Back in the dark misty times...

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

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Málaga Connection

This is a study in ancient Spanish soldiers and spiritual impressions.  The group is in a large alcove near the back of the church in the great cathedral of Málaga, Spain in the Costa del Sol.  While in Spain, my brother, Steven, marched me to the scene because he was stunned to see the remarkable resemblance between this soldier in the close-up photo and his own face.  The Spanish connection appears strong, even though we are but half Spanish, he felt the pull this statue invoked so I wanted to honor his feelings on a posting all its own.
For without Steven and his Spanish-speaking ability for translation and discussion and his friendships with the Spanish families in the southern part of Spain, my journey would never have been the experience I will always remember with smiles and gratitude.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Celestino Pedro SILVAN Dosales ~ new information

It was with great excitement that I received information today with confirmation of my 2nd grandfather's birth year = 1822.  With the help of a genealogist in Seville, whom my brother and I met during our recent visit to Spain, I will soon have further documentation clarifying more family history.

When my great Aunt Crescencia Silvan Hernandez Gonzales was born in 1884 --- her father was listed as 62 years old!  And there was one more child, Agustin, who was born three years later.  Now with this window into the past I will soon have papers in front of me --- Our 2nd grandmother must have been much younger than her husband since she was still within child-bearing age.

The puzzle pieces continue to grow --- and with so many wonderful research helpers assisting me, those same puzzle pieces are fitting into the big picture!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The house of abuelo (grandpa) Bernardo Ruiz

While in Spain last month, Steven and I asked our cousin, Juani Ruiz, if he knew where our grandfather was born.  We'd been told he was born at home, like so many other babies in those days.  Pepe Garcia told us grandpa had been born in a house in an area called Arroyo de los Olivas, which we knew was near Almogia.  Juani shook his head negatively and told us no, it was nearer to Los Nunez, where he lives currently and where la Casa Ronda is located, our first father's house across the little valley from him.

This was the day before we left Spain and we were disappointed we couldn't follow this clue!  However, with the kind and eager help of Juani's daughter, our cousin ~ Angela, we now have a photo of the house grandpa Ben was born in ~  Angela reminded me the house had been renovated (perhaps several times since the 1900s, obviously).  AND, the house is located between Los Nunez and Almogia.  So, the location is not necessarily cleared up to pinpoint it for an address but we are so happy to know more of grandpa's past!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

SS ORTERIC, the immigrant ship 1911

When I first began my Spanish family genealogical quest, I did not know where to begin; I floundered, feeling very alone and lost until I encountered a Genealogy Class in Williamsburg, Virginia --- From then on, I had my lights on ~

Some of my heaviest questions were how did they get to America?  Why did they leave?  Did they come alone or with other family members?  We were given lists of genealogy sites that were free, others we had to pay to join.  I was amazed at the amount of information just waiting to be plucked from the internet!  I learned about and maneuvered around the site until one day I was astounded to find immigration ship manifests.  After striking out several times, I typed in Trascasas instead of Silvan and my abuelita's name popped up.  From there, it is history (literally) as I followed the manifest to other families and then eventually found my Ruiz family on the SS HARPALION.

I did not want others to feelalone when they began their family quests, so I decided to begin transcribing the names and vital statistics from the SS ORTERIC onto a document that would allow other Orteric descendants to find their families.  It was a daunting task and my own research and writing got in the way off and on for months --- until a stranger, also an Orteric descendant wanted to try his hand at transcribing with me.  He has managed to add many, many names and now has the help of a genealogist who found me through my website.  With Steven A.'s hours of hard work and Cristobal N.'s invaluable help, we have managed to go page by page through the manifest and decided to share our findings on a public document.

I  cannot simplify the website to two words as this blogger site won't allow me to shorten for ease in access. Click on the link below to access the Google document.

IF YOU FIND ERRORS about your family, please send an email to request the changes to us at:

Maybe one day the HARPALION and others may be transcribed... If they are now, I am unaware of it.  Another author has created a transcription for the HELIOPOLIS in google docs and it is very detailed.

