The purpose of Puerto Rico Genealogy is to provide information to beginners on how to find ancestors from Puerto Rico. I may include other parts of the world as Puerto Rico is a fusion of different cultures. I will also provide information about the history of Puerto Rico. I also want to share information related to Genetics. Original data: Extranjeros in Puerto Rico, 1815-1845.Records of the Spanish Governors of Puerto Rico, RG 186. (Series T1170, 19 rolls) The National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC. The opposite can be said of her next work, as 'Linda', in 1987's Rosa Salvaje ('Wild Rosa'). Rosa Salvaje, about a girl named Rosa who falls in love with a millionaire but was not accepted by his family, became a hit all over Latin America, Europe and Asia. Levy became known in places including Spain, Puerto Rico, Russia, Venezuela and Argentina.
Puerto Rican Ancestors
Spanish and American Military Records
By Miguel J. Hernandez y Torres
If you are in search of your Puerto Rican genealogical roots and confining yourself to civil and church records, I respectfully urge that you expand your quest to include military ones as well. As a general rule, modern day Puerto Ricans in the mainland U.S, and on the island, know little about Puerto Rico’s considerable military history and about the invincible courage of their ancestors who served in Spanish and subsequently, in American military services.
During the four centuries of Spanish rule and now, one century of American control, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have served with distinction in the respective armed forces of these nations. In the first four hundred years of Spanish domination
Puerto Rico was subjected to approximately eighty attacks by foreign nations including major invasions by England, Holland and the United States and in all of these instances, native born Puerto Ricans fought the invader. In the latter period of American influence, Puerto Ricans again answered the call to arms and served in World War I. World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.
SPANISH MILITARY RECORD SOURCES
Given this 500-year history of military duty, it’s easy to see that from a genealogical point of view the military service records of Puerto Rican men, and now women, are and important resource to family historians and genealogists. This is particularly so when you considers that practically since its founding as a colony of Spain in 1509 to 1898, practically every town in Puerto Rico of any size had a company of militia infantry, artillery or cavalry. More to the point, every male ages 16 to 60 was obliged to serve in these companies, unless, he had an official exemption on account of physical disability or family hardship.
These companies, were of collectively known as milicias, The Milicias Urbanas de
Puerto Rico was first organized in 1693 and reorganized in 1765 as the Milicias Diciplinadas de Puerto Rico. After the Lares Uprising of 1868, the Spanish doubting the loyalty of Puerto Ricans, began to disband these companies, including the Compania de Artilleros Morenos de Cangrejos, a separate company of black Puerto Ricans. The milicias, are the direct lineal ancestors of two of today’s Puerto Rico National Guard Units, the 295th and 296th Infantry. The milicias were replaced in 1871 by another similar organization, El Instituto de Voluntarios.
These men were Spaniards and other loyalist émigrés from Spain’s former colonies in South America, principally Venezuela. The Voluntarios 18,000 strong were also known as incondicionales because they all belonged to a political organization known as, Incondicionalmente Espa?ol en Puerto Rico. Membership in this organization was considered prestigious and an ideal way to achieve public office in Puerto Rico and in the 1880s, native-born Puerto Ricans began to join it.
Another Puerto Rican military unit that family researchers need to know about is the Regimiento Fijo de Puerto Rico organized in 1741.The Fijo as it was known, came about because the Puerto Rican criollos had for some time been petitioning the Spanish Crown to allow Puerto Ricans to serve in the regular Spanish army. Up to that time criollos were not allowed to serve as regular, full-time soldiers.
The Fijo not only served in the defense of Puerto Rico but in Spain’s overseas possessions as well. It covered itself with glory in battles in Santo Domingo, other islands in the Caribbean and in South America, most notably in Venezuela. However, Puerto Rican complaints that the Fijo was being used to suppress the revolution there caused the Crown to bring the Fijo home and in 1815, mustered it out of service.
In any case, the Hojas de Servico – service records of Puerto Ricans serving in any of the above referenced military units that served in the Spanish period may be able to find them by contacting:
El Coronel Jefe
Archivo General Militar de Segovia
Plaza Reina Victoria Eugenia s/n
40071 SEGOVIA, ESPANA
It helps matters if your letter is in Spanish and provides as much identifying information about your ancestor as you can especially his full, complete name, e.g., Jose Dolores Fuertes de Barriga. Include the service unit you suspect he served in, e.g. Milicias Diciplinadas, Instituto de Voluntarios, or the Regimiento Fijo or of one of the various Spanish units that served in Puerto Rico, from time to time.
