Monday, July 6, 2009

How Johann Heinrich Wilheim Kleibring Geldmeier became Enrique Kleibring

Foto Courtesy Kleibring archive, property of Edna Comas, MA

Recently, I encountered another Babilonia relative, a descendant from Tomas Babilonia's line- which made me think about Johann Heinrich Wilheim Kleibring Geldmeier, better known in Puerto Rico as Enrique Kleibring.

Kleibring was born in Oppensdorf in Lubeck in Westphalia Province, Germany on 1 May 1830. Like many relatives, he died of tuberculosis on 5 Feb 1890 in Moca, Puerto Rico, at the relatively young age of 59. His son in law, Tomas Babilonia, reported the death to the Registro Demografico before Judge Antonio Quiros Perez and secretary d. Juan Nepomuceno Miranda.

Kleibring's brief diary has details about his arrival in Puerto Rico. This document, El Diario de Viaje de Heinrich Kleibring was inherited by Edna Comas, MA, directly from her grandmother, Sarito Babilonia Kleibring, Heinrich Kleibring's granddaughter. Ms. Comas has done much to preserve her family's history, and appreciate her willingness to share some of these details with me.

Kleibring departed Germany on the ship Gesina in May 1830 and arrived that June in Puerto Rico to find employment as an ironworker. He worked a year on the Hacienda Maria Josefa owned by Charles Schomburg, and then entered into a partnership with Juan Schroeder, after which he took over the workshop in 1859. What he assembled there later became part of the Central Coloso. He worked there until 1867, when he sold the workshop to the firm of Segura and Robers. Anselmo Vive of Aguadilla, was his apprentice and later became a friend. Also mentioned is Federico Schroder, also born in Oppendorf and a schoolmate, who arrived on the same ship with Kleibring.

From Ramon Lopez, Kleibring purchased the machinery from the Hacienda Buena Esperanza for his Hacienda Enriqueta. Part of these lands probably comprised the former Hacienda Las Palmas, once owned by Jose de Quinones and his descendants. On the land of the Hacienda Enriqueta he built a Criollo colonial style home with hipped roof and balustrades that surrounds the upper level. As for the labor force needed to support the family and business, it required slaves and jornaleros (day laborers). [For more on hacienda housing, see Carol F. Jopling's Puerto Rican Houses in Sociohistorical Perspective. Knoxville: U Tenn. Press, 1988] It is not known if lists for the people who worked the Enriqueta are extant.

On Saturday 11 April 1868 he married Maria de los Dolores Sotomayor Riollano (6 Aug 1851-21 Jul 1884, Moca) when he was 33 and she 17. After her death in 1884, he did not remarry. They only had one daughter, Enriqueta Nicanora Kleibring Sotomayor, born in 1870, who married Tomas Babilonia Talavera in 1888. He lived with his daughter's family until his death at Hacienda Enriqueta in Barrio Palmar. Hacienda Enriqueta, which he named for his daughter, was sold to sugar magnate and financier Alberto Esteves Volkers in 1925, who restored and expanded the property in subsequent decades until 1950, when Esteves moved to Aguadilla. It was sold again in 1967 to Dr. Eleuterio Loperena, who restored the building and maintains Hacienda Enriqueta as a museum.

Enrique Kleibring Geldmeier was part of the history of 19th century German immigration to Puerto Rico. Literate and possessed of mechanical and business skills, he quickly learned Spanish and integrated himself into the early years of the industrial growth of the sugar industry. He never returned to Germany.

You can see a panorama of the ruins of the Central Coloso here

There's also a history of the Central Coloso in Spanish

Link on the Hacienda Enriqueta:

"La presencia germanica en Puerto Rico" by Haydee Reichard de Cancio, PhD:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tomas Babilonia Talavera & Enriqueta Nicanora Kleibring Sotomayor

Tomas Babilonia Talavera was my great grandfather's brother, and his first wife, Enriqueta Kleibring Sotomayor is one of my connections to the Sotomayor [often appears as 'Soto' pelao] families of Moca & Aguadilla.

