Back in the dark misty times...

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

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Manuela and 50 grandchildren ~

This weekend, I created a list of all documented, legal grandchildren to Manuela and Bernardo Ruiz and the list dropped off my computer screen until it totaled an even 50. Amazing. Then, I started a GreatGrandchildren list to total 105 children from those 50 grandchildren. I was awestruck, so I began a third list to show her GreatGreatGrandchildren and so far I have 20 but the list will surely grow once I receive responses from my many cousins. Manuela's Petals.

In my child's memory of grandma (abuelita) I remember how amazed I was that she knew all of us by name. As a young child, she watched me and two other cousins, while our mother's worked, so we had special times in our memory bucket. Memories......
*Grandma standing in the bathroom brushing her long hair and wrapping it round and round her head before sticking black bobby pins into the edges to hold it in place.
*Grandma lighting newspaper she'd twisted into a tiny log to dip into the hole on the surface of the big black stove she cooked our food on and kept us warm in the big kitchen.
*Grandma dousing sugar, cinnamon and milk into bowls of white rice.
*Grandma holding the flowers to our nose to smell, then handing it to us with a word, "aqui" (here!)
*Grandma pulling us onto her lap and surrounding us with warm arms and kissing the tops of our heads.
*Grandma mimicking children's songs. Two little blackbirds sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. She heard the song once and repeated, Two little blackbirds sitting in a tree, da-da-da-da-da-da-da..... She couldn't spell so she had no idea what it was but the music and kadence was there and her laughter generated everyone to squeal with their own laughter after hearing her....

But then again, my Abuelita always made me smile to be around her..... and I smiled until she died when she was almost 100 years old. Ofcourse, she thought she was already 100 but seeing her birth documents and knowing she couldn't read them, we now know she was born June 25, 1901, not June 24, 1900 as she always thought and that was her birthday celebration over the years. I also smile at that because it was such a sweet and sad thing to know Abuelita was younger than she imagined...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Genealogical Research ~ Keeping Track

Despite folders in chronological order, keeping MS OneNote updated and all research emails in appropriate folders, it is still very easy to miss information or forget I received it in the first place. I keep tapping myself on the shoulder to remain fixed in my resolve to keep everything in order. Today, I began to list the many family relatives I have found, what they have shared with me and what items many still hope to show me. I was amazed to see the list of distant relatives amassed at seventeen (17) ~ Stunning to realize all my life, these wonderful people were unaware of me and I of them. And more stunning is my new knowledge of family history through them and how it enhances my life.

Yes, I still have people to call and others to find but the roadway along the way makes me smile and I look forward to tomorrow's genealogical adventure!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Agustina Hernandez, lost in plain sight

While writing my grandmother's story from Spain to Hawaii and on to California, I have studied many pieces of information, documents, looked at pictures of people, Spanish villages, churches, flowers and further investigations of newspaper articles, books and personal stories. All of this information has enabled me to write over 160 pages and I felt I was really on a roll to continue.

Until three days ago. I remembered the Orteric ship's manifest not only listed the immigrants and their family members, their sex, whether they could read or write and the relations they left behind and from which village.... but the manifest also included color of eyes, hair and any distinguishing marks, so I pulled out the manifest to look at it again so I could add those important pieces to my aunts, uncles, cousins and overall story. The manifest paper was nearly worn out from studying every name, place and vital statistic. I pulled it aside when I was finished marking down blue eyes or brown and other information when my eyes lit on the name, Agustina Hernandez. It wasn't the first time I'd seen it on that line.

Originally, I knew I'd found the right family since I knew that was my great great grandmother's name. She was the mother of Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez. She was the grandmother of Manuela Marzo Trascasas. And she was my relative too. I stared at the name, knowing I was still missing something.....and then my eyes grew round in stunning awareness. SHE WAS ALIVE WHEN OUR FAMILY LEFT FUENTESAUCO!!! This put an entire new light on their emigration and the story. OMG, they not only left the land of their birth for the unknown, but they left their mother behind. Now I knew why Agustin and Geronimo remained in Spain. Now I knew I had to change my way of thinking and the slant of my story. I am still shaking my head.

It was a man's world so much at that time, so a mother's name would not be listed unless she was their major family member. This knowledge had been staring at me, begging and screaming for me to notice and it took me over eighteen months to see the truth. It has given me a new intense view of their entire undertaking as I put words to this new piece of evidence and bring my great grandmother into their story. Amazing how we notice or overlook such special and important information! And how exciting!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Genealogy Responses from all directions.....

