Back in the dark misty times...

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

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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!