Puerto RiKin is a blog that will concentrate on Puerto Rican genealogy. The aim is to showcase the ancestry of various Puerto Rican families beginning with my own heritage. I plan to blog about the Velez-Padilla Family of San German, the Gomez-Ruiz Family of Mayaguez, and the Viera-Carmona Family of Rio Piedras. My Puerto Rican kindred will be the focus of this Boricua blog, but I foresee highlighting branches of other family trees in the near future.
I was fortunate enough to have two fathers: one who gave me life and the Vélez Family name, the other raised me like I was one of his own until I was 19 years old. My “step-father,” Angel Luis Viera Carmona, was known to me as “Papi” and was the prominent father figure in my life until his untimely death in 1986. To honor the father that raised me since I was 6 months old, several years ago I incorporated all my family lines in my unofficially Puerto Rican name, Felipe Luis Vélez Viera Gómez.
The Viera surname originates in Portugal and was first found in the Minho province, North-Western Portugal, where Rui Vieira was a nobleman in the times of kings D. Afonso II and D. Sancho II of Portugal (circa 1220). The place-name is derived from the Portuguese word “vieira, ” which means ” escallop” or “shell.”
The Viera Carmona Family hails from el barrio de Hato Rey in the district of Rio Piedras in San Juan, Puerto Rico. According to my preliminary research, the Viera Family line descends from Heraclio Viera who was born sometime around 1872. Heraclio had a son in 1905 named Felix Viera Rivera who in 1928 fathered a son, my step-grandfather, named Angel Luis Viera Santiago. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any vital records for the Viera Family line prior to 1877, but I am relatively new to genealogy and hope that one day I can update this post with more info.
The Carmona surname belongs to my Viera grandmother, Sara Viera Carmona, who was born in Rio Piedras in 1924. Gratefully, I was able to trace the Carmona Family line back to my grandmother’s great-great-grandfather, Laureano Carmona, who was born sometime around 1826. In 1844, Laureano had a son named Nicolas Carmona Rivera who later in 1874 sired a son named Pablo Carmona Santa. Pablo then had a daughter around 1898 named Cristina Carmona Canales, Sara’s mother and my great-grandmother on my Viera Family side.
The name Carmona is Spanish and was first found in the Valley of Cabuérniga in Santander, in the northern central regions of the Iberian Peninsula. Carmona as a place-name has uncertain meaning and is of pre-Roman origin. There are many indicators that perhaps it was of Jewish descent emanating in Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Ruiz and her family came from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. As of the date of this post, I have been able to trace the Ruiz Family line back to about 1822. My grandmother, Carmen Maria Ruiz y Santiago de Gomez, who gave birth to 17 children and was known most of her life as Carmen Gomez, was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in 1931. Prior to researching her family line, all I knew was that they were from Mayaguez, but I have since learned that my ancestors also lived for some time in Las Marias, a bordering municipality east of Mayaguez.
Ruiz is the 21st most popular Hispanic surname in the world and its origin is Spanish and Portuguese. Its roots can be traced back to the Visigoths, the Germanic tribe who ruled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. The name means son of Rui or Ruy, which is short for Rodrigo, and it most likely derives from the Old German personal name Hrodric, a compound of “hrod,” meaning renown, and “ric,” which means power.
My great-grandfather was Tomás Ruiz Perez, who based on his death record and the 1930 US Census, was born around 1903 in Las Marias, Puerto Rico. Tomás, who had five children, unfortunately, died in Mayaguez just a year after my grandmother Carmen was born, which is why we never heard her talk much about her father. Her grandfather, my 2nd great-grandfather, Manuel Ruiz Malavé, was also born in Las Marias around 1882, had nine children, and died in Mayaguez in 1917. The initial family relocation from Mayaguez to Las Marias occurred during the life of my 3rd great-grandfather, Bernardo Ruiz, who was the father to 11 children (all of which were born in Las Marias.) Bernardo was born in Mayaguez around 1840 and by 1870 he had moved to Las Marias where he died in 1900.
The furthest back I could verify an ancestor with the Ruiz Family name is 1822 which was about the time my 4th great-grandfather, José Pedro Ruis, was born in Mayaguez. The reason for the variant spelling of his name could be that is was listed phonetically, or the name could have Portuguese ancestry. Of all the vital records found for Bernardo Ruiz, his death record lists his last name as Ruis but more than 15 other family birth, death, and marriage records have him listed as Ruiz. There is a possibility that Ruis was simply misspelt. It’s also possible that the Ruis Family from Mayaguez just eventually became the Ruiz Family of Mayaguez.
Though my mother’s side of the family is Gomez, it is very important for all of us to know that we are also part of the Ruiz Family legacy that started out in Mayaguez, stretched out to Las Marias, and later returned to Mayaguez.
The Lugo Family name begins in my ancestry with my great-grandmother on my Vélez father’s side of the family. Her name was Juana Maria Cancel y Lugo de Vélez and she was born in 1891 and died in 1950. Juana Maria was married to my great-grandfather, Antonio Vélez y Mercado. The Vélez side of my family goes way back in Barrio Cotuí, San German, Puerto Rico with the Lugo line currently tracing its verifiable history back to about 1775.
