Back in the dark misty times...

Back in the dark misty times...
Genealogy, joyfully discovered ~

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Friday, December 31, 2010

More adventure just around the corner

Those Christmas gifts are a recent, but lovely memory. The desserts included Pumpkin Fudge, Cranberry & Wine Nut Chutney, Thumbprint cookies filled with strawberry jam and marmalade, Pecan Pastries, Chocolate Fudge, Pumpkin and Banana Muffins, Pumpkin Cake and now they are all fighting for space on my butt. Ah, Christmas, the end of December and the New Year's promise of adventures to follow.

The fluffy, white snow and roof's icicles are melting slowly and my husband is building steps outside --- gloves, stocking hat and snow boots fight the cold but he perseveres. Cold in Virginia is like no other, I think; the blue sky and birds flitting around our feeders in the back gardens belie the fact that snow lingers, quietly but firmly everywhere.

A new year and more new family to find! Since Grandma birthed 15 children, but saw only 12 live to adulthood, it is no wonder that the number of grandchildren would have spiked the Guiness Book of Records if they'd been registered. As a Grandma of four lovely children myself, it still amazes me that my Grandmother knew each of our names and made us feel special and loved. Her eyes used to light up when we entered the room and her smile made us feel we were her only grandchild. How does a woman do that, I wonder? Could I ever measure up to my grandmother, whose very memory evokes an immediate smile to my face and heart? I must find the rest of those children and share their miles of memories.

As we proceed into the new year of 2011, I will not make resolutions because I never keep them more than a week. Instead, I will work on my grandmotherhood, my research into family history, eat less, smile more and acknowledge the blessings that whisper over my heart.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Meeting" Great Aunt Mary Silvan again

I am smiling again. In yesterday's mailbox, I found a Christmas card from my cousin, Lucinda W. Inside the card was the sweet, smiling face of my Great Aunt Mary, whom I had only met over the telephone a month before she passed away. Along with her memorial picture was the memory card from her funeral and a most beautiful poem. I felt so in touch with the lady and happy to have her picture for our family history pages. Mary Louise Silvan was only 82 years old and that one short conversation sparked a connection that warmed my heart. I know her children will miss her, knowing and loving her. I will miss her because I was so anxious to get to know her. Uncle Celestino Silvan's widow. It was ironic that I was able to speak with her at all.

And the research resumes! I just watched the DVD, GOLDEN DOOR, about immigrants making the decision to leave their poor country, sailing on a ship when they'd never seen the ocean or a ship, and arriving in Ellis Island to face insurmountable odds to remain in the new world.. The movie helped me SEE reality and it helped define the realities in Manuela's Petals as I continue to write, learn, write, learn, research and write again. They were so brave to leave everyone and everything they'd ever known for someplace they couldn't imagine across that watery trip.

A new year is before us and I have great hopes of learning, meeting, writing and finishing my story about Grandma and the saga beyond. Come on 2011 ~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My cookbook, COOKING DRUNK is on the shelves in the wine department at Lambs on Scholls in Tigard, Oregon. It is an exciting addition to my day and makes me giddy to see it in their wine department. Thank you, Joseph ---- for marketing this for me!
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More help from strangers on our family history quest

Christmas trees are alive with globes and tinsel, people are racing to scratch off their To Do lists, but hopefully there are many of you who are just watching, enjoying and thinking about this glorious season and smiling at it all.... I certainly am.

But, my addiction to Genealogy lingers.....One never knows where help will come from and I am always surprised and feel blessed that these few want to help so many... This week, I received an email from an unlikely place -- Hawaii... from a reverend. After learning my great Aunt Maria (Mary) was born in Kapaa, Hawaii..Reverend Shirley B. from Kauai was willing to step up with some research sites. I was delighted with my findings and may soon know some more answers.

Now, my great Aunt Maria was actually the SECOND Maria that great grandmother Rita Silvan birthed. The first Maria was stillborn between 1912 and 1913. And Aunt Maria Silvan was born in 1914. So, between church archives, museum archives and Hawaiian archives, I hope to soon put my hands on the FIRST Maria's birth and death certificate. I believe my great grandmother Rita wanted a child named, Maria, so hence, the second child born in Hawaii bore that name. I have been told that all Catholic families usually have a MARY in the family....and her heart must have been set on it.

My second surprise was Tandrea K. on I hope to connect with her again soon to discuss her mother, Roberta (Bobby) H. Tandrea's grandmother was my great Aunt Juanita Silvan. I cannot stop smiling as I recount all the lovely new family members in my midst, far away and never met, but with the closeness of the unquenchable internet, connections are made and so sweet!

So, I will ponder my next steps and continue plugging through the many miles of notes and information as I sift, sift, read, enjoy and write it all down. OH, also --- be sure to get the DVD titled, GOLDEN DOOR. It is a pure and real movie about immigrants and their trials and tribulations. It has been very helpful with my narrative in MANUELA'S PETALS...
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Digging into family history once again ~

The packet of papers and pictures are now spread over my desk. Images drawn in my head from my conversation with a new-found cousin, Rose Marie, flit around in my brain with such a clamor, I know I must get them down on paper quickly before they slide away. So, adjustments have been made to text as I weave her memories and stories into Manuela's Petals in such a way to flow from one to the other. Oh! Hearing her memories of a shadow grandparent, whom she remembers so clearly brushes warmth over my heart. Her grandmother was my great grandmother, Eustoquia RITA Marzo Trascasas. Rosie brought her alive for me and gave me insight into her life in Spain with her mother, my great-great grandmother, Manuela Marzo Garcia. My heart clenched as she told me some sad times and family history information; such as grandma Manuela Marzo's fight with Diabetes and the amputation of one leg. Her second marriage to grandma Rita's step father......

As in all the family history I glean out of so many new members of the outreach of family, I have more questions. When did grandma Rita's father die? How old was he? How did he die? Where is he buried? Who was her step father, his name and where did they live? So, I am again 'back in the saddle' learning and digging, hoping my trip to Spain will give me the answers.

It was fun to find out that my great grandfather worked in the bull ring! He rode a horse into the ring after the bull was killed and pulled it out for the butchers, waiting in wagons outside the fences. And my great grandmother was a seamstress, who sewed matador's costumes that were called suits of lights. I sit here filled with amazement, anxious to add more and more to my story. It just keeps getting better, broader, thicker, deeper and so much sweeter with each new family member I find who is willing to share their memories and hearts with me. Thank you, Rosie!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blessed with more family

I just returned from a wonderful, family-filled Thanksgiving holiday in Oregon, so no postings for awhile. Not that my mind didn't careen back and forth between where I was and the genealogy research from time to time! Imagine my delight when I arrived home with a stack of mail that includes surprises and new information.....

My cousin returned from Hawaii with a fund of information from Kauai as he and his wife tried to find sugar plantation information. He sent me a book and forms for document retrieval. It is such a wonderful world when so many want to help so much. Thanks Frank and Scottie!

Another nice packet of information waited from the daughter of one of my grandmother's siblings; Rose Marie is Maria (Mary) Silvan Cuellar's daughter and it was like a party as I opened each piece of paper inside! She reminisced with stories of her Aunt (Tia) Manuela --- (my grandmother) as well as stories about my Bisabuelo (great grandfather) Juan Silvan and my Bisabuela (great grandmother) Rita Marzo Silvan. Within the stories and family information, I found new facts! One supported my findings that Grandma Rita lost a child in Hawaii, a stillborn. When my Grandmother Manuela was 12 years old (2 years after landing in Hawaii from Spain) a family photograph was taken with her and 2 brothers (Agustin and Jose) and parents. In Grandma Rita's arms was a child named Mary but I knew after careful research it wasn't my Great Aunt Mary Silvan, but another Mary. Rose Marie's information confirmed it! Though the child in Grandma Rita's arms was also named Mary, it was quite a puzzle. Answer: Mary Souza, the child of family friends in Hawaii. Mary Souza's Uncle John Souza would later marry Grandma Manuela's cousin, Teodora Silvan! I now believe 'investigating' is in my blood.... It is time consuming but so very satisfying.

Still hoping for pictures from Great Aunt Cristencia's daughter, Theresa as well as information from Anthony Martin, Jr. and his sister Janet. Another letter came from my cousin, Cindy, who was Aunt Rose's daughter --- she will send me information soon. And hope for information from Lucinda Silvan... Uncle Cel's daughter... My mind is full of names and relationships!

And while I was in Oregon, my brother (Esteban) Steven showed me his pictures taken last June 2009 in Spain --- all 592 of them and yes! I downloaded them and can use some in my book. Panoramic vistas tell a story all by themselves. And then, Andalucia, Malaga, Campanillas, Los Nunez, Almogia..... the villages and towns never end. So, hopefully in June of 2011 we can add Fuentesauco, Toro and Seville to the load of pictures and I can finish my book about Grandma!
Cold here. JD blowing leaves for days on end. Fighting with a new computer. Life is fabulous.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Surprising TRUNKFUL of ancestral pictures ~

This week has been wild and busy as I paint, paint, paint and think about how I wish I was at my desk doing genealogy research and calling long-long family members. In the midst of all the chaos, I received a phone call as I stood on the porch, paint roller in hand….. from cousin Linda telling me she’d found a cache of pictures in an old box and had a trunk that might have others. I was quite beyond excitement and we shared some excitement at the prospect.

Pictures of Uncle Gus as a young man, Uncle Joe, Grandma (her Aunt Manuela), Aunt Mary and so many others. Some group pictures, some photographs and some snapshots. The wonder of it all was more than I could take in and I wanted to toss the paint roller and run to check my email where she’d sent them to me moments earlier.

But, my painting project called. I must say I made a dusty path inside once I was done for the day, and found her wonderful pictures on 10 emails from her that I just couldn’t get enough of. Then she called to say she opened the trunk! Oh my ~ Our excitement was over the top. The photographs she found thrilled both of us and it made me wonder how many other descendants had boxes of pictures they’ve forgotten about? Old musty trunks filled with letters, papers and pictures? What would jog the old people’s memories for the stories I desired so badly?
Linda was so kind as to lay out all the wonderful pictures on the trunk and take a picture of the display for me. It was truly over the moon as far as I was concerned as I started calculating how I could use them in my SILVAN LEAVES book and I am again in the throes of genealogy.
Oh, and the porch is done at last so I can get back to the good stuff.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


The genealogy quest has been slow going as life and painting has clogged up the wheels. However, since I promised myself phone calls were a must, I called a new cousin today named Anthony Martin, Jr. who lives in my city of birth! What a delightful gentleman. He told me stories of my grandfather and my great grandfather as well as listed his siblings and promised to give me the traditional recipes for crocked olives and Spanish roasted peppers! He said the seeds were brought from Spain and he's still keeping that tradition alive. He offered his home as a B&B when I'm in town next time as if he'd known me all my life. What fun it is to connect.

