I know that growing without a dad is tough. If you or anyone else close to you grew up without a parent, then you know what I’m talking about. Whether it was a war, or a fatal illness which snatched your father’s presence from you, I presume you might find it within yourself to accept his absence, and get on with your life.
What can’t be so easy to swallow -I imagine- is accepting that your father abandons you, your family, and your home, and disappears to all effects from your life and your world. Such a selfish and irresponsible gesture must be very difficult to live with up to your dying day. Yet I know of several cases within my family where the father voluntarily abandoned their wives and families in order to prusue another life… often ending up marrying someone else bigamously.
My great-grandmother’s mother was the daughter of such a man. Juan Blanco was born in 1847 in the small seaside port of Puerto del Son (AKA Porto do Son), in NW Spain. The area still looks pretty much the same as it did some 150 years ago when my ancestor married Dolores Carou, who was by then heavily pregnant with their only daughter, my great-great-grandmother Josefa. Juan and Dolores were married in August 1868, and only two months later baby Josefa came into their lives. Was Juan Blanco happy to marry the mother of his child, or was her perhaps talked into marriage by dutiful relatives?
I am told by several great-aunts of mine that Juan soon abandoned his wife and daughter, who would have been a mere infant when he boarded a ship that took him all across the Ocean to Argentina. There, according to family legend, he bigamously became a de facto (if not de jure) married man a second time, and seemingly fathered another child or children, thus starting a second family. He was still alive when years later, towards the turn of the century, his son-in-law (whom he’d never met in Spain) tracked him down in Buenos Aires. Juan was so horrified by his visitor’s appearance that the first thing he muttered was: El Diablo te trajo hasta aquí (“The Devil has brought you here“). Was Juan afraid that his daughter’s husband would bring him back to Spain, or report him to the Argentinian police? Evidently Juan had no intention of coming back to Puerto del Son, and was probably more content with his second family than with the people he left back home. His son-in-law returned home empty handed, and as far as I know that was the last time anyone saw or heard from Juan Blanco.
There is a Juan Blanco recorded in the Argentinian census in 1895 listed with a wife and son… There’s a big chance he might be my great-great-great-grandfather.
As far as I know, Juan never returned home. His daughter may have been more forgiving than I would have thought at first, for she gave her father’s name to one of her sons. Despite her many hardships Josefa must have endured during childhood, she found it within herself to forgive the father she had hardly known.
I don’t know when Juan died exactly, but his (first) wife in Spain lived well into the 20th century. His daughter too lived a long life, and gave Juan seven grandchildren. Through them, his descendants have perpetuated the family line into the 21st century, many of them not knowing that just over a century ago our ancestor sheepishly gave everything up in order to start afresh in Buenos Aires. Who knows what Juan’s descendants in Argentina know about their ancestor!
I am happy to say that very recently I was contacted by a distant relative of mine who lives in Uruguay (a hop and a skip from Buenos Aires) and who is a great-grandson of Juan’s brother, who also emigrated to America. Who knows if this person, of whom I knew absolutely nothing a couple of days ago, might fill me in on any gaps about Juan’s life in South America.
How did you get the information about the meeting in Argentina??
I never saw my father after we were removed from him, a month before my third birthday. I am now 58. My grown daughter will be 29 in two months—the same age I was when I gave birth to her. So it is my second Saturn Return. What better thing could I do but to find my father’s family through genealogy?
And that is what I am doing. I thought they all must be terrible people. They are not. They were wonderful. I have found treasures I cannot believe. I have solved mysteries that have sat for hundreds of years. I have found my second-greatgrandfather’s siblings, and his father’s siblings, as well. I could not be happier.
Oh, a mystery I solved (partially, to my satisfaction)? I sought information on Captain Raleigh (aka “Rowley”) Croshaw, who was an early trader and translator for the Powhatan tribes nearby. He is said to have married Ursula Daniels, alternately in Virginia in 1603 (before ANY Englishmen had arrived), or in Yorkshire before Captain Croshaw sailed. Their son, Joseph, was born in Jamestown in 1610.
The problem with that is that there were no women in Jamestown until October, 1608. The other problem with that is Captain Croshaw, as I learned, was nowhere NEAR Jamestown. Once he found the Pamunkey people, he told his comrades that he was going to stay there, and trade with them. Captain John Smith wrote at length about Jamestown. and Croshaw’s name appears sixteen times in his writings, below. Croshaw was gone so long that Smith sent a “Ship and a Pinnace” to Patawomeke to retrieve his body or learn his fate. Croshaw and King Powhatan greeted them and threw them a party.
Now, does that sound like a man who left a wife and infant to fend for themselves in the midst of Indian raids and other extremities of circumstance?
It does not. His own son was of the Pamunkey, and he married a tribeswoman, as well: Rachel.
I haven’t figured out which bride Captain Raleigh Croshaw took from the people—but a woman named Ursula Unity Croshaw seems to be the answer. She was NOT Ursula Daniels. That woman never existed, at least not in Jamestown. I checked every passenger list I could find, and she was not on the Bono Noto (? I think ?) as stated falsely elsewhere. She was not listed—as Ursula Daniels or Croshaw in ANY list of Jamestown residents.
I’m not even trying to prove I have Powhatan blood in my veins, as Robert Poole, Jr., also lived among the tribes and took a wife. He is my tenth great-grandfather.
I just want the truth out there.
I’m inspired by your work and hope I can begin writing again soon. Chemo ate large chunks of the technical vocabulary in my brain, and it’s not something I can do instantly. (I blogged for years and write daily.)