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Corsican immigration to Puerto Rico
Topic Started: Dec 2 2009, 12:23 AM (3,926 Views)
Delilah
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DELILAH
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Continuing with CG's Italian theme and EC's history of different immigrant groups, let me contribute one of my own.

Various economic and political changes in the mid-19th century Europe contributed to the Corsican immigration to Puerto Rico; among those factors were the social-economic changes which came about in Europe as a result of the Second Industrial Revolution, political discontent and widespread crop failure due to long periods of drought, and crop diseases. Another influential factor was that Spain had lost most of its possessions in the so-called "New World" and feared the possibility of a rebellion in its last two Caribbean possessions—Puerto Rico and Cuba. As a consequence the Spanish Crown had issued the Royal Decree of Graces (Real Cedula de Gracias) which fostered and encouraged the immigration of Catholics of non-Hispanic origin to its Caribbean Colonies.

The situation and opportunities offered, plus the fact that the geographies of the islands are similar, were ideal for the immigration of hundreds of families from Corsica to Puerto Rico. Corsicans and those of Corsican descent have played an instrumental role in the development of the economy of the island, especially in the coffee industry.

Spanish Royal Decree of Graces

Royal Decree of Graces, 1815By 1850, Spain had lost the entirety of her territories in South America and Central America and sought measures of preventing a repeat of this in the Caribbean. It was decided that an influx of Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Corsica and Italy would provide a loyal base for the Crown and appeals were made to encourage immigration. In 1815, the Spanish Crown had issued the Royal Decree of Graces (Real Cedula de Gracias) which fostered the immigration of Catholics of non-Hispanic origin to it's Caribbean Colonies, Puerto Rico and Cuba.[4]

The island of Puerto Rico is very similar in geography to the island of Corsica and therefore appealed to the many Corsicans who wanted to start a "new" life. Under the Spanish Royal Decree of Graces, the Corsicans and other immigrants were granted land and initially given a "Letter of Domicile" after swearing loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Catholic Church. After five years they could request a "Letter of Naturalization" that would make them Spanish subjects.[4]

Influence in coffee industry
Hundreds of Corsicans and their families immigrated to Puerto Rico from as early as 1830, and their numbers peaked in the 1850s. The first Spanish settlers settled and owned the land in the coastal areas, the Corsicans tended to settle the mountainous southwestern region of the island, primary in the towns of Adjuntas, Lares, Utuado, Ponce, Coamo, Yauco, Guayanilla and Guánica. However, it was Yauco whose rich agricultural area attracted the majority of the Corsican settlers.[5] The three main crops in Yauco were coffee, sugar cane and tobacco. The new settlers dedicated themselves to the cultivation of these crops and within a short period of time some were even able to own and operate their own grocery stores. However, it was with the cultivation of the coffee bean that they would make their fortunes. By the 1860s the Corsican settlers were the leaders of the coffee industry in Puerto Rico and seven out of ten coffee plantations were owned by Corsicans.[6]

Surnames
The following is an official list of the surnames of the first 403 Corsican families who immigrated to the Adjuntas, Yauco, Guayanilla, and Guanica areas of Puerto Rico in the 19th Century. This list was compiled by genealogist and historian Colonel (USAF Ret. ) Hector A. Negroni who has done exhaustive research on the Corsican migration and origins of his Negroni family name. [13]

