Monday, October 17, 2011

Miguel Angel Delis Babilonia (1933-2011)

I'm saddened by the recent passing of a cousin, Miguel Delis Babilonia. I was fortunate to meet him and other family members through his nephew, the photographer and videographer Robert Babilonia, late of Washington DC. Miguel had a career in education, serving as principal and administrator of schools. He was of medium height and slight build, with black hair that contrasted with his skin, and it was impossible to tell exactly how old Miguel was.

The first time we met was when my husband and I traveled to Hato Rey to meet his mother, Rosairis, a vivacious woman in her 80s, who graciously sustained a conversation full of genealogical questions. Miguel cared for her, and I learned more about the Babilonias who settled in Quebradillas in the 1880s.  Rosaris told me that the Estrella family came from Spain, then to Santo Domingo and on to Puerto Rico, where they established themselves in Camuy.  Her grandmother, Jacinta Amalia Estrella Ostache (b.1850) was the first generation born in Camuy, and she married Manuel Miguel Astolfo Babilonia Talavera (1854-1926). He was my greatgrandfather Alicides' brother.

Miguel and his sister Katri both answered a question I was long curious about, why did Rodofito (as Manuel Miguel Astolfo was known) move east, away from Moca? Katri explained that Jacinta's father, d. Jose Cayetano Estrella Pallan was against slavery.  Already a widower, he purchased slaves in order to secure their freedom, and was jailed along with them for it. Miguel told me that Rodolfito broke with his family over slavery, and moved east. There is a document in PARES that announces his appointment and transfer as a teacher to Trujillo Alto until that November, when he was relocated to Quebradillas. So it seems work and political beliefs blended in his leaving Moca for the east central area of the island.  Unfortunately, Alicides remained stuck between pride and racist beliefs, preferring to acknowledge to his granddaughter that 'he used to own that family', after returning a passerby's good morning.

QEPD Miguel. I'll miss you.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ambrosio Alicides Babilonia Talavera (1860-1951)

It's great to connect with family, and there are always surprises. Yesterday, my cousin Amindra sent me a photograph of our Great Grandfather, Ambrosio Alicides Babilonia Talavera (7 Dec 1860-12 Jul 1951).  His photograph lends a sense of what I learned of him, not the easiest person to deal with, despite the sweet first name, which he never used. A very proud man, always suited and wearing a tie.

Pedro Miguel Antonio Babilonia Talavera,  his brother and brother in law, visited him almost daily before he died in 1947. Miguel (18 Nov 1867-16 Feb 1947) served as Alcalde of Moca in the early years of the twentieth century, and had a large family of 15 children with Monserrate Ramos Rosado (b.1876). Alicides only had 11 children with Maria Concepcion 'Concha' Lopez Ramirez (1863-3 Jan 1925); although they divorced, they lived next door to each other, she taking care of the girls, he the boys, until she died suddenly of a stroke. It was so sudden, they arranged her on a chair, got a photographer to take her last picture. I don't know if the image exists still, but this was a large photo  in an oval frame, probably beneath a convex glass. She wore a long skirt and held a fan in one hand.

My grandfather, Felix Alicides or 'Alicidito' did not win any points for marrying my grandmother, Felicita Rodriguez Vale, a laundress of Taino descent. Both died before Alicides did.

Here he stands in his back yard, next to a young banana tree.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Branches: 5 April 1798 - The death of Cristobal Sotomayor Hernandez

One of the features that Reunion (my genealogy program) has upon opening is a small window that lists whatever events occurred on this day; this particular one happened 213 years ago.

One of the persons listed was Cristobal Sotomayor Hernandez, born in 1768 in the town of San Sebastian del Pepino and who died on 5 April 1798, in Quebrada Grande, Moca.  He married Manuela Lorenzo de Acevedo y Diaz on 8 Jan 1777 in Moca. She's my GGGG grandaunt, daughter of Capt. Juan Lorenzo de Acevedo & Martina Diaz de la Cruz, my 5th Greatgrandparents.

Cristobal was the son of Cristobal de Sotomayor and Rufina Hernandez, born sometime in the 1740s. His parents married in Arecibo, yet his father Cristobal was born in San Sebastian del Pepino (then a ward under the subdivision of Aguada), and his wife Rufina, in Aguada. This is a lot of ground to cover early in the 18th century, and probably involved sailing from one coastal point to another and riding inland. During this period, several Sotomayor clusters existed between Aguada and Arecibo/ Utuado area, possibly connected to those in San Juan.

Cristobal died young, "Fallecio en el sitio examinando Quebrada Grande" (Died at the site while inspecting Big Creek). Quebrada Grande is one of the branches of the Rio Culebrinas that snakes through a small valley near the present day Carretera 110. This snapshot from Google Maps gives an idea of the landscape.

Either he fell in, fell off his horse, or had a heart attack. He was only 30.
He and his wife had ten children.

Children of Cristobal de Sotomayor & Manuela Gonzalez:
Jose Pablo
Juana Maria

They may appear as Soto Acevedo in records for Moca or San Sebastian, rather than Sotomayor y Lorenzo de Acevedo. Cristobal appears as Sotomayor Hernandez in one record and Soto Hernandez in another.  However, I haven't located additional records on their children yet, and imagine some of them lived into the 1850s and perhaps beyond. 

Cristobal had a brother Mauricio Sotomayor, who was born in Arecibo. Mauricio married Maria Manuela Gonzalez Serrano. Their daughter, Maria de las Flores Sotomayor Gonzalez, wed Agustin Vera de la Rosa. For some reason, their identification changes from 'blancos' to 'pardos libres' to 'blancos' between the parish death records for their children. Previously, Maria de las Flores Sotomayor was incorrectly linked to another Mauricio Sotomayor Velez and his wife Maria Manuela Gonzalez y Ortiz de la Renta, which appears in Ramirez Brau's Origenes Portorriquenos.  By cross referencing the available information, I was able to determine that this was the wrong Maurico Soto and Manuela Gonzalez.  Still, they're probably cousins.

Herman Reichard Sapia, Sotomayor Notebooks, unpublished manuscript, courtesy Dr. Haydee Reichard
Mabel Ruiz Sotomayor & Juan Sotomayor, "Notas sobre Cristobal Sotomayor [1763]" Unpublished transcription of parish records, ca. 1980. 
Record transcriptions of San Sebastian marriages by Luis Moreno Perez & Francisco Corretjer MD
Andres Mendez Munoz MD, “Pobladores de San Francisco de la Aguada para comienzos del siglo XVIII.” Hereditas, 4:1 (Abril 2003), 55-71.
Generoso Eduardo Morales Munoz, Fundacion del Pueblo de Lares: anotaciones al expediente. San Juan: Imprentas Venezuela, 1946.
Enrique Ramirez Brau, Origenes Portorriquenos. San Juan: Impresas Baldrich, 1942.