Monday, July 27, 2009

Origins of the Rueda Family of San Gil, Colombia (updated 8/7/2018)

The coat of arms of
San Gil, Colombia (1694)
The Rueda family came to the New World and Colombia from Andalucía, Spain, according to the colonial-era genealogist Juan Flórez de Ocáriz and modern-era investigations by genealogists like Flavio Álvarez Ángel.

Interestingly enough, the most famous Rueda is also from Andalucía: early Spanish playwright Lope de Rueda (born c.1510 in Sevilla, Spain; died 1565 in Córdoba, Spain). As an older performer of rough, knockabout comedies, Lope de Rueda inspired a teenage Miguel de Cervantes, future author of "Don Quixote," to write his own plays.

The surname Rueda (meaning "wheel") is common, and as early as 1535 Spaniards with that last name are recorded heading to "Nueva Granada" (now Colombia). "Rueda" appears in "Sangre Judía" by Pere Bonnin, a list of 3,500 surnames associated with Jews or converted Jews, as gleaned from Spanish Inquisition records and censuses of Jewish ghettoes. Sadly, at least two Colombian historians with the last name Rueda insisted in their writings that people from Santander, Colombia only had "Old Christian" blood, with one even saying they were not "dirtied" by Moorish or Jewish blood. Such attitudes were commonplace, racist, and false.


The Rueda household
in the 1620 census
of Tunja, Colombia,
from "Vecinos y
moradores de Tunja"
The founder of the Rueda family of Santander, Colombia was the merchant Cristóbal de Rueda González (born 1569 in Priego de Córdoba, Andalucía, Spain; died 1610 in Tunja, Colombia). If he was of Jewish descent, he left for the New World around 20 years before Spain's official expulsion of converted Jews (1609).

Flavio Álvarez Ángel cites a 1593 judicial record from Tunja, Colombia, in which a 23-year-old Cristóbal testified that his parents were Alonso de Rueda and Elvira González. Once in Tunja, Cristóbal de Rueda González married Damiana Pérez de Rosales (born 1571 in Tunja; died c.1647 in Tunja), the daughter of Francisco Pérez de Rosales and María López.

Tunja was "founded" by Spaniards in 1539, but the name was a mispronunciation of the town's original Muisca (Chibcha) Indian name, Hunza (also the name of a local chieftain). The Muisca tribe and closely related Guane tribe were conquered by the mid-1500s and their languages became extinct after the Spanish crown banned their being taught in 1770, but the heritage survived when some Indians inevitably had families with some of Cristóbal's descendants.

There is a surviving census of Tunja from 1620 and a list of residents and a town map from 1623, so the historian Magdalena Corradine Mora pieced together information about Cristóbal's family in her book, "Vecinos y moradores de Tunja 1620-1623" (2009).
By 1620, María López and Damiana Pérez de Rosales were both widows. They lived in the same household as Damiana's sons:
1. Marcelo Pérez de Rueda (born c.1594), the head of the household.
2. Christóbal de Rueda
3. Alonso de Rueda
4. Juan de Rueda, who died before his mother, as he is not mentioned in her will. Damiana wrote in her will that "several children" of hers were already dead.
There were another two women in the 1620 household: Juana Rosales and Elvira González, who were probably Damiana's daughters, but Elvira was also the name of Damiana's mother-in-law.
The Rueda family also lived with servants: five Indian women named Isabel, Felipa, Catalina, Juana, and Isabel, and one "mulato" man named Alonso.

The "Genealogías de Santa Fé de Bogotá" mentions another daughter of Cristóbal de Rueda González and Damiana Pérez de Rosales, María, although the source could be confusing her with Alonso de Rueda Rosales's daughter, seen below.


The copón (pyx) commissioned
by Marcelo Pérez de Rueda
in 1632. Source:
Marcelo Pérez de Rueda (born c.1594 in Tunja) became a city official in his hometown. Among the positions he served were mayordomo (steward) of the Cofradía de la Vera Cruz (Brotherhood of the Holy Cross) in the Church of Santiago in 1626, mayordomo of the city in 1630 and 1631, procurador general (attorney general) in 1640, and alcalde más antiguo (oldest city magistrate) in 1641.
The Church of Santa Bárbara in Tunja still has a copón (pyx, or a holder for the eucharist) made of gold-plated silver that was commissioned by Marcelo and bears the inscription: "Mando haser esta custodia Marcelo de Rueda, siendo año de 1632."

Marcelo married Isabel de Alvear, the daughter of Tunja master mason Rodrigo de Alvear, and had two children:
1. Isabel de Rueda Alvear
2. José de Rueda Alvear.

Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales (b.1596? in Tunja; died c.1640 in Vélez) married Catalina Sarmiento de Olivera, and had at least six children (order unknown):

1. Juan de Rueda Sarmiento, a cleric who was possibly a Jesuit. His parish in 1672 was the Royal Mines of the Río del Oro, in Bucaramanga, and by 1705 his parish was at Curití. He had a daughter:

1a. María de Rueda, who married Luis Forero Uribe.

2. José de Rueda Sarmiento (born c.1635; died c.1702 in San Gil) was a landowner and gambler who sold small plots of his land to pay off his debts. He married Felisiana de Sotomayor (born 1641 in Bogotá), the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of the Inca emperor Túpac Inca Yupanqui. Their children included:

2a. José de Rueda Sotomayor (b.1671, baptized 1674 in Moncora, now Guane).
2b. Ana de Rueda Sotomayor (born and baptized 1675 in Moncora), who married Ignacio Díaz del Castillo (1670-1731).
2c. Catalina de Rueda Sotomayor (b.1676, baptized 1680 in Moncora).
2d. Cristóbal de Rueda Sotomayor (b.1679, baptized 1680 in Moncora), who married Juana López.
2e. María de Rueda Sotomayor (b.1684, baptized 1686 in Moncora; died c.1768 in Moncora), who married Diego Pérez Cancino (died 1732 in San Gil).
2f. Juan de Rueda Sotomayor (b.1687, baptized 1688 in Moncora).

3. Francisca de Rueda Sarmiento married Juan Rodríguez Durán (b.1631 in Garrovillas de Alconétar, Extremadura, Spain) and their children included:

3a. Cristóbal Rodríguez Durán y Rueda (born c.1654), who married his cousin María Díaz Sarmiento.
3b. Juan Rodríguez Durán y Rueda (baptized 1665 in Girón), who married his cousin Damiana Martínez de Ponte (1667-1725).
3c. José Rodríguez Durán y Rueda
3d. Antonio Atanasio Rodríguez Durán y Rueda

4. Ana de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1636 in Moncora)

5. Beatríz de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1638 in Moncora), who married Juan de Sarache y Chacón.

6. Cristóbal de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1638 in Moncora)

At some point between 1638 and 1645, the widowed Catalina married Captain Manuel Gómez Romano, a.k.a. Manuel Currea Betancur (born c.1616 in Portugal). They had at least seven children - the start of the famed Gómez Romano line.

Alonso de Rueda Rosales (born 1605? in Tunja; died April 1681 in Moncora), a landowner and exploitative slaveowner who lived by the Río Suárez, first married Margarita Sarmiento de Olivera (died c.1659), the younger sister of Catalina, and they had at least nine children:

1. Marcela de Rueda Sarmiento (died before 1681), who married Luis Martínez de Ponte (born in Pravia, Asturias; died c.1696 in San Gil) around 1658 in Moncora and they had 9 children:

1a. Diego Martínez de Ponte (baptized 1659 in Moncora; died c.1710 in San Gil)
1b. Marcelo Martínez de Ponte
1c. Margarita Martínez de Ponte
1d. Catalina Martínez de Ponte (baptized 1665 in Moncora)
1e. María Martínez de Ponte (baptized 1666 in Moncora)
1f. Damiana Martínez de Ponte (b.1667; baptized 1669 in Moncora; died 1725 in San Gil)
1g. Alonso Martínez de Ponte (b.1670; baptized 1673 in Moncora)
1h. Fernando Martínez de Ponte
1i. Luis Martínez de Ponte (b.1674; baptized 1681 in Moncora)

2. Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1643 in Moncora; died before 1681) was a priest. His father's will read in part: "I declare that when Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento, my deceased son, was ordained as a priest, for his clerical salary and for him to get this dignity I marked 4,000 pesos of his inheritance from two residences in Butaregua and two slaves named Gracia and Julián." It's shocking to see that profits from the slave trade funded the salaries of the clergy! "Genealogías de Santa Fé de Bogotá" falsely claims that Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento died in 1720, confusing him with his nephew of the same name.

3. Cristóbal de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1645 in Moncora; died before 1681), who married his first cousin Francisca Sarmiento.

