Voces del otro lado/ voices from the other side…

Today we start a series of occasional posts portraying Spaniards who have things to teach us about the diaspora of Spanish emigrants in the US.

“I’m Angel Briongos, 34 years old. Born in Madrid, raised in the Vallecas neighborhood; I now live just outside Madrid, in Alameda de Osuna. For the last four years I’ve devoted all of my free time to follow the faint traces of the American adventure of my great-great grandfather, Apolinar Rica. Apolinar was born in Peñalba de Castro (Burgos) in 1877 and he emigrated to the US in 1913. After finding the document recording his entry through Ellis Island (NY), I followed that thread, and was able to retrace his journey across the US, from the hotel in Manhattan where he spent his first nights, to the house he lived in in Niagara Falls, and including his stint in the ghost town of Van Houten, New Mexico, which had once been a prosperous mining town, and the time he spent at the railway depot of a town called Brown Station, which now is submerged at the bottom of the vast reservoir created by flooding a valley in the Catskills. Though I’m satisfied at having rescued from oblivion his far-away adventures and those of his son, my greatgrandfather Angel, I still have many unanswered questions: What made them emigrate in the first place? And why did they return to Spain?”

“Soy Ángel Briongos, madrileño de 34 años. Nací y me crié en Vallecas y ahora vivo en la Alameda de Osuna. Desde hace 4 años he dedicado mis ratos libres a rastrear las tenues huellas de la aventura americana de mi tatarabuelo Apolinar Rica, que nació en Peñalba de Castro (Burgos) en 1876 y que emigró a EEUU en 1913. A raiz de hallar su registro de inmigración en la Isla de Ellis (NYC), fui tirando del hilo y siguiendo su rastro a través del país, desde el Hotel de Manhatan en el que pasó sus primeras noches, a la casa en la que vivió en Niagara Falls, pasando por el pueblo fantasma de Van Houten, otrora próspero núcleo minero de N. México, o por la aldea ferroviaria de Brown´s Station, actualmente sumergida bajo un pantano en los Catskills.
Satisfecho de haber rescatado del olvido sus aventuras y las de su hijo, mi bisabuelo Ángel, por tan lejanas tierras, aún me quedan incógnitas como qué le motivó a marchar o por qué se volvieron”