Tree Climbing With DNA Cousins: Family Across Several Continents
If your Puerto Rican ancestor is on this list, then we’re related!
Since the mid-2000s, my digital family is expanding, and I’m enjoying some new connections. I tested my autosomal DNA on 23&Me, Ancestry and FamilyTree DNA, uploaded to MyHeritage, DNA.Land and am faced with hundreds, well, since the original blogpost, it’s now thousands of matches. I’m finding that some of the people i’ve known via social media are also distant relatives. I think back on when I lived in NYC as a child and how many times family have told me, wow, I used to live up there (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan) too, and I wonder how many of those folks who passed me on the street were tied by blood.
Thanks to my prima Teresa Vega, who has the Radiant Roots, Boricua Branchesblog, I’ve been introduced to DNA, FB groups and i’ve been getting to know a lot of family and potential family. Our connection is through Rosa Maria Caban Mendez (2C4R), great granddaughter of my 5th GGP, Juan Cabal and Margarita Ruiz born sometime in the 1730s- 1740s in Aguada, Puerto Rico. Through Sociedad Ancestros Mocanos, we’ve found that quite a few people in our group have discovered DNA connections beyond the documents. And let me tell you, the level of endogamy on some of these lines ‘te da mareo’! (just makes you dizzy)
TL Dixon, of the FB group Native American Ancestry Explorer and Roots & Recombinant DNAblog graciously reviewed my atDNA GEDmatch results and noted the distribution across several different populations from several continents. There weren’t really surprises in there, as a lot matched what I was able to track via documents, contextual history and etymology of the Babilonia surname.
More recently, I’ve had the good fortune to have Fonte Felipe who has the wonderful blog, Tracing African Roots: Exploring the Ethnic Origins of the Afro-Diaspora look at my African results on Ancestry.com and see what matches come up. I’ll write more about discovering these ancestral roots in future posts, as I slowly learn to bring together local history, documents, trees and now, chromosome mapping and triangulation. However, knowing surnames can help point you in the right direction as to where that 3rd or 4th cousin might link up to you.
The Gift of Knowledge
Look, i’m related to two people on the panel on Black ProGen LIve, connections that we discovered much later. Perhaps some of you wonder why i’m on Black ProGen? It’s because one needs a space to speak to the realities of being POC and how one identifies, knowing what techniques and readings are helpful when nobody in your immediate family really has roots in New England, England or Ireland. There is definitely some up there in the mix, but it’s negligible, and my DNA looks like it went through a fan- ethnicities tossed in with no immediate connections to Europe outside of my dad’s grandfather. This is the face of the slave trade & mass migrations in your genes.
And this process never, ever stops. It doesn’t necessarily include the life sustaining ties of kin, people who are the family you make. Remember that there are ties that go beyond blood, or close ties, that make it possible for you to be here. This floating community of family changes over the course of our lives, and I am proud to say that despite the challenges of time and space I have relationships that sustain and heal– yet my tree may not show it. This too is in part, a legacy of slavery.
So, if your Puerto Rican ancestor is on this list, then we’re related!
Family Lines: Those starred on the list below are tied to Haplogroup C1b2 on the maternal line, and C1b4 on the paternal line, which is the Taino DNA that is on both my X chromosomes. More than half of the people here are on my maternal line in the NW, Aguada-Moca-Aguadilla. On the paternal line in the NE, San Juan-Santurce-Rio Grande, there is Haplogroup C1b4 via my paternal grandmother, Angelina Calo Vazquez. Y Haplogroup is European, R-L51, via my paternal grandfather, Ramon Fernandez Matos. On my maternal line, my grandmother, Felicita Rodriguez Vale is the source of my C1b2, which I could fortunately trace back to Tomasa Mendez, born about 1740.
These results fit with the resulting map of 1st to 3rd cousins on Puerto Rico as generated by 23&Me. While locations are self-reported, the results are consistent with family on both sides of my tree, and later generations may have moved south, as I don’t necessarily have specific ancestors in Yauco or Ponce areas. Eventually some arrived in New York City among the thousands who came in the early decades of the 20th Century, many escaping conditions that stemmed from the hurricanes of 1899 and 1928 that mangled Puerto Rico.
There’s always so much more to learn!
The List of my known Great Grandparents:
ps. those born outside of Puerto Rico are noted.
GG Grandfathers –
BABILONIA ACEVEDO, Manuel Miguel Narciso (ca 1804- >1868) Moca
LOPEZ DE SEGURA Y DE SOSA, Buonaventura (ca1825 – <1895)
13 Replies to “Tree Climbing With DNA Cousins: Family Across Several Continents”
Thanks for reading Renate!
Thanks so much Nancy!!
Any further information or death certificates for Juan De La Rosa y Ortiz de Velasco (Velazco) or his parents?
