Monday, September 19, 2011

the legend of La Serrana de la Vera

Here is a link to a power point that tells the story of the legend of La Serrana de la Vera.

Hope you enjoy learning about a legend of the area.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Website- Garganta la Olla

To go along with this blog, I have created a website with more pages and information about Garganta la Olla.
Click here to go to my website.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reconstructing the Bartolome Curiel and Maria Perez Family from Garganta la Olla

After I finished extracting the first list into excel, I was curious to see if I would be able to find families throughout all three lists, so I tried a little experiment. I took one of the families with the most children, because I thought that would make them easier to follow. I compared them through all three lists. Then I approximated the birthdates from their appearance on the lists. Next I searched the Parish Baptisms Registers. Lo and behold I found 12 children for Bartolome and Maria. It was very exciting. This proved to me, that this was a viable process. After this I was rejuvenated and began to continue working on the extraction part of the process with renewed energy to work towards completion as soon as possible.

Bartolome Curiel Family- 1586
Bartolome Curiel Family- 1594
Bartolome Curiel Family- 1603

One interesting fact about the family in the 1603 list, Bartolome and Maria, the father and mother, did not appear with the family. However, the daughter Ana was listed as of Bartolome Curiel, telling me that she was his daughter. At this point,  I am not sure what happened to Bartolome and Maria. I am thinking that the probability is high, that they both died. In the 1590s, there was a great plague and many people in Garganta la Olla died. Bartolome and Maria, could have been part of this group. Hopefully I will be able to answer that question in the burial records.

I have posted a Powerpoint Presentation that I gave at a conference about the Reconstruction Process. This Presentation will describe the process in much greater detail. If you are interested, take a look.

Reconstructing Families- Membership Lists

When we finally were able to come home and examine the membership lists. It was discovered that there were actually 4 separate lists. One for each of the years 1576, 1586, 1594 and 1603. The last three were fairly similiar in format, with the head of the house being listed first, followed by the spouse and then children. Each entry had a relationship qualifier except the head of house, similiar to that of a census. Some of the spouses were listed as "su mujer" meaning his wife, or "viuda" meaning widow or "la de" also meaning widow. The children were labeled as "sus hijos" meaning his/her children. While most of the lists only had su mujer for the wife's name, the 1603 list included the wife's entire name, with given name and surname.
1603 Membership List- wife's given and surname included

Over 2 years time, I extracted the names in the 1603, 1594 and 1586 lists.  Each list had approximately 500 families with anywhere from one to ten people in the household. Some of the households even included extended family such as siblings, nieces/nephews or grandchildren; and some households included servants. It was very interesting to see the different combinations.

Once I extracted the names from these 3 years, we had to find a way to take the information I had entered into an excel spreadsheet as households and migrate the information into a genealogy program. I really did not want to retype all the information. We felt that using the spreadsheet was the best way to first analyze the data. We spent two years searching for a program that would be the correct tool. Finally, my husband Bob found a genealogy software program called "Gramps." This program would allow you to import the excel data into a file format that could then be imported into Gramps. Once the information was in Gramps, I then exported the file and worked with the families in RootsMagic, which is my current genealogy software program of choice. My husband Bob was kind enough to spend the time, manipulating the data in my excel spreadsheet, then importing it into Gramps for me. When the hard part was done, then I would put it in Rootsmagic and begin looking at the families.

If you want to know more about the Gramps software which is available for free, you can click on the underlined word Gramps.

Now that the families have been in Rootsmagic for about two years, a Trejo cousin, Pam Oborn has been working with me to combine the families with other families we already had connected with Parish Records, mainly baptisms. We also had to combine the families from the three lists. We have finished this process with the 1586, 1594 and 1603 lists, and I am going through one more time to see if there are any obvious family matches that we missed in this combining process.The goal is to get close to 500 families with about 1500 individuals.

After working with these families for 4 years, I have become very well acquainted with them. It has been a fun project to work on and watch the families as they grow and progress over the years. Some families have gone from a couple to a couple and as many as 12 children.  In my next post, I will give the details about the family of Bartolome Curiel and his wife Maria Perez and how I found all 12 of their children, by combining the lists and then comparing them with baptism records. Stay tuned...........

