Yngenio Rascon, San Luis Potosí, Mexico: Birthplace of Great-Aunt Lupe Robledo

My great-grandparents and their ancestors lived for centuries in the Armadillo and Villa Hidalgo area of the state of San Luis Potosí in central Mexico. Most of their births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials took place in these two present-day municipios (similar to counties) and accompanying parishes, or within what now amounts to a one hour driving radius. This ancestral home region is dry arid ranching and farming country.

Robledo Nieto Regional Map San Luis Potosi
Custom Google Map showing the four main towns, villages, and ranchos where my family has lived for centuries in the state of San Luis Potosí. These are shown in proximity to the capital city.

Looking for Great-Aunt Lupe

One particular record has stuck out in my mind since discovering it in late 2015 when Ancestry released its indexed Mexican civil registration collection—the 1910 birth registration for my great-aunt Lupe Robledo, who I knew as a very young child. Maria Guadalupe “Lupe” Robledo Nieto (1910-1975) was the oldest child of my immigrant great-grandparents, José Pablo Robledo Sanches (1879-1937) and Maria Hermalinda Nieto Compean (1887-1973). According to her civil birth registration, Lupe was born 4 July 1910 in her parents’ home.1 But that home was not at all where I suspected.

I had looked several years for a birth or baptism record for Lupe to no avail, until Ancestry released that indexed civil registration collection in October 2015. My hunt had been focusing on the municipios and parishes of my ancestors’ traditional homelands for centuries. But Lupe was not born in that part of the state—the same part of the state in which her parents married 2 years prior to her birth.

The newly released indexed civil birth registration collection was literally searchable for the first time, and a quick search for children born to my great-grandparents revealed that Aunt Lupe had been born outside of our ancestral region. She had been born 155 miles southeast of the family home, in a place identified on her birth record as Yngenio Rascon, located in the muncipio of San Nicolás de los Montes (now in the muncipio of Tamosopo), still in the state of San Luis Potosí.2

Guadalupe Robledo Nieto 1910 Birth Record
The 21 July 1910 civil birth registration for my great-aunt Maria Guadalupe “Lupe” Robledo Nieto, born 4 July 1910 in Yngenio Rascon, municipality of San Nicolás de los Montes.
“San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Civil Registration Births, 1860–1947,” entry for Guadalupe Robledo, 21 July 1910 [born 4 July 1910]; database with digital images, Ancestry (http://search.ancestry.com : accessed 19 November 2015; citing Registro Civil [Civil Registration] del Estado [state] de San Luis Potosí, México; San Nicolás de los Montes, 1909–1912; 1910, folio 3 front.
The young family did not reside here long. By 3 Match 1913 (the birth date of their next child) they moved back to our ancestral home in the municipio of Armadillo.3

Robledo and Nieto Region Map with Rascon
Custom Google Map showing my primary ancestral region in the state of San Luis Potosí (maroon pins), and Rascon (the blue pin) where Lupe was born.

Yngenio Rascon: What & Why?

Not being familiar with the term Yngenio (also spelled Ingenio), I turned to Google Translate and learned that in this context yngenio refers to a plant, like a manufacturing plant. A little more time searching via Google told me that this was (maybe it still is?) a sugar manufacturing plant.

This was starting to make sense now. The birth and baptism records for his Mexico-born children tell me that my great-grandfather José was a farmer/farm laborer. It is probable that the lure of work on a sugar plantation had drawn my great-grandfather and his new wife Maria away from their family home—possibly while Maria was pregnant with their first child.

According to family lore, Maria’s Nieto and Compean families owned considerable land in their home regions, but Maria’s father had lost the Nieto family lands by the time of his death in 1906. I am uncertain if José’s family (Robledo and Sanches) owned land in the Armadillo area as well. But surely it had to be the promise or prospect of a job on the Rascon sugar plantation that drew this young married couple away from their family region.

So why didn’t José and Maria remain at Yngenio Rascon? Why did they return home by 1913? Had the work just been temporary? Were they homesick? Was the tropical climate too much of a change for this family from a much more dry and arid region. Dad told me just this past weekend that his grandmother said she had contracted malaria back in Mexico. It seems likely this would have occurred during their stay in this tropical region.

Daughter Lupe was born in 1910, the year marking the official start of the Mexican Revolution. This family would flee the Revolution for the U.S. five years later in 1915. Had things become too unsettling for the family between the 1910 and 1913 births of their daughters, due to the revolution, prompting them to move back near their large extended family network?

A Closer Look at Yngenio Rascon

Yngenio Rascon at this time was the principal hacienda on a massive piece of property located in the states of San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas. It was owned by the U.S.-based Rascon Manufacturing & Development Company, a holding company chartered in 1905 by a group of investors primarily from Louisiana. The lands had been sold by the Rascon family, who received the land patent in 1844 from a Jesuit holding.4

It was a large sugar plantation, located in the tropical eastern side of San Luis Potosí,

Map of the Rascon Lands
A 1906 map of the Rascon Lands, with Yngenio/Ingenio Rascon highlighted in red. Public domain.
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 123; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

The Rascon lands were described at this time as abundant farmlands, with renters, and with rich pastures for raising cattle and horses.5

“The principal hacienda, in that it has been developed more largely than the others, is the Yngenio Rascon, upon which is Rascon Station. This place has an acreage of about 25,000, of which more than 5,000 is irrigable land of the character already described…It has a complete sugar mill of 200 tons capacity, situated at the headquarters of the hacienda about nine miles from Rascon station…There are on this place, at the present time, over a thousand acres in cultivation for the hacienda, and in addition a large acreage farmed by renters…On this place is a handsome owner’s residence, the houses of the administrator and various other employees, store, warehouses, granaries, chapel, etc.”6

Ingenio Rascon
What appears to be a manufacturing area. This image is from a public domain publication.
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 122; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

Aunt Lupe’s birth record just tells us that her father was a farmer who lived at Yngenio Rasco.2 It does not tell us if he was hired to work with the sugar cane crops, or if worked on some of the other crops or with the livestock, or if he was one of those farmers or ranchers who rented land from the company. All of these are possibilities.

Ingenio Rascon Banana Plantation - HathiTrust
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 124; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).
Ingenio Rascon Cane Field - HathiTrust
“The Ancient Hacienda of San Ignacio del Buey,” The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacturer, XXXVII (25 April 1906) 124; image copy, HathiTrust Digital Library (https://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 7 September 2017).

Remember my earlier statement about my great-grandmother Maria telling Dad she had contracted malaria back in Mexico? Malaria was a viable enough risk and worry at this time in tropical areas like Yngenio Rascon that a U.S. sugar industry trade magazine made a point of reporting the area as “demonstrated” to be free of malaria. “The section is singularly free from mosquitoes and files.”8

Did exploring Yngenio Rascon help me identify more ancestors for my family tree, or discover any new significant facts about my ancestors? No, but it has provided me with a bigger picture look at a short period in their lives.

