[Fearless Females #16…Who would you have lunch with?]
It took me some time to decide who in my family tree I would have a lunch date with. I’ve settled on my most mysterious female ancestor, Ana Jacinta (de Melo) Pacheco.
Ana was from the town of Achada on Sao Miguel Island. She was the daughter of Jose Francisco de Melo and Rosa Pimentel. She was the wife of Jacinto Pacheco and had 8 children by him.
Her history is murky. There is no birth record for Ana. Her marriage record is another no show. Their doesn’t seem to be a record of their first son, Antonio, until he pops up in Hawaii in the mid-1880s either.
Jacinto died before 1882. Then Ana signed a sugar plantation laborer contract and brought 6 of her 8 children to Hawaii where they settled on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation on Kauai.
Again, there don’t seem to be records of Ana’s life. She missed the Hawaiian Kingdom census and she is absent from the 1900 US Federal Census.
Stories swirl around Ana. One cousin was told that she had many husbands who suspiciously died before her. She fled the Azores with her children.
I’m not sure I buy that one. I search Achada as well as nearby towns for marriages. I couldn’t even find the one that I knew about!
Another cousin thought that she had remarried in Hawaii to a Mr. Simon. Yet again, no paper trail. There isn’t even a photograph of Ana to remember her by.
The reason I chose Ana is so that her story could be told. I’d ask her about her birth and marriage on Sao Miguel Island so that the information would be preserved.
I’d then give her a chance to explain the stories about the multiple husbands and her reason for leaving the Azores. Only she knows the answers to this one.
I want to ask her what it felt like to leave her homeland and venture off to Hawaii. She was a widow with no adult male escort. For a woman who probably never left her village, Hawaii was a long way away. I’d also want to ask her why she left the Azores. She was in her early 40s at the time. I’m sure she was set in her ways.
My last questions would be about her life in Hawaii. I’d ask her about her experiences in Kilauea. What did she think of all the different people of different ethnic backgrounds she came in contact with? Was life in Hawaii easy for her? Did she have problems assimilating into plantation culture? Would you make the same decision to migrate again knowing what she knows now?
I don’t think I’d even worry about the food! Having my Great Great Grandmother with me, answering my questions and setting her story straight would be enough.
I doubt I will ever know the answers to most of the questions. That is unless the records in the Azores reveal the story of the 40 year old woman who fled the island after killing off her 5th husband… 😉 The truth is undoubtedly more mundane than the stories that have been spun about my Great Great Grandma.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com