About My Ancestors · Tombstone Tuesday

Tombstone Tuesday: Who Left These Flowers?

jose-and-maria-debragaWhile walking through Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California, about ten years ago, I came across the grave site for my Great Great Aunt and Uncle, Jose de Braga and Maria Jacinto (aka Joseph DeBraga and Mary Camara).  Jose was the son of Jozimas de Braga and Maria da Conceicao de Mello, of Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  Maria was the daughter of Manoel Jacinto and Filomena da Gloria Leite, of either Arrifes or Feteiras, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.

Jose, 8 years old, came to Hawaii in 1882 on the SS Monarch with his parents.  They were under contract with the Kilauea Sugar Plantation on Kauai. Maria, 7 years old, came over with her parents in 1883 on the SS Hankow.   Her family worked on the Koloa Sugar Plantation on Kauai.

Maria’s family eventually ended up on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation.  She and Jose married 19 May 1895 in Kilauea.

They began their life on the plantation as well.  They had hopes of starting a family, but sadly, Maria could not conceive.  Eight years into their marriage, they were still childless.

One person’s tragedy becomes another pride and joy.  Jose’s brother-in-law, Joao Pacheco, contracted tuberculosis.  He died shortly after in 1906.  He left his widow, Joana Gonsalves Cardoza, with eight mouths to feed, four of them under the age of five.  We don’t know what Joana went through during that period.  She was in mourning with several children to take of.  She most likely worked on the plantation to survive.  She probably sent out her oldest children to work in the plantation as well.  But, the pressures of survival must have weighed heavily on her.  Joana gave her 3 year old daughter, Isabella, to Jose and Maria to raise.  In fact, she gave all her daughters away to couples within the family who could not have children.

They raised Isabella as if she were their own.  They started in Oakland, CA, then moved to Spreckels, CA, and finally back to Oakland.

Isabella and the others did not learn about their parentage until they married.  Then they learned their cousins were really their brothers.

By the time I happened upon this gravesite, Isabella was very old.  Her children and grandchildren no longer lived in the area.  Those who might have remembered Jose and Maria were long gone.  Jose died in 1936 and Maria in 1947.

With all these relatives long gone or moved away, one question begs to be answered.  Who left these flowers on their grave site?  Who was around forty five years after Jose and Maria died who might have remember them?

I never found out.

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