Finding a Lost Ancestor: Teresa Prieto

I have been away searching through records seeking to discover what happened with my 3rd great grandmother, Teresa Prieto.  There were two conflicting records that stated the opposite. Which one was correct?

So I first looked at my 3rd great grandfather, her husband, Juan de la Cruz, to determine if his church entry was correct.  Per his death record, he was a widow to Teresa Prieto.  So I went through church books for Nuestra Señora de la Caridad y San Miguel in Trujillo Bajo, Puerto Rico.  I thoroughly inspected each image, reading through, ensuring I didn’t miss her.  I started with the year that Juan de la Cruz died in 1878 and working my way back to 1865.  I did this as I  am confident that their son was truly born in 1871. This is because people during this era didn’t consider their age to be something important to track.  Surviving and farming land to feed the family was important. Women went by the river to wash clothing or spent the day cleaning and cooking. The last thing they were concerned with was their age.  So I decided that going back an additional 5 to 6 years beyond their son’s supposed age was advisable.

However, as I went through these records, I was quickly becoming disappointed as I did not find her in these books. I decided to research Carolina’s Civil Records in hopes of finding her after 1902. I was skeptic I would find her as this was pushing close or even beyond her being 100 years of age if I’m to believe the ages of their children.  After spending a few evenings going through these records, I came up empty.

My last resort was going to Carolina’s other church, San Fernando.  I noticed that their was an index for the years  1878 – 1881, I decided to give a a quick look.  I am so happy I did as this index actually starts in 1859 and not 1878 as it is listed.  Sure enough I found her in the index under Book 1 of Deaths, which covers 1859 – 1871.  The index listed her on Folio 363, folio means page.  I had finally hit the jackpot and I would finally get to know who her parents were and hopefully more information on Teresa.

So as I came out of the index, I quickly navigated to the Death Book 1 and arrived to her page. I was finally going to know who her parents were.  As I arrived to the page, I found her at the bottom.  And here is where I began to read the record.  It reads as follows,

In the parochial church of San Fernando in Carolina on the 9th day of July in 1876, I, the priest, officiate over the cadaver of Teresa Prieto, naturally and neighbor of Trujillo Bajo, of 75 years of age, married to Jose Silverio Cruz, daughter of parents that they names are ignored.

That was it!  I could not believe it! No one offered the church her parent’s names! After all the time spent researching her, I came up empty. I am so disappointed but do not give up easily.

Teresa Prieto Libro 1 (1859 - 1878) Def Folio 363 Image 373
Teresa Prieto Death Record in San Fernando Book 1 of Deaths

There were obvious errors in the record, like her husband’s name.  His name is Juan Silverio and not Jose Silverio.  Another is a major big doubt on her age.  If I am to believe her age, this means her 14 year old son died when she was 71.  In addition, I’m to believe that she gave birth to him at the age of 57.  I hugely doubt this extremely.  So if her son was 14 years of age at the time of his death, I’d shave another 18 to 20 years off her age at the time of her death.

Unfortunately, marriages records for San Fernando do not start until 1859.  When I went back to the book for Nuestra Señora de la Caridad y San Miguel, I was once again disappointed since the collection starts with Book 3 of Marriages and it starts in 1859.  I now have to wonder if the book exists in Puerto Rico.  I am hoping that that is the case but I dead end here. My last option is searching for baptismal records of her children in hopes that the priest captured grandparents information.  My next step is to go through baptismal records.

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