August 29, 2015

Indexing: Why You Should Help Family Search

It is truly a great resource to be able to access records, view them, search for them via indexes when we visit  I find it to be an amazing resources for all of us to be able to browse through records that would cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars as well as countless hours sitting in an archive in another city, country, and/or continent.  I'm very thankful that FamilySearch has made this an available resources to all of us and all at NO cost.  However imagine what it takes from their end in making this possible!  Below is a video that came from their website.  In order to show our appreciation, all they from those of us that research is that we volunteer in indexing some records.  So first watch the video and below that I'll provide more details.

So how can you help?  Very easily!  When your visit FamilySearch's website, at the top you'll see a link that says "Indexing".  Ignore the drop down menu and simply click on Indexing which will lead you to their indexing page.  They have easy to follow tutorials, software, and projects where you can help.

One of the biggest complaints is that you can't find your family members since the name were index correctly.  This is due to those who don't speak the language nor can they read it or recognize the name by simply glimpsing at it so they provide the best information that they can.  Currently there are projects to index for both Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.  There are also many for Mexico, Central and South American countries as well as in Spain.  Doing your part makes it easier to research and also gives back an incentive to FamilySearch to pursue those regions in getting more records digitized.  The more interest, the more likely the records will be digitized.  So please do your part. It's very easy and I've done plenty myself. They also have plenty of friendly people to walk you through the process or any issues you may encounter.

August 26, 2015

Moca, Dominican Republic Church Books Available Online

Moca is capital of the Espaillat province that is located in the Cibao region of Dominican Republic. If your family is known to come from the Cibao, it doesn't hurt to research your lines in a town that had two churches in the 1880s.

I knew that I kept a list for Moca Church Books as I've gone through some of the books for that region of Dominican Republic.  I was able to locate the file late last night and decided I would share the list with all to make it easier to navigate through the books in Moca.  Moca's two churches are  Nuestra Señora del Rosario and Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.  I have listed all of the Nuestra Señora books that go from 1821 to 1921.  Many have indexes which I've indicated. To explain how to work with the "Image numbers", I provide an explanation on a prior post which you can find here.  Hope my list assists you in your research!

Note:  Each entry is clickable and leads to the book, if you find a link doesn't work, please feel free to post below and I'll made the edit as soon as possible.

August 21, 2015

The Rivas Families of Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic

In researching my grandmother's Rivas line, I went with what I did know about her.  She was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic in 1911.  Her mother's name is Mercedes and she came to the US with my uncles in 1948 and she died in San Francisco, California while caring for a sick friend in 1956.  My grandmother always spoke of her fondly and also spoke of her grandmother who died when she was just 11 years old.

She also advised that her mother was from Monte Cristi which is where I've been searching. Although I've come across a Mercedes Rivas in the records, I cannot say that it is definitely her as there were quite a few in the Registration books. I know that she had siblings by the names of Adela, Dorila (Nena), Maria, and Federico (Monono).  I also know that my grandmother had an aunt which I met as a child during my summer visit to the island in 1979.  She was very old and her name was Dorila Rivas.  I found her death record and according to the record she was 105 years old.  She was definitely way up there as she was much older than my grandmother who was 68 years old at the time.  Dorila eventually died in 1981 in La Vega and the death was reported by Enrique Bolivar Capellan. I recall feeling sad that she had past when my grandmother told me; Tia Dorila was a very sweet old woman who was blind and lost her limb due to her diabetes. I remember hugging her immediately after being introduced and didn't hold back from doing so and it was something she had remarked upon. Like I said, very sweet woman and easy to gravitate towards.

Since I had an idea when Tia Dorila died, I was able to locate Dorila's death record in La Vega but like Mercedes Rivas' record, parents' name were left blank. I had decided that the best approach was to go through the church books first, document all the Rivas children being born and baptized in Monte Cristi's San Fernando Parrish and look at the list to see if any of her siblings appear.  I will then take the same approach with the Civil Registration records as I'm determined to solve and confirm this family line.  It just may be that they are from the Monte Cristi province and not necessarily the town since there are Rivas in the entire area. Or possibly they were from La Vega but Mercedes' mother came from Monte Cristi. Below is the image to Dorila's death record; record to the left.

Dorila Rivas Death Record (Page on Left)

So far I have Books 2 and 3 completed with 4 halfway done.  However I have all of the children's names up until Book 5 and none of them look familiar.

You can easily click on the child's first name and it will lead you to the record it references in the table.