This is an exciting project and there are hours and hours involved in its creation.  There never seems to be enough THANK YOUs but I keep trying to find them ~

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spanish journey memories

Gathering photos to create a memory collage for my gallery is too difficult when there could never be a collage large enough to encompass the memories.  At the top left, is Zamora, Fuentesauco and the street and sign where the Silvan Hernandez family lived.  Standing in Seville at the Plaza de España with the miraculous colored tiles everywhere, then Almogia --- more tiles, the Calle Winters sign and Gibraltar -- the rock straining against a skyline that so many Spaniards remember as their last sight of home.   And Toro!  The village of a long line of Trascasas where we found elegant wines, a view of forever and a man in the juzgado who pulled out ancient books to look up our family names.  Then, Avila where Steven tried to climb the castle wall and the food and sangria in all the villages and big cities... Garbanzo bean soup, bonito (tuna, roasted red peppers on bread) and more.  Seeing la casa ronda in Los Nuñez, standing on the terrace and feeling the dream...Seeing Benagalbon where the Ruiz family lived, going to Alora where our ancestors were born and lived before being buried on the hill at the castle.  And Steven introducing me to Spanish olives, boquerones and the church where Picasso (Ruiz) was baptized in Malaga.  And the cathedral in Malaga where Steven introduced me to a long-ago soldier with his face (bottom photo).  And meeting Ruiz cousins in several villages who fed us, hugged us and made us feel at home.   Then, Nerja, Torremolinos and Marbella where the Mediterranean's siren song still calls...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another ancestral village -- Villamor de los Escuderos

The same day we left Villaescusa behind, we followed the map back toward Fuentesaúco and the road beyond to the west.  Six miles from Fuentesaúco  we found the village that was small, poor and a little decrepit but welcoming nevertheless.   We saw some stone and cement buildings that were very small, very old and falling down around themselves.  And so many 'se vende' (for sale) signs above the doors and windows as we drove slowly through the town.  It was obvious the unemployment disaster made its mark in this village and we could feel the heaviness around those pathetic signs.

We were intrigued by a half-cement wall painted with pictures and words that told us it was a town filled with young people though and that made us smile. 

The church steeple could be seen from the main road so Steven guided the car toward the spire and an old stone church rose above us.   

The population was 469 last year, so it wasn't surprising to learn there was only one church and cemetery in the village.
The stones were golden colored and were obviously very old like so many others we had seen.  Close behind the church sat the cemetery…and another locked gate.  Shaking it a bit, I was happy to see it rattled open for us… Steven followed, shaking his head as I’d burst through another gate.

Our goal was to find a gravestone for Miguel Hernández Hernández, the father of Agustina Hernández Martin, mother to Victorino, Juan Francisco (our abuelo) and Cristencia --- the Silvan immigrant families who later became Souza, Medeiros and Gonzales.  

We knew Agustina had been born in this village so it seemed logical her parents were undoubtedly buried somewhere in the soil that spread around us in every direction.  Walking through the graveyard gave us a prickle family but we found no family stones within the old stone walls.  They were either too poor or the etchings dissolved over time.  We had a few spiritual moments, took some photos and prepared for the main village --- Fuentesaúco, where the Silvan family began their journey to Hawaii.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A RUIZ connection from Spain

Today is a big banner day in my genealogy quest -- a MAJOR breakthrough thanks to my genealogist contact in Malaga, Spain:  MARIA REY GARCIA was my grandfather's stepmother.  She was well-loved and they spent a loving life together into their later years.  We did not know anything about her family, her first husband or the life she led before marrying my great grandfather, a widower, FRANCISCO RUIZ GARCIA.

