Back in the dark misty times...

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

Follow Spanish Pearls Blog

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spanish Travel Journal

News!  The travel blog I created as I prepare each step toward leaving for Spain was inadvertently given with wrong link.  The journal is titled TOUCHING SPANISH SOIL but the link is actually

So sorry for leading you all astray..
11 more days...

Abuelita, the fan and family

My grandmother, Manuela Silvan Trascasas (Ruiz) aka abuelita, forever loved all the little children.  Proof in this photo has always touched me gently; in 1977, we visited my abuelita in Vacaville, California.   Abuelita held the little ones on her ample lap and pulled Chrissy into the mix enough to make me fill up with love for all of them.  How often does one find a photo with a grandmother and three children where all the children are looking good and not one looking off into hinterland?  On the far right is my daughter, Christina, who died in 1978 just one year later. The photo has always held a special spot for me; my son will soon be 38 and my baby daughter is 36.  Christina would have turned 43 this year.  And my camera saw abuelita with her arms around all of them....

The beautiful fan was a gift from my good friend, Elsie, who brought it back from Spain just for me --- she knew how important Spain was in my life and I loved it!  The lace on the tips of the fan are frilled, light and well..... lacy.  The fan body looks like it is hand painted with plastic staves.  This fan has decorated my wall as an ornament and well also used as..... a fan.  

Between the loving friends who think of us when they are away from home and the importance of family in the Spanish culture especially, then ---- yes I am truly blessed.  Soon, I suspect I will see more fans, pottery and stonework enough to make an everlasting impression.  And I will meet a family filled with primos (cousins).  Camera battery is charged and so am I.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spanish Tinto de Verano vs. Sangria

Today I learned there is a summer drink served in Spain similar to the much-touted SANGRIA called Tinto de Verano or Tinto Verano.  Curious, I found a recipe and will create this delight before I leave for Spain in a couple of weeks --- just to compare, you understand ~  This concoction is to Sangria as near-beer is to Beer.  Less alcohol.... Guess I may just work my way from this to that soon.....

1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (a cheap tempranillo works great, or any medium bodied red)
2 liters lime flavored seltzer water
2 cups sugar 
4 slices oranges (to garnish) 

1 Fill 16 oz. glass about 1/3 of the way with wine. 
2 Mix in 1 tbsp sugar into wine. 
3 Add a few cubes ice. 
4 Top off with seltzer and mix. Taste. 
5 It may require more sugar, but add it slowly because there's a fine line between bitter and overly sweet when it comes to this drink. Add bit by bit, mixing and tasting as you go, until you have a refreshing summer drink.
6 Garnish with an orange slice.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An American Paella

Researching and tracking Spanish relatives recently brought me to an internet link describing a coffee table book titled, An American Paella by Gloria Lopez.  I contacted the author in Winters and she is delightful and was eager to share the book with me.  I ordered it immediately and today's mail brought this bundle of excitement along with a 2-pack CD that must be the live interviews!

This book explains how Spaniards helped Winters and how Winters helped Spanish immigrants.  I lived in Winters for a short time as a small child with my parents and my brother, Rick and barely remember jumping off my abuelita's lovely, long porch into her flower beds.  I can still hear her Spanish words clicking through my head like knitting needles as she chased me and my cousins out of her flowers!

The Gonzales, Ruiz, Martin and many shirt-tail cousins are listed in this book and it's prepared so beautifully, I heartily recommend it to others.  It is now sitting on my coffee table so I can thumb through it at my leisure...  For now, I am busy packing for my trip to Spain myself!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Looking for Clara Dean Gonzales

I am happy to report that there is another quest in the works.  Alejandro Gonzales lost touch with his 6th child when he and his first wife became estranged.  Lena Gonzales raised her daughter outside the Gonzales family.  With the help of Victoria G., Theresa G., and several cousins, we are definitely on the hunt for this woman's descendants.  We want to grow our family tree and meet and greet everyone who is from our Silvan line.  Smiling at the eagerness and curiosity that seems inherent in our family genes, I say......Anna, you rock!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ruiz research and a genealogist cousin willing to help

I have found another genealogy nut like me! Jeri's mother was a Ruiz and she is a font of information that has given me a list of tidy questions. It pertains to birthdates. Grandpa Ben Ruiz had many siblings from his biological mother and others from his step mother. Trying to piece together birthdates by using a census or ship's manifest is not documentable evidence (I know, author's license with new word there).