So Book 2 covers from 1889 to 1894, they are as follows:

First Name Last Name Father 1st Father Last Mother 1st Mother Last Page DOB Baptism Date
Ana Rosa Rivas Martin Rivas Antonia Castro 10 Aug 30, 1889 Jan 1, 1890
Jose Guadalupe Rivas Lorenza Rivas 25 Dec 12, 1889 Apr 15, 1890
Maximo Rivas Vicenta Rivas 38 May 16, 1890 Jun 16, 1890
Gregorio Rivas Manuel  Rivas Maria Mercedes Rivas 47 Feb 19, 1890 Jul 26, 1890
Tomasina Maria Rivas Modesto Rivas Tomasina Rodriguez 47 Jul 19, 1890 Jul 27, 1890
Manuel de Jesus Rivas Manuel Maria Rivas Fidelia Rivas 47 Jun 11, 1890 Jul 27, 1890
Ana Gregoria Rivas Antonio Rivas Bartolina Munoz 54 Jul 30, 1890 Aug 12, 1890
Rita Modesto Rivas Gregorio Rivas Guadalupe Rivas 89 Jul 15, 1890 Mar 21, 1891
Talenciano Rivas Marcos Rivas Silveria de la Cruz 110 May 24, 1891 Jun 21, 1891
Mercedes Rivas Lorenza Rivas 113 Dec 1, 1890 Jun 21, 1891
Celestino Rivas Emilia Rivas 140 Aug 16, 1891 Oct 3, 1891
Daniel Rivas Manuel Rivas Mercedes Belliard 171 Dec 31, 1891 Feb 14, 1892
Ana Rita Rivas Antonio Rivas Bartolina Munoz 175 Aug 10, 1891 Feb 27, 1892

And here is Book 3 baptisms that cover years 1894 to 1899:

First Name Last Name Father 1st Father Last Mother 1st Mother Last Page DOB Baptism Date
Natividad Rivas

Gabina Rivas 12 25 Dec 1893 20 Aug 1894
Julio Rivas Manuel de Jesus Rivas Mercedes Biliard 23 12 Apr 1894 21 Nov 1894
Francisca Rivas

Maria Rivas 51 9 Oct 1894 20 Mar 1895
Maria Elena Rivas Antonio Rivas Bartolina Munoz 58 5 Jan 1895 7 Apr 1895
Modesta Rivas Gregorio Rivas Guadalupe Rivas 69 21 Dec 1894 21 May 1895
Calista Rivas

Lorenza Rivas 80 4 Nov 1894 14 Jul 1895
Angusto Cesar Rivas

Eudosia Rivas 88 4 Jan 1895 9 Sept 1895
Felicia Maria Rivas Manuel Maria Rivas Fidelia Gonzales 96 20 Nov 1894 6 Oct 1895
Julio Enrique Rivas

Daniela Rivas 100 7 Jul 1895 1 Nov 1895
Isabel Rivas

Eusebia Rivas 148 18 Nov 1895 30 May 1896
Rosalia Rivas

Juana Francisca Rivas 186 20 Jul 1896 24 Dec 1896

Although I found a Mercedes on this list with Lorenza, I'm convinced that that isn't my great grandmother (bisabuela) and great great grandmother (tatarabuela).  I share these lists with others in search of their Rivas ancestors in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. My search continues...

August 18, 2015

Santiago de los Caballeros Church Books Partial List

I updated this page on 1/2/2016 to add the entire list of digitized Books for La Altagracia church; scroll down to see those.  For the Catedral, I have not added any updates.  Both churches are in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.  However there are other churches that were not filmed.  One such church is San Antonio de Pauda which is a very old church.

Note that there are more records available that are not listed below for the Catedral. To explain the how to use the "Image" numbers, click here.

San Jose de las Matas Baptism Books List

So below is my list for San Jose de las Matas which is also known as Sajoma and it a town in the province of Santiago. The below list is simply a small list of books I've looked at in the past but is not the entire list.  I'm sharing my below list just to make it easier for others to search church records for this town.  The list is only for Baptism records.  Since my family is from this region, I browsed.  To explain the how to use the "Image" numbers, click here.

Access Church Books for Bonao, La Vega, Dominican Republic Using Index List

The below is a list I created to make my life much easier when researching in Bonao in the Province of La Vega in Dominican Republic. Each line is clickable and will lead directly to the book it references. I'm sharing my list to help you and others in their research. To explain the how to use the "Image" numbers, click here.

August 17, 2015

Church Books Available for Jarabacoa in La Vega Dominican Republic

The below is a list I created to make my life much easier for researching ancestry in Jarabacoa which is in the Province of La Vega in Dominican Republic. I'm now sharing my list to make everyone's research much easier. To explain the how to use the "Image" numbers, click here.  The links open a new window with the images it references on Family Search.

San Fernando Monte Cristi Parrish Baptism Church Books Index

The below list will get you to the San Fernando Parrish in Monte Cristi Baptism books.  I created this list to make my life much easier for researching ancestry and I'm now sharing. You can use the same instructions I provide here.  I thought I would share it with everyone to make their research much easier. The links open a new window with the images it references on Family Search. Any questions regarding the links below to the baptism books found on Family Search feel free to post.

