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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.

Announcements

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 mamanony@sbcglobal.net, 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

Luisa

Posted February 12, 2022
by family historian Norma (Garcia) Pettit

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.

Our Rivera family hailed from the mountains of Peñuelas and my mother’s side of the family was from the mountains of Adjuntas.  If you have been to both towns, you know that they are very similar in the breathtakingly beautiful views of the mountains and from the mountaintops. The way of life of the Puerto Rican jíbaro was the same in both towns, so to get a feel of what life was like for our ancestors, I recommend reading Luisa.  Please click on www.normagarciapettit.com to read my informative blog articles and to learn more about my book.

There are snippets of Rivera family stories recreated within the pages of Luisa. Auntie Marie Nicholson was only four years old when her mother died and shortly afterwards she was sent to live with another family. But she told me of the curtains that hung in the doorways of the bedrooms instead of doors. She remembered that she and her siblings were not allowed to go past the curtain in their parents’ bedroom doorway. You see this memory inserted into chapter one of Luisa where it says, “Chenta took care of straightening up her own bedroom. None of the children except the baby were allowed past the curtain that hung in the doorway.”

In chapter 20, Luisa’s stepmother, Chenta, is telling a story about trekking up mountain paths to her grandparents’ cabin as a child: “Mami would get mad at Papi about something, and she would gather up all of us kids and take us to her parents’ house. We would even take the goat with us!”  This was a story that I had heard about my father’s mother, Ana Cruz García, who by all accounts was a little feisty. Auntie Helen said that she remembered doing this as a small child (she was three years old when her mother died). She said her mother would even take all of their animals with them.

So while Luisa is a story about my mother’s side of the family, it is also representative of how our Rivera ancestors probably lived. The book is full of Puerto Rican traditions, including food, idioms, and celebrations. It also has a liberal sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases, all of which are explained within the text and in a glossary at the back of the book.  With careful research, I strove to recreate the day-to-day life in the mountains of Puerto Rico during the late 1800s. It was indisputably a hard life, but the indomitable spirit of our ancestors prevailed and contributed to the essence of who we are today.

Recent Articles

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.

Carol and Aunt Delia

My Aunt Delia has always been an important and special part of my life. When I think about all the wonderful moments my aunt has given me, I’m filled with gratitude and thanksgiving.  She had been a big part of our family since we were infants. She used to stay and help my mom take care of us for many years.

The only baby photographs of me were taken by Aunt Delia with her little Brownie camera.

When she took a job at J. C. Penneys, she would send pretty frilly little girl dresses for us girls and an nice outfit for Josy. I always had hand-me-downs and these were the only brand new dresses just for me. I remember one for Easter being a light blue chiffon dress with an accordion pleated skirt.

Her baking skills were exceptional. Our entire family looked forward to her tins of home made Christmas cookies. The crescent cookies with nuts were my favorite. She gave me the recipe so I can enjoy them whenever I want. A few years before she was put in the nursing home, I had mentioned how much I missed her cookies and was surprised with a tin she made and especially shipped to me. I loved how she separated each layer with a piece of wax paper.

Aunt Delia loved music. Especially the Puerto Rican artists. My dad would make cassette tapes for her to enjoy. I still can picture, mom, dad and Aunt Delia dancing in the Boynton Beach kitchen. She loved spending time with my parents.

She loved doing puzzles. I would send puzzles to the nursing home. I heard from the aids that she didn’t like to share them with the other residents. LOL.

She and I would speak on the phone after my mom passed and we both missed mom so much. She, up until the weeks before she passed, would always say, “ I miss Tita so much”. 

Aunt Delia Facetiming with Carol

Aunt Delia had a hearing problem and like Grandma Otilia, didn’t like wearing hearing aids. I Facetimed with her on a regular basis. I always had paper with messages for her to read and thus we enhanced our communication that way. She always remembered to ask about each of my siblings and my husband, Larry. Our house was being renovated and she liked seeing updates. I would also give her tours of the progress of the house and yard on FaceTime so she could feel like a part of the outside world.

Her children will never understand the very special bond she and I had. I wish they had so they could have been more informative about her being put in Hospice and prepared us.  I asked to be kept informed and they were not receptive. Getting the call from Lisa after she passed was just too much for me to bear. 

I am sad that our flights in August to go to California and see her were cancelled due to the fires in California and Covid. We were looking forward to seeing her. We had rescheduled for March of 2022. 

Aunt Delia — know how much I loved having you as an aunt. I have the little baby doll you gave me with an outfit you did with crochet. I have the poem you wrote about your childhood home on my wall.

You told me you wanted me to have your beautiful tulle wedding dress since you knew how much I always said you looked so beautiful in it. You said you knew I appreciated vintage and would take good care of it. I love looking at the photo of you with the tulle skirt all fanned out as you sat on the grass. So beautiful.

Aunt Delia was the last of Florencio Rivera’s children. The end of an important era in our Rivera family history.

I will cherish all my memories. We always ended our Facetime sessions with the sign of the cross and then blew each other besitos.

Rest In Peace, Aunt Delia.  I will never forget you. Please give my mom a huge hug and love from me when you see her.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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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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.

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Our Family Tree

The Rivera Family Tree is published and maintained at ylafamilia.tribalpages.com. 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 ylafamilia.tribalpages.com 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.