Tomas was much more involved in legal administration, served as a judge and justice of the peace in Moca, in addition to being a hacendado. His signature appears repeatedly in Actas in the Registro Civil in the early 1900s.
Because of his marriage to Enriqueta, he eventually ran Hacienda Enriqueta after the death of her father, Johann Heinrich Wilhelm 'Enrique' Kleibring Goldmeier (1830-1890). Hacienda Enriqueta still exists, owned by Dr. Loperena, on Numero 2, the Old Road between Aguadilla and Moca. [You can even call the Alcaldia in Moca to book a visit- 787-877-3390; Fax 787-877-3560]

In the 1916 book by Sr. Don Arturo Lluveras, Hombres Notables de Puerto Rico y Venezuela: Bocetos Biograficos, is an entry under Aguadilla y sus Hombres.

Sr. Don Tomas Babilonia.
La inmaculada figura del ilustre hombre publico Don Tomas Babilonia, es de estas refinadas entidades que enaltecen la patria de nacimiento, como asimismo los pueblos en donde convivan.
Es un acaudado proprietario, conquistado todo, a fuerza de honradez y constancia, habiendo adquirido ante el mundo, la ciencia y la patria el mas alto credito, debido a sus dotes y a su honradez.
El Sr. Don Tomas Babilonia, goza ante el gobierno del mas alto prestigio, como politicamente hablando, su nombre es un institution, ante la sociedad borincana es altamente querido, primero por sus dotes intelectuales, y ultimo, porque es muy fino y correcto en todos sus actos.
El Sr. Babilonia es un verdadero altruista, amigo de ayudar a todo aquel que luche en pro del progreso y adelantado de la patria, lo demuestra sus alcanses y dotes intelectuales.
En fin, gloria a los que como el Sr. Tomas Babilonia honran a la patria de nacimiento. [30-31]

This doesn't tell us much, save that he knew how to read, and basically was a cultured guy. Together with Enriqueta, the only child of Enrique Kleibring and Maria de los Dolores Sotomayor Riollano, they had 8 children after marrying sometime in 1887:

Maria de los Dolores 'Lola' Babilonia Kleibring b. 1888
nino [parvulo] Babilonia Kleibring b.1889 d. 1889
D0lores Aniceta Babilonia Kleibring
Aurora Pascasia Babilonia Kleibring b. 1891
Maria Luisa Babilonia Kleibring b.1893
Maria del Rosario 'Sarito' Babilonia Kleibring b. 1894
Rosa Carlina Babilonia Kleibring b. 1896
Tomas E. Babilonia Kleibring b. 1901

In 1910, they lived on Calle Victoria in Barrio Santa Barbara, Aguadilla, where Tomas appears as Agricultor, along with his wife and children, and a criada (servant), Ricarda Gonzalez Cordero, 15.
On 5 December 1914, Enriqueta died of a kidney infection, and left with small children, Tomas sought another wife.

he married Aurelia Fradela Quinones of San German and lived on Calle Jose Barbosa 74, next door to my great grandfather, Alicides Babilonia Talaver.
Tomas & Aurelia had three children:
Concepcion Babilonia Fradela b. 1919
Joffre (1923-1987)
Also in their home were two servants; one a sister of my grandmother Felicita Rodriguez Vale, named Evangelista, who worked as a cook, and Juana Cardona Rivera age 12 in 1930. Tomas died of a combination of illnesses, hepatitis, a week of enterocolitis and three days of malarial fever on 10 September 1933.

I thought Tomas would be buried in the old cemetery of Moca, now gone, but while visiting the Old Cemeterio Municipal of Aguadilla, I found his resting place in a mausoleum of his first wife, Enriqueta, that overlooks the ocean.

