Back in the dark misty times...

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

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Corrected translation from last posting

After another few hours of studying the letter from Felisidad, written by her sister, Cecelia back in 1981, I found I jumped to a conclusion without realizing it until later study.

In the past, a cousin told me the brothers of Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez were named Geronimo and Mondo. Since I found, since then, the brothers named Geronimo and Agustin, I assumed Mondo might be a nickname... with no proof of such.

The letter from Felisidad was written in very badly-spelled Spanish and words were broken with dashes when a word couldn't fit on a line. That being said, I saw te-mando and mistakenly assumed 'mando' was the illusive Mondo. However, I took the letter piece by piece and word by word backing out the past tenses and found the conjugation made the letter much easier to read. She wasn't naming 'mondo';

"...te mando una foto que esta tu hermano..." This means that whomever this letter was written to was reminded that a photo was sent. Mando means "I send", mando with an accent above the letter O means he, she or a more formal you sent. (this was helpful from my brother, Steven).

The translation as best as I can read it is as follows:

Rte. Segundo Sánchez Arias
Calle Benjamín Martín numero 3
Fuentesauco (Zamora) España

- Noviembre 21, 1981

Esteemed Cousin Maria and family

Maria, Mr. Manuel (Zapatero), the postmaster, has given us notices; for many years, we had no knowledge Uncle Geronimo’s cousins.

He died many years ago and my mother, Joaquina, had no living family. My mother, 30
years ago, died shortly after Uncle (Geronimo).

Geronimo was always the one to write to your parents (the dates in your letter to your brothers, Felix and Eusebio). A few years ago, I sent a photo of your brother Eusebio for you (to know?).

Maria, you requested when your parents were born or from where they descended, if they were born on another date. You also ask in your letter if we have any letters from your parents. Since
it has been so many years that they died (Joaquina & Geronimo) she left nothing more. We are very glad of the notice and

I hope that you should understand my letter because I do not know English.

Signed with affection to our first cousins,
Segundo y Felisidad
A Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. I write to you as a daughter of your cousin, Felisidad. My name is Cecilia

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Silvan Christmas Gift from Linda and Patte ~

The box was sitting outside my office door on my wicker porch chair. I don't know how long it had been there.... the mail lady sometimes puts it there for safety in case animals lurk in the woods by the house. What a lovely surprise to see the address label was from one of my newly-found cousins, Patte, in Big Sur, CA. I tore it open! A small plate of candy from her and her sister, Linda from Elk Grove... their mother's fudge recipe. YUM. Their kindness and sweet thoughts made me smile and then I saw the the papers inside...
Oh, happy day. Copies of two letters, the envelopes they came in and information showing their Aunt Mary Gonzales M. had written to President Kennedy in 1962, asking if her father, Eusebio Gonzales, was eligible for Naturalization. The letter clearly showed he would be and the document from the Solano County offices in Vallejo, CA indicated they'd received his Alien Registration Form. Nearly fifty years ago.
The other letter was from Manuel Zapatero Garcia dated 27 August 1976. It appears he was the administrator of Correos (universal postal union?) writing to Aunt Mary Gonzales in response to her request to find relatives to Eusebio Gonzales and Cristencia Silvan Gonzales. It listed a lot of information and after careful translation, I found information we did not have;
1. Cousin to Cristencia Silvan was named Clara Silvan (Fallecida) with 5-6 sons all living in Fuentesauco.
2. He asked for more dates because he couldn't find further information for Eusebio.
3. He listed our great grandfather's name as Pedro and great grandmother's name as Agustina. We have our great grandfather's name as Celestino. Since several grandchildren and nephews carried on that name, can we surmise his name was Celestino Pedro or vice versa?
The second letter was from FELISADA written by her cousin, Cecelia, to Aunt Mary Gonzales from Fuentesauco dated 5 years later, 21 November 1981. More information!
1. We now know Felisidad's husband was Segundo Sanches Arias, living at Calle Benjamin Martin, numero 3, in Fuentesauco.
2. Her letter appears to say she did not know Geronimo Silvan had relatives and she was happy to find out they existed!
3. A big question surfaced immediately when I read that because my own father, Michael Silvan Ruiz, went to Fuentesauco 12 years earlier, in 1969 and spent the night with Segundo and Felisidad. So, why did she think no relatives existed? Definitely food for thought there!
4. We see in the letter that Felisidad lists her mother's name and I know this is JOAQUINA! This name is shown as Geronimo Silvan's wife (Joaquina Bragado Vicente) on the June 1930 ship manifest (SS Manuel Calvo) sailing from Cuba (sugar cane fields?) to Spain via New York. So we have definitely found Felisidad/Felicidada/Felicidad.
5. She listed Geronimo (whom we believe is her father or step father) and Tio Mando (which I believe is Agustin Silvan)
6. She also talks about Aunt Mary Gonzales M.'s brothers, Felis and Eusebio Gonzales, whom we know traveled to Spain and probably met and photographed Felisidad!
My list of questions grew for my visit to Fuentesauco with this wealth of information and I am antsy to get on my way!! Thank you Patte and Linda!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A whimsical Ditty from me....

It’s the start of MANUELA’S PETALS, when all through my files,
I found documents stirring across thousands of miles.
Various photos were tucked into SILVAN folders with care,
With fantastical hopes they’d multiply if I peeked there.

I dreamed of a time, far back in Spain’s day,
When our forbears lived with their music and spades.
Their orchards were failing, their money grew dim.
And Hawaii soon called and reached out a limb.

So many generations I am learning their names,
Their birthdates, marriages and the babies that came.
I am ready to walk through their streets and see signs
That tell me rich history painstakingly survives.

Our ancestors are all nestled snug in their graves,
While visions of descendants never entered their heads.
But I try to imagine their Christmas Eve so long ago,
With fiestas and musical celebrations high and low.

A lacy mantilla covered Agustina Hernández Silvan’s hair,
And she’d just kneeled down for a long Christmas Eve prayer.
When out on the plaza major there arose such a clatter,
She wanted to spring from her knees to see what was the matter.

Away to the window, someone’s child flew like a flash,
Tearing up the aisle and tripping toward the sash.
She tried to sit quietly, prayer-like and timid,
But this matriarch was usually bold, rarely limpid.

The moon on the crest of the cobblestone street,
Gave the luster of mid-day to those trying to sneak…
When, what to her wondering eyes should appear,
But all of her grandchildren smiling from ear to ear.

With their parents behind them, so quiet and quick,
She knew in a moment she just might be sick.
With excitement and pleasure, their footsteps came,
And she smiled at each one, whispering their names.

Now, Manuela, Theodora, Felisa and little Cel!
And Alejandro, Juanitco, Jacinto and Agustin.
Bring baby Jose to me at the top of my pew.
Now dash in beside me and fall into a kneel.

And then, in a twinkling, she heard the priest say,
Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas to all this day.
Agustin, Juan, Victorino, Geronimo and Christina
He smiled at the Fuentesauco Silvans and swore…..

As he glanced toward the Alvas, Martins, and more.
Inhaling incense with smoke in his eyes, he admitted
His flock never looked so wondrous and fair
It was truly the peace of Christmas in the air.

These families would grow and multiply soon
Some might even fly up to the moon,
But Fuentesauco would shine like a beacon to draw
Descendants to meet these ancestors he just saw.

I smile as I dream of how it was then, wondering slightly
How it really could have been, with all those people
Who are part of my line, whose colors all blend tightly
Into red hair and brown, blue eyes and dark, tall and short.

Our Spanish pride will never grow dim as long as we remember
Our family before and embrace the descendants, him and her.
With MANUELA’S PETALS, and the
story that led them across the sea,
Working on plantations, playing their music, becoming American and me.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almost Christmas in Virginia

The days are getting a bit colder but it's still a wondrous blue sky when we wake up in the morning. Deer flit around our back yard and the birds dive for seed and the squirrels try to get what the birds miss. All in all, we can feel Winter approaching but we are in denial. Here in Virginia, the snows, storms, pouring rain and cold have been in pause mode, for which we are thankful. We know it's coming, and we can wait. Today, my husband blew leaves (again) off the drive and watched them skip across the neighbors yard behind him as quickly as he made their sisters disappear. Sigh. He is definitely filled with a leaf fetish... maybe the snow covering them will be a rest plan in disguise.

This past couple of weeks, I have not worked on the Silvan or Ruiz genealogy. Instead, I have focused on family in the present day and the worries that plague us. My dad is still very ill and dialysis seems to have taken a foothold in his health. My children are happy. The grandchildren --- mostly --- are in a good place. We worry terribly about 2 of them, but life is so fragile sometimes and teenagers have another reality. We continue to think positive!

I bought Rick Steve's SPAIN 2012 book and have been devouring each page --- waiting for my trip in June. My Spanish is slow coming but maybe when I arrive there, a miracle will happen and I will converse and understand? I love miracles and expect some always.

For now, I concentrate on friends this week -- to share Christmas and Hannakah with. It is a wonderful experience to be part of the Christian and Jewish experiences and as the wonder of December unfolds before us, I smile. It is a good thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SILVAN Christmas blessings

Oh, what an added bonus it is to receive Christmas greetings from those in our family whom I have not met anywhere except via the internet or a quick meeting where we bonded and connected as family. I was warmed by a recent note from cousin, JULIE -- the great grandaughter of Alejandro Gonzales who said "You are the nicest person I've never met!!" It still makes me smile and hope someday I can meet these wonderful family members....... SO..

It is my hope to organize a SILVAN FAMILY REUNION when my book is available -- maybe by September 2012. The venue would probably be either Woodland or Winters, California -- where it pretty much began as our ancestors struggled and succeeded in America and their families multiplied. Stay tuned....

