Saturday, August 22, 2015

Census records for Puerto Rico from the 1800's

Today someone shared this blog post with me that I found super interesting. The link to the blog is here

The substance of the post is about long lost census records for Puerto Rico dating as far back as 1830's. It surprised me because when I started my family search a few years back, I read & was told that the earliest Puerto Rican census records available begin at 1910. I did hear there was one census recorded earlier but that it was destroyed in a fire. Turns out the story about the fire is true, the year of 1900's was destroyed. However, there were several more census records taken, just not available online yet. Family Search has them, but hasn't yet digitized & uploaded them onto their site yet. Not sure why I am just learning about this now, which is why I wanted to share in case any of you are also in the dark about these earlier Puerto Rican census records.

Isn't that amazing? Think of how many more family members we will be able to connect once those are made open to the public. So many more questions will be answered. The blog post also mentions that some time this fall (not certain but hopefully) these records will be uploaded. The next step is having volunteers like you & I actively on there website to help index them to make it easier to find people by names, city, age & so forth. What a huge blessing this will be. I just hope it gets going before the end of 2016.

Below is a photo of my Pabellon line spelled as "Pavellon" for the census recorded in 1897 for the city of Juncos, Puerto Rico.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Puerto Rican slave record

Growing up, I always wondered why my father's mother was so dark. Especially since most of all her children were lighter in color. I remember asking my father when I was younger & his response was "Well, some Puerto Ricans are light & others are black, that's just how it is". That response has always lingered in my mind. I just wanted to know why? But why were some light & others black?

I found the answer to this question early on in my search. My father's mother is Andrea Pabellon.  Now the surname of Pabellon is very uncommon. As I searched, I learned that there were only a few of them on the island. The majority of them lived in Juncos or Gurabo, Puerto Rico. I also noticed they all declared themselves as "negro" or black.

The oldest Pabellon I could find online is a former slave by the name of Juan Maria Pabellon. Born around 1833 in either Juncos, or Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Below is the slave census record taken in 1872 called Puerto Rico, Registro Central de Esclavos, that tells me most of all I know about Juan Maria.

The record states he was naturally from Puerto Rico meaning he was born on the island. He was about 39 years old when this was recorded & it declares him as single although it does list several children on this same record that declare him as being their father. This record also says Juan Maria was owned by "los Hijos de Saldana" which means the sons or children of a family with the last name of Saldana. I did some digging & it turns out that there was a family by that last name that owned a big farm property in Gurabo. I'm not certain what kind of farm it was but I assume possibly sugar cane or tobacco that was big at this time. It gives the name of one of his parents, which is most likely his mother: M. Gonzalez. I also know that the Saldana family were connected with Gonzalez's by marriage, so maybe that's how they came to own Juan Maria & his children.

So how did I connect this slave record to me you wonder? Well on this same record Juan Maria has 8 children also recorded living with the same slave owner. 6 sons & 2 daughters. One of the sons is named Matias Pabellon. I know for certain Matias is my 2nd great grandfather. Also know that he is the only Matias Pabellon living on the island at this time period. Other records tell me that Juan Maria was married to a black woman named Isabel Ramirez. Which is why my 2nd great grandfather went by Matias Pabellon Ramirez on census records. 

Here is the tricky part in this. On Matias' death record it says his mother is named Maria Pabellon. This really didn't make sense to what I already knew about him, so with a closer look I noticed the person recording the information on Matias' death record was a neighbor. They must of not known each other super well because she leaves out the names of his grandparents because she didn't know who they were. She also gives Matias the second surname of De los Santos, which is the same surname of Matias' ex-wife. Nevertheless, it's the same person. I'm sure of it! Everything in me is telling me that it is. I just need to find a birth or christening record to have a more solid "yes" this is the same person. 

The next question is why did Juan Maria have the surname of Pabellon if his parent or parents went by Gonzalez? I was told that it could of been because of his profession. Pabellon in English means pavilion. He may have been a carpenter of some kind that built pavilions. Or maybe his father built them & so Juan Maria carried on the name. Not positive but what I do know is that even till today the surname of Pabellon is not common on the island or in the US.  I'm so glad those 8 children that Juan Maria & Isabel had, carried his name on & left me a trail to finding out who they are. Every Puerto Rican Pabellon I've discovered is related to me somehow through him. I hope to one day find some one that knows more & can help me on my journey to discovering my Puerto Rican African roots.