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Origin of the Name Garganta la Olla- Podcast

To explain the origin of the name of the village of Garganta la Olla, I have created a podcast. It is posted on this blog on the right hand side just below the box for links. You can click on the podcast box and listen to the explanation.Not only did I explain how Garganta la Olla got its name, but I also gave a short explanation about some of the other unique characteristics of Garganta. It is a wonderful little town, much different than many other towns in the surrounding area, because of its location, geographical features, and the architecture.  Happy Listening!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Spanish Surname Flexibility

The Parish Archive in Garganta la Olla.
In spanish culture tradition, there are some surname customs relative to present day naming patterns. A person takes their father's surname and their mother's surname. If I was named Maria , my father was Emilio Hernandez and my mother Catalina Perez, my name would be Maria Hernandez Perez. However in ancient times, they may not have followed this tradition and instead named the girls with the mother's surname first and the father's surname second. In this case Maria daughter of Emilio Hernandez and Catalina Perez would be Maria Perez Hernandez.

In Garganta la Olla, in the 1500s at the time of the Cofradia lists I extracted, the naming tradition was to name the sons with the father's surname first and the daughter's with the mother's surname first. That would make Maria Perez Hernandez but her brother Pedro Hernandez Perez. Sometimes however, they didn't include the second surname. In that case Maria daughter of Emilio Hernandez and Catalina Perez would be Maria Perez, but her brother Pedro would be Pedro Hernandez.

All of these surname variations, could make it quite challenging to place correct families together. In a christening record the child would be listed as Maria daughter of Emilio Hernandez and Catalina Perez. Then if you wanted to know the surname she was known by, you would most likely find that listed in her marriage record where she was listed as Maria Perez, legitimate daughter of Emilio Hernandez and his wife, Catalina Perez.

Therefore, when trying to reconstruct the families in a village, it is very important to study the naming traditions to correctly identify the families.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Confraternity Records in Garganta la Olla

In the year 1654, Rafael Martin, my ninth great-grandfather and his cousins Ana Gomez and David Martin filed a petition of appeal with the Royal Chancery Court in Valladolid, Spain.  As citizens of the village Garganta la Olla they had sought to gain membership in the religious cofradia of Saint Anne. In order to be allowed to join, the applicant had to prove a pure Christian bloodline. The Martins and Gomez were denied entrance to the cofradia and were appealing this decision to force the officers of the cofradia to allow them entrance. Rafael’s father was a “familiar” or prestigious officer of the inquisition court, but even this prestige did not guarantee the status of his son with the cofradia. The judge ruled in favor of the previous decision denying Rafael Martin, David Martin and Ana Gomez the coveted membership.
By searching in the Garganta la Olla parish archive record, it was determined that nine different cofradias existed in this small, rural town, with the first being organized in 1527.  They are as follows: Cofradia of Saint Mark, Cofradia of Martyred Saints, Cofradia of Saint Anne, Cofradia of the Lady of the Assumption, Cofradia of Saint Blaise, Cofradia of Our Lady of the Rosary, and Cofradia of the Blessed Sacrament, Brotherhood of Shrovetide and the Cofradia of the Minervas.[1]  Each of these cofradias had a religious purpose which reiterated the fact that religion was a significant part of every-day life in Garganta la Olla. The main cofradias of the town were those of Our Lady of the Rosary, The Blessed Sacrament and Saint Anne.

The records we used for this reconstruction project were the membership lists generated by the confraternity  of Our Lady of the Rosary. These records were ideal, because they listed entire households and included almost all households in the town.  

