A Rare Discovery And Painful History

Friends of ancestry research, I have to share this with you. I made a rare discovery last week and my emotions are all over the place. I feel like I struck GOLD…ancestry GOLD! I’m a big fan of Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Finding Your Roots, and he is always saying how hard it is for families to find their formerly enslaved ancestors. My family is from Central America, and DNA shows we are 7% descended from different areas of Africa. Central America, like the rest of the Americas, practiced atrocities. So, I thought my African ancestry research would be even harder knowing how the black experience in Central America has been historically erased and continuously denied. Last week, I stayed for hours on Familysearch.org digging through records. I focused on death records in El Salvador’s Civil Registration. I kept finding names that matched my ancestors. One after another, they kept revealing themselves. I found ancestors who would have been born in the mid to late 1700s.

El Salvador Civil Registration
Source: FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org)

I have attached a screenshot of the birth record for Maria del Rosario Jimenez born in Sonsonate. She is the sister of my 4th great-grandmother. I found Josef Guadalupe Jimenez and Juana Potenciana Cruz. Next to their names was written “Mulatto libre” for Josef and “Espanola” for Juana. In a different birth record for another daughter, the parents had “mulattos y casados” next to their names. Maria del Rosario also had the word “quasteron” (so I thought) underneath her name. I couldn’t make out the word exactly, but my aunt’s friend researched it further and found it was the Spanish word for “quadroon,” a term used to describe a person with one biracial parent. I know there is so much more to this painful history...to this story. But for now, I'm thrilled to have discovered the names of my 5th great-grandparents. I am especially moved to have come this close to learning the names of my African ancestors, even though I may never learn their real African names. So close!

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