Today, the story lights up.  We now have, with the help of Cristobal N., a family tree for Maria and I will post it here for the Ruiz family whose bloodlines stem from Maria Rey Garcia and Francisco Ruiz Garcia.  (two separate Garcia families)

Diego Rey Palomo

Born in 1834 in Colmenar (Málaga)
He died on Monday, July 8, 1878 in Colmenar (Málaga), 44 years
Cause of death: Brain fever
Gender Male
He was the brother number 2 of 3 brothers

His father, Diego REY Perez * 1805 +1870
His mother, María PALOMO Fernandez * 1810 +1870

Older Brother: Alonso Rey Palomo * 1832 +1902
Younger Brother: Pedro Rey Palomo * 1845 +1911

Spouse: Maria Garcia Naranjo = 1860 * 1840
Civil Marriage Date: 1860
Civil Marriage Location: Colmenar (Málaga)

Maria Garcia Naranjo

Born 1840 in Colmenar (Málaga)
Gender Female
She is the sister number 7 of 8 children
Her father, Gaspar GARCIA Matías * 1795 +1870
Her mother, Maria NARANJO Quintana * 1800 +1870

Older Brother: Antonio Garcia Naranjo * 1835 +1900
Younger Brother: Cristobal Garcia Naranjo * 1845 +1900

Spouse: Diego REY Palomo = 1860 * 1834 +1878
Civil Marriage Date: 1860
Civil Marriage Location: Colmenar (Málaga)

Diego Rey Garcia * 1861
Maria Rey Garcia * 1863 - Our current records indicated birth year as 1871*  
Isabel Rey Garcia * 1865

*I believe the above information clarifies her age was two years younger than grandpa, not ten.
Maybe we may learn something about Maria's first husband, Senor Morales...Yes, I am now GREEDY.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ancestral churches in Toro, plus more

As a follow up to my previous posting about Toro -- where the Trascasas and Marzo families lived, I wanted to post a street grid to show the churches and where our family lived.  This street grid (plano) was recently emailed to me from the tourist office in Toro and it's been a 'walk in their shoes' looking for the churches listed in the marriage document for Manuel Trascasas Alonso and Manuela Marzo Garcia as well as the birth document for their daughter, Jacinta Modesta (sister to Eustoquia Rita Trascasas Marzo, my bisabuela/great grandmother).

1.  Iglesia de Santo Tomas Cantuariense is located at #4 on the map.  This is where Manuela Trascasas and Manuela Marzo were married.

2.  Iglesia de San Sebastian de los Caballeros is located at #8 on the map.  This is where Manuela Marzo Garcia worshiped based on the marriage document.

3.  The home of Manuela's parents,  Gregorio Marzo and Teresa Garcia, lived on Calle San Juan.  You will see that street just to the left of #20 on the map.

4.  The home of Manuel Trascasas and Manuela Marzo was situated on Calle Oliveras.  You will find that street just below the #1.

While Steven and I walked through the many winding and interesting streets in Toro, we remember the Calle Doctor Oliveras well.  It was situated near the juzgado  where we met with the registrar -- and who sent the documents to me to find when I returned from our journey in Spain.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Genealogy helpers along the way

For someone who loves words like I do, one would think I would never be at a loss for those words but...

During my genealogy journey, I have met several strangers, eager to help me and I want to express my deep appreciation for their diligence and say how happy I am that our paths have crossed.

Steven A. -- whose valued expertise in translating documents, rooting out clues I have missed and being my cohort in establishing a document that will eventually show the SS Orteric passengers who traveled with our families --- in an orderly and organized Google document for others to read.  He has spent hours helping me decipher those old Spanish documents and lucky for me, he enjoys it like I do ~

Fernando H. -- a genealogist we met with in Seville, who has guided me toward the research that will help with the historical facts in my book, Manuela's Footsteps.  He suggested I look at navigation historical books written by Nicolas Salas, a Spanish author, for in depth information about the waterways in 1911, the cost of tickets, where the boats sailed, the pier they boarded the ship on the Guadalquivir River and more.

Nicolas Salas --  With my inability to read Spanish without the help of a trusty translation program (that is often crazy), I knew I'd hit a brick wall.  However, my genealogical journey has often slammed me against brick walls so I did what I usually do:  I scaled the wall and found the author's web site, wrote to the man and he responded!  He has written me several times and sent me valuable information and photos of historical events to add to my cache of research.  The most recent email he sent to me was inviting me to Seville to enjoy the celebration of the city naming a street in Seville after him.  I wish!

