While researching my Puerto Rican family history for the past three years, I have been able to trace a few ancestors back about 250 years. However, some family lines have limited records available which causes me to run into genealogical brick walls. Every now and then, I get to break through a barrier to find some insightful history.
I have been eagerly awaiting the time when I could identify a record of an immigrant ancestor who traveled to Puerto Rico from Spain. I wondered which family line would be the first to point me to Europe. Finally, I have an answer: the Viera Family from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
When Spain acquired Boriken, the territory known today as Puerto Rico, many families from the Canary Islands migrated to help populate the Caribbean land. The Spanish monarchy felt that Canarians would adapt to island life better than other immigrants from the mainland of Spain. I have learned that the Viera Family lineage originally came from Lanzarote, Las Palmas, the third most populous Canary Island, after Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
Records show that in the early 1800s, Jose Mariano Viera, his wife Manuela Valiente y Martinez, and their five children including Lazaro Viera Valiente migrated from the Canary Island of Lanzarote to Gurabo, Puerto Rico. The Viera Valiente children acclimated to their new home, later married local residents, and started families of their own. Eventually, over the years the Viera Family from Gurabo moved to Rio Piedras. In addition to Rio Piedras and Gurabo, Viera Family ancestors lived in Trujillo Alto, Juncos, and Caguas, Puerto Rico.
Another Viera Family ancestor named Justo de Leon Martinez also migrated from the Canary Islands to Gurabo, Puerto Rico sometime in the mid-1800s. Justo was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canarias, Spain sometime around 1840 and died in Gurabo, Puerto Rico on February 20, 1900.
Further research shows that the Viera name is prominent in the Canary Islands. José Antonio Viera y Clavijo, who was born in 1731 in Tenerife, was a Spanish historian known for his extensive work on the history of the Canary Islands. There is also a comtemporary DJ named Diego Viera who was born in 1986 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. I have no evidence that links these Vieras to my family line, but they are both worth noting because anything is possible.