Foto de Tomas y Enriqueta courtesia de Edna Comas
Foto del mausoleo, Ellen Fernandez-Sacco, 2006.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A family treasure (...memoria, no plata)

A worn Spanish coin from 1777, featuring the visage of Charles III made its way from hand of Francisco Babilonia Polanco y Lorenzo de Acevedo (son of Capitan Miguel Babilonia Polanco & Benita Lorenzo de Acevedo) to Francisco & Maria Viviana Quinones Vives' son Adolfo Babilonia Quinones. Two generations later, I receive the photograph of it from my cousin Gaspar. He remembers his grandfather with it sometime in the 1950s, on his keychain.

From a website on Spanish milled coinage at Notre Dame, I learned that the hole in the coin functioned like modern checks, and a traveler would pin or sew several of them into the lining of their jacket to be used as needed. What amazes me is how the coin made it from one hand to another linking the 18th century to the present. It is not the intrinsic worth of the coin, which is little, but the chain of connections that caused it to be saved that imbues it with value.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Manuel Babilonia Acevedo (1804?- bef 1895) & Lucas Yllas (bc 1815)

I found another reference to Manuel Miguel Narcisco Babilonia Acevedo  in the transcriptions of Protocolos Notariales, Caja 1444 by Carlos Encarnacion Navarro. It seems there was a close relationship between Manuel Babilonia and Lucas Yllas, who was responsible for his two children, Juan Agapito and Maria Sebastiana, as tutor curador. What is remarkable is that he was 'born in Africa, widowed of parents who he did not know because he came to PR very young' Unfortunately there is no age for him nor for his children, who probably were born between 1835-1840. Yllas had enough property and knowledge of the system to prepare a will, although he was unable to sign his name.

Juan Agapito is most likely  Agapito Yllas, who married Ulpiana Lassalle Quinones. 

In Raquel Rosario Rivera's Los emigrantes llegados a PR procedente de Venezuela entre 1810-1848, there are three Yllas, one Juan Yllas, white, 14 from Cumana, and two who came via Venezuela but were from elsewhere -- Francisco Yllas (no additional details) & Jose Antonio Yllas from Barcelona, whose documents dated 1812 & 1814 respectively, while that of Juan Yllas dates from 1821. 
Are they connected in any way? Perhaps with Juan Yllas from Cumana, since that is mentioned in the Testamento. 

 It would be amazing if additional documents could flesh this out further.

Testamento de Lucas Yllas 9-13-1851 fol.181 a 185-v en el barrio del Centro juridicción del pueblo de la Moca moreno  liberto natural de África viudo de padres que no conoció por haber venido muy pequeño a Puerto Rico hallándose saludable y en su cabal juicio. No entra en la descripción de sus bienes que alega son de conocimiento de D.Manuel Babilonia de este vecindario que el manifestará. Declara haber sido casado y velado siguiendo según el ritual de la iglesia con María Monserrate Acevedo ya difunta y tuvieron hijos nombrados a Juan Agapito y María Sebastiana menores de   746  edad a los que nombra como únicos y universales herederos. Nombra por tutor curador de sus hijos a D.Manuel Babilonia y como contador partidor a D.Antonio Charneco y Sanz. Otorgado ante D.Casimiro Gutiérrez alcalde ordinario de este  partido ante los testigos D.Gabriel Seguí, D.Pedro Alcántara Miranda y D.Manuel Babilonia y no firmó por no saber haciéndolo a su ruego el Sr juez,los demás testigos y de asistencia de que certifica =Cumana en Costa Firme (Venezuela) testado,no vale?=África entre lineas vale?. 
Transcrito por Don Carlos Encarnacion Navarro

Certificate of Recognition

The Comite Familia Babilonia Inc. 
organizers of the Babilonia Reunion last year, kindly awarded a Certificado de Reconocimiento for my research on the family.  The committee used it to create banners listing the different branches of descendants from Capitan Miguel Babilonia Polanco's two marriages. These were displayed at the event. 

I also want to give my sincere thanks to Nereida Segui Babilonia & the Babilonia Member Committee for her kind letter, the Certificado and a program for the activity.