Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part V

Published Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

Life with Otilia Pacheco Arroyo

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far about my grandfather, Florencio, in the previous four segments.

Part I: He was the son of Manuel Alejo Rivera and María Dominga Maldonado. He had six siblings, although at least three of them died while Florencio was still a boy. His mother died when he was only ten years old, but Florencio was 27 and already married to his first wife, Felícita, when his father died.

Part II: Florencio Rivera and Felícita Madera Medina were married on March 10, 1897 when she was 17 and he was 24. Their first son, Nicolás, died on Nov. 19, 1900. Their second son, Andrés, was born on Nov. 20, 1899. Felícita died on March 20, 1901 at the young age of 23, and the fate of Andrés is unknown but it is presumed that he died as a child.

Part III: Florencio met my grandmother, Ana Cruz García, and she gave birth to a child, Matilde on January 27, 1907, but sadly, the little girl died on Sept. 23, 1908. Their second child, Adela, was by then two months old. They went on to have Óscar (my father), María, Sinforiano, Elena, and Anita. A week after Anita’s birth, Ana Cruz García passed away.

Part IV: By his 30th birthday, Florencio had suffered the loss of up to eight people in his family, including a young wife and toddler son. Part IV tells about Ana and her life with Florencio, plus how she died from a fever in August of 1916. Now Florencio was once again a widower, left with six children. Shortly afterwards, Otilia Pacheco Arroyo came to live with him. He was 44 and she was not yet 19. It should be clarified that Otilia was not the woman that the gossiping neighbor told Ana that Flor had been flirting with.

Otilia was well known to Flor’s children, having often been at the home helping out as a nanny of sorts, and undoubtedly had affection for the motherless crew. In those days, poverty played a big part in life decisions, but over the years up until Florencio’s death, Otilia was a loving and devoted partner for him. She soon began adding children to the family, starting with Vicente Neri (Sept. 11, 1917—Dec. 27, 1972) and Isidro (May 13, 1919—Dec. 28, 2014).

carmen-lydia-death-recordMy father’s memories, transcribed from a recording I made of him telling the story of his youth, are this: Florencio worked as a caretaker of a farm in Peñuelas for many years and was replaced in that job by his daughter Elena’s godfather. He then went to live on a half-acre owned by Juan José Pacheco (Otilia’s father). He made a house there, but bad times came, and he sold the house together with the land for $100. It was around 1919 or 1920. Somehow, during the move, the $100 got lost and they never found out what happened to it. They moved to Tibes, to a house which cost $35, and he worked in the sugar cane fields. From there they moved to Loma Bonita in Ponce. Two more children were born—Angélica (Sept. 27, 1928—Feb. 29, 2016) and Delia (b. May 19, 1934), but in between there were stillborn twins, a boy and a girl. Two other little girls were born and died young: Carmen Lydia (Sept. 10, 1936—Dec. 5, 1937) and Aurea Esther (Mar. 1, 1939—Aug. 20, 1941). I recently located the death record for Carmen Lydia, shown at right.

Florencio died on June 22, 1941, just two months before Otilia lost her last baby.

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Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part IV

Published Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Life with Ana Cruz García

By his 30th birthday, my grandfather, Florencio Rivera, had endured the deaths of up to eight people that were close to him, including a young wife and a toddler son. In the last blog, I revealed that his second wife, my grandmother, Ana Cruz García, had a baby girl named Matilde, born on January 27, 1907. Presumably, Florencio was the father, but since they were not married, Matilde’s death record only says that Matilde was Ana’s illegitimate child. Sadly, the baby died on September 23, 1908, just two months after the birth of her baby sister, Adela. Florencio and Ana’s surviving children were as follows: Adela (1908-1976), Óscar (1910-1995), María (1912-2009), Sinforiano (1913-1986), Elena (1913-1999), and Anita (1916-1998). (more…)

Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part III

Published Friday, February 12th, 2016

Our Mystery Man Part I established Florencio’s parentage and speculated on the reason he had told his children that he had been orphaned as a child. Part II exposed all of the suffering that Florencio experienced before his 30th birthday: the deaths of up to eight people that were close to him, including a young wife and a toddler son. We ended with the question of whether all this tragedy had hardened Florencio’s heart or had created in him a strength that helped him endure the other hardships that came his way later on in life. The answers may never be fully known, and speculation varies depending on who remembers what about Florencio. (more…)

Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera – Part II

Published Saturday, December 5th, 2015

In the last article, I explained how I solved the mystery of who Florencio’s parents were, and questioned the possible reasons why my grandfather portrayed himself to his children as having been an orphaned child raised by an aunt and uncle. His mother, María Dominga Maldonado Rivera, did die when Florencio was only ten years old, but his father, Manuel Alejo Rivera Maldonado, died on Dec. 7, 1899.  Florencio was 27 years old by then, married to Felícita Madera Medina, and himself already a father.  I suggested that perhaps Florencio meant that he was left huérfano de madre (motherless) at a young age.  Although unable to prove anything at this point, I can only conjecture that after his wife’s death, Florencio’s father had his hands full with several children and his farm, so he sent Florencio to live with an aunt and uncle. (more…)

Welcome to Our New Website

Published Friday, October 16th, 2015

Our previous website was long overdue for a makeover!  And so here it is!  We hope you like it.  The website has been trimmed down to remove redundant information and information that we felt was no longer needed, used or wanted.  However, if we removed something that you especially enjoyed having access to, please use our contact form and let us know.  Your comments are important to us.

In case you missed the announcement about the Newsletter

June 2016 will be the last issue of the newsletter since no one responded to the question in the August 2015 issue whether there was interest in continuing it. It was an unfortunate affirmation of our suspicion that readership had fallen off.

Through tremendous effort and dedication by Norma (Garcia) Pettit, the newsletter has been published 6 times a year for the last 20 years!

Moving forward, beginning June 2016 our plan is to  publish articles about the family’s history and accomplishments and other news on this website.  Interested family members and friends can get notified when an article is published by signing up at the bottom of any article.


Our Mystery Man: Florencio Rivera

Published Friday, October 16th, 2015

florencio_rivera_maldonadoThe greatest challenge in my genealogical research has been the unraveling of the mystery surrounding my grandfather, Florencio Rivera Maldonado. By several accounts, he was said to have been orphaned as a boy and raised by an uncle and aunt, who supposedly took over the farm that Flor’s father left behind. Reportedly, Florencio was also left with a slave, who he set free because he was afraid of him. I was also told that Florencio had only one brother (Juan), who died as a child. (more…)