52 Ancestors: Give Me a Fresh Start on Harry Jackson

52ancestors-2015 image from blog

I am joining in on the No Story is Too Small Blog’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge.  This weeks theme is Fresh Start and this is my post about Harry Kenneth Jackson, my pain in the butt ancestor.

Harry is my great grandfather.  He was born 24 of January maybe in 1871, or so the family say. His daughter, Julia, said that he was born in Bristol, England, but his death certificate says Liverpool.

He was said to be one of 18 children.  His mother died when he was around 8 years old and supposedly he did not like his step mother so he split the scene and stowed away on a ship.  He traveled the world several times and ended up on San Francisco’s shores sometime around 1900.

I have not been able to prove any of it.  Harry Kenneth Jackson was incredibly gifted at leaving no trace of his life before San Francisco.  The first hint of a trail is 1904 when he married Margaret Mary Jones in San Francisco.

They set up roots at 449 Natoma Street.  Harry worked for Key System as a marine fireman.

The couple was just celebrating the birth of their first child when calamity struck.  With their 3 week old and Margaret’s father in tow, they ran for cover from the 1906 earthquake and fire.  They spent a couple of weeks in the camp at Golden Gate Park and they tried to repair the scraps of their life.

The couple first lived on Aztec Street in San Francisco, but soon after moved to Peralta Avenue in Oakland, across the bay.  They eventually ended up on 25th Avenue.  By this time, they had 5 children, 4 girls and 1 boy.

Harry continued to work for Key System.  In 1918, he was employed as an oiler.  According to my grandmother, he worked on the ferry boats that plied between the two cities.

I don’t know what happened, but the marriage started to go bad in the 1920s.  By 1930, they were divorced.  I have searched in vain thus far for the divorce papers.  There should be something somewhere, including the newspapers, since my great aunt told me that Harry was determined not to let them have the house and attempted to set it on fire.  I’m pretty sure attempted arson makes you noteworthy…and gives you a pretty good jail sentence.  The jail sentence could explain why Harry seems to go missing from 1929 to 1933.  There was no contact with the family after that.  A grandson remembers him only by the name his grandmother used “That Damn Jackson”.

He was still employed by Key System in 1940. Though he is listed in city directories, he stayed away from the census in 1930 and 1940.  He died 10 years later on 13 Jul 1950 in Oakland.  The informant was a woman named Julia Nattinger who I have no information on.  The obituary lists no other relatives except for his surviving daughters who had not talked to him in years.

I have snippets of remembrances from my grandmother’s childhood of a man who once berated a teacher for making his left handed daughter write right handed against God’s will.  And, the man who got angry when the children used watermelon rinds as skates and stained the sidewalks.

There is also the little thing his daughter, Julie, once told me.  Harry was not allowed to become a US citizen.  She had no idea why but thought he committed a crime prior to settling in San Francisco.  An FOIA request didn’t turn up anything.

I would very much like a fresh start on ol’ Harry.  The stories, the myths, and the lack of documentation have made his a jumble of statements and facts.  It seems everywhere I look for Harry I hit a wall.  Why wasn’t he named something Jebediah or Ezekiel?  Maybe then I could separate him from all the other Jackson’s.  Perhaps my autosomal DNA test will give me the fresh start I need on him.  Perhaps somewhere out there is a descendant of one of his siblings, someone I share a 2nd great grandfather with or who is Harry great grandchild from an illegitimate offspring.  Oh, wouldn’t that be fun?

If you’re listening somewhere out there, Harry, throw me a document with your parents names on it, will ya?




SNGF: Best Find 2014, Hopes for 2015

This is my entry for Randy Seaver’s weekly Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.  This week we’re to write about our best find of 2014, then write about an ancestor we want to work on in 2015.

2014 was a year of many discoveries.  The records in the Azores went online, Portuguese Hawaiian newspapers went online, I had my DNA tested, etc.  It’s difficult to narrow this down to one best.  However, I think the one that stands out the most is finding the marriage record for Jacinto Pacheco and Anna Jacinta de Mello.

