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The Vilá Branch of Our Family Tree

Pedro Vilá was born in Cataluña, Spain, around 1781.  At some point he sailed to Puerto Rico, where he met and married María del Pilar González, the daughter of Lázaro González and Eduarda Medina. They had six children: Juan de la Paz (1813-1872), José María (1815-1845), María de la Cruz (1817-1858), María Inés (1820-1878), Amalia Lucinda or María Amalia (1823-1868),…
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Are ALL Puerto Ricans Related?

Years ago, on American Idol there was a Puerto Rican contestant named Tatiana Del Toro. She could obviously sing or she wouldn’t have made it to the top 36. Tatiana was sometimes dramatic and annoying, but I remember her also for a comment that she made about Puerto Ricans: “We are all cousins.” While that’s a standard joke that we…
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DNA Cousins

If you have done your DNA test on Ancestry, you know that you have a list of matches that is broken down into close relatives, first cousins, 2nd-3rd cousins, 4th-6th cousins, etc. Those of us genealogy addicts that are on Facebook refer to the distant cousins as “DNA Cousins”. Back in July, I was contacted by one such DNA cousin,…
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Guessing Someone’s Age

We do it all the time. We meet someone and until we get to know them we estimate how old they are.  But how strange would it be to not know your own age? This actually happened to me. Years ago, I was going through some hormonal issues that caused me to have moments of disorientation. During one such episode, I…
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The Basque Contribution

I am 100% Puerto Rican. My mother was born in Adjuntas and my father was born in Peñuelas. Their parents were born in Puerto Rico as were their grandparents and great grandparents. I am a Boricua to the core. That being said, when Puerto Ricans have their DNA analyzed, they are often in for a surprise when they see how…
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My “Cookie-Cutter” Childhood Home

In my last article, I wrote about the astonishing progress made in housing from one generation to the next in our family. Specifically, I mentioned that my father was born in the mountains of Peñuelas, in the rural mountainside community of Santo Domingo. During the 2009 family reunion hosted by cousin Annie Meléndez, a group of us took a guided…
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Yo Tengo Ya la Casita

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…
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Luisa

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…
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