[Fearless Females-Prompts for Women’s History Month–March 1st–A favorite female ancestor]
I am not sure why but I’ve am drawn to my Great Great Grandmother, Ana Jacinta (de Melo) Pacheco. It may be what I don’t know as much as what I know.
Ana was the daughter of Jose Francisco de Melo and Rosa Pimental. She was born in the town of Achada, Nordeste on the island of Sao Miguel. I haven’t located her birth information, but she was probably born around 1830-1835.
Ana married Jacintho Pacheco of Fenais da Vera Cruz, Ribeira Grande. I am curious as to how the two met being from different villages. Though the villages were close, I’m not sure how much interraction the people had with each other.
Ana has been one of my more difficult ancestors to track down. Not only could I not find a birth record, but I’ve yet to locate their marriage record. I’ve search both of their villages, plus neighboring villages, but still no luck.
Also, I was able to locate the birth records for their children Manoel, Maria I, Jose, Joao, Francisco, Maria II, and Theodoro. But the oldest, Antonio, there is no record of his existence before Hawaii.
Ana was about 30 when Manoel was born (probably about 27 when Antonio was born). Jacintho was about 40. I wonder if this marriage was their first given their ages. I wonder if Antonio is really their son.
To add to the mystery, unlike my de Braga kin, I didn’t find Ana as a witness or a godparent in records for her village. Where did she go? What was she doing before Manoel’s birth in 1863?
There is a story that she was married five times and she out lived them all. If so, what the heck did she do with the other four? Kill them off and bury them in the garden? One has to wonder when there is no paper trail! LOL
I do know that Ana became a widow between 1876 and 1882. She brought her family (minus Antonio) to Hawaii as sugar contract laborer. There, once again, she left no trail. She avoided the Hawaii Kingdom census before 1900 and the 1900 US Federal Census. There is a family story that she remarried in Hawaii to “Mr. Simon” but an extensive search of Kauai marriage registers brought up nothing. Ana isn’t even mentioned in the church records of her children or grandchildren.
The only proof I really have that Ana Jacinta existed (beyond her children’s birth records) is her cemetery plot. A crumbled tombstone with her name on it at Kilauea Catholic Cemetery is the only thing I have that says Ana had lived in this world and made this journey.
Isn’t it sad that a woman who died in 1902 and lived well into her 70s, who migrated have way around the world with 6 children in tow, and who started a new life without a man to help her, left not even a photograph or an entry in the census to tell the world “I am Ana and I was here”? I think this must be why I am so attracted to Ana and her story. She must have lived one heck of a life, but no one ever thought to write it down so we could remember her.
Update 1 March 2013:
Since I wrote this blog post in 2010, the records for Achada, Nordeste, Sao Miguel Island have come online. It took me all of a weekend to find Ana’s baptismal records. She was born on the 30th of January 1835. I still have not located her marriage record or that of her oldest son.
Knowing the year she was born, fills in a spot on my chart, but it adds more questions. She was 27 years old when her second son, Manoel was born in 1863. That seems old to me. Was Antonio born several years before Manoel, then perhaps many miscarriages and stillbirths? Was she married more than once leaving a gap for widowhood? I will be doing more research to try to solve the discrepancies.
What I do know is this woman left the only home she knew in 1882 at the age of 47. To leave everyone and everything she knew behind, must have taken a great amount of courage. To me that makes her a candidate for Fearless Female.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com