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Memorias of

Quebradillas, Puerto Rico


            The following excerpts are from a descriptive manuscript called, “Memorias geográficas, históricas y estadisticas de la isla de Puerto Rico”. It was written circa 1831 by don Pedro Tomás de Córdova , a historian and Secretary of the Government of Puerto Rico. The manuscript was intended gives the reader a good understanding of the then existing economic and social conditions of the entire island, including the town of Quebradillas, during those years. This report was of course originally written in Spanish.

 

                                                                             Edwin Hernández Quijano

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“Memorias”

by

Pedro Tomás de Córdova


         “Quebradillas, is located in the north coast of the island, in an extremely beautiful place. The territory is adjoined from the south with the town of San Sebastian, from the east with the town of Camuy, from the west with the town of Isabela and from the north with the Atlantic Ocean".


"This town is picturesque and has a cheerful situation, the plain and kindness of their terrains, their vicinity to the coast and select of their fruits, in little time there will be much wealth for the town, as a pleasant garden and place of recess".


         "The town was founded in the 1823, and it has three extensions that can be reached from all directions. The Guajataca River divides the town of Isabela and Quebrada Bellaca (later known as the district of San Jose) and with the town of Camuy which limits it and, they are the only waters that run through these parts”.


         "The lands are superior and produce tobacco with abundance, sugar cane, coffee and all kinds of grains. This is one of the towns that has progressed quickly from their original establishment".




                   "En route to the Guajataca River, there is a good wooden bridge due to the zeal of don Manuel Corchado, who resides in the town of Isabela, and also due to the work of the don. Pio Rivas, Captain of the Military, but also with help of the residents and military men’s assistance and done without the obligation of any public funds".


         "The territory is thus divided into barrios (wards) which are as follows: Quebradillas (later known as Barrio Terranova), Cocos, Cacao and Zapo's (later known as Barrio San Antonio)". "The route to the town of Isabela and the hills of the Quebrada Bellaca (later known as Barrio San Jose) has had very important improvements".


         "In 1824, there was a population of 1,829 souls and, in 1828 it rose to 3,026, which included 1,303 whites, 105 pardos (brown), 2 black, 1,395 aggregate of all breeds and 221 slaves. The numbers of males were 1,555 and females were 1,471. Corresponding to 504 for square leagues (the ratio equals 1 league to 4 miles). In 1830, there were 181 children born, 106 died that year and there were 34 marriages. Among the towns people their existed 19 foreigners, 18 craftsman, a practitioner of medicine, 9 stores and 10 ventorrillos (smaller stores). In the town, there were the following 10 houses and 10 bohios (cabins), and in the suburbs there were 3 houses and 332 cabins".


         "Regarding the civil, military and education part, it’s general correspondence is handle by a department within the town of Arecibo”.


         "The economic part is carried out by the Lieutenant of the Military and Sergeant At Arms of the town. In the previous writings to this manuscript the information gathered was that in 1830 there were 4 companies, 10 officials, 414 urban militiamen, 102 pensioners and 32 foreigners.”

 

"The construction of the church, was principally taken on during 1823 and was dedicated as San Rafael. Their funds within this year were 33 pesos (dollars) and 4 reales (coins)., and the value of their altar was 396 pesos. They had their own priest, churchwarden and steward. The cemetery, was in a nearby the wood, and was maintained in a good state."




         "In 1824, the people of the town contributed 442 pesos from subsidy and public expenses with 47 pesos (ps), 5 reales (rs), 12 marveides (mrs), from the taxes of lands, that concerning 1,829 souls that there was in the jurisdiction, corresponded 2 1/ 8 (rs) each. In 1830, there was satisfaction of 1,350 pesos from the subsidy, 994 (ps), 6 (rs), 13 (mrs), from public expenses and 60 pesos, 6 (rs), 30 (mrs), from lands, that between the 3.026 individuals which were register in the last census which gave us 6 1/ 4 (rs) each, for the total of 2,405 (ps), 5 (rs), 12 (mrs)".


