This year, I am determined to focus on researching the unknown in all those family surnames, in addition to my regular research projects. This will be an ongoing project, as I have several families I hope to research in this series.
There is my Trujillo-Sierra and Santana-Vega lines. They are my maternal Great- grandparents - my mother's maternal Grandparents who were born in the Canary Islands. As I research these family traditions, this journey will take me down the road of the
As I start this process, I have decided to focus on the surnames of Matos and Guerra...
In the Spanish culture, it is a common practice for men and women to use the surname of both the father and mother. In addition, women continue to use their maiden surnames even after marriage when they add their husband's name. A practice I wish, were the case with all countries, looking at it from a research standpoint. It is easier to track women when they keep their maiden names along with their married name. It is often the case when we research that we have at least two situations:
1. We know the maiden surname, but not the married name:
The woman seems to no longer exist after she marries, as she is known by her married name from that point on. This however can be found by searching marriage records, but would need to pinpoint the county and state in the United States, or city, province, Parrish, country to search by her maiden name.
2. We know the female ancestor only by her married name:
This is more often the case that we run into when researching and there are a variety of ways to locate her maiden name. Although, I will say that in my own experience, some are more difficult to find than others.
There are many resources available online that I have found extremely helpful.
I remember, several years ago I heard my first online presentation, by Lisa Alzo, on how to find female ancestors. It was excellent and very helpful. There is a very useful
There are several wonderful webinar presentations on the subject by, Gena Philibert Ortega, Leland Meitzler, Peggy Lauritzen, Lisa Alzo, and others that can be found
These are both annual membership subscriptions, but definitely worth it for all the educational resources available.
These are just a few suggestions as I know there are many other resources, books, genealogy societies that have wonderful resources and webinars as well.
Back to topic...
So in the case of my Great-grandfather, Rafael Matos Guerra. His Father's surname is Matos and his mother's surname is
Now, my first revelation was learning that my Great-grandmother, Antonia's maternal name was Navarro and not Llanes / Yáñez, as the original tradition was told to me many years ago. It is hard enough researching Spanish genealogy without searching for the wrong names!!
Needless, to say I would highly recommend you confirm names, dates, locations, and any other information you are given regarding your family.
It was through correspondence with one of my first cousins, that I was able to glean information given in a copy of a marriage document that contained details about both families and locations.
I don't often get to do many happy dances from my research, but I must say, that this was a great Hallelujah happy dance. In fact, if I make any headway with my research, that indeed is a great day to celebrate.
Rafael was born in Arucas, Gran Canarias between 1851-1853, his father, Fernando Mato
Antonia was born in Santa Cruz, Islas Canarias around c1844. Her father, Francisco Medina and her mother, Josefa Navarro, are both from Santa Cruz, Canarias.
I took note that for some reason the maternal name was not listed on either of Antonia's parents, which leads me to guess that possibly Rafael gave the information for the marriage certificate, since his information was complete and hers was not. That is only a guess.
Next step, will be to confirm the dates of birth through baptismal records, look for marriages, any siblings born to those families, and death records found
At this point, I need to compile a list of churches in Arucas, Gran Canaria and in Santa Cruz. The Marriage document for Rafael and Antonia did not specify if the Santa Cruz listed was in Tenerife or in another island. Once that is determined, I hope to locate baptismal records with more details about the maternal names of Antonia's parents that will hopefully reveal additional family and look for any other records available.
Obviously, we know that they were in Cardenas, Cuba at the time of their marriage in 1886 so we can easily concord that they emigrated from the Canary Islands prior to that date. I will also research what current events were taking place in Spain and Cuba during those years prior. I would love to learn when and why they left the Canary Islands for Cuba, as well as who remained. It is entirely probable, that today we have, living descendants of Rafael & Antonia's families who remained there.
This is obviously the first of several parts, as I travel on this road to uncover the hidden story of Rafael and Antonia...