This is the history of the Mendez family as far as I can piece together. If you have something to correct, added to, or elaborate on, please contact me so that I can update this page. My email is: mike@mikemendez.org

Here are some links to other resources, and other Mendez family website: Mendez Family Genealogy Forum , Mendez Family Homepage, and Domingo Soto - Mendez Family Tree. The last two are Mendez family from Puerto Rico that are either unrelated, or related so far in the past that we cannot determine if we are truly related. If you would like to add another Puerto Rican Mendez Family site, please email me.

I have also put together a picture of our family tree, which you can view here. Please send me corrections and/or updates.

This family history is broken into eight sections. I've added a ninth section, which contains some odds and ends which I have found during all of this research, I thought them interesting, perhaps you would as well. You can navigate to a particular section by clicking on the links below:

1. Creation

2. Visigoths

3. Visigoths in Spain

4. Spain before the Moors

5. Spain under the Moors

6. Spain after the Moors

7. Puerto Rico

8. On the American mainland

9. Odds and Ends from research

I believe in the biblical account of creation, a literal 6 day period of time during which God created the universe and mankind, starting with Adam and Eve. There are evolutionary scientists that claim that the Earth and mankind took millions of years to evolve, and they teach this "fact" (sic) in our schools and have deceived many into believing them. Creationist look at the very same facts, proofs, fossils, and other pieces of the "scientific record" and see nothing that contradicts, but indeed supports the biblical account of events. What preconceived prejudices you bring to the table color how you interpret what these facts say. You can get more information about these scientific facts at www.answersingenesis.org. Unfortunately, mankind turned from God and became so wicked that God destroyed the entire surface of the Earth with the exception of Noah and his family. So, all humans today are descendents of Noah. Most people have heard of some version of the story of Noah's ark, and how God created the rainbow as a sign that He would never again destroy the Earth by water. In that same covenant with Noah, man, for the first time was allowed to eat meat. Prior to the flood all humans were vegetarians. For those of you who have never heard that part, please go read the entire story of the flood, in the Bible. Afterwards, man again disobeyed God's commandment to spread out across the entire Earth, but instead, gathered in one spot, on the plains of Shinar (Mesopotamia). This is why Mesopotamia (now called Iraq) is called the cradle of civilization. The biblical story of the tower of Babel is when God intervened to enforce His command, and scattered the people. This is the origin of people groups, ethnicities, tribes, and races. If you do a study on the people of China and Eastern Asia, it is the story of various waves of people moving from West to East. Likewise, studying Europe is the story of various people groups moving from East to West. Africa is also the story of people groups moving from North-East to West and/or South. It doesn't take a PhD to see that the origin of all of these migrations is Mesopotamia. So then, the story of the Mendez family is directly tied to the people group from which we sprang. We are Goths, more properly Visigoths. And I will take up the story of the Goths, intertwined with the overall story of Europe next.

The origins of the Germanic tribes are hotly disputed. I have done extensive research and reading, trying to track down the root of these tribes. There are theories which point to the Scandinavian countries in Europe, which just seem implausible to me, since mankind did not spring from this area. It is more probable that when the Goths were traveling through Northern Europe, that bands of them split off from the main body, and settled in what is now the Scandinavian countries. Culturally, there are ties between the Germanic tribes and the Norse peoples which can be accounted for if they split from common ancestors. With a starting point in the Word of God, all peoples are descendants of Adam through Noah. After Babel, some people moved North and West into Asia and across the Bering strait into the Americas. Later in History, more groups of people were driven out of the middle and near east, going North across the Caucus mountains and onto the Russian Steppes. On ancient Roman maps, there are Germanic tribes placed in this vast "sea of grass" which are the steppes. Many ancient European and Asian tribes claim that they are originally from the "sea of grass." 

The following information is mostly (I interject my own opinion into their writings) from the website: www.encyclopedia.com, and has been checked against many other websites, and written reference books. I believe it is fairly accurate.

Visigoths:

 

(West Goths), division of the Goths, one of the most important groups of Germans . The Goths originally entered Europe through the Northern parts of Russia, through Poland, and into Germany, then continued moving to the South-East. Around the 3rd century AD they settled in the region West of the Black Sea. The Goths soon split into two divisions, the Ostrogoths and the Visigoths.

By the 4th cent. the Visigoths were at the borders of the East Roman Empire, raiding across the Danube River, and peacefully infiltrating the trans-Danubian provinces. Constantine I was troubled by the Visigoths, but they became a real menace only after the middle of the 4th cent. At that time groups of Visigoths had settled in Dacia as agriculturalists, and many had accepted Arian Christianity (see Arianism ), partly as a result of the work of Ulfilas . About 364 a group of Visigoths devastated Thrace, and punitive measures were undertaken against them. They were also involved in the revolt (366) of Procopius.

