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Visiting Central Aquirre

Randy and I headed to Ponce one day last December, with plans to buy some items at El Coquí Souvenir shop across the street from the historic Parque de Bombas and then go visit my cousins René and Heriberto (“Papo”) Rivera Sevilla.  We like to take the scenic coastal route from our vacation home in Yabucoa; it makes the hour and a half journey so much more interesting.

In front of the post office—sugar refinery in background.

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The Maldonado Connection

Researching family trees is a crazy business.  You start out working on one branch of the tree and get easily sidetracked by a different branch. But it is fun, fascinating, and at times, frustrating. I have been trying, since the last blog entry, to find the connection between the Hernández and García families.  As I wrote last time, Emy Hernández found me on page eight of her Ancestry DNA list.  I checked through my list and found her as well. I suspect that we connect through the Maldonado line, since we have that surname in common in our trees.  I actually have Maldonado on both my father’s lineage and my mother’s, and they do connect way back—something that my parents never even suspected.

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The Proof is in the DNA

My uncle, Isidro Rivera Pacheco, was married to Rosita Hernández Serra, who came from a very large family in Utuado, Puerto Rico.  Rosita’s next younger brother, Carmelo (married to Carmen Sánchez, also of Utuado) raised his family of eight children in San Jose, California.  Isidro and Rosita raised their four boys in the town of Belmont, about 25 miles north of San Jose, while my family lived another 25 or so miles farther north, in San Francisco.  Despite the fact that my mother didn’t drive and my father, a Merchant Marine, was gone for extended periods of time, our family got together with the Hernández family on a regular basis. Continue reading “The Proof is in the DNA”

To Be Or Not To Be……a Rivera

The question came up at the 2016 Rivera family reunion, held in Stinson Beach, California, on June 26th:  If my father was a son of Florencio Rivera, and his brothers all had the last name Rivera, why was his last name García?

This is the way my own father explained it to me many years ago…

Back in the olden days in Puerto Rico, when a baby was born, someone had to go to town to register the baby.  But the recently delivered mother was usually unable to go into town herself, especially if she already had other children to care for.  The baby’s father often could not do it himself, either, if he couldn’t stop his work to make the trip.  Thus, if they heard that a neighbor was going into town, they would say, “Hey, my wife just had another baby…while you are in town, can you register the child for us?”  And the agreeable neighbor would go register the child, and when asked what the baby’s name was, often would give the wrong last name.  No one would even notice the mistake until years later when for some reason or other, a birth certificate had to be produced.

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part V

Life with Otilia Pacheco Arroyo

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far about my grandfather, Florencio, in the previous four segments.

Part I: He was the son of Manuel Alejo Rivera and María Dominga Maldonado. He had six siblings, although at least three of them died while Florencio was still a boy. His mother died when he was only ten years old, but Florencio was 27 and already married to his first wife, Felícita, when his father died.

Part II: Florencio Rivera and Felícita Madera Medina were married on March 10, 1897 when she was 17 and he was 24. Their first son, Nicolás, died on Nov. 19, 1900. Their second son, Andrés, was born on Nov. 20, 1899. Felícita died on March 20, 1901 at the young age of 23, and the fate of Andrés is unknown but it is presumed that he died as a child.

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part IV

Life with Ana Cruz García

By his 30th birthday, my grandfather, Florencio Rivera, had endured the deaths of up to eight people that were close to him, including a young wife and a toddler son. In the last blog, I revealed that his second wife, my grandmother, Ana Cruz García, had a baby girl named Matilde, born on January 27, 1907. Presumably, Florencio was the father, but since they were not married, Matilde’s death record only says that Matilde was Ana’s illegitimate child. Sadly, the baby died on September 23, 1908, just two months after the birth of her baby sister, Adela. Florencio and Ana’s surviving children were as follows: Adela (1908-1976), Óscar (1910-1995), María (1912-2009), Sinforiano (1913-1986), Elena (1913-1999), and Anita (1916-1998).

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part III

Our Mystery Man Part I established Florencio’s parentage and speculated on the reason he had told his children that he had been orphaned as a child. Part II exposed all of the suffering that Florencio experienced before his 30th birthday: the deaths of up to eight people that were close to him, including a young wife and a toddler son. We ended with the question of whether all this tragedy had hardened Florencio’s heart or had created in him a strength that helped him endure the other hardships that came his way later on in life. The answers may never be fully known, and speculation varies depending on who remembers what about Florencio.

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part II

In the last article, I explained how I solved the mystery of who Florencio’s parents were, and questioned the possible reasons why my grandfather portrayed himself to his children as having been an orphaned child raised by an aunt and uncle. His mother, María Dominga Maldonado Rivera, did die when Florencio was only ten years old, but his father, Manuel Alejo Rivera Maldonado, died on Dec. 7, 1899.  Florencio was 27 years old by then, married to Felícita Madera Medina, and himself already a father.  I suggested that perhaps Florencio meant that he was left huérfano de madre (motherless) at a young age.  Although unable to prove anything at this point, I can only conjecture that after his wife’s death, Florencio’s father had his hands full with several children and his farm, so he sent Florencio to live with an aunt and uncle.

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera

florencio_rivera_maldonado

The greatest challenge in my genealogical research has been the unraveling of the mystery surrounding my grandfather, Florencio Rivera Maldonado. By several accounts, he was said to have been orphaned as a boy and raised by an uncle and aunt, who supposedly took over the farm that Flor’s father left behind. Reportedly, Florencio was also left with a slave, who he set free because he was afraid of him. I was also told that Florencio had only one brother (Juan), who died as a child.

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Welcome to Our New Website

Our previous website was long overdue for a makeover!  And so here it is!  We hope you like it.  The website has been trimmed down to remove redundant information and information that we felt was no longer needed, used or wanted.  However, if we removed something that you especially enjoyed having access to, please use our contact form and let us know.  Your comments are important to us. Continue reading “Welcome to Our New Website”