In addition to the Hojas de Servicio which contain the dates, places of service, rank, medals and decorations and, performance evaluation of the soldier, there are other types of records. One of these is expedientes matrimoniales – authorization to marry. This document can of course help trace other information regarding the soldier and his wife’s ancestry. A complete list of the types of documents available is contained in the triptico or brochure that the Archivo General Militar A.G.M. publishes.
Most of the documents of interest to Puerto Rican family historians may be found in: Section 4 (Ultramar) (En El Servicio Historico Sections 6 & 8 (Ultramar, Capitanias y Gobiernos. Several of the subsections here also refer to Cuba but don’t fail to request items in listed in the Cuba folders. Remember that Cuba, Puerto Rico and for that matter Santo Domingo, were at times administratively treated as one so there could be records pertaining to Puerto Rico in a Cuba folder. In any case, do not request more than five (5) types of documents for each inquiry letter you send to the A.G.M
The A. G. M. can also be contacted by phone 921 – 4607 – 58. The fax number is
921 – 4607 – 57. First dial 011 for the overseas connection the 34 which is the country code for Spain. Another source for military records of the Spanish period is the Archivo General de Los Puertorriquenos in San Juan, PR where there is a card index of military personnel. There is also some information on military families. Much of the information is extracted from the A.G.M. in Segovia, Spain.
Additionally, Puerto Rican family researchers should request Microfilm 1,15632 from the Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have ordered a copy of this microfilm and donated it to the Puerto Rican/ Hispanic Genealogical Society it can be viewed at the Family History Library in Plainview, Long Island. This record contains information and service records for Spanish and Puerto Rican military men in the Regimiento Fijo de Infanteria for 1793,1795, 1799, and 1800. Also included are records for the Cuerpo de Milicias Diciplinadas for 1795
UNITED STATES MILITARY SOURCES:
Just as the Spain did when it controlled Puerto Rico, the United States began to enlist men in the defense of the island. In 1899, the U.S. Congress authorized the establishment of a military unit comprised of Puerto Ricans and in 1900 the Porto Rico Battalion was established. Through successive reorganizations this unit became the Porto Rico Voluntary Infantry, The Porto Rican Provisional Regiment of Infantry, the Porto Rico Regiment,
U.S. Infantry and finally in 1920, the 65th Regiment, U.S. Infantry.
The Porto Rico Regiment, U.S. Infantry, 4,000 strong, served in World War I. From 1917 to 1919 it guarded the Panama Canal. During this period, the Porto Rico National guard also came into existence with the creation of the 295th and 296th Infantry Regiments. Additionally, several “Home Guard” units were organized and many other Puerto Ricans living in the continental U.S. served in mainland units that fought in Europe. Dark skinned Puerto Ricans were placed in such racially segregated units as the 396th Infantry, “The Harlem Hell Fighters” who fought under French command. Rafael Hernandez the famous Puerto Rican musician/composer and his brother, Jesus, served in that unit’s band. All told, 236,000 Puerto Ricans registered for the WWI draft and 18,000 served in the military.
Draft Registration records for Puerto Rico may be found at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) located at Seventh & Pennsylvania Ave Washington, DC 20408 and at its New York Regional Center at 201 Varick Street in New York City. These records contain the name date of birth and other identifying data of the registrant. They are organized by name, alphabetically, and by municipality.
Records of men who actually served in the Puerto Rican unit in World War I may also be found at the NARA .ask for a record called “Special Enlistments & Miscellaneous Registers – Porto Rico Provisional infantry 1901-1919.”
During WWII approximately 65,000 Puerto Ricans served in the U.S. armed forces and the 65th Infantry Regiment “Puerto Rico’s Own” saw combat in the Italian-French Border in the winter of 1944. Records for this unit can be found at the NARA in College Park Md. There are some five boxes of documents recording various troop movements and actions including names of personnel and awards made to them
Records relating to the 65th Regiment in the Korean War are at this writing October 19, 1997 in transit from the main NARA center in the District of Columbia to the new center in nearby College Park MD.
Individual Service records for persons who served in any branch of the military in WWII the Korean War, or who served in peacetime, can be obtained by next of kin (includes grand-children) by writing to:
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis MO 63132
You must provide as much identifying information as you have such as: full complete name, date and place of birth, branch of service, rank approximate years of service –e.g. 1950 –1953, serial number, etc. Also include in your letter this statement: Request all releasable information under the Freedom of Information Act.