The next wonderful thing Anthony gave to me was his sister's name and phone number in Oregon who has worked on the Ruiz family line but hit a brick wall. Well, I called her and we are dancing together to jump the brick wall together hand in hand. She and I will try to fill in the blanks on each of our files. And she has eMail to boot.

So, I'm back in the running and wish my painting was finished but alas! The deck still isn't finished. Why didn't someone slap me when I offered to paint 1400 square feet of deck, I ask? Because why? It does look mighty nice though..... but it cuts into my genealogy time. Oh, and then there is the new book I bought to help me on my quest...SECRETS OF TRACING YOUR ANCESTORS by W. Daniel Quillen. The author is going to email me template forms! Wow. I am a happy girl.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Quest for Spanish cousins

It seems as if my list of family names gets longer with less check marks to confirm a completed Request...
Today I see a full-page 8 1/2 x 11 page filled with names of Silvan and Ruiz descendants, the information I hope to receive from them, the date I requested and any or no response in the last column. Gridlock. Dead end. Brick wall. Stress. Frustration. Disappointment. And more stress. Brain cramps.

And then the light is aflame. Plan B awaits. I listed phone numbers by each name. I will call them, tossing out email or USPS letter routes and exchange them for real conversation. I've been cautious and pensive about begging for family history information in story form, pictures, documents and anything else I can get..... because I didn't want to be a pest. But I think they may like me to be a pest... One cousin asked me to send questions and she would answer and return the form to me as it would be easier for her. A novel concept. Phone calls, definitely --- like an interview. People open up and are happy to talk about loved ones. The minute they have to put something on paper, they clog up.

And that light brightened yesterday. On the Ruiz side, I have received information, names and a phone number of cousins from my birth town in California. I was there in July and again, I didn't ask the right questions! I did not know these cousins existed. My mind-boggled brain needs to have some of that smart stuff fizzle its way down to its thought center!

For now, I refuse to remain in limbo. I will call, call and call again. I will be a pest, pester and pester again. I must move Grandma around in Hawaii and get her teenage years into young adulthood... so stories and pictures are required. I have 160 pages written and hope for a 220 volume by the time my book is finished. There. I'm all happy again.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Separating Assumptions into Fact

Another full week of genealogical research for my upcoming book, MANUELA'S PETALS, has created another 'cousin' link and with it, some delightful baby and little girl pictures of Aunt Jenny (Grandma Manuela's baby sister), pictures of delicately crocheted doilies from years past and CASTANETS! These are brown cup-shaped wooden rounds held together with leather pieces. A pair is required for the la Jota dance and other Spanish dances, where the dancer holds them in the palms of their hand, raises their arms above their head and 'snaps' them in time with the music while simultaneously.....gently stamping their feet. These were Aunt Jenny's and I smiled so broadly when I received them from her granddaughter, Nita (the picture, not the castanets) that I smile now as I write this, feeling the rush all over again.

During our email correspondence notes, Nita mentioned a few pieces of information she received from her mother (Theresa), who had repeated over the years, the information she'd heard from her mother, (my Aunt Jenny). Two of the many stories she shared with me did not ring true based on my documented research and proven information, so I called my Aunt Millie, who has been a massive fund of information... When I told her how excited I was about seeing pictures of Aunt Jenny's castanets, she calmly replied, "Well, I have Grandma's castanets." What??? I guess when I was last in California, I hadn't asked all the right questions. Ha... So, the story gets lovelier as I seek and find. More cousins. More documents. More pictures. One of the most precious pictures were (1) Aunt Jenny's baby picture and (2) Aunt Jenny standing on an antique bed (gorgeous) at age 5 or 6 next to baby brother, Celestino! Wonderful!!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deeply imbedded in the writing phase

I am posting this just so you all know I'm still working on my genealogy! I am deeply inside my story and having the time of my life 'meeting' family and 'living' through their eyes. As of today, I have written over 160 pages of MANUELA'S PETALS and feel good!

Yesterday, I received a nice fat envelope for Cousin Vicki G. with a B&W picture of the Rock of Gibralter! I immediately inserted it into the page of my story where our ancestors sailed from Spain, from Gibralter.....their last site was that rock! Thank you, Vicki! On the internet, I had colored pictures of this and that, then and now, but nothing like this wonderful 1940's shot. It was perfect.

Today, I spoke with my Aunt Carnie about her Uncle Agustin Silvan --- she was close to Uncle "Gus" and gave me some insight into his life and his love of fishing to add to John Hyatt's version... I found out that Uncle Gus, loving fishing as he did, was wheeled down the pier by Jerry Potter, his nephew by marriage --- onto the boat and he caught the BIGGEST FISH caught that day in Homer, AK. While Aunt Carnie's son, Mark, and husband, Jerry were cleaning his fish, Uncle Gus had a heart attack. It was the last day of his life. And he'd spent it the best way he could imagine. It was a good day. I LOVE these stories to add flesh to the family I did not get to know!

Back to writing. It makes my heart sing to create their life in words through their eyes. I have a new motto ~ PROPEL YOUR LIFE WITH OPTIMISM. YES!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The gift of wine keeps on giving... Wicked Vines

The wine!!
I must tell you about the wine my cousins brought to us from their recent sojourn in Maine! When Linda gave me the cobalt blue wine bottle I smiled because I LOVE that color and I would have been happy with an empty bottle to show off in my blue and yellow kitchen ~ However, it was definitely filled with Johannesburg Riesling from their friend's vineyard called, WICKED VINES. The owner, April Swett, uses white hybrid organic grapes for most of her wine and I can tell you her wines rock! When Linda brought in her Calypso Blanco, we shared a glass and it was just the right touch, sweet enough to warm us through and through.

I am selfishly saving the blue bottle of wine to celebrate the publication of MANUELA'S PETALS... I must thank April Swett when I finally drink it. Thanks to Linda and John, I added another great adventure to my quest for family history and writing!

Today, I plan to lay a new walkway with shale rocks my neighbor was kind enough to donate. I couldn't pass up the price and I've procrastinated long enough....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Silvan cousin arrived for a visit....

How delightful it was to watch a very large camper back into our long driveway Monday afternoon, knowing my second cousin was behind the wheel! Once he (John) and his wife (Linda) got out of the cab, we hugged as if we'd known each other always. Their smiles and eagerness matched mine as we lingered a moment to survey our gardens and then I led them into our home. It was the start of an adventure and I couldn't wait to begin.

John has my great Grandpa Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez's blue eyes, although he is about 10-11" taller than our grandfather. He has been told he resembles Grandpa Silvan and it would be no surprise since his mother was Grandpa Silvan's daughter. However, my mother tells me (when she saw his picture) that he's the image of a young (Uncle) Celestino Silvan ~ Ah, heredity is a wondrous thing and DNA links are quite amazing.

Our visit included stories he shared about Uncle Agustino (Gus) and Uncle Celestino (Cel) and parts of his young life spent with them. I learned Uncle Gus loved fishing and baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants; and John painted for Uncle Gus to earn money during his teenage summers... plus fishing, fishing and more fishing. He remembers Uncle Cel's love of motorcycles and seeing him and his wife (Aunt Mary Louise who just died a couple of weeks ago) in their 'leathers'. AND John and Linda told humorous stories of their life in Spain during his military years. Little bits of information will definitely go into MANUELA'S PETALS, such as the straw-tick mattresses that resembled a large pillow case and the corded rope strung between the 4 bed posts to hold the 'mattress'. Spain was a little backward due to Franco's influence in the 1970s and I have found progress was stunted to a degree... so in 1911, our ancestors probably slept on the same types of bedding!

All in all, we had a wonderful visit and I have great pictures to prove it. To top it off, Linda showed me various ways to market my books; she was filled with ideas about author events, a wine bottle with COOKING DRUNK book cover decoupaged on it, and........more.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fuentesauco ~ The Cemetery and beyond

Today, I was hit by a quiet calm. It was surprising. It was amazing. It was as if I stood among my ancestors and I have yet to stand on Spanish soil.. I found a photograph of the entrance to the cemetery in Fuentesauco on the internet. I stared through the gateway, knowing my family's plots lay within. I knew they were not there. It wasn't actually their home. It was just the address we, the living, use to find where they were laid to rest. Seeing the high, stone, whitewashed wall around the perimeter and the higher arched stone that held the steel gates, I stared as if I had already walked into the opening that was barely discernable. I picked up my ever-ready magnifying glass and peered through the gates and a large calm descended over me. It was almost sluggish with a quietness I didn't recognize.

I yearn to see the cemetery wall, the gates, the stone tablets that must lay in harmony and balance inside and hope they include my ancestor's names etched and waiting for me. Could they be in a row as a family? Would they be disjointed but still connected with other inhabitants before them? Would I find Silvan stones that looked like little pieces of rock, upright and bold or sculpted in relief with a religious symbol? Would the names be worn down and unreadable or still visible to the naked eye?

Through the eye of the global internet, I feel like I've been there and the images of their life before they were taken through those stone gates entice and lure me to Spain. I want to see it for myself and wonder if I will feel the same calmness or more.... or less? Why do I want to see the stones at all? That answer is a simple one. They are part of me and our family. We left them behind in 1911 and now we, the descendants, want to touch a part of the soil, the air, the village, the memory if just for a few moments in time.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meeting cousins soon...

I am most anxious to meet my grandmother's nephew (John) and his wife, Linda soon. John is the son of Grandma Ruiz's youngest sister, Juanita (whom I called Aunt Jenny). They are on a moose hunt in Maine and I receive updates every few days..... and the last email showed a picture of Linda with her moose. Since I am so not a hunter, this will be a new adventure for me. Will the moose be tied to the top of their car? Will it be cut up and in bags? Will the horns be tied on top? Are they called horns? It takes me back to my Uncle Ellis who lived in Skagway, Alaska for most of his life. He was definitely a hunter.

