I Wish I Had Known My Great Uncle Joe

I Wish I Had Known My Great Uncle Joe


I never met my Great Uncle Jose Pacheco (aka Joe P. Smith) He died 10 years before I was born. From what I’ve been told, he must have been a remarkable person.

Jose was the oldest child of Theodoro Pacheco and Maria de Braga. He was born 1 Oct 1896 in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii. His first 10 years of life were spent on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation. His youth was probably much like the other children on the plantation. He may have worked in the fields or collected rodents (they were paid by the tail turned in!) He went to school a couple of hours a day and then worked for the plantation. During certain times of year even the children were needed for labor and school was completely forgotten.

I suspect that when Jose’s family was smuggled off of Kauai and they moved to California arriving under the Smith name, that the burden of the family secret was a heavy load. He was around 11 years old when they arrived in San Francisco Bay and then made their home in Oakland. Knowing that his father couldn’t work regularly because of his leprosy, Jose most likely did what he could to make sure their was food on the table. And, as his father’s condition worsened, I’m sure Jose was needed to make sure that everything got done while his mother tended to his father. In 1912, he worked at Cahr, Nickelsburg, & Co. making shoes.

When his father died in 1914, Jose became the man of the house. He had just turned 18. He never got in trouble like his brothers, Joao and Theodore, who had both had problems with alcoholism. He kept his nose clean and was a tremendous help to his mother.

The family moved to Spreckel’s in Monterey County where they could life near Maria’s brother’s family and the family could find work on the sugar beet farm. Soon after, Jose was drafted into the army and fought in WWI. I’ve yet to find his military records. It would be interesting to find in what capacity he served and where he was stationed.

When Jose returned, the family was still in Spreckels. There he met up with children friends, the Ventura’s, who also hailed from Kilauea. Jose fell in love with the daughter of Francisco de Boa Ventura and Guilhermina Clemente, Minnie Frances Ventura. They married sometime around 1921.

Jose and Minnie stayed in the Spreckels area, while the rest of the family moved back to Oakland. Jose worked as a steam plow engineer on the Spreckels Sugar Beet Farm for a couple of years. Eventually, he became a mechanic and worked for Farmer’s Mercantile Company.

Jose and Minnie didn’t have any children. They tried, but it wasn’t meant to be. Since they only had each other, they’re love grew even stronger. They saw each other through hard times including the depression. They worked and they took trips back to Hawaii to visit cousins. They enjoyed a happy marriage.

In the mid-1940, Minnie learned she had metastatic carcinoma. Jose took the news hard. He was madly in love with Minnie and he didn’t want to lose her.

On the 10th of October 1949, Minnie died of cancer at the age of 47. I was told by Minnie’s sister, Eva (Ventura) Nunes that Jose never recovered. He had lost the love of his life.

Jose died 3 1/2 years later in 1953 at the age of 57. His death certificate says that he died of congestive heart failure. But as his sister-in-law Eva put it, he died of a broken heart.

Jose and Minnie are buried at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas, Monterey County, CA.

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One thought on “I Wish I Had Known My Great Uncle Joe

  1. Looks like this is where we link. Minnie’s mother Guilhermina Clemente was my Great Grandfather Cesar Clemente’s sister. Thank you so much for all your hard work researching.

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