December 10, 2014

Rafael Betancourt Falcon - First Male Survivor - First Installment

For years I've seen people throw around where this man was born. Things such as how he was born in the Canary Islands in Spain and many other numerous claims. I've even seen some even carry on how this was their direct grandfather. If he were your grandfather, you'd have to be close to 200 years of age. The ridiculous number of stories is just sad. How can people do such a disservice to their ancestors or ancestors of others when you try to force someone on your tree? Why create a tree of falsehood and pass down something that isn't true? I personally don't understand this concept.

So you see I do descend from this man and I'd like to know the truth about every single ancestor as I and many others are the fruits to the struggles they faced on this island. During his lifetime, he, his wife and his children had to face 17 Hurricanes that had hit the island. He and his family existed during times of turmoil in the world that was riddled with wars. One thing I did do was read books and articles so that not only did I understand their struggles but to also understood their living condition covering this period of time. Just imagine living in an era where we don't have our current comforts such as air condition and electricity on a hot and very humid island.  Not even indoor plumbing!!

This family lived during the era of the American Revolution with France join the rebels against the British Empire in 1778, and Spain joining in 1779 along with the Dutch Republic in 1780 (additional read). There were many other wars and political situations during this time period. I'm sure that it wasn't a walk in the park for any of them. So now this leads me to Rafael.

Rafael Betancourt Falcon wasn't born in the Canary Islands, he was born right on our island of Puerto Rico and was baptized in Bayamon.  Because of the condition of the baptism books; a priest at the church had the books redone in the mid 1800's.  We don't know who he handed the task to but unfortunately we will never know if this person was lazy by leaving out information or if the records were badly damaged and pieces of the page were missing. I'm leaning on the thought that the books were very damaged. I state this because Rafael's date of birth wasn't recorded but the date of baptism was. Also the original records went missing never to be found. However I can say that humans and habits don't change so easily in a region where the Roman Catholic Church ruled. So in comparing baptisms in this time period, most people baptized their children within a month or two.  So for this reason I simply set his date of birth to the first day of the month of when he was baptized.  Rafael was baptized on March 16, 1773 at Parroquia Santa Cruz in Bayamon. Below is the image of the record in the book.

Rafael Betancourt Falcon Baptized March 16, 1773
I also determined that Rafael died between 1833 and 1839 based on wills filed.  As mentioned in a prior post, Rafael was married to Maria del Rosario Mangual Falcon. Note that these two were first cousins as Antonia Falcon Lin (Rafael's mother) and Casimira Falcon Lin (Maria del Rosario's mother) were sisters.  They were also listed in the article regarding the wills I mentioned in my prior post about his sister.

The first will was written on Aug 13, 1833 and it showed them to be married, having 11 children, owning 145 cuerdas in Quebrada Grande in Trujillo Alto with a house, 33 animals, his children listed as his heirs and listing his wife and his son Juan as his executors of the estate; I descend from Juan.  On the will filed on May 28, 1939, I see his wife listed as a widow and the executors of the estate to be their sons Fermin, Diego and Manuel.  I'm know that many descend from these men and his children create an explosion of Betancourt descendants in this region til today.  When I look at my tree I've noticed that I have only located 10 of their 11 children; I'll need to find that 11th one to complete his family. Since I descend from this line, I will have plenty to add. This was just the beginning...

Parroquia Santa Cruz in Bayamon where Rafael was baptized