As I begin the new year, I thought it would be interesting to look back on some of my genealogy research achievements. As a California and Hawaii researcher, it sometimes gets a bit lonely researching online exclusively. Databases and indexes for the areas I need are slow to become available. It doesn’t help that my genealogy quickly leaves the US. My oldest ancestor in the country arrived in the 1840s.
But this year, Wow! It seemed every time I turned around there was something new to explore. Let’s take a look at my year…
At the end of 2011, I found out that French vital and church records were digitized and online. I found that they had Ogeu les bains, Izeste, and Castet, the three villages in Southern France that I needed to research. In just a couple of weeks, I was able to get all lines back to 1800s and one of them into the early 1700s. I learned a lot of about the traditions of Southern France from my cousin, Joan, as we worked on the records together. I was fascinated to find women listed with occupations, signing records, and being witnesses as early as the 1790s.
In April, the 1940 US Census became available. Though, I’ve worked extensively on most of my lines back to the 1800s, this was an opportunity to compare information that cousins had provided on their families with what those families said about themselves. I was most intrigued by family members who were working for the WPA. One of my Great Great Aunts was a seamstress through the WPA.
It was an eye opener to see the wages earned, who was unemployed, and who had held on to their house through the Depression. Also of note was the level of education that they received. While education was provided to children of sugar plantation workers in Hawaii, family survival was more important. Some of my grandfather’s cousins received no education or less they five years. Many completed 8 years. There was only one college student in my Portuguese tree.
Over the Summer, I started to work with the San Francisco property records in the early 1900s. For the first time, I found a deed for one of my relatives. It was written days before Frederick Meincke died. He was giving the property to his wife.
At the same time, I worked a little with the San Francisco marriage indexes. I wanted to see if I could find the marriages of my grandmother’s sisters, the Jackson girls, of which their were many…marriages not sisters. I knew that her oldest sister, Margaret (Jackson) Fafri, was married three times. But, I could not put together any firm dates. I never found her in the 1930 census or the 1940 census. I had very little luck with city directories. The reason was that in the late 1930s there was another marriage! A quick one, they were divorced within a year or two. This bit of information gave me what I needed to find the divorced Margaret (Jackson) Nelson in the 1940 Census (Nelson was the one surname I did not have for her!)
It was a year of cousins finding me. I was contacted by people related to my Pacheco/Buttelo line, Shellabarger line, Medeiros/Bonita line, and others. One that filled in answers was a distance Burke cousin who was able to give me the information I needed to find the parents of my Great Great Uncle, John Burke, who died in the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. Another connection answered the mystery of Ellis Island cousins who had “deported” written on their ship manifest.
Over the year, cousin, Teresa Caires, and I worked on the de Caires line. There were a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the entire generation that were children in Hawaii in the 1880s. Through our joint efforts and help from some other researchers, we found Teresa’s lost cousins. With this came photographs…how I love photographs!
Speaking of photographs, this year I was able to put faces to some of the names. For some reason, women are less prevalent in my Portuguese family photos. This year, I found out what my great great aunt Alexandria (de Caires) Pacheco, her sister Jesuina (de Caires) Fitkal, and my grandfather’s cousin, Jorgina (Pacheco) Buttelo looked like. I also collected new photos on the Medeiros/Mitchell side. The photographs really do make them seem more real.
In December, I was informed that more Azorean villages were online. So, I headed over to the website and found that Achada, Nordeste was available. I needed to figure out when Ana Jacinta de Mello, my gr gr grandmother, was born and married. This was research I had to stop at the local FHC when my arthritis took over my neck and shoulders. I didn’t really need her birth information as I could go beyond her, but I wanted it to fill the hole that I felt robbed her of her history. It only took a weekend before I found the entry, five years earlier than where my research had stopped. Since then, I’ve found several baptismals and marriage records. I’m filling in the generations that I thought I’d never get a chance to do on my own.
There were many smaller genealogy achievements, but these were the highlights. May 2013 bring us all new genealogy discoveries!
I am sure that there were many other discoveries along the way. Finding more Azorean and San Francisco records at my disposal was definitely a highlight of my year. I would say I solved more mysteries than I created for one. It was a great year for research for me!
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com