Back in the dark misty times...

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

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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.