For now, I am involved in the marketing of my new children's book, GOODBYE BALLOON, and this week will be a busy one. It was such a delight to read my little story to a classroom of 2nd graders at the school my husband attended... They drew the artwork are displayed in the brightly colored pages of my book. I am thrilled with the response to this little book and love sharing it with so many.

With the children's book eating up my time in December, I will probably not be posting here for the next couple of weeks. Getting through a notable birthday, Christmas and the fun that this magical months brings, I will just enjoy the month and pray my dad continues to improve..
Feliz Navidad a ustedes.ou are the nicest person I've never met!!m

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas / Feliz Navidad for the Silvan & Ruiz families

Whenever I hear the Christmas song, "Feliz Navidad" I think of my grandma (abuelita) because she loved the tune and her body danced in her chair when she heard it. She loved music! As do I and so many of our family members. Her father played that drum he couldn't leave behind in Spain that he called 'la bomba' and she loved to dance like her mother and cousins... Abuelita even danced with a group of children on board the SS ORTERIC for more food! The little girls would troop to the galley and dance 'la jota' for the cook they called "Captain Finne'. They called him this because he would enjoy the music and dance and then most often tell them there were no more potatoes left! They'd danced for his enjoyment only and he'd laugh at their faces when he'd tell them 'they are gone, finished' so Captain Finne he became.

Abuelita's love for her music followed many of her children and grandchildren too. I remember as a child I was sure if I was ever marooned on an island I'd be fine with lots of books to read (and my glasses) and music. Dancing came later and I loved it...especially since my mother's love of music and dancing infused the spark in me and my brothers also. So, from both sides of our family we had MUSIC and more MUSIC ~

Now, during the holidays as I hear FELIZ NAVIDAD across the air waves, I see abuelita dancing in her chair again and clapping her hands. So many reasons to be thankful for the season and this is just one of mine.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The event in the 1930s?

Thinking about Felicidada again. My last posting mentioned my thoughts about WHEN and WHY the conversation between Aunt Christina and Uncle Eusebio Gonzales all those years ago when they vocalized their worry about Felicidada's welfare. Believing she was worried because Felicida's parents may have died would have definitely been a cataclysmal event. However, upon further thought... I remembered that Geronimo and Joaquina Silvan were in Cuba (possibly along wish his brother, Agustin at the same time) because each brother left Cuba for Spain from Cuba; Geronimo and his wife, Joaquina, in 1930 and Agustin in 1931. Each ship left in June of those consecutive years.

Since we are pretty sure Joaquina was the mother to Felicidada, making her the step daughter to Geronimo Silvan --- this could have been the life-changing event = not death, but her parent's temporary emigration for Cuba.

I have so many notes, so many clues from so many documents and family stories that I am most anxious to gather, organize and put them in order. The clues keep coming and my mind just will not stop whirling; grabbing one thought and adding another on top of it just keeps my investigative juices flowing.

That 1930 ship manifest clue is a major one and I wonder if my research trip to Spain next June will answer this question. Were my aunt and uncle worried because she was left alone temporarily while they worked in Cuba's cane fields or was it because they died and left her alone? I can't imagine how to get the answers but I've put it on my list. My brother, Steven, and I have also set a tentative date in June for our flights to Madrid.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Filipe Silvan Alejo was the son of Angel Silvan Martin and Maria Dosales Alejo. He was the brother of Celestino Silvan Alejo. He was the uncle/tio of Victorino (1868), Juan (1875), Geronimo/Jeronimo (1877), Crestencia (1884) and Agustin (1887). He was the God Father of Geronimo/Jeronimo.

We do not know (yet) if there were other siblings or the ancestral tree members for the ALEJO or MARTIN family. There are many Martin names in our family and family stories have mentioned several times that our ancestors traveled from Fuentesauco with 'cousins' related through Martin.

Ramona "Martin" Lorenzo was married to Victorino Silvan Hernandez.
Agustina Hernandez "Martin" was married to Celestino Silvan Hernandez.
So -- the Martins could all be related through Angel Silvan's family --- or was Martin a name such as Smith, Jones in America? Another item for my research list for June 2012...

Solving the mystery of FELICIDADA

Sometimes in the quiet of the night when one's mind is awhirl with suppositions, a moment of clarity sneaks into the mix. Last night, several things dawned on me. Now, with baptismal records from Jeronimo/Geronimo and Victorino as well as the birth record of Juan Francisco, all Silvan Hernandez siblings --- I remembered the letter written in 1969 by my father, Michael Silvan Ruiz, to his mother, Manuela Silvan Trascasas Ruiz. The information he wrote about was a tiny clue and puzzle. FELICIDADA.

In prior postings, i have mentioned her because it seemed unusual in 1911 (to me) that Geronimo would have an 'adopted daughter', which is how my father defined her in his letter. This is what we know so far:

1) Geronimo/Jeronimo was born in 1877 to Celestino Silvan Alejo and Agustina Hernandez Martin.
2) He married Joaquina Bragado Vicente in 1919. She was 43, one year older than Geronimo/Jeronimo.
It is a plausible assumption that this was her second marriage and she very well could have had a child = Felicidada. We can also assume she may not have had Silvan children since she was already in her early 40s at that time.
3) Teresa Gonzales, daughter of Crestencia Silvan Gonzales, told me she remembers hearing her parents speak of Felicidada when she was young and she specifically heard her mother ask her father, Eusebio, "I wonder what will happen to Felicidada now."
4) During my recent research trip to California, I met with Crestencia's granddaughters, Linda and Patte --- who opened a box of memorabilia and we found a postcard written to their father, Eusebio Gonzales, Jr. signed by FELICIDADA. We know they must have met her while on a trip to Spain. We are hoping they have a photo of her in a family album.

During my night-time thought process, my eyes popped open when I remembered Theresa's comment and my questions began in earnest. I realized the conversation may have been based on a recent family event, such as either Geronimo/Jeronimo's or Joaquina's death. Since we do not know the death dates (yet) I loosely calculated that Theresa would have been a child at that time, so who ever died must have been about 1930-1935.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How did Victorino get to San Francisco?

My cousin, Vicki, and I have reached the end of the tether line trying to find a ship's record for Victorino, Ramona, Felisa and Celestino Silvan's sailing from Hawaii to California in the early 1920s. We know they arrived because they are all buried in California~ I sometimes wonder if it is something we should just let go and focus beyond the trip and concentrate on the ones who came before.

At this point, we have (I hesitate to use the word "unearthed") found many Silvan family members and each generation leads us to more. However, yesterday one of my relatives gave me the distinct impression that she only cared about the family NOW and future generations...wondering why I'm so obsessed in the past?

Well, I sat myself down and asked myself that same thing. And my answer is = I AM WHO I AM TODAY BECAUSE OF WHO THEY WERE THEN. And that's that. I will continue my quest step by step and I know Vicki will also -- The Silvan lineage is important to us and I believe it is also important to many of those wonderful Silvan cousins I have already found across America... so the quest continues!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Farther into the Silvan family we go......

We not only have learned names of deeper-family-tree-ancestors, we have also learned where they came from. When I began this quest, I knew abuelita's name was Manuela Marzo Trascasas. Since that time over two years ago, I have found where she was born, where her grandparents lived on San Salvador Street in Fuentesauco, and today I deciphered the baptismal documents I received from the diocese in Spain to walk deeper into the Silvan family tree!!

My great great grandmother was Agustina Hernandez and she was born in Villamor de los Escuderos in the Province of Zamora, Spain. Her father was Miguel Hernandez Hernandez also from Villamor de los Escuderos. Her mother was Margarita Martin from Villaescusa, which is a village farther north near San Sebastion near the sea.

My great great grandfather was Celestino Silvan Martin. His father was Angel Silvan who was born in Fuentesauco. His mother was Maria Dosales Alejo. It is unknown (yet) where they were from and I am working on that.

The God fathers to Victorino Luciano Silvan and Jeronimo Silvan were new names also: Felipe Silvan Hernandez -- I believe may have been Angel Silvan's brother? And the other was Luciano Prieto -- obviously Victorino was named after him but this is a brand new name and I am working on that too.

I learned that Jeronimo's wife, Joaquina Bragado Vicente, was from Arcenillas and their marriage date. These Spanish documents are filled to the brim with so much wonderful genealogy and I can't help but touch them and re-read them daily.

All it all, it was a very constructive day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NEW Baptismal Records from Spain

Returned home from my trip to find my desk piled with mail --- Always an adventure.....

Today, I hold in my hands --- two baptismal records from Spain. And after translating the documents, I found new information and happily share it as well as copies of both documents upon request.
1. VICTOR LUCIANO SILVAN HERNANDEZ - aka Victorino, was born 21 July 1868 and baptized in Santa Maria del Castillo de Fuentesauco. His parents are listed as Celestino Silvan and Agustina Hernandez. His paternal grandparents are listed as Angel and Maria Dobales (I believe this name is Dosales) and his maternal grandparents are listed as Miguel and Margarita Martin. His godfather is listed as Luciano Prieto.

2. JERONIMO SILVAN HERNANDEZ - aka Geronimo, was born 30 September 1877 and baptized in Santa Maria del Castillo de Fuentesauco. He joined his parents on Salvador Street in Fuentesauco. On this document, his paternal grandparents are listed as Angel Silvan Martin and Maria Dobal Alejo. His maternal grandparents are listed as Miguel Hernandez Hernandez and Margarita Martin. His godfather is listed as Felipe Silvan Hernandez, casado, hermano consanguineo del bautizado. After careful translation, I believe Felipe Silvan Hernandez was the brother of Angel Silvan.