4. Pablo de Rueda Sarmiento (died c.1694 in San Gil), who married Feliciana Díaz y Cozar, daughter of his first cousin.

5. Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento (born c.1646; died 1720 in San Gil), who married his first cousin Cecilia Sarmiento (born 1661, baptized 1664 in Moncora) and their children included:

5a. Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento (born 1678, baptized 1680 in Moncora; died 1721 in San Gil), who married Francisca Ortíz. There is more on his family in the following post.
5b. Miguel de Rueda Sarmiento (born 1681, baptized 1683 in Moncora)
5c. Juan de Rueda Sarmiento, who married Ana María Gómez Farelo y Pineda in 1704 in Guane.
5d. Josefa de Rueda Sarmiento, who married Juan Gómez Farelo y Pineda in 1704 in Guane.
5e. Cristóbal Javier de Rueda Sarmiento (born 1686, baptized 1687 in Moncora; died 1747 in Guane), who owned the land where Zapatoca was founded. He married Micaela Gómez Farelo y Pineda in 1720 in Guane, and there is more on his family in the following post.
5f. Marcelo de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1692 in San Gil; died 1758 in Guane), who married Gabriela Ortíz.

6. María de Rueda Sarmiento (born 1650; baptized 1652 in Moncora; died before 1681), who married Martín Sánchez de Cozar (born c.1644) and died childless.

7. Bárbara de Rueda Sarmiento (b.1657; baptized 1659 in Moncora; died before 1681), who married a Spaniard, Captain Juan de Amaya y Villarroel, a lieutenant at the royal mines of Bucaramanga and Betas, and had at least four children:

7a. Margarita Amaya Rueda (b.1671; baptized 1674 in Moncora), who married Antonio de la Parra Cano (c.1657-1729) and whose descendants include the Pradilla family.
7b. Tomás Amaya Rueda (b.1677, baptized 1679 in Moncora)
7c. Agustina Amaya de Sánchez
7d. Pedro Amaya Rueda

8. Nicolás de Rueda Sarmiento (b. c.1657; died c.1715 in San Gil) first married his first cousin Gabriela Sarmiento y Cozar (d. c.1692) and had four children:

8a. Jacinta de Rueda Sarmiento (b.1682; baptized 1684 in Moncora)
8b. Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1686 in Moncora)
8c. Salvadora de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1688 in Moncora), who married Pedro Gómez Romano Currea (c.1680-1739)
8d. Margarita de Rueda Sarmiento (b.1691, baptized 1693 in San Gil)

Nicolás then married in 1693 Rosa Florencia Ortíz Gómez, the daughter of another first cousin, and they had six children:

8e. Nicolás Ignacio de Rueda y Ortíz (b.1695 in San Gil), who applied but failed to enter the Universidad del Rosario [Rosary University] in Santa Fé de Bogotá in 1714.
8f. Clara Gabriela de Rueda y Ortíz
8g. Juana Gertrudis de Rueda y Ortíz
8h. Gabriel Evaristo de Rueda y Ortíz
8i. María de Rueda y Ortíz
8j. Francisco de Rueda y Ortíz

Nicolás married a third time to Catarina Gómez, and they had three children:

8k. Felipe Victor de Rueda y Gómez
8l. Francisca Plácida de Rueda y Gómez
8m. Bárbara Petronila de Rueda y Gómez

9. Felipe de Rueda Sarmiento, who is mentioned in Alonso's 1681 will.

10. Francisco de Rueda Sarmiento (born c.1657; died c.1703 in San Gil) married in 1686 in Moncora his first cousin, Justina Sarmiento y Cozar, and had four children:

10a. Josefa de Rueda Sarmiento (baptized 1689 in Moncora)
10b. Francisca de Rueda Sarmiento (b.1691, baptized 1692 in San Gil)
10c. Rosa de Rueda Sarmiento
10d. Juana María de Rueda Sarmiento

Francisco married a second time to María de Zuñiga, and had two more children:

10e. Juana de Rueda y Zuñiga
10f. Isabel de Rueda y Zuñiga

Alonso de Rueda Rosales also had an illegitimate daughter:
1. Catalina de Rueda, who married Salvador de Medina and whose daughter, Antonia de Medina, is mentioned in Alonso de Rueda Rosales's 1681 will.

Margarita Sarmiento also had an illegitimate daughter:
1. Fulana Sarmiento, who became the founding mother of the de la Prada family (including her great-grandson Melchor de la Prada, the founder of Zapatoca).

After Margarita Sarmiento died, Alonso de Rueda Rosales married Gerónima Ramírez de Poveda, daughter of Juan Ramírez de Benavides and Micaela de Poveda. Their children included:

1. Juan de Rueda Ramírez (b.1661; baptized 1664 in Moncora)
2. José de Rueda Ramírez (b.1666; baptized 1668 in Moncora)
3. María de Rueda Ramírez (baptized 1671 in Moncora)


On April 9, 1681, an ailing, septuagenarian Alonso de Rueda Rosales completed and signed his will before witnesses in the settlement of Moncora. Within eight days Alonso was dead. The will and resulting probate case shows how Alonso steadily built his family's fortune on the frontier of Santander through acquiring land, raising livestock, and the buying and selling of Afro-Colombian people.

