I know that you have your own brick walls when it comes to doing genealogy research. We all have ancestors whom we can not find and or it seems that they left no paper trail. One of those such brick walls was my wife’s 2nd great grandfather Apolonio Contreras. I first discovered Apolonio when I found him listed in the death record of his daughter Paula Contreras my wife’s great grandmother. Whom turns out lived a very short life due to a snake bite. She died at the very young age of 30, leaving her young children without a mother, the youngest was barely one year old.
The mother of Paula, Apolonio’s wife, was also listed on her death record. Her name was Demetria Garza. A quick search on FamilySearch.org revealed that Apolonio and Demetria were married in Starr County, Texas back in August 17, 1874. Unfortunately for me they only had the index and not the actual images. You can read more about their marriage in one of my previous posts titled Apolonio Contreras and Demetria Garza, 1874 Marriage in Starr County, Texas. In short my local university had the microfilm of the marriages of Starr County up until 1911 so a trip was in order.
With great anticipation I scrolled through the microfilm only to be disappointed. I guess I am chiflado since most of my family is from Mexico and Mexican Civil Marriage records include the parents names, ages, and even localities where they were from. I digress, turns out that the record only contained the couples name, the county clerks name, and the official marrying them. I was ignorant or did not pay attention as to the important clue that was in the document that would eventually help my find the parents of Apolonio.
I was trying to find his parents since I could never locate them. On the other hand for his wife Demetria I found her death certificate and it mentioned her parents as being Epamuseno Garza and Maria Eugenia Solis and that she was born in Camargo. Unfortunately I have not been able to locate more information until yesterday but first let me continue with Apolonio.
Since I could not find Anything else about Apolonio I put him in the back burner. About a month later I attended an event at the McAllen Library titled “Getting Started with Genealogy” it was a presentation by Marry Torres and Ofelia Olsson with the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society. Ofelia mentioned to always look closely at Texas Marriage records, she stated that if the official that married the couple was a priest, the church has more information on the couple and that information includes the names of the parents. It was like a light bulb went on on my head. When I got home I checked the record and the clue that I missed was that the Official whom married Apolonio and Demetria was a priest.
I had heard that the Church in Rio Grande City does not have those records and that they were housed at the Catholic Archives of Texas in Austin Texas. To be honest with you I never made the time to go over in person to verify this information. I called once and they told me that they had no idea if they had those records and that the priest was not in. Again I put it on the back burner.
Yesterday I called my friend Mario Davila, whom had written a book about the Reynosa Marriages, but I’ll let you know about that in another post. So I called Mario and it turns out he was in San Antonio doing research and told me that he was going latter on to the Catholic Archives of Texas. After we hanged up it came to mind that I needed the church marriage record for Apolonio and Demetria. I knew Mario had driven up form McAllen to do research on his own family and felt kind of guilty to ask him to search for my record. I decided to send him a message with the information and offering to pay him $20.00 for his time to look for it. He said ok.
After a few hours I get a text and the following image was attached.
Church Marriage Record of Apolonio Contreras and Demetria Garza:
Transcription of above image:
78 Apolonio Contreras con Demetria Garza
El dia 17 de Agosto del ano del Senor 1874 yo J. M. Jaffris Pn. mn case en San Vicente de los Solis, publicates bannis, al Senor Apolonio Contreras 1o de 26 anos, hijo legmo. de Manuel Contreras y de Rafaela Garza origns de Camargo y Vno de esta, Con Demetria Garza 2do de 20 anos, hija Legitima de Prudencio Garza y Maria Ygnacia Solis ets origna de Reynosa Vieja y vna de esta. P.P. Juan Cantu y Lucia Valderama.
J. M. Jeffris
No lets Analyse:
What is so great about this record is that I finally found the parents of Apolonio Contreras. The big surprise to me is that it clearly indicates that I had the wrong information on Demetria. Her parents are not Epamuseno Garza and Maria Eugenia. Her parents are Prudencio Garza and Maria Ygnacia Solis. I looked at Demetrias Death record and I saw that the person providing the information was her son Eulalio Contreras. It might be possible that he provided the wrong information or that the Registrar entered ti wrong. I believe this record, the church record, to be accurate. Also Demetria was from Reynosa no wonder I have not been able to find her in the Camargo church records.
Don’t give up on your brick walls, put them in the back burner and you never know when they will come tumbling down. It may take years but they will come down. : )
I’ve had a few of these myself,I recently found some more names on my paternal grandpa’s side but on his Maternal side after months of being in the back burner ,From Ramos Arizpe Coahuila o0
That is awesome Juan, I know that it is just a matter of time. Hopefully more records become available or we stumble on the clues we need. It amazes me of how many people it took for us to be here. One of them and we would not be here.