In the few years that I have been a member of the Howard County Genealogical Society, I have learned that for many of us, wars have played a major role in our efforts to establish our connections with our ancestors. From the perspective of genealogical research for example, During WW1 and WW2 the invasions of one country by another resulted in towns changing names from one language to another, or changing names altogether, making it difficult to match current maps with places mentioned in death and birth certificates. During the Civil War, photos were taken so that soldiers could carry the images of loved ones with them.
Today we are facing a different war, the CODV19 pandemic. What records and images will be generated today for future generations? Will the images of our body temperatures, taken at airports when arriving to our travel destinations, be the records that will shed clues about us to our descendants many years from now?
Braulia Rafaela Franco Manzano and
her brother Manuel Franco Manzano
(1914, San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Images of my great grandfather in Puerto Rico through the lens of 1898: the Spanish American War
Natalio Franco de Jesus was my great grandfather. According to my grandmother, his ancestors migrated to Puerto Rico from the Canary Islands. Natalio never consented to sending her to school. He assigned her chores in the kitchen instead, so she could learn how to skin, clean, season and cook fish, while standing on a chair in order to reach the countertop. My grandmother never found her birth nor her baptismal records while she was alive.
I started my search at the Catholic church in Cataño, Puerto Rico, where she was born. There were no records for her, but there were records for two of her brothers. I continued my search online via Catholic Church records. In the baptismal book of the parish Cataño, Puerto Rico, for September of 1898, I found the records for a little girl: Braulia Rafaela, born in April 12, 1898, natural daughter of Eusebia Manzano (her mother). Her godparents were Ricardo Orta and Leocadia Franco (Natalio’s sister). Natalio’s name was not on her birth certificate. She was not listed under the last name Franco, but rather under her mother’s last name: Manzano. Was Natalio not my grandmother’s biological dad? Was he absent because of the conflicts in Spain and in the Americas? (Citations:1,2,3 )
My grandmother turned 90 in Puerto Rico, the year my youngest child was born in Baltimore: 1988.
She left us in 1996. He is now a pathologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
My grandparents, my dad and his sister circa 1929, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
IMAGES OF MY GRANDFATHER through the lens WW1
Was Natalio not my grandmother’s biological dad? One day, while entering information on my family tree at the ancestry.com site, a new “hint” for Natalio Franco popped up. What an incredible surprise it was to see that the new hint was a document from the US Treasury Department dated 26 December, 1918. (citation 4)
It was an image of an Identification card with a photograph of Natalio! My great grandfather’s ears are just like my dad’s. He also looks very much like my Uncle and his grandsons.
I was very curious to find out more about this ID and did a quick search online. An article from the New York Times published in June 28, 1918 caught my attention: “Announce Rules for Harbor Craft, New Treasury Department licensing Regulations also cover Coastwise Vessels”.(citation 5) According to the article the license showing proof of US Citizenship would have been required to avoid being in violation of the Espionage Act, for vessels operating at ports of entry. San Juan, Puerto Rico meets that condition. It would make sense that in times of War that would be necessary. I took note that the article states that the use of kodaks or other photographic cameras on board was not permitted.
Next on my research list: Searching for the records relating to the vessel: Ocho Hnos
“ On April 25, 1898 the United States declared war on Spain following the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. As a result Spain lost its control over the remains of its overseas empire -- Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines Islands, Guam, and other islands.” Source: https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/intro.html , March 21,2020
U.S. troops attacked the San Juan heights on July 1, 1898. Dismounted troopers, including the African-American Ninth and Tenth cavalries and the Rough Riders commanded by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt went up against Kettle Hill while the forces led by Brigadier General Jacob Kent charged up San Juan Hill and pushed Spanish troops further inland while inflicting 1,700 casualties.
Source: : https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/intro.html , March 21,2020
Representatives of Spain and the United States signed a peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898, which established the independence of Cuba, ceded Puerto Rico and Guam to the United States, and allowed the victorious power to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million. The war had cost the United States $250 million and 3,000 lives, of whom 90% had perished from infectious diseases.”
Source : https://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/intro.html , March 21,2020
Source Citation for US Applications for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916 – 1940
Citation Information Detail : Washington, D.C.; The National Archives and Records Administration; Application for Seaman´s Protection Certificates; NAI: 2788575; Record Group Title: Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation; Record Group Number: 41; Box Number: 004 - Sa
U.S., Applications for Seaman's Protection Certificates, 1916-1940