The name, MARTIN, has come up several times through various blood lines. When abuelita told us over the years that she came from Spain with her cousins, I believe these "Martins" were related through several people unless the "Martins" in Fuentesauco are like the Smith and Jones' in America? As always, receiving documentation often adds more mysterious pieces to the Silvan puzzle.

HOWEVER, another piece of the puzzle was in the margin of the baptismal certificate for Jeronimo Silvan Hernandez~ It listed his marriage to Joaquina Bradado Vicente on 30 August 1919. She was listed on the ship manifest as Geronimo Silvan's wife sailing from Cuba back to Spain in 1930. This is the first piece of documented evidence of their marrage. Was this their first marrage since Geronimo was 42 and Joaquina was 43 when they married? Was he married before? Did he have children? His siblings left in 1911 when he was 33. Did he wait to marry after his mother, Agustina Hernandez died?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Helpers in Spain

More good news!

The priest at the Diocese of Zamora has found baptismal records for two of my great uncles from Fuentesauco, Province of Zamora, Spain: VICTORINO Silvan Hernandez and JERONIMO Silvan Hernandez. He has mailed the documents to me already and I am so anxious to SEE them.

So, another tip -- his name was spelled Jeronimo, not Geronimo :)

With these baptismal documents in hand, we will have MORE information soon. If I can scan and attach photo, I will do that. Each step gets more exciting as we follow the Silvan's footsteps!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

FOUR more grandparents ~

Ah, the wonder of discovery. While reading through the newest document I ordered from Spain, I was delighted to read between the Spanish lines and translated words that hit my brain like a ton of bricks, I sat back in my chair and felt my heart thumping as I stared at the words. My brain was moving in slow motion and my eyes blurred. Pay dirt!

Not only did I read that my great great grandfather's birth year was 1875 instead of 1869, I also saw confirmation of the marriage to my great great grandmother --- Her full name and date of their marriage of April 23, 1900. This information I knew, as well as the Iglesia de Santa Maria / Santa Maria Church in Fuentesauco but seeing it in Spanish script made it so much more real.

As I bent over my desk and stared at each Spanish word with my large magnifying glass, the names jumped out at me to stun and awe. This is what I learned:

(1) My great, great, great grandfather (Celestino Silvan) now had a second surname: DOSALES
(2) My great, great, great grandmother (Agustina Hernandez) had a second surname: MARTIN
(3) NEW! Paternal Grandparents names: ANGEL SILVAN and MARIA DOSALES
(4) NEW! Maternal Grandparentsnames: MIGUEL HERNANDEZ and MARGCERILA MARTIN

Just reading the names make me smile. Over the past two years (and more) I knew I had to find their second surnames to find their birth, death and/or marriage documents. Now I can take that step into the next generation... all due to finding a link on the internet from a Spanish woman offering to find documents for a charge of 20 euros + 6 euros to mail it to me. I feel like a hit gold....

My next best good news is I found a priest at the Diocese in the Province of Zamora who has agreed to research and copy documents for me ... I requested 8 documents and hope he finds them. i await his findings with bated breath.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Genealogical road to answers?

I have been lax with my blog recently ~ My dad has been extremely ill. I ask for prayers during this vulnerable and unsettling time for him and my mother please...

Yesterday, I attended my first Advanced Genealogy class at the Christopher Wren Assn.'s offering through the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. This is the third class I have attended given by Cliff Neilson, who is a professional genealogist and a fund of valuable information.

When I began my quest to 'find grandma and her family from Spain' my mind was set on questions such as "When did they leave? How did they get to Hawaii? Why did they leave? Who were the family members who were with her? I knew she was young... she thought she was 12 but since I began investigating the puzzle pieces I found she was really only 9 1/2 years old when she left Spain.

I have managed, with the help from my genealogy classes and the internet, to find ship manifests, census information, WWI registrations and a number of fabulous photos and stories that survived over the years.

In my class yesterday, we were told how important it is to list the 'source' of our answers and if we have any "my aunt/uncle told me....." that we must find corroburation proof that the fact was indeed a fact.

That being said, I knew there were two areas of concern that must be puzzled out.
(1) My uncle said.....our ancestors rode the train until their money ran out and then they walked, worked and camped for 12 days until they arrived in Seville, Spain to get on a boat to take them down the river to La Linea at Gibraltar where a ship awaited to take them to Spain.
OVER THE PAST 2 YEARS, with that information in hand, I have researched trains, train tracks running from Salamanca (closest town near their village with a train station) and all the villages and towns they would have 'followed the train tracks' through on their way to Seville. I found the ship manifest at Gibraltar showing they sailed on the ORTERIC on February 24, 1911 and included my grandmother's family, her uncle's family and her auntie's family. I cannot find a boat manifest at Seville --- nor can I find how/when they traveled down the river toward LaLinea. I know each family carried a large, heavy trunk and also know they couldn't have carried it... "My cousin said......." and my daughter and I assumed also that they must have pushed the trunks in a cart. I researched wheel barrows at that time and my questions began again...., "Did they bring the cart from Fuentesauco? Did they buy one at the train station after they got off or load it onto the train in Salamanca?"

(2) The two brothers left behind.??? Originally, I was told through family members.... there were two brothers named "HERMANO" and "MUNDO". Strange names assuredly. After much research, I realized that Hermano was GERONIMO, pronounced 'her-on-i-mo' and I was thrilled with the find. Mundo was another story.... and another cousin said the other brother's name was Agustin. Further research on gave me the start of more questions... I found GERONIMO SILVAN from Fuentesauco and his wife, Joaquina Bragado Vicente at ages 54 and 55 on a ship manifest sailing from Cuba back to Spain in 1930. I was jubilant. Then I found a second ship manifest sailing from Cuba back to Spain in 1931 listing AGUSTIN SILVAN at age 43 from Fuentesauco. Both ships sailed June 15th, one year apart. Then my questions! The family stories gave varying histories about both brothers --- one went to South America and was never heard of again. One stayed in Spain and never married. ETC ETC ETC. Now, we know they both left -- probably working in sugar cane fields of Cuba to earn money to return to Spain.
"Did they have families? Did they leave after their mother, Agustina Hernandez died? Did they stay in Spain because she was still alive when the other 3 siblings and their families left? Do we have any descendants of those brothers in Spain still? Where do I find the vital statistical information in Spain??"

Well, for just the first class, my head is alive with attitude and I'm ready for class #2... Maybe the classmates can help me find some more answers to our ongoing Spanish puzzle.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Documents from Spain!

Even though I am planning a trip to Spain in June of 2012, my lack of proven historical documents plague me. Seeing various family members and accumulating copies of their parental documents made me take just a few steps farther, farther and farther still.

On a lark, I sent an email to the Diocese of Zamora the same day I contacted a Spanish genealogist I found on the internet. They both responded! First, I decided to just put my toe in the water to feel the temperature.... (smiling here) and asked the genealogist to research the birth document for my great grandfather, Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez. And she did it within four days time~ She told me he was born June 16, 1875 and is mailing me the document for the cost of 26 euros ($32). My records had his birth year anywhere from 1869 to 1873. Now, proven documentation is on its way!

The Diocese of Zamora is a bit different. Since I used a Spanish template to request information for the other family members, he answered me in Spanish (imagine that) and I could not decipher his note. After careful study and two people helping me with the translation, I was still not sure of his meaning. I wrote him an email, "Hable usted Ingles?" (Do you speak English?) He responded with, Comprendo el inglés escrito pero no lo hablo. (I can understand English written but I can't speak it)
José Carlos de Lera

Big sigh. I wrote to him in extremely basic English asking him to clarify his email. It seems he will charge 15 euros (about $25) to research EACH document. I am unsure if that means he will send me copies or just tell me if he found them... I MUST study that Rosetta Stone Spanish Language course more diligently!

For now, I have a birth document flying on its way. If I decide to take him up on his offer (once I figure out what it is exactly) I should go buy a lottery ticket to pay for it. It's up to $148 million...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Grandma Rita Silvan was from Toro, Spain

There is a wonderful website that shows Toro, Province of Zamora, Spain in a slideshow of panoramic views of the small village between Madrid and Fuentesauco. I believe Toro is much larger than Fuentesauco and when I walk on Spanish soil, I will take my own photographs and work hard to post daily blogs during my travels through Spain with my brother, Steven.
This site shows a virtual video of Toro!

For now, for those of you directly related to Eustoquia Rita Marzo Trascasas, this is her home!

Requesting Spanish documents ~

How many times have you lain awake thinking about something you missed or something you wanted to research the next day only to get frustrated because you thought morning would never arrive? I have always been one to look ahead and I must work harder to enjoy the moment!!

After thinking about Victorino Silvan and my great grandfather Juan and his two brothers who remained in Spain 100 years ago, I knew the struggle was finding birth and death information. Squabbling with inconsisten documentation, I have notes upon notes that led me to take it one step further this morning.

I found a researcher in Spain (named Pepa) who will research the birth document for my great grandfather for 23 EUROS, which translates to $31.74. She said the timeline is approximately 12 days. I have fingers crossed that this will culminate in a document that finalizes that point of contention. It appears he was born anywhere between 1869 (someone wrote that date on his funeral card) and 1873 or 1874, which I calculated based on stated ages on two ship manifests. The researcher charges 'per year' at 23 EUROS each year. When I asked about the death date for his mother, Agustina Hernandez , she quoted 460 EUROS which would mean if I don't win the lottery, I'm sunk.

In July, 2011 I wrote to the Santa Maria Church padre in Fuentesauco asking for help with finding documents. At that time, I sent postal coupons for return postage. At this time, nearly three months later, there has been no response. The researcher I contacted today via email from her web site at suggested I contact the Catholic Diocese of Zamora. I found their web site at and sent a copy of the padre's letter to the diocese this morning. Maybe there I will get a response?

