Researching the Dominguez Family (Part 1)

In planning a trip to Spain for next year, I thought it would be fun to research where in the country my family, the Dominguez family, is from. Turns out, it’s a tall order! While census records from San Francisco in 1920, 1930, and 1940 were very enlightening, I have not been able to find any written documents pinpointing an exact city where my great-grandfather Benito Dominguez and his relatives may have lived prior to coming to the United States.

Family lore has always said Benito immigrated from the Cadiz province in the Andalusia region of Spain, but I have not been able to find any supporting documentation. He was born in Spain about 1885-1886 (that much, census records can confirm), and he came to Honolulu, Hawaii, in about 1910, when sugar cane plantation workers were coming from Spain and Portugal en mass.

In about 1908, he married his first wife, Rita Borrego, and they had several children over the years:

  • son Benito Dominguez Jr. was born about 1911-1912 in Hawaii
  • daughter Theresa Dominguez was born about 1912-1913 in Hawaii
  • daughter Mary Dominguez was born about 1917-1918 in Hawaii
  • daughter Antonette Dominguez was born about 1918-1919 in California
  • I also found a death record index on for a Jose Dominguez, son of a Rita Berreio and a Benito Domingnez, in 1917. He was 2.

They eventually moved to San Francisco, which is where Antonette would have been born and where Rita died. Following his wife’s death, Benito remarried fairly quickly to my great-grandmother Mary Menacho. He would have been about 34 and she would have been 15, so times were different to say the least! According to census records, she was born in about 1904 and also immigrated to Hawaii in 1910. My grandmother Carmen says Mary was from the same area in Spain as my great-grandfather.

They had 10 children:

  • son John Dominguez was born about 1920 in California
  • son Tony Dominguez was born about 1924 in California
  • daughter Francis was born about 1925 in California
  • son James Dominguez was born about 1926 in California
  • son Frank Dominguez was born about 1927 in California
  • son August (sometimes recorded Gustave, but he went by Gus) was born about 1928 in California
  • son Vincent was born about 1929 in California
  • son Fred was born about 1931-1932 in California
  • daughter Carmen was born on October 10, 1932 in California
  • daughter Justine “Josie” was born about 1935-1936 in California

In the 1920 Census, Benito Sr. was listed as working as a fruit picker in an orchard and his wife Rita was a laborer in a junk shop in San Francisco. They lived on 152 Langton Street in San Francisco.

In the 1930 Census, Benito was listed as a bottle washer who worked at a dairy company and Benito Jr. was listed as a butcher. Theresa worked as a laborer. They lived on 53 Chesley Street in San Francisco, which is in the same neighborhood as Langton Street, and paid $20 a month rent.

In the 1940 Census, Mary was now the head of house and no occupations were listed as the eldest child at home was Francis, who was 15 years old. They lived at 2442 24th Street in San Francisco, where they paid $25 rent per month.

Also in the 1940 Census, a 14-year-old James Dominguez was listed as living with his grandmother, also named Mary Menacho, in Santa Clara. She was 65. He, his uncles Fred, Tony, Johnnie and Philip, and his cousin Johnnie Mendez worked as laborers. Fred worked at a wholesale packing house, Tony and Johnnie worked at a wholesale canning facility, and the young cousins worked with wholesale dried fruit. Together, they paid $12.50 rent per month for a place on Bellomy Street. Most of them had education up to either 7th or 8th grade, except James, who stopped school in 4th grade.

Also in the 1940 Census, Benito Jr. was listed as living with his wife and daughter at his in-laws’ place at 1200 27th Avenue. Joseph Bradway was the head of the house, his wife’s name was Lucy and their son’s name was George. Benito Jr.’s wife, Marian, was 22 and he was 28 and the owner of his own butcher shop. Their daughter Francine was just 3 years old. The families paid $57.50 per month for rent.

If anyone has some exact birth dates or additional details, I would love to know them. Of course I’ve met many of these people over the years, but as a child, I didn’t think to ask anyone when they were born, let alone make note of it.

1930s Photo of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas

Candelaria and Mariano Vargas in 1930. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos were born in Mexico and came to the United States after their children had immigrated and become established (family lore says that Candelaria insisted on moving after the birth of her first grandchild, George Gullicksen).

I wrote about them before, after seeing a great portrait of them hanging on the wall at Cousin Rose’s house. This photograph is from Rose’s sister, Cousin Carmen, from when we had a get-together ancestry day and swapped stories and photographs.

Candelaria was born in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico in about 1869 and she died of uterine cancer in San Jose, California, on August 19, 1930.

Mariano was also born in Ameca in November, 1870. When they lived in Mexico, he was a door-to-door salesman and also sold goods out of a small shop on the side of their home. He died during surgery for a bladder infection in Mexico City, D.F. on February 14, 1931.

They would have been married before their first child, Atenogenes, was born in 1901; although, I do not have an exact date. They had nine children over a span of 19 years: Atenojenes (1901), Carmen (1906), Genoveba (1907), Guadalupe (1909), Consuelo (1912), Nieves aka Nancy (1914), Luz aka Lucy (1918), Alfonso (1919), and Luis (1920).

Portraits of Consuelo Vargas Marin

Consuelo Vargas Marin

Consuelo Vargas Marin’s wedding portrait. (Photo courtesy of Cousin Carmen Vargas)

Consuelo “Chelo” Vargas Marin was married twice and lived and loved fully all her life. I remember going to her home in the Mission District in San Francisco for a party — I think it was for Thanksgiving — when I was a teenager. She was in her 90s at the time and her sisters Nancy and Lucy were helping host. They were all dolled up with their wigs, and I think it was Lucy who was wearing a leopard print shirt with tight black leggings. Some of their conversation was in Spanish as one of them carried a platter of tamales to the table, but I also remember them talking in English about going dancing and their “boyfriends.”

Consuelo was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, on March 11, 1912. She immigrated to the United States with some of her sisters in 1925 and they worked in the canneries in San Francisco. She and her sisters would frequently walked in the Mission District.

She was listed as single in the 1930 census, so she would have married Clemente Cruz (photo above) sometime after that; although, I don’t have an exact date. Her second marriage was to James Jones. I’ll try to add more information here when I find it, but I’m lacking dates and locations at the moment. If anyone has additional details or memories to share in the comments, I would love to know more.

It was noted in her obituary that, “She was always known for her good cooking skills in the kitchen; no one ever left her home hungry. Although Chelo never had any children of her own, she has been a mother figure for many in her large family. She stepped in when tragedy struck, providing a loving home to children whose mother had been lost.”

She died January 21, 2005.

Consuelo "Chelo" Vargas Marin

Consuelo “Chelo” Vargas Marin. (Photo courtesy Cousin Carmen Vargas.)

Portrait of Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas (Photo courtesy of Carmen Vargas)

My great grandmother, Carmen Vargas Marin, immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s. She was born to Mariano Vargas Ramos and Candelaria Marin Hernandez on July 4, 1906, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico.

She entered the U.S. through Laredo, Texas, in 1925, and married Pvt. Otto Gullickson in Harris County, Texas in 1926. By 1927, they were living in San Francisco, where their first son George Gullicksen was born.

In all, she bore four children: George, Lillian Gullicksen (1929), Carmel Gullicksen (1934), and Charles Hubert Gullicksen (1940).

She was noted in the 1930 census as living at 88B Chenery Street in San Francisco, where they paid $25 rent and lived with George and Lillian. It was also noted that she spoke Spanish in the home.

My mother remembers her as a very nice woman who would usually dye her hair a dark red. Once, something went wrong with the dyeing process and it was instead colored a bright fuchsia ahead of a family gathering.

Carmen passed away on October 30, 1984, in Santa Clara.

Note: The photo above was given to me by Cousin Carmen, also named Carmen Vargas. She is the daughter of my great uncle, Atenojenes Vargas Marin. (Thanks, Carmen!)


Photo contributed by A.M. "Toon" Blokand.

Bio: Klaas Siersema

I recently got a message from my uncle asking what I might know about Klaas Siersema, my great-grandfather. Well, the truth is I know a lot, I’ve been remiss in writing down all in one place, and I would love to know more. So, here goes. If anyone has additional information about Klaas Siersema, please let me know in the comments!