When I was 18 years old, just after I graduated from high first trip to Alaska was filled with excitement, ice-topped mountains, a 6 hour ride on the Malespina Ferry from Juneau to Skagway and my grandmother Terry's disdain when I put on a two piece swim suit to go to Black Lake with newly-made friends. It was cold. But the sun was out..... When I got home, I was shivering and my Uncle Ellis decided it was the perfect time for pictures. With his moose horns. (He called it a 'rack'.) Anyway, he held the camera and couldn't stop laughing. I picked up the 'rack' and every time I tried to hold it UPWARDS so it looked just right, they'd slip and roll downward and my knee would pop up to hold them upward again. And he laughed some more. They were huge! But the memories were indelibly scanned into my memory bank. My sweet uncle was one of a kind... The 'rack'. Alaska. Moose. Mountains. And now I'll meet my peer who shot one all by herself! Smiling still......

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Geronimo Silvan was married after all!

As a comparatively new genealogist, I found the ship's manifest for the S.S. Manuel Calvo last April, 2010, excited to find one of the missing brothers, uncle to my grandmother Manuela listed: Geronimo Silvan. There are many columns to these ship's passenger lists; the first 'M or F' signifies male and the next column signifies M or S (married or single). I saw 'M' and stopped. So, he's male and single. I was so intent on finding Great Uncle Geronimo's name that it took new eyes (thank you, Vicki) to show me that the columns showed an M and another M = Male/Married. And his wife's name was listed below his --- all the while I thought he was returning from Cuba to Spain all alone at age 54. Lo and behold, Vicki nonchalantly mentioned his wife on an email I found from her this morning and I just went into overdrive.

We now have a Great Aunt whose name was Joaquina Bragado Vicente. On the ship, June 1931, she was 55 years old; they were both born in Zamora and returning to Zamora -- a pair of Spanish ancestors. One more tiny piece to our Silvan puzzle just fell into place.

I often find myself 'seeing' additional information after looking at a document 2,3,4,5 and sometimes 6 times. My daughter's 'eyes' found the name of the ship, ORTERIC, over a year ago. It was the ship my grandmother sailed on from Spain to Hawaii and I'd looked at the same document more times than I can count moaning over not know the name of their ship.....

Fresh eyes....and more help. I learned that Geronimo Silvan was 5' 9" and his wife, Joaquina was 5'4" tall. They were both born in Fuentesauco, Zamora, Spain. Neither could read or write. Now I am off to research these ancestors. Did they have a family? Are there any descendents still in Spain? Will I find them next summer when I walk through the streets of Fuentesauco and go in and out of the Ayunamiento, the cemetery, or the church? Another adventure begins.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Losing Aunt Mary Louise Silvan

I 'met' Aunt Mary Silvan over the phone less than six weeks ago. She and I had such a sweet conversation about her life and marriage with Uncle Celestino, my grandmother's baby brother. She was making plans for a new adventure, packing boxes and moving to Long Beach, CA with her daughter (Kathy) and she was excited about the family history I was gathering. I can still hear her laughter as she told me the trick she played on Uncle Cel all those years ago..... She planned to send me documents and pictures for my book once she got settled. But it was not to be. Recently, her daughter (Lucinda) told me she had a heart attack and was in the hospital. Before my Get Well card was in the mail box, this morning I another cousin (Linda) emailed me notice that Aunt Mary died a few days in the hospital. I am so filled with sadness that my fingers are just moving, typing and as I keep sighing loudly with the loss of this lovely old lady, my heart aches. She was 83 years young.

With these recent memories of meeting her for the first and last time, I plan to devote a very special page in Silvan's Leaves just for her. Hopefully, once the terrible sadness eases for her family, I will still get copies of the documents and pictures she planned to gather for me. For now, we are grieving and the emptiness that follows a loss like this has zapped us silly.

Sad today,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reaching out to more family

Happy Sunday out there! The e-mails are already flying among cousins I have never met before (except Vicki) and now I am (im)patiently waiting for replies to all the family history forms I have sent with return envelopes. Maybe this week, my mail box will be overflowing? Yes, please!

Strangers among the new family members are ever so helpful too. I've received copies of documents from other Spanish families that continue to help me flesh in the time, the people, the places and all the spots in between. Thank you all!

I just finished working on page 164 and now the family is nearly ready to work their way to Honolulu and get on the SS Herman Governor for their last leg in the dream of America. What a time that must have been for them.

Fighting allergies, so will keep this short. Thanks for listening and hope you enjoy the 'trip' through the pages of Manuela's Petals and my continual quest for family history!
Smiles from Virginia....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adding personal stories to Manuela's Petals

As I meet more descendants from our family and their personal stories, I have been able (happily) to blend theirs with the stories I've already nipped and tucked into Manuela's Petals. Adding the heart-rending sad times as well as the good times is creating a fleshed-out story more real than I could have ever imagined.

And recipes! Learning how our Spanish relatives cooked, what they specialized in, what they were the 'best' at is coming at me from all directions. And I will amass all of them in the back of Manuela's Petals for everyone to see and just maybe..... cook like the old country through their ancestor's kitchens. Imagine a time when women created meals out of what they found in their gardens, could barter for, had stored in barrels or in cloth on storage shelves. And we, all the ones after, clamor to add to our recipe books and share with our own families.

Torrene, similar to divinity is made of almonds, a nougat candy. And the Garbanzo bean stew! There are so many different ways to make it beyond the traditional recipe. It's basically a soup made with garbanzos, beef shanks, salt pork, fideo pasta, and a "tortilla" made from bread, garlic, eggs, and parsley fried and then reheated in the broth. Thanks for that, Julie!

Still working on the name issue with the Spanish lines of the family. If I can just keep inside my head, the middle name is the father's name and all paternal links from that father must have the same middle name. Without both the father's name and the mother's maiden name, we can't trace our lineage! So, I continue the quest, walking through the years and pages of NAMES!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Spanish Naming Principals again

My head hurts. I continue to repeat a mantra......the second name is the father's name and the last name is the mother's name. That promises to clarify how everyone is related and working with my grandfather's side, the RUIZ family, and this has become a rollicking headache.

Unfortunately, there are some discrepancies between some of the ancestor's names now that I have a copy of a family tree created from a direct Ruiz descendant.... a cousin in Spain. When I follow it to my great, great grandfather the names differ. I am breathing in with the good and breathing out with the bad..... and on the phone with my brother, Steven, who brought the family tree from Spain on his last trip. Maybe I better just concentrate on the Silvan side of the family for now and wait for our trip to Spain next summer to confirm others?? Otherwise, I am unsure if my brain matter will be gray or red by then.....

As I wait daily (very patiently I might add) for the mail lady, watching for completed family history forms from Silvan and Ruiz descendants ........ I pace. I have so many irons in the fire, they have multiplied like rabbits... and I am also on my 3rd edit of Manuela's Petals up to page 135. On a definite roll here in Charles City...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Extending the Silvan horizon

The pages continue to fill up within my manuscript with some amazing additions to the story. Another descendant from another family that traveled on the S.S. Orteric with my grandmother has surfaced and shared stories, people's names, relationships and documents with me (thank you, Julie!) Incorporating these Silvan friends and Martin relatives has added depth to our story, the good, the bad and the sad. It was real. It was frightening. It was awesome. Manuela's Petals now stands 135 pages long and going strong; quickly becoming three dimentional, as has always been my intent.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day traversing the country of Spain, minutely dissecting its mountain ranges, the railroad tracks in the early twentieth century and the villages and cities that lie between Fuentesauco and Seville for the Spain part of our story. Seeing these Spanish names and learning how the rivers run hither and yon and the mountain ranges stretch across its bounty has made me itch to move up my Spain trip but alas! June 2011 it is.

I work hard to buckle down my impatience as I wait for family members to complete and return family history forms for the other parts of my genealogical research. Sighing loudly does not hurry the post office lady, nor does it rush their email responses. But it feels good so I will continue to sigh, write, research some more and look forward to new family horizons.

If only, I'd started this quest sooner; talking with my loved ones and writing down their stories. For now, I rely on all the descendants they shared their stories with and I smile toward the bulk of them as they grow and come alive with their telling.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Learning Spanish on the run....

It seems like I may be getting the swing of it. The other morning when I woke up I asked my husband, "Que hora es?" He looked at me like I'd just grown a second head. Oh!! I am starting to think in Spanish. Then the next day, I found a box from the post office with a college Spanish text book, workbook and flashcards from my daughter. She even sent her notes! With that and the books and flashcards I already have.... How can I miss learning? Now, all I have to do is slow down those fast-speaking Spaniards when I get to Spain!

In the past few days I have been a busy genealogist. I've written letters to the Spanish Consulates in San Francisco and Honolulu. I have documents from both offices and hope to find the same documents for the rest of our family. Again, I must learn Spanish and can only assume each consulate has translators. But of course, they must!

Then, I sent an email to my brother's friend, Ana, who now lives in Madrid. Her friend has a tour company. Both the venue and the occupation should be able to help me further. In the mix of working with what I can find, I have been trying to find out WHERE to go for the documents I can't find. I hope that will be a window of opportunity for my trip next summer.

And then to top it all, I received a Spanish document from another very generous shirt-tail cousin (I have decided we must be related vicariously through Felisa Silvan). This document was prepared by an attorney in January 1911 to prove her grandmother was a legitimate daughter of her parents along with all the legitimacy of their entire family --- in order to emigrate from Spain to Hawaii.... she will definitely be part of Manuela's Petals in the timeline, place and Hawaii.... It is dated 3 days after the same type of documents were prepared for my grandmother and her cousins in Fuentesauco.

Thrown into the mix, I have decided to continue working part time as Medicare Specialist for my employer for another year. By the time I REALLY retire, I will have worked for him 23 years. It will be hard to let go, but alas! i have a family to find.

Today, my niece gave birth to a little baby girl -- especially sweet since it is my son's 36th birthday! Oh, family! What on earth would we possibly do without that warmth and links? Which reminds me, I will be flying to Arkansas the end of the month and share special family time with a cousin I haven't seen since 1985.

