Tombstone Tuesday: Learning Melvin Medeiros’ Story

My Pacheco and de Braga lines intersect with a family from Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii, who went by de la Cross (or de la Cruz), Medeiros, and Andrew or Andrew Medeiros–take your pick.  As our lines crossed a few times, I ended up documenting their descendants as well as mine.

One of the descendants, Melvin Medeiros, was always a mystery to me.  Melvin was the son of Seraphim A. Medeiros and Felisa “Alice” Silvan.  He was the grandson of Andrew da la Cross and Rosa Perreira, Seraphim’s parents.  I had his birth date and then he vanished from records.

Sunday night I was searching the internet to work on my yearly Pacheco de Braga Family Newsletter. I set out to verify people who would be 80 years or old section of the newsletter.  I’d be embarrassed to include someone who died several years before.  I do my best to find death information if it’s available.

During my search I came across a blog post on the Spanish Pearls blog.  The post was about Melvin Medeiros.  It included a photo of his tombstone which you can see on

Because of the blog post and the information at FindAGrave, I now know what happened to Melvin.  He enlisted in the military in 1943.   He  was sent to fight in the Pacific during WWII.  Melvin was killed in action in 1945 in the Philippines.  According to the entry, this was during the battle for Manila.

It’s a curious twist to the story.  Melvin’s grandfather was from the Philippines.  It seems ironic that his grandfather would leave the Philippines, then died in Hawaii and he himself would end up dying in the Philippines.

Melvin died during the war making it difficult to locate his death information.  Because of a blogger and a FindAGrave volunteer, I now know his story.  I appreciate being able to add this bit of information to his file.



SNGF: Ancestral Tombstones

Randy Seaver is at it again!  He’s got his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge posted for this week.

This week the challenge is to see how far back I can go with my ancestry with tombstones.  This must be a continuous line.  This may be a very short post.  First, most of my ancestors were relatively new immigrants.  My “oldest” line came over in the late 1840s.  Second, my maternal grandma was cremated and there is no tombstone.  That sort of crosses her line off the list right off the bat.    My Dad was cremated also.  No tombstone for him either.

So, it looks like I’m working with the Azoreans again.

The first tombstone is that of my grandfather, Joao “Bohne” Pacheco Smith.  I know.  His name is not on the tombstone.  The name on the stone is that of his brother who died in 1913 of influenza.  My grandfather was added to this plot when he died in 1957, but his name wasn’t added to the stone.  Also, in this plot is Theodore Souza, my great aunt’s son who died young.

This is why it’s a good reason to check the cemetery files if you can gain access to them.  This was the entry in the log book at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oakland, CA.  If I hadn’t asked to see these books, I probably would not have know that my grandfather and has nephew were buried in this plot, too.

The next ancestor tombstone is my great grandparents, Theodoro Pacheco and Maria de Braga (aka Theodore and Mary P. Smith).  They are buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery as well and are also noted on the log sheet above.  There is also someone else buried in their plot who is not listed on the stone.  It is their nephew, William Pacheco Algrava, who died young.  He was the son of Theodoro’s brother, Manoel.

Sadly, I think that when I went to visit this plot I may have been the first person there since the 1950s.  As you can see, the vines from the fence were overgrown and reaching out to the tombstone.  I cleaned up the area as best I could before I left.

The last tombstone of the de Braga line that I have is that of my great great grandfather, Jozimas de Braga.  He was buried at St. Mary’s, too.  Again, another relative is buried in the plot but not listed on the stone.  It is Jozimas’ granddaughter, Sophie (Bonita) Guido, who died at the age of 25 of cancer.

Jozimas’ wife is buried somewhere on Kauai.  I have not located her burial as yet.

The last of the Pacheco tombstones is that of my great great grandmother, Ana Jacinta de Mello Pacheco.  Ana is buried at St. Sylvester’s Cemetery (aka Kilauea Catholic Cemetery), Kilauea, Kauai, HI.  Her stone was in bad state when a friend took this photo for me.

Ana was born ca 1830 in Achada, Nordeste, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  She died in 4 Dec 1902, most likely in Kilauea.

So, I can go three generations with tombstones on the Pacheco de Braga lines.  I don’t think it is possible to go any further with my Azorean roots.  As I understand it the burial practices are different than the US and they are temporary because of the lack of space on the islands.  I was once told that it was common to give islanders a burial at sea because of the lack of land.  Maybe one of my readers can provide more information on the burial practices.

Thanks for this interesting challenge, Randy!  I’m looking forward to next week.


Tombstone Tuesday: Maria Pacheco Iida, another Fearless Female

Although Tombstone Tuesday is not on the Fearless Female calendar this week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce you to another fearless female in my tree.

This is the tombstone of Maria (Pacheco) Iida, daughter of Antonio Pacheco and Alexandrina Jose.


It reads:

Maria P. Iida

July 13, 1891

Dec 27 1961

According to my research, Maria was really born 13 Jan 1890 in Kilauea, Kauai, HI.  Maria was the first of being the first Pacheco grandchildren to marry.  She married Benedict Iida 14 Jan 1905 at Immaculate Conception Church in Lihue, Kauai, HI.

Maria and Benedict have the distinction of being the first interracial couple in my family tree.  She being the daughter of Portuguese immigrants and Benedict being a Japanese native.

Benedict and Maria first lived in the Kilauea Sugar Plantation housing.  Benedict started out as a plantation laborer.  By 1910, he had worked his way into the office as an assistant bookkeeper.  By 1920, Benedict had been promoted to bookkeeper.

The couple stayed on the island of Kauai their entire life.  They had seven children, five of them making it to adulthood.  They also raised the daughter of a friend.

Within the confines of Hawaii, their interracial marriage probably didn’t matter much.  However, I have heard family stories about the interracial couples (which were many among the Pacheco’s) who visited California. Some of their relatives looked down on them in disdain.

It was even worse for those who chose to migrate and make California their home.  It was one thing to have a visiting cousin whose husband was not White, it was quite a different thing to have them move next door.

I remember hearing a story about how Maria’s Mother fretted over the validity of their marriages for legal reasons as well as religious ones.  Interracial marriage did not become legal in California until the late 1940s and I doubt that Catholic Churches were marrying interracial couples before that time, though I could be wrong.  I imagine these issues may have weighed into why this part of the family moved away from the rest of the family to a more rural setting.  There they could live in peace without the judgemental stares of their other relatives.

Maria died at the age of 71 just a few months before Benedict.  They are both buried at Kapaia Catholic Graveyard in Lihue, Kauai Co., HI.