In the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Series, Week 40’s theme is birthdays and anniversaries in October. I’ve already written about my Grandma Lassalle and about my maternal grandparent’s marriage. Who else could I write about?
In going through my database, I found something of interest. My maternal grandfather and my maternal great grandfather chose the same date to get married. Not the same year, mind you. That would really be strange.
The Pacheco Smith and Jackson families grew up in the same neighborhood. Though Joao’s family left Oakland when my grandma was about 3 years old, she knew many of his cousins. Her sister, Viola, was best friends with his cousin, Alice (Cosma) Darcy.
Joao’s family left Oakland ca. 1915 for Spreckels where his mother’s brother lived. This was after his brother died of influenza and his father succumbed to leprosy within only a couple of months of each other. Joao was only 7 when they died. When the Pacheco Smith’s returned to Oakland around 1919, Joao and Anna’s path was sure to cross.
Joao “Bohne” Pacheco Smith married Anna Hazel Jackson on the 26th of October 1929 at St. Anthony’s Church in Oakland, Alameda County, California.
His grandfather, Felicianno de Mello returned home from military service in the late 1830s. He had been away from his home village of Maia for a few years. In that time, his siblings had married and started families. They’d also changed their surname to Mello Castanho.
Felicianno was 44 when he married a 16 year old named Rosa Jacintha Boteilho on the 26th of October at Espirito Santo Church in Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.
Lives Filled with Crisis
I was stricken by the fact that both marriages were filled with more than their share of burdens and tribulations. My grandmother was barely 17 and 5+ months pregnant when they rushed into marriage. Joao had gone through the grief of losing his brother and his father at the age of 7. Anna’s parent’s had an unhappy marriage that ended in divorce about the time Joao and Anna were married.
The stock market crashed two days before their speedy nuptials leaving them with financial uncertainty on top of everything else. Jobs dried up and they left Oakland for Salinas the next year. Joao’s brother, Jose, lived there and found him work at the Spreckels Sugar Beet farm. Anna assisted at the local beauty shop and cleaned houses. They got by.
They returned to Oakland in 1936 just after my mom was born. The decade had a lot of ups and downs. Like many during this period, Joao took to drinking. My grandmother filled for divorce in 1948.
Felicianno and Rosa’s path was a little different and filled with more sadness. Felicianno and Rosa married three years after he returned home from military service. I cannot say if it was a happy marriage, but I know it was one overflowing with grief.
In the early 1860s, some sort of disease passed through the village of Maia. The records show a marked increase of children dying. It seemed no family went untouched.
Felicianno and Rosa suffered more than their fair share. They lost 4 children between 1863 and 1864. Three died between January and April of 1863. The oldest was 14 years old. The youngest just 1 month old. There are still 5 children unaccounted for in later records. Since four of them were named Maria, I suspect that they also succumbed during this period. Only two of their twelve children are known to have made it to adulthood.
How that must have felt watching one child die after another! I don’t think Rosa ever recovered from the trauma. She died at the age of 44 in 1869. Felicianno carried on. He never remarried, but lived until he was 77.
Two ancestors married on the same day 86 years apart. Both suffered great emotional loss and grief.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com