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Uncle Mike!

Klaas Siersema.

Klaas Siersema.

Klaas Nicholas Siersema was born on September 15, 1895, in Groningen, Netherlands, to Arentje Vermaas and Gerrit Siersema.

Klaas was the youngest of three siblings. He had two older sisters, Helena Elisabeth “Leentje” Siersema and Elisabeth Helena “Bets” Siersema. Leentje eventually died of starvation during World War II and Bets was rumored to be a medium who could speak to the dead much like her grandfather.

Arentje left Gerrit, who was supposed to be a terrible drunk, taking their children with her when they were still young. She later worked in a shop, but it was likely she went to stay with relatives and did not wholly support herself and her children. It’s possible she stayed with Jacoba Antoinetta van Eijsden in Brielle (I like this theory because in 1909 when Jacoba died, she left half her house and courtyard to Arentje). Jacoba also left Klaas 50 gilders, according to the record Cousin Anje found online.

Mystery Photo No. 3. (Courtesy Philip Siersema)

Family Photo. (Courtesy Philip Siersema)

Klaas would go on to become a career military man. He had joined the Royal Netherlands military by the age of 20, and I believe he was a Vaandrig (officer cadet) when photographed with fellow soldiers in Kampen in 1915.

He was promoted to Tweede-Luitenant (second lieutenant) on September 25, 1917, by the Ministry of War–although this was during WWI, the Netherlands was neutral in the war.

After what was in part a long-distance courtship, Klaas married Helena Frederika de Wit at the Netherlands Reformed Church in Hertogenbosch, where her father was a highly respected member of the congregation. According to their calling cards, Klaas and Helena both lived in Hertogenbosch prior to their nuptials. At 27 years old, Klaas was listed on their wedding certificate as a First Lieutenant of the Infantry. They wed on August 28th, 1923, and he was eight years her senior.

Wedding portrait of Klaas Siersema and Helena "Lenie" Frederika de Wit.

Wedding portrait of Klaas Siersema and Helena “Lenie” Frederika de Wit.

Their first son, Johan Nico “Hans” Siersema, was born in Venlo a little more than a year later on October 9, 1924.

Antony Dirk “Tonny” Siersema, their second son, was born on November 15, 1927.

The death of Tonny on August 1, 1929 precipitated Klaas and Helena’s eventual divorce in that it brought the family doctor deeper into their lives. Helena would go on to have a committed relationship with the doctor for about 50 years.

Klaas remarried to Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, whom he remained married to until his death.

Klaas and Wilhelmina van Erp's wedding portrait.

Klaas and Wilhelmina van Erp’s wedding portrait.

Together, they supported Je Maintiendrai, one of the most prominent underground newspapers in the Netherlands during WWII.

By March, 1938, Klaas had achieved the rank of Kapitein (captain) of 2e Compagnie II Bataljon in the 6e Regiment Infanterie, according to a newspaper clipping. He was photographed with fellow military personnel on July 15 with three stars pinned on either side of his collar.

In 1942, Klaas was captured by the Nazis as a prisoner of war. He was held at Oflag XIII-B, a prisoner of war camp for officers that was at the time in Hammelburg, Germany. There or sometime after, I believe he drew this sketch. He also wrote letters to his wife.

Following his release, his son Hans also escaped from a POW camp. According to one family story, when Hans returned home, Klaas saw the car pull up outside and immediately went into his backyard to hide in the bushes. He thought the Nazis had returned for him, but it was only his son returning home.

Klaas is said to have done important work at the Militair Revalidatie Centrum Aardenburg, where as Director of the institute he helped pioneer new methods of treatment for shell-shock soldiers. According to my step-grandmother, those suffering from what we now call PTSD could live on the grounds with their families, which was unheard of at the time. The hospital does cutting edge medical work to this day. Klaas was succeeded in his position at the MRC by Lcol. Th.A.J. van Erp, according to A.M. “Toon” Blokand.

In 1952, Klaas was named an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau, which honors selective individuals for their contributions to society through either civilian or military efforts.


