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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

Yo Tengo Ya la Casita

Posted October 23, 2022
by family historian Norma (Garcia) Pettit

Last spring we built a storage shed on our property in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. At my request, Randy designed it to look like a typical Puerto Rican home of yesteryear. When it was completed, we saw people driving by, slowing down, and even stopping to admire La Casita, as we named it. We received many compliments on it, and some people said that it reminded them of their grandparents’ house in the mountains. It brings to my mind that Rafael Hernández song, “Ahora Seremos Felices,” in which the opening line says, “Yo tengo ya la casita que tanto te prometí.” (I already have the house that I kept promising you.)

Owning your own home is most people’s dream. I was blessed to grow up in a nice house in the Sunset district of San Francisco. My parents were responsible homeowners and took pride in keeping the house and yard tidy, maintained and attractive. My father, Oscar, was a Merchant Marine and my mother, Ana, was a seamstress at Lilli Ann’s clothing factory. While not wealthy, we kids had everything that we needed, including a roof that didn’t leak and comfortable beds to sleep in. As a lifelong genealogist who soaked in family stories even as a young girl, I have heard about the hardships of their childhood years, though.

My father, especially, grew up in poverty. His early years were spent in the mountain barrio of Santo Domingo in the town of Peñuelas. When his mother was alive she raised animals and their large family never lacked for food, but after she died when Dad was five years old, life became more difficult. Several years later, Florencio decided to move his family (which by then included Otilia Pacheco and two more babies) to Tibes, near Ponce. He sold the house and land in Peñuelas for $100, but somehow during the move, the money was lost. In Tibes, Florencio bought a house for $35 and went to work in the sugar cane fields.

My father’s younger brother, Isidro Rivera Pacheco, once described the living conditions in this childhood home. He wrote: “Our home (sweet home) was a cabin with one small room for the parents. The rest of the floor space was used as a kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom combination. Our furniture consisted of a cot where Father slept, wire spring double bed for Otilia and a trunk (baúl) for her clothing, two benches and a table. At nighttime, grab a burlap sack (your bed) and pick your spot on the floor. You went to sleep with your clothes on inside the sack and while you sleep you push around until you wind up at somebody else’s spot. That shack was like heaven, like music to your ears. Some snored, others laughed, talked, sang and groaned in their sleep, and rain was like music on the tin roof.

Our kitchen consisted of a wooden crate with four legs and full of soil. Three large stones for a burner and three medium stones for small pots. Under the crate was a shelf for storage of pots and plates. The stones were strategically placed so as to consume the fire within. Our fuel was anything that would burn. We would go to the mountain to get wood for cooking. Charcoal was used in a hibachi for ironing. A kerosene lamp or “quinqué” was our light.”

After suffering an accident while working at Hacienda Burenes (a coffee plantation in Tibes) and subsequently winning a lawsuit against them, Florencio walked away with about $500. This was a lot of money! He bought a house with a balcony and a shed for $129.00 and bought furniture and clothing. He later sold that house for a profit and bought a two-bedroom bungalow in Callejón Cerezo in Ponce. They lived there for about a year. He sold that one and bought a beautiful home in Loma Bonita. This is the house in Loma Bonita that Aunt Delia drew from memory decades later.

All this is to point out the incredible progress made in the quality of life within one generation. Uncle Isidro went from sleeping in a burlap sack on the floor to owning beautiful homes in Belmont, CA, Guaynabo, PR, and Carrollton, GA. He accomplished this on his own, through education, military service, and hard work. Uncle Isidro, my father, and their other siblings not only pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, but also ensured that their children did not suffer the hardships that they did as children. The Bible says we are to honor our fathers and mothers. How can we not, seeing where they came from and what they accomplished?

Recent Articles


Posted February 12, 2022

I am known as the family historian. It has been a passion of mine for decades, but my lifelong dream was to write a book. I combined my passion and my dream, recently publishing a novel based on the life of my maternal great-grandmother, Luisa Torres Torres.


Aunt Delia Rivera Finch: The aunt I wish you all knew

Posted January 19, 2022

My heart hurts with grief as I write this article. Tears streaming down my face as I mourn the loss of my dear and favorite Aunt Delia. Having lost my mom, Angelica, I feel the pain again of losing another loved one so close to my heart. Aunt Delia was like a second mother to me for as long as I can remember.


William Roig (1933-2021)

Posted October 14, 2021
William Roig

On May 15, 2021, our family lost Bill Roig, oldest child and only son of Auntie Helen. He was 88 years old and had lived a long, fulfilled life which included a successful career as a renowned architect.


Reflections on Our Family History

Posted April 13, 2021

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.


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.


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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.