The Maldonado Connection

Published Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Researching family trees is a crazy business.  You start out working on one branch of the tree and get easily sidetracked by a different branch. But it is fun, fascinating, and at times, frustrating. I have been trying, since the last blog entry, to find the connection between the Hernández and García families.  As I wrote last time, Emy Hernández found me on page eight of her Ancestry DNA list.  I checked through my list and found her as well. I suspect that we connect through the Maldonado line, since we have that surname in common in our trees.  I actually have Maldonado on both my father’s lineage and my mother’s, and they do connect way back—something that my parents never even suspected.

The Maldonado roots in Puerto Rico can be traced back to the 16th century.  In an article in the Puerto Rican Genealogical Society’s magazine, Hereditas (vol. 8, num. 2, 2007), author Otoo Sievens Irizarry writes that (more…)

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The Proof is in the DNA

Published Monday, October 10th, 2016

My uncle, Isidro Rivera Pacheco, was married to Rosita Hernández Serra, who came from a very large family in Utuado, Puerto Rico.  Rosita’s next younger brother, Carmelo (married to Carmen Sánchez, also of Utuado) raised his family of eight children in San Jose, California.  Isidro and Rosita raised their four boys in the town of Belmont, about 25 miles north of San Jose, while my family lived another 25 or so miles farther north, in San Francisco.  Despite the fact that my mother didn’t drive and my father, a Merchant Marine, was gone for extended periods of time, our family got together with the Hernández family on a regular basis. (more…)

To Be Or Not To Be……a Rivera

Published Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

The question came up at the 2016 Rivera family reunion, held in Stinson Beach, California, on June 26th:  If my father was a son of Florencio Rivera, and his brothers all had the last name Rivera, why was his last name García?

This is the way my own father explained it to me many years ago…

Back in the olden days in Puerto Rico, when a baby was born, someone had to go to town to register the baby.  But the recently delivered mother was (more…)

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. (more…)

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…)