Klaas died of a heart attack while reading “Mein Kampf” at the age of 60 in Doorn on October 14, 1955. I’m not sure if that phrase means he was literally reading it, but that’s how I’ve heard it referenced. My mom still has the book with  his bookmark in it.

Click on the photos below to enlarge them.

Click here to see the images Klaas kept in his pocket photo book.

Portrait of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas.

Portrait of Candelaria Marin Hernandez & Mariano Vargas Ramos

Portrait of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and  Mariano Vargas.

Portrait of Candelaria Marin Hernandez and Mariano Vargas Ramos.

I was very excited to see this portrait on the wall of my cousin’s house at her holiday party last night. Cousin Rose each year hosts a Christmas party and this is the first time in recent memory that I have been able to attend.

At first, I wasn’t sure how old the portrait was and if the man pictured was Rose’s father, Atenojenes Vargas Marin, or his father Mariano Vargas Ramos. Cousin Rose, though, confirmed the man and woman were her grandparents, not her parents, making this image a rare one, in my opinion.

Candelaria Marin Hernandez was born in about 1869 to Miguel Marin and Rosa Hernandez Lopez in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico. She had three siblings I know of: Maria, Jose, and Luis. And she had nine children: Atenojenes (1901), Carmen (1906), Genoveba (1907), Guadalupe (1909), Consuelo (1912), Nieves aka Nancy (1914), Luz aka Lucy (1918), Alfonso (1919), and Luis (1920).

Candelaria was married to Mariano Vargas Ramos, who was born to Francisco Vargas and Maria Aniceta de Jesus Ramos Villanueva in October of 1870, also in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico. He was baptized the following month.


“In the parish church of Ameca, on the 4th of November 1870, I the Rev. Don Bernardino E. Topete, solemnly baptize: Mariano, 20 days old, born in this city; natural son of Francisco Vargas and Aniceta Ramos; and grandson by paternal line of Jose Maria Vargas and Lugarda Ramos; and by maternal line of Jose Maria Ramos and Victoria Villanueva. And his godparents were Prisiliano Villanueva and Marcelina Castillo, who were advised of their obligation and spiritual relationship.

Miguel Ygnacio Yzquierdo

Bernardino C Topete”

Part of why Rose has kept this photo

Cousin Rose also had a story about the photo. Rose and cousin Consuelo were very close. When Consuelo was on her death bed a few years back and Rose was taking care of her, Consuelo would ask for her parents. With few options, Rose would show her this portrait and it seemed to bring Consuelo comfort.

PHOTO: Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

Gullicksen siblings in the 1950s

This is a photo my grandmother Carmen Gullicksen (n. Dominguez) showed me last year when I went to Missouri to meet her for the first time. It makes me smile just looking at it. I’m guessing it’s from Halloween from the late 1950s. From left, Christina Gullicksen, Otto Gullicksen, and my dad, Steven Gullicksen.

PHOTO: The daily life of Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp

Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp warm themselves near the stove.

Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp warm themselves near the stove.

This photo is a little scarred, but I like how it shows a glimpse into the daily life of Klaas Siersema and Maria Wilhelmina van Erp, or Oma Doorn as I’ve always known her to be called. My mom’s side of the family has always liked dogs (we treat them like kings), and this image fits with that trend. It must have been a cold day, since Klaas and Wilhelmina are situated around a stove. Also, notice the kettle heading on the stove and Maria reading a book — a simpler time!

Photo: The Vargas sisters


Vargas sisters family photo. (Courtesy Carmen Gullickson)

Vargas sisters family photo. (Courtesy Carmen Gullickson)

This is a photo of a picture my grandmother had of my great-grandmother Carmen Vargas Marin and her sisters. From the top, left to right, Consuelo Vargas Marin [1912-2005], Nieves “Nancy” Vargas Marin [1914-?], Lucy Vargas Marin [unknown], and Carmen Vargas Marin [1906-1984].

There were originally six Vargas sisters, but two of them died in their late teens. All of them were born in Mexico and worked in the canneries in San Francisco after the family emigrated, according to my uncle Art.

Here is another photo from the same day, which Cousin Carmen gave me:

Vargas Sisters

Vargas Sisters