My great-grandmother’s name was Andrea (On-dre-a… not Anne-drei-a). That’s my middle name. While I never knew her personally, I feel an ancestral connection to my namesake. My family may not be of significance to the grander picture of world history. In fact, a lot of what’s here is merely stories–unable to be corroborated by the historical record. And yet. This is my grandmother’s name. This is purely a personal project. While I hope you enjoy reading stories about my family, my bigger hope is that you’ll be inspired to ask more questions about your family–biological or chosen. Sometimes, the best history isn’t written down in history books. Sometimes, the best history starts with a name.
We’ve experienced a lot of privilege in being able to trace much of our family through military and other records. Part of that is luck but there was also a lot of work put in by my dad to comb through record after record to piece together what little history was written down. However, my family is Mexican-American and therefore was not always considered of high importance in the realm of record-keeping in the United States. Some records simply do not exist for our family regardless of how much work is put into looking through historical records. While we know a lot about my family’s genealogy thanks to my dad’s historical mind, we don’t have everything. Part of this project is I’m attempting to remember one name in particular. My grandmother’s name. My 4x great grandmother’s name to be more specific. She’s the reason I have my last name. But I don’t know her name yet. To some, missing one name may not seem like a big deal but to me, her name is more than a name. It’s a story. It’s a story I want to know.
You can expect to read adventurous stories like about my 3x great grandfather Guillermo hiding gold during the Mexican Revolution. You can expect serious stories like about my grandmother’s experience of segregated movie theaters in Texas. You can expect some practical stories about how to pull a tooth out with some Tequila and pliers like my great grandmother Andrea. You can even expect some funny stories like about a boy who almost turned into a frog. The stories will range in their content because my family has many stories to tell. History is just story-telling anyways.
While we do our best to corroborate as much as we can with the historical record, the nature of this personal project is a written version of collected oral history. My dad (Manuel) is the primary storyteller. I collect his stories whether from his perspective or stories that have been passed down and then summarize them. This is not an exact history. You’re getting a story passed down the line. I believe there’s beauty in the art of a family story. The point is to collect the parts of our family history that we can while we can. There’s something to learn from how we tell our stories.