Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Is A Hint Not Helpful?

I guess we do spend a lot of time chasing down rabbit holes that do not produce much.

But just once, I wish someone would message me out of the blue and give a link to a record that takes me back another generation.

I got a “Member Connect Activity” message on Ancestry one day and it was for a very peripheral person in my tree. Someone not related by blood, but as Ancestry spells it out, brother-in-law of great granduncle.

Totally random, right? 

The owner of the tree had the brother-in-law in their tree, but knew nothing of his sister Teresa. And I had Teresa’s marriage record that named not only her parents, but also her grandparents. I even provided a link.

I quickly tapped out a message on Ancestry to this person and let them know of my record.  I get a response, that basically said, “If you know more about this family, let me know, but this is pretty much where the rope ends”. 

I had to wonder, did she even read my message? She never updated her tree.  

Just once, I wish someone would send me a message like that.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

DNA Results Solve A Couple of Problems

Once I bit the genealogy bug on, it wasn’t long before I was spitting into a vial!  I just had to submit my sample to AncestryDNA[1]. 

AncestryDNA is an autosomal DNA test.  It is unlike yDNA or mtDNA.  yDNA is passed from father to son undergoing relatively little changes over hundreds of year, and mtDNA, is DNA that only a mother can pass on to all her children, but then only her daughters can pass it on relatively unchanged to all their children.

Autosomal DNA is called the “family or cousin finder” DNA as it looks at your genes across both genders and all your great grandparents over the past 200+ years. With each generation back, little snippets match, allowing for your results to predict how close someone may be related to you.  And herein lies the problem….

Ramon Longoria was my 3rd great grandfather 4x’s over.  Meaning, 4 of his children were my 2nd great grandparents.  That is quite a concentration of his genetic markers.  And that family married into the same Farias line a couple of times as well.  Both of my great grandmother’s on my father’s side were Longoria’s from the same line, so therefore cousins as well.  Rather than snippets of DNA being lost at a predictable rate, it was rather “over concentrated” to begin with.

Therefore I have a lot of matches that are not as close as they may appear; and all from the same side of my tree.

I have been waiting for a Gonzalez match; my father’s, father’s line that I know less about.  Finally, one day I received my highest match yet.  She was predicted to be a 2nd cousin, and when I checked her tree, there wasn’t a Longoria or Farias to be found!

And something did catch my eye.  I noticed her grandmother was a Gonzalez and had lived in Santa Rosa, Tx.  I was intrigued.  Her grandmother’s name was Juanita Gonzalez but Juanita's profile said she was from Mexico City, something I had some doubt about.   I felt I was on to something; mostly because Juanita was recorded as having been married to a de la Fuente. 

I then found a census record for the family.[2]  This family had a son named Manuel de la Fuente.  It had been a Manuel who had been the informant for grand aunt Martina’s death certificate.  Hmmm.

I started looking for the marriage record of Juanita and her de la Fuente husband.   I didn’t find it in Texas records, so I started looking in Matamoros. 

And I found it.  I had scoured Matamoros records before, but if you don’t have a husband’s name, you can easily miss something.  Just the husband was listed in the index.  Porfirio de la Fuente! 

Once I got into the marriage record everything started coming together.  Porfirio and Juanita were living on the same ranch as my great grandfather Ines.  Better yet, Juanita's parents and great grandparents were named indicating she is Ines' sister. [3]  I had a new member of the family.  Here is how my DNA cousin and I are related.

And thus solved the mystery of Martina.  There was no big secret (as I assumed).  She was never that “aunt from Santa Rose married to a de la Fuente”.  It was Juanita, her sister!  And it was probably Juanita’s son Manuel that informed on the death of his Aunt Martina. 

The second mystery solved was more significant for me.   And I only just saw the connection by chance last weekend.

I really, really wanted to believe I had found my great grandfather Nestor’s grave.  But it bothered me, if he was in Matamoros with his family, why had not one of them been the informant for his death.   He was not from Matamoros and probably did not know many people.

Last weekend, I was visiting my father and we were sitting together reviewing items in the tree.  I showed him Nestor’s death certificate and he checked my work on my translation.  And there we were, reading it intently together when I said out loud, “Porfirio de la Fuente”.  And then I had my Aha moment.

It was Porfirio, the son-in-law of Nestor, who reported his death.  It had been family all along.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DNA And The Death Of Nestor

Nestor Gonzalez, my 2nd great grandfather was from Santander Jimenez, a small town south of Matamoros.  He was born somewhere around 1841.  I have yet to find any definitive record of his birth or baptism.   And believe me, I have looked!  The good news is that his parents are named on many documents; both in the birth of his children and subsequent marriages of same children.  But that is all.  There are no records of his parent’s marriage or where he may have been born, if not Santander Jimenez.   I have found no records of siblings from the same parents.   My thoughts of who may be his parents belong to another blog post some day.

Nestor and his wife, Salome, had several children.  Two of them were my great grandfather Ines, and another his sister Martina, whom I wrote about in my previous blog.

Ines, at some point in his life, moved to the Matamoros area and got married[1].  He lived on El Rancho de la Rusias where he and his wife had several children.  When I could not find record of Nestor’s death in S. Jimenez, I decided to start looking in Matamoros.  The wedding of one of Nestor’s other daughters in 1907 helped narrow the search.  He was listed as deceased in the record. 

It didn’t take long to find the name Nestor Gonzalez in the index for deaths in Matamoros’ civil registration for 1903.  As I nervously flipped though the pages, I wondered again if I had gotten lucky. 

Nestor Gonzalez passed away in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico on 21 July 1903[2].  He died of liver cancer.   The record stated that he was originally from Jimenez and that he was a laborer.   The given age was in the correct ballpark.  I even have the exact section and plot number of his grave. 

I still had questions…. Was it correct to assume this was my Nestor Gonzalez?   Why was he now in Matamoros?  Was he there because he was ill?  Was he there to be closer to his son?  Was the whole family now in Matamoros? 

I wanted to say yes to all that in my head, but I just couldn’t be certain I had the right Nestor.  The one fact that bothered me the most; who was Porfirio de la Fuente, (a name I would soon forget) and why was Porfirio the informant and not some other known member of the family?

It would be months before I figured it out.

[1] Blog post “A Family Found” 29 Sept 2014
[2] "México, Tamaulipas, Registro Civil, 1800-2002," images, FamilySearch (,203434101 : accessed 22 Oct 2014), Matamoros > Defunciones 1902-1907 > image 114 of 511; citing Archivo General del Registro Civil del Estado de Tamaulipas.

Monday, October 20, 2014

DNA And The Mystery Of Martina

Nestor Gonzalez and Salome (Gonzalez) Gonzalez probably married sometime around 1869-1870 in Santander Jimenez, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  They are my 2nd great grandparents, parents to my great grandfather Ines Gonzalez.  They had around 10-11 children and are the source of a number of great mysteries in my family tree.   This is a story how a DNA test with help me break through a couple of their brick walls.

I followed this Gonzales branch of my family down to Santander Jimenez.  As I combed the church and civil registrations of this town I found many of their children, but no marriage record.  Oddly enough, for the years in which they could possibly have gotten married, both church and civil records are missing.  One of their children was my great aunt Martina Gonzalez. 

Martina was born in 20 November 1868[1].  Her parents do not appear to be married in her civil registration of birth, but by the time she is baptized on the 30th January 1870[2], she is recorded as being legitimate.  I have yet not come across any additional records regarding Martina until she dies in Santa Rosa, Cameron County, Texas on 23 October1952[3]. 

I found both her baptism and her death records rather early in my search of family.  In this early period, I called my Aunt (my dad’s sister,) and asked her what she may remember about this aunt.  I told her the facts of her name, Martina, and that she died in Santa Rosa in the 1950’s.   My aunt remembered that she had a Gonzalez aunt that lived in Santa Rosa and she was married to a de la Fuente.  This is where the mystery begins.  The informant for her death certificate is a Manuel de la Fuente, and is emphatic on her certificate she was “Never Married”. 


Subsequent searches in Cameron County for a Martina de la Fuente or Martina Gonzalez proved fruitless.  Not in the census; no records of birth of children.  She pretty much stumped me.  And it was not due to the birthdate.  By now I have come to realize that they can often be off by a few years.  

Then, several months later I came across a Mexico death record for a Nestor Gonzales, her father.  That record in itself was interesting.   I didn’t realize at the time, that a DNA match on Ancestry would help solve the mystery of Martina, and confirm I was on the right track for Nestor.

