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William Roig (1933-2021)

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.

I first met Cousin Bill in the early 1960s when he traveled to San Francisco to meet his Rivera relatives. It was a big deal in our family and Bill was joyfully received by all who had the opportunity to visit him at Auntie Helen’s house. He had only recently reconnected with Auntie Helen after having discovered that she was his birth mother. I didn’t see Bill again until I moved to Puerto Rico in 1970 to begin my university studies, and I was present at his wedding to Evelyn Torres in 1971. Throughout the years, I saw Bill sporadically. He made several trips to California and his daughter Wilma and my daughter Tory connected, being only two days apart in age.

It was on one such trip—the very memorable party held at my sister’s house in Martinez on July 27, 1996—that Bill told me the story of his early years. The party was memorable because it was the first time that Auntie Helen had all three of her children together at the same time. The reunion was front page news in the premier issue of our family newsletter, “…y la familia?”, which was published on August 27, 1996. We recorded it on our video camera, and although the audio of that recording is not very good and the party was 25 years ago, I believe that I remember most of the details accurately. I can still picture Bill sitting at the picnic table under the umbrella in Olga’s back yard, telling his incredible tale.

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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.

Reflections on Our Family History

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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The Mameyes Landslide

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

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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Family Love Stories

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. 

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My Dad in the 1940 Census, Aguirre, Puerto Rico

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.

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Finally Found! Proof of the Maldonado Connection

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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