It will be good to get away from all the weeds... two days of racing after them and ripping them to their death is enough for awhile. I yanked and tossed them aside until I couldn't move. So, I'll go pour a glass of wine and think good thoughts.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

SPANISH and more

More progress on my Spanish genealogy meets me daily. I found a Spanish college student in northern Spain on Facebook (thanks for the suggestion, Rick P) but his slang makes it difficult to use (smile). I am listening to CNN in Spanish on the radio (not to much luck there but I catch "and, but and friend" sometimes... My daughter, Audrie, is sending me her Espanol college study workbook and textbook to go with several I already have. Maybe a Spanish class might be more helpful? I have a Spanish email account and can't figure out who to send emails to except my brother and cousin who both speak fluently and will not laugh at me....

Considerable frustration has followed my research for bango numbers. This is a number given to my Spanish ancestors when they worked on the sugar plantations in Hawaii. A friendly lady is helping me from the Kaua'i Historical Society. She tells me each time a worker moved from one plantation to another, they changed bango numbers (yipee) and it was before the time of social security numbers. Also, the numbers were anywhere from 2, 3 or 4 digits (2 = doctor, etc). So I am BELOW square one trying to find out which plantations my families worked on because bango-numbered disks had ever been heard or let alone saved in the family archives.

Setting aside just a bit of my frenetic family tree investigation for awhile as I wait for information to arrive in bits and pieces, I have spent the past week deeply entrenched in writing Manuela's Petals and I have already written 129 pages. It is an amazing journey for me and at the end of my writing day, I smile, wishing I could place the finished book in my grandmother's or my father's hands. Instead, their descendents will be part of it and that is exciting. Until then, more typing, more research and a trip to Spain lies ahead for me.

The village of my ancestors is Fuentesauco, Spain; 2010 population is less than 2000 people living in the tiny village. No hotels are listed on the internet, 107 miles northwest of Madrid. Excitement continues to mount. I'll sleep in the fields if I must (with my laptop of course).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New cousin's trust overwhelming

I am now the proud owner of an original Spanish document dated January 27, 1911. (Thank you Lynda Medeiros E!) It is yellowed with age and the creased areas have come apart but I plan to get it copied and printed to make it beautiful again. This document was created by a Spanish attorney at the request of Victorino Silvan and lists himself, his wife (Romana) and his four children, Teodora, Felisa, Jacinto and Celestino. The certificate was required to prove they were natives of Fuentesauco and that their children were their natural children.

It revealed three new bits of information; 1) It lists Romana's maiden names as 'Martin Lorenzo,' 2) it lists the names of her parents (Pedro Martin and Sabina Lorenzo) and after staring at the dates (in shock), it states 3) Jacinto was the oldest TWIN of Celestino. They were both 5 years old---- not age 5 (Celestino) and age 3 'Juanitco' as the ship's manifest appeared to show. Romana labored 4 hours between each boy's births. This just adds another layer of sadness, since we know little Jacinto died on the trip from Spain to Hawaii of either measles or scarlet fever and was buried at sea.

The burial at sea was a traumatic affair; the baby (48 died on the ship~) was wrapped in a blanket, carefully placed on a wooden plank and then slipped from the side of the ship into the ocean for burial.

Finding more information with constant surprises sometimes leaves me weak with knowledge but full with love thinking of the hardships and lives our ancestors lived and perservered!

Today, I created the cover to Manuela's Petals and I am content. This story in the making is going to be a tribute to those before and those that come after. I can hardly wait to get to Spain to stand on their soil, on their village streets, in their Santa Maria church..... oh! And that reminds me, with the help of my cousin, (Ramona) I now have a yahoo address on the Spanish system! I used the Ruiz name (like she did) so people in Spain will recognize who I am when I send Spanish emails. Oh, better get back to cracking those Spanish books and open the dictionary ~ So those Spaniards can understand me though.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

More progress made with Feliza's descendents!

In the past week, I have received more valuable information and finding Lynda, Feliza's granddaughter has led me to another cousin, Julie. They are gathering information for me and trying to remember all the stories their Grandmother Feliza told them about her memories of Spain and Hawaii. We now have a 4-way connection that includes Vicki in San Jose, who's grandmother was Feliza's sister, Theodora. I am grinning like a fool just writing this as I am filled with such pleasure to unite all of us with our ancestral story.

And the no-longer-in-print book, Memories of Spain is now in my hands! My good friend, Jane, in Williamsburg was able to get it through interlibrary loan and it is filled with so much information regarding the research of Spain, embarkation procedures, sailing to Hawaii, debarkation procedures, quarantine and much, much more that I have lost sleep over it. It is hard to close my eyes just thinking how I will incorporate the extensive details into my story about grandma's trip.

Life in my little genealogical world is smiling.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Making progress with Manuela's Petals

Over the past week, I have created fill-in-the-blank forms for many of the new family contacts I have been talking with recently. Several suggested thee forms might work best and since I love creating forms and writing, writing, writing, I jumped right to it. I have emailed and pony express mailed the forms to several people and will prepare a packet to go to Grass Valley, CA where my uncle will have a birthday party. He turned 90 years young today -- Frank Ruiz...

I have also been writing grandma's story and just finished page 87. I am having great fun with it and inserted many photographs and copies of original documents that the family will be very happy to see. It is definitely a labor of love and it feels like I was in Spain and later Hawaii with grandma as she lived through her early years.

My story will end when grandma marries grandpa and finds she is pregnant with her first child. I have decided to do this because two family history books will carry on the rest of the story..

I AM ASKING FAMILY MEMBERS TO give me a brief biography of grandma's brothers and sister as well as their own. This can be over email or I can call to have a personal interview and type while they talk. This will add a very special touch to their SILVAN LEAVES pages and so far, the family has responded wonderfully.

It is hot and humid here in Virginia but I hardly notice as I am glued to my computer... Having a great time and sad to miss my uncle Frank's party!

And I am celebrating. As of today, I have sold 45 of my Cooking Drunk cookbooks!

Friday, August 13, 2010

TWO OPTIONS to share my internet journal (Blog)

TO FOLLOW MY BLOG: If you know anyone who would be interested in following my blog, please left click the word, Follow, at the top of this posting. It is above the words, spanishpearls, in the blue line. Once you left click the word, Follow, a box will pop up that will allow you to click your request to follow my postings.

TO SHARE TODAY'S BLOG: Look to the left of the text of this posting and you will see the word, Options. Left click Options beneath my name. You will see three options. If you left click on Invite Friends you can invite your friends or other family members to read today's genealogy blog by using one of the social networking sites or their email address.

Please feel free to invite others to share in this wonderful trip I am taking through our family and live vicariously through my words.

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Family Interview

Mary Silvan is a soft-spoken woman with a gentle sense of humor. She is the wife of my grandmother's brother, Celestino Fernandez Silvan. Great Uncle Celestino (Cel) was my grandmother's youngest brother and I know she was very close to him. Yesterday, Mary, a widow since Uncle Cel died in July 1973, graciously granted me an interview and added color and 'life' behind the man and the times. She also knew my father and bought appliances from him in Carmichael with the promise of a "lifetime guarantee." "Who's lifetime?" she'd asked him. "Yours or mine?" My father, Michael (Miguel) Silvan Ruiz replied, "Both, of course."

Great Aunt Mary will celebrate her 82nd birthday December 19, 2010. We are both Sagittarians, we've both lost a child through death way before their time and she made me feel like a young girl again by calling me, "honey." Our comfortable conversation made me imagine myself in her living room sharing a cup of coffee as she'd just prepared for herself. We discussed her past, her children, her husband and her life.

She basically filled in many blanks. One question was "Why was Uncle Cel's middle name, Fernandez, when the Spanish naming rules typically would have his mother's maiden name or Marzo?" She didn't know and said all of his brothers middle names were, Marzo. I can assume Grandpa John and Grandma Rita broke the Spanish name ruling for American rules where they could choose any name and consequently, he carried the Fernandez (or Fernandes?) middle name. I also learned, with sadness, that cancer is a big killer in the Silvan family; Grandpa John Silvan, Great Aunt Juanita, Great Aunt Mary Cuellar, Grandma Rita Silvan and my own father, Michael Silvan -- the only cancer-stricken Silvan I was aware of.

My files are beginning to plump up with information and I look forward to many more interviews to add color to my family history story. At the end of our conversation, I smiled when I heard the story of my father painting the front of his appliance store purple -- just for my grandmother , Abuelita -- her favorite color.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Feliza Silvan vs. ALICE

Feliza's granddaughter, Lynda E., told me Feliza's name wasn't really Alice. When she came to America as a teenager and began school, the teacher's didn't like her name, so they named her Alice. Why of why would 'Alice' be chosen over the beautiful name of Feliza or Felicia, I wondered? And I found it very strange that the name Alice stayed and Feliza was somehow lost along the way. I am profoundly relieved and happy to have found her. When I sent the letter to Dorothy Mederios, hoping she was related to our Feliza, I never imagined how wonderful it would turn out to be. And now we have added Lynda to our group and I can hardly wait for the pieces of information and possibly pictures.... to arrive.

A gracious gift of trust and generosity

This morning, I received an email from one of Cristencia Silvan Gonzalez's grandchildren, Alicia. She has graciously agreed to either copy for me or mail me her copy of the book I have been trying to find through interlibrary loan or other ways that is no longer in print titled, MEMORIES OF SPAIN. I have tried to find this book for several months after being told it includes many of the types of memories needed for 'feeling' the Spaniard's way from Spain. I am overwhelmed by her trust and generosity and look forward to reading it and referring to its contents for further research for MANUELA'S PETALS. I find that every 'cousin' I have encountered during my quest has been loving and filled with an insatiable curiosity for our ancestor's information, as am I. It is a powerful and emotional bonding.

With Linda's help, I have managed to nearly finish Juanita Silvan's leaf pages. And to add more excitement to the mix, she and John (Juanita's son) are planning to visit us in Virginia this coming October. I am smiling. Oh, and she's bringing wine too!!

Today, I plan to mail sample 'Our Slvan Leaves' pages (2) to Aunt Millie, Aunt Mary and Aunt Rita, as they appear to be the most interested in my findings. I am content knowing they will share the information and one day, all the siblings of my Abuelita will have a copy of the entire book in their hands so they can 'meet' the family that came before and get to know them as I have been over the past 18 months. It is such a joy to share this with them! And to top it off, my Uncle Frank will soon be 90... I know what I'll put in his birthday card!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A new link to Feliza Silvan!

