Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Finding Your Roots" Leaves Some Roots Still Buried

Anyone else feeling a little cheated tonight?  Especially after watching tonight ‘s episode of Finding your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.?[1]

If you have researched Spanish language genealogy records you know a goldmine record when they see one.  And tonight, while profiling Rebecca Lobo, Mr. Gates showed a baptism record for her great grandmother.  The record was from a Spanish Catholic church in Morocco.  As he had Rebecca read out loud from a transcription, the camera held a view of the record over the father’s name, and directly below that was the words “Abuelos paternos”.  I caught it right away and thought “how lucky”!  I always love when I get any record that names the grandparents as well.

But, Mr. Gates when on to discuss, due to the destruction of records in the father’s homeland of Spain, this generation is as far back as the researchers could go.  WHAT?!? 

I even rewound the show a few seconds to see a screen shot of the whole record.  Though not completely clear, it was clear enough to see the names of both sets of grandparents. 

I’m sure that information was shared with Rebecca; I on the other hand, am feeling a little let down.

[1] Finding your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and WNET in association with Ark Media. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. et al. RMPBS, Denver Colorado, 30 Sep 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Family Found

After finding Elena Longoria’s baptism records, I set out to prove whether she was in fact the mother of my grandfather.  For this I needed to find a marriage record for her and my great grandfather Ines Gonzalez.

I began by searching in Familysearch.org’s civil registration records.  Based on the fact that my grandfather was born around 1901 and wasn’t the oldest child, I started looking in 1900 records in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico and went back from there.  At first it is a crapshoot trying to figure out where records stop and start, but after a while you get the hang of it.  I kept thinking I wish someone had an index of these records.  I quickly found at the beginning of every year, there is usually an index of the marriages that took place that year.  If viewing the actual record, the index would be at the end of each year of records.  But, the lovely people that were tasked with filming all these records flipped to the back of the book and filmed the index, then returned to the front of the book and continued filming….most of the time.

I didn’t have to go far when I got a very encouraging hit.  In the index for 1900 was the name Ines Gonzalez.[1]  

 As I nervously clicked to find the appropriate page I wondered, “could I actually be this lucky?”.  And then, there it was…in front of me…at the bottom of the page, Ines and Elena’s names in the margin.

On this page, within the record, Ines was named as well as his parents and grandparents. [2]  Whoa! Two more generations. Oh please, let him have married the Elena Longoria from the baptism record.

As I “flipped to the next page” there were Elena’s parents and grandparents names.  And they were the same as listed in the baptism certificate!  I had, without a doubt in my mind, completed my grandfather’s family unit with parents and grandparents (sans, later to be found, all his brothers and sisters).  A family unit I never knew; had never heard of before.  I now knew, who and where I come from.

[1] "México, Tamaulipas, Registro Civil, 1800-2002," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-23439-14782-34?cc=1916237&wc=MD55-KTL:203415001,203613901: accessed 30 Sep 2014), Matamoros > Matrimonios 1899-1904 > image 111 of 527; citing Archivo General del Registro Civil del Estado de Tamaulipas.
[2] "México, Tamaulipas, Registro Civil, 1800-2002," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-23439-14782-34?cc=1916237&wc=MD55-KTL:203415001,203613901: accessed 30 Sep 2014), Matamoros > Matrimonios 1899-1904 > image 111 of 527; citing Archivo General del Registro Civil del Estado de Tamaulipas.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Media announcements

Just a quick post tonight about a couple of current genealogy events going on.

1.  I called Ancestry.com today to discuss my frustration regarding another member sharing a picture from my tree and attributing it to an obviously wrong person in her tree.  But that is another blog post.  What is news is the offer the made me.  I normally pay $19.99 a month for the standard subscription so I can easily bail if I know it will be a slow research month.  Instead, they offered me  6 months for $99.00 for the upgraded World Explorer membership. Plus an additional free month.  Since most of my research is not in the US, I can start back up with some English relatives again.  My math tells me that is a $40 saving over my current route, and I'll have more access to more records!

2.  I just read Louis Gates  is starting up his show "Finding your Roots" again tomorrow (Tuesday) 8/7C on PBS.  Just in time, I'm beginning to have YDYTYA withdrawals.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finding Elena Longoria

That first night of searching on line introduced me to Ines Gonzalez and Elena Longoria.  Finding one set of my dad's grandparents really struck me.  I always assumed my great grandfather's last name would be Gonzalez, but I had no idea about her.  I think that is why she fascinated me the most.  It may have been the "ease" in which I found her.  All I can say is thank goodness for the Spanish tradition of women keeping their maiden names!  Subsequent searches on Archives.com did not yield much in the way of Ines, but I quickly found a baptism record for an Elena Longoria.  But, as I am quickly finding out, in Mexican records can come across the same name for different people over and over again.  How am I to prove that I am on my Elena's trail?