Census takers did not always get the names or ages correct. For example, a German census taker listening to a Spanish woman pronounce the names and ages of her family 'sounds' foreign to their ears. Hence, when the r is rolled or the s is pronounced th --- the German would automatically put his/her own connotation and pronounciation on the names and his/her brain would assimilate what he/she hears into his/her own language. So, Ruiz was often spelled RING, RUEY etc. Then, the names of the children were changed to nicknames or Americanized. The lovely little things that make a genealogist's eyes cross and heart speed up is 'finding' a relative whose name is spelled like a German, Russian, Italian etc.. and the clues tell us it is our family!

And ship manifests?  Jeri brought something very important to my attention and it mirrors what my friend, Steven A. has told me during his transcription of the ORTERIC manifest.  Jeri stated that great grandmother Maria Rey Ruiz was listed as pregnant on the second page of the HARPALION manifest but then the word, pregnant, was crossed off.  Steven A. told me the pages were started at Gibraltar but upon arrival, the list was checked as the immigrants deboarded.  Many people either birthed babies on the ship or miscarried on the ship since the manifest differed from one end to the other.  Our question is:  Was bisabuela Maria pregnant and lose the child aboard the ship?  The baby closest to birth after their arrival was Delores (Dee Dee) and she was born about 1914.  If any of the Ruiz sibling's descendants can help us here, please do!!

I am off and running now, filling my Ruiz file for my research trip and with the help of fellow Ruiz family members, like Jeri, I will be smiling every mile of the way.

The Francisco (Frank) Ruiz Family

I must remember while I traipse through the family tree that not everyone has yet learned what I've found over the rock-strewn pathway to where I am today.  A newly-found cousin, Jeri K., whose mother was a Ruiz, enjoyed seeing the complete family photo of the Ruiz clan that I emailed to her a few days ago.  She responded with questions falling over questions wondering who was who and gentle assumptions trying to guess...  As it happens, I was lucky enough to recognize each person in the photo thanks to my Aunt Rose Ruiz Gobert's book, Mama and Dad and their Fifteen Kids.

Forgetting that the information I continue to gather is not in everyone's hands whose family would enjoy knowing these things before my book is published, I have posted a photo of the Ruiz clan and listed each person in the photo for family to note and enjoy.  I belive this photo was taken in the fall of 1918 or early the next year in 1919.   I base my assumption on Connie's age (born July 1917) and my grandfather, Bernardo, standing alone without my grandmother.  They married in October 1919.

Back row (left to right):  Tony Rodriguez with daughter, Antoinette, in his arms.  Mary Ruiz Rodriguez, Miguel Ruiz, Bernardo Ruiz, Juan Ruiz, Diego (Dick) Ruiz, Josefa (Josephine) Ruiz Martin.
Front row (left to right):  Joe Rodriguez, Manuel (Rey) Ruiz, Maria (Mary) Rey Ruiz holding Encarnacion (Connie) Ruiz Vance, Dolores Ruiz Perez, Francisco (Frank) Ruiz and Antonio (Tony) Ruiz. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Philosophizing our Spanish roots

I am currently reading a book by Deborah Harkness and something she wrote seemed to fit our quest to a "T":
With enough concentration one could focus on a single thread and follow it to its source.  I know that apparent simplicity masks the knots of possibility that ties an unimaginable number of pasts to a million presents and untold potential futures.

This bit of significant wisdom assures me we are on the right road and reminds me again why I started this quest to help me and others in my family tree ---- near and far ---- to find our common link and find the answer to our questions.

Who were they?  What were they like?  What were their lives like?  How many of our generation mimic the genes, personalities, character and talents of the ones from long ago?  What were their talents and how many of us received those specific genes?

Recently, Bobbie F., a Silvan/Gonzales descendent told me she loves to sing.... and sang a solo in church a couple Sundays ago in honor of her mother's (Hazel Robinson Gonzales) birthday.  Bobbie started playing violin late in life.  It is never too late!!  She asked how many others in my family had musical talent? Her question hit a high note (pun intended :)) 

I responded that I played with piano lessons but the talent really wasn't there.  My brother (Richard) writes music, sings and plays the guitar and the piano.  My brother (Steven) plays a mean harmonica and drums....and plays Spanish CDs to his heart's delight.  I, on the other hand, trying to set up a musical trio one Christmas years ago --- decided I'd practice on "Bo Jangles" so Richard could play the guitar and Steven could play the harmonica or drums beside me....  At the end of 10 months' practice, my "Bo Jangles" almost sounded like the tune, but never measured up... so truthfully my love of music is listening and I do that with my heart and soul as often as possible.  It was our great grandfather (Juan Francisco Silvan Hernandez) who played the drum, el bombo, and brought it from Spain across the ocean to entertain, entertain, entertain.  Then there was his daughter (my abuelita) who played music with spoons, castenets (see photo) and danced la jota.  And then there was her son (my natural father) who taught himself to play the accordian and guitar.  Yes, music is definitely in our veins.  Thank you, Bobbie, for tweaking my thoughts on genes, music and family through that simple question.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Winters and Almogia, Sister Cities

As I continue to gather my notes and files together for my upcoming trip to Spain, I allowed my mind to trickle over some of the past 'hunting and gathering' and my head stumbled on the thought about the Sister City Program in Winters, California.  What happened to it?  What does a Sister City Program entail?  Who is taking care of this now since Michael S Ruiz died in 2006?

