Why did all these children die in Maia in 1861?

I’m working through the Obitos (death records) for the village of Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  Sometimes death records can be depressing.  They also present questions that can’t really be answered unless someone has written a history of the area.

Case in point, I am working on the 1860s.  In 1860, there were only 10 pages of records–23 death total.  Then, in 1861, there 29 pages–112 deaths total.  The following year there are only 14 pages of death records–45 deaths total.  After that year, there are never more than 19 pages of records.

What really struck me was in 1861 the majority of people who died were children.  And, most of them under the age of 5.  I would say 85-90% of the records were for children.  Some families lost more than one child.

What happened that year that saw such a spike in child mortality?  Was there an epidemic?  Perhaps it was a flu strain that hit children the hardest.

The records in this era don’t include a cause of death, so there’s no way to know for use.  But, it is clear from the amount of records that something happened that year.  It would be interesting to see if other villages also experienced a spike.  For now, I am only left wondering what happened in Maia in 1861.

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Eureka! I Have Found It!

Feast your eyes upon a beautiful sight…

marr fvc jacinto pacheco anna jacinto mello 1856 match

This is my great great grandparents, Jacinto Pacheco and Anna Jacinta de Mello’s marriage record.  It is the culmination of 3-5 years of searching, a good 10 or more years of not being able to search because of my arthritis, and the end of a whole lot of frustration.

Why is this record so special?  The reason is that I had several unanswered questions about this couple and I was beginning to think I had made an error.  Good thing I got that DNA test and prove my cousin and I are related. Before I stopped researching, I found all but one of their children’s baptismal records.  I found information on their siblings and parents.   But, I couldn’t find anything on them.

A few months ago, the records for Achada, Nordeste went online.  I scoured through and found Anna Jacinta de Mello’s baptismal record.  An awesome find as I now could narrow down the range of years for my search.

I didn’t have any luck.  No marriage record, no death record for Jacinto, and the oldest son’s baptismal record was still missing.

Last week, Fenais da Vera Cruz went online (aka Fenais d’Ajuda).  This is the village Jacinto was from.  I began searching for his baptismal record.  I found several of his siblings, but not him.  In fact, I’m about 2 years from the end of group and I suspect Jacinto will be on the last page.

I did better with the marriage index.  The genealogy gods were showing me favor.  They are indexed.  In less than 5 minutes, I went through the Jacinto’s and I found my couple.  It was a bit anti-climatic after 15 years of waiting.

The marriage occurred 25 Dec 1856 in Fenais da Vera Cruz.  It’s a little unusual, though not rare, for the couple to be married in the groom’s village. I’m sure they did it just to throw me off the track.  The most important tidbit in this document is that Jacinto is record as Jacinto Pacheco Ferreira.  Ferreira was his mother’s maiden name.  No one else used this combination that I’m aware of.  Some did use Pacheco Grande, but not Pacheco Ferreira.

Now I’m wondering if I completely missed his death record because I was not looking for a Pacheco Ferreira.  The death records are slim on information for the most part.  They include the name of the deceased, their date of death, where they died, some times the village their were born in, and if you are lucky the Priest wrote down the informant and their relationship to the deceased.  It is very possible that I saw his death record and thought “Well, I’m not looking for this guy” and moved on.

Slowly but surely I’m putting together the pieces.  I now have Anna Jacinta’s baptismal record, Jacinto and Anna’s marriage record, and the baptismal records in Achada of their children Manoel (1863) to Theodoro (1876).  I’m down to the death record and the two baptismal record.  At least I know now that they did get married and I can throw out all my other theories of multiple marriages and step children.

Score one for tenacity!

 

 

 

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Double Pai Incognito

I’m coining that phrase.

I’ve been working on my cousin’s Raposo line. It seemed a simple request. Figure out if Francisco Raposo and Manoel Raposo of Kilauea were really brothers.

To start, the birth place information in some records in Hawaii was inconsistent. I sorted it out and identified they were from the village of Mosteiros on Sao Miguel Island. I had a starting point at least.

I found their marriage records and saw the phrase no Portuguese researcher wants to see. Their father was Pai Incognito. Pai Incognito translates roughly to “father unknown”. Okay, we know the woman knew who the father was, but she wasn’t telling. Pai Incognito is a dead end unless someone gives up the information in a later record.

I decided to search for their baptismals. A fellow researcher found Manoel’s and then I located Francisco’s. What I didn’t expect was this: their maternal grandfather was also a Pai Incognito. This means their father’s line is a dead end and their mother’s father’s line is a dead end.

No matter how much research I do I always come across something I’ve never seen before. This is a case where both the mother and the grandmother were unmarried mothers.  Perhaps more common today, but no so much in the 1840s (or maybe it was but we just don’t hear about it).

It leaves a lot of open questions. Where did their surname Raposo come from? Did Manoel and Francisco have the same father?  How did the single mother and grandmother make ends meet?  I can only hope some record, maybe in Hawaii, provides answers these questions. For now, this is a brick wall with cement poured over it.

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