Thursday, April 27, 2017

Breaking a Brick Wall

It's been a while, I have so many things I could write about. Today I want to write about a new brick wall that's slowly been uncrumbling for me the past week or so. 

I've written about my great grandfather named Primitivo before. You can read more about him here. Records-wise, the man is tricky! Can't tell you how many times, I've reviewed all my records for him & then said to myself "He's killing me". Let me explain why.

When I started my search for him a few years back, I only knew his name was Primitivo Rodriguez, lived in Gurabo & had a son by the name of Antonio Rodriguez Torres. I did know he had other children, I knew most of their names which helped a ton. This helped me locate census records for Primitivo all they way from 1910 to 1940. On these census records, Primitivo is always recorded with the second surname of Cuevas. That second surname was always consistent. This told me that Primitivo's mother, whomever she was, held the surname Cuevas. Then I slowly started to uncover records for Primitivo. This is where the trickiness comes into play. 

I knew from Primitivo's son (my grandfather's) death record that Primitivo's wife was named Maria Ana Torres Torres. So I searched for a Maria Ana marrying a Primitivo Rodriguez Cuevas & came up with nothing. However, I did find a very close match, except the spouse is Primitivo Rodriguez de la Cruz. Close enough, I reviewed it & I was 99% sure this was the same Primitivo. Sure enough, it was but for some reason that  I cannot fully explain why Primitivo's mother is recorded as Maria de la Cruz. There are so many Maria's with that last name but none fit the same profile. That's what's killing me, I don't know for sure. I figured it had to be some kind of error on the recorders part, maybe. Then I learned Primitivo was married once before my great grandmother, to a lady named Manuela Davila. His marriage record to Manuela also has him recorded as "Primitivo Rodriguez de la Cruz". That's twice now. Why the Cruz? I had all sorts of theories running through my mind about his mother. I thought perhaps she was an illegitimate child & sometimes used her mother's surname & other times was recorded with her father's surname. Then I thought, maybe Primitivo had the order of both her surnames mixed up. Maybe she died when he was young, & so he wasn't sure which of her surnames came first. 

Then I tried to examine all the birth records I had for Primitivo's seven children. On these records, the name of grandparents are usually always listed. On them Primitivo's mother is recorded differently for each kid. Most times she is found as Maria de la Cruz. Other times Maria Cruz Cuevas. Every time I searched for either of those two name combinations I came up empty. I felt like I had exhausted all the digital public records I could find with evidence of her.  At this point, I figured to locate more answers, I would have to go downtown to the Family History Library & dig through all the microfilms for this time period & town for myself. Which I dreaded doing, because it's so time consuming. Going through one roll of microfilm has taken me a few hours in the past. Going through several would take me days that I don't really have at this present time in my life.  This happened a few years ago. Every once in a while I would get the itch to search again & every time I came up with no results. It killed me that I couldn't find anything beyond my great grandfather. Why couldn't he been more accurate about his mother's name. Why was he being so tricky? It was frustrating. I knew he probably had siblings, but without the name of his mother I couldn't confirm for sure if they were his siblings.

However for some reason, a few days ago, I did what I had always done before when that itch returned to search for Primitivo's mother. I reviewed all the records I had for him again. Trying to observe closely to see if I had missed anything before.  This time I noticed something that was in plain sight that for some reason I never paid attention to. How could I have missed this? It's just plain foolishness on my part. 

 You can see here that on Primitvo's oldest child's birth record his mother is recorded as "Maria Cuevas Berrios". This is the very first time I have ever encountered the surname Berrios on my family tree. It was exciting & I couldn't wait to search for this new name combination. As soon as I did, I got a few hits. 

Primitivo's mother's name is recorded on all other records, besides Primitivo's as "Cruz Cuevas Berrios". what makes sense to me is that, Maria is probably part of her first name, but since their were so many, many Maria's at this time, she went by the first name of Cruz instead. She was born in Hato Grande, Puerto Rico, which is now known as San Lorenzo, PR. She is the daughter of Pedro Cuevas & Rosario Berrios also from San Lorenzo. She married & had 5 children with Jose Rodriguez Cuevas. 

Maria Cruz dies at about 70 years old in 1908 in Juncos. Primitivo would of been about 37 years old at her time of death. He was already married to his first wife Manuela & has fathered 5 children at this point. I assume his mother knew them, probably met her 5 grand kids from Primitivo. I wonder how involved they were in each others lives. A part of me thinks they were probably close, but seeing as how Primitivo had trouble recording his mother's full name, maybe they were not. I could be wrong, hopefully I am but I still wonder.

Maria Cruz must have moved to Juncos, sometime before her death. Two years after she dies her husband Jose also passes in 1910. Primitivo is listed as their second child on both of their death records. 
 If there is anything I can pass on from this experience, it would be two things. First don't give up. Sometimes we hit walls, that seem like a complete dead end. It's super frustrating. When these times come up, because they always do, take a break. Even a year long break, but when you get the itch to return & try again, listen to that feeling. 

Second, review is key in these tricky situations. Paying attention to those small details is what will save you when you're stuck. Why this took me so long when the answer was right in plain sight the entire time, I don't know. I even had a cousin in Brooklyn review the same records a few years back & she also missed that Berrios name.

I'm grateful I didn't come up empty this time. Grateful that this part of my tricky search is over. Hoping all the new information I have now on Primitivo's parents & siblings will open more doors for my search into his line. I'm grateful, always grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment