52 Ancestors: Rosa Boteilho was a Tough Woman

This is my entry for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, week 3: Tough Woman.

It’s not easy to flesh out the stories of Azorean women.  You are dealing with baptismal, marriage, and death records.  That’s it.  Often, women are elusive because of naming practices which involved taking a religious name rather than a surname.  A religious name that can change throughout their life.

Rosa Jacinto Boteilho was born 24 Feb 1824 in the village of Maia in Ribeira Grande on the island of Sao Miguel.  She was the daughter of Antonio Boteilho da Rocha and Antonia Leonor.

Rosa married Felicianno de Mello (aka Felicianno Mello Castanho) 26 Oct 1840 at Divino Espirito Santo Church in Maia.  He was 33.  She was only 16.  He was a soldier who had left the village for some time, but returned about 3 years prior.

This is a photo of their village and how it looks today.


To say that Rosa endured hardship is an understatement. Rosa had at least 12 children.  As I’ve worked through the obitos (death records), I’ve seen those children die one by one.  I’ve only worked in the 1860s and so far I’ve found 5 of her children have passed away before the age of 5.  From what I’ve seen in the records, I suspect some sort of epidemic came through the village and affected children the most.  One year there were over 100 deaths (usually 30-40 were normal) and 90% were children.

Rosa died at the age of 44 on 1 Feb 1869.  When she died, only three of her children were alive.  By the time Felicianno died in 1884, only two were surviving.  My great grandmother, Maria, and her brother, Jose.

I don’t know Rosa’s cause of death, but if they had written down heartache I would not have been surprised.  I can’t imagine what it would have been like for her to watch one child after another pass away.  She lost three children in 1863 alone.

She may be a strange candidate for tough woman since she only lived to 44.  I can only imagine the emotional pain that she carried with her.   She gave birth to her first child in 1841 and her last in 1864.  The fact that after each child died she continued to get pregnant and try again says something about her and her inner strength.   Or, perhaps I choose to see it that way.  I think it was a tough life, with much suffering.  That is why she wins the award for tough woman in my tree.  No one should have had to endure what she did, but I know, many have.




52 Ancestors: #2 Goncalo Vaz Botelho, Descendant of a King

This is week 2 of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This week’s theme: King. I am writing about Goncalo Vaz Botelho, descendant of kings and queens.  In scanning the list I see the first connection is Fernando I, the King of Castille and Leon (1345-1383).  Goncalo is his 12 great grandson.

Not many know, and I certainly didn’t before I delved into genealogy, that the Azores Island were first populated by minor nobles.  They were ordered by the Infante (you know him as Henry the Navigator).  Goncalo showed up on Sao Miguel Island in 1450.  He is known as one of the founders and first settlers of the island.  It would be interesting to see if my Botelho’s of the 1800s link back to Goncalo.

Goncalo was probably born around 1420 in Portugal.  His parents were Pedro Botelho, a High Commander in the Ordem da Cristo (the Order of Christ) and Isabel Anes Buarcos.

I do not know the name of his wife, but according to the works of Gaspar Frutuoso and Rodrigo Rodrigues, they had five children:  Nuno, Antao, Goncalo, Joao, and Francisco.  Amazingly, they all took the same surname:  Goncalves Botelho.

I descend from his son, Nuno and his wife, Catarina Rodrigues.

According to Wikipedia, Goncalo is the founder of Vila Franca do Campo on Sao Miguel Island.  It was considered one of the larger settlements.  Today, Vila Franca do Campo looks like this…

Vila Franca do Campo

By Ruben JC Furtado (Photo taken by contributor) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Frutuoso doesn’t say much about Goncalo in his book “Livro Quarto das Saudades da Terra: Volume 1″.  He does note that Goncalo was a favorite of the Infante.  He also notes that he had the nickname “O Grande”, noting that he was large in size and stature, a respected man on the island.

My connection to Goncalo is through my 3rd great grandmother, Rosa Medeiros Pacheco, who was born in Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island in 1810.   Goncalo is my 15th great grandfather.  Think I can cash in on some of that royalty today?



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?