Monday, November 8, 2010

To Find Family in Mexico, Know the Person's Name

A little while ago, a young woman emailed me asking for help to find her birth father in Mexico. Sometimes, for whatever reason, family members aren't too helpful when someone wants to find a birth parent. These people often come to us for help to ensure that they have good quality information such as the correct spelling of names of the relative they want to find.

In this young girl's case, she provided us with what appeared at first glance to be a complete name for her birth father. One of the last names was spelled "Tintos." We work with several databases that have the origins of Spanish names from Spain to Chile. Tintos did not appear anywhere.

This doesn't mean that it's not possible that Tintos is incorrect. But my experience has been that if a name doesn't show up in these databases of Spanish names, there's a good chance that the name is misspelled. We wrote back to the young girl and asked her to check her source to verify the spelling of this unique surname.

When we got her reply, she also made an interesting comment that I want to share with you. For privacy reasons, I'm changing the name a little, but she wrote that Juan was the first name and that Escarra was the middle name and that Tintos was the last name.

Here are a couple of important points. First when we got back her response, she had changed the order of the names. Originally, she had written us for help to find Juan Tintos Escarra. Now she wrote that she wanted help to find Juan Escarra Tintos. She also thought Escarra was a middle name.

As I've written in past blogs, very few Mexicans have middle names. Many Mexicans, especially women, have two or more first names such as Maria del Carmen or Juan Carlos. Some may choose not to use their first names so Maria Guadalupe may be known to her friends as just Guadalupe or even Lupe. On the other hand, I have a good friend named Juan Carlos who always goes by both names.

Escarra is not a first name. It's a last name also called a surname or apellido in Spanish. If the name order that the young girl wrote in her last email is correct, Escarra is the last name (apellido) of the father of her birth father and Tintos is the last name (surname) of his mother.

It's very important when you are looking for family in Mexico that you know the person's complete name and the correct order of the surnames. It makes a huge difference if you are doing Mexico genealogy or trying to find a relative whether you are looking for a person with the surnames Escarra Tintos compared to Tintos Escarra. If you get the order incorrect (and this happens more often than you may imagine), you could spend years searching a family tree that has nothing to do with the person you want to find.

If you are unsure of your information, have an expert check it. We can usually spot issues in seconds, save you years of wasted time, and put you on the right path so you can find family in Mexico.


Richard Villasana
Richard Villasana

Richard Villasana
The Mexico Guru
Find Relatives In Mexico

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