Monday, January 4, 2016

Trip To Nicaragua And DNA Cousin Match

Mombacho Volcano as seen from Granada

I was in Nicaragua from December 7th to the 12th site seeing, and researching at the archives in Granada, Nicaragua. It was a fabulous trip! I loved it there. Beautiful scenery, lush and green. Exotic animals, such as the loud howler monkeys I heard while touring a volcano. Warm weather. It was in the 90's during the day and the 70's at night. Beautiful Colonial adobe architecture in Granada.  I stayed one night in Managua and 4 nights in Granada. My mother, Edna Forgey-Kapple, was born in Granada, Nicaragua to a Nicaraguan mother and a US Marine father.

I had very little information about the Nicaraguan side of my family. The only info I had came from my grandmother Graciela Del Castillo's death certificate, some information about the siblings of my grandmother, and a will she made which named a cousin. The will didn't give the degree of cousin he was. I matched a great-granddaughter of this cousin, Francisco Alvarado Granizo, at AncestryDNA. Until the recent addition of the total cM numbers at AncestryDNA I didn't know how much DNA we shared with this cousin, because this cousin has not uploaded to GEDmatch. I share 24.7 cM's and 1 segment, and my mother shares 20 cM's on 1 segment. This shouldn't be. I think this reflects the problems with AncestryDNA's Timber filter. I don't place that much confidence in the cM numbers, which tends to be on average 7 cM's different than everyone else due to the Timber filter and phasing. According to AncestryDNA we are 4th to 6th cousins of Francisco Alvarado Granizo's Great-Granddaughter. I didn't know of any surnames shared in common? No Alvarados or Granizos that I knew of. But my family history for my Nicaraguan family only went back to my great-grandparents and their children, and their children's spouses.

I had no idea that my first day in Granada, Nicaragua was a National Holiday in Nicaragua. It's called La Purisima. It's the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. I guess I'm not that good a Catholic because I had no idea. I couldn't do any research that day due to the fact the archives were closed for the holiday. I had a great day anyway though. I went on a  Colonial Homes tour and attended part of the Immaculate Conception feast mass, which was followed by a several blocks long procession with the Statute of the Virgin which included music from a band. I agree with a Youtube comment "Mary is Nicaragua and Nicaragua is Mary."

I had heard these celebrations can lead to a week long closures of government offices. I lucked out and the Municipal Archives opened the day after the Holiday. I was thrilled. It was very hot in the Archives room which didn't have any air conditioning. I melted. There is definitely some of my DNA on the records at the Archives because perspiration was dripping. They had double doors open which did bring in a breeze. The tropical plants outside the door looked nice, during my breaks I looked out at them. I was also serenaded by lovely piano and violin music from the next room. I recognized Yankee Doodle being played at one point. The Archives is located in a public cultural center. Ballet Folklorico was also danced outside in the courtyard. My Grandmother definitely danced there also, because this center was a theater when she lived in Granada.

Nicasio's signature and personal
flourish or rubrica 
My extremely limited Spanish vocabulary meant communication with the archives staff was difficult. I printed my family tree and showed that to them. This did help a great deal. I knew they had a couple Censuses for Granada from the 19th Century. I was able to explain I wanted to look at these. I had no luck with the first Census I looked at which was falling apart and missing pages. One of the archives staff members found my family on the 1882 Census for Granada. I had no idea that wives were listed with their maiden names. Like French Canadians, Nicaraguan women retained their maiden names. I was so excited when I found out my great-great grandmother's maiden name was Granizo. Now we have a common surname with the Great-Granddaughter of Francisco Alvarado Granizo. Based on this our relationship to Francisco Alvarado Granizo could be 2nd cousin 1x removed for my Mom, and a 2nd cousin 2x removed for me. Based on the shared DNA with his great-granddaughter this could be the case. If I'm calculating correctly his great-granddaughter could be a 3rd cousin 1 x removed to my mother. The 20 cM share would fit with this relationship range, with 3rd cousins 1 x removed sharing from about 11 cM's to about 100 cM's. I still have several brickwalls on my Nicaraguan line so this relationship is one possibility. Still I'm thrilled to finally have a common surname with this DNA match.