AND I HAVE LEARNED TO SIFT THROUGH THE INTERNET USING FILTERING TOOLS. I bought the book titled, Google Your Family Tree by Daniel M. Lynch. I can see where I can save hours of wasted time already and I'm just on page 40. I recommend it heartily for anyone doing research like I am toward a singular focus such as genealogy. I was surprised to see the results when I typed "Juan * Silvan" family Fuentesauco Spain ~genealogy -- Many of my blog's postings popped up from the past couple of years! Amazing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Over the past two years during my avid research of the SILVAN family, I have found documents that scream at each other, vying for attention. Each document aches to be right and I sometimes pull my hair out. Spanish birth certificates are few and far between; I hold them tightly to my chest when they arrive to document accurate dates!

Victorino Silvan was 42 in February 1911 on the Orteric when he sailed from Spain. The 1920 Census in Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii a short nine (9) years later lists him as 62. Assuming the slip of the pen, I know he had to be 52. He died in 1925 and I have not (yet!) found the ship that carried him and his wife (Ramona) and children from Hawaii to California but can only assume it was after January 1920 (census date) and before he died just before Christmas in 1925.

Ramona Silvan, his wife, was 32 on the Orteric and listed as 40 on the 1920 census. Her death document on the internet lists her date of birth as 1875. It doesn't match!! She could have been born anywhere between 1877 and 1879 if those documents are correct.

Happily, I have in my hands the birth documents for Crestencia Silvan Gonzales and her husband, Eusebio Felix Gonzales (thanks again to Patte and Linda!!) so we know absolutely they were born in 1881 for Eusebio and 1884 for Crestencia. ~

Now to my great grandparents. As I scratch my cheek and rub my head, I wonder if my hair truly IS falling out...

Juan Francisco (John) Silvan was listed as age 37 on the Orteric in February 1911, which would make his date of birth 1873. Again, the Governor ship manifest lists him as 44 in January 1918 which also means he was born in 1873. The California census of April, 1930 lists him as 54 which would mean his birth year was actually 1875. His death certificate lists him as 75 in 1945 which means his daughter, Juanita, thought he was born in 1870...Am I crazy yet??! She listed his birthdate as August 1869...which would mean he was only one year younger than Victorino, his older brother... ~

Now, Rita Silvan, I have always been told she married John Silvan when she was 26 years old. But, noooooooooo ---- She was 30 on the Orteric in 1911, 37 on the Governor in 1918 and 48 on the 1930 census in California. Her death certificate states she was born in 1875 which cannot be correct either. The documents prove she was not quite 20 when she married. Her last child was born in 1922 when she must have been 42. If she'd been born in 1875, she would have been nearly 50 years old at Ramona's birth if she'd been 26 at her marriage date in May of 1900.

How could I possibly sing FELIZ CUMPLEANOS / HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our ancestors if I don't know how old they are? When I am in Spain, peering into the dusty corners and church records I will find my answers and arrive home with the years tight to my chest!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eusebio Felix Gonzales and his military history

Have you ever read an astounding statement that you wanted to confirm for your own peace of mind? This morning, I was there. There were three (3) pieces to a puzzle that interested me in my ongoing research quest for Silvan family history and today was the day.

Eusebio Gonzales was born in 1881 in Fuentesauco, Zamora, Spain. He married my great Aunt Crestencia (Christina) Silvan in 1906. They began their family in 1908. It has been told that he served in the Spanish Cavalry under Generalissimo Francisco Franco and a few years later was offered the honor to become a Marques by the King of Spain -- a letter he'd hoped to have translated only to be destroyed before he knew what the letter contained. It was sad to hear the person who destroyed the letter might have been my own great grandmother,who was jealous of her brother in law. I do not question the who, but the what he was offered. A medal? A Marques-ship? A commendation?

1. Francisco Franco was 10 years old when Eusebio was military age. He became the Fascist leader during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and remained as the dictator until 1973. Eusebio was in the King's Army, but not under Franco. I am looking for his military records.

2. It is true a king can bestow the rank of 'Marques' on a person, but rarely does and it is always only offered to a nobleman. A king could never bestow that rank on a commoner for any reason.

3. I painstakingly studied any and all medals and commendations made for military service in that time period. When King Alfonso VIII took control in 1902 from his mother/regent Queen Maria Christina, a medal was established but it is unclear if it was used to honor military service members. More research is required there. I found a Royal Cavalry Armory, General Military Archives and Archivos General de Indies plus the Spanish Military Arvhives in Segovia to check further. Family records indicate he entered the military service in Valladolid, north of Fuentesauco. There is a museum there at the Plaza de Zorrila that holds a library of books....

There is a chance that a portrait of Eusebio Gonzales in full military uniform exists. Having that photographed copy with me while in Spain next June might definitely help me find out what the military insignia points me toward.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back to Hawaii - Full Circle

My growing family connections into the Silvan family line continue to intrigue and delight me. Even though my answers to several questions have spawned more questions, I am eager to step into the investigator mode and see what happens.

I've made notes, memorized names, places and studied maps for my trip to Spain. I learned that my cousins in California have pieces of the stonework from Santa Maria church in Fuentesauco. I smiled when I heard that Linda and Patte held the pieces as mementos when they walked down the aisles on each of their wedding days. Ah, how special was that? I thought. Their father and mother stood before that old church, spoke with the priest and came away with chunks of their history. Maybe when I get to Fuentesauco, I can chunk out my own little piece from the corner of the building? (*smile*)

Coming full circle is an expression I've heard many times but did not hit me as hard as it did last night when I received an email from another cousin, Jerilynn, with a photograph of her cousin (Tara), her Aunt Tina (Christina Gonzales L.) and Aunt Vicky in Hawaii! She said her cousin, Dutch, is actually building a home on the big island. So, all those many years ago, their ancestors, Christina and Eusebio Gonzales arrived from Spain, worked and saved and worked some more until they could move their family to California... and now their descendants are slowly emigrating back to Hawaii. Oh, how I smiled at that photograph and maybe one day I will just fly over there and see them all!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Silvan Mysteries

Today I received a packet of information loaded with facts, names, stories, documents and excitement from my newly-found cousins in California. Thanks to Patte and Linda, I now have before me MORE QUESTIONS!

Was Aunt Christina truly the only child to Augustina Hernandez and Celestino Silvan? Was Augustina Hernandez the mother or stepmother to Victorino, Juan Francisco, Geronimo, and Agustin? Was there another brother name Asencion? Or was Agustin's first or middle name Asencion? Was a brother's nickname really MUNDO? And was he really 7 feet plus 7 inches tall when his brothers were so much less tall? (I hesitate to use "shorter" since it's been the bane to my existence all my life and being short isn't always fun or a word I like to use).

Was my great grandmother really jealous and wicked against Uncle Eusebio ---? The story is she did not like him but played cards with him as her partner....when everyone got together all those years ago... but? It makes our heads swim wondering.

I know that over the years people change from their youth to their mid-life years and often again when they become senior citizens. I've found it throughout our Silvan history and we may never know if and/or why Grandma Rita would have torn up a letter from the King of Spain offering her brother in law, Eusebio Gonzales, a "Marquis" honor. The story makes my brow crease. Grandma Rita could not read or write. Uncle Eusebio could not either. Why would she be asked to translate a letter as fine as this for him, I wonder? Victorino could read and write...why wasn't he given the letter to translate instead?

As in most family history, there are often facts that lead to more questions. We may never know but it is quite intriguing to think Uncle Eusebio Gonzales was offered such a wonderful honor from the King of Spain. Orphaned young, he ran away from an abusive Catholic orphanage to join the King's Cavalry when he was about 14 years old and apparently served very well. Why else would Spain offer him such a valuable honor as this? He must have been quite a wonderful man and I wish I'd known him. For now, my questions linger and maybe, just maybe some of these questions will find answers in Fuentesauco come June when I hit the soil running.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Who is Felicidada?

Felicidada is a name I have come across in my research for several years. Nobody heard of the name until "Aunt" Theresa reminisced with memories of her mother's (Christina) and father's (Eusebio Gonzales) conversations many years ago on their porch when she was very young.
In the early 1970s, my father's first trip to Spain led him to write a letter to his sister, Rose Ruiz Gobert, telling her about "Felicidada, his Uncle Geronimo's adopted daughter." After making a note of this name and the connection, I hit a brick wall ----- until Theresa mentioned it last year. Since that time, I still could not find any notation of this woman's name. It was as if she was a breath of memory nobody could remember.
Until my recent trip to California --- I 'sort of' found her. While looking through letters, documents and photographs with cousins, Linda and Patte in Elk Grove, the name "FELICIDAD" jumped out and slapped me. I was stunned. As it turned out, it was a brief translation of a postcard received from Felicidad --- sent to Phyllis, their mother. The postcard had been translated by none other than THERESA. I was quite excited and called Theresa but so far, I have not connected with her. I hope she still has the original postcard as the translation was in bits and pieces because Felicidad's handwriting was so poor.
I am working on the translation and hope to speak with Theresa soon! So, Felicidada is REAL. Maybe she will be another ghost I will find when I reach Fuentesauco in Spain in June. My anticipation rumbles and excitement mounts for my trip and all I hope to find in that faraway land of our ancestors.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Silvan photograph to share ~