Today's posting is beyond excitement. In the past few days, I have been able to fill many of the blanks for my grandmother's sister, Juanita and prepared a draft page of what I will now call SILVAN LEAVES. I will prepare a 'leaf' for each of my grandmother's siblings and with the help of the new cousins, I can do it.

These 'leaves' will be in addition to my book, MANUELA'S PETALS since what I originally began as a story about my grandmother has expanded beyond belief and I am very, very excited to FLESH in all those names and help all the long-lost cousins with family history. I have found that every cousin (there are 6 now) tells me they do not know much about the Silvan part of their family. Adding that to my aunts and uncles who did not know they had an Uncle Victorino, I'm a happy girl and will happily share my research.

Adding to my new cousins related to Cristencia, Celestino, and Victorino and working closely with my new cousin related to Theodora, I am truly on a roll. My husband thinks I should camp out in here by the computer....

Today, I just got a call from another cousin! I'm in la-la land. Lynda E. is Feliza Silvan's granddaughter. Feliza was 2nd child of Victorino. Victorino was brother to Juan Francisco Silvan. Juan F. Silvan was, of course, father to my grandmother Manuela. Sigh. Things are going so nicely. She is willing to collaborate with me and has copies of a Spanish registration that her grandmother had before they sailed from Spain. Pay dirt!

I have decided to go beyond Manuela's Petals with a Silvan family history book and this is the start. I knew I had to have some place to start listing all the history as it was coming in fast and furiously (thank God!) Receiving and sharing this family history makes me feel like I have grown a foot and still smiling.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Silvan's are off and running ~

My head is spinning. MORE COUSINS! I spoke with Celestino's daughter, Lucinda, who happily filled in the blanks for their family. She promises to find some missing information and I have her mother's phone number for further investigations!

This afternoon, I received an email from a granddaughter of Cristencia Silvan Gonzales with further information and we are going to connect for further information. Her father was Cristencia's son. She said she was googling her grandparents and up popped this blog!

Then, the RUIZ LINE.... I received an email from Dick Ruiz's daughter in law, Kelly. He was my grandpa Ben Ruiz's brother and I hadn't begun the Ruiz line yet --- but I am on it now! Clyde Ruiz is one of Uncle Dick's sons and I hope to open the Ruiz Folder and start listing and writing.

So I can add three more cousins to my list from my last posting and think there might now be two books vs. one. One will be Manuela's Petals, the story about Abuelita and her trip from Spain to CA via Hawaii and the other will be the family history with links, trees, pictures and more. I have had a very complete, fulfilling day and anxious for tomorrow!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Another lost cousin is found ~

Today while I was on I found a family tree with my great grandfather's name on it so of course I was curious (bold and nosy) and clicked on it. Well! This is a new cousin who is a descendent from my grandmother's brother, Celestino Silvan. It feels like it is raining family all around me and I'm running through the puddles with my arms out, flying round and round. This is such fun and I am very anxious to connect further with her.

At this rate, I shall have the family history all in a row for the Silvan's. I haven't even begun to work on Grandpa Ben Ruiz's side yet. So all the fun there still awaits the investigator in me.

My sweet cousin, TT, told me she was amazed at how much information I have found so far and I smiled and shook my head because she is WAY ahead of me in the research department as she plugs away at my maternal family history. She amazes me and I keep trying to catch up!

Let's see, to summarize my new finds.....
Victorino Silvan (Grandma's uncle)- I found Vicki (and Cheryl) his great granddaughters
Juanita Silvan (Grandma's sister) - I found her son (John) and daughter in law, Linda.
Celestino Silvan (Grandma's brother) - I found his daughter or granddaughter --- need to connect further for sure.
Christina (Cristencia) Gonzales (Grandma's aunt) - I found her grandson, John and family with the ironic coincidence that they have known my cousin on my maternal family line for years!
And I found their pictures in a book called IMAGES OF AMERICA / Winters, CA.
I think I should have been a private investigator!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I found Victorino Silvan's missing child!

Missing to me, that is. Alice, Alice is found at last. With the help of a stranger who lives in San Francisco who has an eager willingness to help find mysteries and who helped me find the Souza Bento line several weeks ago, has come through with wildly flying colors for me once again.

Recently, I found that the Feliza Silvan I was looking for was known as "Alice" and was married to a Portuguese man named S. Maderos; I found the 1930 census showing occupants of the house that documented it was our Feliza!

On a fluke this morning, I sent my SF friend my basic information and asked if he was up to another mystery? Yes! Within a few minutes, I had the documented information.
Alice Felicia Martin Silban, born 4 Nov. 1904 in Spain, died 10 December 1991 in Alameda Co.
Married: Seraphim A. Medeiros, born 12 March 1901 in Hawaii, died 29 March 1973 in Oakland
They are both buried in Hayward, CA at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Wonder of wonders, that is the cemetery where my cousin, Vicki, just visited and sent me pictures of the gravestones of her siblings and extended family. Life is soooooooooo good.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alice Maderos, where are you?

Here we go again on the merry-go-round of genealogy. At this time, I have 'found' my grandmother's Uncle Victorino and his family, her Aunt Cristencia (Christina) and her family and recently found several descendents of both.

Fixing the family tree by adding the children has been a major investigative masterpiece and I have not done it alone as I've found several long-lost (newly found?) cousins to help me. The last piece of the puzzle was fit into place with Uncle Victorino's daughter, Feliza, when I found she Americanized her name to ALICE and married a Portuguese man, S. Maderos.

Now, the race is on (again) to find her descendents...... and I shrug and stew because I am stumped once again. She was born in 1904 in Spain, her husband was probably born in Portugal in 1902 and her children were born in 1925 (Medora Maderos, daughter) and 1926 (Jerome Maderos, son). Concentrating on Jerome, since his ancestors would have the same name, I came up with ZERO. Using Medora as a first name, I came up (again) with ZERO. I found a 1930 census showing the ages above and found Aunt Ramona Silvan (Romana Silva) at age 67 and "Alice's" brother, Celestino at age 22 living in the same household in San Leandro, Alameda Co., California. There are answers somewhere and I hope to find them very soon.... so I can move on to HAWAII and the Sugar Cane fields for the meatiness that my book needs.....

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Impatience is a virtue I'm not proud of...

Well, I sent emails to the port authorities of Seville, Spain and Cadiz, Spain as I try to narrow down which port Abuelita and her family boarded the SS Orteric that day in 1911.... I was sure it was on the Guadiquiver River port in Seville but recent information may have shot a hole in that assumption. I need documentation or at least factual answers here. No response from either of the port authorities yet.

Then I sent an email to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii asking where I can research (and find!) a master list of bango numbers, which are the numbers given to immigrants entering Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields due to mispronounciation and the immigrant's inability to write their own names. No response.

I wrote to rootsweb hoping for an indication of where I could research sugar plantation life on Hawaii in the early 1900. No response there either. Did I give up? NO, no, no.....

Then a got a note from a stranger about a book he's sure will help me titled, MEMORIES OF SPAIN by Anne Aguilara Santucci, which is now out of print (go figure...) I couldn't find it anywhere but contacted the Library of Congress who gave me a list of all US libraries and suggested I get an interlibrary loan from my local library. Well, we live in Charles City and my Williamsburg Library card won't allow interlibrary loans. Charles City is a rural community without a town... I was told to go through the Charles City Library. What? There's a Charles City Library? Well, I found there is one that is shared with another county so I called and was given the library manager's name and email address. I'm excited again and sent off that email on Thursday (4 days ago). No response.

Well hey! *^&$%^&&()(*^% That's another word for well, hey! If I was rich, I would fly to Hawaii and do my leg work on my own. Unfortunately, that's a long way and won't work... I found I can call with my cell phone so Monday I hit the air waves. Or is that sound waves? Or just phone waves? Either way... I will not allow myself to get stuck.

To add jitters to a calamity level, during my recent 5-week vacation (yes, I know I am a lucky girl) the curriculum was circulated for College of William & Mary for a Family History Class 303, an advanced class I've been hoping for and now, August 1, it is already 'closed'. So I sent a begging-on-my-knees-crouched-low-letter and said I would STAND up if I have to in order to get into the class. For now, the crouch still hurts but my fingers will remain crossed until I get a RESPONSE! For now, I am still optimistic. And maybe I will soon hear from the Catholic Diocese in Madrid telling me where the birth, marriage, death documents are located in Spain for my trip... or maybe not. Still optimistic...

Monday, July 26, 2010

The HUNT continues with results!

I am elated as only another genealogist can begin to understand. Not only has Victorino Silvan's gravesite been found in Hayward, CA -- right next to his wife, Ramona Martinez Silvan and his son, Celestino Martin Silvan --- but with the help of my distant cousins I have also found the long-lost daughter, Feliza. Who could have possibly guessed her Americanized name would be ALICE?? So, now I can take a big sigh in the knowledge that we have found my grandmother's uncles, aunts and the cousins she traveled from Spain to Hawaii with on the S.S. Orteric in 1911.

It was such a pleasure to print and give copies of the Hawaiian Gazette historical newspaper article from April 1911 to my Aunts in California and also tell them about their great uncle they did not know existed! While in California, I was able to take pictures of the grave sites in Winters, CA and with our couisin's, Vicki, help in Hayward, as she took pictures of her great grandparents and grandparent's graves on the Victorino Silvan side of the family. The quest continues for the Souza Bento line and to add a bit more mystery, there was a Souza and Castro in a grave together... Why? We have no idea but will continue the quest...

Another new cousin (Linda) surfaced to join the collaboration efforts! She and her husband were stationed in Spain in the military in the 1970s and told me grandmother's ship probably did not port in Seville, but in Cadiz. So, that research is on my agenda. I am also trying very hard to find a book titled, MEMORIES OF SPAIN by Anne Aguilar Santucci and hoping to learn about the interstate library loaning program to get it. A complete stranger-genealogist offered the information on the internet. The internet is an awesome venue!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kissing Virginia's soil

Home again! My lips were sore from kissing the ground when we drove in our driveway. Five weeks is so long.....