    Until 369 Emperor Valens waged war successfully against the Visigoths, who were led by Athanaric . Athanaric asserted his supremacy over Fritigern , a rival Visigothic leader who then retired into the Roman Empire and obtained Roman aid against Athanaric. However, the internal affairs of the Goths became of secondary importance to the invasion (c.375) of their lands by the Huns . Athanaric retired to Transylvania, and the majority of the Visigoths joined Fritigern and fled (376) into the empire. Subjected to oppressive measures by Roman officials, these Visigothic settlers soon rose in revolt. Opposed by Emperor Valens at Adrianople in 378, the Goths won a decisive victory. They then swept across the upper Balkan Peninsula and ravaged Thrace. Theodosius I immediately took up arms against them. In 382 peace was finally concluded, and the Goths under Athanaric were settled in Thrace. Friction, however, continued.

    In 395, after the death of Theodosius I, the Visigothic troops in Roman service proclaimed Alaric I their leader; under his strong guidance they first developed the concept of kingship. Alaric led a revolt in the Balkan Peninsula but was checked by Stilicho . In 401 Alaric began his attacks on Italy; he was halted by Stilicho, but after Stilicho's death he succeeded in his invasion, and the Visigoths became masters of Italy. Negotiations between Alaric and Emperor Honorius failed, and in 410 the Visigoths sacked Rome. Alaric died soon afterward.

Visigoths In Spain


Under Ataulf the Visigoths left (412) Italy and went into Southern Gaul and Northern Spain. They increased their territories in Spain (which was evacuated by the Vandals ), acquired Aquitaine , and extended their influence to the Loire valley, making Toulouse their capital. The height of Visigothic power was reached under Euric (466-84), who completed the conquest of Spain. In 507, Alaric II was defeated at Vouillé by the Franks under Clovis, to whom he lost nearly all his possessions North of the Pyrenees. Toledo became the new Visigothic capital, and the history of the Visigoths became essentially that of Spain.

    Weakened by warfare with the Franks and the Basques and by Byzantine penetration in Southern Spain, the kingdom recovered its vigor in the late 6th cent. under Leovigild and under Recared , whose conversion to Catholicism facilitated the fusion of the Visigothic and the Hispano-Roman populations of Spain. King Recceswinth imposed (c.654) a Visigothic common law on both his Gothic and his Roman subjects, who previously had lived under different codes (see Germanic laws ). The church councils of Toledo became the main force in the government, and the royal power was weakened accordingly.

    King Wamba, who succeeded Recceswinth, was deposed after a civil war, and thereafter the kingdom was torn by civil strife. When the last king, Roderick , seized the throne, his rivals appealed to the Muslim leader Tarik ibn Ziyad , whose victory (711) in a battle near Medina Sidonia ended the Visigothic kingdom and inaugurated the Moorish period in the history of Spain.

Spain before the Moors

    Civilization in Spain dates back to the Stone Age. The Basques may be descended from the prehistoric humans whose art has been preserved in the caves at Altamira. They antedated the Iberians , who mixed with Celtic invaders at an early period. Because of its mineral and agricultural wealth and its position guarding the Strait of Gibraltar, Spain was known to the Mediterranean peoples from very early times. The Phoenicians passed through the strait and established (9th cent. BC) colonies in Andalusia, notably at Cádiz and Tartessus (possibly the biblical Tarshish ). Later the Carthaginians settled on the east coast and in the Balearic Islands, where Greek colonies also sprang up. In the 3d cent. BC, the Carthaginians under Hamilcar Barca began to conquer most of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearics and established Cartagena as capital.

    The Roman victory over Hannibal in the second of the Punic Wars (218-201 BC) resulted in the expulsion of the Carthaginians. The Romans conquered Eastern and Southern Spain, but met strong resistance elsewhere, notably in the North. The fall (133 BC) of Numantia marked the end of organized resistance, and by the 1st cent. AD Roman control was virtually complete. Except for the Basques, the Iberian population became thoroughly Romanized, perhaps more so than any subject population. Roman rule brought political unity, law, and economic prosperity. Christianity was introduced early; St. Paul is supposed to have visited Spain, and St. James the Greater is its apostolic patron. Natives of Spain contributed increasingly to both pagan and Christian literature in Latin. Among them were Seneca, Martial, and Quintilian.

