My grandfather, however, did not share his knowledge of family history, and I am trying to fill in the gaps. At the end of Presencia de un pueblo, a biographical sketch of Rito Rueda written by his colleague Rafael Ortíz González states, "He descends from one of the founders, the royal ensign, one of the Comuneros, and from eponymous magistrates of his birth city." While I don't know who exactly Ortíz González was referring to, I have found among my ancestors a San Gil founder (Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento) and a Comunero captain (Juan de la Cruz de Rueda Gómez). The "eponymous magistrate" was probably Rito's father, who was also named Rito Antonio Rueda Rueda. The "royal ensign" remains a mystery, but I have found a royal ensign in my family, Felipe de Arenas y Zabala.
My research gained an unexpected boost in June 2010 from the Mormons, as they posted the church records of Santander, Colombia on their FamilySearch website. Previously I only had my grandfather's baptismal record from 1922, and then by mid-August I had found records dating back to the early 17th century. Then in April 2013, I came across the website of genealogist Rodolfo Useche Melo, who profiles the founders of Zapatoca, Colombia and their descendants, and adds another substantial branch to my family tree. The Archivo General de la Nación de Colombia also provides valuable online access to historical documents.
Various Rueda signatures through the centuries (top to bottom):
Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento (1698)
Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento (1720)
Bernardo de Rueda Ortíz (1753)
Pablo de Rueda García (1762)
Martiniano de Rueda Serrano (1809)
Ruperto Rueda León (1889)
Rito Rueda Rueda Sr. (1939)
Rito Rueda Rueda Sr. (1939)
I took a genetic test of my Y-chromosome's DNA and learned that my patrilineal ancestors and I belong to Haplogroup R-CTS4065, also known as R-Z2355, R-S1221, or its long-winded name, R1b1a1a2a1a2a1a1a2. This is a subclade of the P312 subclade of the R1b haplogroup, and the gobbledygook of letters actually provides clarity to my paternal prehistoric history.
What all that means is that my distant male ancestor left East Africa for the Middle East between 70,000 to 60,000 years ago, presumably to escape droughts. He and his male descendants were nomadic hunter-gatherers who stayed in Southwest Asia until around 45,000 years ago, when my direct male ancestor was living in South Asia. His male descendants in turn were living in the steppes of Central Asia by around 35,000 to 30,000 years ago. My last common direct male ancestors with Native Americans lived around this time.
Between 22,000 to 17,000 years ago, my direct male ancestor had returned to South or West Asia and gave his male descendants the "M343" mutation, the tell-tale sign of the R1b haplogroup. This R1b haplogroup is made up of a large number of male lineages, as branches (or "subclades") roamed the Eurasian grasslands between Central Europe and Korea, and eventually reached Western Europe and Africa. According to National Geographic's Genographic Project, about 55% of Western European men, 21% of Eastern European men, 43% of Central Asian men, 6% of West Asian men, and 5% of South Asian men belong to the R1b haplogroup.
It's a fun trivia fact that I therefore share male ancestors from the Ice Age with a number of notable men of European patrilineal descent, including scientists Nicolas Copernicus and Charles Darwin, "Roots" author Alex Haley (whose direct male ancestor was said be an overseer of slaves), and Czar Nicholas II of Russia (of all people, the man my mother's immigrant ancestors fled).
Another famous patrilineal line I share prehistoric male ancestry with is the House of Bourbon, one of the world's oldest surviving royal houses, which belongs to the R-Z381 (R1b1b2a1a1b) subclade. This family of monarchs includes Louis XIV and Louis XVI of France, Fernando VII of Spain (the very man Simón Bolívar fought to liberate South America), and Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI of Spain.