Until recently, the last Lugo on my family tree was my great-great grandmother, Maria de las Nieves Lugo y Rodriguez de Cancel, who was born around 1864 and died in 1927. While conducting family research on FamilySearch.org, I was amazed to find information on my second great-grandmother’s parents. This incredible find led me to four more generations of Lugos all based in San German, Puerto Rico.
Lugo is a very popular name in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Puerto Rico. According to the Dictionary of American Family Names by Oxford University Press, the Lugo name is based on the city of Lugo in Galicia, Spain. Lugo was a Roman settlement under the name of Lucus Augusti, ‘grove or wood of Augustus’, but that may have been no more than an adaptation of an earlier name derived from that of the Celtic god Lugos. The surname “Lugo,” originally “Lucus” comes from the Latin “Lucius” which means light.
My 6th great-grandfather is Bartolomé Lugo y Rivera who was born around 1775-1780. He had a daughter named Maria Petrona Lugo y Montalvo, my 5th great-grandmother who was born around 1798. Maria then had a son named Manuel Encarnacion Lugo y Lugo, my 4th great-grandfather who was born around 1816. Manuel then had a son name Ramon Agapito Lugo y Morales, my 3rd great-grandfather who was born about 1845. Ramon, who was known most of his life as Agapito, is my great-great grandma Maria Nieves Lugo’s father.
Family Search has other suggested Lugo Family members predating 1775, however most of the info online is solely from member family trees and unverifiable by actual records. For my research, I made certain that the names listed above were mentioned in the birth and death records of my Lugo Family members of San German.
As of today, 1775 is as far back as I have gotten on any family line I have been researching. It’s incredible to me that I can trace my family in Cotuí, San German, Puerto Rico to around the founding of the United States of America. I’m having a wonderful time studying genealogy, shedding light on my ancestors, and sharing them with my family and the rest of the world.
When it comes to choosing a genealogy website to search your family history, no site comes close to FamilySearch when you consider the total monthly cost associated with membership. While you can pay up to $25 per month for some genealogy search sites, FamilySearch is in a league of its own with the unbeatable monthly membership fee of $0.00.
I have free accounts on the top genealogy sites and paid the monthly membership charge for two months on a premiere site, but after comparing the paid site with FamilySearch, it just made more sense for me to start my family tree education on a free site. Since I have already made the decision that genealogy will be a lifelong hobby of mine, why should I pay $300 a year for the ability to search for millions of records when I can do the same for no cost on FamilySearch?
Sure I admit there is a small learning curve on FamilySearch and the paid sites might make the act of searching a bit easier, but for the cost involved I think it’s worth mastering FamilySearch and investing the money saved on other things, since genealogy in general is not an inexpensive hobby.
My strong recommendation for anyone getting started in searching their family history is to create an account on FamilySearch and check out online tutorials on how to use the site to it full capacity. Have fun!
My mother’s side of the family is from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The family names from Mayagüez are Gómez, Soler, Ruíz, and Santiago. Mayagüez, the largest city on the western side of the island, was founded in 1760. Most of the town’s settlers, including its founders, came originally from the Canary Islands. Mayagüez, whose population in 2010 was 89,080, has been one of the most progressive cities of Puerto Rico and, since the late 19th century, has been a center of political activity.
As a new amateur genealogist, I have come across a great number of websites, tools, and software that aim to assist me in growing my family tree. There is a wealth of resources in the field of family history and it is easy to get lost in all the research possibilities. As a beginner in tracing my kindred, it is important for me to connect with a community where I can learn from experts who have been successful in studying their ancestry.
As a proud member of WikiTree, I can say that I have found a dedicated community of family historians that are friendly, knowledgeable, and generous about sharing there genealogical challenges and triumphs. I joined WikiTree just two weeks ago and I already know that I will be active in the community for many years to come. Registering was easy and I appreciate that active members must sign an Honor Code to ensure that information is accurate and well sourced.
WikiTree was founded in 2008 and allows users individually to research and to contribute to their own personal family trees while building and collaborating on a singular worldwide family tree within the same system. The social-networking genealogy website has almost 24 million profiles and is edited by almost 715,000 genealogists from around the world.
I enjoyed creating my profile/bio, adding my family tree, and earning activity badges along the way. I hope to find other kin online that can help me break through my brick walls and filling the missing links in my family tree.
If you are new to genealogy and want to connect with a thriving community of genealogist of all skill levels, you cannot go wrong by becoming a WikiTree member. You can take a enormous leap forward in constructing your family tree and in the process help form a free universal platform that helps everyone connect to their common ancestors.
The Vélez-Padilla side of my family has a long rich history in San Germán, Puerto Rico. My genealogy analysis for this family line goes back to around 1805 with the birth of my 3rd great-grandmother, Dominga Ramírez. While conducting research on San Germán, I came across this incredibly informative mini-documentary on YouTube. It really gives a great historical perspective on the town of my Vélez-Padilla kin.