March is Women’s History Month. It’s appropriate that women should get their own month. They make up half our family tree
Have you ever stopped to think about the women in your tree? Who were they? What were their lives like?
When I look over my pedigree I find women who are virtually without identity in the census and other records. Yet, they were the backbones of their families. While their husbands were out working 10 to 12 hours a day, they dealt with the problems of every day life. That could include raising the children, keeping the house clean, managing a budget, doing laundry to make extra money, keeping up a garden, stocking a pantry, mending everyone’s clothing, and so on and so forth. She kept the house in tip top shape and managed to get the kids to school and keep meals on the table.
Both of my Great Grandmother’s lived hard lives. Maria Esperito Santo (de Braga) Pacheco went to Hawaii with her parents as a child. She married an Azorean native and worked on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation. She lost a baby who only survived a couple of hours and lost her 13 year old son to influenza.
Her biggest challenge was dealing with the fact that her husband contracted leprosy. They fled the Territory of Hawaii for California, where they lived illegally, without a language but with family to help them.
Maria was widowed at the age of 38. Theodoro left her in a strange city just 7 years after arriving with four kids to raise. She did the best she could, moving to where there was work, and depending on family to help see them through. She lived her later years with her daughter and her family as her health worsened. She died at the age of 61 in Oakland, California.
Maria’s life was probably very typical of women at the turn of the last century. She lived a hard lived, raised her family as best she could, and was left to hold it together when her husband died.
I’m going to post more stories about the women in my family. Hopefully, you’ll find them interesting and see a little bit of your own ancestors within these posts. Some stories are universal.