Today I feel like a true genealogist as I prepare my Manuela's Petals manuscript to breathe the timeline of events in our ancestor's history. The questions started bouncing through my mind and catapulted like a jar being filled with little colored marbles.
In 1911, were the streets of Fuentesauco, Spain made of dirt? Cobbled stones? Was blacktop invented yet? And when they arrived in Seville, Spain did that ancient city stun and awe them? Were the smells of the Guadalquiver River daunting? Were the city dwellers friendly to the ragtag bands of emigrants as they trudged toward the entrances to the ship? Were they cautious and a bit afraid to walk through that door and into the dark confines of a world they couldn't imagine? Did they weep at leaving their homeland and moreso to walk away from loved ones they knew they might never see again? How many wanted to turn around and go home before the ship set sailed?
And the psycological aspects! How many of our ancestors entered into Migration Mourning? There were seven (7) important losses of migration that must be processed... Loss of family and friends, their own language, their own culture, their land, their previous status, contact with the home group that provided their identity and the fear of physical risks. They had intense feelings of homesickness, uprooting, helplessness and fear of poverty.
My research is leading me to the life and times from 1911 through 1920, the years my book takes place. I will weave the mourning process and historical timelines within the pages of my book because I want to go beyond the places, people, ages and pedigree charts.
While our ancestors must have lived through their prolonged and intense stress which was really their mourning for so many parts of their lives, we must look beyond the pictures and documents. Getting to know them as if we are truly looking through their very real windows impels me into my research and each day I find a new dimension.
From 1907 to 1913, 7,702 Andalusians, first from Malaga, later from Gibraltar in six successive trips that included Spanish from the middle and north of the country and Portugal as well... made the trip our ancestors followed.
Many of the men never adapted or acclimated to America and paid the price by being lost all their life. The second generation fared better as they were American citizens upon birth in America. The integration into society for many of the old people was difficult and many fell along the wayside, earning money in the summer and being on welfare in the winter. Those that persevered, those that spoke English and those with the ability to negotiate with a businessman's mind would succeed. Many did not.
The window I want to look through is the one they left behind, not the one they showed others as they tried in vain to belong. I am third generation member of our Silvan and Ruiz family but with the research and interviews plus the pictures and documents I have amassed, I feel as if the first generation will soon be at my fingertips. What a miraculous journey over a very rocky ride!