So far on my tree for lineage on Jacinta Hernandez Torres (1700 -) I have:
Manuel Hernandez Del Rio (1669 -) and Margarita Torres (1670 -)
Andres Hernandez De La Cruz (1644-1720) and Maria De Fernandez Lunar (1649-1750)
Miguel Hernandez (1620-1695) and Maria Josefa Ramires (1620-)
Hi Alexander, I used two sources, but understand that Andres Hernandez de la Cruz was married to a Del Rio, and his son Manuel was Hernandez y del Rio. I don’t have anything on a Maria de Fernandez Lunar.
Andres Mendez Munoz, MD “Pobladores de San Francisco de la Aguada para comienzos del siglo XVIII.” Hereditas 4:1, Abril 2003 pp 55-71; also an earlier article, Fuente Andres Mendez Rev Gen PR Oct 2002,p g 8-11 mentions Manuel Hernandez del Rio who was born about 1669 as he testified he was 40 years old in 1709. The surname then becomes the ‘apellido compuesto’ Hernandez del Rio. There are no death certificates per se, but military records and related census for the settlement of Aguada. Church records begin in the 1820s as everything prior to that date was lost due to hurricanes, invasions, fires, etc. What is your source for Andres Hernandez and Maria Fernandez? Haydee Reichard’s article, El Apellido de la Rosa: Troncos Genealogicos del Noroeste de Puerto Rico.” on PReb.com gives an overview of the tree, there may be more in her new book. I’m still researching part of it. With a family like de la Rosa and Hernandez del Rio, its best to get a broader scope on the early descendants, given the endogamy in these lines.
Hi Alexander- thanks. Can I ask what your sources are for Andres and his parents? Ive only picked this back up recently, and its a bit different from the sources I used for my tree I don’t have Maria Fernandez; also the compound surname Hernandez del Rio starts after Manuel Hernandez y del Rio. Records are indeed scarce, as Aguada parish records are extant from the 1820s on. I used Andres Mendez Munoz, MD, “Pobladores de San Francisco de la Aguada para comienzos del siglo XVIII.” Hereditas 4:1. 2003 55-71; there are some Pobladores article in the recent SPG publication of the 1830 Censo de Isabela. Aside from that, Dr. Haydee Reichard’s El Apellido de la Rosa: Troncos del Noroeste, PReb.com gives a nice overview of the de la Rosa line. Some went to Toa. Fortunately there are some military records. Also a lot of endogamy (cousin marriage). Looking forward to locating more information.
Andres is listed here: https://preb.com/geneal/domaguad.htm
There is enough circumstantial evidence that the Rosa/De La Rosa descendants of Don Juan de la Rosa y Ortiz de Velasco (~1690-1700) continued serving in the military in one form or another.
The Reichard article clearly says that d.Andres de la Rosa was a planter who emigrated from Santo Domingo to Puerto Rico in 1809. There are multiple Rosa lines on PR, some from different locations (Italy for example) and it cannot be assumed that this is the same line as that of Juan de la Rosa y Velasco. Unfortunately de la Rosa is not a rare surname.
Most likely this is the son or even the grandson of the person in question.
Hi, this is late but I hope you might see this. I’ve been trying to trace my own ancestry as an Arab/Puerto Rican, and it’s proving very difficult because it seems like not many of my relatives have records. (At least, I can’t find them.) There are several last names on my mother’s side like Figaredo (her maiden name), Lopez, y Gely. There’s also Abolafia and Maldonado. I saw a few Maldonados in your list and I was wondering if I could get more information from you about those people. Maybe there’s a link I don’t know about yet…
Hi Samy, thanks for writing- there’s some Arab/Middle Eastern migration to PR, which largely happens during the 1930s (Lebanon, Palestine/israel, Egypt Yemen), and goes back to the Muslims who arrived in PR during the 16th century; the numbers are not huge, but they are there. The cut off for privacy records is about 1935, so that might be a reason why you are having trouble locating documents. Look for Estela Cifre de Loubriel’s Catalogo de extranjeros (1962), which lists emigres from different Middle Eastern countries; there’s a digitized copy at: https://sites.rootsweb.com/~prhgs/FPR1900/FPRMain.htm. There may be records, but not what you may be expecting. For starters, make a timeline, and build your search incrementally, to be sure you’re covering potential sources of information. Can you interview your family members? try to record their voices if you can, often there are details that fill in the gaps. Check out the brief history section: https://theconversation.com/on-eid-2017-a-peek-into-the-lives-of-puerto-rican-muslims-78798 Hope this helps
I believe were related distantly thru Jose Antonio Caban Nieves (via his 2nd wife Felipa) and I was impressed with your article piecing together his life. However, I’ve become more interested in my mother’s father’s side of the family whose roots trace back to slavery (surnames Portalatin and Gonzalez). I wanted to look through your paper on reconstructing the missing slave records in District 3 (which includes Aguadilla, which is what I’m after). However, it seems the link to Academia.org is no longer working? Is there another place your paper is available?