    In AD 409, Spain was overrun by the first wave of Germanic invaders, the Suevi and the Vandals . They were followed by the Visigoths , who forced the Vandals to flee to Africa, and established (419) a Visigoth kingdom in Spain and Southern Gaul, with Toulouse as capital. The victory (507) of the Franks under Clovis over Alaric II at Vouillé resulted in the loss by the Visigoths of most of Gaul; in the Iberian Peninsula, Belisarius temporarily reconquered (554) Southern Spain for the Byzantine Empire; however, the Visigoths soon regained Southern Spain and in 585 also conquered the kingdom of the Suevi in Galicia. The Visigothic capital after the loss of Toulouse was at Toledo. The Germanic Visigoths, who adhered to Arianism until the late 6th cent., and the Catholic, Romanized native population lived side by side under two separate codes of law (see Germanic laws ); fusion of the two elements was very slow.

    King Recceswinth imposed (c.654) a common law on all his subjects. His code remained the basis of medieval Spanish law. Learning was cultivated almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic clergy, among whom Orosius and St. Leander and his brother, St. Isidore of Seville , were outstanding. Byzantine cultural influence was strong, but was probably less important than that of the Jews , who had settled in Spain in large numbers, and were persecuted after 600. Politically, the Visigothic kings were weak; the clergy, meeting in councils at Toledo, acquired secular power. Visigothic society was rent by a clash of Germanic, Hispano-Roman, and Jewish influences. When, in 711, a Muslim Berber army under Tarik ibn Ziyad crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain, Roderick , the last Visigothic king, was defeated, and his kingdom collapsed.
 

Spain during the Moors

    The Moors , as the Berber conquerors were called, soon conquered the entire peninsula except for Asturias and the Basque country. Córdoba became the capital of the emir, who governed in the name of the Baghdad caliph. In 756, however, Abd ar-Rahman I , scion of the Umayyad dynasty, established an independent emirate. This Muslim state, which reached its greatest splendor under Abd ar-Rahman III , who set up the Western caliphate, or caliphate of Córdoba, included all but northernmost Spain. In the northeast, Charlemagne created (778) the Spanish March, out of which grew the county of Barcelona (i.e., Catalonia). In the Western Pyrenees, the Basques held out against both Frankish and Moorish attacks and eventually united in the kingdom of Navarre.

    Asturias, the only remnant of Visigothic Spain, became the focus of the Christian reconquest. The rulers of Asturias, who were descended from the semilegendary Pelayo , conquered large territories in North-Western Spain and consolidated them with Asturias as the kingdom of León. Navarre, under a branch of the Asturian line, reached its greatest prominence under Sancho III (1000-1035), who also controlled Aragón and Castile. His state split at his death into three kingdoms: Navarre, which soon lost its importance; Aragón, which united (1137) with Barcelona (see Aragón, house of ); and Castile, which was eventually united with León (1230) under Ferdinand III and with Aragón (1479) under Isabella I and Ferdinand V. This long process of unification was accomplished by marriage and inheritance as well as by warfare among the Christian kings; it was accompanied by the expansion of the Christian kingdoms at the expense of the Moors. I have placed an emphasis on Asturias because this is were the Mendez family line seems to have originated from.

    The Umayyad empire had broken up early in the 11th cent. into a number of petty kingdoms or emirates. The Abbadids of Córdoba were the most important of these dynasties. They called in the Almoravids from Africa to aid them against Alfonso VI of Castile. As a result, the Almoravids took over Moorish Spain, but they in turn were replaced (c.1174) by the Almohads , another Berber dynasty. In the battle of Navas de Tolosa (1212), a turning point in Spanish history, the Almohads were defeated by Alfonso VIII of Castile, whose successors conquered most of Andalusia. Little more than the kingdom of Granada remained in Moorish hands; it held out until its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492.

    Disunity among the Moors facilitated the Christian reconquest. However, the states of Christian Spain were also frequently engaged in bloody rivalry, and the Christian kings were in almost continuous conflict with the powerful nobles. Alliances between Muslim and Christian princes were not rare, and the Christian reconquest was a spasmodic, not a continuous, process. A major reason for the Christian victory was that Christian Spain was in a stage of dynamic expansion and religious enthusiasm while Moorish Spain, having attained a high degree of civilization and material prosperity, had lost its military vigor and religious zeal. In the Moorish cities Muslims, Jews, and Christians (see Mozarabs ) lived side by side in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. Their excellent artisans and industries were famous throughout Europe, and their commerce prospered.

