Thursday, November 7, 2013

Researching the Family Tree in Spain

We were in Spain last week, visiting my husband’s family.  I had no plans to do any genealogy research during this trip, since we were planning to just visit family for a short time.  However, fate intervened!

On our second morning in Madrid I opened our email to find a message from a gentleman in Barcelona who had seen my family tree on line, and he had a common ROJO 3rd great grandfather with my husband.  We immediately emailed him back and forth, and found out his parents were from Sinovas, where the ROJO family originated, and where my father-in-law was born and baptized.

Within a day we compared this new cousin’s family tree with my husband’s (thank goodness for having a private tree online I could access with my iPad).  We also contacted some cousins we knew from Sinovas and they sent us the name and phone number of the parish priest.  It took several phone calls to make an appointment to meet up with the priest to see the parish records.  It took a few more phone calls to find a cousin to drive us to Sinovas, about two hours north of Madrid in the province of Burgos.  The next day we were on our way!

The gate to the city of Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Spain

We met up with the priest in the village of Aranda de Duero.  He was pastor in both villages, but since Sinovas is so small (population 132) he keeps the books at the bigger church in Aranda .  We had looked at the books of baptisms, weddings and burials once before, about fifteen years ago. This time we brought our digital camera, and we had all the time we wanted to look at the books in the church office while the priest celebrated a mass.  He then invited all of us to go to see the church in Sinovas, since he was preparing for a funeral there that same afternoon.

Vincent's uncle's baptism and marriage records

Vincent's face when we found the marriage record
of his 3rd great grandparents!

Of course, we took him up on his offer to see the church in Sinovas.  It was built in the year 800 as a garrison tower, and had been modified over the years.  Sinovas is only 3 km from Aranda (less than 2 miles).  We explored the church yard, too, which was built in 1883.  Before that, burials took place under the church floor.

San Nicolas de Bari church, Sinovas, Burgos, Spain
The tower was built in the 800s, the central part
of the church has a ceiling dated in the 1200s

Generations of Rojos were baptized in this font

After all the exploration we treated our cousins to a feast of roast suckling lamb, the specialty of Aranda de Duero.  Vincent enjoyed his visit to the “Land of the Rojos” very much.  He hadn’t been there in at least a decade.  We found enough information on the Rojo family to connect to his new cousin, and we had photos of dozens of Rojo baptism, wedding and burial records from the parish records. Most of the early books had been removed from Sinovas to be stored at the Archbishop’s archives in the city of Burgos, another two hours north. 
This is the house in Sinovas
where Vincent's Dad was born

Roast sucking lamb cooked in a beehive oven
in Aranda de Duero

Family legend says that Moises Rojo, Vincent's grandfather
was locked in a wine cellar like this before his 
execution during the Spanish Civil War in 1936

I can already see that on our next trip to Spain we’ll be taking an overnight trip to Burgos to visit the archives.  It will be our second trip.  To read all about our first trip, click HERE, and you will know why we have such incomplete records on the branch of the family from Sinovas.

2010 blog post on the archives of Burgos

The URL for this post is
Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Enhorabuena por este trabajo y el anterior sobre el Archivo Episcopal de Burgos. Como arandino que soy me ha alegrado enormemente llegar hasta su blog, y comprobar la emoción sentida por el encuentro con las raíces y los ancestros.

    Si me da permiso me gustaría reproducir ese trabajo en mi blog (añadiendo la traduccón correspondiente) para qeu ese acontemiciemnto pueda ser conocido por los arandinos y ribereños.

    Un atento saludo

    1. Duerobajo, Gracias! I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. Please email me at about your blog. I'd like to see the post with the translation when it is published. I am very honored that you will reproduce my post at your blog. ~ Heather

  2. Encantado de recibir su amable contestación. Desde ese mismo momento comencé a preparar el trabajo que espero publicar el próximo día veinticinco de los corrientes. De todas formas, ya enviaré un correo a la dirección señalada.

    Mi blog tiene la siguiente dirección, aunque también se puede entrar desde el nick de Duerobajo:

    Un atento saludo y hasta pronto.

  3. Please, could you say me the exact meaning of “3rd great grandfather”? I don´t know if "great-great-great-grandfather" would be a third great-grandfather or “3rd great grandfather” is only “great grandfather”.
    In Spanish we say, as you know, “padre” (father), “abuelo” (grandfather) and “bisabuelo” (great grandfataher). Does “tatarabuelo” mean great great grandfather? And is “trastatarabuelo” equal to great great great grandfather?
    I am very grateful to you for what you are doing for me.

    1. Yes, you are correct! Father > grandfather > great grandfather > great great grandfather = 2nd great grandfather (sometimes people say 2x great grandfather > great great great grandfather = 3rd great grandfather etc.

  4. Acabo de publicar el trabajo prometido. Lo podéis ver aquí:
    Saludos y hasta pronto.