         From the statistics information which was obtain in 1828, the following data appear:



                                                10 wooden sugar mills,

                                                  1 iron,

2 mills of coffee,

                                                 4 stills,

                                            106 strings of sugar cane,

                                             340 of bananas,

                                            150 of tobacco,

                                            152 of batatas,

                                      300,600 feet of coffee,

                                              50 palms of coconut,

                                                 1 brick oven,

                                            150 cows,

                                            100 oxen,

                                              25 young bulls,

                                              35 goats,

                                            140 horses,

                                              86 mares,

                                                2 donkeys,

                                            100 pigs,

                                         1,450 hens and

                                              12 turkeys.


Products:


                                          1,000 pound of sugar,

                                       12,000 quarts of honey,

                                               24 barrows of rum,

                                         9,120 loads of bananas,

                                        1,000 pounds of tobacco,

                                        4,864 pounds of batata,

                                        1,502 pounds of coffee,

                                      10,000 red bricks,

                                             50 calves,

                                             16 calves,

                                             32 ponies,

                                                96 pigs,

                                           200 hundred of eggs and

                                           400 chickens.


         "This wealth consisting of real and other properties was calculated to be worth 276,197 (pesos*) and their products at 28,118; for a total of their taxation of 7/ 8 percent and on the products of 8 1/2 percent. The 30 chivalries, 61 cuerdas** of distributed lands which is owned by 138 individuals, but there are many lands that exist without property owners".


*“Peso" means weight in Spanish. Minted in Mexico, in colonial times it was a piece worth eight reales. This is the famous "piece of eight" that later became called the peso. The peso coin weighed 27 grams and was of 92 per cent pure silver. It was the template for the coins of the United States and one silver dollar equaled exactly one peso.

Spanish pesos circulated throughout the European colonies in the Americas. They were also later used in the independent United States, where they continued to be legal tender until they were demonetized in 1857.

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** A “cuerda” is roughly equivalent to 0.971 acres.

 

 

 

 

 

"In 1824, the final repairs to the Casa del Rey (Mayor’s Office) was done, the Church building was being finished and boatmen were sent to Guajataca River, in order to build a bridge, to clear up the limits between the paths of the neighboring towns and prepare a list of the vacant lands. The town’s building of the Church, cost 2240,0. And, repairs in the Mayor’s Office and Cemetery cost 167.0,0.

 

1825, the town invested additional sums for public works repairs including

the Church........................................................................................360.0,0

In the Mayor’s Office......................................................................... 53.0,0

 

1828, in the work of the church..........................................................310.0,0

Repair to Mayor’s Office and Cemetery........................................... 167.0,0

Roof of the Mayor’s Office.................................................................. 36.0,0

Slaughter House.................................................................................. 50.0,0

Tools for the composition of the roads................................................. 15.0,0

 

In 1827, the work on the church was concluded and in other

works town’s people invested......................................................... 1,790.6,8

In the conclusion of the Mayor’s Office............................................. 208.4,0

The investment of 1,500 poles in route to the entrance of the river,

and in 2.625 in that of Guajataca ...................................................... 133,6,0

In 5,250 poles in Quebrada Bellaca (San Jose).................................. 141.4,0

 

In 1829 , they spent on the roads: Quebrada Bellaca (San Jose road)

and Guajataca................................................................................ 1,477.0,8

For for opening of the roads to

San Sebastian and to Quebrada Bellaca (San Jose road)................. 1,257.0,0

 

In 1830, in the house for the Parish priest...................................... 1,003.0,0

Purchase of public lands.................................................................... 559.0,0

Repairs of Roads................................................................................. 16.0,0

Improving the Mayor’s Office............................................................. 61.0.0

Construction of the Cemetery.............................................................227.0,0

 

 

 

Source: 1) Tomás de Córdova, Pedro. Memorias Geograficas, Historicas, Economicas, y Estadistics de la Isla de Puerto Rico, Tomo II, Primera Edicion 1831. Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquena, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Segunda Edicion Facsimilar 1968, Page # 145-149 (Quebradillas).

 

2) Walter A. Cardona Bonet, Quebradillas: El Sitio De Terranova, San Juan, 1985, Page # 53 (photo).