July 28, 2015

Maria Florentina Alvarez Castillo

I always say to keep an open mind when researching your ancestors.  It is important to read up on the history of the region including when a town was established and when a church was erected in the town.  This has helped immensely in finding records when researching my ancestors.  Well, this way of thinking has worked very well.  It worked so well that in a little time I was able to not only find the records I needed but even further back into Spain including finding letters in PARES.

So this ancestor I speak of is Maria Florentina Alvarez Castillo. She is my 5th great grandmother by my father's maternal line.  This is the line that connects me to the Betancourt families that I match with via DNA.  Many of whom have tested and I've been able to connect with and reaffirm that my documentation on my tree is correct.

So I want to begin with how I was stuck on this line.  Many others were also stuck and were not able to figure out who was the Betancourt Asencio parents.  You see my fourth great grandmother is
Matea del Pilar Betancourt Asencio.  It turns out she was one of 4 children to her parents. However before I jump the gun let me explain.  I was able to find Matea on many records and many of her children.

Through research I was able to discover that she was married in  Trujillo Alto's Exaltacion de la Santa Cruz Roman Catholic Church in Dec 1819 to Juan Betancourt Mangual; Book 1 of marriages.  However that book isn't filmed and is actually in bad condition. The only thing that could be read were the names along with year and month of marriage.  I actually thought that finding out further information from the US mainland was impossible beyond this.  However I don't give up easily so I decided to look for other resources.

Well my persistence paid off. It turns out that I had access to the 1860, 1870, 1872 and 1898 Census for Trujillo Alto Puerto Rico and I decided to look through the records.  I found Matea del Pilar on the 1860 Census on row 1470 living with her son Juan Betancourt, daughter Catalina Velez Asencio and son Modesto Velez Asencio; children can be found on rows 1471, 1472 and 1473.

I realized that the answer was sitting right in front of me all along so I kept digging and found more records against the Velez children and realized through the census records that she also had a brother and sister right on the census; Juan Asencio Alvarez and Felicita Asencio Alvarez. I had these two individuals already on my tree but as being married into the family. Through many records I was able to establish their relationship.

The 1860 Census also provided ages and doing my math I realized Matea del Pilar was born before the church was erected and started researching in the closet large city; San Juan.  I went looking for a marriage record and knew her spouse was Asencio.  Since these three Asencio children were the earliest I noticed in the region, along with seeing Maria Florentina Alvarez appearing on the baptism records as the godmother, I decided I to use Maria Florentina Alvarez when searching in the military marriage church books.  Sure enough I found her quickly! What a find!

It turns out she married a soldier named Antonio Asencio Sans. I found them in Book 4 of marriages which covers from 1790 to 1813.   They were married on December 2nd, 1803.
Antonio Asencio Sans & Maria Florentina Asencio Alvarez marriage
I then turned to church books and started in 1800 and was shocked to discover another child, Fermin Antonio, born October 11, 1802.  So now I knew I was on the right trail. 

I now realized that there was only one Maria Florentina Alvarez Castillo in Trujillo Alto and she was the one and the same that was married to Pedro Velez. It also explains why the low number of Asencio Alvarez during that time period.

I already had Maria Florentina on my tree with two sons; Pedro and Vicente Velez It also helped that I realized that I had two entries with Maria Alvarez. It then made sense as to why Matea's death record had Pedro's name on her father. What finally confirmed it was my DNA test. I show close relationship to people who descend the Velez line with some showing being 3rd and 4th cousins which makes sense based on the family tree.  There is more to add to this but I'll leave this for you to absorb and I'll be back with the continuation to this story.

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