I was also able to solve a mystery regarding my grandmother's father. Someone named the wrong Nicasio Del Castillo as her father. I was thinking that Nicasio, who was President in 1856, would have been way too old to have been her father. That was a correct assumption. From the 1882 Census I found out that there was a younger Nicasio Del Castillo who was only 16 in 1882. The correct age range to have been my grandmother's father. His father was Francisco Del Castillo. According to a niece of my grandmother the Nicasio who was her grandfather, and my Grandmother's father, was the son of a Francisco. The 1882, 16 year old, Nicasio's father was Francisco. Francisco was an attorney. My grandfather Nicasio was also an attorney. I'm so glad my mother told me her grandfather was an attorney because this profession seems to have been passed down in the family. According to other documents I've found Nicasio, the President, was the father of Francisco and the grandfather of my Nicacio Del Castillo Granizo. The elder Nicasio is listed next to Francisco on the 1882 Census and was 66 years old then. According to other documents he probably died in 1884.

My entire trip was a success. I was able to add 3 new ancestors to my family tree and another surname. My Nicaraguan line tree still looks sparse, but is quite good by Nicaraguan standards. Due to record losses family trees are generally short. I'm hoping to return to Nicaragua in the near future with a Y DNA kit. Hope I can find a male Del Castillo to take the test. Y testing could take my Del Castillo tree back to 1600's Seville, Spain.

The Director of the Arts Center Dieter Stadler , who is Austrian, asked me if I came to Nicaragua solely to research in the Archives. Would I travel over 3,000 miles just to look at a couple of Censuses? Probably... I also wanted to see the place where my Mom was born. Visit the church she was baptized in.

I'm praying for Nicaragua, as my mother did. When ever there was a disaster my Mom would say it hurt her because that was her country. Now I feel like it's my country too. Before my Mom passed away last August I told her I planned to visit the place where she was born. It's a beautiful country with friendly beautiful people. Tourism is helping this very poor country. I'm hoping to see continued progress when I return.

I have a PDF and paperback copy of the catalog


Kalani said...

Congratulations on your success! It's always a good feeling to travel far away and actually come back with more valuable information.

You were lucky to even touch (?) the actual old documents. I have to resort to going to the Family History Center and access their microfilms for these Spanish speaking countries. These countries have the excellent records! There is so much that people are missing out on when they don't realize the value of these church and civil records, especially in Hispanic culture where surnames of females are preserved. It is only in the USA and Canada and other selective countries in western culture that corrupts that.

The bad thing in my case is when I went to the church of a neighboring island/province, the people did not provide the correct information. Unfortunately they did not allow me to go near it, instead they went through the books NOT UNDERSTANDING nor could they speak Spanish, and they typed what they saw and yes, there were mistakes.

Luckily late last year a friend pointed out to me that the LDS' site had my grandfather's town online, and it wasn't easy for me to get there having to catch different planes and boats to get there.

Also make a note that they had scribes back then and they wrote all the records and were highly skilled in it. This is evident by the writing. Sometimes you will see, if the person was literate enough or knew how to write that they will sign their name. Other times you do see an X, which is how my grandmother signed documents.

Annette said...

Thank you very much Kalani! Lucky your records were filmed. Unfortunately Granada, Nicaragua officials will not allow their archives to be filmed or digitized. Managua has allowed their records to be filmed. These documents are now on the Family Search site. Someone told me to get out there and look at the originals while you can. Nicaragua is prone to disaster with so many Volcanoes etc. These records could be wiped out if something bad happens. I'll try to get back there and photograph an entire Census if I can.

Lemonegg d said...

Hi Annette,
So glad you had a good trip to Nicaragua. It's a lovely country. I have great memories of traveling around it when I was younger. I would definitely go back when you can. There is no substitute for being in a place where your ancestors lived.
Dave Negus

Virginia dAmico said...

I just came across your blog as I was searching for Nicaragua Haplogroup information. Yesterday I was searching 1920 US census records and saw your mother's name mentioned there! She is listed as a spouse of a US Marine stationed in Managua. If you don't already have it, give it a look.