Next Steps

Based on what I have learned from taking another look at this birth record and from my investigation into Yngenio Rasco, I have identified a few next steps to dig deeper into this era of my great-grandparents’ family history.

  • I still have not located a baptism record for my great-aunt Lupe.
    Because baptism is a Catholic sacrament that doctrine states affects one’s eternal salvation, Lupe’s parents likely would have baptized her shortly after birth. Most of the Mexico parish records are not yet indexed on FamilySearch, and consequently Ancestry (who gets this data from FamilySearch). Or if they have been indexed, those extracted index entries often are not yet linked to the actual digitized image. So searching for a baptism record on FamilySearch and Ancestry has not yet worked. However, the birth date and location specified in her civil birth registration should help me narrow down where to look (or browse) for Lupe’s baptism record.
  • I would like to know if any other family members moved with my great-grandparents to Yngenio Rascon.
    Families historically did not move in isolation; they moved with other family or community members. Neither of the witnesses identified on Lupe’s birth record have surnames relevant to my family, but civil registration witnesses often were not related to the family. My best bet is to conduct searches for civil registrations in this same muncipio for other individuals with surnames common to José and Maria’s extended family group.
  • I am curious if any business records exist from this time period for Yngenio Rascon that might mention my family or just provide more context about their life during this time.
    Since this was an American-owned company, these records stand a good chance (if they exist) of being held in by a U.S. Repository. I will start by looking at some of the larger archival record and archival finding aid portals, such as HathiTrust, NUCMC, DPLA, etc.

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Sources Cited

#52Ancestors: Celedonia Robledo, Discovering Another Mexico-Born Sister for My Grandfather

1913 Birth Record for Celedenia Robledo
Two folios from the digitized civil birth registration volume for 1913, in the municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí. The entry for Celedonia Robledo begins on the bottom left and carries over to the top of the next folio. Available on FamilySearch.1
My 32nd entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

I am still quite behind on the challenge due to a summer school course.

My 32nd ancestor is my great-aunt Celedonia Robledo (b. 1913).

A few weeks ago, while strategically perusing through Mexico Civil Birth Registrations for as-yet-unfound birth records for the two children born to my great-grandparents when the family still lived in Mexico, I made an unexpected discovery. I came across the birth registration for a third child born in Mexico–a daughter named Celedonia Robledo. This is not a name known to the living descendants of my great-grandparents. This is not a name that I have come across in any of their U.S. records.

My great-grandparents Jose Robledo (1875-1937 ) and Maria Hermalinda Nieto (1887-1974 ) apparently gave birth to Celedonia Robledo on 3 March 1913.2 This daughter was born in between oldest daughter Guadalupe (b. 1910) and oldest son Refugio Rafael (b. 1915), two years and seven months before the young family immigrated to the United States.

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The Birth Record

Although generally not as rich in genealogical information as Mexico Catholic church records, civil registration records do also provide highly valuable information and clues.

Research Tip
Mexico Civil Registration

The civil registration system in Mexico is mandated, requiring that all births (nacimientos), marriages (matrimonios), and deaths (defunciones) be reported to local authorities. The system began in 1859-1860, but was not strictly enforced until 1867.3, 4

The Original Record

The birth register entry for my great-aunt Celedonia is handwritten across two folios. The beginning of the entry is on the back (or recto) of folio 23, and the end is on the front (or verso) of folio 24 (see image at the top of this post). For ease of reading and translation, I cropped each section to display a larger image and merged them together below.

1913 Birth Record for Celedenia Robledo
A closer look at the 1913 civil birth registration for my great aunt Celedonia Robledo, available on FamilySearch. Because the entry spans two folios, I cropped them together for ease of reading.5


I have mentioned before that I do not speak Spanish, and my reading ability is rudimentary. I can make out the basic details of these types of records, but I risk missing important information relying on just my own reading ability. So I again enlisted the help of my Spanish-fluent father in translating the birth record for the aunt he never knew about.

In the village of Armadillo on the 6th day of March, 1913, in my presence, Nerusio Maldonado, judge of the civil state of this village, Cinto Oruelas, single 25 years of age, a resident of Temescal, appeared to report the live birth of a girl on the 3rd of this month at 8 AM and was named Celedonia Robledo the legal daughter of Jose Robledo, married age 32 and his spouse Maria Nieto, married age 24. The fraternal [paternal] parents [grandparents] are Silverio Robledo and Jesus Sanchez, both deceased, and maternal parents [grandparents] are Refugio Nieto, deceased, and Aurelia Compeon, alive. Feliciano Ramires witnessed this report. This report was read to the interested persons by me, Nerusio Maldonado.6

It turns out that my rudimentary translation skills did indeed miss important information…the reference to the actual date of birth! I only caught the birth registration date. Score Dad!


What genealogical information does this record tell us?

  • A female child was born on 3 March 1913 at 8:00am. The birth was reported on 6 March.
  • She was likely born in the village of Temescal, municipality of Armadillo de los Infante, state of San Luis Potosí, since that is the village where the informant resided.
  • She was the legitimate daughter of Jose Robledo (32 yeas old) and his wife Maria Nieto (age 24).
  • Paternal grandparents, both deceased, were Silverio Robledo and Jesus Sanchez.
  • Maternal grandfather, deceased, was Refugio Nieto. Maternal grandmother, still living, is Aurelia Compean.

What doesn’t this record tell us?

  • Who is the informant, Cinto Oruelas? A friend or neighbor of the parents? Or a relative? He is a lead worth investigating.

Next Steps

What comes next in learning about Celedonia?

  • Because I have not come across this child’s name in the family’s immigration records or any other U.S. records, I have to assume she died before the family left Mexico. This means looking for Mexico death records–both civil registration and church sacrament registers. This step should answer the research question: Why didn’t Celedonia immigrate to the U.S. with her parents and siblings in 1915?
  • I also want to look for a Catholic baptism record for Celedonia in Mexico, because those records can provide additional genealogical clues about her ancestors.


Tracking the Andrew Jackson Pace Family in Rural Depression Era Texas, 1930 and 1940 US Censuses

Ray Pace and Leo Pace, 1940s
Roy (left) and younger brother Leo, 1940s.1
I wrote a couple days ago about trying to identify the birth place of my husband’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000) before I visit Roy’s home state of Texas next month.

In that post, I analyzed the 1930 U.S. census record that places Roy, his parents, and most of his siblings on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas.

I also mentioned that this census analysis raises some questions about Roy’s parentage:

  • whether he was simply born before his parents Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields married,
  • if Roy might be Laura’s child from a previous marriage,
  • or if the census just contains wrong ages and math?

