I am a total history nut.  You already know about my love of Laura Ingalls and all things “Western” but I am also slightly obsessed with medieval history. Not sure why.  I wouldn’t want to live in that time period! For some reason, English history (medieval through the Reformation) is a passion of mine and I try to read anything on the subject.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I’m really into my own family’s history.  For the past 5 years or so, I’ve been trying to research my family tree.  In some ways, it’s easier than my husband’s – who on the one hand has a hand-drawn tree passed down from Germany on his mother’s side and on his father’s side has the whole state of New Jersey to look through.

My entire family as far back as I know lived on an island.  That’s kind of nice, as there’s a limited space in which to look for records. On the other hand, those records are often difficult to read in Spanish, hard to access, and not as well-kept as mainland American records.

One thing I love about Puerto Rican genealogy is that individuals kept BOTH parents’ last names.  Interestingly enough, though, the names went FirstName Father’sLastName MOTHER’sLast Name.

So, my bisabuela (great-grandmother) had the name:

Isabel Marin Rivera

Technically, it was Isabel Marin y Rivera (Isabel Marin and Rivera) but that was only very formally.  In the Social Security Death Index, she carries the former name (without the “y”).  Did my bisabuela have a middle name? We’ll never know.

But genealogically at least, I know both her father’s name (Marin) and her mother’s maiden name (Rivera).

And when a Puerto Rican got married, they added a “de LastName” to their name. So my bisabuela became:

Isabel Marin y Rivera de Frontany

This is fabulous. In one name I know three generations of surnames! See how this makes searching easier?

The other thing that makes it easier is that my family doesn’t seem to have moved around that much. They stayed in the same town for generations and generations. And the lived in tiny mountain towns, not big cities like San Juan.

Knowing the towns in which they lived in, has made my searching easier. In fact, I don’t know how much I would have ever learned if not for it. I always wait till they have 2 week free trials or something and then I go gangbusters researching for those weeks.

My family has always said we were some how related to Luis Muñoz Marin.  He was the first governor of Puerto Rico and a well-loved man by the masses.  (Not sure had the best “character” but that’s a different story).   But every Puerto Rican family with the name Marin in it says they are somehow related to Luis Muñoz Marin.  And what’s funny is that none of them have any proof – it’s always some great aunt twice removed that told them so.

I don’t think we’re directly related at all.  But the Marin family seems to have been one of the original Spanish families that settled in Puerto Rico.  I can trace the family back (not sure if it’s MY family, but the name Marin) to the 1600s in Arecibo, PR, where Luis Muñoz Marin’s great grandparents hailed from.  60 families from Arecibo founded the town of Utuado in 1739.  In the late 1800s, a barrio (neighborhood) of Utuado became its own separate township – Jayuya, and that is where the Marins in my family have lived for a very long time.  So, somewhere back in the 1600 and 1700s Luis Muñoz Marin and I share a common ancestor, but not since then.  But since it’s an island, it’s all gotta trace back to a common ancestor at some point.  And that’s how everyone is related. 🙂

Is there someone famous your family says you’re related to?


One Response

  1. That’s one thing I always loved about Spanish names. It told you the whole story up front. My student used to laugh at me when I would tell them my whole “spanish” name.

    My family says we are related to Alexander Graham Bell because my maiden name is Bell. I did a report on him in 8th grade and I don’t think so because he only had daughters. Maybe through his relatives or something but not him.

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