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Death Records of Ceiba Mocha

At the turn of the 20th Century in Cuba, the Parish Priests of Ceiba Mocha in Cuba held the responsibilities of recording births, marriages, and deaths within their records. During his travels to Cuba in 1994 with Dr. Gene Lyon, Jim Craig and the UF research team filmed numerous amounts of church records. The humidity from the sub-tropical environment in Cuba resulted in the ultimate deterioration of the rag paper used to record information on the citizens. Luckily, Dr. Lyon and Mr. Craig were able to capture these images before there was further deterioration.

We selected a few images as examples of these records and the break down of the paper. Humidity, bugs, and handling are clearly evident in these images. It is incredible that these 120 year old documents are still legible.

On the left hand side, we have the Parrish Priest Andres Martinez Etor, announcing his credentials as a representative of la Yglesia de Yngresa de San Agustin in Ceiba Mocha, Matanzas, Cuba. This Book consists of some 500 folios on the people of Ceiba Mocha starting on the 16th of March,1897. Though interestingly, he recounts his initial statement below, starting with the 11th of February, 1897. It was not uncommon for scribes to have a unique flourish in their signatures.

Numero 1) On the 11th of February, 1897, the scribe outlines the death of an 11 month old baby, named Palmira. She died on the previous evening of what appears to be pneumonia.

Numero 2) We are told of 5 year old Eusebio Ramos Gonzalez, who died of "bronquites capilar" - capillary bronchitis.

*See the top of folio 2 verso*

Numero 3) On the 12th of February, 1897, Priest Martinez Etor details the three month old baby Serafin Pilar Ramírez Medina, legitimate son of Don Francisco and Dona Caridad. Poor Serafin died of "meningites aguada" - acute meningitis.

Note that these pages are before the Index to the right, and that the index starts with "S".

Many times these books would be missing folios due to wear and tear, or theft.

During November of 1898, there was an outbreak of "paludismo" - malaria.

From random, I selected these two images (top and bottom) that encompass nine folios. Over these nine folios of deaths from malaria, the dates range between the 31st of October to the 21st of November. A total of 24 people died from malaria during this 20 day span.

Note the difference in handwriting, though the signature is the same. Often times, the Priest would dictate to a scribe and place his signature afterwards.

By chance, I came across another interesting death record. I chose this image as an example of the another difference in handwriting, as well as an alternative scribe. On folio 360 verso & 361 recto, I noticed something.

On the 6th of September, 1922 we are told of Julia Suárez y Ramos. This case was interesting to me because the cause of death was "asfixia de las manos" - she was literally strangled.

It's always curious to find historical cold cases.

If anyone notices any mistakes, please let me know.

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