Genealogy Journal #1, Entry 3
The only records that would tell Seraphin’s tale would be found in the records of the village where the de Braga’s were born. I had no experience with obtaining these records, so I was in uncharted territory! I was nervous about requesting them as I did not know the Portuguese language. Would I be able to make sense of them once I received them?
What I knew about Seraphin was slim. I had his name, estimated birth date and place, and possible names of parents. Would this be enough?
With information from Portuguese genealogist, Cheri Mello, I was ready to request his baptismal certificate. I wrote a letter to the archives in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel Island, Azores. The information I supplied was:
- Name: Seraphin de Braga
- Born: January 1879, Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island
- Parents: Jozimas de Braga and Maria da Conceicao de Mello
If Seraphim was really my great grandmother’s brother, the baptismal record would provide the necessary proof.
What seemed like decades passed by. Okay, it was only weeks, but it seemed like decades. Finally, I received a response from the archives. I used some Portuguese translation guides to work out all the words. Even though I supplied the wrong birthdate, they found him! His name was spelled Seraphim (with an m at the end). And, he really was the son of Jozimas and Maria!
This was the proof I was searching for. Now, I could add Seraphim to my family tree without any doubts.
Like most mysteries, once solved, it left me yearning for more. What was his story? What happened to him between his birth and 1900? If he didn’t go to Hawaii with his parents, how did he get there? As one mystery is resolved, more take it’s place. I wasn’t done with Seraphim yet!
Translated copy of Seraphim’s Baptismal Record:
No. 47, Seraphim
On the 16th day of the month of June in the year 1878, in this Parish church of Divino Esperito Santo, place of Maia, council of Ribeira Grande, and diocese of Angra, I solemnly baptized one individual of the masculine sex to whom I gave the name of Seraphim, and who was born in this parish at 1:00 in the morning of the 7th day in the month of June, is assumed legitimate son of Jozimas de Braga, fieldworker, and Maria, in domestic service, native and residents of this town, and parishioners who lived on ______ Motta Street.
Paternal grandson of Jacintho de Braga and Rosa Barquiera and maternal of Felicianno de Mello and Rosa Jacintha. The Godparents, Jose Raposa, fieldworker, bachelor, and Jacintha Pacheco, in domestic service, widow, both of whom I know.
And, to be recorded and drawn up and then being read and confirmed by the Godparents who signed it with me because they did not know how to write.
It is as above.
Jacintho Ignacio de Medeiros
Since I wrote this in 2006, the Azorean Parish records have been put online. Seraphim’s baptismal record can be read online.