Parish Records: 102
Welcome to the Cuban Genealogy podcast! This podcast is dedicated to helping you research your Cuban ancestors by keeping you up to date on Cuban research: with a focus on digital records. Whether you are new to family history or a seasoned pro, there’s something for everyone at the Cuban Genealogy podcast: we cover everything from parish records to cemeteries to DNA to celebrity stories and family trees…we hope to keep you interested and entertained as you continue to research your Cuban family history. Thank you for tuning in… I’m your host Brian Tosko Bello.
Welcome to Podcast 102: using parish records.
Before we start we have some quick updates
Cemetery news: there are now more than 2,000 interment records for the Colon Cemetery now available on FindAGrave.com. La Salud cemetery is now online thanks to a Cuban family researcher in NJ… and 2 more cemeteries will be coming online soon…those 2 cemeteries are Cementerio de Cardenas and Cementerio de Playa Larga. This is truly an exciting time for online cemetery records for Cuba. You can also check out the complete list of the 23 cemeteries in the Habana area…also under ‘cemetery records’ on the website.
There are also 2 Cuban Genealogy presentations coming up soon: Washington DC in November and the New York/New Jersey area in January 2019. You can follow our Instagram, Facebook and website for more information on those, we would also like to add Los Angeles and Chicago to the list as well. Cuban Genealogy Club of Miami also has their meeting at FIU on October 13th.
That’s all for the quick updates and now on to the featured topic: finding parish records in Cuba.
First, I’d like to give you some quick facts about parishes in Cuba, and then on to a quick case study where you can see how just one parish record can open up a whole new array of research possibilities, making those family connections stronger and more interesting, shedding light on our Cuban ancestors and making it easier to document our Cuban family histories.
Okay, so for this case study we are going to review one parish record from February 1890 of my great grandfather, Inocente Ramon Bello. And in preparing for this podcast, I learned a few new details I had overlooked earlier. I’ve had this document for about 10 years but didn’t realize some of the interesting details, I had most of the names but didn’t realize that this baptismal record listed my grandfather’s parents, occupations, and birthplaces.
This baptismal record is from the San Atanasio parish in Placetas, Villa Clara…from the Cienfuegos diocese. So, this is a one page document, hand written…amazing historical record that I am so honored to have since these types of records do not exist online and are virtually impossible to obtain unless you or someone, visits the parish personally. This document was given to me by my grandmother.
So 3 new vital record details that I didn’t notice originally are: the baptismal date…which is about a month after my great grandfather’s birthdate in 1889. It also has his birth time listed, at 2am in the morning, I’m sure his mother appreciated being in labor until the wee hours of the morning. And the third interesting fact is that it lists his father’s occupation as Labrador or worker. Not the most helpful but I’m glad they took the time to list that detail.
Now there are 7 very specifi items in this one document that I need to add to my research list going forward: this baptismal…parish record…lists 6 other relatives…and 2 padrinos…which may or may not be relatives…as well as the priest…and I mention the priest here because I would be curious to see if other baptismal records for my great grandfather’s siblings are also housed in this same parish.
I’m hoping to get sibling baptismal records to complete those branches of my family tree so that I can tie those descendants to my DNA tests. It’s all a very complicated, challenging but enjoyable research puzzle. We will cover DNA Cuban cousins in a future podcast, and we would love to hear about some of your success stories where you have matched up with some long lost cousins. I made a new cousin connection when I was in Miami in May…and she was so sweet and kind…I hope she’s listening to this podcast! And I hope to meet with her again on my next visit to South Florida.
Okay, back to the record. Inocente’s father…remember he is listed simply as a laborer…is a natural de Casiguas…his mother: Catalina is a natural de feligresia. Now this word, feligresia, I had to look it up and it means parishioner, so I think they are basically listing her as a local. Paternal grandparents are: natural de Guanabo…natural de Jaruco. And then maternal grandparents are: natural de Cifuentes and Placetas.
So, I now have geographical locations for these 4 grandparents…and of course, they are all spread out between central Cuba up to the Havana area. For the late 1800s they sure did move around.
It is interesting to note here, that Cuba was in some historic turmoil during this period. My great grandfather was born after the 10 years war and just before the Spanish-American war that would start around 1895 up to 1898…he would be about 5-8 years old during this time… but this whole later half of the 1800s was filled with independence struggles and challenges.
And now to the final research discoveries from this parish record: the padrinos. Listed are Jesus Rivero Moya and Eusebia Jimenez Bello. Now I have never heard of either of these two before but the Bello last name is a tip off that she might be an aunt of some sort, so I will add these 2 to my follow up list and see if they show up in the future. Where I will be looking for these 2 specifically, will be in other baptismal records for Inocente’s siblings as well as cemetery records or marriage records. I hope to have one of those blinking light bulb over my head moments if these names resurface in other records. Isn’t this fun? You can find this record on the ‘parish records’ page on DigitalCuba.org…in case you would like to review all of the discoveries from this one…priceless…document.
This podcast is brought to you by DigitalCuba.org: Digital Cuba is focused on preserving Cuban historical records by preserving original documents and establishing digital indexes for cemetery and parish records. Researching in Cuba has it’s challenges. Cuba Digital has launched a project to digitize parish index records, this will enable family historians a way to research parish records without knowing an exact birthdate or exact death date. For example, I have my great grandfather’s birth and death dates, but I don’t have his siblings, parents or extended family’s birth or death dates. Having parish index records digitize will help all those researching Cuban family members.
So, in a future podcast I would like to explore more parish records, most notably marriage records and how to use parish records and or registry records for marriages in the 1800s as well as the 1900s. Not all marriages in Cuba had a church connection…so our research checklists have to accommodate for a variety of record sources.
And when we come back from this quick break, we will talk briefly about the next podcast, which I hope is an interesting topic for everyone…Freemasons and other secret societies in Cuba and are they in your family tree? They are definitely visible at the cemetery… I didn’t think my family had a connection…but surprisingly…we do!
Please make sure you download the next Cuban Genealogy podcast, podcast 103, where we will explore if there are any freemasons in your Cuban family tree. Did you know that freemasonry dates back to 1763 in Cuba? Did you know that women also participated in secret societies in Cuba? This will be a fascinating look into a part of Cuban history that is…a little more on the hidden side.
Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and on our website: www.DigitalCuba.org!
Stay tuned for the next Cuban Genealogy podcast where we explore these topics and hopefully enrich any hidden or overlooked family histories in your Cuban family research. In a future podcast we will discuss the need for Cuban parish records to find a digital home…possibly the Catholic Heritage Archive! Thank you for tuning in y nos vemos hasta la proxima!