One of the strangest discoveries at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Oakland, California was coming across the tombstone of Willie P. Smith. Willie was most likely born as Guilherme Pacheco but some how recorded as Wilhelm Pacheco by a 1900 Census enumerator who was obviously a little confused. He is the third child of Theodoro Pacheco and Maria de Braga.
Willie was born on the 22nd of June 1899, Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii. He left Kauai with his family ca 1907. The family took up residence in Oakland, Alameda Co., California on the family owned, or so it seemed, E. 25th Street.
Willie came down with influenza in the winter of 1912. He died on the 1st of January 1913 at the age of 13. Just a few months later his father would pass away from Hansen’s Disease (aka leprosy).
The reason I said that this was a strange discovery is that while his parents didn’t have much money, this plot was bought for Willie alone. Years later his youngest brother, Joao, would be buried in the plot. But in 1913, Willie had his own plot. Yet, less than a year later his mother would purchase a larger plot for her husband and herself, and then several young family members would be buried there within two or three years of purchase.
It strikes me as odd for a family with limited financial resources with a father who was clearly dying. Theodoro had been not been working in 1910 and his death certificate shows that he was under going medical treatment. It isn’t as if Maria was unaware that her husband was dying when Willie succumbed to influenza. Why buy the smaller plot for Willie knowing that Theodoro would follow him soon after?
Just one more mystery that the family left behind. They were good for that!
I spent a little time this week trying to connect 1930 census sheets to people in my family tree. It would be a big help if I could find my people. I know they are there. I found them on other websites. The problem is the names are so badly transcribed that even a seasoned pro like me couldn’t find them.
For example, let’s look at the one sheet I found. It’s for the 1930 census, Oakland, E. 25th Street. Let’s look at the errors I found on this one sheet. In each case, I am noting what the name on the sheet really read, not what I know it to be:
Santos, Manuel should have been Santos, Manuel J.
Spirsow, Melvin should have been Spirou, William (his son was Jr., so the William should have been easy)
Madrias, Rose should have been Maderos, Rose
Algeria, Bessie should have been Algrava, Jesse (there were other Jesse’s on the page, so the transcriber had something to compare to)
Algeria, Margie should have been Algrava, Angie
Please don’t think I’m picking on Footnote.com. I’ve done research at ancestry.com as well as other sites. Transcription errors are common. I’m still trying to figure out how one transcriber turned Bonita into Bonavenetti!
I’m pointing it out because these transcription errors make it difficult for a researcher to locate their people. Unless you are like me and know exactly what street everyone lived on, you are going to be stumped.
It makes me wonder if those who undertake these projects have people on hand who are familiar with the naming practices of the locality or the ethnicity? I think anyone familiar with Portuguese naming practices would have known that Bessie wasn’t a good choice for a male.
Once I found a sheet to work with it was very easy to link the person listed to the individual page. Once you highlight a name on the census sheet a screen pops up that directs you to the individual page. Save it and the census sheet is forever linked to that personal searchable page.
Needless to say, I didn’t get very far. It looks like I’m going to have to go through Oakland sheet by sheet until I hit Brooklyn District and then E. 25th Street. I’ll probably start from the sheet I located and then work forward and backward.
Here’s some of the work I did this week:
While walking through Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California, about ten years ago, I came across the grave site for my Great Great Aunt and Uncle, Jose de Braga and Maria Jacinto (aka Joseph DeBraga and Mary Camara). Jose was the son of Jozimas de Braga and Maria da Conceicao de Mello, of Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores. Maria was the daughter of Manoel Jacinto and Filomena da Gloria Leite, of either Arrifes or Feteiras, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.
Jose, 8 years old, came to Hawaii in 1882 on the SS Monarch with his parents. They were under contract with the Kilauea Sugar Plantation on Kauai. Maria, 7 years old, came over with her parents in 1883 on the SS Hankow. Her family worked on the Koloa Sugar Plantation on Kauai.
Maria’s family eventually ended up on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation. She and Jose married 19 May 1895 in Kilauea.
They began their life on the plantation as well. They had hopes of starting a family, but sadly, Maria could not conceive. Eight years into their marriage, they were still childless.
One person’s tragedy becomes another pride and joy. Jose’s brother-in-law, Joao Pacheco, contracted tuberculosis. He died shortly after in 1906. He left his widow, Joana Gonsalves Cardoza, with eight mouths to feed, four of them under the age of five. We don’t know what Joana went through during that period. She was in mourning with several children to take of. She most likely worked on the plantation to survive. She probably sent out her oldest children to work in the plantation as well. But, the pressures of survival must have weighed heavily on her. Joana gave her 3 year old daughter, Isabella, to Jose and Maria to raise. In fact, she gave all her daughters away to couples within the family who could not have children.
They raised Isabella as if she were their own. They started in Oakland, CA, then moved to Spreckels, CA, and finally back to Oakland.
Isabella and the others did not learn about their parentage until they married. Then they learned their cousins were really their brothers.
By the time I happened upon this gravesite, Isabella was very old. Her children and grandchildren no longer lived in the area. Those who might have remembered Jose and Maria were long gone. Jose died in 1936 and Maria in 1947.
With all these relatives long gone or moved away, one question begs to be answered. Who left these flowers on their grave site? Who was around forty five years after Jose and Maria died who might have remember them?
I never found out.