Wednesday, June 3, 2015


with his wife, Juana Pérez San Nicolás

Although I cannot be totally certain of this, I would be willing to wager that I came across the whaling contract of one of Guam's first Chamorro Protestants and patriarch of the large Kueto clan : José Mendiola Taitano. I believe the facts of the contract fit together with other facts about Jose that we know from other sources and family tradition.

First, the dates fit. Family tradition says José was born around 1839 or 1840. The contract says this José was 19 years old in January of 1856, so therefore born around 1836 - pretty close to 1839. Keep in mind that in those days people were very casual about dates, because they didn't have the same culture as we do today with our driver's licenses, birth certificates and other forms of ID readily available. People didn't have much in the way of paper IDs and little need for providing their date of birth. It is very documented that people gave different years for their date of birth, depending on their all-too-vague memory of what they were told.

Second, it is well-known that José left Guam as a young man as a whaler. That's how he got to see the world and be exposed to Protestantism, which he adopted in his heart, though he could not openly practice it when he returned to Guam many years later. He even had his first children baptized Catholic and married Juana, his wife, in the Catholic Church.

Third, the 1758 Census identifies a Francisco Taitano married to a Songsong (or Manongsong). They were from Aniguak, the same barrio that the  José in this contract comes from. That fits in nicely also with the fact that the more "pure" blooded Chamorros (Taitano is a Chamorro, not Spanish, surname) lived in the surrounding barrios (Aniguak, Mongmong, Sinajaña, etc.) while the more mixed race lived in Hagåtña proper.

But the document also provides us with one detail I had never heard of before (if this is truly Josen Kueto's contract) and that is that José was orphaned of both father and mother by the time he was 19 years old.

According to the contract, one José Taitano, aged 19 years, orphaned of both parents, a resident of Aniguak, agreed to serve on the American whaling ship Philip I under Captain Benjamin H. Sisson in January of 1856, for a period of one year, when Sisson was supposed to return José to Guam.

Two other Chamorro lads joined Sisson's crew at the same time : Juan de la Cruz and José Manibusan.


According to family tradition, the Kueto clan goes back to a male ancestor named Ukudu Da'gua.

His son was Francisco Taitano, born around 1712. Francisco was from Aniguak and married Maria Songsong or Manongsong.

His son was José Taitano, born around 1750.

His son was Francisco Taitano, born around 1795 and married to Josefa Mendiola.

Francisco and Josefa's son was José, who could very well be the subject of this whaler contract.

Josen Kueto's signature???

1 comment:

  1. Here's a link to an issue of the Guam Recorder.

    The article titled, Luckier Than Ben Franklin: Guam's Schoolboys in 1727,
    listed students of the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán with birthdates and hometowns. Francisco Taitano was one of the school's attendees.