Planning My Texas Research

I am focusing most of my current research work on my husband’s Texas ancestry, in preparation for a trip I am taking to Texas in late October. If I get any time at the state archives, I need to make the most of that brief time, tackling records that can only be researched in-person, versus what I can access online from home or at the Family History Library.

The Initial Research Question

As stated in my last post, my first research question is who were the parents of Roy D. Pace, father of Betty Pace (deceased) and grandfather to my husband Jeff Greene?

The Prerequisite Research Question

Because I cannot find a single record that documents a specific place–even just the county–where Grandpa Roy was born, I have to track and trace the movements of Roy’s parents in an attempt to narrow down the geographic scope in which to search for sources that might shed some light on Roy’s place of birth. This means building a timeline for the family, identifying dates and places associated with the oldest children prior to the family moving away from their childhood farm in rural Texas.

But to do that, I have to first identity Roy’s siblings–their names, birth dates, and places of birth, which took a few days to tackle. Not all children appear to have birth certificates. Some who do have birth certificates were initially recorded with no given name (I only find one amended certificate so far). Plus some of the children going by a different given name on later records.

This prerequisite research question is, who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?

The 1930 U.S. Census

This census serves as my information baseline to answer the above research question. I spent quite a bit of time in my last post analyzing it, so I will not repeat that same data here, aside from names and ages. The 1930 U.S. census identifies 8 children attributed to head of household Andrew J. Pace.2

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census
The family on the 1930 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
1) Ray [Roy] Pace Male Est. 1914 (age 16) Texas
2) Dollie Pace Female Est. 1916 (age 14) Texas
3) Irene Pace Female Est. 1918 (age 12) Texas
4) Huland Pace Male Est. 1920 (age 10) Texas
5) Willie Pace Female Est. 1922 (age 8) Texas
6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 6) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male Est. 1926 (age 4) Texas
 8) Ladell Pace Male Est. 1928 or 1929
(age 1 year, 4 months)

The 1940 U.S. Census

I am using the 1940 U.S. census as the termination point for this Pace childhood timeline, since it combined with the 1930 U.S. census provides a snapshot look back in time at biographical details about every member of this family. More robust stories about some of these family members will appear in later posts.

Great-Grandfather Andrew Jackson Pace can be found on the 1940 U.S. census, still farming and living on rented property in rural Hockley County, Texas. Five children live with him, including two sons born after the 1930 census, bringing the total number of children to ten.3

Andrew Jackson Pace Household, 1940 US Census
The main family on the 1940 U.S. census, in Hockley County, Texas.
Name Gender Birth Date Birth Place
 6) Leo Pace Male Est. 1924 (age 16) Texas
 7) Ray Earl Pace Male  Est. 1926 (age 14) Texas
 8) Ladell pace Male Est. 1929 (age 11) Texas
 9) Wayne Pace Male Est. 1931 (age 9) Texas
 10) Jack Pace  Male Est. 1933 (age 7) Texas

Andrew Jackson and all of the boys, except Jack, are noted as living in the same locality (but not in the same house) on a farm back on 1 April 1935. The 1940 U.S. census required that enumerators ask the place of residence on 1 April 1935  for every person 5 years of age or older, yet there is no notation at all written down for 7 year-old Jack, so it is not possible to tell if Jack lived with his father and brothers in 1935 or lived someplace else (such as with one of his older married sisters).4

  • 6) Leo: Attending school, 5th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 7) Ray Earl: Attending school, 6th grade highest grade completed, not employed.
  • 8) Ladell: Attending school, 3rd grade highest grade completed.
  • 9) Wayne: Attending school, 2nd grade highest grade completed.
  • 10) Jack: Attending school, no grades yet completed.

What is Different?

A look at the change in household membership since the 1930 U.S. census.

Who is Missing?

A number of family members are missing from the household by this time.

  • May/Laura Mae Fields (wife): Andrew Jackson is identified as a widow, so the logical assumption is that his wife Laura Mae Fields died sometime between the two census dates, but after the estimated 1933 birth of youngest child Jack Pace.5 Laura Mae is indeed deceased by this time, but that is a topic for the next post in my Pace series.
  • 1) Roy Pace (son): Roy (26 years old, born about 1914) is living in New Mexico at this time, in Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, where he works as a miner. His residence is not on a farm. Roy is married to my husband’s grandmother Rebecca Haley (a nurse), their one month old son Larry and a lodger/fellow miner named Joseph Galoway are living with the couple. Roy lived in the same locality on 1 April 1935 (not the same exact residence), but his wife Rebecca still lived back in Nashville, Tennessee at the time, indicating they probably married after that date. Roy is noted as having completed one year of college.6
  • 2) Dollie Pace (daughter): Dollie (24 years old, born about 1916) is living in nearby Levelland, Hockley County, Texas, but not on a farm. She is married, and the couple lives with her husband’s father and sisters. All household members lived on a farm in rural Hockley County, Texas on 1 April 1935. Her husband worked as a cook at a cafe. Dollie is noted as having completed the third year of high school.7
  • 3) Irene Pace (daughter): Irene, the daughter who should be about 22 years old in 1940 is also deceased by this time, but unlike her mother’s death (which can be inferred from Andrew’s 1940 status as a widow), Irene’s death cannot be inferred from her absence in the 1940 census. Her story will also be shared in the next Pace series post.
  • 4) Huland/Hulon Pace (son): Hulon (20 years old, born about 1920) is living in nearby Littlefield, Lamb County, Texas, with his wife and infant son. They reside with Hulon’s wife’s family. Hulon is employed as a truck driver, and indicates he lived in rural Lamb County, Texas, on a farm (not the same place as his wife and her family) on 1 April 1935. Hulon is noted as having completed the first year of high school. 8
  • 5) Willie Mae Pace (daughter): Willie Mae  (18 years old, born about 1922) is living further southwest in Williamson County, Texas, with her husband and their infant son. They reside on a rented farm, and her husband is a farmer. Willie Mae and her husband both lived on a farm in Hockley County, Texas, on 1 April 1935. She is noted as having completed the first year of high school.9

Who is New?

Family members who joined the household since the 1930 U.S. census.

  • 9) Wayne Pace (son): Born about 1931.
  • 10) Jack Pace (son): Born about 1933.

