I remember when I showed my grandma this photo of her mother-in-law several years ago. Her comments come to me today. She said “Look at how her eyes droop. That’s from malnutrition. Poor Voe.” Voe being the Portuguese word for grandmother.
I didn’t think much about it at the time, but it has crossed my mind more than once lately. I’ve been researching Maria (de Braga) Pacheco Smith’s family in the parish records for Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island. The obitos (death records) don’t provide a lot of information, but they can give insights into families and regions.
I found Maria’s grandfather’s obito first. He died at the age of 80. His record says that only two of his children were alive when he died. A few days later, I found her grandmother’s obito. She was in her late 70s and her record states that three of her children were alive when she died. She died after her husband so I need to find out what the real number is.
You may remember my post No More Descendants to Follow in the de Mello Tree that several of the children of Felicianno and Maria de Mello died young. To date, I’ve found 11 children born, but only two made it to adulthood. They were from the same village as the de Braga family. It appears by looking at the amount of obitos that the early 1860s were particular harsh on children.
Is it possible that the de Braga family met the same fate as Felicianno and Maria de Mello’s children? My research shows that they had at least 10 children. Two of them had the same name as Maria’s father, Jozimas de Braga, so we can assume those two died. Will I find seven children who died before they came of age? I hope not. But, we never know what the records will reveal.
Perhaps my grandmother was right. Her mother-in-law’s family was probably poor. Food may have been hard to come by. Maria’s aunts and uncles may not have made it to adulthood just like her husband’s aunts and uncles. I will know when I go back to the records.
If it holds true, I may possible have the shortest Azorean descendant line with only five children out of 21 making it to adulthood and having children of their own. This is quite a contrast to the Pacheco family in Achada and Fenais da Vera Cruz (aka Fenais d’Ajuda). Whatever passed through Maia may not have touched those villages.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com