Coming out: The Maverick Leader

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Not that anyone needs another assessment. But if you know me, you know I am quite fond of them.

I’ve taken a bunch of assessments over the years, but the ones that stick with me are Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder, which show how you respond to or interact with the world.

But one that, until last year was unknown to me, the Fascination Report, tells how others perceive and respond to you — how you uniquely fascinate them. I got my report while job-hunting, a season that challenged my sense of self, in hopes of getting a good idea of how I come across to others.

The results of my report: I’m a Maverick Leader. (Kind of feels like I should go out panning for gold and stake my land claim.)

In most ways, it nailed me. Unconventional thinker, pioneering, irreverent, entrepreneurial. While I ideate in non-linear ways, I then use a linear approach to implement my ideas.

By the way, it’s not lost on me that assessments – heck, comparison with others – is an all-out American sport, one that can doom us to not ever become what we were designed to be, if we’re not careful.

And granted, assessments like Myers Briggs, StrengthsFinder and others are not always spot on. Worse, they can be used as weapons in the workplace. On the upside, however, they are helpful in identifying our strengths and weaknesses – enough to inform where and how we do our best work, what arrangements make us happiest, etc. That’s what I look for, anyway.

Does it run in the genes?
So I was reading up again on my family, namely my dad’s father, the career grocer and occasional bootlegger.

One aunt tells me he had a little bit of a wild streak in him, shutting down his and my grandmother’s businesses so they could move north to work in the fields.

Picking up and moving like that was typically a necessity for most Mexican families in the U.S. during 1930s and 1940s, not an option. But he needed to get out and see other places,and this was his way to wander — with the entire family, 13 kids in tow.

I’ve always wondered where I get my nonconformist gene. Maybe I’m onto something by looking at my family’s history. Maybe I’ve found it.

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When in doubt, switch sides

That’s my new motto for doing family history research. If I don’t succeed on one side, I’ll just hop over to my other parent’s line and see what’s up.

For now, I’m still stuck on my paternal great-grandfather Braulio, not knowing which family he really came from. Researching different possible mothers until the dots connect somewhere.

So while Braulio is on “spring break,” I’ve decided to switch gears to my mom’s musician grandfather, Froilán, who supposedly was shot while playing in a night club.

Shot – or not?
On looking more closely – well, at first blush anyway – it appears he may have survived that gunshot. He shows up in the 1920 Census a state away, in New Mexico – married, but with no spouse or family (both of which he actually had – in Texas).

Did he get run out of town? Was he on the lam for some reason?

If he did survive, he fared better than his marriage did, because that didn’t survive at all.

1920 census screen capture - Froilan Garcia family

1920 Census showing my great-grandfather, Froilan (28), my great-grandmother, Reyes (25) and my grandfather, Jesus (Jesse – 7 years old). After this record, this family seems to fall apart fast.

Lend me some sugar — I am your neighbor!
So, what happened to his wife (my great-grandmother)? Turns out in 1912 she remarried someone who, according to the 1910 Census, had lived just a few doors down.

And the neighbor, Jose Maria Salinas  - who also becomes my great-grandma's husband in 1912.

And the neighbor, Jose Maria Salinas (the “brother in this record) – who eventually married my great-grandma in 1912. He’s single and 30. Whattya think – spells trouble? By the way, no record so far of a shooting. Waaah, waah, waaah…

Sounds like a love triangle to me, if the lore is also true that my great-grandmother married either the shooter or his relative.

All I know is that, my grandpa was orphaned very young because, just six years later, his mother Reyes died from typhoid fever.

Funny, I have so much documentation for this side of my family, I thought their recent history was pretty cut-and-dry. But what happened to my grandfather’s natural father is a fairly big mystery at the moment.

Note to self: Don’t expect closure from following an alternate trail just because you couldn’t get closure from another. Much like an unfinished quilt, these loose ends could paint an incomplete picture for some time to come.

Sigh.

How [Irish] [Mexican] [Fill In Ethnicity] are you?

DNA helix under spotlight against red background

Photo by Svilen Milev at sxc.hu

I *could* have signed up for a DNA Kit from Ancestry.com at their $99 rate , but I really didn’t want to spend that much. It’s just that, the more I feel like I’m not from a Cabello bloodline, the more I wonder, Where the hell did we come from?

So when I saw a discounted rate on the kit in honor of St. Paddy’s Day, I told my hubs: “Hey, let’s find out how Irish I am!”

To which he responded: “Why don’t you just wait till Cinco de Mayo and find out how Mexican you are?”

Touché.

Waiting: How long is long enough?

If there’s one thing I’m learning from researching my family’s history, it’s that waiting for the right thing is worth it.

Looking for my great-grandfather Braulio isn’t the only thing I’m waiting for in my life, but it is symbolic of other things that have been on hold for awhile. Patience isn’t one of my stronger suits, so this lesson is as invaluable as it is counterintuitive to me.

I have decided I need to trust, somewhat blindly but mostly with faith, that the wait will be worth it. And with my luck, that’s when Braulio will show up.

Stuck – for now

stuck

Photo by halocyn

Check?

I’m in a near headlock over my great-grandfather. While we’ve known for 20+ years that he might have come to our family from another, it wasn’t until recently that I started to get warmer on which family that might be.

Until my lead went dead-cold.

Well, not 100% cold. Just a bit sideways on some important stuff. The info I found meant that my great-grandpa necessarily:

  • Was 12-15 years younger than all records found to date show;
  • (Ok, probably) Lied about his age to marry a 17-year-old (if my now-cold lead was right, he’d have been 35 on his wedding day, even though his marriage record says he was 20);
  • Somehow was transported from Mexico’s interior (almost from Mexico City) to the northeast state of Coahuila, near Texas, within 8 days of his birth.

Then, last night, I realized that, if his death certificate is correct, he also would have been 104 years old when he died (1950). Most people weren’t living that long back then.

So I started over today on the search of his birth/christening records. Lo and behold, I found this:

I think I've found my great-grandfather Braulio - or have I?

UPDATE Dec 2015: This is the name of a female. Braulia gets ruled out. //  This christening record looks like a closer match of my great-grandfather. At left is the name of the baby being baptized; names circled at right are the parents. But are they my relatives? I have not a clue. Nada. Source: Mexico, Coahuila, Catholic Church Records 1627-1978; FamilySearch.org

It matches, almost to the day, nearly every birthdate reference I have seen for my great-grandfather to-date. Without the proper documentation, I’d been unable to validate it.

The only thing is, this Braulio was born to another family entirely. I haven’t delved further, but so far it doesn’t appear to be extended family. Maybe I’ll learn otherwise soon.

All I can say is, this puzzle piece fits better than the last. I think that’s good…right?

So maybe it’s “check” for the moment, but I’m too stubborn and persistent to ever let it get to “check-mate.”

A new book, a new secret decoder pen

Today felt more like Christmas than Valentine’s Day.

finding-your-mexican-ancestorsMy mailman brought me a reference book I’d ordered to help with my family history research. Great timing, since Finding Your Mexican Ancestors is like my secret decoder pen for unlocking key records about when my grandfather and grandmother came to the U.S.

Along with increasingly available online resources, this book (and anything by Ryskamp) offers so much context, I’ll now have a better idea of why, how and where I’ll find records to fill in some of our gaps.

I can’t help but be more amazed every time I turn around to learn how genealogy has evolved technologically since I last worked on my family’s history. But sometimes analog is still the best way to go to find answers to lingering questions.

In any case, it makes for a great Christmas Valentine’s Day present.

A picture worth a biography (or four)

cabello-kids-being-themselvesI found this photo the other day of my brothers and me, plus a couple of our cousins, during one of our visits to South Texas from the Midwest. Vintage 1975 in every way.

We were in my grandma’s kitchen, where pretty much where all socializing took place.

Times haven’t really changed much, have they?

Only a handful of years later, we would move there, and I would spend a lot more time in that kitchen watching Chespirito, Sábado Gigante or whatever telenovela was blaring from Grandma’s TV.

The funny thing is, this snapshot perfectly captures our personalities.

My oldest brother, Noe (Spanish for “Noah”) is in back, holding our younger cousin. Noe has always been the quiet, loving caregiver and nurturer, taking his love for babies and kids from our dad.

In front, from left to right: My brother Edgar, looking sly (as usual), is eyeing whatever Eddy is about to bite into.

And me, in my Ernie-and-Bert shirt, well, I’m posing for – I don’t know, another camera? My only explanation I have is that one of my aunts used to call me “Miss America,” and I was probably working hard to live up to her prediction. (The closest I ever got was Barbie-doll boot camp at Pan Am. We know how that went.)

Behind me is our other little cousin, about 2 years younger than her brother Noe is carrying. I suspect she’s standing on the oversized, bell-bottomed pants Noe is undoubtedly wearing. Which can only mean one thing: platform shoes.