La Vega Dominican Republic Baptism Church Books - Links and Indexes

The below is a table that I've created over time that I use when I'm searching for an individual within a certain time period for the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in La Vega, Dominican Republic. If a book isn't listed then I just haven't gotten to that individual year yet.  There are no books prior to 1805 for this church; read the history to discover why.

Each entry has a hyperlink to the individual book found on Family Search.   I've relabeled some of them with a "b" to indicate that it is a continuation from the prior book but is a physical separate book as there are two books with the same number.

The number next to the word "Image" represent the image number on the website's film roll. I use this as a way of jumping around within a book.

So for example, I want to view a Taveras in Book 11 and it shows this record as being on page 30.  There are 29 letters in the Spanish alphabet.  I will take the image number for the cover (231) add 29 for pages for letters and add 30; this will give me 290.  I then go to the image window box and remove the number that appears there and replace it with 290 and click the "GO" button that appears to the right of it.

I should arrive either on the page or close to it. I can easily jump forward based on the number of pages I am off. To explain this, if wind up on page 20 and I'm off by 10 pages then I remove the 290 from the box and replace it with 300.  I then look to see if I'm on page 30 and if not then I adjust according.

The column on the right provides you a separate link to indexes when they appear at the end of a book or somewhere else entirely.  If you see it state "with Index" that means the index appears after the cover of the book.  As always, any questions, feel free to post below.

Desktop:  To see other blog posts for your island or country, click on the menu that appears at the top right of this post. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

Mobile Devices (Smartphone & Tablets):  To see other blog posts for your island or country, at the top of the page, click on the "Most Recent Post", a popup menu will appear, select an option. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

August 16, 2015

Lesson Learned in Researching Your Genealogy

Last night before calling it a day, I decided to go on a hunch that has been nagging me for the past 4 or 5 months. Ideas and thoughts are always circling in my mind when I set myself in figuring something out.  I tend to read passages in Google Books, a book off my bookshelf, or even sourced informed articles on my free time.  Yes, I don't watch television, at least not during the off season. When ideas swirl, I won't stop and that is how I've been able to locate records. I even function this way at work which co-workers can attest.  I tend to keep my brain on full throttle.

Last weekend I was digging through baptism records in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic when I noticed a  record.  A girl child was being baptized and was a legitimate child of the couple. This child was being given TWO middle names.  The second middle name caught my eye, it was her mother's MAIDEN name!  I had read in one of these books that a child is given a mother's or grandmother's name to honor the individual by passing it down to a child.  Now I wish I knew which book I had read this in as I would like to source this.  It peaked my interest but I was set on finding this record I was seeking so I kept going. 

So last night I decided I wanted to look for my great grandfather's death record. I knew where he lived and the year he died but never went to dig up his record. And when I did, I was in for a very very big surprise.  You see I believe he had two middle names. I even have two middle name and if we are to follow the Roman Catholic Church rules, I have a third middle name after receiving my Confirmation.  Although I only display one middle initial, I actually have two as they appear on my birth certificate.

So the answer was in the Moca 1978 Civil Registration book all along on this Alvarez de Cartagena. What the Dominican Genealogy Society had advised me made ZERO sense but I went with it because I don't really have much experience in Dominican genealogy.  So moving forward I believe I now have the confidence after my discovery.  So what did I discover? Well I've always known my great grandfather as Felipe Antonio Cartagena.  Now take a look at row 64.

 Yes!  His middle name was Alvarez. So my first response was WHAT?!? I quickly jumped to the page of his death record and there it was!  So it wasn't that we changed our last name as they claim in Dominican Republic, it is quite the opposite. This name has been passed down as a middle name and it has great significance. Once I'm able to figure it out, I plan to post about it.

This is a lesson to all genealogists and family researchers.  Do not take the word of someone who claims to have authority when it comes to your ancestors!  Their unintentional information will lead you down the wrong path!  I also disputed with this genealogy group on who was Felipe Antonio Alvarez Cartagena Hinojosa's mother.  They claim it to be Ana Hinojosa, however in order for that to be the case, she would have had to have given birth to him while in her mother's womb.  Yeah a bit far fetched I would say. I believed that she was actually his sister and that HER mother Benedicta was actually his mother.  Well guess who got listed as the mother of my great grandfather death certificate? Yup his grandmother!  His mother's name was actually Daniella Estrella as I saw it on his wedding record.  His grandmother's name is Benedicta Hinojosa.  (I spoke to a cousin who has been researching for many years on this line and until we can fully document everyone, this is in question on who was Hinojosa's mother. So glad he is around to explain things. I fully understand why after this discussion.) So below shows you how even an experienced genealogy organization can get it wrong. Thanks to this cousin of mine, I was able to figure this out. 

