My immigrant ancestor, Nicanor Gonzalo Sanchez-Tereso was born on 10 January 1791 in Herencia, Spain.  He married Anna Marie Weber in 1815 in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.  They had at least 7 children in between 1819 and 1833 while living in Germany. They immigrated to the US after the revolution and ended up settling in Keokuk county, IA.  Sadly, they both died a couple of years after arriving.

I decided that I wanted to learn a bit more about the town of Herencia, where the Sanchez-Tereso family lived for at least a couple of hundred years.  Nicanor’s ancestor, Juan Sanchez Tereso, was born there in 1620. (Related families that also lived in this area were: Gomez-Lobo, Lopez-Naranjo, Fernandez-Canadas, Martinez-Ojeda, Rodriguez-Polanco, Martinez-Oxeda, Garcia-Navas, Rodriguez Del Tembleque, Diaz De Ubeda, Martinez-Viveros and many more hyphenated names!)

Herencia is in the Province of Ciudad Real in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, about 150 km south of Madrid. It has about 9,000 inhabitants.  Fairly small.

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I found a couple of websites for Herencia: and The first seems to have more local news/events.  The second had information on history, a  map of the town,  and pictures.

I had to use Google Translate to figure out what the sites said.  I have taken Russian, German, and a little French, but Spanish is an absolute mystery to me.  The words were translated so that I could get the gist of it, but it just sounded awkward.  It’s much better than pulling out a dictionary though, isn’t it? I won’t complain.:)

What I could pick up from the translation was this: (Here is the direct link to the site.  They have old pictures, which are neat to look at, even if you don’t speak Spanish)

  1. Herencia is translated as “Heritage” or “Legacy” (according to Google Translate).  Now, isn’t that a cool name for a town?
  2. In 1239, after the Battle of Los Navas de Tolosa, the Kingdom of Castile began the repopulation of the Southern Plateau.  The town of Herencia is given its charter.  It has about 150 residents at this time.
  3. In 1568, a granary was built.
  4. They had vineyards and produced a lot of wine.
  5. In 1604, there is a population crisis because of poor harvests and typhoid epidemics.
  6. In 1786 there was an epidemic of malaria.  Life expectancy at this time period was about 50.
  7. In 1790, the first of the windmills was built.  By the early 1800’s, there were 11 windmills in/around Herencia.
  8. I love this translation: “In 1,798, the master of the alphabet, D. Alfonso García Rosel, teaches 90 children of all ages, including 12 of the poorest, who do not receive any money.”  I wonder if my Nicanor (who was born in 1791) may have been one of these children.
  9. In 1808, they record that there are only 3 remaining windmills. It says that this may be due to the destruction by French troops during the War for Independence.

I also found a site that has an album of pictures from the area.  Lots of windmills, reminiscent of Don Quixote.:)  Actually, the setting of Don Quixote is in this vicinity.  It was neat to see what the area looks like.  I would love to visit someday!!

Here is a translation of what the site had to say about the relation of Don Quixote to the area:

If the heirs of Cervantes had to collect intellectual property rights for the use of the names mentioned in Don Quixote, his would be one of the largest fortunes. In Legacy there is no corner that does not contain any reference to Cervantes’s fiction, from the stamp of their handmade cheeses, until the inevitable street and Plaza Cervantes. The very name of the people is in itself a valuable legacy.It is best to walk to the Plaza of Spain, where is the Church of the Immaculate Conception, then visit the Church of Our Lady of Mercy and walk the streets, that have a certain symmetry, with white as dominant color of the cityscape.. At the time of rest and food it is essential the presence of cheese Inheritance of universal popularity. Surely there will be no better place to buy a manchego cheese and taste

The most exciting thing that I found is a bit of information on the church where my ancestors attended: the Church of the Immaculate Conception.  The church that is currently standing was built in the 18th century, which means that it is the same one that Nicanor and his family attended.

