Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Agripina Torres Torres 1899-1977

"Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything."
-Aaron Siskind
The photo of the woman centered above, is my great grand aunt. Her name is...
Agripina Torres Torres. 

Born on October 1, 1899 in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Although, I think she was born a few years before this date was recorded. From what I've gathered she falls some where towards the end of the 12 children born to Juan E. Torres Galves & Ramona Torres Masa whom were cousins (I will write more about them in a later post). At around 7 years old her mother dies. I assume her older sisters (including my great grandmother) helped raise her & her siblings till she marries in 1919. Census records tell me that Agripina may have attended formal schooling. Sometimes she says she has, other times not. She is bilingual & can read & write so this leads me to believe that she did attend school. I was told today from a distant cousin that English was actually her first language, which is a surprise to me. Possibly the first language of some of her other siblings as well. Today I also learned some new information about Agripinia's husband, who is named Jorge Roque Cuevas. Like most newly married couples back then, they marry young. She is about 19 & he is about 22.  Jorge is noted on census records as being a "Torcedor" which I've learned is a highly skilled & trained cigar roller in Gurabo. By 1935 I suspect they have hit  some martial issues. I suspect this because Jorge is living alone, while Agripina is on her own with their children. In 1938 they loose 2 sons within 1 month of each other. José Anibar Roque Torres dies in May at age 12. Then Ernesto Ivan Roque Torres dies at age 5 in June of the same year. I can only image how incredibly heartbreaking it must of been for them to loose two of their little boys in such a sort span of time. I also learned today that my suspicions about their martial problems was right. Sadly this story gets worse before it gets better. Their separation & eventual divorce was lead by infidelity. Turns out Jorge had started a successful cattle farming business with a friend named Conception Mangual Sierra. They sold milk, beef & traded cattle all over the island. Conception dies sometime after the business takes off. He asks Jorge to look after his wife & 3 children. Jorge looked after his wife a little too well because she becomes pregnant with Jorge's son. In the same time this is going on Agripinia is also pregnant with her last child from Jorge. Agripinia & Jorge's mistress are both carrying sons at the same time. I can only imagine the drama that unfolded once this was revealed. They must divorce soon after this because by 1938 Jorge legally marries Hermenegilda Aponte  Ortiz, who was the former wife of Conception. 

By 1940 Agripina has been divorced for a few years. She lives as a single-mother to 4 of her remaining children. Also living with them is her ex-mother-in-law, whom is widowed.  I find it interesting that her mother-in-law chose to live with her rather than with her own son that lives in the same town. No one is working in their home by 1940 except her only daughter named Carmen Delia as a seamstress. I was told that Carmen was a successful seamstress to the local military base on the island. She mended parachutes, uniforms & other miscellaneous military materials. This is a photo of what Carmen Delia looks like below.
Isn't Carmen beautiful? 

Sometime in the late 40's or early 1950's Agripina moves with her children to Manhattan, New York. From this time forward she alternates living in New York City & Puerto Rico.
Agripina dies in 1977 at around the age of 77 in Caguas, PR. I was told she was kind, a devoted Catholic & had a habit of making meals for families in her community that she knew were sick or struggling in some way. She never remarried but instead devoted the rest of her life to her children & grandchildren. This distant cousin of mine described Agripina as "a good woman". It made my heart so happy to hear this about her. Agripina lost her mother early in life, looses 2 of her little boys back to back. On top of this, the hurtfulness she must of felt from her husband's unfaithfulness must of really ached. This was a woman that left everything she knew behind in Puerto Rico (including a free plot of land she inherited from her parents) in order to give her children what she believed would be a better opportunity, a better life.  Throughout it all, Agripinia remains faithful, keeps strong to her religious Catholic roots & moves forward. She sounds very brave. I respect her so much for doing all the good she did despite all the trials that came her way. It makes me wonder how much of this was also installed in Agripina's older sister, who is my great grandmother Maria Ana. I don't have any photos of Maria Ana, so when I first saw the photo above I immediately wondered how much Maria Ana & Agripinia reassemble each other. Sadly this photo of Agripinia is the only tangible thing I have to my great grandmother. Hoping to find more some day soon.

Agripina & Jorge together have 7 children. 6 boys & 1 girl. Their names are below. 

Julio Roque Torres 1917-1985 
Jorge Roque Torres 1920-1990 
Carmen Delia Roque Torres 1923-2007 
Jose Anibar Roque Torres 1926-1938  
Juan Antonio Roque Torres 1929-1998
Ernesto Ivan Roque Torres 1933-1938 
 Oscar Roque Torres 1936

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