In his will, Alonso de Rueda Rosales wrote that he only owned about 12 or 14 mares when he married Margarita Sarmiento around 1640 in Moncora. Margarita's father, Captain Juan Sarmiento de Olvera, provided a substantial dowry of 2,020 pesos de a ocho reales in livestock, farms (estancias), and other goods. By the time Margarita died around 1656, Alonso estimated that he had 600 cattle, 60 mares and a jack donkey (in order to produce mules), 30 female donkeys (or jennies), 30 horses, and 200 goats and sheep. At the end of this list of animals, Alonso said he also owned 7 slaves, but only named six: Gracia, Susana, Andrés, Bartolomé, Julián, Miguel. The seventh was probably Juan, mentioned below.

There is a 1664 baptismal record for Miguel, the son of Gracia, both slaves of Alonso de Rueda. These are probably two of the same seven people that Alonso named as his property.

When Alonso de Rueda Rosales married a second time to Gerónima Ramírez de Poveda around 1659, he received a dowry of only 300 pesos a ocho reales from his wife's uncle, the Alférez José Ramírez de Benavides. Alonso also started to give dowries and endowments to his adult children, and slaves were a crucial part of these transactions.

It's important to note that in Alonso's will the slaves were always listed after the herds of cattle, goats, and sheep, but before the mules and horses. Also, the most expensive inanimate object owned by Alonso de Rueda Rosales was a fondo de cobre (probably a copper pot used in a trapiche, or sugar cane mill) worth 180 patacones and 2 reales, which was left to his oldest surviving son, Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento. So a copper pot was valued by these slaveowners as worth about half a human being.

Gracia (born 1631?) and Julián (born 1640?) were two slaves that Alonso de Rueda Sarmiento mortgaged to help launch his son Alonso's career as a priest. The younger Alonso also got "4,000 pesos of his patrimony" and two farms (estancias) in Butaregua from his father. When Margarita Sarmiento died, 25-year-old Gracia was valued at 400 patacones and 16-year-old Julián was valued at 380 patacones.

Susana (born 1631?) was described as de nación angola (of the Angola people). She was 25 years old when Margarita Sarmiento died, and was valued at 400 patacones. In 1671 Susana appeared in an inventory of Gerónima Ramírez's dowry. She is not mentioned in Alonso's 1681 will, and may have died by this time.

Andrés (born 1638?) was 18 years old when Margarita Sarmiento died, and was valued at 400 patacones.

An unnamed male mulato slave (Andrés?) was given by Alonso to his son, Cristóbal de Rueda Sarmiento, when he married Francisca Sarmiento. This unknown man was then sold by Cristóbal to Alférez Pedro Balduz for 350 patacones.

Isidro, a mulato slave worth 340 patacones, was given by Alonso to his son, Pablo de Rueda Sarmiento.

Juan (born 1650?, called mulato) was 6 years old when Margarita Sarmiento died, and was valued at 150 patacones, or less than Alonso de Rueda's copper pot. When Juan was presumably grown and worth 400 pesos, he was given by Alonso to his son, Bernardo de Rueda Sarmiento.

Bartolomé (born 1650?, called negro), was 6 years old when Margarita Sarmiento died, and was valued at 150 patacones, or less than Alonso de Rueda's copper pot. When Bartolomé was presumably grown and worth 400 pesos, he was given by Alonso to his son, Francisco de Rueda Sarmiento.

Miguel (born 1652?, called mulato) was probably the son of Gracia baptized in 1664. He was 4 years old when Margarita Sarmiento died, and was valued at 120 patacones, or less than Alonso de Rueda's copper pot. When Miguel was presumably grown and worth 400 patacones, he was given by Alonso to his son, Nicolás de Rueda Sarmiento.

Gerbasia (born 1661?, called mulata), a 10-year-old  slave worth 300 patacones, was given by Alonso to his daughter, Bárbara de Rueda Sarmiento, when she married Captain Juan de Amaya.

Two daughters of Susana (probably the one mentioned above), named Teodora (born c.1657) and Jacinta (born c.1661), were inherited by Gerónima Ramírez de Poveda from her late husband Alonso. Teodora was described in Alonso's probate case as nursing a baby girl (con una criada al pecho) named María.

An unnamed 80-year-old negra slave was not mentioned in Alonso's will but a subsequent probate inventory. Given her age, this woman could have possibly raised Alonso from childhood. The inventory coldly says that the woman was "not profitable or of any service," so that is why she was previously overlooked.

