Joana (Gonsalves Cardoza) Fernandes is buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California.
The tombstone doesn’t tell you nearly enough about Joana. Though Joana’s life was long, it was not easy.
Joana was born in 1875 in Magdalena do Mar, Madeira to Francisco Gonsalves Cardoso and Coleta de Jesus. At the age of 10 they migrated to Hawaii to work on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation on Kauai. There she met up with the Pacheco family.
She married Joao Pacheco 11 Sep 1892 at St. Sylvester’s Church, Kilauea, Kauai, HI. The couple settled on the plantation where Joao was an overseer. Between 1895 and 1905 they had six children.
Joao began having health problems in 1900. He was diagnosed with emphysema. He died in October of 1906, while Joana was 7 months pregnant. That child was born in December.
Joana was faced with a horrible dilemma. She had 7 children to feed, one an infant, and no means to get food on the table. Joana did what she must. She gave children away.
Her act turned out to be a blessing for other family members. Her sister-in-law, Maria (Jacinto da Camara) de Braga, wife of Jose de Braga, was childless. She could not have children. The couple was given, Joana and Joao’s three year old daughter, Isabella. Jose and Maria left for California in 1907, so Isabella did not see her biological mother again for about 15 years.
The sister of her sister-in-law, Alexandria (de Caires) Pacheco, Jesuina (de Caires) Fitkal, also could not have children. She became the mother of baby Helen.
Daughter, Maria, was 10 when her father died. She went to live with her maternal grandparents.
Oldest son, Francisco, 11 years old, lived with Joao and Maria (Gonsalves Cardoso) Freitas family. Maria was Joana’s sister.
Joana then went on with her life with her three sons, Theodore, Antone, and John.
It wasn’t long that Joana toiled alone. In 1910, she married Januario Fernandes. The couple had six children.
Joana and Januario stayed in Kilauea until 1928. Then they left for California. Joana died in Oakland, California in 1957 at the age of 76.
There is a caveat to this story. The two daughters, Helen and Isabella, were lead to believe that their real parents were those they were raised by. On their wedding days, they learned the truth. Their Aunt was their Mother. They cousins were their siblings. I don’t really know how all that went over. But given the times and the circumstances, it probably was not an uncommon for children to be given away to other family members. A widow without the means to support herself and her children had to do what she had to do. I am sure when they found out it was quite a blow though. How strange it must have been!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com