If you don't find the proof with your own eyes then see it as simply a hint. I'm looking forward to finding his father's birth record.  That is the reason why I believe that they are struggling to finding his birth record, they are looking for the wrong mother and wrong time period! And his wedding record is at the bottom of page 173. I now can properly research this line. Currently I'm unraveling my grandmother's maternal line; the Rivas family, so I'll have to get back to this further down the road.

August 15, 2015

Anastacio Soiza Montanez

This record is on the death of Anastacio Soiza Montanez who passed at the age of 70 in Dos Bocas, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico.

The cause of Anastacio's death was cardiac arrest.  He was already a widower due to his wife's death;  Juana Matos.  His death occurred on March 28th, 1944.  In 1944 the death certificates forms which mimicked those of mainland USA did not provide a field that supplied grandparent information.  His brother Ramon Soiza Montanez reported his death and he supplied the names of his parents which were Ramon Soiza and Gregoria Montanez.

Ramon Soiza's parents are Ignacio Soiza del Carmen and Casimira Ceferina Ortiz de la Cruz .  Ignacio was from Portugal and migrated to Puerto Rico which is where he married his wife.  I believe that my Portuguese DNA matches on 23andMe are attributed to him being my 5th Great Grandfather as these Portuguese matches appear as distant cousins.  He is the only Portuguese ancestor I've found in my direct line so far.

Casimira Ceferina died sometime prior to 1870 in Trujillo Alto as she isn't found on the 1870 Census for Trujillo Alto.  I had a hard time locating this couple's children as the priest registered some of the children in the baptism book for Pardos.  Always check all books because you never know why a priest would do this or mark this family as pardos.  I haven't dug further in Casimira Ceferina's background other than knowing that she came from Gurabo. I plan to eventually come back to researching my Puerto Rican ancestry once I'm done with Dominican Republic.

Anastacio's maternal grandparents were Estanislao Montanez Gonzalez and Maria Margarita Eduvije Flores Fontanez.  This line I also have great documentation but I also need to dig further until I reach the last ancestor on my Montanez and Gonzalez lines.

Anastacio had two children that I located so far.  They are Juan Soiza Matos and Justo Jesus Soiza Matos.  

August 12, 2015

Viewing Dominican Church Records Online

As the popularity of genealogy of those who descend from Dominicans increases, it becomes harder for many who live in other regions beside Dominican Republic to research. Yet I'm here to tell you that it isn't impossible. Today thanks to the LDS aka Mormon religion, they have made it possible for us to review records. Originally you were only able to view actual church records by visiting a local Family History Library(FHL).  If you're familiar with the website then skim through this to find what you seek.  This post is more for those who are not aware of Family Search and what you can find on their website; actual documents.  The website address is

The LDS provides you with the ability to go through their catalog, order the film and visit the location you want to view these films. However I need to advise you that you should add one more step to this process. Remember that there have been many before you that have ordered these films and they may already be available  So the steps I recommend is as follows and I will explain how to use the search function on the familysearch website.

  1. Search for records. 
  2. Document the film numbers
  3. VISIT your local FHL to see if they are there (click here to find nearest location)
  4. If not available at the FHL, place order to request films

Now to use the catalog is actually very easy. Click here to arrive to the website.  Hover over the word "Search" and on the drop down menu you should see "Catalog", click on it.  You should arrive at the following image:

Note that Place is the default search option (below "Search by").  For Church records you must search by provinces.  There are a total of 32 provinces and the National District.  Here is where knowing a little about the country becomes handy.  To get a list of provinces, click here, there is even a map below the list to visually provide you an idea where the province is located in the country.  This will come handy so you know where to look for ancestors. I can personally tell you that I've found family who were living in Moca or Santiago registering a birth in the capital; Santo Domingo.  Also pay attention to information on names of regions as they have changed over time. A perfect example is Santo Domingo once being called Cuidad Trujillo.  Note also that if someone tells you your family is from "El Cibao", that isn't a province but a large region. Google it to see what it covers. Half of my Dominican family is from "El Cibao". :)

In my example notice I selected "Dominican Republic, La Vega, La Vega" that appeared in the drop down.  Click on Search.  Notice in the below image how it says "No results found" (see red), ignore it and look above it where it says to look in another region. If you look at the province link I provided, you'll realize that the capital of the province is actually called Concepcion de La Vega.  Notice right below it "Part of Dominican Republic, La Vega".  Both links will lead you to different paths.  If you click on "Part of Dominican Republic, La Vega", it will provide you links to towns within the provide which will lead you to records.  However click on the area circled in blue.

If you've been reading up on history like I suggested in prior posts, you'll know that there are no church records prior to 1805 available to view in this region.  This means that 13 church books are missing for baptisms as it starts off with Book 14.

