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

Fuentesauco
- 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.