[Another repost…Fearless Females-Women’s History Month, March 19th: A Surprising Fact]
While looking through the voter registration books for 1937, I came upon a surprising entry. My Great Grandmother, Maria (de Braga) Pacheco Smith, was listed.
This might not have been so surprising had my Great Grandmother been a US Citizen. But, she wasn’t. In fact, she was in the country illegally.
When Hawaii became a territory of the US, neither Maria or her husband, Theodoro Pacheco, became automatic citizens. They had to wait a couple years before the Portuguese immigrants could file for citzenship. Their children were born in Hawaii and automatically gained citizenship. Maria and Theodoro were not as they never tried.
Around 1905, Theodoro was diagnosed with leprosy and was given his deportation orders to Molokai. He refused to go. The family was whisked from the islands and smuggled into California. Theodoro and Maria was in California illegally.
It surprises me even further because Maria was very ill the last couple years of her life. She lived with her daughter and her family. Her grandson told me about how Maria spent all her days in bed for the last 2 or 3 years. She died in February of 1938.
So, how came Maria’s name to be amongst the registered voters of Oakland, Alameda County, California when she was an illegal alien and near death? I suspect some sort of fraud was at play. I guess I will never know.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com