In the course of my research, I have heard claims that we’re related to this famous person or that. This time it is Canadian singer and musician, Remigio Pereira, whose ancestry hails from Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores. I’ve already connected to Nobel Prize winner, Craig Mello, whose ancestors were also from Maia. (What’s up with that little village in the Azores?) Now the question is, am I related to Remigio Pereira, the famous Canadian Tenor?
Who is Remigio Pereira?
I know. I thought the same thing. I had no clue until a new cousin mentioned that we are related to a famous Canadian tenor. By the powers of my “superior” genealogical abilities, I deducted that it was the guy with the Portuguese sounding name. That was tough!
He was born in Massachusetts, but his family moved to Canada when he was young. He took up hockey first, but after an injury he decided to go in another direction. He learned guitar first, then at 21 began singing. His story is detailed in the article “With The Tenors: Remigio Pereira went from Hockey to Harmony“.
What’s the Family Story?
As the story goes, he is related to the Pacheco Remigio families of Maia. The line begins with Remigio Pacheco born in 1799 to Antonio Pacheco de Resendes and Anna Medeiros Pacheco. Remigio Pacheco’s descendants used the surnames Pacheco Remigio, Remigio Pacheco, Pacheco, Remigio, and Romiza–and, several misspellings in between!
The Problems with Linking the Two Family Trees
Now you see the problem. Making claims of a relationship on Portuguese lines based solely on a surname is fraught with danger. Surnames are a transitory entity. Simply having the same surname as someone from the 1800s in the same village doesn’t mean they are related. Take Remigio and his siblings. My ancestor, Rosa Medeiros Pacheco, was Remigio Pacheco’s sister. She took her mother’s surname, but her sister, Maria took her father’s. Three siblings, three surnames: Pacheco, Medeiros Pacheco, and Pacheco de Resendes. The Pacheco de Resendes surname died a quick death when Remigio’s descendants chose to use his first name as a last name.
Another problem is that our famous tenor used Remigio as a first name, not a last name. This problem question was solved when I learned his mother’s surname was Remigio. A little digging showed that his first name was not Remigio, but he used it as his professional name. This establishes that his mother’s line was Remigio in Maia and could descendent from Remigio Pacheco.
Do I Really Want to Get Involved in Another Genealogy Mystery?
Too late. I really hadn’t planned on researching the genealogy of the famous tenor. I was doing research for a cousin in Massachusetts who has been contacted by Canadians who might be related. While mapping out obituaries, I accidentally brushed up against Remigio Pereira’s ancestry. As the familiar story of an obsessed genealogist goes, I spent a week mapping out all the people who belong to that tree.
He is a talented musician as well as singer. Destino is showcases those talents.
The Record Gap Gets in the Way
With the surname problem solved, I crashed straight into a genealogy brick wall. It’s called the record gap. I’ve worked the tree back from the present to about 1920. However, the online records for Maia, Ribeira Grande stop at 1905. 15 years too short. The family immigrated much later than most Azoreans I’ve researched and there doesn’t seem to be a paper trail available publicly for these later migrations.
Canada has proven particularly prickly when it comes to post-1900 research. I’m not really familiar with Canadian research beyond the work I did for my brother-in-law on his Boisvert line pre-1900. The records might be out there. I just don’t know how to get at them.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress. I’ve narrowed down his ancestry to two sons of Remigio Pacheco and Dorothea Maria Furtado: Manoel and Joao, both born in the 1820s. I know that Joao made it to adulthood, but I don’t know about Manoel. My gut is with Joao.
Searching For Help From More Experienced Azorean Genealogists
My game plan is to reach out to other Azorean genealogists. It may be that someone has already worked out this problem and has the answer that I seek.
For now I have yet another folder of unrelated records and notes with nowhere to attach them. That annoys the heck out of me. I hate not being able to solve genealogy problems. Sooner or later, the right information will come my way. Then, the question will change from are we related to how are we related? I’m guessing 4th or 5th cousins, a degree or two removed.
Our Maia roots already go to Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Brasil…why not Canada?
1. Giovanni Gets Up Close and Personal with Remigio Pereira. Il Postino, 12 Mar 2015.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com