Showing posts with label Havana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Havana. Show all posts

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                           Municip        Cap City                 Found/Estab
Pinar Del Río                         11            Pinar Del Río              1867
1Artemisa (2011)                   11            Artemisa                     1818
2Havana (Ciud de La Hab)   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 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

'The Quest for My Grandfather's Footsteps' ~ Part 1- 'Searching Ybor City'

As I embark on my journey of digging into the past,  I will attempt to stay on task at writing about my experiences along the way.  Thus begins a new series that will help me explore each aspect of a specific area in my research to help unearth all possibilities towards reaching a reasonable conclusion in each particular situation.  There are so many fragments of information that I must somehow mold as pieces that hopefully can be assembled into the bigger picture for answers.  
Although, I am not as accomplished as I would like to be, I hope to learn along the way.  So with both feet, I will jump in, nonetheless.  As the saying goes, “We must begin somewhere” “And there is no better time than the present”.  Ready or not.... Here we go...

Part 1 ~  'Searching Ybor City'
Over a period of time, I have been slowly collecting articles with information on the Cuban culture in Ybor City,  c1900-1915. 
Like so many, we tend to focus on areas that we find our ancestors lived or visited.  As you may have already guessed, this location falls into that category.  

Ybor City is of particular interest, as this is where my Grandfather migrated to from Cuba on his quest to America, the great land of opportunity.  
For many, in that time of history, ‘land of opportunity‘ simply meant the opportunity to start anew in life and find the means to make a living.  

Ybor City was founded in 1886, by Vicente Martinez-Ybor and annexed in 1887 by Tampa.
Ybor City, Florida in 1886
Photo: Tampa Historical society
Ybor City was settled originally by Cuban and Spanish immigrants who worked in countless numbers of booming cigar factories that continued to spring up and prosper.  Many Italians and other Europeans  migrated to the area as well and quickly added to the population.
Ybor City increased in size and prospered until the late 1920's at the start of the Depression.

Based on our family history, my Grandfather traveled, initially, as a young man in his teens to Florida to work in the cigar factories.  It was in Ybor City that he would eventually meet his future wife,  get married,  and have his first child.

Havana-American Cigar Factory in Ybor City in 1900's

The 'Olivette' transported passengers between Cuba, Key West and Tampa
My Grandfather left Cuba in the early 1900's and traveled to the United States on the 'Olivette', a ship that sailed via Key West, Florida enroute to Tampa, with his destination in Ybor City.

While searching through the Ship's Passenger Lists, I found his name listed on 3 separate lists.  This helped me to identify the number of times that he traveled back to the United States.  The first listing he is emigrating from Havana, Cuba, the other two instances he is traveling to Havana and returning back to Tampa.
Based on the stories, my Grandfather left home to find work in the Cigar-factories in Tampa.  He either traveled with a friend from Cuba or met him in Florida.  This friend actually, became my Great-uncle, as his sister married my Grandfather. 
 There is so much more to this story that I need to uncover to fill in the blanks. 

The questions that I am trying to answer are;  Did he travel alone?  Was he traveling to Tampa to meet someone already there? Did he have a job waiting?  

O.K.  Logic says that at 18 or 19 years old, you typically do not travel to another country unless at the very least,  know someone that you can stay with.  
Traveling alone for the first time in that point in history was huge, or maybe I am inserting my own thoughts on this through the eyes of a mother.  The thought of one of my children at that age,  leaving to go to another country without speaking the language and knowing someone, is just not realistic in that era.  That was not 2012, it was 1908 and the world was a much bigger place then,  than our world today where you can be across the world within 24 hours.  

The names that I found listed around my grandfather’s name do not appear to be in connection to him.  So it would seem, at this point that he traveled alone.  
I checked the additional pages on the manifest, as I considered the possibility that they could have become separated. However, I did not see his friend’s name listed as a passenger.  

One interesting point. 
The surname I have been searching is ‘Valuja’, however, he is listed as ‘Baluja’ on all the passenger lists.  I had to verify that I had the correct person.  Based on his first trip in 1908, the name of his nearest relative and address he lists is of his father in Cuba, my Great-grandfather.  On his later journeys the name he lists as his nearest relative, is his wife, living in Ybor City,  which is indeed, my Grandmother.
It is necessary to check a variety of spellings for a surname, as it could be missed very easily based on the smallest discrepancy.  In this case, I knew that the miss-spelling was the correct person.  My aunt, who is my Grandfather's daughter, was born in Ybor City, with her surname listed incorrectly.  As a result, from that point on all of her documents went by that spelling her entire life.  Not really sure why, they did not correct it, but it could have to do with the language barrier.  
The spelling error started from the beginning with my Grandfather on his first voyage.

found another interesting tidbit of information, as I discovered a second page continuing the information from the first page, that I had not seen before.  As I checked the sheet for the line number listed on the first page, I found the section that lists the name and address of the relative or friend they are to visit.  
This is where I found his friend.  So, I know that my Grandfather did travel alone and came to meet his friend in Ybor City.  

What I have determined at this point, is that my Grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1908 to Tampa and made his home in Ybor City. He traveled to Cuba and returned to Tampa on 2 separate occasions in 1914, during the month of July and then again in September. 

I have so many additional questions....   Why is my Grandmother not listed on any Passenger List from Cuba to Tampa? When did she emigrate from Cuba?  I know that she met my Grandfather in the U.S.   When, where and how did my Grandfather meet my Grandmother? 

Route from Havana to Tampa
Photo: Geoff Mangum's Putting Zone

Unfortunately, there is no way to investigate his trips to Havana on the Olivette, since he entered another country and those records are held by immigration in Cuba.  Although, there is a possibility that in the early 1900's, records may be found through Spain, that is a good prospect to further research. 

Sadly, at this point there is no access to those records, since the country is under a Communist government and gaining access to information is very difficult.    

Next time, Part 2...  ‘Life in Ybor City from 1908-1915’ 

"May your footprints today, leave a treasured legacy tomorrow"

Copyright © 2012 Marilyn Poole /The Genealogy Gap