Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Two guys, possibly brothers, had $1,116 in an account on Guam in 1864.  They were suspected to be living in Hawaii, though, at the time, and I suspect the Spanish government on Guam asked Mr. Wyllie, the Hawaiian Foreign Affairs Minister, to get in contact with the two.

We have no idea who they were and why they had that amount of money stashed at the government treasury on Guam.

They had Spanish first names, Jose and Doroteo (misspelled Dorateo in the notice).

But their last name, Baranas, is a mystery.

Baranas is not a known Spanish surname.  Perhaps it was also misspelled?

The name doesn't appear, as far as we know, in any Guam document.

Is it Filipino? There is a place called Barana in the Philippines. There may be some people with that last name.

Baranas doesn't sound Chamorro.


It's just a hunch, but try, if you will, to have the ears of a 19th century American or British clerk (they were often the clerks in Hawaii at the time), trying to spell the unfamiliar name Barcinas.  Remember, these guys are not well-acquainted with Spanish, or Chamorro, sounds. Chances are some Chamorros couldn't even spell their own names, and clerks often didn't even ask you to spell it. The clerk decided how to spell it.

We know, for example, that, in the Hawaiian records, there was a man identified as a native of Guam living in Hawaii since the 1860s. In the Hawaiian records, he is named Jose Bassinus. BAH - SEEN - US. And, one of the 2 Baranas guys in the notice is Jose.

Sounds very suspiciously close to Barcinas. Look at the way our younger, Americanized Chamorros try to spell Chamorro....using their Americanized ears. Månnge' become mungy to some of them.

Here's another reason why I suspect Baranas could really be Barcinas. Remember that initial documents were done by hand, not printed, as in a newspaper. In the penmanship they had in those days, Barcinas would have been written something like the above. You can see how someone unfamiliar with the name Barcinas, depending on just how clear or unclear the writer was, with the C and I close together, could think it was an A. Did the typesetter or newspaper clerk look at something handwritten and misread it? It looks very suspicious to me.

So I wouldn't be surprised is Baranas was some guy's spelling of Barcinas. But all I am willing to say is it's one possibility among many.

One clue : there were, in fact, two brothers named Jose and Doroteo Barcinas. And they seem to have been away from Guam in the 1860s, the time of this notice.

In the end, we have to just admit it's a mystery who they were.

I wonder if they ever did get a hold of their money.  In today's values, their stash was worth around $15,000.

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