Back to the Research Question

My research question–Who are the siblings of Roy Delmar Pace, where were they born and when?–cannot be answered from these two census records alone, in a manner that meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). More records and analysis are needed.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1961
The Pace siblings, 1961.
Bottom Row (L-R): Ladell, Dollie, Willie Mae, Roy Delmar.
Top Row (L-R): Ray Earl, Jack, Hulon.10

The Pace Siblings

Based upon these census records, ten children are attributed to Andrew Jackson Pace:

  1. Roy Delmar Pace (son).
  2. Dollie Pace (daughter).
  3. Irene Pace (daughter).
  4. Huland/Hulon Pace (son).
  5. Willie Mae Pace (daughter).
  6. Leo Pace (son).
  7. Ray Earl pace (son)
  8. Ladell Pace (son).
  9. Wayne pace (son).
  10. Jack Pace (son).

The census records cannot, however, tell us if Laura Mae Fields was the mother of the children, since these two censuses only specify a relationship to the head of household–which was Laura Mae’s husband Andrew Jackson. We can only infer at this point in the research process that Laura Mae was the mother. As with the actual research question, more sources and analysis are needed to establish the parentage of the ten children.

Roy Pace and Siblings, 1991
The Pace Siblings, 1991. (L-R) Willie Mae, Jack, Roy Delmar, Dollie, and Hulon.11
Establishing and proving the parentage of Roy’s siblings, is not part of this research question and plan, so I will not go into that in posts about Grandpa Roy’s ancestry. The dates and places of birth of the older children, however, can help me narrow down a geographic scope for where in Texas my husband’s Grandpa Roy might have been born.

Working Timeline

Tracking and tracing the movements and life events of the Pace siblings is a very helpful tool for identifying sources that can answer the research question. At this point, the timeline reflects the information provided by just the two census records: which family member, what life event, on what date, where it happened, and how we know (which source, F = footnote/citation).

When What Who Where How
About 1912 1st Marriage Laura Mae Fields probably  Texas F2
About 1914 Birth Roy Delmar Pace Texas F2, F6
About 1916 1st Marriage Andrew Jackson Pace probably Texas F2
About 1916 Birth Dollie Pace Texas F2, F7
About 1918 Birth Irene Pace Texas F2
About 1920 Birth Huland/Hulon Pace Texas F2, F8
About 1922 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F9
About 1924 Birth Leo Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1926 Birth Willie Mae Pace Texas F2
About 1926 Birth Ray Earl Pace Texas F2, F3
About 1929 Birth Ladell Pace Texas F2, F3
14 April 1930 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Laura Mae Fields
Roy Pace
Dollie Pace
Irene Pace
Huland Pace
Willie Pace
Leo Jackson
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Hockley County, Texas F2
About 1931 Birth Wayne Pace Texas F3
About 1933 Birth Jack Pace Texas F3
1933-1940 Death Laura Mae Fields probably Texas F2, F3
1 April 1935 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6
Dollie Pace Hockley County, Texas F7
Hulon Pace Hunt County, Texas F8
Willie Mae Pace Hockley County, Texas F9
4 April 1940 Residence Hulon Pace Littlefield, Hunt County, Texas F8
11 April 1940 Residence Andrew Jackson Pace
Leo Pace
Ray Earl Pace
Ladell Pace
Wayne Pace
Jack Pace
Hockley County, Texas F3
13 April 1940 Residence Willie Mae Pace Williamson
County, Texas
17 April 1940 Residence Dollie Pace Levelland, Hockley County, Texas F7
7 May 1940 Residence Roy Delmar Pace Lordsburg, Hidalgo County, New Mexico F6


#52Ancestors: Hoping to Find the Birth Record for Grandfather Roy Delmar Pace on My Upcoming Texas Road Trip

Roy Delmar Pace, 1930sMy 28th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 28 is – Road Trip: Any epic “road trips” in your family tree? Which ancestor do you want to take a road trip to go research?

I am still quite behind on this blog challenge due to a very busy summer school class.

My 28th ancestor is husband Jeff’s grandfather Roy Delmar Pace (1913-2000).

Roy is allegedly the 3rd great-grandson of William Pace (1745-1815), the Pace who served in General George Washington’s elite bodyguard unit–the Commander in Chief’s Guard–during the Revolutionary War.

I say allegedly, because as I have noted previously in my blog posts about CnC Guard William Pace, I have not done much research myself on this line. Once I learned about the commonly misidentified claim that CnC Guard William Pace was descended from Richard Pace of Jamestown, which has been refuted by DNA evidence, I held off on researching my husband’s Pace line until we received confirmation via his cousin’s Y-DNA test as to which of these two Pace lines our family belongs. Last month we finally received that confirmation–my husband’s family is descended from the same family line as William Pace. They are genetically related; the DNA test provides evidence of that. I do not, however, have evidence that my husband and his grandfather Roy Delmar Pace are directly descended from the CnC Guard–this claim is not yet proven.

Hence, this post.

Embarking on the Pace GPS Journey

With my successful completion of the grueling Boston University certificate program in genealogical research two weeks ago, it is time for me to begin original research on my husband’s Pace lineage. Now that I am armed with my newfound Jedi Knight confidence in wielding the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to execute a reasonably exhaustive search for all necessary record sources, to properly analyze all information items gleaned from those sources, to combat conflicting evidence, to keep at bay unsourced claims made by other researchers, and to victoriously prove or disprove our family’s descent from George Washington’s bodyguard.

It will be a long hard journey.

But the Force is strong in this genealogist.

GPS Journey Waypoint One: Roy D. Pace

This is the first step of that journey…proving the parentage of my husband’s maternal grandfather, Roy Pace. More specifically, proving the identity of Roy’s father, since for lineage purposes, only his paternal Pace ancestors matter.

Roy Pace and Grandson Jeff Greene
Roy Pace holding his grandson, my husband Jeff.

Initial Research Question

Establishing grandfather Roy’s paternal Pace ancestry begs the initial research question…who were the parents of Roy D. Pace, father of Betty Pace (deceased) and grandfather to my husband Jeff Greene?

As of yet, I have no birth record for grandfather Roy Pace. I need that birth record, or else I have to demonstrate a reasonably exhaustive search for that record. Because that birth record–hopefully, the original, and not just a derivative index entry or transcription–will provide the strongest-weighing direct primary evidence of Roy’s parentage, the names of his mother and father. Jeff’s father does not have a copy in Betty’s old paperwork, and Roy’s living daughter does not have a copy either.

Nor have I located a birth record for Roy D. Pace in the “Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1932” database on Ancestry, the “Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1935” database on FamilySearch, or the “Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997” database on Ancestry and FamilySearch.

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Baseline Information

An account of what I first learned about Roy D. Pace, shortly after Jeff and I married in 2009.

Jeff did not know anything about his grandfather’s life prior to moving to California, initially living in the Los Angeles area before moving up to Kern County in the Central Valley. My husband assumed his “redneck” Grandpa Pace was Okie (he was not). Jeff did not know the names of Roy’s parents, or when and where Roy was born. He did know the name of Roy’s youngest sibling (his Mom’s uncle, who was close to Betty’s age and more like a cousin to her), and Jeff’s first cousin knew the names of some additional siblings. Jeff also knew where Grandpa Pace died and was buried, as Jeff attended the funeral.