You should see an image similar to the below. The red arrow will lead you to a film number. Before ordering it, read what I said above.  The blue arrow speaks to the civil records, I'll walk you through that on a separate post.  Now red area that I circled is what we are going to look at.  Please note that these are images that are currently available online for you to view.

When you click on it, it will open and show you two index items. This won't be always the case, some provinces have more than these two and others can have just one.  Either way, click on the one that says "Registros parroquiales, 1805-1923".  On the next screen click where the red arrow is pointing (the word here).

The next screen will tell you "Browse through 239,382 images", click on those words.  You should now be taken to another screen with the list of all the provinces.  Select the one you want to search in.  It should lead to a list of towns or one town. Click on any one of them.  Next it will provide the Church's name, click on that.  What you should now see is a list of types of records and years for it. So you should see Bautismos, Defunciones, and Matrimonios.  At times you may also see Confirmaciones.  To view a baptism record, click on the very first link.  We are just doing this so you understand how to get there and what you will see.  Below I will explain the arrows/circle with numbers.

 We are almost done so if this is too much to take in, just come back and do this little by little. :)

  1. This tells you how many images are in this folder. You are defaulted to #1. You can remove it and jump forward to any number in the image.
  2. This feature allows you to increase, decrease or do a full screen.
  3. This allows you to print the image on the screen, allows to to download the image as a jpeg to save to your computer.  There are additional tools available for your use.
  4. This shows you the citation of the record on the screen. This is great to document your tree, if you're going to blog about your ancestry and you want to use the cited feature. 
So now you should be able to play with the church records and seek your ancestors.  Last but not least, I provide the links to the church records below just in case you felt that it was just too much and you just want to jump in.  As always, disable popup blockers on my blog so that you can get access to the records as all links always open in a new window.  I hope this tutorial has helped anyone who needed assistance. Now go look for those ancestors! :)

List will lead you to the church records for the Province: 

August 10, 2015

The Descendants of Francisco Delgado Manso in Puerto Rico

Although I know that Francisco Delgado Manso's father was the son of Francisco Delgado and Juana Manso de Espinosa, I purposely let them off the tree since based on PARES records, Francisco Delgado (the grandfather) was the first to come of this Delgado line to Puerto Rico in the 1500's.

If you visit PARES, you will come across documentation where he requests from the crown the permission to leave the island with his wife, children, and their household.  I'm sure that living on this island wasn't easy where all you have is palm trees, sea, humidity, heat, and violent weather.

All I can speculate is that either something tragic happened to him or his request was denied.  I say this since the family remained on the island or I would not be here sharing information about him and his family.  Since many of the records are gone in Puerto Rico for this era thanks to Sir Francis Drake and others, your best option is to search on the PARES website.

I could not locate documentation on who was Francisco Delgado Manso's mother which is why she isn't listed; only the father.  If you come across the record then please share so that we can all know who this mysterious woman was.  Below I provide 5 generations of this family.  I also provided where the records can be found.  All the church records are available at familysearch; either online or via microfilm at a local FHL.  Enjoy the document.  You can scroll through it below.

NOTE:  On the last page I shared something that I have on my tree that I didn't realize would become visible.  I'm still trying verify Casimira Flores Fontanes' connection to the Carmona line.  She did have a relationship with a Carmona where she had 2 daughters and not 3 daughters as many suspected over the years. The third daughter I found that she identified her father on her wedding record; making her the daughter of Casimira's "second spouse".  However her daughter Gregoria took on the name of Carmona.  I'm hoping that I will eventually come across the document that identifies who her father is and connecting the Carmona line.  The reason I gave him the name Pedro is because she names one of her son's Pedro which was new to both the Bayala line as well as her mother's line.  I suspect that that is the name or simply he was named after his Carmona grandfather/great grandfather.  Please do not add this name to your tree until it is confirmed. You can simply name him: Male Carmona.

August 9, 2015

Descendants of Juan Antonio Cartagena & Julia Guzman

This family line is of Juan Antonio Cartagena and Julia Guzman in Dominican Republic. The below was built from church records I came across in my research and was able to build this family tree. I'm sharing this descendant report so that those researching this family can use the information. I hope that this is of great use to those who research this family

Descendants of Pablo de Leon & Estebania Orozeo

Here is the family of Pablo de Leon and his wife Estebania Orozeo. I'm sure they had other children, however I only provided the information on their son; Rafael de Leon Orozeo.

I was able to build this tree based on church records in Dominican Republic. His line does marry into mine but I don't know if I'm directly related. I have noticed Dominican DNA matches with this last name so hoping this opens the door for someone searching their Dominican Ancestry.

Finding Books for Research on FamilySearch

Using FamilySearch to your advantage can take you a long way in finding something as simple as an out of print book.  Many of the books available are actually on microfilm which means that it is simply a request away. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a book that you can gain access to very easily.  If you find you like to have the book in your personal library then that is different.

