look for them due to the large volume of records. However, they are within the following books.



Baptisms Books


It seems that the priests were forgetful in recording baptisms or ran out of places to post baptisms records and simple placed the record at the end of any of the books; it is very random.  So while FamilySearch states that years are missing, that is not the case.  Here is what I found going through some of the books. I recommend that each book is looked at thoroughly at the end as there are straggler records in many.

In Book 1, that covers 1850, there are some misplaced baptism records ranging from 1836 to 1882 in the back. They start on Image 80.

In Book 8, that covers 1858 - 1859, there are some misplaced baptisms records ranging from 1858 - 1872 in the back. They start on Image 2219.

In Book 16, that covers 1869, there are some misplaced baptisms records ranging from 1869 - 1921 in the back. They start on Image 236.

In Book 30, that covers 1886 - 1887, there are some misplaced baptisms records ranging from 1885 - 1921 in the back.  They start with Image 2112.


One of the seven sacraments, Confirmations, did not happen all the time as baptisms do. So while FamilySearch states there are missing years, that is not the case. I recall sitting in St. Pascal Baylon Church's rectory going through the books as the priest let all the teens rummage through the rectory as part of our curriculum for Confirmation.  At the time, I believe Confirmations were being done either once a year or every other year. Our group consisted of 20 of us. So disregard the statement of missing years in the catalog since not everyone who is Roman Catholic would do their Confirmation.

Confirmation Books


Marriage Books


While all of the Death books have indexes, for whatever reason, the photographer didn't take images of the indexes. Only those marked below have images of the indexes of their perspective book.

Death Books




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July 28, 2017

Joseph Vaguizu - An Infant Slave in Puerto Rico

I've edited this post with the following...

I want to thank the source of this record,  an individual who is collecting records for Toa Alta. I wanted his okay before putting his name out there. I cannot thank Angel  Perez-Galarza enough for providing me with numerous images on those that were enslaved. This record is one of many he sent my way.

I have posted about this record on Facebook but decided to post it here. Here is a record of a woman who was enslaved.  It clearly states that she is a black slave. Her name is Martina Vaguizu. This is a name that I have never come across in going through church records for Puerto Rico. I also did a search to see if I could find this last name today and could not find it. I found the last name on one record in Argentina.  This leads me to believe that Martina was sold again and sent to live in Puerto Rico as her slave captors did not share her last name. However, that is not why this record has caught my attention. I have seen many Africans and blacks whether enslaved or freed being baptized.

The record is not even about Martina per say, but about her son Joseph de la Mercedes Vaguizu.  Joseph is being baptized in the church in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico on the 17th of October, 1824.  Joseph de la Mercedes was born on the 24th of September, 1824.  This makes Joseph only 23 days old.  This is normal for any baby born during this era to be baptized under 30 days of age. However, what I do not consider normal is that this infant is a slave.

Here is where things go really wrong for me as I never seen any church records documenting the following. Apparently the slave holder decides to advise the priest that the child is being gifted to his daughter to be her slave. So yes, the child is being taken away from his mother to be raise as a slave in another home to serve a new slave owner, the man’s daughter.

What I also suspect is that the man is the child’s father. The reason for this suspicion is that the child is listed in the church record as a “mulato slave”.  This means that although the mother is being recognize as being black, not mulato, the child is being identified as such. If the slave holder is indeed the father of Joseph, it can be that his wife did not want the child in the home. Anything is possible.

I have attached the image below. I hope that he survived and that his legacy continued until today.  Hoping that whomever descends from him and his mother will come across this record.

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July 25, 2017

Ceiba Digitized Church Records 1840 - 1978

As I move forward in transcribing more records for different municipalities, I am discovering regions where I do not believe I have any ancestors but also how vast this island actually is.  While I see many comment that slavery existed on the eastern part of the island, the truth is that it existed everywhere equally around the island. There is no exclusive place nor have I come across a region where I have not seen slaves or former slaves in the records. I want to remove that myth from everyone's mind.

So for the municipality of Ceiba, in Puerto Rico, it founded in 1838, and the name of the church for this town is San Antonio de Padua.  The municipality can be found along the northeastern coast of the island south of Fajardo. There are not a vast number of church records but the collection is complete. I found that many books were mislabeled and the catalog has the wrong years listed.  These are all corrected below. 

The digitized church records are as follows with the first book containing 9 different books:


Note: Parts 2A in the above book are for Blacks whether enslaved or free

Baptisms Books


Marriage Books

Death Books



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July 23, 2017

Digitized Maunabo San Isidro Labrador Records 1800 - 1935

Many of the municipalities and towns names in Puerto Rico originate from the indigenous people that populated the island, the Tainos.  Their history and existence can be found throughout the island.  The majority of people who identify their ancestry to the island are now discovering through DNA that almost all of us have connection to this tribe that existed on the island.  Those that come from mountainous regions of the island are more likely to have features or resemblance to those that once populated the island.

