My Maternal Grandfather’s Family Tree

One of the neat things about using WikiTree is once you have the data uploaded you can make some neat graphics for your blog.  I wish I had more photos of my ancestors.  The empty photo spots aren’t as appealing.

I created this tree using their widget. These are my Azorean roots.


It shows three geneations of my maternal grandfather’s family tree. Pretty neat, isn’t it? It’s only a fraction of the generations for this tree, but still makes a nice display.


Why I’m Sharing My Family Tree Online

I’ve seen the pros and cons about sharing your family tree online.   On the plus side, you share your knowledge with others about your ancestry.  You put cousin bait out on the web.  On the negative side, others may take your data and call it their own.  Others will take your data and mangle it to fit their needs.  Websites might claim to own your data once you post it.

I sat on the fence for a long time, years in fact.  I was jealous of all the cousin bingos others were having.  But, I was reluctant.  Then, a couple of incidences happened that made me jump off the fence and into action.

First, my family tree started to appear online.  In some cases it was a stranger posting data found in the census and calling it a family tree.  In other instances, it was my family tree–and I mean MY family tree.  I know it is my work because of the way I was taught to show nicknames that no one else seems to do and my quirky way of using ??? for “name unknown” (I really hate when people are filed under Unknown in my database…I prefer them under ??? at the beginning of the people list.)  But, it’s my family tree that I’ve shared with people over the years.  Long before I realized that you needed documentary proof of every fact.  Long before I did research in Azorean and French records.  Long before I learned to input names with uniformity.  They are all my early glaring errors in all their glory.  And, they are being repeated by anyone who decides to copy the data.

This really bothered me for awhile.   I realize now genealogy has a huge learning curve.  When you start, you come in with this Disneyesque ideas of what your family tree will look like.  You have no clue of the challenges that await you, the long hours bent over a microfilm readers and computer keyboards, the months waiting for that one birth certificate to arrive via mail.   You haven’t realized there are errors on documents.  You don’t yet comprehend that your relative’s memories are helpful but they cannot be fully depended on.   And, you do not grasp that people change their narrative when necessary.  You are so naive in that “I can’t believe I found them all living together!” way that colors our first couple years of research.

Once you make these realizations, usually after finding inconsistencies, you go back over your research to find further proof.    Those trees that others have submitted online are long before I became the genealogist I am today.

My second reason probably has happened to every genealogist since the beginning of time.  I will be brought in on a conversation and find a cousin relaying information that is simply not true.   They may be stories I’ve already corrected.  They may be all new ones.  But, because I’ve worked on the family tree so long, there are certain facts that I know for sure and I cringe when I hear otherwise.  I feel obligated to set people straight.  I want them to have the right information about our shared ancestry.  I can only do that by sharing.

Finally, there is simply no better way to put cousin bait out there than posting your family tree!  As I work on this little hobby, I realize that my tree spreads into several parts of the world and parts of the US that I did not originally realize.  By posting my tree online, someone in the Azores, Ireland, or France might see my data.  A cousin back in Massachusetts might find me. They might recognize the names as part of their tree.  And, then the two sides can link up once again.  Wouldn’t that be cool?
These things as well as others made me decide it was time to post my family tree online.  After all, if anyone is going to screw up my data, it’s going to be me, darn it!  (Wait…that can’t be the message I want to get across…  On a serious note, I would rather post my tree with information that is accurate to the best of my knowledge at this time and have folks share it and reshare it until eternity than to see information being shared that is simply not true.  I would rather my cousins be able to go to my posted tree, see their ancestry, ask questions, and learn from  it.  I would also like them to have the opportunity to add to it and share what they know.  I certainly don’t know everything and getting stories from the people who knew these people in real life is a benefit to any family tree.

As a genealogy friend, Carol, recently said,  I cannot control what others do with the information that I post.  I’m okay with that.  But, at least I will know that in one place on the web my family tree is posted the way I meant it to be.  And, if someone wants to see where we come from, they are more than welcome to it.  And, if they want to contact me and say hello, here I am, ready to add a new cousin.


Reassessing the Surname Algravia

I’ve written before about how my great grandfather, Theodoro, changed his surname from Pacheco to Smith.  We were all told for generations that he thought there were too many Pacheco’s in Oakland, CA so he changed his surname to Smith.  Ha Ha silly immigrant!

