Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rafaela Torres Torres

This is another 2nd great grand aunt of mine. 
Her name is Rafaela Torres Torres.
I discovered Rafaela a while ago but just recently I got to see my first photo of her. I've examined this photo very closely & can see such a strong resemblance in Rafaela & in her younger sister Agripina. You can see & learn more about Agripina here

Rafaela was born on December 1, 1893 in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. She is 1 of 12 children born to Juan E. Torres Galvez & Ramona Torres Masa. Her parents were first cousins & at first this was something that made me uncomfortable. As I  continued to search, I noticed & read from other Puerto Rican genealogists that cousins marrying was very common for this time. Puerto Rico is a small island. Most people didn't travel far outside of their home towns & so they married who they knew, & sometimes who you knew happened to be related to you. I hope to write more about this in a separate post but for now I'll leave it at that & get back to Rafaela. 

Records tell me that Rafaela's mother Ramona, died on Rafaela's 12th birthday. Her older sister, who is also my great grandmother Maria Ana was the oldest daughter in the family at that time. I assume she helped raise Rafaela & the rest of her younger siblings still living at home. 

In 1916, at the age of 22, Rafaela marries for the first & only time in her lifetime.  She marries a man by the name of Mateo Galarza Cabre. Mateo is 8 years older than Rafaela. What makes him so interesting to me is that Mateo's father immigrated from Spain to Puerto Rico in 1866. Mateo is the first person on my tree that I've discovered that doesn't have deep Puerto Rican roots on both sides. 

Together Rafaela & Mateo have 6 children together. The names of their children are: 
-Aida Galarza Torres 1917-1933
-Rafael Galarza Torres 1921-?
-Rosalia Galarza Torres 1924-?
-Antonio Luis Galarza Torres 1925-?
-Juan Benito Galarza Torres 1928-1988
-Zoila Galarza Torres 1930- living

After 18 years of marriage together, Rafaela's husband Mateo passes away in 1934. I was told that after this Rafaela was so heartbroken that she wears black dresses for the rest of her life. This explains why the only photo I have of her, she is dressed in black. This small detail into her life, is one of the only ones I know of. I admire her committed loyalty to her late husband. This says so much about her to me. I would of loved so much to meet & chat with her. 

I don't know much more about Rafaela, except I know she was very close to her 2 younger sisters Agripina & Joaquina. There was even a time when her sister Joaquina also becomes widowed, & her & Rafaela move in together. 

Lastly, records tell me that in 1983, at the age of 89, Rafaela dies of heart failure in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Puerto Rico

About a year ago I read an article that said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went to Puerto Rico & spoke about civil rights. I wasn't sure how accurate this article was because in all my school days this was never brought up. With a little digging I discovered, it's true, King did visit the island. In fact, King visited Puerto Rico at least two times in his life time. Seeing how today marks the day we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., I thought it would be a good time to share what I learned.
 These visits seem to be something most Puerto Rican's or most people in general, don't know took place. King traveled & gave many talks throughout his time.  Puerto Rico was lucky enough to be one of the places Mr. King hit twice. 

King's first visit was in 1962, he was invited to speak at what is now the Interamerican University of San German. During this same visit he also spoke at the University Of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras. The fact that he was invited to come & than heeded the invite & spoke means so much. I know this was a time where many Puerto Ricans of African ancestry were still heavily experiencing discrimination & prejudices. I wonder if they really understood what a big deal Mr. King was in the US & what a privilege it was to have him there on their island influencing them for a future equal to all. I also wonder how well Mr. King knew that even in Hispanic circles that the issue of color was an ongoing problem.

3 years later, in the summer of 1965, King is invited again to Puerto Rico, this time to attend & speak at the World Convention of Churches of Christ, in San Juan. The convention was a big deal. This particular convention was well attended, I assume because the word got out that Mr. King would be there. There was a high of 11,000 people, mostly all from the mainland US but there were also 29 different countries being represented there as well.  Mr. King's entire speech that day can be read by clicking here. If you have the time I suggest that you do read it, because it is wonderful. Just reading what he said is so powerful & uplifting, I can only imagine what actually being there in person must of felt like. I did read that afterwards he signed people's bibles, with words of encouragement. 

What a day that must of been. Since his speech was in English, I wonder if it was later translated for all the Puerto Ricans to hear or read that were not bilingual. I wonder how these two visits may have impacted the island or if it even made much of a difference. I would like to think it did. I hope it brought them hope & made them feel like they were not alone. From now on this day will always remind me of the two visits Mr. King made to a small little island in the Caribbean that was feeling the same despair & experiencing similar trials to the ones he knew of.

This is my favorite quote from Mr. King. It wasn't one shared in Puerto Rico that I know of but still a great one. 

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness.
Only light can do that. 
Hate cannot drive out hate. 
Only love can do that."

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
to speak in what is now the Interamerican University in San Germán. He also spoke at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras - See more at:
In fact, King visited the island at least two times in his life: in 1962 and in 1965 - See more at:
In fact, King visited the island at least two times in his life: in 1962 and in 1965 - See more at:
In fact, King visited the island at least two times in his life: in 1962 and in 1965 - See more at: