Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trimming a Big Branch

Will the real Juan de Dios please stand up!

It is one of my biggest brick walls, and I thought I had it all figured out.   Given the limited amount of Mexican genealogical records you can research from the US online, I thought I had enough to make the case who exactly is my Gonzales 3rd great grandfather.

His name is well documented; Juan de Dios Gonzales.  That is the name given as the father of my 2nd great grandfather Nestor.  This name has shown up in so many records, I have no doubt, as it is the name given repeatedly by the family over a couple of generations.

Nestor starts showing up in records around the 1870’s in Santander Jimenez, Tamaulipas. He names his parent’s as Juan de Dios Gonzales and Petra Botello.  He gives his parents names in multiple birth records of his children.[1]  His children name their grandparents as the same in their marriage records.[2]  But…..

There is no marriage record for Nestor.   The online marriage records for the years Nestor would have gotten married are missing in  So, it appears a missed opportunity to further strengthen a case for his lineage.  I can’t even safely assume Nestor is from Santander Jimenez (SJ) originally.

Here is what I do know;

Nestor was born around 1841;

Up until now, I have found no marriage record for Juan de Dios and Petra

There are no other children by this couple whose birth or baptism was recorded in SJ;

There was a Juan de Dios Gonzales of the right age to be Nestor’s father born in SJ around 1806 and married a woman name Lucia Rodriguez in 1831.

There was a Petra Botello in Santander Jimenez.  She was married to a man named Salome Equia.  There is no record of their marriage in SJ.  They had two children.

Petra’s husband, Salome, died in 1838. 

I found that a Petra Botello baptized a son without a father named in 1841; the year all of Nestor’s records point to his birth.[3]  The child was named as Jesus de San Jose.  He is listed as a H.N. (hijo natural).  (The fact it wasn't Nestor does concern me but not enough to completely discount the record. )

I first thought, if I could prove the death of both Juan di Dios and Petra's spouses, then I would have a good case that they had a relationship and Nestor was the result.

A few other things continued to draw me in this direction though.   I have had my yDna tested, and it matches with many other Gonzalez’.  Also, it was family lore, my great grandfather’s second wife was his second cousin, Paula Gonzalez, and I could easily tie Paula’s line to Juan de Dios.  So feel confident that Nestor’s father was a Gonzales.

Given the lack of other records, I fully accepted the Nestor was probably illegitimate. 

But, I have always assumed this meant illegitimate in the fullest sense of the word.  I have since seen two references that in old Spanish records, “hijo natural” doesn’t actually mean a illegitimate.  One reference states it means, “Natural Child, a child born of unwed parents who could have been legally married”.[4]  There is another term for what we think of as illegitimate; “Hijo/ja bastardo/da”.’s course on transcribing Spanish records suggests the same thing. I would highly recommend this for help deciphering these old Spanish language records.[5]

What I found was Juan de Dios continued to have children with Lucia until 1844.  He died in 1847. [6]

If the father of this 1841 baptism were this Juan de Dios, then the baby would have been considered illegitimate, as Juan would not have been ineligible to marry Petra.

Full disclosure, by this point, I had thoroughly researched this Gonzalez line in Santander Jimenez.  I traced it back to the 1740's in Montemorelos.  I am cautiously confident I am related to this line via (a) Juan.  So, short of an actual document, I had linked Nestor to both of these people and then decided to make my online tree private.  I didn’t want anyone copying something I was assuming.

Enter the 2nd Juan de Dios…..

The good news, he is the Uncle of the first Juan.  Att least means I haven’t researched this line for naught. 

I knew of this Juan, but I never included him in the possibilities.  He is a little older.  A couple of years ago, I was combing through SJ records page by page.  I had jumped around, but kept track of where I had been.  In his early records, he is only referred to as Juan.   Just this weekend, I started looking at a block of baptism records I had not looked through yet.  First, Juan showed up in a record with his known wife as a Godparent.  He was referred to as Juan de Dios.  Then, I found a baptism record of their  own son.  I knew about the record but had never looked at it myself.  Again, he was referred to as Juan de Dios. 


I did the math.   If Juan’s wife were to have died, this new Juan would have been about 54 when Nestor was born.  Completely doable. 

Now I am on the search for other evidence.  I need to go back and review a few things.  Who was the Godparents of Petra’s son born in 1841?  What is the location of his birth, if listed?  Is it a ranch this new Juan is recorded as being associated with?  The ever-famous FAN acronym; Family, Associates, Neighbors will hopefully provide me clues.

I think I will never know for sure until I find a will, or a document stating exactly the identity of Nestor’s parents.  The civil registry records online are just copies of the original book.  Perhaps the original is still SJ.

Santander Jimenez is supposed to have an archive of many records from this era.  Oh, what I would give for the opportunity to pay a visit down there and comb through the archive. 

Until then, I will start trying to make a case for the other Juan.  Last night I used my “Delete Relationship” button on my genealogy program.  It took a whole researched line with it.  It was a hard to do, but I know it was the right decision…..for now.

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