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!