The Ponce Aqueduct

Published Saturday, July 18th, 2020
by family historian Norma (Garcia) Pettit

Designed by Timoteo Luberza and funded in part by Valentín Tricoche, the Ponce aqueduct, formally known as Acueducto Alfonso XII, was the first modern water distribution system built in Puerto Rico.  Construction began in 1776, and when it was finalized in 1880 at a then cost of $220,000 (equivalent to 5.28 million in 2019 dollars) the aqueduct was 2-1/2 miles long and rose 50 feet at its highest point. The gravity-based water supply system was in operation for 48 years, until 1928, at which time it was retired, with the advent of more advanced water supply systems. (more…)

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Family Love Stories

Published Monday, February 10th, 2020

Cousin Carol Medina Wright found a handwritten story written by her father, José Lino Medina, telling of his early life and how he met Carol’s mother, Angélica Rivera.

I was born August 15, 1924, in Barrio Boquerón, west of the city of Juana Díaz. After a big hurricane named San Felipe back in 1927, we moved to Ponce.  I attended Federico Dejetau School where I played the trombone in the school band.  In 1939, we moved back to Juana Díaz.  In 1940, I lost my father. Then, in 1942, I lost my mother, becoming an orphan.  My sister Divina and my Aunt Casilda and Uncle Julio offered me shelter and guidance.  In July 1943, I was called to service in the U.S. Army.  After I came back from World War II, I was assigned to Rodriguez Army Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (more…)

My Dad in the 1940 Census, Aguirre, Puerto Rico

Published Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Dad’s name is different in every census record. In the 1910 census he appears as Oscar Rivera Santana, age 9, Where that surname of Santana came from, I don’t know. Listed as living in the household were his father, Florencio, step-mother, Otilia, and siblings Adela,10, Sinforiano (“Guar”), 7, Neri, 2, and Isidro, 8 months. María, Elena, and Anita were living elsewhere. In the 1930 census, he appears as Oscar Rivera Cruz, 19, which is correct, although his parents weren’t married yet at the time of his birth, so he was officially registered as Oscar Cruz (with only his mother’s surname). This time, Elena and Anita are in the home, Adela and María are living elsewhere, and Angélica, 17 months old, has joined the family. (more…)

Finally Found! Proof of the Maldonado Connection

Published Friday, June 14th, 2019

In my October 2016 blog article, “The Proof is in the DNA,” and my subsequent December 2016 article, “The Maldonado Connection”, I talked about how the Hernández “cousins” from San Jose, California – the children of Auntie Rosita’s brother, Carmelo, and therefore first cousins to Carlos, Edward, Roberto and Orlando Rivera – showed up on my Ancestry DNA matches as 4th-6th cousins. I said that I suspected that our connection was through the Maldonado line, since the Hernández family and the Rivera families both have that surname in their trees. (more…)

Puerto Rico’s Unique Lingo

Published Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Tourists stroll on the paseo de la princesa promenade in old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Copyright: Dennis V. Dwater

Puerto Rico’s vernacular is different than the Spanish spoken in other parts of Latin America or Spain. Here are a few words and phrases that are uniquely Puerto Rican: (more…)

Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Published Monday, December 18th, 2017

Our Family in the Aftermath of Hurricanes

As an island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has historically been in the direct path of hurricanes. Out of the ones shown on this map, three that have had the most impact on our family are San Ciriaco, San Felipe II, and Georges. (more…)

Oscalito

Published Sunday, April 16th, 2017

The last blog was about the Aguirre Sugar Refinery, and my father’s work there. The story of his Aguirre experience would not be complete without including some of what I know about his relationship with Paula Rivera, the mother of my half-brother, Oscalito.

In the transcription of the tape recording that I made of Dad back in the late 1980’s, Dad talks about how after President Roosevelt’s Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 caused him to go from earning 92 cents a day to 40 cents an hour. This was a huge increase in income for him, yet the prices of clothing and other merchandise did not go up. Suddenly, he could afford to be a well dressed young man, sporting white linen shirts and pants, “My Man” two-toned shoes, and a jaunty hat. (more…)