Friday, September 29, 2017

90 Miles South of Key West

This has been a wonderful month— complete with family visits, helping my daughter with her newborn and toddler— our precious granddaughters, as well as a month of connecting and getting to know a new cousin. What a joy it has been to help her with one of her genealogy projects, as well as co-labor on our mutual research of our family surnames. 
The research continues, yet it begins on a deeper level.  

As I mentioned in my last post, my knowledge about the country of Cuba, is limited.
I know it is located 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, and that only two generations in my family, my parents and grandparents, were born in Cuba. That's it!!  

All previous generations, migrated from either, the mainland of Spain or the Canary Islands. 
Although, my DNA results do indicate a small piece of the pie with English, Irish and other European regions.  What?!?  Complete shocker, but for now, will have to put that on the back burner. 

So, first on the list, Cuba. 
In order to locate specific towns in Spain or the Canary Islands, I have to first, begin with Cuba, then work backwards from that point. I am aware of the challenges, and have my work cut out for me.

This leads me to... 
Step 1 learn about Cuba and its cities and towns, and then, 
Step 2— locate the local churches for those towns and locations where civil records would have taken place.  
Along the way, this will no doubt include learning about the historical time frames. As we all know the importance this plays, working together with our understanding in linking it all together with our information and weaving it into our historical accounts.  

As I begin, I am discovering towns and provinces that have changed from one municipality to another or has been acquired into another province entirely. 

In 2011, the municipality of San Antonio de los Baños, for example, was added to the newly created province, Artemisa, however, prior to to that year, it was in the province of La Habana. This is similar to situations that we run into, often with our U.S. research, in regards to county line and state boundary changes throughout history.
It is important to establish those dates and boundaries so we are not disapointed at the outcome when we research wrong locations expecting to find our target ancestor. So, to better understand, it is essential to study the geography and a bit of history for any country. 

During the colonization of Cuba, in 1879, the Spanish government created 6 Provinces, which are regarded as the “Historical Provinces”. 

The Historical Provinces are
1. Pinar Del Río
2. La Habana: Included the Isle of Pines, and two current provinces, Artemisa, Mayabeque. 
3. Matanzas
4. Las Villas:  Was once known as Santa Clara before 1940 and included three provinces of today— Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus.   
5. Camagüey:  Known as Puerto Principe before1899, and included two current provinces— Ciego de Avila and part of Las Tunas prior to 1970. 
6. Oriente:  Prior to 1905, known as Santiago de Cuba. It included present day Provinces of Santiago de Cuba,  Holguin, Granma, Las Tunas, and Guantanamo. 

Today, there are 15 Provinces, 16 if you include Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), which is actually, a “special municipality”. The last modification took place in 2010 and began functioning in 2011. The Provinces are further divided into 168 municipalities/towns.

Current Day (After 2011) Provinces:  
Province                           Municipalities         Capital City                 Founded/Established 
Pinar Del Río                                 11                   Pinar Del Río                1867
1Artemisa (2011)                           11                    Artemisa                      1818
2Havana (Ciudad de La Habana)  15                   Havana                        1515, 1592
Mayabeque.                                   11                   San Jose de las Lajas  1778 
3Matanzas                                     13                   Matanzas                      (4)1572, 1693, 1695
5Cienfuegos                                     8                  Cienfuegos                    1819
Villa Clara                                      13                   Santa Clara                   1689, 1690
Sancti Spiritus                                  8                   Sancti Spiritus               1514
6Cego de Avila (1976)                   10                   Ciego de Avila               1840
Camagüey                                     13                    Camagüey                    1528
Las Tunas                                        8                    Las Tunas                     1759
Granma                                         13                    Bayamó                         1513
Holguin                                          14                    Holguin                          1523
Santiago de Cuba                            9                  Santiago de Cuba           1515
Guantánamo                                 10                    Guantánamo                  1797
7Isla de la Juventud                        1                    Nueva Gerona               1802

Now, that I have a chart of the main Provinces, and the capital city within each province, I can create a list of the towns that my family and ancestors lived in and place them with the correct municipality and province.  

Next, I will make a list of the Catholic Churches and Diocesis in each of those municipalities as well as addresses and contact information to begin the process of connecting the names and dates with their locations and begin to create a timeline for each ancestor. 

Hopefully, at some point I will be able to trace the point of entry for a specific time in history for those ancestors and possibly find a record of immigration that will document their place of origin, parents names, dates, etc

This process can take a while, but through patience and persistence, we will prevail.   :) 

Have you had any success in locating records for your ancestors who immigrated to another country? Would love to hear about your research experiences, in particular of any stories involving Cuba, or similar countries. 

Until next month. 

 1One of 2 provinces (Artemisa, Mayabeque) created in 2011, from the former province of La Habana. Municipalities: Bahia Honda, Candelaria, San Cristóbal were originally part of the province— Pinar Del Río, prior to 2011. 

 2Municipality referred to as Ciudad de La Habana, La Habana, Havana. 