Cristobal N. -- This man found me through my website, where he noticed I am working on the SS Orteric manifest that I mentioned above.  During our correspondence (thanks again to the translation program!) he offered to help me with genealogical questions for the Ruiz family because he specializes in genealogical detail in Andalucia.  He also gave me a little lesson on the "s" being pronounced as a "z" and shortened words (etc.) that I found while in Spain with my brother.   He hopes to find detailed information for our ancestors in Benagalbon and Alora.

Isabel C. -- A charming woman at the tourist office in Toro, Spain has responded to several of my email requests and today I received a detailed map of the town in color clearly showing our Silvan ancestor's churches and streets where they lived.  Santo Tomas and Santo San Sebastian churches are well marked and to think we could have walked along those cobblestone streets during our walkabouts but did not realize we were so close... but I'm delighted to have this much.  I will include the map in my book, Silvan Leaves.

And not to forget my cousins in Spain, whom I have met recently.  Angela R F hopes to help me find the house where Grandpa Bernardo Ruiz Romero was born (a photo?) and there was a puzzle piece she is helping me find:  Her great grandfather was Bernardo's brother!  What?  We have Juan, Miguel and Diego born in Spain.  Is this a new brother we haven't learned of?  Or....?  I am most anxious for the results of her findings.

There are so many who have helped so much.  This is another Thank You to add to my many before.  I can't say it enough and since I am obsessed with finding our family and noting it all down --- I will say it again.
Muchas gracias a ustedes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Villaescusa, a Silvan/Martin village and a poem

Villaescusa, Province of Zamora, España
Wikipedia defines Villaescusa as a town of Spain, in the province of Zamora, in the community of Castile and Leon with a population of 321 inhabitants.  

This was definitely one of the tiniest ancestral villages we visited, just a few miles from Fuentesauco.  From this village, came Angel Silvan Martin who married Maria Alejo Dosales, the father of Celestino Pedro Silvan Alejo, my second (great) grandfather (bisabuelo) and Margarita Martin Rodriguez, the mother of Agustina Hernandez Martin, my second (great) grandmother (bisabuela).   It is my theory that the Martin and Alejo families from this village were also ancestors to the Martin cousins in California; This link will be discussed at length in my book, Silvan Leaves, which I hope to publish later this year.  

The road into Villaescusa, initially lined with beautiful houses, led us into quickly narrowing streets into the main part of the village where everything changed.   Houses were older, smaller on twisting streets that went in several directions.  We saw a woman in a flowered dress hanging laundry above us from a beautiful balcony nearby with dogs barking from the street below.    

Slowing a bit, we found a few old gentlemen sitting in the small Plaza Mayor before the Ayuntamiento with flags gently blowing in the warming breeze above them.  We counted nine men, sitting in chairs, some near small round tables, all gazing at us with undisguised interest.  We assuredly gave them food for later conversations.  

The ancient church stood in its own little space, stone houses all around in the crux of avenues that intersected before us.  The church was graceful, built with stone bricks in the front and cemented smaller stones at the back end.  We saw the arched, worn-wood doors and commented on the tall pointed top with a stork’s nest and bell tower we'd become so used to marveling at in prior cities.  The church was closed… 

Where was the cemetery? By then, we knew cemeteries were either attached or very near the village churches.  To prove it, we slipped behind the church to follow a solitary road that appeared to run into farmland.  And there it was.   The first view brought the spring of tears behind my eyes.  Five generations from my first father’s birth started there and some ended.  The setting was pastoral and quiet.  

Steven drove slowly through the gate after I unlocked it; I walked up the slight inclining road toward the gated cemetery beside what appeared to be a second church.  It was a peaceful place.   That gate was a bit harder to open but I shook it hard and bam!  It opened with a clang, one side a bit disjointed and I stepped through.  Steven cocked his head at me, laughed quietly and followed me inside.

We saw standing headstones stretched in loosely-structured rows though some were old and weathered, spotted white, their etching long smoothed away; some leaned and some had fallen altogether with their age.  There were graves marked with hard stones, backed with bricks, while steel railings bordered others.  We walked the length and breadth of the small cemetery looking for the names of Silvan, Martin, Alejo, Dosales and Rodriguez.  Nothing.  However, they were there;  They touched me as I slipped through the narrow openings.  I knew they were there.