Life slapped us the minute we landed. Our 7-year old washer decided it was tired of spinning and our pile of dirty road-weary clothes, after driving 7,670 miles across America, sat and waited. Shaking my head, I decided it was time to either repair the washer (J.D. nixed the idea) or buy a new one (I wanted a front loader). He wanted a new 'set' even though the dryer worked fine. So, after a lot of internet research and two trips to Lowes and Home Depot, I found a brand I've never heard of before: LG. I'm excited because it's a front loader that opens on top. I know. I know. I am very strange but it is quite amazing. We will donate the dryer but the washer must be hauled away because Virginia gives a $75 rebate to do that. So, JD has been re-wiring sections of the pantry to put in a solenoid switch for each appliance (I don't even ask him anymore why .....) and the new set will be here Friday. Oh, and those sad (dirty) clothes? We had a back-up washer and dryer over at the shed. Yes, I'm a spoiled girl.

On the genealogy front, life keeps getting better. After meeting and continuing to work with a newly-found cousin, Vicki -- in San Jose, we are still trying to find bits and pieces of Victorino Silvan's family. Also, another cousin (Linda) who lives in Colorado and I will work on the Silvan side through her mother-in-law's memories (Great Aunt Juanita whom I called Aunt Jenny).

And I smile when I think of it === both cousins bought my COOKING DRUNK cookbook. Good times. Lovely things happen in the most remarkable places.

My youngest granddaughter will turn ONE on August 1st. We had a wonderful time visiting with her and my other three grandchildren in Oregon. They are each so very special. But oh!!! It is so good to be home once again.
MY SPAIN 'WALK-IN-HER-SHOES' TRIP IS POSTPONED TO JUNE 2011.... more time to learn Spanish and I am anxious to TRABAJAR!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Onward toward St. Louis, MO

Hello again from Missouri ~
We drove 609 miles today and it's all because J.D. is trying to get us to St. Louis mid-day so he can take me up inside the great ARCH in St. Louis and avoid commuter traffic by getting there early in the day. What a view I anticipate of the Mississippi River. But we are so very tired of driving. We passed the 6000 mile mark and J.D. is sooooooooooooooo set on GO and EASTWARD toward Virginia. Our neighbor told us it was 104 in Charles City today but they are hoping for rain by Thursday or Friday and DOWN to the high 90s. It will be a reality check but we are so looking forward to getting home.

I have so many notes and research options to start on when I get my act together at home... And a wonderful visit with a childhood friend, Tina, and her husband (Butch) in Denver, CO. We had several hours at their home and were treated royally...

We have visited with so many loved family and friends along our way on this road trip that I feel totally blessed. Here in Kansas City, we are waiting to drive the next 200 miles to St. Louis in the morning... J.D. has that new John Deere riding mower to break in :)

On the road again....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Still on the road but heading HOME

So many miles behind us (4800) and we are still in Oregon. J.D. is studying the maps and we will be heading east after my long-awaited visit with my son in Baker City tomorrow. We have seen so many wonderful people and received and given special hugs and felt the love around us. What fun it is to connect. Leaving Audrie, Ben and baby Hillary in San Diego and then leaving Mom in Portland left me in tears but I will be back i told myself over and over like a litany!

My new cousin in San Jose gave me a fabulous 3" thick genealogy book full of repository search sites and I'm ready to get back to my genealogy quest. Maybe the mail box will be full of responses from my requests for information before we left on June 4... hopeful for that!

My SPAIN trip is postponed until June 2011 as my Spanish-speaking brother, Steven, assures me changing to June will prepare him for our trip. In the interim, we will find out exactly where to go and make serious plans. Also, he says I need to study Spanish with the Rosetta Stone teaching CDs so will begin that soon...

AND then there is Kauai, the island with so many questions waiting to be answered. That must be put on my agenda as well but unsure when... keep tuned in for that one.

The sites and panoramas we have encountered on our road trip are amazing. My digital camera's SD card filled up with over 500 pictures and I have them cradled close for printing when I get home. My Oregon grandchildren (Dylan, Frankie Christina and little Kadence) are well and I had excellent visits with my three brothers. Last night we spent in Bend, with my son in law's parents and it was a laughing good time as we all agreed we were the HILLARY ADMIRATION SOCIETY, our shared 11 mo. old granddaughter Ah, grandparenthood. The life.

Oh, the reason why I haven't kept this blog up better is because I forgot my password!! Until next time, we are one the road again and heading HOME.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On the road...

Genealogy quest is in spurts the past couple of weeks. Dredging up information and waiting to do a little hands-on research as I continue on a road trip has taken me from Virginia, through West VA, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and into Arizona. THEN we finally arrived into and currently sit here in San Diego with Audrie, Ben and little Hillary. She is a charmer and being with my daughter is the most wonderful fun.

We are planning court house, library and historical society jaunts as well as noting various family stories from our family along the way. In a couple of days, we will head northward toward San Jose, Alameda, Pleasanton, Galt and Woodland, CA. Then, to Tess Trueheart's house in Ukiah. She is the family historian on my mother's side and has an amazing cache of information including family history much more intense than I have been able to dig up for the Silvan's. But I'm definitely on a roll.

We lived through 2 earthquakes yesterday and a couple day's ago. J.D. had never felt one before.... Until I can post another note about our trek, I send hugs and hope everyone is well.
PS 'on the road'

Friday, May 28, 2010

My second wind as the quest continues.....

Hello! Miss me? The past couple of weeks I have spent time in my garden here in Virginia with some mini-projects and one major piece of work where I created a dry creek bed. Digging the ditch and hauling rocks to fill it afterwards was not exciting but now that it's finished, I am proud of it, can hardly move, and I am ready to sit here at my desk to continue my genealogy quest.

My new-found cousin has just returned from a vacation and she has spurred me on once again as we study history, look for documents and cement the relationship of our grandfathers, who were brothers, Juan Francisco and Victorino.

In the genealogy world, I have learned nothing is easily found but when it is before me either accidentally or ordered specifically, I sit and stare, adding more pieces to this wonderful and exciting puzzle of my ancestors. IF ONLY I had asked my loved ones the questions that burn in my mind now before they died. But, for now we wonder if they are all watching us and trying to push us in the right direction, pointing, nudging and praying we find our way. Yes, fanciful am I.

With the help of other genealogy questers like me, I have written (in Spanish with the help of the Bing translator) to the Diocese of Madrid to find out where the documents are stored for my grandmother's family.... in Fuentesauco? In Toro? In the archives in Madrid? In the church? In the court house? I learned the civic offices are call the Ayunamiento. No answer yet.

I wrote to the historical society in Hawaii, the Diocese of Honolulu and the Archives of Hawaii at the college as I try to find out what life was like during the 1900-1920 years for Spanish and Portuguese, where they lived, what their houses were like, what the school was like, how they got to the fields, what they did when they got there? I found out that the workers often had a BANGO number vs. using their names since they HAD SO MANY NAMES!! It has been the bane to my existence trying to figure it out since many 'chose' which name to use when they became anglicanized. A father's surname was their middle name and their mother's surname was the last name ~ in Spain. When they arrived in Hawaii and later in America, they could only have one surname, so hence the name anomolies. Without their bango numbers, I can't find out which plantation they worked on UNLESS I GO TO HAWAII. Hey! Good idea. If only.... but then again, Spain is my first choice and I'm still hugging my mind around September...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Putting faces to Spanish ancestor's names ~

After nearly a year of reading the name of my great grandfather's brother, Victorino Silvan Hernandez and his wife, Ramona, and their children, Theodora, Feliza and Celestino -- I now have pictures of their long-ago faces. They are fleshed out in my mind now ~ PLUS I have a picture of Theodora and her husband, John Souza. They are professional photographs and to say I am delirious with excitement is just about right. Finding new relatives willing to share pictures and other supporting documents is amazing and my quest moves on enthusiastically.

Yesterday, I went to a Williamsburg restaurant and tapas bar called, La Tienda. I learned how to make PAELLA, a Spanish dish that I have heard about for eons but never tasted. It was tongue-tingling delicious and the Spanish chef raised her glass of Sangria (did I mention we all had a glass plus tapas?) and said, "Salud y pesetas... " To good health and money. It was a fun trip and I came away with a cookbook filled with Spanish recipes listed by province and in the book, I found mention of TORO, Spain and their special wines. Toro is where my great grandmother, Eustoquia Rita Marzo Trascasas Silvan was born. AND I HOPE to be there myself to taste the wine and photograph the entire area!

All in all, it has been a good week -- mostly working in my garden spreading mulch after deep weeding and thinking about how genealogy has gotten under my skin so bad that I wake at night thinking of what to look for next and wondering where! Oh, but these pictures are amazing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A bathing hummingbird at Steele's Vineyard

As I took a garden break away from my genealogy quest this morning, I decided to spray the parts of the garden where our water system spray denies the daisies, Bee Balm, Siberian Iris, assorted Lilies and the ever-climbing-to-craziness Wisteria. Lost in thought, I saw what I thought was a butterfly in my periphial vision and ignored it, trying not to drench it into flying incapability.

Swoosh, swoosh ..... I sprayed water across my Chrissy's daisies and around the stretched wire that used to hold our grapevines and then my eyes widened in delightful surprise. I stood there grinning like I was short a few brain chips as I stared at a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird following the water's dripping pleasure as he whipped and snapped his miniature wings while perched on the wire, a perfect foothold for such a tiny, dazzling creature. Then I started laughing quietly as he nipped and tucked those feathery mile-an-hour wings and bathed. I could almost hear him singing in bliss. Oh! What a wonderful way to water a garden. I didn't want him to go away as I watched him move just an iota ever close to the watering stream. Those daisies, Iris and Lilies drank enough water for a week and I am still smiling as I see that little bird dancing across the water in my mind's eye.

On the genealogy front, I am focusing on my ancestor's life in Hawaii and the sugar plantations that earned them blisters and eventually the money to sail to America. I'm also trying to assimilate family names with several stories regarding the Souza's. Did some Souza men change their name to Bento and another to Castro? With mother's maiden names and father's mother's maiden names...... The naming complexities are becoming the bane to my existence but I intend to unravel it so we know who's who. I remember how surprised I was to find out my great grandfather's full name was Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez instead of 'Grandpa Silvan'..... Since I will have an extended family-tree page for each lfamily ink in my book, MANUELA'S PETALS.... I must perservere.

