Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Father mystery solved?

I have written about my grandmother before in a post you can read here. I didn't know her well & she died when I was young. All the records I've collected for her (which are birth, marriage & death) list no father. No one living seems to remember her talking about her father or even know of his full name. It's weird because she died not too long ago, I've always found it mysterious that no one knows more about who her father is. 
Here are the clues I had to go off. 
*On the1930 census my grandmother goes by Andrea Lajara Pabellon & so does her older sister. 

*On her marriage record she goes by Andrea Jimenez. She also goes by Andrea Jimenez on a few of her children's birth records. So I've always assumed that whomever her father is, he would be a man by the surname of Jimenez. 

So that's what I've had this whole time to go off. A man with the last name of Jimenez. Not much, & really hard since that surname is still so very popular. Then I found one new clue that changed everything for me. It was this exact image on my computer screen that lead to a whole new set of questions...

As you can see above, on my grandmother's social security application it shows her father's name as Francisco Lajara. I knew she used Lajara once on the 1930's census but that was the only & first time I had ever seen it connected to her or to her sister.   I thought maybe it was just a mistake, like the many others I've found on other census records. Now this made me wonder why she & her sister sometimes used the surname Jimenez rather than Lajara.

So now what? 

I figurered the next step from here would be to request a copy of her original social security application. Learn more about how to order one for your ancestors using this link. It arrived a few weeks later & below is what I received.
 On the physical copy it lists her father only as Francisco Jimenez. I am still not sure why he is listed as Lajara online but not on the physical document. I called to ask but have yet to receive a reply. 

So I searched for any Francisco's with the name combinations of Lajara & Jimenez for that time period. Only one comes up. Seems like he lived in Juncos, (the town my grandmother was born in) for a short time during the early 1900's. However, he is listed on the 1910 census as married & with one son. Could this be why no one really knew of him? My grandmother & her sister were Francisco's illegitimate daughters? So far, it all seems to point that way. 

While I've searched for Francisco Jimenez Lajara, I've learned that the surname LaJara is very uncommon. Not only is it uncommon in Puerto Rico but the few of them that immigrated from Spain to the Caribbean islands are not many. I started to search for others with the last name of Lajara on & came across 2 Lajara descendants that are cousins. Both have been helpful & willing & happy to fill me in on the history behind the Lajara's living in Puerto Rico. 

This is what one had to say about my possible great grandfather. 

"Francisco Jimenez Lajara, whom often went by just Francisco Lajara resided in Juncos.
All the Lajaras on the island are related. There aren't that many Lajaras in Spain either. The Lajaras come from the province of Murcia, Spain. Most of the Lajara's came to the Spanish colonies (Cuba, PR & Dominican Republic) to develop successful plantations (which they did). In Puerto Rico they resided on the western part of the island & then later settled in Juncos.  They had vast amounts of land. Francisco is believed to have fathered several illegitimate children with several different mothers. One of his descendants remembers hearing Francisco fathered a set of two sisters with one mother, a daughter named Manuela Cruz from another (whom is the grandmother of the lady helping me) and one more daughter named Juanita from another lady."

After reading this I believe the two sisters mentioned above, to be my grandmother & grandaunt.  

I found photos of a few of the Lajaras that received passports in order to travel to these other Spanish islands in the Caribbean (mostly the Dominican Republic) for work. However, no passport for Francisco. 

The two cousins that helped me also compared their DNA results with my Dad's & both matched. We are sure we share a common ancestor. However, one cousin made a closer match. The one with the closer match is a great grandchild of Francisco. Her grandmother like mine was also one of his illegitimate children from Juncos. This just deepens my suspicions about Francisco being my great grandfather. I asked if he ever made an effort or attempt to be a part of this illegitimate daughters life. Her reply was that once when her grandmother was little Francisco came to visit but was not allowed inside. This was the only effort they know of him making.  

It makes me wonder how involved Francisco was in my grandmother's life. Since she does choose to carry his last name on & off at certain times throughout her life, I think she must of known him. Probably met him. Possibly even had somewhat of a relationship with him. How good of a relationship they shared, I don't know. Judging from the circumstances, I'd guess probably not the closest relationship. Oh, how I wish I still had the opportunity to  ask her about this

By 1920 Francisco moves from Juncos (the town where at least 3 of his illegitimate children were born) to Rio Piedras, PR. In 1930 he moves again to San Juan, this time living without his wife & child & living alone. He dies in 1936 at the age of 78 years old. As far as records show, he only had one legitimate child. A son named Francisco Jimenez Diaz. I wish I knew more about this mysterious great grandfather of mine. I've waited so long to know his name & I am grateful to at least have that. I know there has to be more about him that just hasn't been uncovered yet. As I continue to search, I hope many more of my questions about him become answered. 

1 comment:

  1. This post is from late 2015, so I don't know if you had already gone farther in this line, but there are some interesting hints around there. In that 1910 Census that you took a look at, besides Francisco living with his wife and son, there's also his mother in the same household, which is Gumersinda Lajara Guerra (born about 1840 according to her death record, with information provided by Francisco), who died on March 7, 1924 in Rio Piedras as a widow of Francisco Jimenez Conde. According to Francisco in that death record, she was the daughter of Pedro J. Lajara, born in Santo Domingo (although this could mean any part of Dominican Republic, since many Puerto Ricans up till today refer to the Dominican Republic as "Santo Domingo" in many casual chats, and they may not be directly speaking about that country's capital city) and Nicolasa Guerra, born in Venezuela.

    Now, by Googling those names I found an message board where a member is directly linked to Lajaras as well ( where she states that the full name of Gumersinda's father full name is Pedro Jose Lajara Escalate (first time I see a last name like "Escalate", maybe it could've been misspelled, "Escalante" is a common surname), born in Dominican Republic (confirming the Dominican link that you mention in your post) and Gumersinda's mother full name is Maria Nicolasa Guerra-Mondragon, according to her "possibly born in Añasco", but according to Francisco's information in his mother's death record, this could mean that she was a Venezuelan that spent most of her life in Puerto Rico, and therefore, her descendants tend to state she belongs to the place where they knew her at rather that the place she actually came from (I have found this in my own family). For instance, you can clearly see this when Francisco identifies himself on his mother's death record as being born in Añasco (Northwest Puerto Rico), but then his son (who provided the information at Francisco's death record) informs that his father was born in Cabo Rojo (Southwest Puerto Rico).

    There are some Gumersinda's siblings mentioned in that post as well that have some of their death records at Ancestry as well, and most of them were spread across Southwest Puerto Rico.