Happened that quickly; in the blink of an eye – I went from not knowing anything to having full siblings, and 200 people on my ancestry tree.
Well, I don’t even know where to begin. But I will start with a bit of backtracking.
Last Monday, after returning from a family vacation, I found I had a ‘close family’ match on Ancestry.
Well, cutting to the chase, after a day of phone calls back and forth to my new close family match, Nikki, sharing 1602 cMs and 62 segments, as well as calls to some other DNA cousins – we determined this was my niece – my FULL niece. Nicki had lots of info and we got from point A to point B pretty quickly with her knowledge combined with the Urdaz research tree I had on Ancestry.
Why is this so AMAZING? 50+ years ago I was found in a car at 12 to 24 hours old with no identifying information. The ensuing police investigation came up empty and I was soon released by Family Services to be adopted. [Who would ever think I would have FULL anything!!]
I have always known I was adopted, and have always wondered about my birth family. Years and years of questioning, wondering and frustration followed by empty leads and not much more information.
Finally, I DNA tested three years ago. I followed the recommendations and tested across the board, aka, ‘fishing in all ponds’; it paid off. Honestly, I am still floored/confused by the science. Many times I didn’t fully understand what I was looking at. I was fortunate to have the assistance of the brilliant mind and amazing heart of a DNA cousin, George P. George correctly determined who my original tribe would be months ago! Without the information George pieced together; it wouldn’t have been so easy to ascertain the relationship with my new found niece!
It turns out I have one surviving full biological brother and 2 that have passed along with my biological father. My birth mother is still alive. She has a vague memory of her pregnancy with me, so I am still trying to determine the true story of my very very humble beginnings. However, she did name me Elizabeth. [My biological brother will be DNA testing soon.]
Now, I am complete – I am relieved to have finally found my truth!
I am still a woman of two tribes, but now I know the origins of my original tribe – so, my quest will be changing.
I am half Puerto Rican – and if you are Puerto Rican you know this to be a melting pot of several cultures and nationalities combing European, Indigenous and African roots. The other half is mostly German. My Jewish / Ashkenazi heritage is still questionable and seems to possibly come from both sides.
My paternal history is Puerto Rican.
My dad was Israel Joseph Rivera y Juarbe, 1935 – 2011. He relocated to Florida.
On his paternal side; he is the great grandson of Hipolito Rivera and Francisca Correa y Urdaz [circa 1866 – 1925] both from Arecibo and Eulogio Rios y Medina & Beatriz Ortega y Viruet [circa 1864 – 1915] both from Utado. He is the grandson of Emilio Rivera y Urdaz & Trinidad Rios y Ortega [circa 1887 – 1937.]
On his maternal side he is the great grandson of Utado residents Juan Batista Serrano Gonzalez & Cruz Roldan [circa 1842 – 1898] and Antonio M. Juarbe y Gonzalez of Utado & Fidela Gonzalez y Lopez from Lares [circa 1844 – 1927]. He is the grandson of Jose Juarbe y Gonzalez & Carmen Serrano y Roldan [circa 1842 – 1942]. Both from Utado, eventually Carmen would find herself in Arecibo.
He was the only surviving son of Efrain Rivera y Rios & Rosa Juarbe y Serrano [circa 1912 – 2000]. His mother Rosa, passed just months after his entrance to this world. That is probably what sparked my grandfather, Efrain to pull up roots from Puerto Rico and head to the mainland; to New York. Eventually he would retire with my step-grandmother Marta Davis Centano in Florida. Efrain & Marta would have two children together; my father’s half-siblings, Beatrix and David.
My paternal birth family hails from mostly Arecibo and Utado, Puerto Rico. My paternal surnames are Rivera, Juarbe, Serrano, Gonzalez, Lopez, Correa, Rios, Roldan, Ortega, Urdaz, Medina, Viruet and Miranda.
My maternal history is basically German, along with some Irish. My mother Linda Elizabeth Reyalt, 1935 – present was born in New York. At present, she is in a facility in Florida.
On her paternal side, she is the granddaughter of Henry Reyalt & Augusta Ohrich [circa 1878]. They hailed from Germany and show up on the 1910 US Census. Here they both give their immigrations years as 1894 for Henry & 1900 for Augusta ‘Gussie’ as well as claiming ‘Naturalized’ status. They made their home in Brooklyn.
On her maternal side; she is the great granddaughter of Patrick Sylvester Durkin & Katherine Sweeney [circa 1852 – 1914] both of Mayo Ireland and Philip Ochsenreiter & Katherine Liesenbein [circa 1848 – 1904]. Patrick & Katherine S reported their arrival from Mayo, Ireland to New York city in 1861. At some point after she was widowed, Katherine S relocated to Chicago, Illinois. Philip & Katherine L originally hailed from a small town, Freinsheim in the district of Bad Dürkheim in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. They migrated to the New York City area arriving on June 24, 1853 on the ship, The Mary Annah. The ship last departed Le Havre, France before it ended its journey on our eastern shore here in New York. She is the the granddaughter of John Ochsenreiter of New York & Katherine E. Durkin of Pennsylvania [born approx 1875, showing up last on the 1930 US census]. They too resided in Brooklyn, NY.
Finally she is the daughter of Walter Reyelt & Isabel Ochsenreiter [circa 1911 – 2003]. Practically her last 8 years she would spend as a widow relocating to Florida.
My My maternal surnames are Reyelt, Ochsenreiter, Durkin, Ohrich, Liesenbein, Sweeney, Dyra, Hofmann, Armbruster, Neyland, and Neiland.
My parents had a total of five children together, in birth order; Debra Rivera 1957 -2102, Israel Rivera 1958 [stillborn], Joseph Rivera 1960 – present, this author 1963 – present, David Rivera 1966 – 2009.
My tree continues to populate because of the dedication of another DNA cousin who has even collaborated with George P and she has become more than just a DNA cousin; Yasmin M. is always there as sounding board, a friend and trusted confident.
There are MANY other DNA cousins along the way that have added in great information, shared their family trees, outlined relationships, shared family folklore, gave me roots. Too many to mention here a few off the top of my head …. Karen, Tracie, Roberto, Yolanda, Sylvia, Eric & Emilio, Daniel, Cesar, Martin, Patrick, Teresa, Chastity, Ana, Sofia, Cyndia, Becky, Heriberto, Annette, Peter, Joe, etc. too many to mention!!
From the depths of my heart THANK YOU ALL!!
More details to come – this is the general post so far!!
For those still looking; DON’T GIVE UP!!!
5.9.17 – Update – I have updated / altered this post to reflect a genealogy spin to it. I cannot honestly say this is a hobby and leave things the way they were. I added in names, dates and places of those that came before me. Those that have given me a history I can call my own. They gave wings to my tree and it is soaring.