family history

It’s a Correa Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand.

Correa Tshirt

I saw this T-shirt (which I really want) the other day on Facebook and it got me thinking about my last name. While I am Latina most people consider my last name odd because it’s not your typical Hernandez, Gonzalez, or Martinez. As a matter of fact, when I was a kid my teachers would ask what my ethnicity was because they found my last name uncommon.

In my later years I discovered that while it’s not the most common of Surnames, Correa isn’t as unusual as most think.

Today, I thought I’d share the origin of my last name with you.

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Recorded as Correa, Correas (Spanish), and Correa, Correia and Corriea (Portugese), this is a surname of the Iberian Peninsula. It is believed to originate from the pre 7th century word ‘correa’ which has a multiplicity of meanings. These include a strap, a belt, a rein, or even a shoelace, the important thing being that what was described was a leather fastening of some sort.

The surname alone further suggests that it was an occupation. However the ultimate origination is the Roman (Latin) word ‘corrigia’ meaning a fastening, which could have applied in the Middle Ages to a carter, one who carried goods that were fastened in someway.

In Ancient times occupational surnames were not typically hereditary. It wasn’t until much later when a son, or even a grandson, followed the father into the same line of business of his father that occupational surnames started being passed down.

The earliest example of the surname Correa was a recording taken from surviving church registers which spoke of a Damian Correa and his wife, the former Catalina Fernandez, who were christening witnesses at Valladolid, Spain, on February 2nd 1672. After that there was Nicholao Correia at Agua de Pena, Funchal, Portugal, on September 14th 1725.

In modern times Correa’s are all over the place–Columbia, Brazil, Spain, you name it.

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I remember as a kid my father’s best friend used to tease him and call him “Felipe Belt” then soon we became the “Belt Family”. It was kind of funny, I must admit.

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However, here is a little bit about my family history, as in my own personal family history.

My linage comes from Puerto Rico … at least the most recent. However, there is a history there that most of my family either doesn’t know or won’t acknowledge. The Correa family (my Correa family) comes from what were once Afro-Brazilian slaves.

The story actually goes something like this.

Somewhere in Portugal, whatever amount of years ago, there was a man whose last name was Correa whom owned an Afro-Brazilian slave (that is to say, a slave of African descent whom was born in Brazil). Somewhere along the line that man and his family–slaved included–moved to Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico that slave somehow got his freedom and since he had no surname of his own he was given the surname of his master; Correa.

The many generations to follow of those once slaves, now free men, did not mix with the other cultures who inhabited Puerto Rico–the Spanish, French or otherwise. There was much hate there.

You see, what most people do not understand is that the Puerto Rican culture, in and of itself, is a mixture of different ethnicity which came together to make one.

Any Correa family members that was born from that moment on was no longer Africa, Brazilian or Portuguese, they were Puerto Rican. This title was looked at with pride because it was Puerto Rico which gave the Afro-Brazilian slaves their much needed freedom.

It wasn’t until only about 3 generations ago that the Correa family started mixing with other races. My father’s generation was among the first.

My mother is from Spanish, French and Taino linage. She looks very much like an Indian (from India). My father looks African. It is that mix that gives you me. Most people can’t “place” me, if you will. Not that I feel like I need placing. But I constantly get asked “what I am”.

My answer?

I am Y. Correa, Latino-American. It’s a Correa thing, you wouldn’t understand.

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