Friday, May 9, 2014

Where it all begins

For now, I've mainly been focusing on my paternal side of the family. 
This is my father & me. 
He was born in Gurabo, Puerto Rico in 1945
I've always thought he was a handsome guy. 

His mother is named Andrea Pabellon born in Juncos, Puerto Rico in March 2, 1913. Andrea grew up most of her life in the town right besides Juncos which is Gurabo. Here she married my grandfather Antonio Rodriguez Torres in 1937. They both remained in Gurabo all of their lives having a total of 15 children together, 10 boys & 5 girls. Four of these children died before adulthood. One more passed away in his early 20's from a horseback riding accident, his name was Matias Rodriguez Pabellon (not positive on the date of Matias' birth or death). 

I had very little to go off when I started my search. All I had was the information on my father's birth certificate & the little that he could remember of his parents, which was not much. The first thing I did was search for them on census records. Now Puerto Rico only has census records available starting from 1910 to 1940. There was one more census taken before 1910 but I was told that it was destroyed in a fire. I created an account on & found a census record for them from 1940 in Gurabo.
I knew this was them & it felt so good see both of their names on there & to finally have more of a clue. One thing we learned from this is that my father had an older brother that he never knew about. The census record shows a baby boy listed as  Eusébio Rodriguez that was 6 months old. I had my father dig for information on this brother with his siblings but had no luck. Apparently no one, not even his other older brother who is also listed on this census knew of Eusébio. I had a feeling it was because he had died very young, but wasn't sure how to prove it. 
Soon after finding this census I put a post on a message board on asking if anyone happened to have  more info. This kind lady from New York wrote me back & said that I could find everything I needed if I just searched on I had heard about this website but never really put it to use before this.  I didn't realize how valuable this website could be. The few times I was on it on my own I didn't come up with anything. I saw there was a link to Puerto Rico but I didn't notice anything helpful. That's because I was searching all wrong. This lady gave me step by step instructions on how to properly find civil or Catholic church records for all of the towns in Puerto Rico. 

Here are the steps she sent to me in case you need them too: 

Log onto Family (It's FREE!)
Click Search at the top
Scroll down & click Caribbean, Central & South America
Click Puerto Rico under Place
Click Puerto Rico, Civil Registration, 1836-2001
Scroll down & click Browse through 4,587,038 images
Select the town you're interested in
Here you access all available Birth/Nacimientos, Death/Defunciones, Marriage/Matrimonios records.
Always scroll down & check the last entries for Indices of the books in the collection
If there is no index, It may be contained within each book.

Search index under last name for book/year/folio #, then go to that book to pull the record.

After following these steps I was able to find a death record for Eusébio. He was born on October 9, 1939 & his death is recorded as June 8, 1940. Sadly 2 months after the census above was taken this baby boy died only being 8 months old. I don't totally understand the cause of death because it's in a very cursive handwriting that's hard to crack, even for those that do know Spanish well. 

Being able to view all these records in the comfort of my own home was a miracle I never thought I'd have. I assumed all these types of documents were in Puerto Rico or that I would have to travel down town to the family history library. Boy was I wrong & boy was I happy that I was wrong. This has opened up so many doors for my research & will open up many for yours as well.


  1. It was very nice to stumble upon your blog, especially being related to Puerto Rican roots like mine. It was an overnight reading session of every entry as well, LOL. This is a very nice journey that you're embarking on... I wish I had documented the step by step process of building my family tree as well, so once in a while I could review where was I standing and what were my initial 'gut-feelings' doing the search of people at my tree and whether I was correct or if the discoveries drove me in a different way...

    In regards of the Eusebio Rodriguez's cause of death that you were wondering about in this post, I had a chance to take a look at the record and it is 'acute gastroenteritis'.

  2. Thank you for this great resource!!