A few interesting details about Alonso de Rueda Rosales's life can be found amid the probate case's repetitive lists of livestock, slaves, lands, and inventories of household items. One is that Alonso served for 20 years as the mayordomo of the cofradía of the Santísimo Sacramento, one of several Catholic social groups in Moncora that probably led religious processions during Holy Week (Semana Santa).

In an absurd portion of the probate case, Luis Martínez de Ponte, who married Alonso's late daughter Marcela de Rueda Sarmiento, explained that he should inherit the portion of Alonso's livestock that descended from two cows and two mares that Marcela received 40 years before, as a newborn, from her maternal great-grandmother, Beatríz de Torres. Marcela's uncle and aunt, Manuel Gómez Romano and Catalina Sarmiento, testified that the cows and mares were intended for Marcela, but Marcela's brother Pablo argued that the animals were given to their mother, Margarita Sarmiento. Both sides then called witnesses to explain how they remembered that gifting of livestock from 40 years before.


Cristóbal and Alonso de Rueda Rosales married two daughters of a Spaniard, Captain Juan Sarmiento de Olivera (born c.1570 in Jérez de la Frontera, Andalucía, Spain), and his wife, Francisca González de la Nava, who was a mestiza (mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry).

Captain Juan Sarmiento de Olivera was the son of Alonso de Olivera Sarmiento (a supposed cousin of the Marquis of Casares) and Mariana de Guerra y Valderrama. According to Flórez de Ocáriz, the Olivera family was from Germany, the Guerra family came from Asturias de Santillana, and the Valderrama family came from Frías, Burgos, Spain. "Sarmiento" appears on the Inquisition's Jewish surname list.

Juan Sarmiento was a young man when he came to the New World around 1590, and settled in Vélez, Colombia, a town founded in 1539 in the heart of Guane Indian territory. Around 1600 Juan married Francisca González, and in 1609 he got permission to have Indians work on his hacienda in the area north of the town of Vélez. A colonial official who visited Juan Sarmiento's lands in 1638 made a snide but fascinating remark that Juan's house had a "much greater amount of male and female Indians and riff-raff [indios e indias y chusma]." The social and genetic mestizaje that Spanish officials sneered at is in the DNA of all of us descendants of Juan Sarmiento.

Francisca González de la Nava's great-grandfather was a conquistador, Bartolomé Hernández Herreño (1502-1558), who came from Spain to the New World at the age of 28. Bartolomé first entered Colombia as part of the final expedition of Ambrosio Alfinger [Ambrosius Ehinger], which ended with Alfinger's death in 1533. Bartolomé then returned to Colombia at age 37 as part of the armada of Nikolaus Federman. There, Bartolomé discovered the Río de Oro (River of Gold) in the Santander region. He fought much of the region's indigenous population, and he and his grown son died during an Indian rebellion, when they were hit by poisoned arrows and died in agony soon afterwards (for more details, read "Los compañeros de Féderman" by José Ignacio Avellaneda Navas).

A grandson of Bartolomé, Francisco Sánchez Herreño, was a cleric who disregarded his vows and had a relationship with Beatriz de Torres, a mestiza from Turmequé, an ancient Muisca (Chibcha) settlement. As described above, Beatríz lived to see the birth of her great-granddaughter, Marcela de Rueda, in the 1640s. She may have been related to Don Diego de Torres (1549-1590), the mestizo son of a Spanish conquistador and nephew of the Muisca cacique (chieftain) of Turmequé, whose legal case over his claim to rule as cacique went all the way to the royal court in Madrid.
Francisco and Beatríz had an illegitimate daughter, Francisca González de la Nava, the wife of Juan Sarmiento and the mother of his seven children:

1. María Antonia Sarmiento de Olivera married Juan Díaz Bermúdez, a landowner in Vélez, and had at least seven children:

1a. Juan Díaz Sarmiento.
1b. Martín Díaz Sarmiento (baptized 1633 in Moncora)
1c. Francisco Díaz Sarmiento, whose children were the "Díaz del Castillo" family.
1d. Alonso Díaz Sarmiento, who never married.
1e. María Díaz Sarmiento (baptized 1637 in Moncora)
1f. Catalina Díaz Sarmiento (baptized 1640 in Moncora)
1g. Gracia Díaz Sarmiento (baptized 1643 in Moncora; died 1733 in Girón), who married Pedro de Uribe Salazar. She was an exploitative slaveowner who in 1699 sold a 6-year-old boy named Ignacio, the son of her slave Victoria. In 1732, this elderly slaver gave two of her slaves, a 6-year-old girl named Laureana and a 10-year-old boy named Alejandro, to her grandchildren.