Oh, the joy of reaching out and feeling the cousin connections respond! Today I received several photographs from my new cousin, Patte Gonzales K. and it reminded me of the day she and her sister, Linda Gonzales R. first showed it to me. They did not know who was standing next to their grandparents, Christina and Eusebio Gonzales. I'd seen the photograph several months ago and I didn't know who was standing next to my great grandparents, John and Rita Silvan. VIOLA! My great grandparents and their grandparents. We shared the smiles! FROM THE LEFT: Christina Silvan (Gonzales), Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez, Eustoquia Rita Marzo Trascasas (Silvan) and Eusebio Feliz Gonzales. This photo may have been taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s.
Today, I reached out to another cousin: Christina Gonzales M. in Citrus Heights, California. Her mother was Maria de Gloria Gonzales and she is willing to share stories and information. I quickly prepared my 'this is what I'm doing and what I hope to receive from you' letter and it will go out in tomorrow's mailing.
Today was a very good "SILVAN DAY". The sun is shining. Fall is in the air but not too cold yet. My Plumeria is still lounging on the deck as I count the days until the air turns too cold for it at night. It yearns for Hawaiian weather but I can only make it half happy.... here in Virgina.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spanish ESP

During the course of the day, my mind flew to Hawaii several times because tomorrow is Auntie Victoria Gonzales W. birthday and I made mental plans to call and wish her a lovely, special day first thing tomorrow, Hawaii time. While I worked, I created the Silvan family tree I am preparing for all the cousins and for my family. I built a Silvan summary. And all the while, I thought of Plumeria trees and Hawaiian leis. I flipped through the Gonzales file to check on all the cousins I have met and smiled. Then, I thought of Auntie Vicky again and the birthday... wondering how she would spend her day. And noted all the Gonzales cousins I have yet to find ~

When the phone rang about 6 o'clock here on the east coast, our brand new phone alerted us to a phone call from someone named George. What? Auntie Vicky? YES~ There she was on the other end of the phone, beating me to the punch by one day!

I always enjoy our conversations because she is such a fun-loving lady and her voice reminds me so much of a very dear auntie of mine who is long gone. So, I smile as I write this just as I smiled when I picked up the phone and realized she had also been thinking about me.

What a delightful journey finding, meeting, smiling, conversing and learning to love all these new Silvan relatives. I can hardly wait to be part of the Silvan lives as I continue with my research and write this fascinating Spanish story for all of us.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUNTIE VICKY --- Sending smiles filled with the essence of flowers and wishing I could be part of the birthday party you will have with your loving family around you... Hug the 'babies' for me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Researching Spain

During a recent internet play time, I found a video at that was made during the early 1930s about Vacaville, California and the agricultural workers, their fight for valid pay and the mighty bosses who fought against them. It was very interesting and at the end, I made a note of all the books the producer found his information --- also very interesting.
I ordered A HISTORY OF SPAIN by Harold Livermore because the Hispanic American Report stated the text was factual and compact, the style naturally lively and stimulating so that the reader cannot leave it until he reaches the end. Since it appears to be a one-volume history of Spain supposedly beautifully proportioned and unprejudiced, I will dive in to see if I can use any parts of it not already in my MANUELA'S PETALS' manuscript.
I also ordered two (2) other books the video producer mentioned and hope they arrive soon. The books are THE MASQUERADE OF SPAIN by Charles Foltz and THE HISTORY OF SPAIN FROM THE MUSELMANS TO FRANCO by Louis and Sir Charles Petrie Bertrand.
If the Winter is as cold as our Summer was hot, I should be able to get through all of them since I will undoubtedly be locked inside where I am lucky to be warm and cozy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The old Spanish wheelbarrow

Another find to add to my cache of photos and information that will eventually piece the ongoing puzzle together. I want to learn more, to unearth the history that united the families who left Fuentesauco; my family and the others, their friends, the Alva and Corral families. The Martin family. And so many others. Seeing this simple wooden cart and knowing the families hefted their trunks aboard, pushed any items that could fit in open pockets of space and then adding a small child to the mix ---- and trundling it southward to the dreams that drew them there hurt my heart. They must have been so very focused. Exhausted but exhilarated. Hungry but full of a steady Spanish spirit. Frightened but anxious for their new life. A simple wheelbarrow. Carucha? This is a wheelbarrow of that time, possibly not an exact replica, but something to pin my visualization on to make the changes in my ongoing story that creates the feelings they imposed. Now, how did they get it onto the train? We know they rode the train until their money ran out before they began their long, winding trek on foot, pulling along nine little children with them. I found the train. I found the train tracks and villages they walked through. Now I must research the storage area and draw that picture with words to make it seem real.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The infamous Spanish trunk

After trying to visualize the type of trunk our ancestors must have struggled with across Spain in 1911 to load onto the ORTERIC at Gibraltar, my mind is now aflame with the real thing. Thanks to Lynda E. I now have a photograph and seeing it has filled in several blanks in the puzzle. This trunk belonged to her great grandfather, Victorino Silvan and great grandmother, Ramona Silvan. She inherited it from her grandmother, their daughter, Felisa Silvan Medeiros.
Seeing this trunk told me immediately that it could not have been carried twelve miles when they walked, camping their way south. This photograph opened up conversations between my daughter, Audrie, and I with 'what ifs' and 'maybe they'.......only to resume again in earnest when I arrived at Linda R.'s home in Elk Grove, CA. Further discussions began between Linda and her sister, Patte K. and I and we were enmeshed in the story of long ago. Once they saw the photograph, the brainstorming went into high gear and they remembered part of a story that fit one more piece of the puzzle: Our ancestors pushed a type of wheel barrow. It must have held the trunk and other belongings on that long trek AND possibly carried the babies in tow.
Now, I have another research project to add to my others -- this time, what did a wheel barrow in 1911 Spain look like? Just a little probing on the internet tells me it was called a CARRETIA. Other names were CARUCHA or CARRUCHA. It's another timid start and a large chunk of history that will meld with their long trip to make it real for everyone who will eventually read their story... in Manuela's Petals.

Friday, September 23, 2011

SILVAN photographs

I am staring at a pile of photographs that my cousin, Lynda E., was kind enough to give me. Lynda is the granddaughter of Felisa Silvan Medeiros. It appears the photographs were in a very old photo album -- some I recognized and many I did not. There was a beautiful photograph of Theodora Silvan Souza. I had a photograph of her with her husband, John Bento Souza and 'assumed' it was her wedding photo. However, this one is beautiful and I wonder if this is, in fact, her wedding photograph?
As I reached for the packet of photographs the day I met with Lynda, I was sitting beside another cousin, Dorothy Souza P. and it was lovely to watch these cousins interact with one another. They did not know one another and it was such a special feeling to bring them together. Theodora Silvan Souza --- in this photo --- was Dorothy's mother! Once I scan the photos, I will have a wonderful packet of photos to send to Dorothy and her niece, Vicki, who has shared so many documents and photographs with me --- She is Theodora's granddaughter. What a delightful family web I am turning into lace!
My next posting will have photos of 2 people that I HOPE someone can tell me who they are.....

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The past two weeks have been amazing. I have met, conversed, photographed and listened to Silvan family stories and been embraced into the Silvan family by so many lovely people! I will need time to get my information, photographs and documents organized but the feelings I returned home with are still making me smile.
Every person I contacted was so welcoming. I am sad that I missed seeing Theresa Gonzales Sackett due to a back injury, but hope to sit and visit next time. On a trip like this one, I had visits back to back and couldn't make changes to work around her medical schedule. I so wanted to meet her but another time for sure.
I will gather my wits, records and photos and prepare to update this blog daily with small pieces of my wonderful trip. For now, my pleasure is still fresh and my bag of information is stuffed full just ready to dip into and spread across my table for further study.
It is great to be home again as I settle into the real world again.... but hearing several stories while in California has given me a few new facts to weave into my story (thank you Linda and Patte!) AND a group of friends who lived with our ancestors in Fuentesauco too. Thanks to Judy A. and Frances P., I have a new perspective and oh! I tasted Manchego (Spanish) cheese for the first time with them. YUM. I can hardly wait to go to La Tienda in Williamsburg to buy some. Thank you, ladies!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Family Connections

So many family members have touched my life in the past 10 days and I feel the blessings. Yesterday I went to Disneyland with my daughter, Audrie, and my granddaughter who is 2 years old. Oh, to see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy through her eyes and then tromp around Toon Town was sweet. The heat was nearly 100 so it took some fun out of the day but frozen lemonade hit the spot. I loved sharing the special day and at the end my granddaughter slept on my shoulder and touched my heart (again) with her vulnerability and sweet nature.

Tomorrow will be my first 'meet the Silvan descendants' day in Long Beach where I will meet and share lunch with Kathy, who is Uncle Celestino's daughter --- and her daughter too! What a wonderful holiday this is turning into....

AND more sharing! Aunt Rita has won Quilter of the Year in Battle Creek, Michigan and the newspaper article and photo was grand! She was surprised by 2 of her sisters flying from CA to share the accolades with her.... Aunt Millie and Aunt Antoinette. What fun the three sisters will have. Wish I could be there too and share in the fun.... but little arms hug me here.....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Auntie Victoria

How nice it is to pick up the phone and call Hawaii to hear a delightful voice on the other end, knowing I am speaking with my abuelita Manuela's first cousin. And now my cousin! Listening to her stories as a youth and beyond and learning more about my ancestors makes me smile (again!) and so anxious to share what I have learned from others in our family as well. She knew my great Uncle Celestino, great Uncle August, great Uncle many lovely memories to share and the pictures! Yes. I am loving all of this.

Heading for California next week to meet nearly ten 'new' cousins on the Silvan family side, anxious to listen to more stories so I can KNOW their fathers, grandfathers and cousins to add to my research. I wonder at times how lucky I can be to see my family grow around me, while I never knew their lives existed before.

