Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cuban Cousins - Part 1

I wrote this article a year ago to be posted in my "future family history blog." Much has happened in the last year. I have been in touch with several current PIÑA and BOOTH cousins. All of my BOOTH cousins have personally been through the "hell" that Spain, following along with Fidel Castro, put Cuba through in the last century. Some of these families came to the United States in the early 1960s to escape Castro's torment. Others remained in Cuba. The letter transcribed below relates some of this struggle.

page 1

Rose Lamy Piña Booth
As I stated in a former post, my grandaunt Margarite PIÑA, was my family historian in the19th and 20th centuries. Her father, Ramon PIÑA, born in Cuba, emigrated to the United States in 1876 at the age of 29. Ramon’s mother, Rose LAMY, married a PIÑA, became a widow with three young children. These include a sister of Ramon, Lola PIÑA and a younger brother, Frederick A. PIÑA

Rose remarried Charles (Carlos) BOOTH and had three more children; Cecelia BOOTH, Edwardo BOOTH, and Emilia BOOTH.

My cousin, eldest grandchild of my grandparents inherited our family trunk loaded with documents and photos. He has shared many of these with me. There were two letters written to family in New York corresponding with Cuban cousins. One shared in this blog was written to Margarite PIÑA dated 25 July [19]67 and is full of the PIÑA/BOOTH family history from her half-cousin Sara BOOTH

“My dear Margarite:

Just rec.[eived] your letter of July 12th with some interesting clippings. It is really the only source that we are getting news about Cuba, as the paper here, doesn’t even know where the island is located. 

I owe you a reply to another letter, which I must have misplaced. You are always so thoughtful in remembering us. As far as things go- we have no reason for complaint. Naturally, we do not have the comforts (the car, what I miss most). But we have our dear ones and besides all the food we want, while in Cuba, we were on a starvation diet.

On a separate paper, I will give you an outline of your father’s family. Papa had always told us, the older ones, about it for he was very fond of his brothers. I know all by heart, but still have to gather some things but will try to remember, and begin at the beginning. It is long though, believe me I am sending this. I found among my papers.

Miss Rose Lamy, lived in New Orleans with her parents. The father was a French man, her mother, I think, was from Cuba, as Rose, had relatives here and visited them. There
She met a man called Piña.  Forget it if was Ramon Piña and married. I don’t know if he was a Cuban or Spaniard. They had two sons and a daughter. The sons were Ramon and Federico and a daughter Lola who married young and had two daughters.

The son, Ramon, early, married a girl named Anita Multra, and had her daughters, Ana Rosa and Amelia. And they all lived in New York (or Brooklyn). In time they also married. Before all this, Piña, died, young, I guess. And the widow (yours and mine, grandmother) met an Englishman, who owned a plantation + sugar-mill and married him and had a son, Edward, and two daughters. The daughter married. The other did not. It seems that an account of our grandmother’s health, she did not like to live in the U.S. and lived here most of the time.

Time passed on – Charles Booth, the Englishman died – and left his plantation to his son Edward + daughter Emilia. In time Edward married a girl, Francisco (Cecilia) Balarich, (my mother) and moved with the plantation, a fine place – and Edward’s mother stayed with them part of the time.

I remember when my grandmother, died, I was about 5 years old, but I remember the funeral. She had been sick, quite a while - + was in bed most of the time and we were not allowed to enter her room. She had lung trouble.

One day, Uncle Ramon came to visit us. I remember that, and told us, how, Fred was 
O.K. and had a business of his own in New York. And that he had married and lived in Brooklyn. He afterwards, Ramon, knew all about the girl, he married. She was of German parents-+ was
a lovely girl, named Margaret [Gunther].

Meantime Edward, was busy having children and when Uncle Ramon made us another visit he told Edward, (my father), that, we should go to live in N.Y. Two things were getting in an awful condition in Cuba. The Cubans wanted their freedom from Spain.
There was trouble and killing etc. etc. Of course, by that time, Edward, my father, had 7 children, + he, your father, convinced him.

Some time after, we were living in good U.S. + we as children met some time – and at last Cuba, helped by the U.S. got her freedom from Spain. And Papa went + the island was a wreck. All from the plantation had been stolen or burned.