Leaving quietly after jamming the lopsided gate’s bar back into place, we felt the family’s aura around us as we stepped away and found the huge, ancient tree with its limbs chopped off to read the framed sign held firm to its trunk. (see September 24 blog)  Steven read its poetic Spanish words aloud; emotion overwhelmed us, sweeter than my words can describe.  Sadly, the photo is unclear --- I’d hoped to re-read it again but it was not to be.

Despite Villaescusa being the smallest village we’d explored so far, we could barely find our way out of it afterward.  Such small, twisting and dead end streets!  First you are in the village, next on a dirt road driving without an exit.  Its cluster of houses appeared like a mirage; one could almost imagine the wavering edges, blurry and hidden as we nosed our car through its strangely laid grid of streets.   

And then we were suddenly on the road toward Villamor de los Escuderos for our next adventure.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Álora, the pueblo blanco

Wikipedia defined Álora as a municipality in southern Spain which is part of the province of Malaga (Andalusia). Located near Malaga on the right bank of the river Guadalhorce. It is a typical pueblo blanco, a whitewashed village nestled between three rocky spurs topped by the ruins of the castle. 
 Driving toward Álora while in Spain, Steven and I marveled at the panoramic view miles before we saw the first sign pointing the way toward this ancestral village.  Knowing our great grandmother, Rosa Romero Ruiz and her parents, Miguel Romero Fernandez and Maria Ruiz Ruiz began their lives here, we made a wrong turn and ended up traveling along a goat trail before we realized we no longer saw the white village in view.   It was quite a fete to find a place wide enough to turn around when the farming hills and stone walkways rose to meet us.  Then, we met the goats when we backtracked!  Hundreds of them ~

The village was indeed white.  
It was also indeed quite complicated to maneuver in since it was another Arabic village, twisting and quite narrow streets that fed outward like a wheel from the congested plaza in the center of the town. 
Our first stop was the tourist office.   This tiled sign is attached to all government buildings.  When I saw it beside the door of the tourist office, I mistook it for the actual Ayuntamiento... Steven explained this phenomena to me and afterwards, I found the signs multiple times through the villages.
Armed with my family tree and questions, a woman was eager to help but no answers were found other than the castle, grave history and a promise to possibly find information based on the dates I produced for her.

My paperwork/history showed Rosa’s name, her parent’s names, her approximate date of birth and death along with my step-grandmother’s name, Maria Carmen REY de Cordoba.  My theory is the women knew one another.  A widower with four children when Grandma Rosa died, Grandpa Frank Ruiz married Maria, who had also lost her spouse.  The family story states they were neighbors in Álora but I do not have documented evidence of that fact.  Maria had one child that we know of, Isobel Fernandez.  With the “Fernandez” name, she may have been distantly related to Grandma Rosa since her father’s name was also Fernandez.  This is conjecture only.

Where is the cemetery?  We want to find gravestones of our ancestors.  Alas!  No cemetery, per se, exists in Álora.  In the old days, all burials were at the top of the hill inside the old castle walls.  Bodies were cremated due to lack of space and gravestone plaques were placed at the site only if a family purchased and delivered the plaque for the grave site.  Disappointed, we trudged on.  There was a castle to visit and photos to take…  However, after following castle signs that led us to the central plaza for the fourth time, we chose to snap photos from afar, knowing they were undoubtedly ‘up there somewhere.’ 

During the various trips in and out of the village streets, we saw people everywhere, especially around the plaza; fresh chickens were hauled by a man pushing his cart gingerly down the street in front of us, a large truck barely scraped by us in narrow openings beside us, children played among the adults too close to the car for comfort.  We saw beautiful metal at windows of white houses along our route.  There were roll-down shutters on the windows and Queen Palm trees shouldered close along the neighborhoods.  The narrow streets jutted into one another as we chicken-necked our way in and around tiny cars parked here and there.  Overall, the village appeared quaint, clean, interesting and welcomed us with open arms --- all except the route up to that castle!

Since my return, I have written to the juzgado (court house) in the hope that an antique book might have a page with the Romero Fernandez information.  
Until then, we will move on to the next village of Benagalbón Spain in my next post.