Unfortunately, some people have been misled by the prevalence of R1b in Europe, and called it a "European" haplogroup, or even worse, a "white" haplogroup. The simple fact is that R1b arose in South Asia or West Asia in a time before our modern racial differences or geographic regions meant anything. One of the most famous descendants of my Ice Age R1b ancestors was African: Pharaoh Akhenaten, the "heretic king" of Egypt (reigned 1351-1334 BC). Akhenaten came from a line of conquerer-kings from the R1b1a2 subclade, like his father Amenhotep III and great-great-grandfather Thutmosis III (who strove to outshine his own aunt, female pharaoh Hatshepsut). Akhenaten focused on social revolution instead, replacing traditional Egyptian polytheism with the sole worship of Aten the solar disc. Akhenaten's son and successor, Tutankhamun the boy-king, restored the old Egyptian religion but died shortly thereafter. Of course, the rediscovery of King Tut's untouched tomb resparked interest in these pharaohs, and Tut's mummy helped provide the necessary DNA evidence.
|Akhenaten (left) and his family, blessed by the rays of Aten the Sun God|
My more humble forefather, who founded my P312 subclade, lived between 14,000 to 5,500 years ago in West Asia. His many male descendants are believed to have been among the proto-Indo-Europeans who spread from north of the Black Sea around 4000 BC (considered by many to be part of the "Yamna culture"). One branch became the "proto-Celts" in Spain by 2000 BC. National Geographic's Genographic Project says this P312 subclade accounts for about 1-2% of men in Lebanon, Iraq, and Kazakhstan, about 16% of men in France, and about 15-17% of men in Spain and Portugal.
It's interesting to note that this wave of nomadic settlers brought the wheel ("rueda" in Spanish), domesticated horses, and the use of bronze to western Europe. One branch of the P312 subclade, M222, settled in Ireland, where their common patrilineal ancestor may have been the Irish king Niall of the Nine Hostages (fl. 400s?). Patrilineal descendants include the historian Henry Louis Gates, host of the enjoyable TV genealogy shows "African-American Lives" and "Finding Your Roots," and some of his high-profile guests.
Once in Iberia, the proto-Indo-Europeans had families with descendants of the area's original Ice Age hunter-gatherers and the Neolithic farmers from the Levant who reached Spain around 8,000 years ago, forming the pre-Roman peoples of Iberia. Today, the average Spaniard's genetic legacy is about 50% Neolithic farmer, 30% proto-Indo-European, and 20% Ice Age hunter-gatherer, according to paleogeneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox.
A 2017 genetic study suggests that my direct parental line has lived in Spain for more than 4,000 years. The DF27 mutation originated around 2200 BC in northeast Iberia, the Z220 mutation originated around 1300 BC in north-central Iberia (the eventual land of the Celts), and my personal haplogroup of R-CTS4065 arose sometime after that. At an unknown time my patrilineal ancestors settled in Andalucía, and my earliest known direct male ancestor is Alonso de Rueda (fl. c.1550), who lived in Priego de Córdoba, Andalucía, Spain. Alonso's son, Cristóbal de Rueda (c.1569-1610), was the founder of my Colombian family, as mentioned in my previous blog entry.
Cristóbal de Rueda's younger sons, Cristóbal and Alonso de Rueda Rosales, were born in Tunja, Colombia and joined a small group of creoles and mestizos and slaves who founded frontier towns in the Santander region in the 1600s. This area was officially part of the Province of Tunja until 1795, then was called the Province of Socorro until 1857, when it was renamed in honor of President Francisco Paula de Santander. The inhabitants of this beautiful, mountainous, and remote region become known for "gritty, self-made prosperity, and a certain ungovernability," to quote historian Richard Stoller.
Both Stoller and novelist Enrique Serrano note that the origins of Santander's settlers are largely obscure. Serrano calls the Santanderano heritage "a form of hispanidad, whose roots have not been traced with sufficiency or precision." He suspects this lack of information is deliberate, and that oftentimes settlers representing many forms of mestizaje, including recently converted Jewish and Muslim roots, wanted to escape the Inquisition of Cartagena and the officials of Tunja and Vélez. At least one prominent Santandereano surname, Silva, appears in Cartagena's Inquisition records of the time. When a crown official visited Juan Sarmiento's hacienda in 1638, he sneered that there was a "much greater amount of male and female Indians and riff-raff [mucha mas cantidad de indios e indias y chusma]." Stoller quotes another Spanish crown inspector who wrote in 1699 that Santander was "the refuge for all the criminals and delinquents that this kingdom had, and they lived with little fear of God or of the judges in Vélez... and the delinquents continued in their liberty and damnation." Santandereano leadership in the Comuneros rebellion of 1781 and many subsequent civil wars morphed the area's reputation for lawlessness into that of a fierce love of independence.