Recall in my prior post that prior to ordering films, check to see if the film hasn't already been ordered; make sure you do this to save funds on other films that may not be available. This will also save you time.  The fee you pay is to cover the cost of duplicating the film and also to keep the system running in making them available to all as well as covering shipping costs to a location near you. The rentals are only good for a few weeks so you can easily request an extension and if you need it beyond that, the third time you request the extension keeps the film at your FHL permanently for all to view including yourself.

So today I had a cousin that matches me via DNA mention that they needed access to Estela Cifre de Loubriel books, like many starting off, most have no idea that these out of print books are available.  So below is a link that provides you access to all the Cifre de Loubriel books they currently have in their catalog which covers many different migrants to the island of Puerto Rico.

Link to Family Search: Estela Cifre de Loubriel books

Another known author of genealogy and history is Fernando Pico

Link to Family Search: Fernando Pico books

There are more books and the best way of using the catalog search is by using keywords or keyword phrases. I previously spoke about how to find information on churches and other records.  The same goes with finding information you seek including books.

Most search engines use keywords or keyword phrases.  So imagine you're looking to fix a cracked screen on your phone. You wouldn't type into Google "Phone screen", you'd type "How to fix cracked phone screen".  The recommendation I give anyone is to try one to two words and if you get too many hits then keep reducing the list by adding another word. If your search comes up empty then change that word to something similar until hopefully you find what you seek.

So below is the search screen window for the catalog.

 Notice the word "Keywords", click on it.  It will provide you with another field; here is where you're going to type.  You can also try using "Author" but if you don't know the author or nothing turns up then then "Keywords" will find every entry that matches what you seek. So for example, if I enter "Pico", I'm not just going to get Fernando Pico books, I'm also going to be given catalog entries that have something with the work "Pico" in it. However if you type his full name, you'll find that a list of his books will appear.

The same goes if you try "Puerto Rico", you'll wind up getting too many hits but if you try "Mayaguez Puerto Rico", you'll get a more manageable list. You can go further down if you want to drill down by typing "History Mayaguez Puerto Rico".  This same concept can be applied to Domincan Republic or any other place you seek to find information on.

How was I able to find all of the census records? Very easily, keywords  and keyword phrases. Arming yourself with this knowledge take away a lot of the struggle in finding information. I recommend that you keep a notebook and write down what it is you seek, simple one liners. Then search for this in both languages on FamilySearch.

I highly recommend using a translator because a word that easily comes to mind for most of us for Census is Censo. However the words Padron and empadronamiento also mean census. You also have to think of different reason for a census such as riqueza or ayuntamiento; one meaning the wealth of the population and the other meaning town hall. These are also many reasons for taking a "census" of a town or village. That is how I found the Hato Grande aka San Lorenzo census I shared on another post. I also took looked through the images to see what type of information was attached to the record. When I found that census, it had been there for years but no one ever spoke of ever finding it. 

This is where you'll see other items available such as history books, protocoles notariales (protocol notaries) which include wills, as well as many other records.  Now if the only format they have of an item is in book format then the only way you can view this item is by visiting the main FHL in Utah.  If this isn't feasible for you then they provide you the link to search on the WorldCat Book website which is basically a global catalogs of libraries.  Check with your regular local library to see if you can use this feature. I have successfully been able to borrow 2 books in search of records on my family tree. This same exact concept can be applied to even those who are researching their Dominican ancestry or anywhere else. Good luck in your research!

August 8, 2015

Accessing the 1884 San Lorenzo Puerto Rico Census

There is a monsoon brewing outside so I decided to write up this post while enjoying a cup of coffee.

One of the amazing this about researching is that once you figure out something you always say to yourself, "That was easy! Why didn't I think of this?!"  Now going back to when the islands of Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba separated from Spain will determine what can be obtained from Spain. Here is where its important to know years.  If you don't know this information then you should use Google to your advantage and do a simple search.

Now having this information help to know whether you'll find records in Spain. Spain's archive website is full of information. In addition, I've written to them in the past and they surprised me on Christmas Eve one year with documents I received in the mail. The key is to always be pleasant to those you're asking help from; never be demanding and it will take you a long way. Note that I didn't even pay for the documents and it was a ship's manifest of soldiers that arrived in Puerto Rico in 1803 from Spain via the port of A Coruna.

So the website is and you can either click on it or type it into the browser as you see it. This means no "www" or "http:" needed.  When you arrive at this website, there is just too much going on for the new user and for that person that doesn't speak the language. Many different departments exist under this website. Some of the archives in Spain are larger than a football stadium.  In addition, it is estimated that only 5% of their archives have been cataloged and can be found on their website.

So at the top you'll notice a menu that should look like the below. Click on the image to make the view larger and then hit escape when your done viewing; from a laptop/computer. For this blog post, we are going to concentrate of simply getting to the San Lorenzo 1884 Census; I'll talk about PARES itself on another post. Click on Busqueda Avanzada which means Advance Search.