Initial Sources

An Old Family Photo

After we married, I reviewed a DVD full of old family photos scanned and provided by Jeff’s dad. I came across a photo file that my father-in-law named “Roys father Andrew Jackson Pace is top right – 1898” and another file named “Roys family-back of photo w labels reversed”.1 This appeared to be a photo of grandfather Roy Pace’s father and his father’s family, with names identified on the back of the photo! The notes on the back of the photo also provide a birth year and death year for Roy’s father Andrew Jackson Pace (1874-1961), already identified by name in the binary photo file name itself; the name, birth year, and death year for Roy’s father’s wife (Laura Mae Fields, 1895-1932); and the birth year for grandfather Roy D. Pace (1913).

Andrew Jackson Pace Family Portrait 1898
Top Row (L-R) Dave Pace, Rufus Pace, Andrew Jackson Pace [Roy’s father]. Middle Row (L-R): Dora Pace, Nancy Pace, Fannie Pace. Seated: William Jackson Pace [Roy’s grandfather].
Photo taken approximately 1898.2

Online Family Trees

The sibling names provided by Jeff and his first cousin, as well as the scanned family photo, allowed me to start building an Ancestry tree for Roy Pace. This in turn led me to trees built by some of Jeff’s mother’s first cousins, providing family locations in Texas and Alabama, and containing the same names from the old family photo.

Social Security Death Index

Although death records would only provide secondary information about Roy’s birth and the names of his parents, they can still yield forth direct evidence and valuable clues for locating sources that might provide primary information about these events.

The Social Security Death Index indicates that Roy D. Pace was born 19 October 1913, the same birth year noted on that back of that old family photo.3 But SSDI entries do not identify names of parents. Unfortunately, I do not find Roy Pace on the newer “U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” which does identify names of parents. So I need to send off for a copy of Roy’s original application.

Having died in 2000, Roy Pace’s death is too late to appear in the “California Death Index (1940-1997).” Neither Roy’s living daughter nor Jeff’s father (Roy’s son-in-law) have a copy of Roy’s Kern County death certificate, so I need to request a copy of the original death record from Kern County.

The 1930 U.S. Census

This is the earliest record I find for grandfather Roy D. Pace. Roy was enumerated on 14 April 1930, living with his parents and the seven younger siblings who were born by this time.4

Andrew Jackson Pace Household 1930 US Census
The Andrew Jackson Pace household, 1930 U.S. census, Hockley County, Texas.2
The family resided in Justice Precinct 6, Hockley County, Texas, on a rented farm.

  • Roy Pace (written as Ray) was 16 years old (born about 1914), single, attending school, and able to read and write. He is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas. Roy is identified as the son of the head of household.
  • Andrew J. Pace is identified as the head of household (Roy’s father). He was age 52 (born about 1878), married, first married at age 38, and able to read and write. Andrew is noted as born in Alabama, with both parents born there as well. He worked as a farmer, on a general farm, and is not identified as a military veteran.
  • May Pace is identified as the wife of Andrew–not necessarily the mother of Roy or the other children. She was 34 (born about 1896), married, first married at age 16, and able to read and write. May is noted as born in Texas (just like Roy and his mother), with a father born in Georgia, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Dollie Pace is the second oldest child of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 14 years old (born about 1916), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Dollie is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Irene Pace is the second daughter of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 12 years old (born about 1918), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Irene is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Huland Pace is the second son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 10 years old (born about 1920), single, attending school, and able to read and write. Huland is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Willie [or Billie] Pace is the third daughter of Andrew J. Pace. She is identified as 8 years old (born about 1922), and not attending school. Willie is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Leo Pace is the third son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 6 years old (born about 1924), and not attending school. Leo is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Ray Earl Pace is the fourth son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 4 years old (born about 1926), and not attending school. Ray Earl is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.
  • Ladell Pace is the fifth son of Andrew J. Pace. He is identified as 1 year and 4 months old (born at the end of 1928 or beginning of 1929). Ladell is noted as born in Texas, with a father born in Alabama, and a mother born in Texas.

I have not yet been able to locate the family on the 1920 U.S. census.

Analyzing the Evidence

Census Marriage Ages Don’t Jive

It is interesting to note the two sets of ages recorded for Andrew Pace and his wife May on the 1930 U.S. census.2 At 52 years old and 34 years old respectively, Andrew and May were 18 years apart in age at the time of the census. Yet it was reported that Andrew was 38 years old at the time of his first marriage; this would have been 14 years prior, about 1916. May is reported as having been 16 at the time of her first marriage; this would have been 18 years prior, about 1912–not 1916, the estimated year of her husband’s first marriage.

Unless these first marriage ages were misreported or written down wrong, this census record indicates that May had been married to someone else before marrying Andrew J. Pace.

Roy’s Birth Year Doesn’t Jive

If the ages noted in the census are correct for Andrew and May’s first marriages, this means–according to what is reported for Andrew–that May and Andrew married around 1916. Yet Grandfather Roy was reportedly born in 1913, three years prior to his parents’ estimated marriage year. Was Roy simply conceived and born prior to his parents getting married? Or might Roy have been born to a different father, possibly to May’s first husband?

Andrew’s oldest daughter Dollie, 14 years old, would have been born around the same year as his marriage to May. Second daughter Irene, born approximately 1918, appears to be the first child definitely born after parents Andrew and May married.

Next Steps

What comes next in my research plan?

Additional Records

The following records should provide clues or additional evidence to answer the research question about Grandfather Roy’s parentage.

  • Locate the marriage record for Andrew Jackson Pace and wife May (Laura Mae Fields).
  • Search for the marriage record for May and a possible first husband.
  • Search for the birth record for a child born in 1913 to just May or to May and a first husband, which might turn out to be Grandfather Roy.
  • Search for a birth record for Roy’s oldest sister Dollie, whose birth location might help narrow down my in-person search for Roy’s birth certificate.
  • Obtain Grandfather Roy’s death certificate from Kern County, California.
  • Obtain a copy of Roy’s social security application.

DNA Analysis

In the event the paper trail continues to shed doubt on Roy being the biological child of both Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields (and a full sibling to the other children), DNA may be able to settle this matter. I have tested two Paces, who our family believes descend from both Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields (the most recent common ancestors)–my husband and a male-line Pace cousin. Analyzing and comparing their autosomal DNA should help me determine if they both inherited DNA from Andrew Jackson Pace and Laura Mae Fields, or if my husband only inherited DNA from one of these common ancestors. Roy has a living daughter that I can test as well if needed.

Texas Road Trip

And now we finally get to the road trip theme for this post.

