• 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…)

  • Visiting Central Aquirre

    Published Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

    Randy and I headed to Ponce one day last December, with plans to buy some items at El Coquí Souvenir shop across the street from the historic Parque de Bombas and then go visit my cousins René and Heriberto (“Papo”) Rivera Sevilla.  We like to take the scenic coastal route from our vacation home in Yabucoa; it makes the hour and a half journey so much more interesting.

    In front of the post office—sugar refinery in background.

    About halfway there, as we approached Salinas, I started commenting on how we were near Aguirre, where my father, Oscar Cruz García, had worked as a young man prior to entering the Merchant Marines.  I had a tape recording of Dad talking about his youth, and I knew that he had worked at the Central Aguirre Mill for several years; it had played a significant part in his personal history. Aware of how much I yearned to see the ruins of the mill up close, Randy turned off of the highway onto the road that led to Aguirre. (more…)

  • 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…)

  • 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…)