I have added visiting this place as number 153 on my life list. :)

Other questions I have about this area are: How was it affected by the Napoleonic Wars?  This is the time period that Nicanor (later known as Nicholas)  was living there.  He would have been 16 when the Peninsular War started and 23 when it ended. Was he a soldier?  Would he have gone to Germany as a soldier? Did he move there after the war, looking for a new life? He married in 1815 in Germany, after the wars ended.

I really know very little about this time period/place.  I think that I only briefly studied it in high school and obviously didn’t retain anything. Everything I know about the Napoleonic Era was learned from watching BBC movies and reading Jane Austen novels.:)Not a complete education, for sure.

Luckily, we will be studying Napoleon and the world in his time this January in our homeschool.  Hopefully I will learn something too!  I have a wonderful book entitled Historical Atlas of the Napoleonic Era. It has so many wonderful maps and paintings in it. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a book on this time period. I’m obviously not an expert though.

I looked at the map of Spain in the chapter titled “The Spanish Ulcer”, and there was definitely chaos all around where the Sanchez-Tereso’s were living. Even if they didn’t fight in the wars, they had to be affected by the things going on around them. Another thing I need to research is Nicanor’s siblings. Other than their birth and baptismal dates, I know absolutely nothing about them. Did they stay in Spain or did they move also?

I wonder if there are records of soldiers for this time period.  Hmm. Things to think about.  Any suggestions on where to look for further information? Does anyone know of any good books (in English) that give a good overview on daily life during this time period in Spain? Anyone want to speculate on why Nicanor moved to Germany?

  • Heather Wilkinson Rojo - December 16, 2010 - 10:24 am

    Dear Jen, I have been to Herencia, and seen the windmills! My husband’s family is from just north of Madrid and we have done some research in his village, and also some research here before we went. Here are some useful things you can do on the internet:
    1. Try the new for records in Herencia and the villages your ancestors came from. We were able to find lots on line, scanned images. It will be in Spanish, but if you can pick out the baptism, deaths, marriages they are all formulaic and are easy to transcribe. All parishes followed the same “formula” for listing these. They name parents and grandparents, too!
    2. Try which is the National Archives of Spain. Under the advanced search “busqueda avandaza” you can enter the surname and the name of the village, and see what comes up. Not too usefull for common names, like Garcia, but you never know.
    3. Write to the parish priest (even if you have to write in English). He might know a descendant of a common ancestor still living in the village. This worked for us.

    Your worries about the Napoleonic Wars are valid concerns. In my husband’s paternal village of Sinovas, in the province of Burgos, there are no surviving records from earlier than about 1810 or so. But the records after that date name parents, grandparents, so you can get back to the early 1700s this way.

    Good luck, Buenas Suerte, contact me if you need helpReplyCancel

  • Jen - December 17, 2010 - 12:03 am

    Thank you so much for your comment.
    How exciting that you got to do research in Spain! I have to admit that I’m jealous. :)

    I was lucky in that another distantly related cousin handed me a research report (done years ago by a professional) with all of the births and baptisms back to the early 1600’s on most of my Spanish lines. I did notice that the records are now available on the site, but I haven’t attempted tackling that project yet. I know that if I did this, I could probably fill in a lot of my blanks on deaths and such!

    Thanks for the website for the Spanish Archives. I think that I will give that a try tonight and see if anything comes up.

    That is so amazing that you were able to find relatives still there! Did you get to meet them?ReplyCancel

  • Alex - January 30, 2011 - 3:24 pm

    Nice blog post, Jen! I’ve mentioned it in my own post today ( )ReplyCancel

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Prompt: December 15 – The Holiday Happenings!
Often times December to mid-January birthdays get overshadowed by the Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year holidays. So we’re going to shine a spotlight on those family members and ancestors this time around. Select one or more December to mid-January birthdays and/or anniversaries in your family tree. Write a short tribute to or memory of those birthday guys or gals and write a toast to the anniversary couples.

I always felt really sorry for my little sister.  Her birthday is 2 weeks before Christmas and she never got to have full-up parties, because the family was getting together for Christmas and couldn’t make it twice in such a short time period.  She often got presents that were for “both your birthday and Christmas”.  And I’m guilty of  not making her birthday special.  I always tend to put her birthday present in the same box as her Christmas present (which never gets there before her birthday).  Shame on me!