My questions are listed. My maps are printed. My family charts are ready to share. And I will soon be on my way to enlarge this family data base PLUS meet friends from Fuentesauco too!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Great Grandpa Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez -- the OBIT!~

About an hour after my post yesterday, I received an email with the scanned newspaper obituary I requested from the library for my great grandfather! The newpaper was Herald-New Era, Benicia, California and reading it gave me chills. Now I am off and running for more!!
Why is it that the more I get the more I want??? Is that a woman thing?? (:)

They gave him an A. for a middle name which, of course, was incorrect, but all else is correct!! Obituaries are such a wealth of information. I learned that his sons Joseph and Celestino both lived in Benicia in 1945 and that his other son, Augustin, lived in Napa. I did not know that! The obituary stated he was at St. Dominic's church and there is a cemetery adjacent to the church. AND --- My mother will be in Benicia in September and will take her trusty camera for photos to add to my cache of information. I'm so pumped!!!=

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

More about SILVAN obituaries

The internet is a fickle and fabulous way to research. After my posting yesterday about how important it is to have obituaries because of the wealth of information they contain, I accidentally found several on the internet while looking for a cousin in Montana.

These are the obituaries I found on the site:
1) Edna Flint Gonzales, wife of Alejandro (Red) Gonzales
2) Augustina (Tina) Gonzales Coombs and her husband Robert Coombs
3) Herman A. Gonzales and his wife Ellen
4) My aunt Rose Ruiz Gobert
5) My uncle Fred Cortopassi

Other good news: I found the Yolo Couny Archives and a nice woman named Amanda -- She is sending me obituaries for my great grandmother Rita Silvan, grandma Ben Ruiz and great grandpa Frank Ruiz.

AND I contacted the Benecia newspaper and requested the obituary for great grandpa John Francisco Silvan. Next month, my mother will be in Benecia and has agreed to take photos of the gravestones for me. The support and love from so many people during this project is overwhelming!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Obituaries for Silvan family

I have birth certificates, death certificates and citizenship papers. I have photographs, documents and stories. OBITUARIES tell such a massive story. Recently, I contacted the Yolo County Archives in Woodland, California and a wonderful lady named Amanda looked up several obituaries for me. She found Abuelita Rita Silvan's and Abuelo Ben Ruiz's obituaries and is mailing them to me. She also found Christina Gonzales' obituary and will tuck that into my envelope. This office has been so kind and helpful that I will definitely donate money to their upkeep as it is a non-profit organization that more than earns their way through kindness and efficiency.

I have an obituary for my father, Michael Silvan Ruiz along with several others. (1) JEROME MEDEIROS was the grandson to Victorino Silvan, son to Felisa (Alice) Silvan Medeiros and father to Lynda E. (2) EUSEBIO GONZALES was the son to Crestencia Silvan Gonzales and father to Linda, Patricia and Phil. (3) JOSEPHINE SOUZA LAZETERA was granddaughter to Victorino Silvan, daughter to Theodora Silvan Souza, mother of Paul, Jr., Patrick and 'like a mother' to Cheryl. (4) DENISE A. SOUZA, was granddaughter to Victorino Silvan, daughter to Robert Souza and sister to Karen, Annette, Jeanette and Tina Souza.

I will soon add my grandfather Ben, great grandmother Rita and great Aunt Christina to my file. IF THERE IS ANYONE WILLING TO SHARE ANY OBITUARIES FOR OTHER MEMBERS OF OUR FAMILY, PLEASE EMAIL OR MAIL HARDCOPY OR FAX. I would be so HAPPY!

Clearing up misinformation / Silvan family

Since I have received several different versions of Uncle Agustin's fatherhood, it was still a mystery after months of research. Now, I believe the mystery is solved. Uncle Agustin/August/Gus married a 16-year old woman named Maria when he was 22 (or didn't marry her?). They were listed on the 1930 Census in Solano County, California shown living with his parents, Juan Francisco and Rita Silvan. It showed a 3 month old boy named John.
As the stories vary I wanted to find the truth and I THINK I have. Whether he and Maria were married or not is still a mystery, although I have to assume in 1929 and 1930, his parents would have heavily frowned on his living under their roof with a woman and child if they were not married but that is another story. They divorced possibly as he married Ruby later in life.
After speaking with Victorina W. in Hawaii, who was Agustin's cousin, and knew him well, she told me she did not think they married. She also told me Maria was already pregnant with another man's child when they were together. Uncle Gus did not raise the child, nor did he have anything to do with him as a son. So, I have confirmed this must be the true story since four different relatives have told me this story and they lived their lives beside him.
Of the three sons, Agustin, Jose and Celestino, the only children born to them was one son to Jose (Joe, Jr.) and five children to Celestino. Of the boys, there are only two Silvans left: Joe Silvan, Jr. and Celestino Robert Silvan. Troy P. Silvan died in the mid-1950s.
The really good news is I hope to meet many of these cousins in less than a month!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gathering cousins, notes, reports and maps

California and all the cousins will soon be more people than names to me as I continue to mark up my calendar for when, what and where to see them during my projected visit in September with my daughter and granddaughter to add to the familial fun.
I began my calculations and drawing of charts to keep it all in my head:
VICTORINO & RAMONA SILVAN had (4) children; Theodora (Dora), Felisa (Alice), Jacinto (died on ship at age 5) and Celestino. (1) Dora had eight: Josephine, Victor, Alfred, George, Dorothy, Lillian, Robert and Jerome. (2) Felisa-Alice had two: Melvin and Jerome (3) Celestino did not have children.
JUAN FRANCISCO & RITA SILVAN had (6)six: Manuela, Agustin (Gus), Jose, Maria, Juanita and Celestino and Ramona (stillborn). (1) Manuela had Frank, John, Rosa, Benny (died at 2), Michael, Maria, Millie, Joe, Dolores (died at 5), Rita, Antoinette, Josephine, Antonio, Carnie and Bernarda (stillborn). (2) Gus had one son: John, (3) Joe had one son: Joe, (4) Mary had four: Frank, Fred, Rose Marie and Helen. (5) Juanita had three: Theresa, Roberta and John, (6) Celestino had five: Celestino Robert, Christina, Lucinda, Mary and Troy.
CRESTENCIA & EUSEBIO FELIX GONZALES had nine: Alejandro (Red), Juan, Maria Gloria, Barceliza Christina (Sally), Augustina (Tina), Victorina (Vic), Asencion (Dutch), Theresa and Eusebio (Sab).
With the descendants from these Silvan members who are the next generation cousins and their children, I am writing it all down as fast as I can. I will not list them here. But those are the generation I hope to meet PLUS Dora's daughter, Dorothy, and Crestencia's daughter, Theresa from that earlier generation while I am in town. Their children and grandchildren will be a bonus I am quite excited to enjoy. And families from Fuentesauco will add to the color for my story, most anxious to meet the Alva and Corral descendants!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Agustin Marzo Silvan

Agustin Silvan was my Abuelita Manuela's brother who was born in 1908, Fuentesauco, Spain. Over the past couple of years, I have heard wonderful stories about him from several of my family members but one item was shadowy as the stories varied.
Many family members believed "Uncle Gus" did not have any children although they knew he had been married twice. I kept hearing through the stories about his son, Johnny Silvan, who lived in Winters for many years. I could not find anything about him so kept up with the questions (some may be driven mad with my intensity but as dad always said, if you don't ask questions you can't get the answers.....)
Four days ago, cousin Rose Marie D. told me he definitely had a son named John. He did live in Winters. Uncle Gus's first wife was Maria and her mother's last name 'sounded' like Rebeccia. She had no idea how it was spelled but the germ of interest grew...
I found the 1930 Census in Silveyville, Solano County, California listed. August Silvan was 22. Maria was 16 and little John Silvan was 3 months old in April, 1930 which made his birthdate about January 1930. Proven!
Rose Marie D. also said Johnny Silvan died in an automobile accident. Now, I am trying to find out when, where, were there other children? Are there other cousins whose grandfather was my Great Uncle Gus Silvan??? He was very close to my Abuelita and my mother knew and loved him all those years ago. I am attaching a picture the day he became a very proud U.S. Citizen holding the American flag.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Finding GERONIMO AND AGUSTIN SILVAN HERNANDEZ has been an enigma over the past 2 years as I bumped along sorting out Silvan siblings, their children and grandchildren, dates, places, time, stories etc. Last night, I had an epiphany and could barely sleep all night! IT WAS THE SHIP MANIFEST(S) ~
Geronimo and Agustin were the two SILVAN brothers who stayed behind in Fuentesauco with their mother, Agustina Hernandez, when they watched their other brothers, Victorino and Juan Francisco lead their wives and children away along with their sister, Crestencia and her husband and children --- to a place called Hawaii. Geronimo was 34 and Agustin was 24 in 1911 when the exodus drew their siblings faraway to the sugar cane fields on the Hawaiian Islands.
After nearly two years of my Silvan quest for information..... with the help of Julie B, I received a photograph of Geronimo that she Crestencia's daughter, Theresa, in Winters, CA shared with her (us). I felt I'd won the lottery. A photograph of the shadowy brother! And Agustin? The story was he went to Brazil and nobody heard from him again. Not so!!
The SS Manuel Calvo and the SS Cristobal Colon proves otherwise.
At age 43, Agustin was listed on the SS Cristobal Colon sailing from Cuba into the New York harbor 'in transit to Spain' headed for the port of La Coruna (Corunna in English) on June 23, 1930. He was listed as single, white hair, black eyes and 5' 7" tall.
At age 54, Geronimo was listed on the SS Manuel Calvo sailing from Cuba into the New York harbor also "in transit to Spain" headed for a 'final destination' of Zamora on June 23, 1931. He was listed as married, fair skin, black hair and brown eyes. His wife was listed as Joaquina Brogado Vicente, 5' 4".
Both ship manifests show they purchased their own tickets. Both show me the brothers were in Cuba at the same time and obviously sailed to Cuba to work in their sugar cane fields. It was a Spanish speaking country and offered jobs in the agricultural field. They fit the bill.
Now -- exhilaration here. And more questions. When did they sail from Spain? Did they go together? Where did they get on the ship? When did their mother die? We know it must have been between 1911 and 1930. Excitement mounts and the race is on again.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another COUSIN story!