I contacted the Winters Chamber of Commerce and received the following communication:

     I remember Mike very well.  I am the Youth Day Parade Chairman as well and Mike came through the parade with the Almogia flag draped over the car. We had several conversations about the Sister City Program when it was new. You would have to contact City Manager John Donlevy at City Hall (795-4910) to see if the program is still active.  I don't believe it is any more.  I had the Almogia flag at one time, but turned it back in to City Hall many years ago.  It would be a nice thing to keep going since there are so many Winters descendants from there.
Winters Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Center

He was correct.  Today, I spoke with Mr. Donlevy, who kindly told me that my timing was great because he and some staff members had recently gone through some storage areas at the City Hall and found the certificate for the program.  He agreed to scan and email it to me.  Of course, I would like the original but the subject did not come up and I will be content with a copy...

And the Almogia flag?  Mr. Donlevy does not remember seeing that but he graciously offered to look for it after I told him I would soon be in Almogia and it was very important to me to either open the program again in Winters or discuss (with my brother doing the Spanish vocals of course) with the Mayor of Almogia the attributes of the program there.

It would be a shame that this program died with my biological father when he worked so hard to arrange it and placed such importance on the Almogia group of men who came to America in the early 1990s to be part of his dream. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

SEEING clues to Rosa Romero Ruiz

How many times do we work on a project and get interrupted or set it aside for various reasons? How many times do we pull it out only to find clues to family history we'd overlooked before or been in too much of a hurry to SEE it when we look at it? In the past few years as I've been working on genealogy, this has happened and epiphanies shock me silly.

Audrie helped me SEE the name of the ship (Orteric) that our ancestors left Spain on (Silvan family). I'd looked at the document several times without seeing all the clues!

This brings me to today --- as this has happened many times during this family historical quest. I knew I'd better gather all the RUIZ family notes since half of my research in Spain would include my Abuelo/Grandpa Ben Ruiz's family. There are so many holes in that history and one of the big ones is finding his biological mother who died when he was 6 years old. Rosa Romero. I know her father's name was Miguel Romero Fernandez. It's been over a year since I received Grandpa Ben's Spanish birth certificate and I've looked it over, translating it many times. The script was very difficult to read which added to the discomfort of deciphering Spanish words as well.

TODAY I GOT SERIOUS! And found clues that knocked my socks off so to speak ~
The certificate lists BERNARDO RUIZ ROMERO clearly. And the names of her parents, Francisco Ruiz Romero and Rosa Romero Ruiz. It listed them from Malaga even though I'm sure this should have been Campanillas or Almogia but it is Malaga as the major province where his certificate was documented...

Paternal Grandparents: Juan Ruiz Vallejo and Maria Garcia Garcia. I grew frustrated because I couldn't read the name of the village they both hailed from .... only that it was a village in the provincia of Malaga. As a final resort, I sent a copy of the document to a friend who has helped me in the past and he had no problem~ They are from the village of BENAGALBON, which is east of Malaga about 12 km. This is about 7.5 miles and the the wonder of it all? This village is very close to my friend's ancestors from Chilches. So, I must add both these villages to my itinerary!

Maternal Grandparents: Miguel Romero Fernandez and Maria (can't read last name). Now I know where their village was: ALORA. This is the same village as Grandpa Ben's stepmother's family and the whitewashed village is beautiful. Cousin Janet Ruiz Martin visited a few months ago and sent photos. Now, maybe I will be able to find the elusive Rosa Romero and her family there? Despite the blurry last name, if the church records list Rosa's birth and/or baptism I will hit gold once again.
THIS IS TODAY'S POSTING IN - which will be my travel journal while in Spain... I'm in countdown mode toward next month's lift off.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Spanish Journal

As I get closer to my research trip to Spain, I have created what will become my daily journal while on Spanish September 2012.   This is an additional blog journal, not a replacement for Spanish Pearls.