Years after your father Ramon made us a visit and invited me to go + spend time with you all + I went. There, I met Aunt Margaret, she was always so kind and sweet to me. And you all
also, made it pleasant for me. You, Margarite, were in High School + you were 17 years old and a very pretty girl. There was Sophie – and in fact all were very nice to me.
I remember I slept with you – but I think when your grandmother + grandfather left (who visited there [Frederick + Anna Gunther]. I got their little room. I guess I might have stayed a couple of months and enjoyed every day there. Dear Margarite, + Sophie, there I knew you look well and all of you and have never forgotten those pleasant days spent with you.

Please overlook the whole thing so badly written but I am quite busy all the time. Mrs. “Peachy”  [Doris - Sara’s daughter] is leaving for Weston where her husband works and will return on Monday. He lost his mother in Miami a couple of weeks ago.
Sara Booth

My love to you as ever.
Sara [Booth]”

What an eye opener this letter was! 

Here are more clues for my PIÑA line to research; yet, more questions to answer. Hopefully, this letter will bring more connections to the descendants of these two families.

I will write more about these ancestors and cousins when I find out more facts about them along with their stories.

Tourist in Australia - Day 12 - Cairns - Aboriginal Cultural Tribe and Rainforest Experiences

Monday, 31 October 2016
Tjapukai and Kuranda

After our morning breakfast at our hotel, we were picked up by a shuttle bus (who had also picked up other members from other nearby hotels) to take us all to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Experience. It was an organized living hands on tour of the local tribe in Cairns. 

We attended different stations where we learned:

-how to throw boomerangs - they even had a left handed one for me

-how to throw spears and shoot arrows

-about bush foods, medicines, and hunting

-about the didgeridoo on how it is made and played

 -from videos and dance on their creation story

-about their dance in which Eileen and I  participated as we were sitting in the front row. l have no pictures of this as we were asked NOT to take pictures. This photo is from their website. See below.

Here is a video from their website telling of my fantastic experience.

We were to walk next door to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and Scenic Rail. As we did not have time for lunch, we grabbed some protein snack bars to hold us over to when we arrived in Kuranda, the small town at the other end of the cable ride.

Both photos depict the the pathway of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. It took about an hour and a half with 2 stops at the Red Park and Barron Falls Stations going in one direction.

I was very impressed with the organization of this day tour. We were given detailed itinerary with our tickets to board both the sky rail from Smithfield to Kuranda and return from Kuranda to Freshwater Stations via the scenic railroad. 

Beautiful!!! Up we go. Looking down to the station we just left.

Our first stop was the Red Park Station in which we got off and did the short walk about.

  I am fascinated by the roots and trees. 

 We board the sky ride to our next destination of the Barron Falls Station.

We hear and see water down below...the great Barron Gorge and River.

We take a walk around the Barron Falls Station and learn here how the power of the Barron River/Falls was used for the area's hydro-electric power from the 1930s to the 1960s.

The falls have more water and fuller force starting in December.
We arrive in Kuranda, 
a darling small town with many wonderful sites to visit. We are limited with our time as we need to catch the railroad later in afternoon. 

We get a bite to eat. I want to visit the Butterfly Sanctuary. I was fascinated by the laboratory, pupae, and silkworm caterpillar areas. There were  over 2000 butterflies. They were landing on my arms and clothing. 

We walked through town back to the Railroad station.

The train ride was fascinating through the same rain forest this time on land.  

We exit at the Freshwater Station where we are met by our large tour buses to return us back to our hotels around 5:30.

We are told about a delicious Chinese restaurant in town. Our mouths start watering for our favorite dish. I found a Crispy Beef and Eileen enjoyed her Chicken and Broccoli. She ate all of her dish and I had "take away."

Tourist in Australia - Day 11 - Cairns - Great Barrier Reef

Sunday, 30 October  2016

After our hotel breakfast, we walked down to the pier to meet our boat with the Reef Magic Cruises. We had a 90 minute ride out to their platform in Moore Reef.

The cruise included the following activities of scuba diving, snorkeling, glass bottom boat, helicopter ride around area, and lunch including tea times. 

Unfortunately, I ended up with seasickness/dizziness. With my health issues, it was recommended that I not do scuba diving and snorkeling. That was fine with me as I totally enjoyed being out here and seeing everyone else enjoy themselves. There were many families with small children. 

I also discovered Aussie’s version of our ginger ale, which they call ginger beer. It had a lighter taste and color compared to ours. It was recommended to drink this and chew on ice to help with my ail.

Eileen and I went on the glass bottom boat to see the ocean life at the bottom of the reef.

Most of my underwater pictures were too bluish like the two here. This was the best with the camera I had. It cost extra money to rent an underwater camera for the actual diving. We had a delicious lunch after this adventure. At 1:15, it was fish feeding time by the marine biologist. 

The large fish, Wally, came right up to the swimmers feet. He is called a Maori Wrasse. He was like a pet dog swimming around wanting to be petted. Wally is the Great Barrier Reef mascot.

As I was clicking away on my camera, another group of black fish came called giant trevally to be fed.

We left around 3:30 to return back to the Cairns pier by 5:00 PM. We rested and freshened up for dinner at the Ochre Restaurant at Harbor Lights not far from our hotel. This place focused on local menus. I had the Morganbury Pork Fillet which I enjoyed immensely. Eileen loved her salmon dish.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

EVERWOOD or EVERGREENS Cemetery of Brooklyn, New York

I am obsessed with graveyards or cemeteries. Whenever I am visiting family in other locations far from where I live; I ask for a trip to visit family who have moved on.

My brother does the rubbing, as my cousin looks on.

In 1999, I took a trip to New York to visit my paternal cousins. My cousin, Jack, along with my brother, mother and myself drove out to and walked into the office building of Evergreens Cemetery of Brooklyn, New York, to ask where the PIÑAs were located in the cemetery. The file card was pulled out and I wrote down the EIGHT names and burial dates with the location of the tombstone. We found the tombstone, but to my disappointment, with only three names engraved upon it. The gold attachment with the words “Endowment Fund” caught my attention. I find out that someone paid for the eternal care of this plot with regular care and maintenance which includes the cutting of grass, caring for trees, watering, roads, drainage, etc. of area around paid plot.

Now I want to know who paid for it and when the tombstone was put up. My guess is Aunt Margarite paid for this to be done after her death.Why are the other family members not remembered in such a memorial way? I realize some family members do not like cemeteries as to the sorrowful memories they associate with them. After 3 generations, we are forgotten. 

We later find, in cousin Jack's possession, the legal document from the cemetery stating where everyone is located. These plots were bought on 28 June 1917 by my grandaunt, Margarite Piña, for $170 in the assigned Nazareth 1618 section. There are four graves with the allotment of three per grave. 

In grave 1, there is Fred Walter COOPER (18 Aug 1921-29 Jan 1923) Obituary says Fred Walter Cooper. Death certificate states Fred Walter Cooper. Aunt Margarite labels him as Walter F. My mother overwrites Frederick Walter Cooper. Fred is the second son of John C. COOPER and Sophie R. PIÑA. Fred is my uncle. See blog post, John Carrick Cooper - Part 4,

Alexander Sisson Cooper

Second is A. Cooper or Alexander Sisson COOPER (3 Oct 1854- 28 Mar 1927). I have a copy of his death certificate. Alexander is my great grandfather.

There is one open plot.

Ramon Piña
In grave 2, with a tombstone, there is Pa or Ramon PIÑA (4 Sept 1847-7 June 1917). With the occurrence of her father’s death, Margarite bought these plots. I have a copy of his death certificate and obituary. Ramon Piña is my great grandfather.

Anna Brazy Gunther

Second is Grandma or Anna Maria BRAZY GUNTHER (24 Jul 1836-3 July 1919). I have a copy of her death certificate and obituary. Anna, Margaret Gunther’s mother, is my 2nd great-grandmother. 

Margaret Gunther Piña

Thirdly, is Mom or Margaret GUNTHER PIÑA (July 1867-26 Oct 1938). I have a copy of her death certificate and obituary. Margaret is my great-grandmother.

This plot is full.

Margarite Piña

In grave 3, Margarite PIÑA (27 July 1887-15 Aug 1980) is buried. She is the one who paid for this gravesite. She is my grandaunt. See blog post, 
Margarite PIÑA (18871980),

There are two open plots.

In grave 4, there is John C. COOPER (5 Nov 1886-15 Jul 1968). I have a copy of his death certificate. Jack is my grandfather. See all six blog posts about John Carrick Cooper.

Sophie Piña Cooper
John Carrick Cooper

Second, is Sophie Ramona PIÑA 
COOPER (8 Dec 1888-29 Aug 1968). I have a copy of her death certificate. She was known as "Honey" and she is my grandmother. See blog post, Sophie Ramona Piña (1886-1969),

There is one open plot.

I learned so much about my family from this 1999 visit to Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Here is Evergreens website.

I also ordered this wonderful book about the history of Evergreens Cemetery from Amazon.