Jacinto was from the village of Fenais da Vera Cruz and Anna from Achada.  When I left off researching around 1999, I had spent many months searching for their marriage record with no luck.  I had all their children’s baptismal records but one.

This spring Achada came online.  I worked diligently through the records.  I found many relatives and got my lines back into the 1600s.  Yet, that marriage record eluded me.

Sometime in summer, Fenais da Vera Cruz came online.  I decided to start at the beginning of the marriage set rather than the end.  Bingo!  A couple pages in I found my couple.  Contrary to norms they were married in his village.  But, the real reason I missed this record was that when I originally searched FVC and Achada in the 1990s I was searching the wrong years.  I assumed that since second son Manoel was born in 1863, that Antonio was born around 1861.  I searched back to 1859.  Then, I went searching for Antonio’s bapstimal thinking I’d have a better handle on the marriage date if I had that. I never found it.

Anna and Jacinto were married in 1856.  I had stopped my search to soon.  I still haven’t found Antonio’s baptismal which leaves me with a problem.  Between the marriage and Manoel’s birth is almost 7 years.  Where were they during that time?  It’s frustrating not to know.  At least now, I know Antonio could have been born as early as 1857.

This is their marriage record.

marriage record achada azores

As for 2015, I’d like to say that I’ll work on Harry Kenneth Jackson, my great grandfather.  But, he is an impossible ancestor and I might spend all year looking for that needle in a haystack.  So, I think that I would like to form two goal:

1.  Find the immigration information on John Joseph Jones and Mary Jane Haywards for their migration from Australia to San Francisco.  I’m not sure if those records are available but I’d like to work them backwards so I can maybe establish their roots in Australia and then some day get them back to Wales.

2.  Find early information on my Kelly Dolan family.  I would like to either find Margaret (Kelly) Jones’ birth/baptismal in Manchester, Hillsborough Co., NH 1849 and/or Patrick Dolan’s naturalization records in 1854, Boston, MA.  I think that either could provided the information I need to make the just to County Roscommon, Ireland.  I’m hoping anyway!

Thanks for the challenge, Randy!  Happy New Year to All!





Portuguese Newspaper Find: Photo of Seraphim de Braga

I am a believer in going back to databases from time to time and rechecking my searches.  Sometimes I’ve learned things since the last search.  Sometimes there have been updates to databases.  Whatever the reason, it’s a good practice to get into.

The University of Massachusetts has been adding Portuguese newspapers to it’s collection for sometime now.  Recently, they began uploading newspapers from Hawaii and California.  These are of the most interest to me.

The database is a little clunky to work with.  I often have to exit and restart before looking at a new page or doing a new search.  It’s cumbersome, to say the least.  But, persistence can pay off and this week it did.

This is from the 18 May 1912 “O Luso” newspaper.  The article took up the entire front page.  It’s all about an organization called “A Real Associacao Beneficente Autonomica Micaelanese”.  I have never heard of it in my 24 years of researching Portuguese Hawaiians.

Most important is the photograph.  The man sitting in the second chair from the left is my great great uncle, Seraphim de Braga.  This is the first time I’ve gotten to see what he looks like–and that makes me very happy!

Seraphim had an interesting story.  My great great grandparents, Jozimas de Braga and Maria da Conceicao de Mello, came to Hawaii in 1882 on the Monarch.  They brought all their children but one, Seraphim.  It was a fairly common practice for the Azoreans.  They feared not making it to Hawaii or calamity striking them once they got there.  Some families left a child behind “just in case”.  Seraphim was that child.

I was completely unaware of Seraphim until about 5 years after starting my research.  The Pacheco Smith’s had no memory of him.  It wasn’t until I found his sister, Marie Grace (de Braga) Bonita’s obituary that I had even heard of him.  And then, I thought it was a mistake.  I wrote about Seraphim’s story in this article “The One They Left Behind“.

This photograph speaks volumes.  I only know that Seraphim was a carpenter by trade.  He was also a musician.  But, now I know he was elected representative in this organization.  To me that means Seraphim was establish and he had moved up in society.

Seraphim de Braga newspaper photo

Welcome to the family, Seraphim!  It’s nice to know what you look like.

Next challenge?  Figure out what this organization was.