Thursday, May 22, 2014

Primitivo Rodriguez Cuevas

My paternal great grandfather is named Primitivo Rodriguez Cuevas.  While growing up, I remember my Dad told me this was the name of his father's father.  Unfortunately my Dad never got to meet him & we all knew so little about him aside from only his name. 

With a little digging I was surprised how much I found for him. He appears on of all the census records available for Puerto Rico which was a huge help.

Primitivo is the son of Jose Rodriguez Cuevas & Maria de la Cruz Cuevas Berrios. He was born some time around 1865 in either Gurabo or San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. In 1885, at the age of 20 he marries his first wife named Manuela Davila. With Manuela he has 5 children, 3 girls & 2 boys.  
The names of these 5 children are:
-Petrona Rodriguez Davila born 1893 in Gurabo dies 1917 in Caguas
-Eusébio Rodriguez Davila born 1894 in Gurabo
-Angelina Rodriguez Davila birth about 1895
 -Antonia Rodriguez Davila born about 1897
-Luciano Rodriguez Davila birth1900 in Gurabo

Sadly after 15 years of marriage, in 1900 Manuela dies at the age of 33 from postpartum hemorrhaging from delivering her last baby. I imagine Primitivo & his 5 children must of been heart broken. So by the 1910 census Primitivo is shown as widowed. He is living in Gurabo with 3 of his unmarried children. 

In 1912 he marries for the second time to Maria Ana Torres Torres from San Lorenzo. With Maria Ana he has 2 boys. The first is my grandpa named Antonio Rodriguez Torres born 1914. You can read more about my grandfather here. Their second son is named Juan Ramon Rodriguez Torres born 1916. Either during Juan Ramon's childbirth or shortly after Maria Ana also dies. The cause of death on her death record states anemia. Juan's birth record states she was already dead by the time of the recording of his birth. 

By 1920 Primitivo moves to San Lorenzo, is living with his son from his first marriage Eusébio, my grandpa Antonio & Juan Ramon. Primitivo is white, can read & write & is working on a farm. 

By 1930 they move back to Gurabo, & he is now only living with his youngest 2 boys from Maria Ana. 

I found a 1935 Agricultural census for him that shows that since 1931 he is leasing a farm that grows tobacco, corn & beans.

In 1935 it doesn't look like much has changed & Primitivo is still living with his 2 youngest sons. In 1937 both of those 2 youngest sons get married. By 1940 Primitivo has the status of divorced. I'm feeling like this is wrong because I have not been unable to track down a third marriage record for him. He's also living with an 8 year old boy that is of no relation to him. I have no clue who the boy belongs to because he has a completely different surname

From what my father tells me, Primitivo moves to New York City sometime in the mid 1940's. For work he drives a delivery truck & dies in a car accident. I haven't had the chance to locate his death record because I have no idea of a death date. My father doesn't remember anything more to give me more leads.

I discovered that Primitivo goes back & forth on how he records his full name. He sometimes goes by Primitivo Rodriguez de la Cruz. However on all the census records he chose to use Cuevas. There is obviously a mix up with the order of his mother's name. My guess is that Maria de la Cruz is her first/ middle name & Cuevas is her last.

With only a name I was able to track down so much information about his life. My Dad was amazed because he wasn't aware about Primitivo's first wife. 

I would love to learn more about why he chose to move to New York so late in his life. It seems like such a big move. Did he go to be with someone? Was he just following the big migration of Puerto Ricans who settled in NY? Did he like the big city after living most of his life in a small country town? I'm sure the culture shock must of been overwhelming. 

I also wonder how he coped with being a singe-father twice in his life time. I imagine that must of been challenging especially since he was the main provider. I'm sure he must of had help in raising at least the youngest 2. Who was it that helped him, I wonder. I've uncovered so much but there are still so many mysteries about Primitivo. I hope to answer more as I continue my search.

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