3Subdivided into 14 municipalities, in 1976 until 2010. In 2011, Varadero was merged into the city of Cardenas, thus Matanzas, now has 13 municipalities. 

4 Settled by Europeans: 1572, Founded: 1693, by 30 families from the Canary Islands, Established: 1695

5 Separated in 1976 from Santa Clara (known as Las Villa after 1940) which, was once a historical province in Cuba. The province of Santa Clara is nonextant today, however, the city of Santa Clara is the capitol of Villa Clara Province. 

6Separated from the province of Camagüey in 1975. 

7The 2nd largest Cuban island. Although it is listed as a province it is actually a Special Municipality of Cuba with 1 Municipality ‘Isla de la Juventud’   

 1. Information and photos courtesy of Wikipedia 

2. For further reading 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Month Review & Grandparents Juan & Maria in Ybor City

Busy month… busy life… new birth. 

I start out on a personal note… Yes, our long awaited, birth of our second grandchild has arrived. We have a precious, new granddaughterAbigail.  We are so thankful that mother and wee one are healthy and doing well after a few close calls. 
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🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀    🎀           
A challenging labor and delivery culminated in an unplanned C-section, as the doctor discovered the problem— a Bandl’s Ring, during the procedure. I have given birth to several children and had never heard of the term. Although, I will not go into details here, but it is apparently rare, and as described to us, it is an obstruction that occurs in the 2nd stage of labor. Here is a quick description through Wikipedia…  If you are interested in more information, I am sure there are medical journals or articles for further reading.
 I realize that this is not a genealogical theme, but I was taken by the aspects of past childbirths throughout the ages and the sad, high incidences of mother and infant mortality rates we so often read about in our encounters through our genealogical researches. I have personally learned of a few in my own past family history. It certainly, was not, uncommon, back in the day. 

So, it is from this perspective that I write.
This personal experience, brought a sobering reality to what so many in the past, have often faced, simply due, to the limited medical knowledge of their time.  
In other words, if this condition— Bandl’s Ring, had occurred, in past eras, it is highly probable, mother and infant would have died during childbirth.  
I believe it is through the grace of God, and our modern medical technology of today, that our situation, thankfully, resulted with a good outcome. 
Despite the fact, that medicine is not always a perfect science, it has certainly come a long way in curing medical conditions, and certainly, preventing death in childbirth. 
I am so thankful….

I mentioned in my last post, that in June, I made a list of U.S. records I was missing to document my research, and the places in which to order them. Last month, I ordered a total of four records: A marriage, and birth record from the state of Florida, which I received the last weeks of July, and a marriage and death Record from New York City, which I received the first week of August. I can now add these document copies to my family information in my Legacy Family Tree Genealogy software. Now, I turn to abroad, as my focus.  
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As you know, my research focus has been in Cuba, for all four of my family lines— La Habana in the province of Havana, for my Valuja/Baluja and Hernandez families and the city of Cardenas, in the province of Matanzas, for my Matos and Trujillo families. 

I only have a few generations that were born in Cuba, and to find what countries our ancestors originally came from, I must first locate any documentation from within Cuba and then work backwards from that point. When I began, my limited knowledge of Cuba, was, one, that it was located about 90 miles south of Key West, Florida, and, two, both of my parents were born there, as well as all their extended family with very few exceptions. 

My father’s oldest sibling, his sister, Mercedes, my Aunt Icha, whom I loved, dearly, was born in Ybor City, in Tampa, Florida in 1913. Ironically, she was the only one born in the United Staes, until my birth, many decades later. There were a total of four children born to my paternal grandparents, Juan Valuja and Maria Hernandez. 

Juan, was a cigar-maker, from La Habana, who traveled to Tampa from Cuba, in the early 1900’s with his friend, Francisco Hernandez, from Quivican, a small town in the southern part of Habana, he also, was a cigar maker and businessman, who frequently traveled from Cuba to several port cities. Francisco, or Pancho, as he was often called by family and friends, introduced his sister, Maria, to my grandfather. She had also traveled to Tampa at some point, to help care for her brother and sister-in-law’s children. They soon married, and had their first child, my Aunt ‘Icha’.

In a few, short years, in 1915, for some unknown reason, they returned to Cuba to live. My Grandmother, was more than 8 months pregnant with my aunt Margarita (Margot), another dear aunt, I so loved, when they sailed back on a ship, sometime in July or August, and it is said, they encountered turbulent weather due to a Hurricane in the vicinity. The rest of the children, including my dad, were born in La Habana, between 1915 and 1920, however, I am not sure if it was in the town of Marianao, like my grandfather, or Bejucal, as I still need to pinpoint that detail. When I have asked, I have been told, La Habana, but as we all know, that is a large area. :) 

In August of 2012, I wrote a blog post in an attempt to begin to piece together the few bits of information I had about my grandfather and the years he spent in Tampa, Florida  The Quest for My Grandfather's Footsteps'   Part 1 ~  'Searching Ybor City'.
 It is a series that I do hope to continue, although, it has already been, unbelievably, five years. 
Part 2 is slightly overdue, but I do have some new information that I will write about in a future post.