2. Catalina Sarmiento de Olivera, who by 1635 had married Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales (b.1596), and then by 1645 had married the Portuguese-born Captain Manuel Gómez Romano (born c.1616). The children of Catalina and Cristóbal are listed above, and the children of Catalina and Manuel were (order unknown):

2a. Catalina Gómez Romano y Sarmiento (baptized 1646 in Moncora, now Guane)
2b. María Gómez Romano y Sarmiento (baptized 1650 in Moncora)
2c. Manuel Gómez Romano y Sarmiento (born c.1650; died 1732 in San Gil).
2d. Juana Francisca Gómez Romano y Sarmiento
2e. Alonso Gómez Romano y Sarmiento
2f. Ignacio Gómez Romano y Sarmiento
2g. Leonardo Currea Betancur (born c.1655), the attorney who led the legal procedures that founded the city of San Gil (1689) and secured its coat of arms (1694).

3. Juana Sarmiento de Olivera married Lázaro de Quiñónes Rincón and their children included:

3a. Antonio de Quiñones (baptized 1637 in Moncora)
3b. Salvador de Quiñones
3c. Fray Lázaro de Quiñones (baptized 1646 in Girón)
3d. Juana de Quiñones

4. Margarita Sarmiento de Olivera (died c.1660 in Moncora), who married Alonso de Rueda Rosales (1605?-1681) and bore his children and also had an illegitimate daughter, seen above.

5. Leonor Sarmiento de Olivera, who married a Spaniard named Francisco Mantilla de los Ríos y Palacios (1608-1679), founder of the city of Girón, Santander, Colombia in 1630, had at least six children:

5a. Diego Mantilla de los Ríos
5b. Toribia Mantilla de los Ríos
5c. Francisca Mantilla de los Ríos
5d. Leonor Mantilla, wife of Francisco de la Roza
5e. Lope Mantilla de los Ríos (baptized 1652 in Girón)
5f. Gutierre Mantilla de los Ríos (baptized 1655 in Girón)

6. Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera married Cecilia González de Cozar. The genealogist Juan Flórez de Ocáriz said Alonso and Cecilia had four boys and three girls, but it seems they had more children, including:

6a. Juan Sarmiento, who was a priest by 1681.
6b. Cecilia Sarmiento de Rueda (born 1661; baptized 1664 in Moncora)
6c. Alonso Sarmiento y Cozar (born c.1664; died 1754 in Barichara)
6d. Tomás Sarmiento y Cozar (born 1669; baptized 1670 in Moncora; died c.1745 in San Gil)
6e. Gabriela Sarmiento de Rueda (died c.1692)
6f. Justina Sarmiento de Rueda (born 1671; baptized 1677 in Moncora)
6g. (probably) Francisca Sarmiento de Rueda

7. Fray Francisco Sarmiento de Olivera, a priest.

My grandfather, Rito Rueda Rueda, founded San Gil's Casa de la Cultura in 1959. This photo from the opening ceremony is from his book, "Presencia de un pueblo."


As early as 1620, a subdivision of the town of Vélez was informally known as "Santa Cruz." The 1681 probate case of Alonso de Rueda Rosales lists people as "residents of Vélez in the province of Guane," but they had other names for specific sites of settlement such as "San Francisco" and "San Martín." In the late 1600s, the white and mestizo settlers in "the province of Guane" began acquiring charters to give Spanish names to the original Indian settlements and bring in more colonial government.

In 1688 the attorney Leonardo Currea Betancur led a group of landowners living near the Guane settlements of Mochuelo and Guarigua to submit a petition to found a town. They came up with the name "Santa Cruz y San Gil de la Nueva Baeza," to flatter the Spanish viceroy, Don Gil de Cabrera y Dávalos. The viceroy officially approved the naming of a new settlement on March 17, 1689. The flattery paid off again when King Carlos II "the Bewitched" of Spain approved an edict on October 27, 1694 that gave San Gil the title of "Villa" (Town) and a coat of arms, seen at the top of this post. That in turn gave the town the regional government and tax collection through the 1700s (for more details, read "Presencia de un pueblo" by my grandfather Rito Rueda Rueda, "Historia de San Gil en sus 300 años" by Isaías Ardila Díaz, and "Liberalism and Conflict in Socorro, Colombia" by Richard Stoller).

The original 1688 petition lists 51 male residents and nearly half were linked by blood or marriage.