   **Remember that Cofradia is the spanish word for Confraternity.**

[1] The names of the cofradias in Garganta la olla came from the inventory of books in the Parish Archive, made by BYU students in May 2009. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Confraternity Activities in Garganta la Olla

        Michael Kenny wrote in his book, A Spanish Tapestry: Town and Country in Castile that the cofrades carried wooden platforms on their shoulders upon which the figures of the honored saint were placed while they marched through the town. In the church each cofradia is represented in a certain section of the church. Then the captains of the cofradias present the priest with a monetary offering.  During this procession the parish priest and the cofradia captains walk together in the united purpose to honor the blessed Virgin or Mary the mother of Jesus. This shows unity with the local priest and unity in purpose with the cofradia brothers or cofrades.[1] Since the rules and regulations that governed the constitution of the cofradias were approved by the local catholic bishop, but regulated by the Catholic Church hierarchy, there must have been many similarities in the processions from city to city or town to town.
            In the 1743 cofradia books of Our Lady of the Rosary in Garganta la Olla, it was recorded that the members had responsibility to attend to the widows in the town, and to help the poor and/or members of their own cofradia with burial practices and clothing if they could not afford the cost. In that same year, they also described how they sold roscas or rings of bread made of wheat and oil and topped with honey and sugar, used especially in commemoration of the visitation of Our Lady of the Rosary on 2 July.[2] At this time, most citizens did not have an oven in their home to bake bread, so the cofradia had the bread baked in the central town oven and then sold the roscas as a service to the town members. This act shows another example of helping the needy by baking the bread in a common village oven.

[1] Michael Kenny. A Spanish Tapestry: Town and Country in Castile. (New York: Harper & Row, 1966),100-103.
[2] Iglesia Catolico, Parish of San Lorenzo Martir, Garganta la Olla, Caceres, Spain. Libros de Cofradia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario, 1527-1861, report for 1743, 23-25.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reading and Transcribing - 16th Century Spanish Handwriting

1576 list

1603 list

The excitement of starting the project wore off a little when I received the images and was able to examine them more closely. I had been reading the parish baptism, marriage and burial records from Garganta la Olla for a couple of years by then, but I had never read any records from the 1500s. I originally thought that the handwriting wouldn't be too different from what I was accustomed to reading, but I quickly realized that was a bad assumption. The records had been preserved well and were quite readable which helped immensely. However, the difficulty came in recognizing the different types of handwriting and then deciphering the words. In the 1500s there were 3 different types of handwriting styles used. They were italica, cortesana, and procesal. In the membership lists, all three of these handwriting styles can be found depending on who was writing the list at that moment.

Interchangeable Letters
As you can see from the above images the handwriting varied from list to list and sometimes from page to page. In Spanish handwriting there are several letters that are interchangeable, such as i-y, b-v, j-x-g, and c-s-z-ss-ç. The letter "h" is not pronounced in the Spanish language, much like the "k" in the English language in the word know. The month of January in Spanish is "Enero". However, in earlier records you might find "Enero" spelled with an h on the front of the word as in "Henero." Both of these spellings were deemed correct and there was no rhyme or reason as to when they included the "h" or left the "h" off. The letters c-q or f- ph are also interchangeable. All of these differences have to be taken into consideration when reading the documents.

Learning the Handwriting Styles
Another challenge in reading older documents is deciphering the letters. Each handwriting style may have a little different way to form the same letters. At first, I worked with Peggy Ryskamp who helped me begin to recognize the letters that I had difficulty with. Peggy and I would worked side by side in the beginning. After I gained a little experience and became more confident in my abilities, I started working alone. I would save my questions all for one session with Peggy and work on only the questionable words and names.  Sometimes there were words or letters that baffled both Peggy and I. When this happened, George Ryskamp would look at the word or letters and help us decipher them. It was through this process that I learned to read these records. 

Abbreviations are used frequently in older documents. This is a practice that is used widely in Spanish documents. Sometimes there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to when the writer used an abbreviation or when he spelled the word out. The best practice for deciphering abbreviations is to keep an open mind and realize that any word may be abbreviated. Some of the common abbreviations occur with names, such as Franco for Francisco, Res for Rodriques, Xpobal for Cristobal, Ma for Maria, Po for Pedro and Jo for Juan.