    Agriculture, helped by extensive irrigation systems, was productive under the Moors. To the Christian nobles of Northern Spain, particularly of Castile and León, the flourishing cities and countryside to the south were a constant temptation. The united state of Aragón and Catalonia, commercially more prosperous than the other Christian kingdoms, was less active in the reconquest and was more concerned with its Mediterranean empire—the Balearics (which for a time formed the separate kingdom of Majorca ), Sardinia, Sicily, and Greece. Portugal also, after winning its independence in the 12th cent., developed as an Atlantic sea power and took part only in local campaigns against the Moors. It was thus under Castilian leadership that the reconquest was completed, and it was the Castilian nobility that formed the nucleus of the class of feudal magnates—the grandees—who were the ruling class of Spain for centuries after the reconquest. The fall of Granada (1492) made Ferdinand V (see Ferdinand II of Aragón) and Isabella I rulers of all Spain. (For a list of the rulers of Spain from Ferdinand and Isabella to the present, see the table entitled Rulers of Spain since 1474 )

    In the same year, in their zeal to achieve religious unity, the Catholic rulers expelled the Jews from Spain. Until 1492 the Jews and the Muslims had been allowed to live in reconquered territory. From the time of the Spanish Inquisition (1478), however, attempts at conversion were made more forcibly, often including confiscation of property, torture, or murder, usually by auto-da-fé. The Inquisition was not restricted to Jews and Moors (non-roman catholic Christians were persecuted as heretics), and even those who did convert were often persecuted. The expulsion of the Jews deprived Spain of part of its most useful and active population. Many went to the Levant, to the Americas, and to the Netherlands, where their skills, capital, and commercial connections benefited their hosts. The Mudéjares, as the Muslims in reconquered Spain were called, were not immediately expelled, but after an uprising they were forcibly converted (1502) to Christianity. Many of the Moriscos [Christian Moors] secretly adhered to Islam. After many persecutions, they were finally expelled in 1609.

    In spite of the expulsion of 1492, a large population of Christian converts remained in Spain and, as members of the educated elite, continued to make significant contributions to Spanish culture. The Jewish-Moorish legacy to Spain and to Western Europe is immense. Moorish architecture (see Islamic art and architecture ) has left a deep imprint on Spain; its most famous example is the Alhambra of Granada. Arabic scholars such as Averroës and Jewish scholars such as Maimonides had a major share in the development of Christian scholasticism. Material legacies of Moorish Spain included the great steel industry of Toledo, the silk industry of Granada, the leather industry of Córdoba, and the intensive plantations of rice and citrus trees.

    By fostering the exploitation of central Spain for sheep grazing, Ferdinand and Isabella unwittingly prepared the ruin of much land that had been fruitful under the Moors. The major economic revolution that occurred during their reign was, however, the discovery (1492) of America by Columbus. By the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), Spain and Portugal divided the world into two spheres of influence. Almost all of South America, Central America, Southern North America, and the Philippines were added to the Spanish world empire in the 16th cent. Gold and silver, the primary objectives of the conquistadores, flowed into Spain in fabulous quantities. Spain in the 16th cent. (the Golden Century) was the first power of the world, with an empire “on which the sun never set,” with fleets on every sea, and with a brilliant cultural, artistic, and intellectual life. In the Italian Wars (1494-1559), Spain triumphed over its chief rival, France, and added Naples (see Naples, kingdom of ) and the duchy of Milan to its dependencies.

Mendez's go to Puerto Rico

If you've made it this far, you are probably asking: What does all of that have to do with the Mendez family? Well, I'm glad you asked. Here is what I know of the Mendez ancestry. Mendez literally means "son of Mendo". Mendo is a Visigoth name, that has spawned many modern surnames in the various countries that were colonized or invaded by the Visigoths. Other names include: Mendes, Mendoza, Mendocino, Mendel, Mendelssohn, and others. Our extended family has a presence in almost every European country, and in every country in the Western Hemisphere (North and South America, including the Caribbean islands).

I've been told by my father that when Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain, there were four Mendez families that settled there. Our ancestors can be traced by name to the town of Moca, on the Western side of Puerto Rico. Moca is near the town of San Sebastian, which is where some of the family moved to (notably Serafin Mendez Cortes). When I was a very small child we visited San Sebastian; Within a gated community, there was a street with 8 houses, in which every house is owed by a Mendez, or someone who had married a Mendez.

My Grandfather, Ignacio Mendez Deyne, turned over his land in Puerto Rico (in Moca, Las Marias) to his brother Nabor and moved to New York city. Ignacio was the oldest of three children, his brother Nabor Mendez Deyne, and his sister Isaura Mendez Deyne. Isaura married Concepcion Vera Ayala, who was a superintendent of schools in Puerto Rico. Nabor married Josefa Pelegrina and had four children: Nabor Jr. , Myrna, Miguel and Francisco. Nabor Jr. was a pilot in the Air Force and died when his B-52 airplane crash landed; When the plane was in trouble, he ordered the crew to parachute to safety, then steered the crippled plane into the sea, so as it would not crash into any populated areas in Puerto Rico. He was a true hero.