The following 7 were members of the Rueda family: Joseph de Rueda Sarmiento (an alcalde ordinario (town magistrate), son of Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales), Juan de Rueda Rosales, Nicolás de Rueda Rosales, Christóbal de Rueda Sarmiento, Bernando de Rueda Sarmiento, Pablo de Rueda Rosales, and Francisco de Rueda Sarmiento (sons of Alonso de Rueda Rosales).

Another 13 were cousins of the Rueda Sarmiento families: Alonso Sarmiento de Olbera, Thomas Sarmiento de Olbera, Manuel Gómez Romano, Martín Díaz Bermudez, Lorenzo Díaz Bermudez, Francisco Díaz, Marcelo Díaz, Alonso Díaz, Joseph Díaz Sarmiento, Ignacio Díaz del Castillo, Juan Durán, Cristóbal Durán, and Leonardo Currea Betancur.

Four more had married into or were in-laws of the Rueda or Sarmiento families: Gabriel Angel Ortíz Navarro, Don Antonio de la Parra Cano, Juan Rodríguez Durán, Martín Sánchez de Cozar.

It's very important to note that many of these men were the descendants of colonizers who made their living as the owners of encomiendas, a Latin American equivalent of plantations, which had entire Indian villages work for a single Spanish or criollo (creole) landowner. In 1561, a number of encomenderos in Vélez, including several of my ancestors, were accused of forcing the local Indians to relocate, toil in mines and fields, and even work as beasts of burden. A court document charged that there was only "a tenth" of the number of local Indians from ten years before, and that colonizers turned a blind eye as Indians died of disease and mistreatment. Subsequent generations also brought in African slaves to do hard work, and through rape or marriage the blood of the slaveowners and the enslaved intertwined. An excellent case study of 17th- and 18th-century slaves and slaveowners in the town of Girón is "Esclavos y libertos en la jurisdicción de Girón, 1682-1750" by Yoer Javier Castaño Pareja. The encomienda system declined from the 1700s onwards, as Indian communities died out or were disbanded, landowners sold smaller plots to control their debts and the numerous heirs fought titanic, embittered legal battles over inheritance (for details, read Stoller mentioned above, or "El solitario: El conde de Cuchicute y el fin de la sociedad señorial" by Juan Camilo Rodríguez Gómez).


The Rueda Building in the center
of San Gil, which faces the main plaza.
As noted above, many of the founders of San Gil were linked by blood or marriage, and very frequently intermarriage. As a 1738 marriage dispensation bluntly put it, "A large part of the neighbors in the town [of San Gil] have married a relative." Unsurprisingly, over four centuries the Sarmiento siblings had many descendants in the Santander Department and throughout all of Colombia. Despite the shallow gene pool, quite a few descendants were major figures in Colombian history and culture.

An incomplete chronological list, gleaned from the multi-volume “Genealogias de Santa Fé de Bogotá,” "El tribuno de 1810" by Adolfo León Gómez, and various online genealogies, includes:

~ Many of the officers and soldiers in the Comunero rebellion of 1781, which was a massive, armed demonstration in several Colombian provinces against by unfair taxation by colonial officials, a full generation before the more radical war for independence from Spain. John Leddy Phelan's "The People and the King" is probably the best book in English on this unique, momentous political movement.

~ Pedro Fermín de Vargas Sarmiento (1762-1813), a lawyer, scientist, and economist who conspired for Colombia’s independence alongside Francisco de Miranda and Antonio Nariño, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano. Here's an El Tiempo article on Vargas.

~ Emigdio Benítez Plata (d.1816), who taught many Colombian founding fathers and who signed Colombia’s Declaration of Independence in 1810, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano, Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz, and Juana Sarmiento de Quiñones.

~ The priest Francisco Javier Serrano Gómez de la Parra Celi de Alvear (d.1817), who also signed Colombia’s Declaration of Independence and was nicknamed "Dr. Panela" for his sweet temperament, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano.

~ José Acevedo y Gómez (1772-1817), a lawyer and brilliant orator nicknamed “The Tribune of the People” who publicly proclaimed the Colombian Declaration of Independence in Bogotá on July 20, 1810, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano, and Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera. Interestingly, his snobbish great-grandson was intent on finding royal descent, and claimed (mistakenly or intentionally) in a biography that José Acevedo was from the "de la Parra Celi" family of Tunja, whose forefather, the conquistador Jorge Celi de Alvear, was directly descended from the Spanish Dukes of Medinaceli and Kings Alfonso X of Castilla y León and Louis IX of France. Historians like José Ignacio Avellaneda Navas have since determined that Jorge Celi de Alvear was a fictional man. José Acevedo's Parra ancestor, Juan de la Parra Cano, came to Colombia a couple of generations after the "de la Parra Celi" family.

