Friday, January 19, 2018

A Genealogy Surprise from Spain!

On January 3, 2018 four generations of ROJO cousins and friends gathered in
front of the St. Nicolas de Bari church in Sinovas, Burgos, Spain

Vincent's family is from Spain.  His father was born in the village of Sinovas, in the province of Burgos.  The Rojo family has lived there at least since the 1700s, because I have found all the baptisms going back to a Manuel Rojo born in the mid 1700s.  Records before this time are missing because of the Napoleonic wars. The local church, St. Nicolas de Bari, was built in the 800s.  It is my guess that the Rojo family has lived in this tiny village, of less than 200 souls, much longer than the 1700s, and maybe even back to the origins to the church.

I don't know much about the Rojo family.  Vincent's grandfather was killed by a firing squad during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.  This side of the family is a bit of a mystery, but we are learning new clues all the time.  This week, I learned another clue!

A distant cousin in Spain, whom I have never met except through Facebook, sent me three documents he found online at the Spanish Archives   

These documents show that in 1877 Juan Rojo Peñacoba, 28 years old, from the village of Sinovas was at the University of Madrid to study chemistry.  How unusual is it that someone from this little village of farmers 167 miles north of Madrid (about 104 miles) would send one of their young men to study chemistry in 1877? 

Here is some family background.  Manuel Rojo was born in Sinovas, the son of Tomas Rojo and Narcisa Palomo, on 27 May 1818.  He married Andrea Peñacoba, the daughter of Eusebio Peñacoba and Candida Alameda, on 7 October 1844.  I know nothing about Manuel Rojo, and I assume he was a farmer.  They had six children born in Sinovas:

1.  Maria de la Nieves, no birth record or baptism, died on 17 Sep 1859 in Sinovas as a child
2.  Agapito, born 18 August 1845, married Maria Pilar Martin
3.  Juan, baptized on 7 May 1848
4. Vicente, baptized on 25 Jan 1857
5. Higinio, baptized on 19 August 1860 (this is Vincent's great grandfather)
6. Zacarias, baptized on 7 November 1863, died 26 March 1868 in Sinovas as a child. 

I know nothing about any of the children except Higinio, Vincent's great grandfather.  Higinio married Brigida Torres on 27 November 1884 in Sinovas and had four children of his own.  I assume that Higinio was a farmer, too, but I could always be wrong. 

The interesting thing is that Juan Rojo Peñacoba studied chemistry.  Vincent went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  This little fact about his 2nd great uncle is fascinating to him!  We can't wait to learn more!  Did Juan go on to become a chemist? Did he marry? Does he have any descendants?  (Scroll down to see an exciting UPDATE!)

Generations of ROJO babies have been baptized in this font
at the St. Nicolas de Bari church in Sinovas, Burgos, Spain -
including Juan Rojo Penacoba, described above.

UPDATE:  9:30am 19 January 2018 - Within a few hours of posting this story online, I had a good clue sent to me by Spanish genealogist Matthew Hovious, who had read this blog post. It appears that Juan Rojo Peñacoba went on to become a pharmacist in the city of Alcubilla in the contiguous province of Soria, Spain.  Matthew sent me this document from a newspaper in Alcubilla, dated 3 January 1883.  Thanks, Matthew!  You can read more about him at his website


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A Genealogy Surprise from Spain!", Nutfield Genealogy, posted January 19, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. I always enjoy reading about your Spanish genealogy discoveries - great inspiration for when I finally delve into my husband's ancestry in the Toledo area!

  2. Heather, I love the information that you were able to find. But, I love the fact that your blog post actually found you more information from 1/2 a world away! This is one of the many benefits of writing the blog, isn't it? Hope your readers continue to help you find more information!

    Diane Anderson

  3. Great story. You just never know who will find your blog.