I have just returned from a road trip to California and Arizona to see my family. Part of journey’s focus was to find out more about my father’s mother’s family who lived in the Santa Cruz area. Having not grown up with this side of my family, I have a lot of holes in my knowledge. There is also the complication they might have been early migrants of Mexican/Spanish descent in the 1880’s and didn’t leave a lot of records around.
My great-grandmother “Lizzie” has been illusive and perplexing. I have glimpses of her in census and death records and just a few family stories to serve as breadcrumbs. Her name and her birthplace change quite a bit. I am not completely convinced she was born in California, as I have not been able to confirm her parents’ identities. The family stories speak of a rabid conviction that they were “American” and not from Mexico. Perhaps they were early Mexican settlers from the early 1800’s prior to statehood, or maybe there was deliberate obfuscation of the facts to fit into society?
Here is a summary of what is stated in the documents I found so far:
1900 Census – “Elsie O.” is married to Joseph Perez (a farmer). They have been married for 20 years (1880), had 11 children and 8 of them are living. All the children (ages from 16 to 1) are living with them at their home in Soquel Township, Santa Cruz Co., California. “Elsie” was born in 1859 in California and her parents were all born in California.
1910 Census – “Lizzie P.” is now married to Frank Vargas and they are living in Tres Pinos, San Benito Co., California. They have been married for 4 years and have a 2-year-old daughter Delphia. “Lizzie” claims only to have had 10 children with 9 living. Now before you think I have found the wrong woman…she is living with 2 of her children with the last name of Perez that were in the 1900 census (as well as another who was born after the 1900 census). Her age has changed too, so that her birth year would be 1863. Her parents are from “Mexican Spanish”.
1911 – Death certificate of Alice Perez, daughter of Lizzie and Joseph Perez. Alice was 18 years old and died of chronic interstitial nephritis. Joseph filled out the certificate and lists his place of birth as Santa Cruz and the maiden name of Alice’s mother as “Lucy Arrow” born in San Luis Obispo, California.
1920 – “Lizzie” is still married to Frank Vargas and living with her daughter Delphia. They are living in Mayfield Township, Santa Clara Co., California. And she has gotten younger again, born in 1865. Her father was born in Mexico and her mother in California.
1924 – Lizzie died in Stockton, San Joaquin Co., California. The informer on “Lizzie’s” death certificate is her oldest daughter Vivian Perez Hansen. It is remarkably lacking in details regarding “Lizzie’s” parents – simply unknown. It does state her birthdate as being December 2, 1862.
Names she was known by and/or maiden name:
|Source||Unknown Informer||Joseph Perez Informer||Misc. Informer|
|1900 Census||Elsie O. Perez|
|1910 Census||Lizzie P. Vargas|
|1911 Alice Perez’s Death Certificate||Lucy Arrow|
|1920 Census||Lizzie Vargas|
|1930 Census||Lizzie Vargas|
|1975 Frances Perez’s Death Certificate||Elisa Oro|
When and Where was Elizabeth “Lizzie” born?
|Source||Unknown Informer||Joseph Perez Informer||Vivian Informer||Frances (Daughter) Informer||Misc Informer|
|1900 Census||1859 – California|
|1910 Census||1863 -California||California|
|1911 Alice Perez’s Death Certificate||San Luis Obispo, California|
|1920 Census||1865 -California||Spain||At Sea OC (Off the coast of Calif?)|
|1924 Death Certificate||2 Dec 1862 – California|
|1975 Frances Perez’s Death Certificate||California|
Where were Elizabeth “Lizzie’s” parents born?
|Source||Unknown Informer||Vivian (Daughter) Informer|
|1910 Census||“Mexican Spanish”|
|1920 Census||Father – MexicoMother – California|
|1924 Death Certificate||Unknown|
1) Order Ernest Perez’s death certificate (Lizzie’s son died in 1911)
2) Order Frank Vargas’s death certificate
3) Continue to look for records for Lizzie’s children e.g. marriage and death records that might list the origin of their mother.
4) Look for Catholic records in the Santa Cruz area for birth, marriage and death records of all the family members.
5) Locate and order divorce papers for Lizzie and Joseph if they exist.
6) Locate and order marriage certificate for Frank Vargas and Lizzie.
Well…if Elizabeth was difficult, her husband Joseph Perez/Perrez is just had hard. I will write more on him next week.