I am taking a trip to Texas next month, to walk across the Laredo foot bridge that crosses the Rio Grande and joins Laredo, Texas with Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. A walk with my dad, 100 years to the date from when his Mexican immigrant grandparents crossed that bridge (the version that stood in 1915) to start a new life in the United States.

That trip has morphed into at least ten days, visiting with a cousin of Mom’s, taking in the sights of San Antonio, and visiting Austin for some BBQ and the Texas State Genealogical Society’s annual conference. My husband Jeff is flying out for a few days of that ten day road trip.

I hope I can at least identify Grandpa Pace’s place of birth prior to then, so that Jeff and I can visit that area. But if I have not yet been able to identify that locality, or confidently identify the names of Roy’s parents, then some local in-person research time may need to be factored into this road trip as well–whether at the state archives in Austin, or at a local county records center.


Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963): Correct Birth Year is Likely 1864

Maria Aurelia CompeanMy last post discussed the discrepancies that exist among records regarding the birth year and age of my 2nd great-grandmother Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), whom my family affectionately called “Little Grandma.”

In that post, I explained that my extended family has always claimed Little Grandma lived to be 105 years old, which would indicate she was born in 1858. But after reviewing the records generated throughout her life that provide an age, I concluded that the best evidence indicates that Aurelia was actually born in 1864, the year of her baptism.

Maria Aurelia Compean Sanches (using the traditional Mexican naming convention) was baptized on 10 January 1864 at the age of 10 days old. This would make her date of birth 01 January 1864, and would mean she lived to be 99 years old at the time of her death on 17 February 1963, not 105 years old as my extended family has thought for most of our lives.

Aurelia Compean baptism entry in transcribed index. Mexico, Select Baptisms, 1560-1950. Source: FamiilySearch.
Baptism transcription index card. Ancestry.com. Mexico, Select Baptisms, 1560-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Aurelia’s baptism record is the record, among those I have identified so far, most contemporaneously created at the time closest to her actual birth. But the only record I had for her baptism is a translated transcribed index entry (shown above) in Ancestry and FamilySearch, which leaves at least a couple opportunities for human error. As stated in my last post, I needed to find a copy of her original Spanish-language full baptism record. But those records are not yet fully indexed and searchable on FamilySearch, meaning I would have to browse image-by-image in the collection — something I had not set aside time for just yet.

Digitized Baptism Record

Within one hour of my last blog post going live, my genealogy buddy Cathy Meder-Dempsey kindly found and messaged me a link to Aurelia’s digitized baptism record.

Maria Aurelia Compean, Baptism
Baptism record for Maria Aurelia Compean, 10 January 1864.
“México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-20441-15039-36?cc=1860864&wc=MC4Z-4WL:167671401,167671402,167737601 : accessed 5 May 2015), San Nicolás Tolentino > San Nicolás Tolentino > Bautismos 1863-1880 > image 13 of 921; parroquias Católicas, San Luis Potosi (Catholic Church parishes, San Luis Potosi).

The digitized copy of Aurelia’s original Spanish-language baptism record confirms that she was baptized on 10 January 1864 at the age of 10 days old — making her date of birth 01 January 1864. There are no translation or transcription errors in that English index entry. Pretty strong proof to refute my extended family’s longtime claim that Little Grandma was born in 1858 and lived to be 105 years old (claims made on her death record and in her obituary).

But, as stated in my last blog post, I had more record types to review in this attempt to verify Aurelia’s birth year.

Digitized Marriage Record

The next day I scored another big find…the 1883 marriage record for Aurelia and my 2nd great-grandfather

Marriage declaration by Aurelia Compean to Refugio Nieto, FamilySearch
Declaration of intent for Aurelia Compean to marry Refugio Nieto. From the full record of marriage. FamilySearch.”México, San Luis Potosí, registros parroquiales, 1586-1970,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-20440-23372-37?cc=1860864&wc=MC48-NZS:167672101,167668102,168345101 : accessed 6 May 2015), Villa Hidalgo > San José > Información matrimonial 1880-1886 > image 491 of 755; parroquias Católicas, San Luis Potosi (Catholic Church parishes, San Luis Potosi).

Maria Aurelia Compean married Refugio Nieto (1863-1909) on 18 October 1883 in the Villa de Yturbide (now Villa de Hidalgo), a municipality in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Aurelia’s section of the prerequisite declaration of intent to marry (dated 20 September 1883) notes that she was 18 years old at the time.

The age on this marriage record is still off. If Aurelia was 18 years old in October of 1883, her birth year would calculate out to 1865 (since she was born in the month of January). Yet she was baptized in 1864. She had to have been 19 years old at the time of her marriage, since one cannot be born AFTER being baptized.

Further Analysis & Investigation

My hope had been that finding Aurelia’s marriage record would substantiate the birth year implied in her baptism record, or at the very least would substantiate one of the other conflicting birth years — not offer forth yet ANOTHER birth year possibility. However, since (as stated above), Aurelia could not have been baptized prior to being born, the 1864 birth year provided on her baptism record still seems the most likely candidate. The baptism record remains the most contemporaneously created record for the time of her actual birth. And since the church wrote these baptism entries in chronological order in a log book, it’s not like the hand-written entry for Aurelia got mistakenly filed in the wrong year — the baptism entries immediately before and after hers are for the same date, with those three January 10th 1864 baptisms sandwiched between records for January 9th and 11th.

Obtaining copies of the actual baptism and marriage records does at least allow me to check off two of the four “next steps” I identified in my last post. I need to also try to find civil registration records for Aurelia’s birth and marriage. And a discussion with my father this past weekend raised another record source to investigate as well — a church confirmation record.

Until then, I’m still leaving Aurelia’s birth year noted as 1858 in my database, research log, family tree, and Snapshot Box below. I will also have to change the birth year built into the custom URL I use to pull together all posts in this blog pertaining to Aurelia, which means writing a permanent URL redirect so people don’t land on a broken link — hence, the wait until more hopeful birth year confirmation.

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#52Ancestors: Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), Lived to Be 105 or 100 or 95 Years of Age

Maria Aurelia CompeanMy 16th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015.

The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Amy’s 2015 version of this challenge focuses on a different theme each week.

The theme for week 16 is – Live Long. Time to feature a long-lived ancestor. Any centenarians in the family?

My 16th ancestor is my 2nd great-grandmother Maria Aurelia Compean (1858-1963), who lived to the age of 105 years. Or so my family has always thought. Other records place her at 100 years and 95 years old.

Aurelia was one of at least three daughters born to Jose Santiago Compean (b. abt. 1840) and Maria Eutimia Sanches (b. abt. 1834). Her full name was Maria Aurelia Compean Sanches — with Maria being her Saint/Biblical first name, Aurelia her common first name, Compean her paternal surname, and Sanches her maternal surname (see last week’s post about Mexican naming conventions). U.S. records often identify her by the last name of Nieto, the surname of her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather.

Age Discrepancies

Why the discrepancy and uncertainty about Aurelia’s age?

As Reported by Her Children

Aurelia’s children and grandchildren claim she was born in 1858. Whichever of them reported her death on 17 February 1963 gave an 01 January 1858 date of birth to officials for Aurelia, and they also ran an obituary in the Long Beach, California Independent proudly crediting her with 105 years of age. The death record info I have is just the transcribed entry from the California Death Index — which has Aurelia’s birthplace wrong (it lists Maine instead of Mexico!). I am still waiting on the death certificate I ordered from Los Angeles County in March.

Compean Maria Aurelia Obituary 1963-02-19
Obituary from 19 February 1963. Ancestry.com. Independent (Long Beach, California) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Maria Aurelia Compean Scanned Obituary Clipping
Same clipped obituary, from family files. Independent. Long Beach, California, United States Of America.
Aurelia Compean, California Death Index
California Death Index, 1940-1997. Index entry for Aurelia Compean. Index transcribers have her birth place incorrectly identified as Main instead of Mexico. Source: Ancestry.com.

As Reported on the Census

The 1920 U.S. Census and the 1930 U.S. Census estimate a birth year of 1868, based upon the age reported (52 and 64 respectively). Not ages that support the 1858 birth year noted on the California Death Index or in her obituary. I have not yet been successful at finding Aurelia on the 1940 U.S. Census.

Robledo, Nieto, Sanches, Perez Households - 1920 Census - Long Beach
Robledo, Nieto, Sanches, Perez Households. 1920 US Census, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Aurelia is highlighted in yellow, line 21. Click image for a larger view.
Juvenal Nieto and Aurelia Compean, 1930 US Census
Juvenal Nieto household, with Aurelia Compean. 1930 U.S. Census, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Click image for larger view.

As Reported on Her Baptism Record

Aurelia was baptized 10 January 1864 in San Nicolas Tolentino, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The baptism transcription index card says she was 10 days old at the time, which would make her born 01 January 1864 or 31 December 1863 — depending on how that 10 days was calculated. Either way, this record does not jive with the 1858 birth year claimed by our family, nor does it correspond with the estimated 1868 birth year calculated in the censuses.

Aurelia Compean baptism entry in transcribed index. Mexico, Select Baptisms, 1560-1950. Source: FamiilySearch.

As Reported on Her Border Crossing Record

The border crossing record for Aurelia, estimates her birth year as 1864. Aurelia was admitted into the U.S. on 14 March 1919, in Laredo, Texas, destined for Long Beach, California. The age noted on this record matches what her baptism record age would calculate out to in 1919.

Aurelia Compean Border Crossing Card
Aurelia Compean Border Crossing Card, 1919, Ancestry.com. Click image for larger view.

My Hunch

My suspicion is that 1864 is the accurate year, since it is the year most contemporaneously reported at the time closest to her actual birth (10 days after her birth, at her baptism), and the year that was likely self-reported by Aurelia to (Spanish-speaking?) immigration officials at the time of her border crossing.  Besides, if she were born in 1858 as her family claims, that means Aurelia’s parents waited six years to have her baptized — something that would never have been acceptable to practicing Catholics. I mentally noted that issue when I first came across her baptism info years ago, and it never sat right with me.

The Census records are close, with an 1868 estimated birth, but somehow I doubt Aurelia is the one who talked to the Census takers — it seems more likely her children would have done so. Although I would think that Aurelia — who did not work outside of the home — would have been present as well.

Although my extended family probably doesn’t want to hear that “Little Grandma” did not live to be 105 years old, I think that 1858 date is the most unlikely of birth years noted for Aurelia, since it was information provided by older children upon Aurelia’s death. Also because I can’t imagine her parents waited six-years to baptize their daughter in a staunch Mexican catholic home and community.

Next Steps

But, I still have more digging to do:

  • Locate the actual microfilmed baptism record. If it is included in the Mexico Catholic Church records that have already been digitized, it has not yet been indexed by FamilySearch.
  • Investigate if a Civil Registration record exists for her birth. Civil Registration went into effect in Mexico in 1859. If Aurelia was born 1858, there won’t be a record. But if she was born after 1858, there is a chance a record exists, although Civil Registration did not become strictly enforced until 1867.
  • Locate the microfilmed copy of her 1883 marriage record, since the Catholic Church usually noted ages for each spouse. If it is included in the Mexico Catholic Church records that have already been digitized, it has not yet been indexed by FamilySearch.
  • Locate a Civil Registration record for her 1883 marriage.

I have never found any evidence that Aurelia applied for a Social Security card or for naturalization. If she had, those applications would be written in her own hand (or verbally reported by her to someone who filled out the applications on her behalf), and would include her self-reported birth year.

Once I verify the records outlined above, I will update my database, trees, research log, and the Snapshot box below. Until then, I will let my extended family have their claim to 105 years.

Still…living to “just” 95 years old is pretty darn admirable. I hope Dad inherited her genes!

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Grandfather Benjamin Robledo (1919-1990): Trying to Solve the Mystery of His Given Birth Name

Benjamin Robledo US NavyFor over 15 years, I have beaten my head against a wall in total frustration at being unable to locate the birth record for my paternal grandfather, Benjamin Robledo (1919-1990), born 23 May 1919 in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California.

My grandfather was the third of eight children born to Jose Robledo (1875-1937) and Maria Nieto (1887-1973). Benjamin was the second son, but the first U.S.-born child — his parents immigrated from Mexico in 1915.

Early on, I successfully located birth records for all of Benjamin’s U.S.-born siblings, and the Mexico christening records (with birth dates noted) for his two older Mexico-born siblings. But I could never find a birth record for my grandfather, which just made no sense. Searching the Ancestry and FamilySearch versions of the California Birth Index failed every time.

My breakthrough finally happened in February 2014 during my first RootsTech research trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Breakthrough

Since the Family History Library owns the Long Beach city birth certificates, 1906-1919 collection on microfilm, my top priority for that research trip was to review the collection. I felt fairly certain that my grandfather was born in Long Beach, since the family was enumerated there on the 1920 U.S. Census when he was just an infant. I wanted to try a narrower Long Beach focus before having to expand my search to all of Los Angeles County.

With the first roll in the collection being an index for 1906-1919, I was able to quickly scan for any Robledo babies born in or around 1919. My only hit was a reference to a Raymond Robledo born in 1919.

Benjamin Robledo - 1919 Birth - Index FHL
The only Robledo born in Long Beach in 1919. Index to birth certificates, 1908-1919. Family History Library microfilm collection.

