Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Most Unique Ancestral Name

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Most Unique Ancestral Name

This week Randy asks us to name our ancestor with the most unique name for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

I couldn’t come up with anything in my ancestry for a first and last name combination, so I’m going with the most unusual first name. I found my maternal Great Great grandfather in several records but under different names  Semas Bragas, James Debraga, and other variations.  When I got his baptismal record, I saw his real name:  Jozimas de Braga.

Jozimas was born in 1849 in Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores, to Jacintho Jose de Braga and Rosa de Medeiros Pacheco.  He married Maria da Conceicao de Mello in 1871.  They left for Hawaii in 1882 as sugar plantation contract laborers.

Jozimas and Maria were contracted with the Kealia Sugar Plantation.  They finished their contract in 1885 and moved to Kilauea to work on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation.

Maria became very ill in the 1890s and died somewhere around 1900.  Jozimas left Hawaii 7 years later on the SS Mongolia.  He lived alone for a time on E. 25th in Oakland, Alameda Co., CA.  Alone is a relative term.  Half of the Pacheco and de Braga cousins lived on the same street.

By 1910, he lived with his daughter, Maria (de Braga) Pacheco, and her family.  I believe Jozimas must have been very handy to have around as Maria’s husband was slowly dying from leprosy.

When Maria moved to Spreckels, Monterey County, CA after her husband’s death in 1914.  Jozimas went with her.  When she moved back to E. 25th Street around 1920, he went back with her.  To think, Jozimas from a small village on Sao Miguel island managed to travel from the Azores to Hawaii to California and live in at least 6 places along the way.


Jozimas de Braga, Chular, ca 1915.
Jozimas de Braga, Chular, ca 1915.


Jozimas died in 1922 at the age of 72.

In the beginning, I wasn’t all that familiar with Portuguese naming patterns.  I wasn’t aware that my Great Great Grandfather had an unusual name  until I mentioned in an email to a Portuguese researcher what my Great Great Grandfather’s name was that I knew I had something unusual.  When I told him the name Jozimas, he responded “That’s not a Portuguese name!”  I mailed him a copy of the baptismal certificated.  He confirmed that his name was in fact Jozimas.  The researcher told me that he had never seen the name before in all his years of research, which were considerable.

I passed the name by others of Portuguese descent over the years.  His godfather was Joao de Braga, his grandfather, so the name didn’t come from him.  I’ve gone through generations of baptismal and marriage records, I’ve looked over witnesses and godparents associated with my de Braga line.  Not one Jozimas amongst them!

I do wonder how my Great Great Grandfather got to have such a unique name. Maybe some sailor came through the village one day and Rosa met up with him.  Well, we won’t go into the sordid details… but the outcome was a child names Jozimas.  Perhaps Rosa and Jacintho were looking for a name for their son and decided the village had enough Manoel, Jose, Joao, Jacinto, and Francisco de Braga’s…thank you very much!  Or, maybe Rosa had a terrible speech impediment and really meant to name her kid Jose but it came out Jozimas (pronounce Josie-mas).

Either way, I like it!  I like the fact that amongst all my all too commonly named relatives, I’ve got a Jozimas.  My family tree has a name that nobody else has.

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