Gold & Intrigue Off South Carolina Coast

During the cool-off period after today’s lunch time walk, I found myself reading a story on NY Times about a sunken ship revisited after laying around, presumably in dispute, since its discovery more than 20 years ago. Around 60 ambrotypes lay still awaiting a preservation plan months after a recovery mission in April brought up bars of gold fetching upwards of $1.2 million (metal value only). The coinage found in the safe may fetch millions. Apparently the original finder of the wreckage became a fugitive in 2012 so clearly this vessel has a story that stretches beyond it’s sinking during a hurricane in 1857. Oh, if wood planks could talk.


Personal Treasures: Celebrating Life Through Black and White Family Photographs

Timing is a funny thing. I was fortunate enough to spend last year’s birthday in Puerto Rico alongside my Grandmothers. Eight nights were spent divided among them and I savored each minute of it.

Around the time I booked my flight, I began the process of building my family tree and beginning the research process. Sometimes I forgot how many siblings my Grandmothers have! Both are from large families with kids born between the 1920s and 1930s. I have an obscene amount of second cousins.

As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to pay a surprise visit to my sweet Great Aunt Manuela & Tio Fernando. We had a giggle over a pretty photo of her & her sister (my Grandmother) when they were bachelorettes living in Santurce during the 1950s.

Familia Rivera Torres

I’m so glad we shared that moment. Titi Manuela passed away on Friday, July 11th and was laid to rest today. Sweet memories remain. I’m grateful that my Grandmother had albums intact and shared them with me to digitize. The personal photo archival project and family tree endeavor are ongoing and I look forward to sharing some of the discoveries along the way.



Have you started researching your Spanish colonial, Moorish, and/or Caribbean lineage? Let me know what familial adventures you’re embarking upon, whether its a family reunion or researching your family tree online.

How to Scratch the History Itch: Heatwave Edition

Its been noted by plenty that summers in Southern California’s valleys are not very conducive for outdoor activities. I consider poking around in garages during sales as such an activity (see previous Pro Tip post). Given that the past two weekends have required multiple costume changes due to the weather, its safe to say that peak activity hours have migrated into the cooler, evening hours. Not quite in sync with the usual sale schedule though. There is, however, a way to continue exploring different pockets of the LA Basin without braving the heat.

I recently learned (thanks, LA Curbed!) that the USGS has released a catalog of topographical maps that date back to when the topographical map program started in 1884. This is of special interest to me as I’ve joined in on a couple of orienteering events and I happen to call a 128 year old structure “home”. Last summer I began looking into the basic history about the neighborhood and the city founders. I found the original owner’s family’s name through a historical designation web site and have yet to pull any tax or land records. Though I have a lot of work yet to do, its quite lovely to gaze upon maps from another slice of time. That is especially so when you live in an area that has undergone such a radical transformation within a century.

Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time away from the blazing sun, looking at groovy maps while sipping on mojitos. Because, summer.