Follow-up on my Great-Grandmother, Joana Fortes Lima Gomes

I previously wrote about how I was a bit uncertain on when my great grandmother, Joana, was born. On some documentation, she is listed as having been born in the 1886. Her obituary reads that she was 75 years old when she died in 1961. But her headstone says that she was born in 1876! In doing more research, I actually saw paperwork that shows 1886 crossed out and someone writing in 1876. This paperwork was corrected by her son, Daniel.

So this means that she was the child and not the grandchild of Luis Antonio de Lima and Camilla Fortes Ramos Lima. This also means that her name was originally Querina and that she was born in Rabil, Boa Vista on March 25, 1876. She was one of five children,including, Palmira, Manoel, Maria, and Antonio. Their father, Luis, died in 1882, at the age of 56. There are no further records for Camilla after this time.

Boa Vista was devestated between 1883-1886 and between 1896-1898, when crops failed there. It was around this time that Joanna was sent to Brava to live with relatives who at the time were being sustained by money and goods being sent from America. She had an uncle, Francisco Lima, living in Brava at the time. It is probably the case that she was brought there as an orphan because of the droughts.

According to Richard Lobban in the Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cape Verde, there was a total of 58 years of famine and over 250,000 deaths between 1747 and 1970. Learning more about my great-grandmother, Joana, has made me realize that we, her descendants, are so lucky to be alive today.

Cape Verdeans and America’s Independance Day; Just as American as Apple Pie.

Cape Verdeans and America’s Independance Day; Just as American as Apple Pie.

Independence Day is here and most Americans reflect on the birth of this great nation with backyard barbecues and fireworks. As an American of Cape Verdean ancestry I think it’s important to point out what most of knew about but maybe didn’t know the details. Cape Verdeans have been a part of the United States of America since its inception and we truly represent the American Experience just as much as the descendants of the Mayflower pilgrims or any other group that played a part in the making of this country.

The late Ray Almeida wrote in CHRONOLOGICAL REFERENCES: CABO VERDE/CAPE VERDEAN AMERICAN;
In “1634 Mathias DeSouza described as a mulatto and an indentured servant to Jesuit priests was among a group of six African passengers to land at the colony of St. Mary’s, Maryland aboard the Ship Arc. After working off his indenture, DeSouza was a translator for the colonists in their dealings with local Native peoples. Later DeSouza piloted his own ship. In 1642, DeSouza was elected to serve in the Maryland General Assembly. There is sufficient reason to assume that he may have been a Cape Verdean. (Maryland Hall of Records).”

Documented Cape Verdean military soldiers in the Revolutionary war for Independence from England were collected by Jose dos Anjos in his research of Cape Verdean military soldiers ( https://sites.google.com/site/capeverdeanveterans/Home/Cape-Verdean-Veterans)

James Pease (Jaime Pires)
Anthony Briffin (Antonio Britto)
Andrew deBarrow (Andre de Barros)
John Gomes
John Lopes
I added what may have been their original names in Cape Verde.

He also includes an extensive list of Cape Verdeans who served in the Navy and Army in the Civil War

NAVY

Name Age Complection Occupation Home
Antoine, Joseph 21 Negro Mariner Cape Verde
Antone, George 31 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Antone, Manuel 19 Black Mariner Cape Verde
Antone, Manuel 27 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Pedro Antone 30 Negro None Cape Verde
Antonio, George 32 Mulatto Sailor Cape St. Vincent, Cape Verde
Antonio, George 34 Mulatto Mariner St. Vincent, Cape Verde
Antonio, Joseph 22 Mulatto Steward Cape Verde
Antonio, Sylva 34 Negro Mariner/Carpenter Cape Verde
Antonio, Vincent 43 Negro Mariner Cape Verde
Bettis, Anton 31 Negro None Cape Verde
Bin, Philip 32 Black Sailor/Carpenter Cape Verde
Bisley, Henry M. 28 Mulatto Cook & Steward Bon Vista, Cape Verde
Cori, John 26 Mulatto Mariner Cape Verde
Correia, Joseph 25 Mulatto Mariner Cape Verde
DeBaron, Manuel A. 21 Mulatto Mariner Cape Verde
DeCruz, Antonio 33 Negro None Buena Vista, Cape Verde
Dees, Clement 27 Mulatto Mariner San Antonio, Cape Verde
Ford, Peter 27 Negro None Cape Verde
Francis, Antonio 24 Negro Sailor Cape Verde
Gomes, Ambroze 23 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Gomez, John 25 Black Mariner Porta Praya, Cape Verde
Gomez, Manuel 22 Black Seaman Bravo, Cape Verde
Goney, George 23 Negro Sailor/Farmer Port Praya, Cape Verde
Gonzales, Manuel 24 Mulatto None Cape Verde
John, Manuel 28 Mulatto Carpenter/Cooper Cape Verde
Johnson, John 21 Mulatto Steward Cape Verde
Johnson, John 21 Mulatto Steward Cape Verde
Jokim, John 36 Negro Sailor Porto Praya, Cape Verde
Jose, Antonio M. 23 Black
Cape Verde
Lear, Thomas 38 Mulatto Boat steerer Cape Verde
Lewis, Joseph 35 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Lewis, Manuel 30 Black
Bravo, Cape Verde
Lopes, Frank 45 Black Mariner Brava, Cape Verde
Lopes, Robert 27 Black Sailor Cape Verde
Lopes, Roberto 22 Negro None Cape Verde
Lopez, Antonio 21 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Lopez, Antonio 39 Black Seaman Cape Verde
Lopez, Emanuel 25 Black Mariner Cape Verde
Lupps, John 20 Mulatto Cook Cape Verde
Manuel, Antonio 28 Negro Mariner Cape Verde
Marshall, George 25 Mulatto Mariner Cape Verde
Meany, Joseph 25 Negro
Cape Verde
Murphy, James 28 Negro Mariner Cape Verde
Norshus, George 24 Mulatto None Cape Verde
Prez, Manuel A. 43 Mulatto
Cape Verde
Richardson, Charles 21 Mulatto Cook Cape Verde
Robero, Antone 32 Negro None Bravo, Cape Verde
Rosa, Julian 25 Negro None Cape Verde
Sanford, Antonio 19 Negro Sailor Cape Verde
Seeley, John D. 24 Black Cook/Mariner Cape Verde
Silva, Antonio 20
Mariner Cape Verde
Silva, Antonio 22 Colored Seaman Cape Verde
Silver, Joseph S. 20 Negro Mariner Cape Verde
Smith, John 22 Black Sailor Cape Verde
Varas, Christian F. 22 Black Mariner Cape Verde
Williams, John 27 Mulatto Sailor Cape Verde
Williams, Steven 24 Black Mariner Cape Verde

ARMY

John Antom Togo, Cape Delaware Verde 12 Oct 1864 Portland 11th
U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery abt 1838 11

John Battis Cape De Verde Is 1863 Boston, Massachusetts 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored)

George Gansery Cape De Verde Islands 1864 New York, New York 31st United States Colored Infantry

Joaquin, Jacob Perura Cape De Verde Isles 1864 Jamaica, New York 26th United States Colored Infantry

James Smith Fogo, Cape Delaware Verde 12 Oct 1864 Portland 11th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery abt 1842 8

James Smith Toga, Cape De Verde 1864 Portland 24th United States Colored Infantry

I would like to include Peter Fernandes born in 1837 who enlisted in the Civil War in 1864 and discharged on 9/29/1865 at the end of the war and Antonion Oliveira born in 1827 who was a sergeant in the Army and discharged 10/31/1865 , also after the war ended.

When Cape Verdeans arrived on American shores we didn’t just work and go home. We were an integral participant in the founding of the country, it’s fight for independance and the building of it’s core infrastructures.

Cape Verdeans have been involved in every American war since the beginning; fighting for its independance, it’s struggle to remain a unified nation and for the abolition of slavery. We have fought with her against fascists and saved millions from death camps all over Europe. We were there in Korea and Vietnam and every other time Americans have been called to serve this country, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

So on Independance Day, which happens to be the day before Cape Verde’s day of Independance, let’s remember Nos Caboverdianos that have helped make this and Cape Verde the great nations that they are today.

Happy American and Cape Verdean Independance day!!!

The Gomes Family of Pleasant Lake, Harwich and Onset, MA

I became very interested in the Gomes Family of Harwich and Onset, MA while researching my Great Grandmother’s life in Onset after she immigrated to the US in 1916. Joana Fortes Lima arrived in New Bedford, MA in 1916 and was able to save and send for one of her sons, Daniel Fortes Lima, in 1918. Daniel was 5 years old when he traveled with his father, Marcelino Teofilo Rodrigues, on the trans-Atlantic trip that would reunite him with a mother he barely remembered.

Joana lived on Acushnet Avenue in New Bedford with her god-mother, Domigas Fernandes, and her husband, Julio. How she made a living is a bit unclear but it would have probably have been in one of the many textile mills in New Bedford. She may have even supplemented her income with seasonal work on the Cape picking cranberries as many Cape Verdeans living in New Bedford at the time did. This assumption is made even more plausible when she met and married Manuel B. Gomes on December 18, 1920. A widower, Manuel lived in the Pleasant Lake area of Harwich and then in Onset, MA at the time.