Luck has slipped into the foray. I had responses from two cousins who gave me some missing information. And one request received an email that led me to a wonderful site in Hawaii that may help that uphill climb. There are listings for marriages, births, deaths and divorces and I couldn't believe how many people were named Martin, Souza and Ruiz on the Hawaii vital statistic rolls. Unfortunately, SILVAN is coming up blank. That is stunning to see because we KNOW Silvans were there, some Silvan babies were born, some Silvan babies died and a Silvan married a Souza. Where oh where has the paperwork gone..... oh where oh where can it be? No -- of course I'm not giving up but it sure gets crazy after some hours on the computer. http://hawaii.gov/dags/archives/about-us/genealogy-research-guide/genealogy-research-guide. Go to 'get started' at the bottom of the page and it will open a site where you can check the link to ULUKAU in the second paragraph. It is quite an amazing site.

I may be getting a picture of the trunk that carried Victorino and Ramona Silvan's belongings from Spain to Hawaii and then on to California! What a lovely addition that will be. Lynda E. is the granddaughter of Feliza (aka Alice) Silvan. When their mother, Ramona (aka Romana) Silvan, died Feliza and Theodora (aka Teodora/Dora) both wanted that trunk.....and their brother, Celestino ended up with it. When both sisters died, Lynda inherited it and I HOPE to 'inherit' the picture of it. Until next time --- I may be able to figure out how to post the picture for you.

Cold, ice and fear of blizzard here in VA --- but so far, it's cozy inside by the fire.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Grandpa Francisco Ruiz - A Math Tutor

Oh my. Today was an information-filled day; it pays to whine. I had a surprise call from my Aunt Rita F. with possible contact information for the Ruis (spelled differently than the American Ruiz line) and an email from Janet M., a distant cousin who lives in Oregon!

Janet sent me the Family History Sheet filled in lots of genealogy blanks ~
Her mother was Josephine Ruiz Martin, the older sister to my Grandpa Ben Ruiz. We exchanged pictures, documents and stories. The best was learning that Great Grandpa Frank Ruiz was a math tutor in Spain. Math? Well, the genes stopped there or at least they didn't follow through to my brain. Math was always (and is) my worst subject. If only I had him to help me when I was in school. Oh! There was the language barrier and timeline problem...that would have made that impossible, of course, but knowing that little nut of family history made me smile.

Nope, it doesn't take a lot to get me excited all over again. While looking at the ship's manifest from the SS Wilhelmina from Hawaii to San Francisco for May 8, 1917, I found another name I am trying to decipher and link to our family. Francisca Garcia Castillo and her 5-year old daughter (Ana Maria Garcia) sailed with them, left the same friend in Kilauea, Kauai named Jose Badanado. We do not know how (if) she was related to the Ruiz clan. Every answer seems to generate more questions but that's what I am enjoying so much!
More soon.....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

If only "Beam me up, Scotty" could take me to Hawaii

Hawaii. Palm trees, bananas, Plumeria, Pikake, guava, pineapple, hula dances, green canopies above and aloha. Aloha = Hello and Goodbye. And several islands that hold answers to so many questions about our Spanish and Portuguese families. Especially Kauai.

When I first began this journey backwards, I knew I would walk through many shadows and down unknown avenues. I ached to see into relationships, well past names and pedigree charts. I hoped to hear their voices, walk in their footsteps, live among them and learn their traditions, eat their food, hear their thoughts and speak their language. Over the past two years, many of these wishes have come true. But the time also creaked open more doorways and allowed me to cautiously linger among the corridors of our family archives.

Through email, internet and phone conversations, I have 'met' fingers of family members and smiled, quite excited to know I'd skipped through some of those doors. Equally fun, was knowing these same people were excited to learn about family members they barely knew, or remembered at all. Some names they'd never heard of and adding their names and history to their pedigree trees opened new vistas for them as well.

Now I fight against stone walls and disappointments because it has finally dawned on me that, even though many are excited about the novelty of finding family, the burning desire eludes them that permeates my existence. No promised documents or pictures have arrived for some weeks. Knowing I must walk the dusty road and turn over my own rocks, lift the leaves, clear the paths and open the doors myself is smacking me in the face. But, that's what I began!!

Hawaii. That was Part II of their journey from Spain and Portugal. Sugar plantations littered the islands during their sojourn from the 1900s - 1920s and some family remained afterward. I learned they received bango numbers in lieu of our current social security numbers. I learned each plantation manager listed separate bango numbers; there were no master numbers that followed the workers. I learned to give up trying to follow our family through the plantations with those numbers, so instead --- contacted the archdiocese for the Catholic Church and got stumped there as well. The churches held the documents in those days, birth, baptismal, death and marriage certificates. They could tell the story for us. The historical society, the university, the library, the vital statistics offices and the church all give me different answers. All I want to know is what repository to delve into and where? Which island? Can I concentrate on Kauai, since that is the island most of the Silvans lived on as well as the Souza's, who married into the Silvan family? My head is full of questions and so far the answers are blank.

So, Hawaii calls. Beam me up, Scotty! The dream of Spain calls deeply for Part I, but going to Hawaii must be Part II. For now, maybe it is a dream that may come true but I MUST know where to dig once I get there. I'm hopeful but sometimes the quest dims. Today is just one of those days. But I will persevere. My glass is half full, not half empty and the dream continues.