HISTORY OF THE SOCIETY
Turning Interest Into Action
It all started when a group of friends doing genealogical research at the Family History Center, discussed the belief that if they dug enough, they would find that most Hispanics in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas were related. From having that discussion, the idea of forming a genealogical group to help each other with information grew. Three people were selected to approach the local genealogical society to ask them if they would support a group of people specializing in Hispanic genealogy, with a separate meeting date and time. Upon agreeing, the Hispanic Genealogy Group was born in January of 2008. After two and a half years as the Hispanic Genealogy Group of the Tip O’Texas Genealogical Society, members decided to form their own society. The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society was incorporated in July of 2010.
Meet The Team
Alfonso Guillen, Jr.
Born to Alfonso Guillen Del Los Santos and Senaida Castillo Plata de Guillen,
Alfonso Guillen Castillo, Jr. was reared in San Benito, Texas. After high school, he attended Texas A & I University in Kingsville, TX and actively served in the U. S Army from 1971 until 1974 and in the U. S. Army Reserves from 1974 until 1996 when he retired as a Major
After completing his undergraduate and graduate studies at Pan American University and UT Pan American, he worked for Mobay Chemical Co, Texas Tech University, and retired from Texas Technical College in Harlingen as Provost.
He has been an active member of the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society since 2014, and on December 2022, he was elected President of the Society. He volunteers as a museum tour guide at the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum and at St. Francis Xavier Church in La Feria, TX. He is an avid family researcher who has authored a two hundred- and seventy-five-page book titled A Son’s Story, depicting his family’s history. Alfonso and his wife Mary Esther Garza de Guillen have three children and five grandchildren.
Information about them here.
is a charter member of the organization and has served as President since 2014. She was honored to have served on the committee for the 33rd Annual Texas State Hispanic and Genealogical Conference held October 11-14, 2012 in South Padre Island,TX. Mary retired from the State of Texas as Chief Financial Officer for the Laredo State Center for MHMR. She is a native of Harlingen, actively involved with several community organizations, and serves as District S Representative for the Texas State Genealogical Society. Mary started genealogical research after retirement and has traced part of her family back to Revilla in the 1750s. She is also a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.
Information about them here.
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Mary Esther Guillen
is the Editor of the Society’s quarterly e-newsletter. She enthusiastically researches her family names of Garza, Cortes, Perez, Olivarez, Martinez, Esquivel, Garibay, Carrizo, Barro, Sanchez, Rodriguez, and Munio. A native of Harlingen, Maria Esther is a retired educator who enjoys attending the annual Texas Hispanic Genealogical and Historical conferences and collecting genealogy related books and other publications. In their spare time, Maria Esther and her husband are writing their story for their three children and five grandchildren.
Jaime Ruben Caballero
is the Vice President of the Society and was the senior class president of his 1965 class at Mercedes High School. He graduated from Pan American University and is an MBA graduate of the University of Connecticut. He is a retired USAF navigator after serving in the military for 27 years. He was also a grant writer at UTRGV for 20 years. Him and Bertie Lucio have been married for 53
years with three grown children: Claudia, Ruben, Jr., and Dr. Jason Ryan. Jason is married to Kelly Abraham, and they have two sons, Soren Ryan,
and Arthur Jax. Ruben is a native of Mercedes, Texas, and now lives with his wife Bertie in Rancho Viejo, Texas.
Bertie Lucio Caballero
is a Brownsville native and the daughter of Eddie Lucio, Sr. (1916-2006) and Josefa Liendo Lucio (1925-2016)-one of ten exceptional siblings including Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. She is a retired English teacher after having taught in middle schools in Texas, California, New York, and Connecticut for 47 years. She holds a Masters Degree in English and Multiple Alternatives Programs from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. She has been honored as Region One Teacher of the Year, Gifted & Talented Teacher of the Year, BISD Teacher of the Year, and has received numerous other awards. She has served in the Brownsville Public Library Endowment Board, and Alpha Delta Kappa Board. She has researched and documented her family trees for over 40 years. Bertie is married to Ruben Caballero, a Retired Lt. Col.-USAF and is the mother of 3 beautiful children; Claudia Caballero, Ruben Caballero, Jr., and Dr. Jason Caballero. She and her husband reside in Rancho Viejo, Texas. Some of the surnames Bertie has researched are : Lucio, Allala, Lopez, Cuellar, Fleischman, Ruoho, Liendo, Caballero, Olivares, Ayoub, Garzoria, and Hinojosa.
Laura Jean Duval was born at Mercy Hospital in Brownsville, Texas on January 31, 1949. She is the oldest of 13 children born to John and Elizabeth (Betty) Givens. When her dad retired in March 1968 there were 10 children, the youngest three were born in Brownsville, and the other nine were born in the United States with two of them born in the Philippines. Her father was a M/Sgt. in the United States Air Force which made it possible to live in other countries and in many other states. He always made sure that his children learned about their surroundings and the history of where they were living at the time, which was very exciting because they lived in Washington, D.C., as well as in the Philippines and 12 other Air Force bases. Laura, the oldest and very curious, was always hungry to learn this information and on weekends would go exploring her new surroundings. The family returned to Brownsville in 1968. While her parents looked for a house for the family (a big house) the older kids stayed at their grandmother’s, and that is where she heard her aunts talking about their ancestors coming from Spain and settling in Meir, Camargo, and Matamoros, Mexico. They would speak mostly in Spanish, and there was a lot to learn. She remembers many relatives that lived in Matamoros visiting her grandmother from La Burrita. They only spoke Spanish. She thought “how could they be so blond and blue-green eyed and not speak English?” Now she realizes these things and truly wishes that she could have had real conversations with them.
She is married to Alan Duval, and they have five children, two daughters, three sons, and one grandson who enjoys listening to the family talk about our ancestors. She is a retired teacher from Brownsville I.S.D and has enjoyed being a part of The Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Genealogical Society. The members are the most friendly and helpful group of people.