~ President Fernando Serrano y Uribe (1779-1818), who wrote the Pamplona Province's constitution in 1815 and served in 1816 as the last president of the Patria Boba, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and her two husbands Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales and Manuel Gómez Romano, and Juana Sarmiento de Quiñones.

~ Antonia Santos Plata (1782-1819), who led a guerrilla army with her brother Fernando, supported Simón Bolívar's army, and was imprisoned and executed by the Spanish, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz. Antonia's nephew, the politician and journalist Francisco Santos Galvis (1848-1900), became the forefather of the Santos political dynasty, which includes two presidents.

~ Vicente Azuero Plata (1787-1844), a founder of Colombia’s Liberal Party and associate of Francisco de Paula Santander, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales, and Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ The historian and poet Josefa Acevedo y Tejada (1803-1861) and her magistrate husband Diego Fernando Gómez Durán (1786-1853) were cousins who were descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano, and Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera.

~ Rito Antonio Martínez Gómez (1823-1889), a leading Conservative politician who served on the Colombian Supreme Court, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ President Aquileo Parra Gómez (1825-1900),  a leading Liberal politician who lead Colombia from 1876-1878, as the country emerged from civil war and expanded its railroads, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano.

~ The economist Salvador Camacho Roldán (1827-1900), who was also a leading Liberal politician and governor of Panama, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano.

~ Carlos Martínez Silva (1847-1903), a Conservative minister, journalist, and Colombian ambassador to the United States right before the first U.S. invasion of Panama, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ President Clímaco Calderón Reyes (1852-1913), who served for one day in 1882 after the incumbent president died, and who also served as ambassador to the United States, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ The famous poet José Asunción Silva (1865-1896), one of the founders of Latin America’s Modernist movement, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano.

~ José María de Rueda y Gómez (1871-1945), an eccentric hacienda owner and coffee exporter who referred to himself as the “Count of Cuchicute,” was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano, Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera, and Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz. To learn more, read this article by historian Germán Arciniegas and this article by Juan Camilo Rodríguez Gómez, author of El Solitario: El Conde de Cuchicute y el fin de la sociedad señorial (1871-1945).

~ The writer Tomás Rueda Vargas (1879-1943) was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano, and Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera.

~ Dr. Maximiliano Rueda Galvis (1886-1944), Colombia’s first psychiatrist, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ Ofelia Uribe Durán de Acosta (1900-1988), a Colombian feminist and advocate for women’s suffrage, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales, and Margarita Sarmiento and Alonso de Rueda Rosales.

~ Santiago Martínez Delgado (1906-1954), a leading 20th-century Colombian artist and muralist, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ President Virgilio Barco Vargas (1921-1997), who served from 1986-1990 during the height of Colombia’s drug violence, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales, and Margarita Sarmiento and Alonso de Rueda Rosales.

~ Alvaro Mutis Jaramillo (1923-2013), one of Colombia’s greatest writers and poets, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales, and Margarita Sarmiento and Alonso de Rueda Rosales.

~ Julio Mario Santo Domingo Pumarejo (1924-2011), a billionaire beverage mogul who was once one of the world’s richest men, was descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz. His granddaughter, Tatiana Santo Domingo (b.1983), married Andrea Casiraghi (b.1984), the eldest grandson of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, and they had a son, Sasha (b.2013).

~ Luis Carlos Galán Sarmiento (1943-1989), the populist politician who was assassinated by Pablo Escobar’s henchmen while running as a Liberal presidential candidate, was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Cristóbal de Rueda Rosales, and Margarita Sarmiento and Alonso de Rueda Rosales.

~ Carlos Pizarro Leongómez (1951-1990), another assassinated presidential candidate, was the commander of the M-19 guerrilla movement who helped plot the infamous 1985 siege of the Palace of Justice in Bogotá. This odious man was descended from Catalina Sarmiento and Manuel Gómez Romano and Alonso Sarmiento de Olivera, and his direct ancestors included José Acevedo y Gómez and Josefa Acevedo y Tejada.

~ President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón (b.1951), who served as the president of Colombia from August 7, 2010 to August 7, 2018 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 7, 2016, is descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ Vice President Francisco “Pacho” Santos Calderón (b.1961), who served from 2002-2010 under former President Alvaro Uribe and is President Juan Manuel Santos's double first cousin, is also descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

~ Vice President Germán Vargas Lleras (b.1962), who served from 2014-2017 under former President Juan Manuel Santos, is descended from Antonia Sarmiento de Díaz.

Questions? Comments? Please email me at ruedafingerhut [at]

No comments:

Post a Comment