The more you complete your request the easier it will be for the NPRC people to find your ancestors record. However, be advised that in July, 1973 the was a fire at the NPRC which destroyed about 80% of the records for Army personnel discharged between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960. It takes about four (4) to six (6) months to process requests. There is no charge for this service.
La Genealogía de Puerto Rico expresses it thanks to
Miguel J. Hernandez for presenting his article here.
Copyright 2005 © Miguel J. Hernandez
Reported this week, visitors to the Chincoteague Island Museum Heritage Day were able to discover more about their origins, particularly the many descendants of the young sole survivor of an Assateague shipwreck in 1802.
In 2000, writer Helen O’Neill wrote about the remarkable impact the child’s arrival had on future generations of Assateague and Chincoteague islanders. The young boy’s mother had strapped him to a hatch-cover and desperately pushed him into the ocean as their ship went down. The islanders found him on the beach. Unable to understand the few foreign words that the olive-skinned child spoke, they called him James Alone and raised him as one of their own.
James Alone became a firm part of island life. One day, when he was about 20, he rowed to the mainland and walked 30 miles to the county courthouse in Accomac. There he changed his name to James Lunn, then made his way back to the island and stayed for the rest of his life. Today hundreds of islanders carry James Lunn’s DNA. He married twice and had 4 children: James T. Lunn, John Pernell Lunn, Delany Lunn and Comfort Lunn. They all married, and went to produce further generations of Lunns. In the early 1900s, their descendants were forced off the island of Assateague by an absentee landowner and moved to the neighbouring island of Chincoteague, where today about 25% of the population of 3,500 can trace their roots to James Lunn. With their dark complexions they are known locally as the ‘Mediterranean Chincoteaguers’, and most bear the surnames Barrett, Birch, Hills, Clark, as well as Lunn.
The grandaughter of James T. Lunn, Ernestine Holston, recalled her grandmother showing her the spot on the Assateague beach where James Alone was found, and telling her about life in the village where he had grown up. Ernestine inherited the old family Bible and inside it found her grandfather’s obituary, which reported his death by drowning in 1913. It also told how James T. Lunn’s father was washed ashore from “a stranded French bark.” Ernestine’s late husband, John Holston, spent his last 20 years researching the James Alone story and hand wrote a genealogical chart of around 350 of his descendants on a 9 foot long scroll which Ernestine still keeps. It shows how most Chincoteaguers are interconnected in some way through this common ancestor.
It was an ‘outsider’, ex-Navy submariner Ben Benson who settled in Chincoteague in 1996, who shed most light on the half-forgotten James Alone story. With a specific interest in wrecked treasure ships, he found no record of a French wreck off Assateague and believed it was more likely that James Alone came from a Spanish treasure ship called the Juno. The Juno was a 34-gun Spanish frigate, en route from Puerto Rico to Cadiz when it sank in a fierce storm in 1802. It was carrying 425 passengers, including Spanish soldiers, and some of their wives and children. It was also reputedly laiden with gold and silver.
Benson had detected the wreck of the Juno buried in shallow waters off the coast of Assateague, and local fisherman confirmed that an 18th century anchor, snagged in their nets in 1989, appeared to have the name JUNO faintly engraved on it. When Benson had appealed for information about Spanish wrecks in the Chincoteague Beacon, the islanders produced salvaged muskets, an ornately carved table, and late 18th century ‘pieces of eight’, which had been passed down the generations. They also led Benson to the story of James Alone.
Benson borrowed John Holston’s chart, and hired professional genealogists to research archives in Spain, Puerto Rico and Virginia. They uncovered documents relating to the Juno, including newspaper accounts of its sinking, letters of condolence, and a list those who perished, including Captain Don Juan Ignacio Bustillo. With the state of Virginia’s permission, Benson dove on the site and recovered artefacts such as anchors, musket balls, coins, pewter plates, and a small cannon, but he was forced to stop when Spain claimed jurisdiction over the site. This didn’t stop him continuing his research of the story of James Alone and his descendants, which he hoped would eventually lead to the tracing of the boy’s parents; Benson had already narrowed it down to three couples on the ship.
This week’s exhibition featured John Holston’s genealogy chart, with James Alone at its apex. Some visitors learned for the first time that they were also his descendants, and were able to add many more additions to the family tree. A digitized version is being created by volunteer Ruth Spann. Replicas of the original family tree are are available at the Museum for a donation of $20 and the digital version will be available soon for a $30 donation.