January 22, 2018

Joaquin Hernandez: A Slave Documents Where He Came From!

Many of us wish we could jump into a time machine and change what our ancestors faced. This is the reality of those of us that descend from slavery. Unfortunately, many of us who descend from slavery end with the person who was enslaved when researching our roots.  Sometimes it is impossible to go beyond that because the country, village, and ethnic group our ancestor came from is unknown and their enslaved name replaces their true name and never to be heard again.

Well in 1821 in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, one particular enslaved man wanted to go on record. I am actually shocked that the priest, Padre Joseph Maria Martinez, recording the baptism, was not lazy or indifferent to this African man. It is quite apparent that the right questions were asked. Was this a priest that was against slavery and all that it entailed? We'll never know! What we do know is that he documented key information about Joaquin Hernandez. Hopefully, descendants of Joaquin exist today and he is quietly waiting for his descendant to discover him and where he came from.

The below record is of Joaquin being baptized on March 1st, 1821.  I have never seen anything like this in all my years of research. Yes, they may document a country and approximate age, but never the details I have read in this record.

According to the record, Joaquin is estimated to be 23 years of age. The record clearly states that he was born in Guinea, Congo nation, in the village called Bonda, which is actually Banda. He is the son of Mayo and Boconia!

Having this information is like hitting the lottery! Once in a lifetime to find African parents listed in the baptismal record of someone who is enslaved. The record continues with identifying his owner as Micaela Hernandez, a woman, in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico.  His godparents were Jose Rosa Nieves and Juana Petrona Diaz. This is mind blowing in genealogy when it comes to African roots.

Joquin Hernandez from Bonda, Guinea, Congo

I hope that his descendants survive today and are looking for him, he wanted to let people know where he was from. This was his way of saying, I am human and I have origins. I will tell my story!

I have provided two maps. One is a zoomed out view of where exactly in Guinea is Banda and the second one is zoomed in. Writing about this and wanting to publish it immediately versus putting it on timer for tomorrow (1/22/18), was hard.

According to World Bank, the West African nation of Guinea covers an area of 245,860 square kilometers and shares borders with Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, and Mali in the north, and with Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire in the south. Guinea has a population of 12.6 million, according to estimates in 2016.

Banda, Guinea - Zoomed Out View

Banda, Guinea - Close Up View

There is more to read on Guinea.  I recommend the first stop is Wikipedia. You can check out the link by clicking on the url below:

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  1. Very Unique..lots of questions SWIRLING ..
    gail.hughes 2014@gmail.com

  2. Replies
    1. Very precious indeed. The relatives and other decendants of his father and mother should know of his fate. That day he went MIA and never returned was the day of greatest anguish of his mother and father and the men and women of his village. Thanks for sharing.
      An opportunity for some young adventurous people to travel to Africa, Guinea, Banda locate the village, find a Griot, his parental relatives -decendants and share the story of his fate.

  3. In the DRC there is a town called Bonda. My understanding is that Guinea refers to West Africa, the current country boundaries that we have today where completely different 200 years ago. I just discovered your blog, thank you for your work. Hopefully it well help me to track my muertitos through their adventurous and tragic travels.


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