The truth was far more complicated.  My great grandfather contracted leprosy while working on the Kilauea Sugar Plantation.  In order to avoid deportation to Molokai, his family came up with a plan to smuggle Theodoro, his wife, and children from Hawaii.  The plan worked, the family resettled in Oakland without a hitch, and they were the Smith’s forever more.

theodoro death cert medical section

[Cause of death information from my great grandfather's death certificate.  He lived 7 years after being smuggled to California.]

About the same time, two of my great grandfather’s changed their surname to Algravia or it’s variants Algrava and Algarva.  My theory was as they went to Oakland they were trying to deflect attention from my great grandfather by changing their surnames.  It was a serious offense to bring leprosy into the mainland United States in the early 1900s and most likely would have lead to my great grandfather’s deportation back to Molokai or whatever was the equivalent in California.  It made sense to me that the one brother, Manoel, used Algravia since he came over about the same time as my great grandfather.  It fit nicely into my theory.  The other brother, Francisco, came about 10 years later.  Doesn’t fit as nicely into my theory.

This theory held up until a cousin gave me the insurance certificate her ancestor had filled out in 1900.  That document listed my great grandfather’s brother, Antonio, with surname Algravio.  Antonio’s family never used this surname.  Antonio is mostly listed under Pacheco in records, though, the surname is on Antonio’s death certificate.

santoniosoccert antonio pacheco006

[Earliest mention of the Algravia surname or it's variants came on this certificate dated 1900.]

Then, a descendant of Jose, my great grandfather’s other brother, told me she was told at funerals to sign her surname as Algrava–not Pacheco.  No one in Jose’s family used the surname Algrava.  Most of them stayed in Hawaii.  Even those who came to California kept the Pacheco surname.

There have been more discrepancies over the years.  But, recently I have worked in the California Marriage Records for Alameda County.  The entry for my grandfather’s cousin, Georgina “Jean” (Cosma) Russell. caught my eye.  Her mother was Marie (Pacheco) Cosma, my great grandfather’s sister.  She is always noted in records as Marie Pacheco.  But, here she was on Georgina’s marriage certificate as “Marie Algrava”.   This marriage occurred in 1928.  In addition to this record, various cousins were using the surnames Algrava or Algarva in marriages from 1925-1930 despite the fact that they were listed in other records as Pacheco.

So, where did Algravia and it’s variants come from?  I have no clue!  Other than the reference above from 1900, I can find no other early references of the surname on Kauai.  I’ve gone through the records on the Azores for the village of Achada where my great grandfather’s mother was from and found no reference to the surname back to the 1700s.  I went through his father’s village, Fenais da Vera Cruz, back to 1800 and have found no reference to the surname in relationship to the Pacheco family.

I’m inclined to think they contrived to mess with me a hundred years later.  Okay, I have another theory that fits a little better than my genealogy conspiracy theory.  I have yet to find a birth or baptismal record for Antonio, the brother mentioned above.  I’ve gone through Achada and Fenais da Vera Cruz plus some neighboring villages without success.  The other children were easy to find in Achada records where their parents lived.  Could Antonio have been adopted?  Could he be the child of a previous marriage?  It would explain him adopting Algravio earlier than his siblings.  It may be his real surname.  It could be that he was born in the nearby village of Algarvia in Nordeste on Sao Miguel Island.  The spelling doesn’t doesn’t concern me.  It’s fairly obvious with all the variations I have found on the surname that no one was really surname how it should be spelled.  I’m not even sure what the real spelling should be.

It may even be possible that Algravia was the surname of a Godfather, community elder, or mentor.  Azoreans sometimes adopted surnames of those they wished to honor.  Though, I saw this more in the 1700s and early 1800s than the 1860s when Antonio would have been born.

Then again, maybe it refers to nothing.  Maybe it means that around 1900, Antonio met a man on the plantation from Algravia.  He linked the name so much he added it to his name.  Then, Theodoro became ill around 1905 and the family suspected leprosy.  They began to lay down plans for his escape should it be necessary.  Those plans involved establishing a different surname for all family members if necessary.

It is confounding to have the pieces but they won’t fit together!  It’s even more confounding that more pieces appear but they only make it more difficult for the puzzle to be assembled.  I suspect that beyond knowing the leprosy/smuggling story I may never know where the surname Algravia came from.  I may luck out and find a record in the Azores, but I’m not holding my breath.