Don't you just love it when things come together when you fantasize outcomes and wait and wait and wait.....? Reality slapped me for the past three days while I fought wth my printer/scanner and my mind was mush by 5 p.m. today. I have tried HP sites, downloaded drivers, hooked up USB cables, unhooked them, powered up the printer a hundred times and still couldn't figure it out. I am not computer dumb most of the time but.............I get carried away but still.....
Just as I thought my day was a blunder, I had good things happen!
1. I received email from two cousins with updated Silvan family information.
2. I accepted an invitation for a get together and bed for the night in September for my California visit to meet and interview more cousins. Much excitement there.
3. And I received a phone call from Rose Marie, my great Aunt Mary Silvan Cuellar's daughter in response to my letter....asking if she knew the whereabouts to a book titled MEMORIES OF SPAIN that my cousin, Joe, said he'd given to Aunt Mary some years ago and if so..... (begged for it). She is mailing it to me next week! Oh, happy day. So, I will just forget the printer....
The book was in my hands last year for 3 weeks on an inter-state library loan because it is no longer in print. The Spanish Club in Rocklin, California published it by Anne Aguilar Santucci and many people have tried to get a reprint and it's just not going to happen. Since I researched the pages last year, I have realized many people in the book were friends to our ancestors and there are stories, family lines etc.... that I wanted to weave into my story, MANUELA'S PETALS, still in progress. I feel blessed all over again because I will soon have it in my hands to go through all over again....
So many cousins and so little time..... and 3000 miles distance. But they have open hearts and support along the way that help me immeasurably as I go along in my research. So, I am very pleased and will try to forget the HP mess until tomorrow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weaving the past into the present ~ SILVAN History

Adding human interest stories from Silvan descendants or Fuentesauco family descendants has become an ongoing project as I continue writing my abuelita's story in MANUELA'S PETALS.
I pondered the steerage area in the cellar of the the ship(s) where they lived for two months and the food they ate. While visiting with friends here this past week, we discussed what life must have been like in Spain, living on the ship and going to a strange place. These immigrants were hungry, tired and feared change; they ate foreign food, learned different societal methods, trained their ears to catch unfamiliar words and missed their homes and family left behind.
Looking at the news on TV and listening to people whine about their lives as they know it is sad but comparing their ails to our ancestor's problems make me sit up and seriously imagine what they thought and felt.... As I delve into their lives and the world as it was between 1900 and 1920, I count my blessings and the days before I will be standing on Spanish soil to be where they were and hope some of it rubs off!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More Silvans ~

Today, I received an email from another Silvan descendant with a cc to her sister. These ladies are children of Eusebio Gonzales, Jr., better known as SAB. Reaching out to my cousins during my research into the Silvan family line has given me an endless supply of relations and adding them up one by one forces me to start over after naming them on the first 10 fingers!
When I began this quest, all I really knew was my abuelita had one uncle and one aunt and their families who traveled from Spain with them to Hawaii and later, on to California. Since that time, I have names, dates, places, stories, photographs and during the process of gathering this family information, I have the family tree embedded in my brain. Now I know they left a mother and two brothers behind in Spain === That information must wait until I get to Spain next spring... but for now, I can fill in the AMERICAN blanks!
It will be a wonderful finish to go beyond publishing MANUELA'S PETALS and work on the one to follow which will be titled SILVAN LEAVES. Building the dossier for each Silvan member would be impossible without the help of so many descendants they left behind and I am touched and honored to meet and learn to know these Spanish (and some Portuguese) family members.
I am filling my calendar for my California visit that will include meeting these cousins IN PERSON vs. the internet and telephone conversations. It will truly be a combined effort by the time it is finally in print and I am moving toward filling up my notebooks with the thrill of the find!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A touching memory of Felisa Silvan Medeiros

Felisa was only seven years old when she left Fuentesauco, Spain in the Province of Zamora with her older sister, Theodora (12) and her twin brothers, Celestino and Jacinto (age 5)...and her parents, Victorino Silvan Hernandez and Ramona Martin Lorenzo (Silvan). Over the past couple of years as I found each family member in the archives of history and through stories from descendants I have been lucky enough to connect with, the image of Felisa has grown into a girl and later a woman and I smile.
She always loved to dance. The Spanish people and my ancestors especially, had a penchant for music and dancing and she watched, learned, tapped her feet and eventually married a man named Seraphim Medeiros. He was known as "Joe" to many and as "Saa" to others (rhymes with Sam). In my story, MANUELA'S PETALS, which is a loving work in progress about my grandmother who was 9 at the time, just a bit older than Felisa when they left Spain as a familial group..... I am going to weave Felisa's love of music and dancing, a love I have always had myself and understand completely!
Her granddaughter remembers her dancing with her husband and I have many notes to help flesh Felisa out in my mind, although once she arrived in America, she was called "Alice" which made her a difficult one to find! She was a lovely woman who loved to laugh, cook, garden and enjoyed children. She had two boys, Melvin and Jerome. To her supreme sadness, she lost Melvin in WWII and probably never got over the pain. One never does.
Last week, an added memory from another descendant gave me another layer of human interest for Felisa --- Her cousin, whom we call Auntie Vicky -- Victoria from Hawaii --- told me of the many times the families got together, music, food, fun, conversation and there was Felisa and her husband --- watching others dance and laughingly pulling her husband upward with the often repeated litany, "Come on, Saa..... let's show them how it's done." This simple little statement once shared with Felisa's granddaughter, added more smiles to the memory of this woman whom I wish I'd known!! These little stories make our loved ones live on and on --- and with the musical background many of our Spanish ancestors share, the smiles from my desk just keep getting bigger and bigger!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lynda solves the mystery men's identity

Good news! After Victoria Gonzales Weber told me she recognized the men in the family photograph of Victorino, Ramona, Theodora (Dora) and Felisa (Alice) but couldn't remember who they were, I contacted Alice's granddaughter, Lynda E. She immediately recognized the man in the left bottom corner --- and I'm unsure why I didn't!!
Seeing the family photograph and knowing it was approximately from the 1912-1917 time period, AND assuming the men's photos in the bottom corner were placed there by the photographer, I had the old-slap-in-the-face "ASS-U-ME" syndrome and did not study the photograph properly until Lynda pointed it out to me...
The man is their son, all grown up! Upon closer inspection, I realized the tiny photo had been slipped behind the corner of the matting on the framed photograph, not printed on the original photograph. In my mind, everyone's photo was in the 1912-1917 era --- which was incorrect.
The right bottom photo was my next focus. Despite my wish NOT to assume, I believe that is also their son only at an earlier adult age. CELESTINO MARTIN SILVAN was five years old when he sailed from Spain on the Orteric with his twin brother, Jacinto Martin Silvan. Jacinto died on the voyage. Celestino lived to be in his 70s. What a wonderful feeling to solve mysteries! T-H-A-N-K ___ Y-O-U, L-Y-N-D-A ~

Monday, July 25, 2011

Meeting Victorina Gonzales Weber in Hawaii

What a wonderful feeling to imagine my son, Frank, and his girlfriend, Reimi, sitting in "Auntie Victoria's" living room in Aiea, Hawaii where she lives with her daughter, Sally and her family. It was an exciting phone call during their visit and afterward, I received a picture text message....showing this lovely lady with my family.
Another exciting aspect was my conversation with Victoria during their visit --- I'd sent her a copy of the family photograph of her Godfather, our Uncle Victorino Silvan. The photograph included him, his wife, Ramona, and their children, Theodora, Felisa and Celestino. For many months, I have wondered who the 2 men in the bottom corners of that photograph could be? YES! She told me she'd seen these men often during her youth. The bad news was she couldn't remember who they were but since we know they were not SILVAN men, I am assuming they were MARTIN men...related to our Aunt Ramona Martin Lorenzo Silvan.
With that in mind, I have written emails to two cousins who are Martin descendants from that family and I am hopeful the mystery will soon be solved!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Liaison in Hawaii

As I sit here in 102 degree heat (outside, not inside), my mind jumps to Aiea, Hawaii where my son is on holiday --- and hoping to call and/or meet my 2nd cousin, Victorina, better known as Victoria or Vic Gonzales Weber. I am hopeful they can connect --- a little piece of the missing relationship puzzle that my son is so interested in and wants to feel his own connection.
Earlier today, I attended a writer's workshop and was told Manuela's Petals should be classified as a Non Fiction Narrative. Since it is a blended Fiction / Non Fiction, it threw me a bit but it will help me decide if a small publisher or an agent and a small publisher would be better than self-publishing. I know that eBook publishing is taking the world by storm but had not realized eBook publishing jumped 202% in one year but traditional book publishing dropped 24% in the same year. After seeing a book proposal and the complexities within the pages, I jumped back to get my brain's marbles organized. Is it possible? Smiling here. Of course it is... it just won't be easy but I've heard somewhere that the best choices aren't always the smooth ones.
Since July 1, 2011, I have sent 7 request-for-information letters to various people regarding my SILVAN quest for family history. I'm like a little postal fairy waiting by the mail box or peeking in my email box every day. Liann is sending me a package of her mother's research from Washington state. Geri has sent me fabulous stories, documents, dates and pictures. I found a family tree of pictures my cousin, Tess, and I couldn't see beyond a postage stamp size and the lady was kind enough to send me BIG pictures and more than I asked for. Wow... people are wonderful.
But good news! Over the past couple of weeks, I received very good information and photographs from genealogical kindred spirits and I am related, albeit from afar. AND I asked for fish tacos at a Mexican restaurant yesterday in Spanish! "Quiero tacos de pescado por favor." And the man smiled and answered me in Spanish..."Si, Senora." On the way out, I snagged a free Hispanic newspaper to study, practice and read although I was sad to see the front page telling me Jennifer Lopez and her husband are separating... big picture and I read the caption and understood it. So, guess the good news was I understood it. The bad news was...well, the bad news.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Finding the last SILVAN sibling at last!