I had heard of the Longoria name before.  But not before Eva Longoria graced our TV's starring in Desperate Housewives.  And now, I may be related to her somehow?

But it wasn't Eva I was fixated on; it was Elena.  I just loved the way the name sounds.  Following the link to Elena's baptism record on Archives.com led me to her parents, and then her grandparents, and back another 6-7 generations of Longoria's.  All the way back to a Lorenzo Longoria born in Spain in the 1500's.  I was floored!  Could this be part of my family tree?  The "tree" I thought could never be documented.  

The seemingly pre-built tree on Archives referenced that the tree actually came from a site called FamilySearch.org.  I had to check this out.  FamilySearch.org is a site run and maintained by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  It is free to join and an amazing source for finding records of your Mexican Heritage.  (And other regions of the world too.)  The indexed record for Elena baptism on FamilySearch listed her parent’s names and her grandparent’s names.[1]

And this time it was sourced.  I had to see the original record!

From the main page, I followed the search link to Mexico, then Tamaulipas, then Matamoros until I came to the list of Catholic Church records for this area.  I chose the appropriate record for 1881.  After getting the hang of "turning the pages" I finally to got the 1881 records.  I should point out, I do not speak Spanish, and I certainly can't read it.  I do know numbers and calendar months, so with my limited knowledge, I figured it out. 
Elena's baptism record[2] from 2 July 1881 at Nuestra Señora del Refugio in Matamoros, Tamaulipas,[3] Mexico would be the first of many Mexican records I would eventually find.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

That First Night Online

In March of 2012 I had taken a lovely weekend trip to the western side of Colorado.  While on the trip, a friend mentioned she wanted to take a side trip to the town of Paonia, Colorado.  I, in an off the cuff comment, mentioned I had heard from an aunt that I had family from England in Paonia.   I really didn't have a clue as who they were or what their last name could be.  And, I had only two last names to go on from England; Chinery and Page.  So when I got home that night, I started an online search to see if I could figure out whom these long lost distant relative were.  To make a long story short, I was completely unsuccessful.

But, that night of "googling" unveiled to me the vast number of genealogy sites that were on the internet.  Somehow, I ended up joining Archives.com that night for a "free 7 day trial".   Since I failed in finding my English relatives in western Colorado, I started checking to see just who in my family I could find records for online in the limited time my family has been in the US.  That is when I came across my dad's birth certificate.

Now, there were no surprises on the certificate.  The surprise for me was that I was able to find something like that so easily.   My father would be (and was) a bit dismayed to find out I had gotten a digital copy of it off the internet.[1] 

My grandfather has always just been a name to me.  Yes, he was my father's dad, but even my father never met him.  He died sometime in the months before my dad was born.  So, if I could find a birth certificate from 1935 online, why couldn't I find a death certificate from the same year?

AND I DID![2]   My first breakthrough.  And for the first time in my life I saw the names of my great grandparents.

That was the moment I got sucked in.  I didn't sleep much that night.

[1] If you know my father, his copy is locked away in a vault somewhere for sure. 
[2] "Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-25239-59714-44?cc=1983324 : accessed 15 Sep 2014), Death certificates > 1935 > Vol 074, certificates 036501-037000, Aug, Bexar-Comanche counties > image 334 of 521; citing State Registrar Office, Austin.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Gonzales with an S

My first post should probably be "why my blog name?".  Probably because "Gonzales with an S" it is something that I must say almost everyday.  The funny thing is that some people think that it is significant in some way.  I probably would have as well, if I did not known exactly when our family name changed from a "Z" to an "S". 

My cousins who have the Gonzalez name all have a "z".  My grandmother always spelled it with a "z".  A "z" is on my grandfather and great grandfather's gravestones.  But all that changed for our family simply because the person that registered my father's birth and filled out his birth certificate placed an "s" where a "z" should have gone.  Now, my father always grew up as a Gonzalez.  But, when he joined the military they told him that Gonzalez was in fact not how he was to spell his name, but it will be Gonzales as his birth certificate states.  Besides for that, he also had to drop his middle name of Farias, his mother's maiden name, as that was not on the certificate either.

So, we are the Gonzales' in our family tree.  But not entirely.  That is one of the first things a learned about researching my family line; the way you spell your name today has nothing to do with who you are related to in the past.   Nor should you discount any records you come across because the spelling is not the same as yours.  Just like the registrar in the 1930's that misspelled my father's name, that has been repeated over and over again by county clerks, city civil registrar's and clergy recording vital records everywhere.  The spelling version of names in just my Gonzales line have been;
Gonz__z (abbreviated in Mexican church records)
so far....
I am sure I will find more.

I say this was one of the first things I learned.  Really, the first thing I learned was I had great grandparents and they had names!