The best advice to improve your reading skills with older documents is practice, practice, practice. This might sound like advice from your piano teacher, but it applies the same to reading handwriting. The more exposure you have with the handwriting, the easier it will become over time. I found this to be true. Now after 3 1/2 years of working with these records, I have become quite proficient in deciphering the handwriting. This was not an overnight process as you can imagine, it took many hours of work. In the end, the hard work was well worth the effort and the journey has been quite enjoyable for me.

The book- Finding Your Hispanic Roots by George Ryskamp, has more helps in deciphering handwriting in Spanish documents. Also BYU has a website devoted to reading old Spanish documents.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

What is a Confraternity (or Cofradia in Spanish)?

Cofrades (Members) Statue- Caceres, Spain

As in all Spanish villages, religious devotion and daily worship in the Catholic parish church were at the center of daily life. During the sixteenth century, cofradias or religious charitable organizations were begun to give greater opportunity and meaning to their religious devotion. Each cofradia had its own unique mission as shown by its patron saint. Men and women of the rural village of Garganta la Olla had a positive religious, social and economic impact on society through membership in cofradias. Likewise, the religiosity of the members and their desire for a personal reward in the afterlife were reflected in cofradia activities.

The Role and Definition of Cofradias
            Christopher Black has studied cofradias. Although his research focused mainly on how they functioned and benefitted life in Italy, Black gave a good definition of a cofradia. He described them as: 
“groups of people who came together in conformity with certain rules to promote their religious life in common, who did not take the vows of an order and generally lived in the  secular world. Cofradias were generally organizations of the laity that united for penitential ceremonies and/or charitable works such as gathering for   prayer or communion, maintaining an altar, or aiding the poor. As members of a cofradia the  Ursalines [or members] resided with their families, not in a convent    and performed good works in the community. They also met regularly to participate in confession and to share the Eucharist [or sacrament].”[1]

Flynn explains that “Cofradias were one of the few institutions created by the populace to meet their own needs.”[2]  Each Cofradia organization had a set of rules or by-laws to follow which every member promised to live by.  Even though the Catholic Church worked in harmony with the cofradia, these rules were not religious vows, instead were merely rules set up to govern the confraternal organization. [3]

Religious Purpose- Saint Name

            Each of these cofradias had a religious purpose which reiterated the fact that religion was a significant part of every-day life in Garganta la Olla. The main cofradias of the town were those of Our Lady of the Rosary, The Blessed Sacrament and Saint Anne.   Our Lady of the Rosary refers to the Virgin Mary who is the greatest of the Catholic Church saints. This cofradia is believed to be one of the most popular and universally practiced. Its members are given specific responsibility to frequently recite the rosary, along with charitable acts to the needy, thus showing devotion to Mary and her son.[4] Pope Pius V granted permission for this cofradia to be organized in 1569. [5] Benefits of membership include physical protection, cofradia participation for life and continuing after death and opportunities for indulgences or forgiveness of sins.[6] Membership in this cofradia is open to all people no matter their race, gender or social status. The feast day is the first Sunday in October.[7]

Beliefs in the Afterlife
            Friar Tomas Trujillo summed up the importance of charitable works by saying, “he who gives charity, extinguishes hunger and covers nakedness, extinguishes his own faults and covers his own sins.”[8] The members of these cofradias felt so devoted to the responsibility to help the poor, that they often left provisions for certain charities in their wills, such as bedding, clothing or monetary gifts.[9]
            One of the major reasons for the organization of cofradias was the concern Christian population had for their journey in the afterlife. Pedro de Veragüe gave this insight into how strongly the Spaniards felt about the connection of charitable acts with a person’s eternal reward.