Over time, Santandereanos and the regional historians tended to tell self-aggrandizing stories of their "noble" and "pure Castilian" heritage rather than investigate their multicultural history. My grandfather's book includes the ridiculous local lore that the heart of Don Quixote was said to be buried in San Gil. The Conde de Cuchicute, Don José María de Rueda y Gómez (1871-1945) was an extreme embodiment of this absurdity, as he created a fable of his nobility to match his feudal-style rule over a vast hacienda in Curití.
|A Guane market (from the blog "El Guane")|
The one thing the Guane did very little of was mining and metalwork. It's bitterly ironic that after the initial conquest by the Spanish in the 1540s, the conquistadors found gold in the local rivers in 1551 and forced many of the Guane to relocate and work in large-scale mining, alongside other tribes of Indians, African slaves, and mestizos. The slave labor paired with malnutrition and a major smallpox epidemic in 1558 caused the Guane population to collapse. By 1561, the Vélez authorities were investigating claims of mistreatment of Indians, including the accusation that the local Indian population was only a tenth of what it was a decade before.
As Guane men died from hard slave labor, Guane women increasingly became servants to Spanish and creole settlers and bore their mestizo children. The Spanish praised Guanes' relatively pale skin as being "caucasoid," a description that still gets used today even when the anthropological evidence suggests otherwise. Colonial writers also marveled at how quickly the exploited Guane were willing to assimilate. Juan de Castellanos's often cited description of the Guane calls them a "white, clean, curious people," and notes of female Guane servants: "it is a marvel how [quickly] they take on the Castilian language, so well articulated the words, as if they came to them by inheritance." Yet the nimble adoption of Spanish customs did not translate into opportunities.
As the area's gold production declined from 80,000 pesos a year in the 1610s to just 2,000 pesos in 1634-1635, the Guane were forced onto reservations in 1627 and increasingly marginalized. Spanish, creole, and mestizo settlers like my Rueda and Sarmiento ancestors occupied the stolen land, and carved up the outskirts of Vélez into more and more towns and parishes. While the number of assimilated mestizo descendants of the Guane increased, the Guane Indian population fell so low by the late 1700s that the reservations were consolidated.
The memoir of Aquileo Parra Gómez, Colombia's president from 1876 to 1878 and a Santandereano, provides an interesting peek into this obscure period of mestizaje. Parra said his mother told him as a child that her great-grandfather Rueda married the daughter of a Guane cacique. His aunt also overheard the story and made a face of disgust. I'm sure my own ancestors had similar stories of their Indian forebears that were lost to time or intentionally forgotten.
The Guane language received its death blow in 1770, when the Spanish crown forbade the teaching of indigenous languages. The last census of the Guane in 1810 found only 1,824 Indians in five settlements, compared to an estimated 300,000 Indians in 1540, the time of Spanish conquest. After Colombia gained its independence from Spain, the reservations were disbanded, all common lands ended up in private hands, and the few remaining Guane dispersed and assimilated. Only in the 20th century did Colombian archeologists start to seriously study the ancient pictographs, artifacts, and Guane mummies found in caves.
Mitochondrial DNA from Guane mummies has revealed a wide variety of maternal origins -- 9 haplogroups among 17 individuals -- with 35% from Haplogroup A, 41% from Haplogroup B, and 24% from Haplogroup D. Scientists think this high genetic variety came from two migration waves. An older indigenous group that brought Haplogroup B to the region was followed by Chibchan-speakers from Central America who brought Haplogroup A. The Guane then traded and interbred with surrounding communities, like the Muisca (Chibcha) from the nearby Altiplano Cundiboyacense.
Santander's strongest cultural tie to the Guane Indians, the harvesting of hormigas culonas, is the subject of my favorite quote about Santandereanos. As famed naturalist José Celestino Mutis observed ants in 1777, he noted in his diary: “I have not yet been able to see the arriera-winged mothers to verify if these will be the ones that some Indians very much like to fry, as do the Americanos [Spanish colonists] of a few towns like Barichara. These people are scornfully nicknamed comehormigas [ant-eaters].” [Translation from Kingdom of Ants (2010) by Edward O. Wilson and José Gómez Durán]
And now, here is the genealogical nitty-gritty of my own "ant-eaters."