By Maria R. Perez, MSSW

There are many reasons why folks are searching for their roots. The popularity of genealogy has vastly grown. We see commercials for many websites that help search for ancestors and generate family trees. Plus, with advancements in science getting a DNA test today has become as easy as any other on-line purchase! I paid the fee, sent my saliva, and BAM!  I discovered that I am 61% Indigenous Americas (Chihuahua, Durango & Zacatecas), 22% Spain, 7% Portugal, 4% Africa, plus 6% bits and pieces to include European Jewish and England, among others. Quite frankly, these numbers did not surprise me. People meet people and bloodlines mingle. My father was of short stature and looked somewhat Middle Eastern – dark skinned, large brown eyes, thick beard. He was from a pulque hacienda in Tlaxcala. The Tlazcaltecas were among Cortez’ allies in the conquest of Tenochtitlan. (The Spanish were African slave owners before North Americans continued the terrible trade.)

My mother on the other hand, was tall and stately, and muy guapa! Though her mother might have been Toboso Indian fromher father’s side, my mother inherited the features of the woman of southern Spain – light olive complexion, exceptionally large brown eyes, strong features, and an abundance of thick wavy dark brown hair. She often mentioned the ojos de color of her uncles, as well as their very pale, yet ruddy complexion.

I joined an internet genealogy site 11 years ago. One motivation was that I wanted to locate family of my father’s half-brothers with whom he grew up in the Mexica state of Tlaxcala. There was also a half-sister (after whom I was named), and others in my family have been in touch with her family. Forsome reason they never inquired about the brothers. I am still searching. On my mother’s side I have been able to locate registries from as far back as 1664, yet I have not been able to locate concrete individual leads for these uncles and their children.

Yet, as I have explored, I have learned to keep an eye out for details indicative of special family relationships and/or events. (A retired social worker’s blight!) During my father’s family inquiry, I ran across the 1930 Census record for Tecomaluca, Tlaxco, Tlaxcala, Mexico, probably the pulque producing hacienda where he was born. His father and three older half-brothers were listed as tlachiqueros – maguey sap collectors. (The sap fermented and became pulque.)

My paternal grandfather was left a widower by an epidemic.  His age was listed as 60 and his second wife’s age was 33 in 1930. What I find so fascinating and endearing is that a married son also listed in this record named his first born, a daughter, after his stepmother. There must have been much love and gratitude for this young woman. Without hunting for it, having a sense of the character of the people I come from is a beautiful serendipitous discovery which makes my efforts more than worthwhile.

– Maria R. Perez, MSSW, Somos Familia Genealogy Services, El Paso, Texas

Maria R. Perez is an artist, a writer, and a retired social worker who also enjoys genealogy. She is a strong advocate for the dis-empowered and a founding member of The Tornillo Collective – Individuals calling attention to the plight of migrant families and children in US detention facilities through the arts. She is highly creative and imaginative. Maria grew up with a disability. Maybe her physical limitations made her mind nurture possibilities!

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