Based on my genealogical research and until proven otherwise, Leonardo Vélez, born sometime around 1806, is my fourth great-grandfather on my biological father’s side of the family. I use the phrase “most likely” in the heading of this post because there is a slight chance I may be incorrect. If you disagree with my ancestral hypothesis after reading this entry, please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts or contact me directly. I am open to further discussion of the probability offline.
My goal was to find the earliest known ancestor with my paternal surname Vélez. The Velezes come from San German, Puerto Rico and Velez is a common last name on the island and a significant one in San Germán. Spanish Captain Rodrigo Ortíz Vélez is credited with its founding in 1570. My Velez clan is from el barrio de Cotuí in San Germán but before Cotuí they were located in Sabana Eneas, an adjacent neighborhood. Almost all of the family records documented thus far tie them to the southwest section of San Germán.
I began this project by analyzing the known facts and then I found connections that eventually led me to the working theory that Leonardo Velez is my kin. When you run out of the official paper trail of family links in genealogy, you hit a “brick wall” where no other concrete data is available. One can then combine leading clues to come up with the most likely scenario.
Ancieto Velez, my second great-grandfather, was born sometime around 1857 in Sabana Eneas. His 1912 death record lists his parents’ as Jose and Maria Vélez. I did not find any additional vital records presently available that show exactly which Jose and Maria Velez were Ancieto’s parents and we all know how ubiquitous the names Jose and Maria are in general.
My mission was to focus on the Sabana Eneas area and look for any Jose and Maria Velez who had children together between 1850 and 1860 since most couples at the time had more than one child. I found only one Jose and Maria Velez that had a family during this time and in that specific location: Jose Fulgencio Velez and Maria Concepcion Velez. Records on Family Search show they were the parents of Jose Velez y Velez, born around 1842, Antonio Velez y Velez born around 1850, and Telesforo Velez y Velez born around 1854. It is estimated that Jose and Maria Velez would have been born sometime around 1824.
As per this heritage assessment I am confident that my 2nd great-grandfather, Aniceto Vélez, is part of this family, hence my family. The 1916 death record of Telesforo Velez mentions his grandfather, my fourth great-grandfather, as Leon Velez. Vital records show there was only one Leonardo Vélez that lived in Sabana Eneas in the early 1800s and he was probably born circa 1806.
An additional hunch helps stitch my theory up quite nicely. In the first Puerto Rican census conducted by the U.S. in 1910, Aniceto Velez is listed as living as a boarder in the home of a younger Jose Irizarry Montalvo. In the 1985 death record of Rosa Maria Velez Lugo, the daughter of Antonio Velez and Telesforo’s niece, her spouse is listed as Jose Mario Irizarry. Could these Jose Irizarries be the same person? I think it’s a great possibility.
Until an actual birth record for Aniceto Vélez is found providing more detail on his parent’s identity, or any other evidence is presented to prove the contrary, Jose and Maria Velez listed as Aniceto’s parents on his 1912 death record will be considered the same Jose Fulgencio and Maria Concepcion Vélez listed on the 1916 death record of Telesforo Vélez.
Over the past two years I have become a dedicated genealogist and plan on continuing my quest to learn as much as possible about the Vélez surname in general and my family tree in particular. Genealogy is a lifelong endeavor and things known today can be validated and expanded upon once more information becomes digitally available. For now, my presupposition is that Aniceto Vélez is the son of Jose Fulgencio Vélez and the grandson of Leonardo Vélez, my 4th great-grandfather.