The father of Ignacio Mendez Deyne, Nabor Mendez Deyne, and Isaura Mendez Deyne was Ignacio Mendez Cortes, who married Andrea Deyne, the daughter of a Frenchman who came to Puerto Rico. Ignacio Mendez Cortes' father was Marcelino Mendez Caban. Marcelino's father was Carlos Mendez, this is as far back as I am currently able to go. My Great grandfather, Ignacio Mendez Cortes died when his children (Ignacio, Nabor, and Isaura) were very young, and they were raised by his sister Constancia Mendez Cortes and her husband Juanito Hernandez. You can look at this flow chart diagram to clear up any confusion. Marcelino had ten children, besides Ignacio, there was Anastasia Mendez (fondly known as Tia Tacha), Serafin (a farmer who lived in San Sebastian), Carla, Telesforo (a policeman in Aguadilla), Cruz, Antonia, Constancia (who had two sons), Ildefonsa (fondly known as Tia Conca), and Gil. According to my father, my grandfather's younger cousin, Americo Mendez Mendez, has already done a lot of research about our family. I have recently (March 2005) spoken with Americo's daughter Ileana, who has reported that Americo passed away on the 2nd of December, 2000; May God grant him peace. If you are related to this line of Mendez I would love to hear from you. I have recently spoken with several relatives, who have agreed to help fill in gaps in our family tree. A special thanks to Jesse Vera Mendez, who still lives in Moca and Dr. Serafin Mendez Mendez a university professor. Before undertaking this project, I knew our family was large, but I really didn't understand just how large until I started talking with first and second cousins. I will update this tree as I receive information.

 

Ignacio Mendez goes to New York

 

Ignacio was born May 16, 1903. As stated above, he was raised by his aunt Constancia and her husband Juanito Hernandez. In 1928, Ignacio Mendez Deyne turned over his land in Puerto Rico to his brother Nabor and moved to New York City. There is an extremely large population of Puerto Ricans in New York, most of which emigrated searching for better employment. Ignacio was married three times and had children by all three ladies. My father told me that he died when my father was twenty (April 1951), and on his deathbed he asked that all of his children treat each other as full brothers and sisters -- which they have.

 

Ignacio's children are:

With Fatima Valdor: Norma Lina Mendez Valdor

With Josefina Sotomayor Vargas: Allan Vincent Mendez Sotomayor

With Rosaura Rivera: Ignacio Andres Mendez Rivera, better know as Andrig, and Igna Virginia Mendez Rivera

My grandmother, Allan's mother, was  Josefina Sotomayor Vargas, who was also from Moca, Puerto Rico. The Sotomayor family are a deviant branch of the Saavedra clan, who were also given a land grant on the Western side of Puerto Rico. Josefina lived with us when I was growing up. She died when I was very young, but I do have fond memories of her doting on us children. My father's cousin on the Sotomayor side of the family, John Sotomayor Perez, was a photographer for Time magazine, and he did a lot of research, both in Puerto Rico and Europe, into the Sotomayor family. He sent my father a letter with some of his findings -- which go back to the year 698, which I have posted here in English (translated by my father) or here in the original Spanish. John, please contact me if you can. Also posted is a letter my father sent me dated 7/25/94 were he recounts our family history. I am happy to report that I have found John, now going by Juan, retired and living in Moca. Juan has been an inspiration in all of this research and has been the nucleus of a group of researchers who have all been drawn back to Moca. This group is called: SAMocanos · Sociedad Ancestros Mocanos. Sociedad Ancestros Mocanos focuses on preserving the genealogy, family and oral histories originating in and around Moca, Puerto Rico. La Sociedad Ancestro Mocanos se centra en preservando la genealogia y historia familiar y oral que origen en la area de Moca, Puerto Rico. Information is posted and shared online at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SAMocanos/

Norma married Horace (Tony) Moreno, they live in Florida, they have no children.

Allan married Elba Luz Rosario Vega (also known as Margarita) they live in Maryland, their children are:

        Arthur Mendez (also known as Raymond)

                    Art has a son: Alex, they live in England

        Edmund Mendez (also known as Irwin)

                    Ed has a daughter: Irene, they live in Maryland

        Michael Mendez (also known as Arnold, although I now go by Mike)

                    Mike's sons are: Robert Todd (step-son), Allan and Randall (fraternal twins)

                    Robert is in the Army (101st Airborne), Randall is in college at Toronto Canada,

                    Mike and Allan live in North Carolina.

        Lawrence Mendez (who was named Raphael)

                    Larry's sons are: Joshua, Joseph, and Jeremiah, they live in Maryland.

