Birth and ChildhoodJoão Ignacio de Souza (or Sousa) is my great-great-great-grandfather. He was born about 1842 in Matriz, Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, the son of José de Sousa and Maria de Jacinta. His childhood on Azores remains a mystery. Through DNA testing, we can confirm that he had a sister named Helena Rosa Souza, who was born in 1850 and later married Manuel Ignacio Ferreira. His remaining siblings and what came of his parents is unknown at this time.
Marriage and Children
João Ignacio de Souza married Maria Filomena Ferreira, the daughter of Victorino Ferreira and Ana de Estrela, at about 1870 in Ribeira Grande, Azores Portugal. While living in Ribeira Grande, they welcomed their first child, José Ignacio Souza, was born 30 April 1871. They may have experienced a miscarriage or stillborn before they welcomed their second child, Antonio Ignacio Souza in 1874. His third child, João Ignacio Souza was born on 28 May 1875, followed by Manuel Ignacio Souza on 30 January 1877, Jacintho Ignacio Souza on 18 April 1880, Maria Conceiaoi Sousa on 10 April 1882, and Augusto Sousa in 1882, who died in infancy.
At the age of 41, João, along with his wife and children, set sail on the SS Thomas Bell. The British steamship left from Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, on 30 August 1883. The journey lasted about 63 days. Finally, on 2 November 1883, they arrived in Honolulu.
A detailed description of their journey and arrival can be read at my post titled Azores to Hawaii, aboard the SS Bell Rock, 1 November 1883.
Life in Hawaii
After arriving at Honolulu, João and his family were taken to Waialua, where he worked as a contract laborer for the sugar plantation. While living in Waialua, they had the following children: Eugenio Ignacio Souza on 25 October 1884, Helen Sousa in 1886, Maria de Jesus Sousa on 25 December 1887, and John de Souza on May 1892.
The only known picture of João Ignacio Souza and his wife Maria Filomena Ferreira is this one with their daughters, taken around 1900.
|João Ignacio Souza, wife Maria Filomena Ferreira, and daughters Maria Conceiaoi Souza and Maria de Jesus Souza|
|Sons of João Ignacio Souza and Maria Filomena Ferreira, taken approx. 1890|
In the 1900 U. S. Census, we can find João, his wife Maria Filomena, living in Waialua with and 7 of their 11 children: José (age 29), João (age 25), Jacintho (age 20), Maria Conceiaoi (age 18), Eugenio (age 16), Maria de Jesus (age 13), and John (age 8).
|1900 U. S. Census, Family of João Ignacio Souza and Maria Filomena Ferreira|
Neighbors were Frank Gonsalves and family, Manuel Robello and son, and Manuel Rego and family.
The census also gives us a background of whether or not João could read or write, and what languages he spoke. As it turns out, not only could João read, write, and speak English (and of course his native language of Portuguese), but he could also speak Hawaiian. His children were also able to read and write and speak three languages. His wife Maria Filomena was not able to read, write, or speak English.
João is not found in the 1910 U.S. Census. His wife died in 1904 and while most of his children are still living in Waialua, he is not listed in their households. However, he shows up again in the 1920 U. S. