What a whirlwind month for genealogy!

April  was one of my best research months in a long time.  I’ve made some really neat discoveries on my Portuguese and French lines (where are you, Irish?  C’mon, step up!)

Let’s see…

I found that the town of Ogeu les bains, France has Google street view.  I spent a few hours looking around town.  I found the Mazeres house that has existed since the early 1800s (thanks to cousin Jean for the address!)

I found through findagrave.com that my grandfather’s cousin was featured in a project for California that photographed WWI soldiers.  The project was done in 1918.

I found that a group of Pacheco Remigio’s who I’ve been trying to locate for about 5 years have a group on Facebook.

I have no photographs of my grandmother’s cousins.  For whatever reason, she and her sister had nothing on the Bourne’s, Pohley’s, and Burke’s–their San Francisco cousins–despite the fact that their mother and her sisters were very close.  I found that some San Francisco yearbooks are available on ancestry.com.  I now know what 5 of her cousins looked like.

I started searching the records for Povoacao, Sao Miguel Island, Azores to see if I could drum up something on my ancestor’s family from the 1770s.  After floundering in the marriage records, I went to the baptismals and found her had two more siblings.

A new cousin from Kilauea took photo of tombstones in the local cemetery.  I know have my great great grandmother’s tombstone photo–and her death date.

And, the same cousin unknowingly sent me a photo that showed my great aunt, Minnie (Ventura) Pacheco Smith as a teenager.

I wonder why genealogy is feast or famine.   At least it seems that way for me.  I either spend months locating that one record to fill a gap in data or it comes in an avalanche of information from all over.

I have work to do now!  I have many records to input and organize.  See that smile on my face?  I’m one happy genealogist.



What do you do when you can’t read the writing?

I am working in records in different village records on Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  This means I must read the Portuguese language records.  Did I tell you that I don’t know any Portuguese beyond swear words?  Well, I have learned some since starting my family tree.  I can translate a baptismal record like nobody’s business.  Most of the time I can make out what’s being said.  Sometimes a record throws me for a loop though.

In this case, the Priest had really unusual handwriting.  I could figure out most of the record, but I couldn’t read the first name–the most important part!

This is what it looked like:

povoacao bapt valencia francisco medeiros josefa de mello crop

The first word on the first line is the baby’s name.  The second word “filha” tells me the baby is female.

At first I though the first letter was a V so I was leaning towards Valencia.  But, when I looked at it close up it looked like  J.  J names are limited in Portuguese.  It most certainly was not Jacinta or Josepha!

How did I resolve this?

First, I asked for help from others on Facebook.  I wanted to know what others saw even those not familiar with Portuguese.  One friend darkened the image for me.  This is what she came up with…
v name darker

Next, I compared the Priest’s writing to other examples in the records.  In this way, I was able to determine that the first letter was a P not a J or V.   This combined with what looked like the third letter was a T made me think the name was Patrocinia.  We argued a bit on the Portuguese Hawaiian Facebook group as some wanted her to be Antonia.  But, I compared the letter A in his signature to other places.  The letter A was very clear in other records.

One researcher noticed that the fourth letter was a Q.  I examined it and sure enough it was.  This changed everything.  I only know of one female name starting with P and sporting a Q and that’s Pulqueria.  If you follow the letters in their sl0ppy style, you can see that this is a possibility.

Last, I went to the experts…those who know the language first hand on the Azores Google Group.  The name has been confirmed as Pulqueira.

My advice when trying to decipher hard to read handwriting is  get different examples of the same person’s writing and compare letters.  A person will usually write in the same style on every record.  Then, ask others what they see.  Don’t try to make the words, especially names, fit what you want them to be.  You can fool yourself easily.

I believe this is my first Pulqueria.  I’m happy about that.  I already have my quota of Maria, Rosa, Isabella, and Jacinta’s!


This may be why I can’t find the marriage

This weekend I decided to redo the work another researcher did for me on Francisco de Medeiros and Josefa de Mello.  The town of Maia isn’t on the Azores Archives website yet, so I thought Povoacao was as good as any place to research.

I found their son, Joao de Mello’s, baptismal record first.  Then, I went searching for his brother, Apollinario.  Found him relatively easily.  It helps when you already have the dates.

I wanted to see if they had any more siblings and began to work backwards from Apollinario.  I started at 1767 and got back as far as 1762 before calling it quits.  6 years between children with a Portuguese couple seemed too many years.  I decided to look for the marriage.  As both couples and the children were from Povoacao, it was as good as place as any to start as any.

I went from 1767 back to 1762 without a nibble.  I started to suspect maybe I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  So, I went to my database to verify and the first thing I realized was Apollinario was born in Maia, Ribeira Grande, not Povoacao where he was baptized.  That seemed weird to me.  These people didn’t travel all that much.

I couldn’t make out mention of Maia on Apollinario’s baptismal record.  What did jump out at me was “Nossa Senhora da Graca”.  This was not the church I was working in.  So, I followed the line.  It told me that Josefa de Mello was from the parish of Nossa Senhora da Graca and the village of Porto Formoso!  I did a quick check on Jose’s record and sure enough, it said the same thing.  She wasn’t from Povoacao after all.

This leaves me with a quandary.  I have one parent born in Povoacao, one in Porto Formoso, both children baptized in Povoacao, but one might have been born in Maia.  Sigh…where do I look for the marriage?

I think I’ll go back a year or so in the Povoacao records.  Then, if nothing comes up, I will switch to deaths and see if I can find their death records.  Though, it might be better to see if their are any other children born to this couple listed in the baptismals after Joao in 1771.  I know that both died before 1796, but that’s a wide range from 1771-1796 to be looking for a death record especially without an index.  I could look for Francisco de Medeiros’ baptismal record, but I’m a little leery.  I found two other Francisco de Medeiros’ having children baptized at the same time as Joao and Apollinario.  Since I don’t have the names of Francisco’s parents, I can’t determine if any record I find is for the right person.  The records for Porto Formoso and Maia are not online yet, so I can’t go that route either.

This may explain why I haven’t found a marriage record.  The couple might have been married in Josefa’s village.  And, they may have even been married where Apollinario was born.  Looks like I have my work cut out for me.  At least I figure out the discrepancies before I went through the records twice.