I have a late-August birthday, when there aren’t any other holidays around, making mine a special time to gather – and get presents.  I sometimes felt guilty that she didn’t have the same.

Looking through my Legacy program, I noticed that my 2nd great-grandparents, Jacob Frederick Sanchez-Tereso and Mathilda Jane Brittain, were married on Christmas Eve 1857.  She was only 13  and he was 33.  Wow!  I wonder if that was a joyful time for her or not.  I’m sure it had to be scary to leave your home and get married at so young an age.  Their first child was born 2 years later, when she was only 15.

Do you have a holiday birthday or anniversary?  Did you enjoy having it so close to Christmas?

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It’s so hard for me to pick a “favorite” Christmas Carol, because I like so many.  So, I’m going to cheat and post a bunch of my favorites.

Here are a few of them, in no particular order:
The entire “Rat Pack Christmas” Album. You can NEVER, I repeat NEVER, go wrong with Frank Sinatra.
If I had to pick one favorite Christmas song (traditional), I think that I would go with “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

Elvis’ Blue Christmas always reminds me of my childhood. I guess because my mom played the record so often.

I personally love Enya.  I think her music is magical.:)

Chuck Berry’s “Run, Rudolph, Run” is another favorite. I like all of Chuck Berry’s music though.

I also love Michael Buble’s version of “Let it Snow”

And Trans-Siberian Orchestra is so cool! Especially “Wizards in Winter”

And for something completly different, I give you Relient K. My whole family LOVES their Christmas Album. It’s very upbeat and fun and punk.:)

Like I said, I have MANY, MANY other favorites, but I’ll save them for next year!

Today is the last day to join in the Blog Caroling over at footnoteMaven!!

  • Theresa Casteel - December 15, 2010 - 1:53 pm

    Enya has the perfect voice for this. So Beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Greta Koehl - December 15, 2010 - 10:30 pm

    I love Enya’s voice, too. This is a great and wide-ranging selection of pieces – very interesting!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Cayemberg - December 18, 2010 - 8:44 am

    I love Christmas With The Rat Pack! Sadly, Sammy doesn’t get the best songs! I wanted to Christmas blog abt movies and music but being on the road right now may make that impossible! Here’s hoping it doesn’t.ReplyCancel

  • […] posted some of my favorite Christmas songs on my Blog Caroling post, last […]ReplyCancel

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This is my grandpa, Donald Arthur Sanchez.  He was a mechanic and had a very obvious love of cars.  More than half of the pictures I have of him have a vehicle in them.  My aunt just sent me this one and I love it!

Does anyone happen to know what type of car this is?  Too bad he didn’t keep it.  We could be cruising down the street in all of the local parades.:)

  • Jo Graham - December 15, 2010 - 1:13 pm

    Jen, I love cars too, but I’m sorry I only know about British cars – this one is a candidate for a good ol’ US hot rod as far as I can see. Grandpa had taste :-)ReplyCancel

  • Jen - December 15, 2010 - 8:39 pm

    Yes he did! In many of the picture I have, he is all dressed up, a la Sinatra. Very stylish. He obviously had good taste in cars too. :)
    I’m starting to wonder which of these many cars are actually his though. If he was a mechanic, maybe he is just getting his picture taken with all of these cool cars that he’s working on? I wonder if I will ever know…ReplyCancel

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I know that I can’t possibly be the only person that has been enjoying the new Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogs on Ancestry.  I haven’t really used them for genealogical purposes yet, but I’ve sure love browsing through them!

Can you imagine your mom making you wear this?

I am so thankful that fashions have changed.  We seem to be seeing fads from the 80’s and 70’s in stores.  Let’s hope that the 1900’s fashion fads never make a comeback!

  • Jo Graham - December 15, 2010 - 1:17 pm

    That could be the solution to all my slouching problems! I love all the old ads too, and spend far too much time reading them when I should be looking for ancestors.ReplyCancel

  • Jen - December 15, 2010 - 8:40 pm

    I know! They are so distracting, but fun!ReplyCancel

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