“Hope and faith you will lose
when before God
you stand, wait and see

with great generosity
offer acts of charity
that you will be pure

The greatness of charity
is that it fulfills all needs
and he who receives it not shall pass Heaven by.”[10]

[1] Allyson M. Poska and Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt, “Redefining Expectations: Women and the Church in Early Modern Spain.” in Susan E. Dinan and Debra Meyers, ed. Women and Religion in Old and New Worlds. (New York: Routledge, 2001)  
[2] Maureen Flynn, Sacred Charity: Cofradias and Social Welfare in Spain, 1400-1700. (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1989), 10.
[3] Christopher Black and Pamela Grovestock.  Early Modern Cofradias in Europe and the Americas. (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006),  1.
[4] Michael Freze. Patron Saints. Huntington, (Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1992), 209-210.
[5] Allyson M. Poska, Regulating the people: the Catholic Reformation in seventeenth- century Spain. (Boston: Brill, 1998), 72.                                                                                                                             
[6] Dominican Fathers: The Rosary Center, Portland, Oregon, Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary. (Dominican Fathers: The Rosary Center, Portland, Oregon, 1986-2009). [Accessed 8 July 2009].
[7] Alban Butler. Lives of the Saints. (Cincinatti, Benzinger Bros. 1894, reprint Forgotton Books, 2007),  43.
[8] Flynn. Sacred Charity, 45.
[9] Flynn, Sacred Charity, 50-51.
[10] Flynn, Sacred Charity, 46 with English translation,  156.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Names, Names, Names: Confraternity Membership Lists 1527-1603

During the visit to Garganta la Olla in May 2007, I was participating in a BYU Family History Field Study with Dr. George Ryskamp and six other students. The academic purpose for our visit was to gather records for an 18th Century Study on the small, rural village of Garganta la Olla, and the role of women in that village. We spent two days in the Parish Archive, that the Priest was most gracious to let us use for examination and photographing of the records. It was an amazing experience looking at the collection of Parish Books from as far back as 500 years ago. We were actually able to handle the books and take pictures of whatever we wished.  The books were very well preserved because the climate in Garganta is quite dry. This was my first experience looking at such old records and I was very intrigued and overwhelmed by it all. It hardly seemed real.

While searching the Parish Books for anything pertinent to our studies, Confraternity  (or Cofradia in Spanish) Membership Lists were discovered from the years 1527, 1586, 1594 and 1603. These membership lists not only included the members or cofrades, but also others in the household, mainly family members. These lists pre-dated many of the Parish baptism, marriage and burial records. I was so excited to see these records. What a wonderful discovery! Each list was about fifteen to twenty pages, with anywhere from 30- 65 names on a page.

Membership List

Cofradia Books

BYU Field Study Activities - Garganta la Olla, Parish Archive
I could hardly wait to return home and have time to search and extract the names from these records. At first I wasn't sure who Dr. Ryskamp would assign to look at these records, but I knew that I had to ask if I could be involved. After all, these were my ancestors and my heritage. There was something that drew me to the records and this project. Little did I realize that 3 1/2 years later, I would still be consumed and enthralled with these records.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My First Visit to Garganta la Olla- May 2007

In 2007, I made my first visit to Garganta la Olla as part of a BYU Family History Field Study Group. It is a magical town, nestled up in the mountains of western-central Spain. Because it is a town off the beaten path, it has remained much the same as it looked several hundred years ago. The exterior of many of the buildings looked the same as they did in ancient times. If it weren't for the asphalted roads and sidewalks, you would think you had stepped into a time machine and you were back in the seventeen or eighteen hundreds.

My added interest in this town stems from the fact that my great-grandfather, Meliton Gonzalez Trejo was born and raised here. It was fun to see the house of his birth, the church of his baptism, and walk the streets where he and his ancestors walked. It was a truly priceless experience.
BYU Field Study Group- May 2007

Birthplace of Meliton.

The town is surrounded by mountains and a river. The town has two bridges, the old bridge and the new bridge. The new bridge was built in 1577, which seems somewhat comical to those of us from the US where there is nothing in the entire continent that dates back more than 400 years. To the left is a picture of the house where my great-grandfather Meliton was born. I was not able to go inside, because the current owners were not home. However, it was still fun to see the outside and contemplate the life of Meliton and the daily things he must have done in this little village. 

Meliton and Emily Family

This family picture was taken in Salt Lake City, Utah in the early 1890s. Meliton is holding son Milton, daughter Sarah in front and Emily is holding baby Jared. Standing in the back is Marie Louise, Meliton's daughter by his first wife Mariane Christensen. Stay tuned to my blog for further information on my village reconstruction project.