Thursday, July 20, 2017


José Díaz Wilson
(spelled Willson)

In the 1800s, there was a Wilson family in the Marianas.

James (in Spanish, Santiago) Wilson arrived in Guam around 1826, according to an 1831 document listing the names of foreigners living on the island.

Other records suggest that his full name was Robert James Wilson.

His main occupation, it seems, the whole time he lived on Guam was pilot at the port. This means he directed to shore the boats that would pick up passengers from the larger ships anchoring at Apra.

He seems to have married twice and had nine children, but we're not sure of all of their names, nor of the first wife's name.

But one of the older children seems to have been a María Wilson, born around 1827 and a 70-year-old widow by the time she is listed in the 1897 Census. Her deceased husband was Juan Díaz, who was dead already by 1866. In 1897 she is living with two grandchildren.

1866 document stating that María Wilson was the widow of Juan Díaz

There seems to have also been a Juana Wilson, deceased by the 1897 Census but the first wife of Francisco Pangelinan, aged 76 years, listed in the 1897 Census.

Juana Wilson and Francisco Pangelinan could be the parents of one José Wilson Pangelinan, born around 1878 who moved to Saipan. He married twice. His first wife was Dolores San Nicolás Sablan and his second wife was María Cabrera San Nicolás. He was better known as Jose'n Obo.

This Juana Wilson, married to a Francisco Pangelinan, might explain why there is also mention of a man named Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, He is absent from the 1897 Census but there does appear there a widow named Valeria de la Cruz, who had been married to a Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, dead by 1897.

We are more certain about James' children from his second wife, Rufina Palomo Díaz.

One was a daughter named Eduviges, who married Antonio Pangelinan Martínez. Many of their children married into socially prominent families. Antonia married into the Goyo clan (José Flores Pérez); Emilia married the American William Notley; Ana married Carl Bergquist; Josefa married Julián Pérez Sáiz; Joaquín married Rita Anderson Millinchamp; and Ángel married Emilia Roberto Kamminga.

Another daughter, María, married into the Siket family of Castros. Her husband was Ezequiel León Guerrero Castro. From the Chamorro pronunciation of Ezequiel (E - se - kiet) is derived the family nickname Siket.

Thus it seems that James had two daughters named María; one from the first wife and the other from the second wife.

James had one son whose name appears frequently in the old documents. His name was José, and he followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a pilot at the port. In those days, the boat carrying passengers from the ships would land at the pier in Piti, which was part of the village of Tepungan. José was civic head of Tepungan a few years, too.

Here is a reference to José Wilson and his son from an author who wrote about arriving at Apra harbor in 1895:

"About sunset on Christmas eve, we sight the high table lands of Guam....and finally drop anchor at Fort (San) Luis de Apra. As there was nothing to be gained by going on shore long after dark, we deferred our landing till next morning. About nine o'clock a boat comes off, manned by a crew of natives, under the command of the son of Joe Wilson, the pilot." (1)

It's interesting that the American author calls José by an American nickname - Joe. With all those British and American whalers visiting Guam in the 1800s, it wouldn't surprise me if José, half-white himself, was called Joe by the British and Americans.

José married Encarnación de San Nicolás and had some daughters and a son Antonio, but we cannot find descendants from Antonio and so the Wilson name eventually died out on Guam.

Guam Court documents show that José Wilson was called on at times to act as court interpreter in English and Spanish.

(1) Christian, FW. The Caroline Islands (1899)


  1. My father Thomas' 1st cousin Victorina Ada Manglona was married to Manuel San Nicolas Pangelinan, son of Jose Wilson Pangelinan & Maria Cabrera San Nicolas. Auntie Vicky had a daughter named Mary Anne who married Jesus Camacho Borja. Jesus was a CNMI Supreme Court Judge and a CNMI Lt. Governor. They have a daughter name Dora Pangelinan Borja who is a medial doctor.---Vernon Lee Inos Mangloña

  2. Angel and Emilia Roberto Kamminga. My parents bought property (between the Sinajana / Agana Heights border) from their son and daughter-in-law Tun Chalie and Tan Sofina Martinez. I remember Tan Emilia, she had golden hair from her Dutch lineage and her brother Tun Frank Kamminga (resided by Bishop Baumgartner School) drove a classic American car.

  3. There was a Robert Wilson on Guam in 1817. He was described (by Kotzebue crew) as an Englishman and the pilot of Agana. Levesque (Volume 18) thinks Wilson may have come from the English frigate Paloma, which was captured in Guam in 1802.

  4. I thought the Spanish for James was Jaime? Also, if Wilson was the port captain or pilot at Apra, what was John Anderson, the Scot? I thought he was the harbor pilot/captain in the 1830's and 1840's (although I also have read he was assistant to the port captain). Would there have been more than one harbor pilot?

    1. Santiago is the more common Spanish form of James. All forms of the name James come from Jacob. Jacob transforms into Italian Giacomo, French Jacques and Old Spanish Iago. Put the Sant (short for Santo) in front of Iago and we get Santiago. Jaime is a form of Jaume which is a form of Jacome (again from the original Jacob). Finally there's Diego, another form of Iago.

      Different people occupied the post of pilot at different times.

  5. My grandfather Jesus Gogue Gogue is the son on Jose Wilson Pangelinan. It is not clear who is my grandfather's mother is, but he was raised by the Gogue Family, namely Nan Katmin (Carmen Gogue).

    My grandfather was probably sired during one of his many trips to Guam or from Saipan, wherever Jose Wilson Pangelinan called home

    My grandfather is a splitting image of his siblings and his father as well. We have been been closely in contact and acknowledged by the Pangelinan/Tenorio's side (Nan Upe and Tun Candido and Tan John)

    Uncle Ping Tenorio, Former Governor Pete, Morgan, Chilang, Dolores, Merced, Susana and Ramona often visited with my family here on Guam quite a while back.

    To this day, I am still looking towards meeting our Family as it is necessary.

    Im fortunate during my 9yr stay on Saipan to get to know my family and enjoy the kinship that is intangible. I am blessed to have this opportunity.