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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 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.

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

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.

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.

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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, 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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