Vicente de LEON GUERRERO was born about 1829 according to the 1897 Spanish census. I assume he was born in Guam although I have no written documents to verify this. He is my 2nd great grandfather (great, great grandfather). I don’t know much about him other than he was the patriarch to at least two and possibly three families of which I can claim as relations. He was married to Nieves GREGORIO after his first wife (a Borja) passed away. Nieves was my 2nd great grandmother. He was married a third time (to Josepha Balajadia) after Nieves passed away.
I gathered most of the initial information from oral histories conducted by Anthony “Malia” Ramirez, my cousin and a descendent of Vicente’s first wife. He had conducted interviews with several elderly aunties years ago and related that information to me from memory. Since learning about this I have been searching for some documentation to support the oral history.
Almost immediately I had found some information in the 1897 Spanish census. My grandfather (Ignacio Fejerang de LEON GUERRERO) was only a few months old but he was listed in the census along with his parents (Justo Greogrio de LEON GUERRERO and Rita Guzman Fejerang) and siblings. On the previous page with only one home recorded between them was 75 year-old Fermina GREGORIO and on the page following the entry for my grandfather was 68 year-old don Vicente de LEON GUERRERO, his wife Josepha Balajadia and Vicente Balajadia listed as a son.
This made sense and supported the oral history. I assumed that Fermina was either a sibling or parent of Nieves GREGORIO, my 2nd great grandmother. I had nothing to base this on other than her surname and the proximity of her home to Vicente’s home and the home of his son and my great grandfather, Justo. The fact that I had not been able to find any other person with the surname GREGORIO in ANY records also supports this theory. If there had been numerous individuals with the surname GREGORIO then I would have to assume that there were several families.
The fact that according to the census Vicente was married to a Balajadia also supported the oral history. The only information that I was not clear on was the listing of Vicente Balajadia as Vicente’s son. For some reason I thought that there were no children from this third family. It was certainly possible but because I had no information about the death of Nieves, I could not verify that Vicente was indeed the son of Vicente. Based on the son’s name and the fact that he was listed as the son in the census, I would certainly have to try to verify this.
Yesterday I decided to look again at the index of judicial records that are available at the Micronesian Area Research Center to see if I missed something from earlier searches. The problem was that I did not know who Vicente’s mother was. This would have made my search easier as I would have had a middle name. The fact that there are several Vicente de LEON GUERRERO’s made this search difficult. It was a guessing game trying to figure out who could be my relative. Many documents do not list the age of individuals recorded except census records and records that require evidence that the person is of age. Unless there is some other information in the document like a middle name, address or mention of a family member that can help identify them, you are most times out of luck.
Armed with the knowledge I did have I decided to try one more time.
First I searched for LEON GUERRERO – it was confusing because the name was listed as Leonguerrero, de LEON GUERRERO, and LEON GUERRERO. I tried all versions but there were so many it would take me so much time to go through each one.
I decided to take a different tack and instead of searching for the LEON GUERRERO I decided to try to search for GREGORIO. I knew that GREGORIO was an unusual name and I might have a good chance of finding it. The search engine came up with quite a few GREGORIO’s as it included those with the first name GREGORIO. Imagine my surprise when I saw nestled among the listings of GREGORIO Perez, an entry listing Nieves GREGORIO as the spouse of Vicente de LEON GUERRERO!
This was the first written historical documentation that I had found that verified that Nieves and Vicente were married. The date of the document was May 26, 1866. This verified that Nieves was alive in 1866.
The document I reviewed was the recording of the sale of a house located in the Barrio de Santa Cruz by don Benigno de la Cruz y Reyes to don Ignacio Aguon y Torres. In the description of the location of the house it stated that to the west of the subject house, was the house of Vicente de LEON GUERRERO and his wife Nieves GREGORIO.
From this one document I was able to verify that Vicente and Nieves were married and lived in the Barrio of Santa Cruz in Hagåtña in 1866.
Encouraged by my find I continued to look for more listings that included the name GREGORIO. Just a few minutes later I found another document that recorded the sale of another house in the Barrio of Santa Cruz on Cristobal Colon St. This document recorded the sale of a home by don Vicente de LEON GUERRERO y SANTOS to Manuel de la Cruz y Borja. According to the document, Fermina GREGORIO had previously owned this particular home. I was ecstatic! Although it did not completely verify that Vicente de LEON GUERRERO y SANTOS was my 2nd great grandfather, it certainly did make a good argument. The sale of the home to Manuel de la Cruz y Borja also hints at a possible relation between the seller and buyer: Vicente’s first wife was a Borja.
So it is probable that upon Fermina’s death, Vicente whose 2nd wife Nieves, was most certainly related to Fermina, was the next of kin.
The year 1898 is listed after Fermina’s name in the document. I assume that is the year she died. If that is the case I wonder why the sale of the property took so long. The date of the sale document was September 11, 1905 – six years later. Perhaps it was because Vicente was getting on in years (76 years old) and wanted to pass on his property. Manuel de la Cruz y Borja purchased the property for 50 pesos Mexican.
I now have new avenues of research to pursue. Knowing that Nieves was alive in 1866 and that the 1897 census lists Vicente with a 26 year-old son: Vicente Balajadia de Leon Guerrero, it appears that she passed away between 1866 and 1871. Oral history also states that Vicente and Nieves had 4 or 5 children. I have only been able to find two:
Justo Gregorio de Leon Guerrero (b. abt. 1863)
Antonia Gregorio de Leon Guerrero (b. abt. 1864)
So the search continues into the roots of the elusive Vicente de Leon Guerrero clan.