Surnames of the first Corsican families in Puerto Rico
Adriani, Agostini, Altieri, Anciani, Angilucci, Annoni, Anpani, Antongiorgi, Antoni, Antonini, Antonmarchi, Antonmattei, Antonsanti, Arenas, Artigau, Barbari, Bartoli, Bartolomei, Battistini, Benedetti, Belgodere, Bettolacce, Benvenutti, Berlingeri, Bernardini, Biaggi, Blasini, Boagna, Boccheciamp, Bocagnani, Bonelli, Bonini, Bracetti, Cardi, Carraffa, Casablanca, Casanova, Catinchi, Cervoni, Cesari, Chiavramonti, Cianchini, Costa, Damiani, Dastas, Defendini, Deodati, Dominicci, Emmanuelli, Estella, Fabbiani, Farinacci, Feliberti, Felippi, Ficaya, Figarella, Filipini, Franceschi, Franceshini, Franzuni, Fratacci, Fraticelli, Galletti, Garrosi, Gentili, Gilormini, Giovanetti, Giraldi, Giuseppi, Giuliani, Gordi, Graziani, Grillasca, Grimaldi, Guidiccelli, Lacroix, Lagomarsini, Laveri, Lazarini, Leandri, Linarola, Lipureli, Lorenzi, Lucca, Luchessi, Lucchetti, Luiggi, Maestracci, Malatesta, Marcantoni, Marcucci, Mari, Mariani, Marietti, Marini, Massari, Massei, Masini, Mattei, Maxinie, Micheli, Miguinini, Mignucci, Minucci, Modesti, Molinari, Molinelli, Molini, Montaggioni, Moravani, Mori, Muratti, Natali, Navaroli, Negroni, Nicolai, Nigaglioni, Octaviani, Olivieri, Orsini, Padovani, Paganacci, Palmieri, Paoli, Pelliccia, Pellicer, Piacentini, Piazza, Pieraldi, Piereschi, Pieretti, Pierantoni, Pietrantoni, Pietri, Piovanetti, Poggi, Polidori, Quilinchini, Rafaelli, Rafucci, Rapale, Rencini, Renesi, Romanacce, Romani, Rubiani, Rutali, Safini, Saladini, Sallaveri, Santini, Santoni, Santuchi, Savelli, Semidei, Senati, Shyny, Sinigaglia, Silvagnoli, Silvestrini, Simonetti, Sisco, Sonsonetti, Tollinchi, Tomasi, Tossi, Totti, Vecchini, Vicchioli, Vallevigne, Vicenti, Vincenti, Vincenty, Villanueva, Vivaldi and Vivoni.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corsican_immigration_to_Puerto_Rico
Edited by Delilah, Dec 2 2009, 12:31 AM.
"Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices." St. Teresa of Avila
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El Caudillo
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Cool stuff, Delilah.

Btw some Corsicans even found their way to Venezuelan shores: http://forum.geneanet.org/index.php?topic=318073.new
Edited by El Caudillo, Dec 2 2009, 01:01 AM.

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Vertumne
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Very interesting post Delilah. As a Corsican man, I noticed dozens of huge houses ("palazzi") in my island built by Corsican emigrates who got rich in Puerto Rico. We call them "les Américains" (the American):

http://www.voyagerpratique.com/guide_bonnes_adresses/Cap_Corse/index.php

@ El Caudillo: exactly!
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Curious2know
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Very interesting. They sure built nice homes upon their return to the island. Of course, most remained in their new countries. I did not know they had also emigrated to Venezuela.
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Delilah
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Vertumne
Dec 5 2009, 09:11 PM
Very interesting post Delilah. As a Corsican man, I noticed dozens of huge houses ("palazzi") in my island built by Corsican emigrates who got rich in Puerto Rico. We call them "les Américains" (the American):

http://www.voyagerpratique.com/guide_bonnes_adresses/Cap_Corse/index.php

@ El Caudillo: exactly!
Interesting. I didn't know that some of them returned after they had made it rich! Obviously many stayed and intermarried with the locals. Hence why we have all those Italian surnames in Puerto Rico. I do know that there were some Sicilian immigrants as well but perhaps not on a scale as large as the Corsicans. In fact, I know of one who tested through 23andme and whose great-grandfather(I don't know how many greats) had immigrated to Puerto Rico in 1850(surnamed Mariotta).
"Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices." St. Teresa of Avila
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Vertumne
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"I didn't know that some of them returned after they had made it rich!"

Yes, a few returned. But the majority who built the houses only used them as vacation home, they spent the major part of their time in Puerto Rico. Their heirs do their best to restore the houses, but this is very expensive and some of them slowly fall in ruins.

A friend of mine told me that the mayor of San Juan is called Santini, which is a common surname in Corsica.

PS: sorry for my bad english, this is not my mother tongue.
http://ethnocide.blogspot.com
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Delilah
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^ Your friend is right. Jorge Santini is the mayor of San Juan and a descendent of Corsican immigrants.

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"Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices." St. Teresa of Avila
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