 

Andrig married Naomi Besares they live in New Jersey, their children are:

        Richard Mendez

                    Rich married Marybeth Fazio, they live in Arizona and their children are:
                    Jesse Daniel Mendez lives and works in Sand Diego, CA, graduated from SDSU 2003
                    Josiah Andrew Mendez is a student at Biola University in CA majoring in Music and Worship
                    James Andrew Mendez is a high school student

        Mark Steven Mendez

                    Mark married Lori Ann Spratford, they live in New Jersey and their children are:

                    Alli Nicole Mendez

                    Nicholas Steven Mendez

 

Igna married Theodore Robert Miller, they live in Colorado, their children are:

        Shari Lynn Miller, Shari's children are:

                    Nathan Mark Jones

                    Andrea Lynn Jones

        Timothy Fredrick Miller, Timothy's children are:

                    Sarah Ashley Miller

                    Timothy Fredrick Miller

                    Hannah Chantel Miller

        Eric Glen Miller, Eric's son is:

                    Eric Fredrick Miller

        Andrig Theodore Miller, Andrig's children are:

                    Sage Rachelle Miller

                    Michael Andrig Miller

 

These lists of names will only grow larger as further research continues, so please refer to the flow charts for more information.

 

Odds and Ends:

 

1) Origin of the word "Spain".

From studying the Bible I know that names, especially names of places, have meaning in them. I thought to see what is the meaning of the name Spain or España. I guess you can say that I followed it down some interesting bunny trails.

From : http://www.studyglobal.net/countryspain.htm

Ancient historians gave Spain different names in the remote past. For some it was Ophiusa, for others Edetania, Sacania, Tartessos, Hesperia. It was the Romans who hit on the name of Hispania, a word which is apparently of Phoenician origin, derived from shepham which probably means 'coast or island of rabbits'. Professor Garcia y Bellido believes that the name of Hispania dates from two centuries B.C. Strabo considered the terms Iberia and Hispania to be synonymous. 'The Romans have called this whole region', he wrote, 'Iberia or Hispania, dividing it into two parts, Ulterior and Citerior, and reserving the right to change them yet again, should circumstances call for a further administrative division' (subsequently the division would be Baetica, Lusitania and Tarraconense).

 From: http://www.wordsmith.org/awad/awadmail75.html

The Phoenicians ventured to the Iberian peninsula about 1100 BC. The rabbit was native to this area, and that was the only area the rabbit inhabited at that time. They mistook this animal for the African hyrax, another animal similar to the rabbit, and called the land by that name, "i-shapan-im", meaning "island of the hyraxes"; from the Semitic word for hyrax, "shepan", meaning "one who hides". That is where the Latin name Hispania comes from.

2) The Basque

The Basque people are the oldest known ethnic group in Europe. They live in North West Spain and South West France. They are completely unrelated to any other people groups, and have inhabited their area since before modern history, therefore nobody knows where they came from. They were never conquered by the Iberians, Celts, Visigoths, Moors, or Franks. They have always had a separate, autonomous government from the rest of the Iberian peninsula, and were basically subdued in modern times by the Spanish dictator Franco after the civil war of 1936-1939, but even now they are given a lot of autonomy. There are still Basque groups who chaff at being under the rule of Spain and want their own country, to the point of using violence to push the agenda.

One interesting note. After the discovery of the Western Hemisphere, when Spain and Portugal were the ruling sea powers of the world, under the direct authority of the Pope in Rome, they split the non-European world into two sections, and were given exclusive rights in those sections to conquer the world. Anyway, at this time "Portuguese" pilots were in great demand. The Pilot was the ships navigator, and only he could read the maps, determine where the ship was (in a wide ocean with nothing but water all around) and safely navigate the ocean blue. These pilots were NOT really Portuguese, but Basque! It turns out that the reason nobody else could read their maps was that they didn't write them in base 10, which was the numerical system the rest of Europe used (and we still use today), but instead used a base eight numerical system! I thought this interesting because the very first modern computer programmers used a base eight numerical system -- Octal. Which is still taught to engineering students in the colleges and universities, although now we use base sixteen -- hexadecimal, or Hex (which is rooted in octal).

