Tombstone Tuesday: Buried under the Name Cosma

Tombstone Tuesday: Buried under the Name Cosma


Do you believe everything you read on a tombstone?  This one from St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oakland, Alameda County, California reads:


1875 John 1941

1876 Marie 1951

When I first started researching my Great Great Aunt and Great Great Uncle I thought this information was gospel.  It took several years of research before I realized that Cosma wasn’t even their real last name.

John and Marie were both born on Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  He from Feteiras and she from Achada.  Though they left the world as John and Marie Cosma, that isn’t how they started it.  Marie aka Maria Pacheco was the daughter of Jacintho Pacheco and Ana Jacinta de Melo.

John is a little more tricky.  He started out as Joaquim Jacinto da Camara, son of Cosme Jacinto da Camara and Joaquina Roza Raposa.

John and Marie met on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation on Kauai, where they were raised.  They married 1 Jan 1893 at St. Sylvester’s Catholic Church, Kilauea, Kauai Co., HI. Once again, their names were different.  The person who recorded their information in the church records latinized them.  John was listed as Johannem Cosma Hyacintho.

You might be wondering how Joaquim Jacinto da Camara became John Cosma.  I’m not really sure of the reason for the family name.  It may be because there were so many Jacinto da Camara, Jacinto, and Camara’s running around Kauai.  Around 1900-1905, Joaquim started using the Portuguese form of John, Joao.  Then he adopted his father, Cosme’s first name the surname, Cosma.  Soon he became  John Cosma.  His brother Manoel used the form, Manoel Cosmer.  And, his father, Cosme Jacinto da Camara became…drum roll please…Jacinto Cosma.  Are you confused yet?  Cosme’s brother entered Hawaii is Manoel Jacinto.  He became Manoel Camara.  I am fairly sure it was all a fun game for them!  Maybe changing names was like changing clothes.  Pick one to suit your mood.

Marie may be one of the most beloved people in my tree.  Everyone has a fond remembrance of Marie who some called Auntie Cosma or just plain ol’ Grandma.  My Mom thought Marie was her Grandmother just because of the affection way the adults around her referred to her.

Marie was the family doctor trained in Portuguese and Hawaiian traditional medicine, midwife, and seamstress.  She was known for keeping a messy house because there was just too much more to life than cleaning.  I’ve written more about Marie in my article Auntie Cosma:  A Woman of Many Talents.  She was a remarkable woman.

So, when looking at stones be sure you’ve done your research!  The names on the stones might not reflect the names people were born under.  Heck, they might not even resemble any of the known possibilities. 🙂

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