I never use the Busqueda Sencilla which is their Simple Search.  It is always better to be in control of what you seek.  In the Buscar field you're going to type the following: Hato Grande Riqueza.  Remember how I've always said that it helps to read history of the region you search? Well San Lorenzo used to be known as Hato Grande hence the reason why you're going to search under that name. Those that are scanning the records and uploading them in Spain are not going to read history books and enter its current name. However if you're armed with that information, searching becomes much easier.

Now as for the remain fields, for this post, you're going to leave them blank, scroll to the bottom and click on the Buscar button.

You should see the following on your screen.

Now click on the Ministerio de Ultramar. You should see the below view. I've circle and numbered so that as I speak of them you'll know what I'm speaking about. First and MOST IMPORTANTLY, do not ever use your back button on your browser. It does not play well with this website. Instead use (see 1) Atras.  This is the only back button that will work well and never make a mess of what you searched. If by any chance you did, then I highly recommend you begin again.

Now (2) is the Title to what is the record's name; important that you keep track of titles. The next one (3) is the reference number to where the documents are located in the archives. You'll also notice there is a date that I forgot to circle. This date references the period for the documents; notice the 1883/1884.  The last one (4) is a camera that I circle. This is what you are going to click on. It will lead directly to the images.

Ok, I'm going to make this a little less painful by walking you through this view and making your navigation easier.  I've color coded the image so you can follow:

RED:  You can advance forward and backwards 8 images as a time by clicking on the plus or minus
BLUE: Allows you to jump forward to any image you choose (we will be using this)
GREEN: Notice the first document of the eight images is highlighted in a light gray box. This means it is selected and appears on the pane to the left. So by clicking on any image on the right will change what you see on the left.
YELLOW:  Allows you to zoom into the image(click Atras to go back to small view), allows you to change view (give it a try to see, just click again to change it back), allows you to turn clockwise and counter clockwise, change contrast, print one page or many pages and finally allows you to save the image to your computer.

Now knowing this information, we are going to use the blue area. Click down on the drop down and scroll until you see "429 Verso", click on the next item, "Bloque 2".  Now look at your image. It is the very first page of 1884 Census record available for San Lorenzo. Notice how clean and sharp the image looks, well all of the remaining images are just as sharp.

Notice that its not facing the right direction. Using the tools I mentioned above, you can turn it counter clockwise to read, you can click on the next image on the right hand side. To look at the next set of 8 images, use the plus signs I mentioned and you can print or save them; your choosing.  I hope this walk through has helped.  I will be speaking about PARES more on another post.  This was a quick tutorial on simply getting to the 1884 San Lorenzo Puerto Rico Census. Happy Researching!

August 7, 2015

Puerto Rico Census from the 1800's

If you were ever told that census records don't exist for the 1800's then the likelihood is that the person just wasn't aware.  One such group is FamilySearch themselves and they have the records.  I had written to them asking when would the Puerto Rico census records be digitized and uploaded.  The response I received back was extremely telling why no one is aware they are available and why they have not been digitized.

You see when you're using an English website and search for them in English in their catalog such as on FamilySearch, you will not get the results you expect. I went back and forth with their helpdesk advising them that they did have records and them responding that they didn't exist.  So I finally responded back with a link and their response was that of a deer facing headlights in the road. Yes I got total silence for 10 days until I wrote back and asked.

Again I asked when they would be uploaded and unfortunately whomever was working the ticket doesn't do well with reading comprehension or possibly doesn't read at all. After 4 weeks of going back and forth, I got fed up and finally called them. I felt as if I was speaking a foreign language with the individual who was responding to the emails.

Up until this point, I've always felt that those working the ticket system via the website were extremely knowledgeable.  I actually got a better response and clarification when I picked up the phone and called them.  It turns out that they are planning, by the fall, a massive upload which should include these films; please note I said "SHOULD" so that doesn't mean it is going to happen.

If you truly want it to happen then feel free to copy and paste the below list and send emails to put pressure to insure that it will happen.  If you have questions, feel free to post below and I'll try my best to respond to the best of my knowledge. One individual asking isn't enough, we need many to go back and continue to ask.

To give you an example of what the census records look like, I'm posting a few images from the 1860 Census that I took of Trujillo Alto.  Note that Trujillo Alto is actually listed under Carolina and is on the same film as that of the Civil Registration records but not available online.

It was through these census records that I was able to find more ancestors in church books and also determine how many children existed in a family up until 1860. I also have 1870 and 1872 Census records to reference along with 1898.  The reason I took these images with a camera was because it was difficult to nearly impossible to read them on the screen as I was dealing with a broken machine that made them too blurry.  This caused issues in trying to decipher or reading them. With computer software I was able to clean up images and zoom in as much as I wanted without distorting it too much.