3)   I am trying to chase down some threads, stories, and clues, which I have encountered. Perhaps some of these will not ever be resolved, and others will prove to be false. One thread that seems to hold a little promise is that the Mendez family originally came from the state (former principality) of Asturias in the extreme North-West corner of Spain, on the Atlantic ocean side, North of Portugal. Also, this web page (in Spanish) talks about the foundation of the town of San Sebastian, PR:

http://www.geocities.com/baudelaire1998/indexPepino.html and  http://www.geocities.com/baudelaire1998/pepino11.html

   A) My father tells the story of a famous Mendez, Don Jose Mendez, who had risen to the position of the treasurer of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. But then the royal pair forced Mr. Mendez to decide between his country and his wife. He had married a Jewish lady, and the Jews were pushed out of Spain in 1492. He opted for love and left Spain, but his reputation for being a fair and trustworthy man landed him the job of being the Grand Vizier for the Sultan of Turkey (The Ottoman Empire). The name of Mendez appears in some spots that talk about the Sephardim, or Spanish Jews. See the following links if you wish to inquire about the expulsion of Spanish Jews: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/jewish/1492-jews-spain1.html http://users.mo-net.com/mlindste/alhambra.html and http://www.sephardim.com/html/lore.html.

   B) Christian members of the Mendez family , which are related to the Visigoth royal family in the seventh and eighth century AD in northwestern Spain [Asturias and Galicia], started branches of this family in other provinces of Spain and in Portugal. At the time of the religious persecutions in the sixteenth century, many Jews converted to Catholicism by choice or under external pressures. These Jews adopted Christian names and Christian last names such as Lopez, Gomez, Rodriguez, Mendez and many, many others. The Jews who did not accept conversion were exiled from Spain but still adopted Christian names to protect themselves from discrimination. These Jews were known as Sephardic Jews and established themselves throughout all of Europe and other regions, particularly in America. They owned ships which traded goods between many ports in the USA [where they often located relatives] and the Spanish colonies or other islands in the Caribbean such as Aruba and Curacao. Meanwhile, Christian Mendez families also migrated to America, where they occupied positions in the military or in government assignments or simply bought farms and grew sugar cane, coffee, etc. I have found it very difficult to trace my family back for more than five generations because of damage occasioned to documents in fires and as a consequence of the devastation by hurricanes.

    C) The explorer and conquistador Hernando de Soto (1496 or 1500, Jerez de los Caballeros, Extremadura - 21 May 1542, probably on the Mississippi river, some distance downstream from Memphis, Tennessee) participated at the conquest of Panama, Nicaragua and - on the side of Francisco Pizarro - Peru. Later he led the largest expeditions of the 16th and 17th century into the southeast of today's USA. What does this have to do with Mendez? Well, his father was Francisco Mendez de Soto.

From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/hernandodesoto.htm

As for Soto's family, we know little more than the names of his parents and siblings, and the genealogy of the House of Soto. The bloodline was founded by a certain Mendez Sorred, a Burgos squire and captain under Alfonso IV, king of Leon in the early tenth century, about whom nothing more is known. Undoubtedly he gained the rank of hidalgo by performing some signal service for the Crown, perhaps during a raid or battle against the Moors, or some other enemy.

 

        D) Hola. Me llamo Javier y nací en Barcelona. Mi abuela se llamaba Rosa Méndez y nació en Murcia. Hará unos 90 años que llegó a Barcelona, pero ya falleció. No puedo recordarlo con exactitud, pero hará unos 5 años que consulté un libro de heráldica en la biblioteca de la Facultad de Filolgía de Barcelona. No recuerdo el nombre o si fue exactamente ahí. Lo que sí recuerdo con claridad es que decía que Méndez eran los descendientes del Rey visigodo Égica. Égica reinó en Hispania del 687 al 702. Lo siento, pero esos son los únicos datos que puedo aportar.

    E) MENDEZ Last name of great antiquity and origin of the north of Spain. Their older houses are located in: Vigo, Cangas de Tineo, Gijón, Sanabria, from which the one of Alcobendas comes, Santo Domingo de la Calzada and in Higera la Real. The one of Alava connected with the Mendoza, native Castilian lineage of Llodio. Pedro de Mendez, was in the foundation of Buenos Aires. Don Casto Mendez Nuñez, exempted sailor who in the war with Peru and Chile, directed the battles of Abtao and El Callao. Of him is the phrase "Its worth more, honors without boats than boats without honors". Juán Mendez, temporary president of Mexico; Santiago Mendez, Spanish military man hero in the war of Independence. Arms: 1º and 4º in gules with castle of silver, shortened in its left-hand side by a lion in its color. 2º and 3º in gold field a lily flower blue.

    F) http://www1.minn.net/~keithp/v4.htm
The Fourth Voyage of Columbus

If any of Columbus's voyages deserves to be made into a movie, this is the one.

On May 11, 1502, four old ships and 140 men under Columbus's command put to sea from the port of Cadiz. Among those in the fleet were Columbus's brother Bartholomew, and Columbus's younger son Fernando, then just thirteen years old. At age fifty-one, Columbus was old, sick, and no longer welcome in his old home base of Hispaniola. But the Admiral felt he had one more voyage left in him. The nominal purpose of the trip was to find a strait linking the Indies (which Columbus still thought to be part of Asia) with the Indian Ocean. This strait was known to exist, since Marco Polo had traversed it on his way back from China. In effect, Columbus was looking for the Strait of Malacca (which is really near Singapore) in Central America.