The 1930 census of Onset, Ma shows Manuel and Joana living with his sons John, James, and daughter, Virginia from his first marriage and twins, Edward and Benvinda, who were 8 years old at the time.

Manuel arrived in the US in 1894 from Fogo, Cape Verde, with four brothers, John (Joao), George (Jorge), Peter (Pedro) and Joseph (Jose). He also had a sister, Amelia (Gomes) Viera, also living in Pleasant Lake, and a sister, Louisa, in Fogo, Cape Verde. His parents were Guillermo (William) Gomes and Maria Monteiro. Guillermo may have also lived in Harwich and died in 1935. Manuel’s brother John, owned a local store in Harwich but was, tragically, killed possibly by the former husband of his wife in 1913.

George, born in 1889, was married to Mary Pena (1891) on April 10, 1909. Peter (1891) was married to Eugenia Gomes Santos on January 16, 1913 and then to Caroline Viera on November 6, 1915. Joseph was married to Mary, date unknown. Joseph and Mary lived in Onset, next door to Manuel and Joana, with their children, including Joseph B. Gomes, who died in the battle of Iwo Jima, I believe, while saving the life of a fellow soldier. There is a bridge located on Charge Pond Rd, Wareham, dedicated in his name.

Manuel married Philomena Pena Dias on August 10, 1895, who was born in Fogo, Cape Verde. She arrived in the US with her sister, Mathilde, to meet their parents in Harwich. Her parents, Joaquim Dias and Julia Pena Dias arrived in the US sometime prior and worked in the cranberry bgs there. Manoel and Philomena, known as Fannie, had a daughter, Mary Gomes Sequira (1897-1930), Albert (1899-1900), James (1901-1901), Benjamin (1902-1971), Julio (1905-?), Amos (1907-1957), John (1910-1977), James (1913-1991), Virginia (1915-1991) and Raymond, known as Boboy (1919-1991). Fannie died on September 13, 1919. Raymond lived with grandmother, Julia, at age 80, as an infant after his mother died. His oldest sister, Mary, was shown to have cared for Benjamin and Raymond after their mother’s death. Her sense of family and caring for them ran deep; all the sibling burial plots had been purchased by Mary shortly after the death of her husband, Joaquim Siquera, in 1819. Grandmother, Julia, died in 1930. Twins, Edward and Benvinda, were born December 14, 1921.

The Gomes family lived on Bertino street in Onset. By 1940, Julio was living in Boston and Virginia was married and living in New Bedford. Benvinda, called Gala, was living with her parents and married to George Miranda (1915-1992), son of Francisco (Frank) Miranda and Justina J. Miranda. George had three sister, Mary, Margaret and Annie, and a brother, Amos.

Manuel died in 1942. His obituary listed a daughter, Irene, in addition to the ones listed above. He was buried at St Patrick’s cemetary where Joana was also buried along side him in 1961.

My Uncle Boboy, Great-uncle, Daniel Fortes Lima, and my grandfather, Raimundo Fortes Lima in December, 1961
My grandfather, Raimundo, with his niece, Dorothy, and his brother, Daniel

When my grandfather, Raimundo, finally arrived in the US in 1959, meeting his mother, Joana and brother, Daniel, (also known as Mochu) for the first time, he lived in the house on Bertino St. My uncles, Boboy and Reinaldo, and my aunt, Stella, lived for a time on the Cape before Raimundo moved the family to Brockton for work. Since then our families have grown apart through years and distance but has never forgotten one another.

I have such great memories of Ti Gala and George. Much of my summers were spent taking rides with my family to the Cape, going to Ti Gala’s house which was across the way from a field that my grandmother and other family members tended and harvested all types of vegetables. We would walk over to Ti Doris’ house, a cute blue cottage built by her husband, my great-uncle, Daniel, to have lunch, sitting in her front yard on her white garden furniture in the shade of a large tree. I will always remember her cat-shaped glasses and her white dog that I’m sure spoke English. If you said “hi” to him it really did sound like you got a “hi” right back! Nho Frank would come running from his house whenever he caught a glimpse of my great-grandmother – I think he had a crush on her and she never gave him the time of day…. I think, lol!

My daughter with Ti Gala at the Cape Verdean festival on Onset Beach in 1994

It’s my hope that we will be able to gather the family at an annual family reunion at Onset Beach. So if you’re a Gomes, Lima, Miranda and Baptiste (or related to one) from Harwich, Wareham and Onset, expect an invite for next summers reunion!

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