The following list is what I found in their catalog. They have census records going back to 1800 on some regions.  You can follow the links for each region as they will open in a new window:

Bayamon, Puerto Rico:

Caguas, Puerto Rico:

Another Caguas, Puerto Rico search view:

Camuy, Puerto Rico:

Comerio, Puerto Rico:

Fajardo, Puerto Rico:

Isabela, Puerto Rico:

Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico:

Juncos, Puerto Rico:

Lares, Puerto Rico:

Manati, Puerto Rico:

Ponce, Puerto Rico:

Rio Grande, Puerto Rico:

Rosario, San German, Puerto Rico:

San German, Puerto Rico:

San Juan, Puerto Rico (Includes Rio Piedras, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Puerta de Tierra):

Toa Baja, Puerto Rico:
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico (found under Carolina) - Scroll down, first item on list

Utuardo, Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico Censo y Riqueza:

Finally and most importantly, if and when these images are uploaded, I hope that each of you who visit this page volunteer in indexing these records so that we can easily find ancestors using the search window tools available on the website. Yes it is free but it take volunteers to make this possible. Please do your part in helping preserve our ancestors!

Desktop:  To see other blog posts for your island or country, click on the menu that appears at the top right of this post. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country.

Mobile Devices (Smartphone & Tablets):  To see other blog posts for your island or country, at the top of the page, click on the "Most Recent Post", a popup menu will appear, select an option. It will take you to the page containing posts for your island or country. 

August 6, 2015

Searching and Viewing Puerto Rico Church Records


Currently a portion of Puerto Rico's Roman Catholic Church records are available to be viewed online.  Another portion is only available by visiting the local Family History Library (FHL) near your home.  With so many locations available throughout the world, it can be an inexpensive or free way of viewing the microfilms.  So first let me explain my last statement.

The LDS provides you with the ability to go through their catalog, order the film and visit the location you want to view these films. However I need to advise you that you should add one more step to this process. Remember that there have been many before you that have ordered these films and they may already be available  So the steps I recommend is as follows and I will explain how to use the search function on the familysearch website.

  1. Search for records. 
  2. Document the film numbers
  3. VISIT your local FHL to see if they are there (click here to find nearest location)
  4. If not available at the FHL, place order to request films

Now to use the catalog is actually very easy and you may even find Census records from the 1800's; I'll provide those links on my next blog post so let's just talk about church records for now.  I personally recommend that everyone write to the LDS requesting that they digitize the remaining records they have on microfiche films. If we all show an interest it will hopefully push them to get it done; many of us have been waiting for years to see them available online.

Click here to arrive to the website.  Hover over the word "Search" and on the dropdown menu you should see "Catalog"; click on it.  You should arrive at the following image:

Note that Place is the default search option (below "Search by").  For Church records you must search by municipality.  To get a list of municipalities, click here.  Type the name (no accents needed) of the municipality and notice the drop down menu refresh as you type. You should notice the town where the church exists, the municipality and the island name.  Select that one. To clarify, if I'm searching for Gurabo's church. You would select Gurabo, Gurabo, Puerto Rico because that is where the church is located. You should always select the double name to see the church records. Now click Search.

Below is what you should see on the screen. Now click on the search results words (Puerto Rico, Gurabo, Gurabo - Church records (1)) on the right hand side and it will open a dropdown to view the full record.

When it opens  click on the words Registros parroquiales....

From here you can print the page or you can scroll down and see what is available on which films. Don't click on the links next to the films as this will simply prompt the ordering. Remember you want to physically check the FHL and save yourself money if they already have the film available locally.

So now scroll down, here is where you see what each film covers. You can see a copy of the list for Gurabo.  The item number list next to the film indicates where on the film it appears. This is great for when you're ready to review the film. Simply fast forward to that section of the film.  This completes the catalog segment. Below I'll discuss the records available online.

So now to access the records you're to take the follow steps.  Start fresh with a new page and open the website; you should find the link mentioned above.

Click on "Search" and ignore the drop down that appears when you hover over the word. You will be taken to a new page with a search window and a map on the side; don't enter anything in the search window as the church records are not fully indexed.

There is a link below the map that reads Browse All Published Collections.  You can also click on the link I provide on the words.  Note the index of regions on the left side. You're now going to click on Caribbean and Central America.  You will realize that it will expand and at the same time update the list to the right. You can scroll down on the right pane until you reach the Puerto Rico, Catholic Church Records, 1645-1969 records. I've provided the hyperlink that will lead you directly to the church records as a shortcut from here.  Now click on the link that reads Browse through ??????? images.  The question mark is simply representation of whatever number appears on the website.

The church records that appear are as follows and I provided the links directly to the records for each municipality's church(es).  If you have an issue with any of the links, please feel free to comment below this post: