My Trip to St. John’s Cemetery
Queens, New York
One of the best ways to make new discoveries in your family tree is to speak to your elders. Almost always, this is going to be the first step anyway. However, sometimes we don’t revisit those old conversations or we forget certain details that were brought up before. Hence, why it’s always important to write things down (something I tend to not do).
However, I always try to make it a point to talk about any new developments with my family tree with my grandmother.
Oftentimes, a new discovery that I made will spark a memory of hers that we hadn’t talked about before. It’s also a good way to confirm that what you found was indeed correct or at the very least tell you that you are on the right track. One of my favorite things to accomplish in genealogy is matching up family stories with actual documentation. Being able to confirm the truth of a family legend is one of the most gratifying things I feel that you can accomplish in researching your family tree. The only downside though is that it often leads to more questions, but in genealogy, questions are a very, very good thing to have.
After discussing my previous post with my Grandmother, I learned that Juanito and the younger Rosalia (15 years old) were indeed Louis Garcia’s children and that her grandmother (Louis’ sister – also Rosalia) was their godmother. Obviously, being one of the first and clearly unexpected deaths experienced by the family in America, the only plot available was probably the plot in St. John’s Cemetery where my 3x great-grandmother had been buried. So, it makes sense that Louis’ children would be buried with his mother (who from what I can determine – came to the United States without her husband and thus was not buried with her spouse).
What a rough time – 3 deaths in a matter of 1 year. In fact, Juanito and his sister Rosalia died within almost a month of each other. According to my grandmother, they both died from appendicitis. By running some new searches, I uncovered their death certificate numbers, and once I am able to procure them, I will be able to confirm their exact cause of death.
The searches I ran were on both Familysearch.org and Italiangen.org. As I already mentioned in my last post, the databases made available by the Italian Genealogical Group are extremely valuable for anyone with ancestors from New York City. The documents available on FamilySearch are also another great tool and unlike the database at Italiangen.org, they include more information on the death records of those who died in New York City.
Equipped with the dates found on their headstone, I was able to easily find both of them in the ItalianGen database, which also included the death certificate numbers. It’s always easier when you have the certificate number when ordering vital records (birth, marriage, and death) from New York City.
It was at FamilySearch though that I was able to learn something that I did not know before. The name of Juanito and Rosalia’s mother was Anna Sanchez. The father listed on each record was also Louis Garcia thus confirming that I had the right death records. Clearly, I had the right people.
As you can see, there are some irregularities in the FamilySearch results. However, this is more than likely due to a transcription error. Many records are entered into databases by volunteers thus human errors sometimes happen. The best thing for me to do now would be to order their death certificates so I can actually view the record myself.
The discovery of Anna (their mother) led me down on a path that revealed additional cousins that I had never heard of before. I was able to uncover census records and Louis’ petition for citizenship on Ancestry.com with details about the entire family unit, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the information available on the death certificates and of course by visiting their gravesite.
This is all that I have been able to find for Louis and Anna Garcia. Despite the heartbreaking circumstances that I first came to uncover this information, I am happy that I am able to ensure that they are never forgotten.
Here I am as usual with more questions…
- Where are Louis and Anna buried?
- Is it possible that any of their kids are still alive?
- How close were they with my great-grandmother and her sisters?
- What was their life like in Spain?
Questions that I am nonetheless glad to have.
Think about this for a moment. Both of these children – my cousins – passed away at such a young age (4 and 15), and it was only by visiting them that I would have ever even known that they existed.
So many times, this is the end of the road. As family historians, we typically do all of this research to figure out where our ancestors were laid to rest. To get that moment where you are physically standing on the ground where they are. To get that moment where you sense that they are there with you. I don’t think there is anything more intimate in genealogy.
Sometimes though it is the complete opposite – we visit a gravesite first in order to get that new lead that leads us down a completely new path of research.
My grandmother, upon reading my last post, said:
“I believe I might be able to solve some of the mystery. The two children were my Great Uncle Louis’ children. My Grandmother Rosalia was their Godmother and my Grandfather Juan Fariñas paid for their burial and bought the headstone. Both the children passed away from burst appendicitis and my Grandmother Rosalia was, as I was told heart-broken. I cannot imagine that my Grandmother’s name was not on the stone. What confuses me more was that my Mother told me her Grandmother lived into her nineties, and I always thought that she had outlived her daughter. I will have to ask my cousin Rosalie. Yes, another Rosalie. Maybe, it was my Grandfather, Juan’s mother instead that lived into her nineties. My grandfather Juan always took care of the entire family.”
Indeed, he did. To help decipher the numerous Rosalies in my tree, please see the below tree.
One day I hope to be the one to add my great-great grandmother’s name to this stone.
As always, keep digging.