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.

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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.

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