I pulled that particular birth register number up on microfilm, and was surprised to discover that Raymond Robledo appeared to be my grandfather Benjamin. The date of birth, parents’ names, and parents’ residence all jived with what I already knew about him.

Raymond???? His name was Benjamin.

Raymond is the name of a much younger brother. Ray is the nickname of his older brother Refugio. I have never heard my grandfather referred to as anything other than Benjamin or Ben.

I scanned back and forth on the microfilm, wondering if this Raymond was perhaps a twin (of Benjamin) that died at birth. But there was still no Benjamin Robledo in the collection. Only a Raymond Robledo, with no middle name (I thought perhaps Benjamin might be a middle name).

Benjamin Robledo - 1919 Birth - Family History Library
Transcribed birth record, photographed from the Family History Library microfilm collection. Long Beach city birth certificates, 1906-1919.

I immediately texted my father, sending him a copy of the birth record. He confirmed this information appeared to be for his father, but also confirmed he had never heard his father called anything other than Benjamin.


Armed with this new document and name, I retraced my previous (years’ worth) of attempts to once again find my grandfather on the California Birth Index. Only to be faced with the same result. No listings for a Benjamin or even unnamed Robledo male baby born in 1919 California.

Only…. a Raymond Robledo. My same Raymond. He had been staring me in the face every time I searched the Birth Index, but I had always dismissed this hit due to the name Raymond.

Benjmain Robledo - 1919 - CA Birth Index - Ancestry
California Birth Index record for my grandfather. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.
Robledo-Nieto - 1919-CA Birth Index - Ancestry
Every California Birth Index entry that Ancestry retrieves when searching for a Robledo born in California in 1919. Raymond (my grandfather) is the only one born to a Nieto mother, and on the proper birth date.
Robledo-Nieto - 1919 - CA Birth Index - Family Search
FamilySearch only finds one entry for a Robledo born in 1919 California to a Nieto mother.

Since finding my grandfather’s birth record last year, my dad has questioned his father’s lone living sibling about this mystery several times. Dad’s living uncle has told both of us that he has no recollection of my grandfather ever being referred to as Raymond — only Benjamin. He is just as surprised by this discovery as we are.

The Original Source Document

Just in case that transcribed birth certificate found in the Family History Library microfilm collection had been mis-transcribed (human error happens), I knew I needed to obtain the original record. A few weeks ago, I finally made it a priority to visit the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to request an informational copy of the original birth certificate.

When filling out the order form there, I listed both Benjamin and Raymond as first names.

Yesterday, my copy of the original birth certificate finally arrived!

No transcription error. My grandfather’s given name at birth was recorded as Raymond.

Benjamin Robledo, Birth Certificate
Birth certificate for Benjamin (Raymond) Robledo, 1919. County of Los Angeles.

No Further Trace of Raymond

I have never come across another instance of my grandfather’s given name being recorded as Raymond, even though I now always intentionally search for both a Benjamin Robledo and a Raymond Robledo with the same age and/or the same immediate family members.

After his birth, the earliest record upon which I find my grandfather living is the 1920 U.S. Census, where he was identified already as Benjamin, at 8 months old. Not Raymond.

Benjamin Robledo - 1920 US Census - Ancestry
The 1920 US Census record for my grandfather and his family, in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California. Grandfather (highlighted in yellow) is already identified as Benjamin at just 8 months old. The name above his is older Mexican-born brother Refugio, who would go by the nickname “Ray” among his siblings and friends. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Other records that identify his given name as Benjamin:

  • (1920) US Census: 8 months old.
  • (1930) US Census: 17 years old.
  • (1936) Glendale, California, City Directory.
  • (1940) US Census: 20 years old.
  • (1942) Marriage License and Certificate, County of Orange, California.
  • (1944-1945) US Navy Muster Rolls.
  • (1945) Notice of Separation, US Naval Service.
  • (1945) Birth Certificate of child.
  • (1953) Glendale, California, City Directory.
  • (1990) California Death Index, 1940-1997.
  • (1990) US Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014.
  • (1990) U.S., Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.
Benjamin Robledo, Death Certificate
Death certificate for Benjamin Robledo, 1990. County of Los Angeles.

Questions, Questions, Questions!

What the heck happened that my grandfather was given a name at birth, that the family was no longer using for him by the time he was just 8 months old?

  • Did whomever (I assume one of Benjamin’s parents) provided the baby’s name to the hospital or county employee mistakenly give the wrong first name of “Raymond” for his birth certificate? If so, did they file a legal name change later, or an amended birth certificate that for some reason doesn’t show up in any publicly accessible collection? Or did they simply just start calling him Benjamin without a legal name change?
  • Were my great-grandparents in disagreement about my grandfather’s name, even after his birth? With whichever of the two who provided the details for the birth certificate winning out by having the baby’s name recorded as Raymond, unknown to the other parent who wanted the baby named Benjamin? At least one of my great grandparents liked the name Raymond enough to give that name later to another son. Raymond, Raymon, and Ramon all seem to be common names among their extended family. I find no other Benjamin in the Nieto-Robledo extended family.
  • Did the hospital or county official who recorded the details for grandfather’s birth certificate simply make a mistake and record the wrong given name?
  • Some parents (or later, the child him/herself) sometimes choose to go by a middle name. But none of the records I have for my grandfather indicate the existance of a middle name.

If a legal name change from Raymond to Benjamin was never made, how is it that my grandfather was able to use the name Benjamin in other legal records?

  • Since the Social Security Death Index records his name as Benjamin, I assume this is the given name he provided on his Social Security application. I know that birth records are now required when applying for a SS card. But, was that the case when he applied, before 1951?
  • He joined the U.S. Navy in 1943, during the Second World War. Was any type of record of birth or identify required to enlist? Even during wartime, when we needed more troops?
  • When my husband and I applied for our marriage license in 2009, I think I remember the County of Orange (same county in which my grandparents married) requiring us to show our birth certificates. Did my grandparents have to show their own birth certificates back in 1942, and if so, how did my grandfather explain away the discrepancy in his given name unless he had additional proof of a legal name change?

Next Steps

If I ever want to reach a credible conclusion that this Raymond Robledo is definitely my grandfather Benjamin Robledo, I know I have to conduct a more exhaustive search of all available evidence.

  • I just ordered a copy of my grandfather’s original Social Security card application.
  • I need to figure out which jurisdiction would have processed a legal name change, where those records are now located, and try to determine if any such name change was made.
  • I need to try to find a christening record for my grandfather, since I can assume that his practicing Catholic parents had him baptized as an infant. First though, I need to identify the Catholic church to which his family belonged when they lived in Long Beach.

Do you have suggestions for other steps I should take meet the requirements of a reasonably exhaustive search in order to work towards a sound written conclusion?

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