Maunabo can be found in a remote mountainous region of the island and for the most part holds onto its old colonial ways.  The available church records are limited to only baptism and marriage records.  If you research the history of this municipality, you'll know where to look next.  I discovered people that were enslaved in this municipality that were baptized.  The breakdown is as follows:

Baptisms Books



Marriages Books


The following 13 images are loose pages at the back of another book. You can flip this first image by using the icon to the right of the screen under "Tools". Use the "Turn to the Left" a couple of times to right the image.  The images run from 1895 to 1900 and are not in any order:


The following 4 images are loose pages at the back of another book:

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Caguas Digitized Church Records 1730 - 1968

While Caguas in Puerto Rico records start in 1730, there are many records that have been lost prior to this year. It is quite unfortunate as many questions remain unanswered regarding those that live in this region prior to this year. We can only get a glimpse of those ancestors via the death books.

This post consists of 17 sets of films that have been digitized with well over 35,000 images.  Keep in mind that the volume of records is large. I provide the image numbers to the starting point of each book so you can jump back if needed. Note that their catalog may list a book as death when they are actually baptisms records. In addition, I found errors in the years provided.  I have made the corrections when listing them below.

Most importantly, one of the habits of a priest is forgetting to document your ancestor in the correct books.  It pays to review prior volumes and future volumes.  There are people who are enslaved listed in many of these books. An important thing to keep in mind.  When it came to deaths, everyone was listed in the same books.  There was no separation.  These books hold a lot of ancestry information, do not skip over them. If you do not know the language, Spanish, or have difficulty reading it. There are two resources I recommend. One is using Google Translate and the other is joining a group in Facebook called Genealogy Translations. Please follow the rules in the group to get assistance.

Index Books


The following books are all contained in one book.  The book contains slaves, freed blacks, brown/mixed and whites that were baptized, married, or died in this region. I have broken the book down into three books for easier navigation.  I also placed them in the order they appear so you can bounce around the images.  So for example, baptism records go from 1309 through and including 1653.  Knowing this helps you move around within this book.

Baptisms Books


Marriages Books


Confirmation Books


Death Books

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July 22, 2017

Manumitted Enslaved People in Puerto Rico

Most people do not realize that slavery still existed on the island of Puerto Rico well after the United States had freed those enslaved.  In Puerto Rico, slavery ended in 1873 by the Spanish National Assembly.  However, those enslaved were not exactly freed, they had to work for an additional 3 years for those that kept them captive. Those who claimed ownership were compensated at 35 million pesetas for each enslaved person.

Any person that was 60 or older and children under 10, were allegedly set free immediately. I state this as we all know that not everyone was willing to release what they considered their property. This is covered in detailed in many history books covering Puerto Rico. You can search in Google Books to locate free copies of history books online and that have been transcribed to English.

A quick search in PARES, I came across 10 enslave people being manumitted, sometime between 1871 and 1872. I found them by searching for records on Toa Alta. If you do not know what PARES is, I have posted links to many of my pages for different islands. I provide instructions on how to use the website. The source of the record of these 10 enslaved people is: ES.28079.AHN/2.3.1.16.6//ULTRAMAR,5100,Exp.57

To make it more understandable. The breakdown of where to find the record is as follows:

Título de la unidad: "Relación de esclavos emancipados de la isla de Puerto Rico"
Archivo: Archivo Histórico Nacional
Signatura: ULTRAMAR,5100,Exp.57
These individuals were living in Toa Alta in Puerto Rico.  Their names and ages found in this record that were freed are as follows:

Teresa 4 years old
Luisa 5 years old
Maria Cruz is 11 years old
Joaquina is 18 years old
Francisco is 23 years old
Sandalio is 33 years old
Mariano is 38 years old
Wencesla is 38 years old
Patricio is 41 years old

It is quite disheartening to see people forced into slavery. The man that held these people was Juan Pedro Cintron. I went ahead and downloaded the documents and provided the images below.  Note that you can also download the images and zoom in to see if any of them can be ancestors you are searching. These are not the only people you will find in PARES. All you need is Google Translate to be able to review the documents.

I even found licenses of purchasing of African slaves going back to 1519.  Any island under Spanish rule at some point in the past will find records in PARES for their island.





































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July 20, 2017

Guanica Digitized Church Records 1885 - 1944

Guanica, which is west from Yauco on the island of Puerto Rico, was once part of Yauco until 1914. It was then that it established itself as it's own municipality. If you have done research in PARES (see prior posts), then you may have come across records from the early 1500's when Guaynia was the capital of the island. I recommend you read up on the town history to learn where the name comes from and where to continue your search. While the municipality was established in 1914, the below church records start in 1888.  Hopefully you'll locate ancestors in these records.

Baptism Books

Marriage Books

Death Books


Confirmation Books


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July 18, 2017

Agua Buenas Digitized Church Records 1845 - 1938


Prior to the municipality of Agua Buenas being established in 1838 in Puerto Rico, it was once a part of Caguas and you should look at Caguas church records prior to this church being established. The municipality sits just northwest of Caguas.  The reason I mention this is because new researchers think that the towns have always been there as they are today. This isn't the case throughout the Caribbean. The island of Puerto Rico has gone thru some major transitions over time. It is important that you read up on history to avoid struggling trying to find your ancestors.

Index of Books


Baptism Books


Marriage Books

Confirmation Books

Death Books



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