Until now, I had stories, contacts, pictures and copies of documents to prepare the dossier of 5 of the 6 Silvan siblings, children of Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez and his wife Eustoquia Rita Marzo Trascasas Silvan from Fuentesauco, Province of Zamora, Spain.
1 - Manuela Silvan Ruiz, sometimes known as Mildred, who is my grandmother (abuelita)
2 - Agustin, better known as Gus who loved to fish and spent his last days in AK doing just that.
4 - Maria, known as Mary Silvan who married Frank Cuellar and always had a smile on her face.
5 - Juanita Silvan who married several times but I knew her as Aunt Jenny.
6 - Celestino, known as Cel who married Mary Louise. I never knew Uncle Cel but had a wonderful phone conversation with Aunt Mary not long before her death. I am still hopeful to receive pictures and copies of documents from her daughters.
No, I didn't forget child number 3 = Jose Marzo Silvan -- better known as Joe. With the help of a surprising link to our family --- Judy from Rocklin, CA (thank you!!!) I was able to recently connect with Uncle Joe's only child, his son Joe A Silvan. As it happens, Joe is not only my cousin but Judy's cousin on his mother's side. It is a very small (and fabulous) world out there.
So, I can happily begin the dossier for Uncle Joe, the elusive uncle whom I thought would remain a very slim little paragraph with 2 pictures -- Now, I have hope once again. Joe hopes to unearth photos and maybe even a document or two.
As I continue to plan my genealogical research week in California for September, I can happily add more family members to my 'must see' listing. And then there's my son, whom I have volunteered to act as my liaison in Hawaii this coming week to meet and visit with Victoria Gonzales Weber --- to add to the fun and excitement of FAMILY!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Another family member's box opened and shared with me by a granddaughter included a colorized photo of my great uncle Victorino and his wife Romana/Ramona Martin Silvan. After careful study, I realized a photo specialist had taken each head shot from the family picture I had in my file and I was amazed at how nice it looked. Here it is to compare and enjoy!
Now if only someone somewhere could help me recognize and name the two men in the bottom corner of the family picture ---- it would be a another real find!
Victorino was the oldest of 5 Silvan Hernandez children from Fuentesauco, Zamora, Spain. He died in 1925 so many of my aunts and uncles did not know he existed until now. What a wonderful way to bring our family into one amazing scope of recognition as I place each new person on our SILVAN family tree!!! One by one, we will do it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


My Spanish Pearls began as a blog to update Spanish relatives as I research information on our ancestors but my genealogy bug has taken over my life. With the help of my dear cousin, Tess, on my mother's side, she has turned the ON button inside my head to that on position and it is stuck. Therefore, Spanish Pearls now encompasses the CHUBB and HUBBARD family quest as well.
I have been accepted into an Advanced Genealogy Class at the College of William & Mary where there will be only ten students. I am esctatic because last summer, I missed the registration and was number 13 in the waiting line in case anyone canceled. And of course, nobody did. Therefore, my mission is to use the SILVAN families and their extended families that include SOUZA BENTO (Theodora Silvan & John Souza) and GONZALES (Cristencia Silvan and Eusebio Gonzales) as my class project. They promise to help us jump over those brick walls.
I wait with bated breath to leave for Madrid in May or June of 2012 with my brother, Esteben (Steven) and I study laboriously over the Spanish language program, the Rosetta Stone. Once in Madrid, it is only 90 miles to FUENTESAUCO, where our families began --- or at least as far as we know they began. Maybe I can extend our family from there? Yes! I hope so.
I have created a NEW blog that is specific only to these Silvan families in the hopes of finding other silvan descendants and/or give the family members who have helped me already a chance to comment, add, refer to others and read as we go along. I encourage all the Silvan descendants to please look at it from time to time.
It can be found at and we are ready to roll!

Meeting more of the Gonzales Family ~

As I turn the pages of my Silvan notes, I realize how many Gonzales cousins I have found and who have befriended me and our quest to learn more about our ancestors all the way to Spain. As I look at the most recent picture from one of Cristencia Silvan Gonzales's children, I smile. She is Victoria or Vic to some of the closer family members, born in Hawaii in 1917 and as a swaddled four-month old baby, entered the bay to San Francisco into Angel Island with her parents, Cristencia and Eusebio and her five siblings. Now, in the Winter of her life she is again in Hawaii, wearing muu muus and listening to Ukeles and smelling the heavenly scents of the tropical flowers. My hopes are to sit and talk with her one day just as I hope to sit and talk with her sister, Theresa, in September who lives in Winters, California.
Their siblings are gone now. Their children and grandchildren look at pictures and have their own memories. Some have shared them with me and I am so appreciative for every tiny bit of information and pictures they so willingly share. Our SILVAN LEAVES book will be filled with stories, documents and pictures.... but first, I must finish MANUELA'S PETALS. Such a cache of information to share!
The wonders of finding family members like these --- who were first cousins to my Abuelita Manuela Silvan Ruiz, never turn cloudy but remain sharp, clear and a living adventure.
We have the Souza family and the Gonzales family on the Silvan side. AND we have the Martin family and more on the Ruiz side. I am trying to concentrate on the Silvan family for now because I don't want to get them mixed up in my head, but line each person up like marbles in my head. Then, the Ruiz family --- look out! I'm on my way there too.
Since I moved away from Woodland when I was 9 years old, I wasn't able to know the cousins, aunties, uncles and those relatives beyond but I am definitely trying to make up for lost time.
I look in the mailbox and my eMail box daily, hoping for stories, pictures and documents to add to my files. One day, we will all have them in a book to share with our own descendants. If only Abuelita could be part of the fun!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Hawaiian cousin

I am looking at a photograph of 4 people standing on the beach in Hawaii, wispy clouds against a blue sky and turquoise water behind them. In the middle is a white-haired lady in a muu-muu and she is my cousin. Her mother was Christina Silvan Gonzales. She is Victorina Gonzales Weber and she is delightful. At 93, she is one of two daughters left of my Great Aunt Christina's children and I am thinking of another 'Beam Me Up Scotty Wish'... to meet with her. I will not post the picture as I do not have her approval but trust me --- it's very special.
This week filled me with more excitement --- working beyond my Silvan and Ruiz family quests. I received a picture of my mother's Great Aunt Clara Myrtle Chubb from a woman I found (or she found me?) on some time ago. She found a trove of pictures in a large envelope that didn't have names on the back except for a few and bingo! Thanks, Jodi ~ One was the elusive Clara Myrtle Chubb at age 2 years and 16 days. She was adorable. She was my great grandfather's sister. We found her husband. We found her children. We found her grandchildren. But we couldn't find her. This was like GOLD!!
Between spreading mulch on the gardens, pulling weeds and helping my husband with property projects, I am not able to work on my genealogy 24/7 as I would like.... but as in life, it's quality more than quantity? Well, we will see what next week brings and I'll let you know.
Hope everyone has a nice birthday celebration for America...Happy 4th of July, 2011.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Silvan Marriage LOST & FOUND ~

NOTE: If anyone who reads this blog has problems finding my most recent post (a friend just told me he had the problem) --- Once you open the home page of my blog, scroll down and you will see Blog Archives on the left with dates below it. Just click on the most recent to catch up and go down from there --- or start old and end new. :)
Imagine my frustration and anxiety while writing Manuela's Petals as I (and Vicki) research every avenue in Hawaii trying to find out WHEN her grandparents (Theodora Silvan and John Souza) married so it will fit into my timeline when grandma was in Hawaii, ready to sail to San Francisco. Museums, Historical Societies, Vital Statistics, Census Lists, Church records -- several churches and so many people to no avail... Until finally, a wonderful lady named Carmen in Kapa'a called last night in response to me "you are my last resort letter" to tell me she was Faxing me all she had on record at St. Catherine's for the old St. Sylvester's Church...
Six baptismal records came through and I was only a little disappointed to see they were children of John Souza's brothers (Manuel and Jose). The good news was each baptismal card listed mother, father and Godparents. So, I began to input all the information into my records. Carmen told me they may have had a civil ceremony if they couldn't show their own baptismal records... so no wonder I couldn't find records in a church!
That was the good news. The REALLY GOOD news came when I got to the last one. It was different because it listed John Souza as Godfather but unlike the previous five cards that listed husband and wife Godparents, this one listed the Godmother as one of the sisters in law. I sat there, knowing I was seeing something but not seeing it until the lightning bolt slapped me silly. John Souza wasn't married yet on March 15, 1919. I scrambled into my genealogical file and found his first daughter (Josephine) was born February 4, 1920 --- so I counted backward (I am positive babies took nine months even then :)) I was able to narrow down their marriage date to the 3rd week of March up to the end of April 1919. OMG, I felt light as a feather and shot off an email to Vicki, who has agonized over this information along with me...and will be thrilled! Oh, my investigative expertise amazes me and it's such fun. Like my cousin, Tess, the excitement is in the FINDING...
So, now back to Manuela's Petals and write, write, write...