I am prioritizing my To-Do list for my Spain trip this fall, thinking positive I will be in Fuentesauco standing in front of the Iglesia de la Santa Maria where Abuelita was baptised..... Until then, my continuing research fills my folders to bursting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Spanish family mixed with Portuguese

In the past, whenever I heard the term 'extended family' I did not realize how my thinking was 'inside the box' when my mind created my family-member list. In the past few days, I have extended my thinking a long way 'outside the box' as the family-history research has led me inside the lives of Abuelita Manuela's cousin, Theodora Silvan Souza, nicknamed DORA.

In my quest, I have joined Vicki, my new-found cousin from the Souza line. Theodora/Dora is her Abuelita and we have had some exciting breakthroughs as she and I have played sleuths regarding the Souza line of the family......just since yesterday with the help of a stranger!!!

Since we are both connected to the genealogy site, , it has been a huge benefit when we put a family name into the site and we receive feedback from other members or in this case --- another Souza even though he is not related to our line. He chose to help us and found our relatives along with census lists, ship's manifests and the WWI Draft Registration document for Dora's husband, John Souza.

The head-chatter began when the Latin name craziness raised its ever-so difficult head again. It appears that the Souza men used their father's maternal name, BENTO. So, there are many Bento-Souza family members. More lines to resurrect for our family files! With my family SILVAN HERNANDEZ changing to SILVAN, her family was BENTO PERREIRA and then some men kept SOUZA and others used BENTO. One ship's manifest even listed Theodora as Bento. She must have gone nuts in America when her paperwork was changed again = to Souza. We have sent letters to many John Souza siblings and I sent email to the Diocese of Hawaii because they have archives for five Catholic parishes and four mission churches in Lihue, HI.

I feel like I've just been put on a bucking bronco, ready to dash out of the holding pen as we re-define the term, extended family, and add more cousins who may be waiting to be found!
AND I AM STILL PLANNING MY TRIP TO SPAIN IN SEPTEMBER. I am on a roll and I do NOT want to get off that horse before I get my answers!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another A-Ha moment in Silvan family research

In my evergoing traipsing through my grandmother's historical trek through life, I have had the great opportunity of having Aunt Rose's book as a guidepost and found many clues. That's the great news. The SIGH-type news is many names are spelled incorrectly and it has given me the opportunity to get my research credentials down to a perfect pitch = spending hours and hours trying to sort the names out. Yesterday, I had a major breakthrough!

One of grandma's stories was about a baby who was born on the ship sailing from Honolulu on January 5-12, 1918 to San Francisco. On the SS Herman Governor ship, a little baby was born and named 'Herman Governor' after the ship and the voyage. My grandmother was the baby's God mother. After researching endlessly for the name of Donecio Lagone, knowing it must be a relative to grandma's Aunt Ramona (married to Victorino Silvan) since her maiden name matched, I nearly gave up looking until yesterday.

I decided to take the ship's manifest from the SS Herman Governor and look at every name, where they were from, their ages and study the wife's maiden names since the Spanish names are so very complicated, I miss people all the time. Grandma said there were five families that traveled together so I knew there had to be more clues.

AND I FOUND IT. On the last entry on page 6, I found DIONISIO L. HERRERO. His wife was listed as DOMINIQUEZ PERES. Their children were listed as Rosa P Leigones, Manuel P Leigones and Francisco P Leigones, ages 8, 10 and 11. No baby was listed but since the child was born at sea and the ship's manifest was 'typed' in Hawaii Herman was not be listed. So, one day descendents of Herman Governor Leigones will not find him! This is the 4th family.

1) Juan Silvan Hernandez and Eustoquia Rita Marzo Trascasas (and my grandmother & siblings)
2) Felix Gonzales and Cristencia Silvan Hernandez (and their children)
3) Jose Forresco and Catalina 'Salvan' Martin (and their children)
4) Dionisco Leigones Herrero and Dominiquez Perez (and their children)
5) In question: Jose Garcia and Isabel Sarmento or Jose Garcia and Emilia Diaz Castellano or Francisco S Bernal and Isabel H. Gonzales or Mariano Gonzalez and Bonaficao S Sanchez.
All in all, I still have a way to go but I am moving in the right direction....
THEN, I found a note in Aunt Rose's book about the Castro cousins/family. I asked my new-found cousin in San Jose, a descendent of Teodora Silvan Hernandez Souza if she was familiar with the name. Her mother said the Souza brothers changed their names to Castro! It appears to be a chocolate mess but I LOVE chocolate!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I found another Silvan Hernandez brother!!!

I found another brother! His name wasn't HERMANO at all. I figured it out. Here's the story ---- when my father went to Spain quite some years ago, he sent a letter to my Aunt Rose (his sister) and when she published her book, she typed in his letter... In the letter, he said he hoped to find his old great Uncle Geronimo. At the time, I laughed because it sounded like an Indian name... Now, years later, after nearly giving up (not me!!) trying to find these two lost brothers, I figured that Victorino, Juan Francisco and Cristencia just said good bye and that was that.

But, when I spoke with Cristencia's grandson's wife the other night, she said one of the brothers went to Cuba instead of Hawaii like the other siblings. When I asked if it was Hermano or Mondo (each spelled wrong, I know that now) ... She said they didn't sound quite right. She spelled out the name H-E-R-O-N-E-M-O. I looked at it and said it out loud and gasped! It is the Spanish pronunciation of Geronimo! I was sure of it. I went into and put that name in with Silvan Hernandez and 'Cuba' and his Ship Manifist listing popped up. It is very clear it's the missing brother as he was born in Zamora.. Also, it looks like he left Cuba and the ship came to New York 'in route to Spain' in June 1931 when he was 54 years old. So, he must have returned to Spain after working in Cuba (in the fields like the siblings worked in Hawaii I am assuming). The ship was filled with all Spaniards coming from Cube in route to Spain. So, I found him for a minute...

Another Silvan family link is found!

As I stumble along the annals of history through the internet, I stub my toe along the way in the most unlikely places. When my cousin, Tess (on my maternal side) and I discussed my quest to find my great uncles and great aunt's families, I mentioned JOHN GONZALES as a potential cousin in California referred to me by my Aunt Rita in Michigan. Tess said she knew a John Gonzales who lived near them where she grew up outside Woodland and her brother's good friend was a Gonzales from that family. Could it be this easy? Tess called her brother for the phone number of the Gonzales family and told me they were willing to talk with me...

That night, I spoke with Virginia Gonzales, whose husband (John) was the grandson of my great Aunt Christina! His father was Aylendro Gonzales --- who was 7 years old in 1911 and shared his ship ride from Spain to Hawaii with my Grandma Silvan Ruiz!! Excitement mounted. We had a wonderful conversation and she is going to mail me documented information showing our family line. Needless to say, Tess now considers me a sleuth and my newest distant cousin in San Jose from the Victorino Silvan line calls me 'scout'.

During my conversation with Virginia Gonzales, I asked her if she knew anything about the other two brothers named 'Mondo' and 'Hermano' that I'd been told about. She did not know a Mondo or Hermano but fed me another piece of the puzzle. One brother went to Cuba instead of Spain, she told me, and she thought his name was 'Heronemo'. More sleuthing for me now!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back to Genealogy Research in Charles City, VA

My genealogy spark is hot and moving forward. I brought J.D. home from the hospital after 9 days in Richmond's MCV Hospital and he's doing well. All he could think about was a shower, being home and eating NON-hospital food. He's a happy man and now I can get back to what I am enjoying so much: genealogy research. I took a webinar with last night and learned a few tricks I am anxious to try out soon.

My new-found distant cousin in San Jose that I 'met' over the site (VICKI) and I are getting to know each other and have traded information, document copies and pictures. Since our great grandfathers were brothers, we have a connection AND we have found we have inherited some Spanish genes that make me smile. Creative arts, writing, of the same age, and our love of children. What a wonderful new world it can be when we FIND relatives we were unaware of. I am most anxious to cultivate our friendship and relative-ship (is that a word?). She is in San Jose and I am in Charles City about 3000 miles apart but with the age of computers, it's a cinch to feel right next door.

With her help, I have a new direction to forge ahead regarding my Great Great Uncle Victorino AND I SAY LET THE RESEARCH BEGIN AGAIN!!! Smiles, PS

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The SILVAN plot thickens!

I haven't posted for a bit because my husband is very ill and today I decided I must stay focused with busy stuff...... Lo and behold, I had a message on from a COUSIN who found me and she's from the Victorino & Ramona Silvan line! Yay!!! I am most anxious to correspond with her in more detail to piece together this family history. This is what I have found out so far and wanted to share some facts...
* I have a picture of Grandma Manuela at age 12 with her mother holding a baby named Mary. Another cousin told me Grandma told him it was Mary SOUZA, not Mary Silvan. At that time, I had no idea where the Souza line originated.
* Our NEW cousin is Vicki. Her great great grandfather was Victorino! She said her Grandmother's name was Feliza but went by Theodora. This part is strange since the ship's manifest lists 2 girls (Teodora age 12 and Feliza age 7). Theodora Silvan married John SOUZA and their children were Victor (Vicki's father), Alfred, George, Dorothy, Lillian, Robert & Jerome Souza. She said her father, Victor, was raised by her Great Grandmother Ramona (who spoke no English) and I do not know why...(yet). Victor, who is Victorino's grandson, died in 1986 so she couldn't ask him.
This is an amazing find since I 'lost' Victorino and Ramona in Hawaii after the 1920 census. With J.D. so sick, I am unsure how often I will be updating this family history blog but will do the best I can. Life is in limbo about now. Trying to keep smiling, PS

Friday, March 26, 2010

Studying Sugar Cane Plantations of Hawaii

After hours and hours of research on the internet and the local library, I found another Spanish research site that listed a book called Pau Hana. The author was a genealogy nut like I have become and she also got lost in the maze of trying to find her ancestors in the plantation scenario of Hawaii in the early 1900s. She spent time in the libraries and historical societies IN HAWAII only to find there wasn't much written about it. So, I ordered the book and am now armed with a wonderful wealth of information that has given me great insight on what my grandmother and her family lived through. Sometimes harsh times, a 5 o'clock screaming alarm by the overseers and the type of lives they lived. I started placing little colored tabs on the pages with the information that will help me proceed with my MANUELA'S PETALS book only to run out of tabs. You see? It is helping me put more flesh on those people I only had names for before I started on this quest to meet my ancestors to share with the rest of my Spanish family.

