The family has grown by leaps and bounds.  
Relatives can be found on St. Croix, Puerto Rico,
Vieques, California, New York City, Utah, Colorado,
Florida, Texas and a few other places.

The Torrens-Nieves family has added new surnames
like Rodriguez, Lanzot, Roebuck, Amico, Morales,
Rivera, Davis, Sobers, Santos, D'Abreu, Garcia,
Belardo, Heredia, Clarke, Ledesma, Gonzalez, Elliott,
Potts, Ubiles, Gomez, Matheson, Diaz, Feliciano,
Fredericks, Melendez, Piazza, Asaro, Chistoni,
Bermudez, Bryce, Jenkins, and many, many more.  
The family tree keeps getting bigger and bigger!

Many relatives may not have met Mama Lola and/or
Papa Leo.  Others may have been too young to
remember them.

Papa was a tyrant, but could be kind and loving at times.  
Mama was always kind, gentle and caring - an Angel!
Leoncio Nieves-Figueroa and Dolores
Torrens-Carrillo, better known as
Papa Leo and Mama Lola.

They were born in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.  
My records show Papa was born
8/15/1886 and died 4/21/1968.   Mama
was born in 1884 and died in 1973.  
They lived on Vieques  & St. Croix.
In these pages, I will tell you about my family, St. Croix and
my many trips in words and photos.   I will post pictures
of the past and try to explain them the best I can.  Since
some of the photos are "old", I may not remember who is in
the photo or where it was taken.   Feel free to contact me
with corrections, suggestions, etc.     I would like this to be
OUR site.


The dates I show above as my grandparents' birth I took off their graves during one of my
trips to Vieques.  However, I was told that Mama Lola was born February 18, 1884 and she
died September 27,  1973.   The years of birth are questionable based on a 1920 census.  
I will keep what I have.

My grandparents' children are - Eleuterio (Tio Teyo, b. 1909, d. 1981), Guillermina (Titi Guilla,
b. 1913, d. 1997), Tomas (b. 1915, d. 1982), Juana (b. 1916, d. 2011), Francisca (Titi Paca,
b. 1919, d. 2008), Carmen (Ma, b. 1922, d. 2010), Ramona (Titi Moncha, b. 1924, d. 1991),
Catalina (b. 1926, d. 2004), Maria Cristina (Titi Mery, b. 1928), and Felicita (Titi Kiki or Titi Feli,
b. 1932, d. 2008).     The dates may not be that accurate.  Though it is said Mama Lola kept a
record of when her children were born, when it was time to register their birth Papa Leo got
it all wrong.  Names were also changed.   My cousin Claidy corrected Titi Moncha's name to
Maria Dolores though a birth certificate that was shown to me clearly shows her name as
Ramona.   Ma appears with her name as Carmela and an October date of birth.   Both appear
to be incorrect!

My mother, Carmen Torrens-Nieves, was born on Vieques.  She married Francisco
Monell-Rodriguez, Sr.   They had 6 children, Carmen (Min, born 1941), Gloria (Glory, Glo,
b. 1942), Lillian (Lee, b. 1945), Maria (Mary, Mery, b. 1946), Francisco, Jr. (Paco/Paquito, b. 1948)
and myself (Jorge, George, b. 1951).   After Pa died (some time in 1950), Ma moved to St. Croix
and there had Nilsa (b. 1952)  with Mr. Johnny Belardo.   Nilsa and I were born on St. Croix,
everyone else was born on  Vieques (Crab Island, La Isla Nena).

I was born in Estate Coble, St. Croix.  I was told I was born in my aunt's (Guillermina Nieves,
Titi Guilla) home.  I lived there for a few years before I moved to Frederiksted with the rest
of the family.  If it were up to Titi Guilla (my godmother/madrina), I would have lived with her
until I graduated from high school!

I remember living on Queen Cross St. and Harrigan Court.  However, I have been told we lived
on Prince Street, in what Ma refers to as Mr. Henry's place.   In those days, small houses
were subdivided into tiny apartments.  How the family managed to live in those small quarters
is beyond me.  The house we lived in on Queen Cross Street consisted of a bedroom and a
living room/dining room.   The back porch of the house was a kitchen.  In the yard was a
cistern, a shower, and an out house (una letrina, a latrine).  There was NO indoor plumbing
back then!   The stories I can tell you about the experiences using a latrine!!  To bake goods,
Ma had to make a "fogon" (fire).  There would be "leña" (coal) lit on the bottom of a heavy metal
pot, which would be covered and more coals would be placed on top.  The johnny cakes that
came out of the pot were out of this world.  Who needed a gas oven?  

In Frederiksted, we attended St. Patrick's School (parochial) or Claude O'Markoe School
(public).  Eventually high schools were built apart from the grammar schools.  St. Joseph's
became our high school, while Central High became the public high school.  We had to be
bused to school.   No problems on St. Croix with busing like on the Continental U.S.  

When I was growing up on St. Croix the island was about 80 to 90 percent Black.   Puerto
Ricans began moving to the island shortly after 1917, the year the Danish sold the islands to
the United States for $25 million dollars.  Strangely enough, the U.S. was mostly interested
in St. Thomas due to its strategic location.   It appears the Danes needed to sell the 3 islands,
St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John so the US had to buy the package.  Many Danish families
moved to Denmark after 1917.  Those born in the USVI are automatically American citizens.  
Many Puerto Ricans had businesses while others worked at the sugar cane factory in
Bethlehem.  Titi Guilla cooked and did laundry for many of the men who worked in
Bethlehem and lived/worked in and around Estate Coble.  I can still remember the aroma
of coffee that permeated the house every morning.

Eventually the sugar cane industry became extinct.    Later an oil refinery came to the island.

St. Croix has two main towns, Frederiksted in the west and Christiansted in the east.  
Christiansted was once the capital of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI).  Now it's
St. Thomas.   It is said that the easternmost part of the U.S.A is Point Udall, which is the
tip of St. Croix.
Dedicated To My Grandparents
The Torrens-Nieves Family

NOTE:  All photos posted with the watermark "Property of Jorge L. Rodríguez
© Cru-Riqueño Photos, 2006" are owned by me.  These photos should NOT be copied/printed
without permission.    You can contact me if you would like a copy of any photo minus the watermarks.  
If you have photos you would like me to post, please send to me.  Thanks.
Updated 03/16/14
Written by Jorge L. Rodríguez  © Cru-Riqueño Productions, 2006
Written by Jorge L. Rodríguez  © Cru-Riqueño Productions, 2006
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This Site Was Created February 10, 2006