Raymond Escobar, Pepito’s Great-Nephew (2008)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

by Melani Carty

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, Pepito’s great-nephew, Raymond Escobar, has found this website and become a good penpal.   Raymond Escobar is the son of Ramon Escobar and the grandson of Rafael Escobar Perez (Pepito’s brother!)

Raymond emailed me the most wonderful treasure:  the earliest known photo of Pepito, from 1916, when he lived in Spain and his clown persona was “Mr. Hermhan.”  Follow this link to read a letter from Raymond Escobar and see the picture.

Raymond’s consuming passion is constructing the Escobar family tree, and he is working at a bit of a disadvantage.  You see, Raymond’s branch of the Escobars has been in France for many years, and before that they lived in Algeria, because Pepito’s brother (Raymond’s grandfather) left Spain and moved to Algiers in the early 1900s.  Over time, most of the Escobar relatives in France have died, and their memories have died with them.  Thus, the surviving French Escobars do not know the names or contact information of the Escobars in Spain.  

Raymond and I have reconstructed that Pepito (birth name Jose Escobar Perez) was from the area of Barcelona, Spain, particularly the city of Alcala, Espana.  Jose’s father was Segundo Escobar and his mother was Vicente Escobar.  So far, we know that two of Jose’s siblings were Maria Escobar Salud (born 1883), and Rafael Escobar (born 1884), but there may be more siblings.  (Look at that gap between 1884 and 1890).  Jose Escboar Perez was born in 1885, according to his naturalization application, although later he changed his birth year to 1896, probably for showbiz reasons.

To explain the Spanish naming system, Jose’s (Pepito’s) name is composed of his father’s last name Escobar, and his mother’s maiden name Perez.  When Jose came to America, and needed to make his name fit American naming conventions, he used Escobar as his middle name and Perez as his last name, thus Jose Escobar Perez became Jose E. Perez.  However, in Spain, Escobar would have been considered his true last name.  

The nickname Pepito derived from his first name Jose.  As can be seen from the link below, as early as 1916, Jose Escobar Perez referred to himself as “Pepe” when sending a postcard to his brother.  In Spanish, Pepito is the diminuitive of Pepe.  “Pepito” is analogous to “Little Johnny,” and “Pepito Perez” is analogous to “John Doe.”  It seems that Jose Escobar Perez looked to adapt his own given name into a clown name relatable to the Spanish-language culture when he became Pepito Perez.  This would make sense, since he spent years clowning in Spain, Cuba and Mexico before he came to America.

Interestingly, when Pepito married Joanne, she adapted her name to comply with the Americanization of Jose’s name.  Thus, Margaret Janet Zettler became Mrs. Jose E. Perez, or Mrs. Margaret E. Perez.  Joanne was a nickname, not her birth name, not a legal name.

In summary, Raymond Escobar is seeking any information about the history and family tree of the family Escobar in Spain, Algeria and France.  Please email Raymond Escobar at artbijou@wanadoo.fr if you can be of assistance.

1 Comment 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 – 05:27 PM

Marivi Escobar

This is Marivi Escobar from Spain. Raymond has already met the Spanish family. I’m his cousin. Our great-grandparents were the same. He has also found the family in France. Fortunately all his cousins are alive. We are all in contact now. Thanks to Melani. We’ll contribute with this website in all your desires.

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