New blog can be found at http:://
Please join me so you can travel through Spain vicariously through my wanderings along with my brother, Steven (Esteban and Patiana are ready to roll.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manuela's Footsteps vs. Manuela's Petals

My bags are half-packed with my passport, iPad, notes and pedigree charts.  My airplane ticket is finally clarified (Delta and Air France BOTH had me on a plane leaving Spain at the same time....).  My mind is awhirl (as usual when it's regarding genealogy and all the contacts I've found) and it occured to me that the title I have been using in my drafting-mind is not going to fit the story that I am preparing about my abuelita's story.

It is truly about her and her family and their hard times, family-oriented travel and their trek from Spain.  The new title, MANUELA'S FOOTSTEPS is far more appropriate since the story I am telling is technically just that --- following her footsteps along with her brothers, aunt, uncles, parents and many cousins as she left behind the world she knew, her uncles, more cousins and beloved grandmother, Agustina Hernandez.

Once I began research for my book, I became enthralled with the Spanish part of my lineage and proposed to write a second book outlining the SILVAN family and about the RUIZ family.  In the course of my research, I have met so many 'cousins' who have shown an extraordinary willingness to share the history of their ancestors with me and in so doing, the books will be bulging with documents, stories and photographs for the biographies of the Silvans who came after Manuela's Footsteps ~

NOTE: Thanks to Bobbie F., I found that her father, Juan Hernandez Gonzales, had a saint's name of ZENON and it was pronounced "thay-known".  Many Spanish children were named after saints, especially if they were born on a particular saint's day. I found that very interesting and this is the type of information that will help me create a full-bodied book about our family.  So, SILVAN LEAVES will be the biographies of the Spanish-born and later the Hawaiian-born and American-born descendants.

As I add notes and jot down more questions to my pack, I am happy to add that I have an appointment with a genealogist in Seville, Spain the second week of September.  There, Fernando Hidalgo Lerdo de Tejada, has agreed to help me and my brother (Steven) find more pieces to the puzzle.  Our family left clues everywhere and when I pay attention, I can piece it together.  I want the knotted threads of their secrets to loosen, as I read recently.... and it made perfect sense to the road we have followed so far...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My newly-found Gonzales cousins

The July 14th Gonzales Reunion generated wonderful new contacts and two more Gonzales family members joined the clan:  Kristy and Anna.
How many people take their family for granted in that they have always been there, they've always felt they belonged, they always knew their family members and had photos from the time they were small that included all their relatives?  I know I do.  There were many times growing up that I wished I lived closer to my Spanish relatives in Woodland and Winters, but I lived in Oregon with my mother and stepfather, who was the dad of my heart.  I was lucky that my mother chose so well after her divorce from the Spanish part of my heritage when I was so young.  But happily for me and my brothers, mom and dad always made sure were were part of the Silvan/Ruiz family on our annual vacations to Woodland.  I had the best of both worlds.

For others, their stories join the many who did not have the rememories that I did (yes I made up that word.... author's license, thank you).    The thoughts that run through a child's mind when they are the last child of the last wife before their father dies does strange things to their psyche.  The questions abound, cross over, run through and seep into their confidence and they feel a hole that they crave to fill.  Anna's trip to Winters on July 14th, where she met the living siblings of her father, Alejandro (Red) Gonzales, began to fill in those holes.  Yes, they welcomed her.  Yes, they were delighted to meet her.  Yes, they wanted to be part of her life.  Yes, yes and yes again. 

I am most anxious to meet Kristy and plan to work toward that goal as well as finding Judy C.

Two other Gonzales siblings have connected with me and to my delight, were anxious to share their rememories of their father, John Gonzales, with me.  Bobbie F. has photos and documents and I am most anxious to see them and speak with her again soon.  John G., her brother, wondered where I came from?  (smiled at that).  How great that their half sister, Kristy, sought them out and I wonder if she lived and breathed the same feelings as Anna did, wondering if she'd be accepted into the Gonzales clan?  YES, yes and yes again.

I FOUND A GENEALOGIST IN SPAIN whom my brother, Steven, and I will meet with a few days after we arrive in Spain.  Fernando is based in Seville and our Silvan ancestors boarded their first boat on the pier on the Guadalquivir River in February 1911, floated down the river toward La Linea and later boarded the SS Orteric, the ship that sailed them to Hawaii.  Fernando --- I hope he can help us add the pieces to the puzzle as I continue to flesh out my book, MANUELA'S PETALS.  I am giddy with excitement for my trip to Spain and look forward to sharing it with all my family in a daily blog (based on WiFi availability of course).  For now, I am blessed with more family!!