• Reflections on Our Family History

    Published Tuesday, April 13th, 2021

    Learning about our family history has been something that has intrigued me all my life. I remember as a young child asking my parents, Oscar and Anita Garcia, what it was like when they were children growing up in Puerto Rico. They would share their memories with me and, recently, I discovered an old composition book with my name written on the front where I had taken notes from their stories. I would like to share with you some excerpts from that notebook.

    My father’s maternal grandparents were Máximo “Maximiliano” Cruz and Engracia García. Maximiliano was of medium height, about 5’5″, heavyset, white, and had straight hair. They had five children: Nicolasa, Jesús, Emiliano, Alcisclo, and Ana. Nicolasa was white, had dark hair, was of average height, and was slender. Emiliano had reddish-blond hair. Alcisclo was taller, slender, and looked Spanish.

    After Engracia died, my father’s grandfather married Genara and they had six children: Agripino, Jesús (yes, another one), Angelito, Carmela, Gilberto and Ambrosio. Ambrosio was the youngest and he was the first one to die of all of his siblings. Carmela had two children who died as adults, long before she did. (Cousin Annie Meléndez, who hosted the 2009 family reunion in Peñuelas is one of her granddaughters. The Feliciano cousins from Chicago are Carmela’s grandchildren through her daughter.)

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  • Tracking Down a Census Record in Adjuntas

    Published Tuesday, January 12th, 2021

    My mother was born in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, but moved to Ponce with her family when she was seven or eight years old. I regret so much that I never got to visit Adjuntas with Mom during the years that we were both living in Puerto Rico and she was still healthy.  I have so many questions!

    In my genealogical research, I discovered that my mother’s maternal grandmother, Luisa Torres Torres, was living in barrio Juan González. In the 1910 census, Luisa was living with her family in Sendero Palmieri (see left margin of census record below). I asked around on a Facebook genealogy page that I belong to, to see if anyone could tell me where that path was located. (more…)

  • The Mameyes Landslide

    Published Friday, October 2nd, 2020

    In my last article, which was about the Ponce Aqueduct and our family members that lived in that area, I related how my mother’s family had moved to the nearby barrio of Mameyes. My father’s brother, Sinforiano (known to all as “Guar”, short for guareto, meaning twin, since he and Auntie Helen were twins), also moved to Mameyes with his wife, Elena Sevilla. That little house was the first home of René Rivera Sevilla. When little René was about two years old, Guar paid $50 for a plot of land next to the aqueduct and built the house in which his eight children were raised. There were actually nine children, but Reinaldo died in 1949 at the age of three. The little house was remodeled and added on to over the years, and eventually became the home of Guar’s second to the youngest son, Heriberto “Papo” Rivera, his wife Ada Pacheco Arroyo, and their children. (more…)

  • The Ponce Aqueduct

    Published Saturday, July 18th, 2020

    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…)

  • 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…)

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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…)

  • 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…)