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Welcome to y la Familia

Welcome to our website. Since we are no longer publishing a newsletter, this blog is an effort to continue sharing with our relatives the history of our family and interesting related facts as discovered by our family genealogist, Norma (Garcia) Pettit. We hope you will find the information interesting and enjoyable. As always, we welcome your questions and suggestions.


Your Stories Wanted

It has been our goal to connect with family members worldwide and to provide a platform for sharing family news and our history. Most of the information shared has come from our family historian and genealogist, Norma Pettit. However, we are sure there are many other stories with interesting points of view, particularly those that might help fill gaps in our family’s history. With that in mind, we want to encourage family members to share their stories and photos on this website.

If you have something you would like to share, please send your story to Norma at, attach photos if you have any, and we will review your submission and get in touch with you if we have any questions. Thank you in advance for your contribution.

Featured Article

Reflections on Our Family History

Posted April 13, 2021
by family historian Norma (Garcia) Pettit

Learning about our family history has been something that has intrigued me all my life. I remember as a young child asking my parents, Oscar and Anita Garcia, what it was like when they were children growing up in Puerto Rico. They would share their memories with me and, recently, I discovered an old composition book with my name written on the front where I had taken notes from their stories. I would like to share with you some excerpts from that notebook.

My father’s maternal grandparents were Máximo “Maximiliano” Cruz and Engracia García. Maximiliano was of medium height, about 5’5″, heavyset, white, and had straight hair. They had five children: Nicolasa, Jesús, Emiliano, Alcisclo, and Ana. Nicolasa was white, had dark hair, was of average height, and was slender. Emiliano had reddish-blond hair. Alcisclo was taller, slender, and looked Spanish.

After Engracia died, my father’s grandfather married Genara and they had six children: Agripino, Jesús (yes, another one), Angelito, Carmela, Gilberto and Ambrosio. Ambrosio was the youngest and he was the first one to die of all of his siblings. Carmela had two children who died as adults, long before she did. (Cousin Annie Meléndez, who hosted the 2009 family reunion in Peñuelas is one of her granddaughters. The Feliciano cousins from Chicago are Carmela’s grandchildren through her daughter.)

Recent Articles

Tracking Down a Census Record in Adjuntas

Posted January 12, 2021

My mother was born in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, but moved to Ponce with her family when she was seven or eight years old. I regret so much that I never got to visit Adjuntas with Mom during the years that we were both living in Puerto Rico and she was still healthy.  I have so many questions!


The Mameyes Landslide

Posted October 2, 2020

In my last article, which was about the Ponce Aqueduct and our family members that lived in that area, I related how my mother’s family had moved to the nearby barrio of Mameyes. My father’s brother, Sinforiano (known to all as “Guar”, short for guareto, meaning twin, since he and Auntie Helen were twins), also moved to Mameyes with his wife, Elena Sevilla. That little house was the first home of René Rivera Sevilla.


The Ponce Aqueduct

Posted July 18, 2020

Designed by Timoteo Luberza and funded in part by Valentín Tricoche, the Ponce aqueduct, formally known as Acueducto Alfonso XII, was the first modern water distribution system built in Puerto Rico.  Construction began in 1776, and when it was finalized in 1880 at a then cost of $220,000 (equivalent to 5.28 million in 2019 dollars) the aqueduct was 2-1/2 miles long and rose 50 feet at its highest point. The gravity-based water supply system was in operation for 48 years, until 1928, at which time it was retired, with the advent of more advanced water supply systems.


Family Love Stories

Posted February 10, 2020

Angélica Rivera

Cousin Carol Medina Wright found a handwritten story written by her father, José Lino Medina, telling of his early life and how he met Carol’s mother, Angélica Rivera.

Angélica Rivera

I was born August 15, 1924, in Barrio Boquerón, west of the city of Juana Díaz. After a big hurricane named San Felipe back in 1927, we moved to Ponce.  I attended Federico Dejetau School where I played the trombone in the school band. 


My Dad in the 1940 Census, Aguirre, Puerto Rico

Posted November 24, 2019

Dad’s name is different in every census record. In the 1910 census he appears as Oscar Rivera Santana, age 9, Where that surname of Santana came from, I don’t know. Listed as living in the household were his father, Florencio, step-mother, Otilia, and siblings Adela,10, Sinforiano (“Guar”), 7, Neri, 2, and Isidro, 8 months. María, Elena, and Anita were living elsewhere.


Finally Found! Proof of the Maldonado Connection

Posted June 14, 2019

In my October 2016 blog article, “The Proof is in the DNA,” and my subsequent December 2016 article, “The Maldonado Connection”, I talked about how the Hernández “cousins” from San Jose, California – the children of Auntie Rosita’s brother, Carmelo, and therefore first cousins to Carlos, Edward, Roberto and Orlando Rivera – showed up on my Ancestry DNA matches as 4th-6th cousins. I said that I suspected that our connection was through the Maldonado line, since the Hernández family and the Rivera families both have that surname in their trees.


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Our Family Tree

The Rivera Family Tree is published and maintained at The website requires registration to view private information. Registration is free.

Everyone is encouraged to register! It’s FREE!

Family members can update their own family’s data and upload photos of family members. It is the primary way we can keep our family tree up to date. Friends of the family may also register to view the tree. Friends will not be able to update information on the site; only viewing is permitted.

Please visit and update your family’s information today.

Newsletter Archives

For more than 20 years, ‘y la Familia?’ newsletter had been printed and mailed to family members. The final issue was published in June 2016.

We have saved a copy of all of the newsletters on this website. There are many historical articles and featured articles on family members within their pages.

Visit the Newsletters Archive.