Since MANUELA'S PETALS is going to be a fictionalized story from my Grandmother's point of view based on facts as I research them along the way, I also plan to include only PROVEN FACTS as explained by my genealogy professor regarding actual family blood lines. The fiction will only be my Abuelita's (little grandmother) view of her life from age 9 forward. What fun I am having seeing and talking with her through the mists of time as I imagine her thoughts and feelings and wishing I could have known her then.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Since my last posting, I have spent a merry-go-round of emotions because --- armed with my newly-learned research instructions from my recent class I found something that made me breathless and teary. I have taken baby steps to learn when, how and why my ABUELITA (grandmother) Manuela and her family left Spain, sailed to Hawaii, worked in the sugar cane fields and moved on to California..... where my descendency began. I have managed to leap over several brick walls with the help of my genealogy classes and found (1) Where and when they sailed from (2) the ship they sailed on (Orteric) (3) where and when they arrived in Honolulu (4) and pieced together stories from grandma through personal conversations and those of her children.

I have struggled to find a picture of the Orteric and found pieces of information about their voyage to put together in my book.....imagining their trip, etc. I have looked consistently for information about what plantation they worked on, when, how she met grandpa.... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday morning I logged onto the Library of Congress web site because my professor said there were digital photos of historic information. I clicked on newspapers and found the Hawaiian Gazette for various dates around April and May 1911 looking for articles on the farming immigrants etc. I found one article listing Arrivals and Departures and......On a fluke, decided to check the date I knew my grandparents arrived in Honolulu. Looking at page 8 of that date, I saw their Arrival listed and was excited.... then the word 'Orteric' caught my eye in a column beside it -- an actual story that was continued from page 1. The Orteric!! Their ship. OMG, I was shaking.... I went back to page 1 and found the headline, "Orteric Arrives with Many Laborers" It was 1/3 of the front page WITH A PICTURE OF the immigrants.... Crying by then, I printed it out and when I looked at the printed page in my hands I saw at the bottom left hand corner a PICTURE OF THE ORTERIC. Sigh. Life is good.... The article explained so much and filled so many holes. My story can continue now since I am including information in my book that are only from proven sources as much as possible --- no hearsay except for my imaginations based on facts. My heart beats triple time even as I recollect my findings. For you out there who are related to me through Abuelita --- get ready! It just gets better and better!! Smiles to you. PS

Friday, March 12, 2010


Happily esconsed at my desk this morning, I am reviewing the 20 pages of notes taken this past week from a class titled, Advanced Internet Genealogy. The professor at Christopher Wren Assn. at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg is a master genealogist along with the three assistants in the class. I was mesmerized with the wealth of knowledge filling the room and delighted to find I had only scratched the surface of the many research repositories and internet links to the genealogy world.

I learned that before Ellis Island, there was Castle Garden. I learned that you can go to the Library of Congress web site and look for books of specific counties, times, ethnic communities and genealogy -- print out the book information and take it to a local library and request an Interstate Library Loan or take it to the LDS Family History spot in my local area for help. I found I can find ancestors on the web site and jot down the film # and page # and they would order it (for a small shipping fee) and I can study and copy it when it arrives in their offices.

I learned there is a site and is amazing.......they have indexed where and why and how for many sites based on what you want and where you want to look and what forms to use and why, including free templates.

I learned that using can lead to message boards so you can type in your family history and others will read it and respond if they have similar experiences and family history stories that could help yours. I have already exchanged information with a fellow Spaniard and look forward to the amazing ride into the Silvan and Ruiz ancestor tree! Now, armed with my book of knowledge, I'm crashing through as many brick walls as history has built for me to jump over! PS

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spanish - MOVING Around Hawaii

I absolutely love it when some information surfaces to add to my research! One little letter of the alphabet has moved my Abuelta (Grandmother) from Kailua on the island Oahu to Kilauea on the island of Kauai. Thorough research tells me they arrived in Honolulu from Spain but there were several plantations called the "Big Five" who imported immigrants to work their fields from plantation to plantation. Our Juan Juan Francisco Silvan family worked in sugar cane fields as their muscles throbbed and calluses grew. The family of Juan and Victorino took them to Kauai on the beach where Abuelita learned to love flowers, ukeleles and the Hawaiian music...... When she and her family left Hawaii for California ..... her Uncle Victorino and Aunt Ramona chose Hawaii as their home, not America.

As I flesh out my story about Abuelita, I hope to follow Uncle Victorino Silvan and his family also. This week I found information showing the village they lived in --- as Hanalei . It was only 10 miles from Kilauea -- the name of the village listed on Juan Francisco and Eustoquia Rita's paperwork from Hawaii to San Francisco, California! So, the brother stayed close and raised his children while the other brother chose to move to California --- where my ancestors lived, thrived and multiplied.

This past week I have enjoyed classes at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA that has given me exceptional information on research possibilities and I am thrilled to think of finding Victorino's family in Hawaii and following them forward. NOW I NEED TO MAKE A TRIP TO HAWAII AGAIN ---- AND SEE WHERE THEY LIVED, WHERE THEY WORKED AND THE LIFE THEY LED IN THE PARADISE OF HAWAII. I know my Abuelita smiled at the memories she left behind in Hawaii and my book will reveal her love and their family descendents. I think I am addicted to family history as I revel in my Spanish heritage. One more class and I can get back to gathering information and adding more to the already 35 page manuscript I have written on MANUELA'S PETALS.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Manuela's Petals - On to Hawaii

Finding Grandma's ship (Orteric) sailing from the Rock of Gibralter with her and close family members in 1911 was truly a step up. I have finished the skeleton of their trip and produced a 35 page draft that takes the family to their very strange welcome into Honolulu. The last couple of weeks have been spent fighting computer problems and trying to loosen layers of history to put me into the Spanish settlements of Hawaii and learning the sugar cane field experience... That was such hard work!!

Delving into the genealogy has created many different folders of information; finding cousins and connecting again has been lovely. Now, with Aunt Rita's help I have learned we have Gonzalez cousins in Woodland and Winters, CA -- THAT folder is still nearly empty but hope to fill it soon. They are my great Aunt Cristencia's grandsons!

I wonder if there is a way to research the family of great Uncle Victorino and Ramona Silvan in Hawaii?? And then I have all the Ruiz family to follow and feel the astonishment and wonder of finding our family and connecting there also!

This next week will find me taking Genealogy/Internet Advanced classes in Williamsburg, Virginia at the College of William & Mary and hope I can slip through the doors of knowledge and some of it will actually seep into the doors of my brain ~ Until then, I will follow up with another update after the classes and hope by then I may have connected with the Gonzalez cousins in CA!! Smiles to all of you from Charles City, Virginia and the baby-step-research of Manuela's Petals....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Roundabout Passage to Venice

I never imagined how many people have flocked to my web site looking at my fanciful travelogue, A ROUNDABOUT PASSAGE TO VENICE. One woman told me it was one of the most refreshing travelogues she'd ever read and she reads a lot of them. Therefore, I am glad I decided to make it more than a journal, in that it is written as a story with all the quirks, fun and strangeness one finds on a 3 week jaunt through Europe with one's mother. And the mother happens to be more energetic than the daughter..... I ordered more for my inventory and decided to offer it from my office at a discount since the publisher's price of $34 was astronomically high in my eyes and unaffordable to many of my readers.

ALSO - I will soon have the ability to offer my books through Pay Pal with a credit card or Pay Pal account vs. personal checks. Unsure when this will happen but soon, I hope. Either way, sharing it is my main goal so making it affordable is at the top of my list to do so. Instead of $34 plus shipping, it will be offered at $19.95 plus $3 shipping. It is a hard bound book, 6 x 9 size with 150 pages and filled with pictures too!

No snow in Virginia today (so far) and I'm pumped with the sun out and gardens struggling to push up those tiny shoots. Now, I hope the deer can't find them before they grow up another few inches....
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How many brick walls are there?

I have realized jumping over one brick wall is wonderful but admit I cannot rest on my laurels. I have passed through four monstrous hurdles since I began my quest to follow in my Spanish grandmother's footsteps from Spain and eventually to America as a young woman. Now, trying to piece together the life she left and the family who stayed behind has become a bit tedious as I sift through the internet sites, hoping for a light bulb to go off for me. The options are limitless but those big, fat bricks keep getting in the way.

It makes me want to get to Spain and go the the little village of Fuentesauco and open the closet door and start tossing out the history I do not need to corral the history that I do. She left uncles, aunts and cousins. She may have left an adopted sister? Why?? Did she stay in Spain because she did not want to leave her brother, Jeronimo? Who's child was she? Was her father the brother my great grandfather left behind? If so, why? Maybe my great grandfather couldn't afford to take her with them? Did his brother die and leave the children with my great grandfather? Or was she a relative at all? All I know is he adopted a daughter named Feliciada and she had a brother, Jeronimo. SIGH. I must study that Spanish language faster and faster so I can find my answers when I arrive in Spain this Fall.

The research is exciting but the hours involved are so numerous, I have lost count. Concentrating on Hawaii now. They arrived in 1911 on ship's passages paid for by the Hawaiian government in exchange for 5 year's comittment working in the sugar fields. I have found more information about that time in Hawaii and contacted the Hawaii Historical Society. I will perservere... Moving on toward fleshing out of those Spanish lives. YES I CAN....

Friday, February 19, 2010

I kicked through the brick wall!!

After months of research, trying to learn what the train system was like in 1911 Spain, I accidentally (isn't that always the way it happens?) found my answers! There was an internet posting about a man who traveled through Spain by train in 1911... Now I have scenery through his eyes, what he saw in the villages and what the train was like. And I felt I was there alongside the man and imagined Abuelita sitting on a bench across from him with all her baggage around her..... twisting to see out those same windows. Lovely! It will make my story real as I take Manuela along her journey, leaving her Spanish home with her family all those years ago. Another step up in my ability to recreate her trip. I am certainly high on this one...

AND a first! The snow is nearly gone and I was feeling particularly blessed as I watched the birds swooping down for bird seed after I filled the feeders today --- and could not imagine what a spot of yellow was on the perimeter of my back garden. A fallen goldfinch? No! It couldn't be... IT WAS A FLOWER! My first flower in Charles City with the sun blending its strength into the soil along with the gentle flowing breezes of 50 degree temperatures. There IS a spring at the end of the tunnel....

And I am proud to say I have finally adapted to that dreadful treadmill. I'm at 15 minutes... trying for 20 and then 25 and then............we shall see.