Columbus arrived at Santo Domingo on June 29, 1502, and requested that he be allowed to enter the harbor to shelter from a storm that he saw coming. He also advised the treasure fleet assembling in the harbor to stay put until the storm had passed. His request was treated with contempt by Nicolas de Ovando, the local governor, who denied Columbus the port and sent the treasure fleet on its way. Columbus found shelter for his ships in a nearby estuary. When the hurricane hit, the treasure fleet was caught at sea, and twenty ships were sunk. Nine others limped back into Santo Domingo, and only one made it safely to Spain. Columbus's four ships all survived the storm with moderate damage. Columbus arrived at the coast of Honduras at the end of July, and spent the next two months working down the coast, beset by more storms and headwinds.
When they arrived at present-day Panama, they found two important things. First, they learned from the natives that there was another ocean just a few days march to the south. This convinced Columbus that he was near enough the strait that he had proved his point. But more importantly, the natives had many gold objects that the Spaniards traded for. This made the region, which Columbus named Veragua, very valuable. After coasting east along Panama until the area rich in gold petered out, Columbus tried to return to Veragua but was again beset by storms and contrary winds.
Finally, Columbus returned to the mouth of the Rio Belen (western Panama) on January 9, 1503, and made it his headquarters for exploration, building a garrison fort there. As he was preparing to return to Spain, he took three of his ships out of the river, leaving one with the garrison. The next day, April 6, the river lowered so much that the remaining ship was trapped in the river by a sandbar across the river mouth. At this moment, a large force of Indians attacked the garrison.

The Spanish managed to hold off the attack, but lost a number of men and realized that the garrison could not be held for long. Columbus abandoned the ship in the river, and rescued the remaining members of the garrison. The three ships, now badly leaking from shipworm, sailed for home on April 16.

One of the remaining ships had to be abandoned almost immediately because it was no longer seaworthy, and the remaining two crawled slowly upwind in a game effort to make it to Hispaniola. They didn't make it. Off the coast of Cuba, they were hit by yet another storm, the last of the ship's boats was lost, and one of the caravels was so badly damaged that she had to be taken in tow by the flagship. Both ships were leaking very badly now, and water continued to rise in the hold in spite of constant pumping by the crew. Finally, able to keep them afloat no longer, Columbus beached the sinking ships in St. Anne's Bay, Jamaica, on June 25, 1503. Since there was no Spanish colony on Jamaica, they were marooned.

Diego Mendez, one of Columbus's captains, bought a canoe from a local chief and sailed it to Hispaniola. He was promptly detained by governor Ovando outside the city for the next seven months, and was refused use of a caravel to rescue the expedition. Meanwhile, half of those left on Jamaica staged a mutiny against Columbus, which he eventually put down. When Ovando finally allowed Mendez into Santo Domingo, there were no ships available for the rescue. Finally, Mendez was able to charter a small caravel, which arrived at Jamaica on June 29, 1504, and rescued the expedition. Columbus returned home to Spain on November 7, 1504, his last voyage complete.

Thought you may want to know that the name Mendez does first appear with Columbus in Puerto Rico.

   G)    Item -- I order that my executors purchase a large stone, the best 
          that they can find, and place it upon my grave, and that they write 
          round the edge of it these words : -- "Here lies the honorable 
          Chevalier Diego Mendez, who rendered great services to the royal crown 
          of Spain, in the discovery and conquest of the Indies, in company with 
          the discoverer of them, the Admiral Don Christopher Columbus, of 
          glorious memory, and afterwards rendered other great services by 
          himself, with his own ships, and at his own cost. He died. . . . He 
          asks of your charity a Paternoster and an Ave Maria." 
          Item -- In the middle of the said stone let there be the 
          representation of a canoe, which is a hollowed tree, such as the 
          Indians use for navigation ; for in such a vessel did I cross three 
          hundred leagues of sea ; and let them engrave above it this word : 
          "CANOA."
              From the will of Diego Mendez,
              drawn up June 19th, 1536. 

    H) Definition: A patronymic surname meaning "son or descendant of Mendel or Mendo," given names meaning knowledge, wisdom. Its beginnings have been traced back primarily to the village of Celanova, Spain, according to the Instituto Genealogico e Historico Latino-Americano. Surname Origin: Spanish Alternate Surname Spellings: MENDES, MENENDEZ, MENENDES, MENDEZ, MENDES.