[1] "México, Tamaulipas, Registro Civil, 1800-2002," images, FamilySearch (,203611301 : accessed 21 Oct 2014), Jiménez > Nacimientos 1864-1886 > image 86 of 560; citing Archivo General del Registro Civil del Estado de Tamaulipas.
[2] "México, Tamaulipas, registros parroquiales, 1703-1964," images, FamilySearch (,144320602,144367801 : accessed 21 Oct 2014), Santander Jiménez > Los Cinco Señores > Bautismos 1846-1882 > image 447 of 714.
[3] Texas, Death Certificates, 1903–1982 []. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.  Original data:Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas Death Certificates, 1903–1982. iArchives, Orem, Utah.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Keep On Digging

Tonight I finally found him.  Well, not him actually; I found my great grandfather Ines Gonzalez the first night I went looking.  Blogpost "That First Night Online"  But tonight, I finally found him in the 1940 census. 

I had been looking for him in the census for a while now.  1940 would be the last census he was enumerated in, as he died in 1943, but I just could not find him.  How I finally came across his entry was a fluke.

I recently have been using the city directories for Harlingen Texas to fill in addresses for my g-grandfather and noticed that his son, Jose Gonzalez, was showing up in the directories too.  It was a hunch it was his son and of course the directory listed his address.  This was the same address that was on the death certificate of Ines 3 years later.   A few months ago I was looking for the address in the 1940 census, but the enumerator jumped around a little.  What I did pick up was that the son, Jose, was living with a woman named Isabel.  I had not heard of her before.  In a subsequent conversation with my aunt, she confirmed that her Uncle Jose “Pepe” Gonzales was married to an Isabel originally. 

With that information, I went looking for a marriage record on, and a census record popped up.  And there was Ines listed as living with his son, but my g-grandfather’s name was spelled as Enes![1]   I have never looked for that variation.
Screen shot from 1940 US Census
I just goes to show, never give up.  And, if you dedicate your search to just your direct line, you may just miss something.

[1] "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Oct 2014), Texas > Cameron > Justice Precinct 6, Harlingen > 31-49 Justice Precinct 6, Harlingen City bounded by (N) Harrison Av; (E) E; (S) Lincoln Av; (W) city limits; also Valley Baptist Hospital > image 54 of 65; citing NARA digital publication of T627.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Save Your Sources

*All screen shots taken from and

Sources Sources Sources!

I will start off by saying I am not a profession genealogist.  But, if there is one thing anyone reading this blog can away is Sources!  It can’t be said enough in genealogy. 

I wish I had read that when I first went hunting.  I have since read many blogs where the question was asked of the blogger, “If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?”  And they all say SOURCES!  A source citation, at it’s simplest, is a record of where you found your information.  It allows you and anyone you may share you tree with, know where you found this fact(s). 

Now, it is difficult to get the hang of coming up with a source citation yourself.   Luckily, most of the mainstream websites have a way of providing the source citation for you.  You just need to save it, and put it where you can find it again. 

When I first started, I did some note taking and then some poor attempts at saving my sources.  I am now finding that they are only mildly helpful in getting me back to the record I originally found my fact within.  That sucks!  And then you go fishing again.

I use to save my tree online.  I also have a program on my computer on which I keep a copy well. 

On Ancestry I use their source tool.   Is the way I use it cringe-worthy?  Most probably to a professional genealogist.  But, in the future, if someone (or myself) uses my tree as a reference, they should be able to get back to exactly where I found the record.

I divide my “Source Titles” up into something somewhat general.  Such as all Civil Marriages Registrations in a particular town such as this;

Since I grab many of my Mexican records from, I expand the source citation at the bottom of the page where the record is located and select “Copy Citation”.  

I then paste that into the “Details” line of Ancestry.  But here is the problem; usually the source citations from Family Search are too long for the details section.  To truncate it, I will then pull the part out that is called for else where on Ancestry’s Source tool; the web address URL. (I leave the date accessed though)
I then place the web address (URL) in the “Web Address” a few spaces down.  I finish up by indicating what fact(s) this record is a source for and click save.

Believe me, the moment this hobby become addictive, you will wish you had done this part.   I now spend a lot of my time re-finding records I have already seen, to better source my tree.  It’s better to do it (semi) right the first time.[1]

[1] Sorry profession genealogist everywhere!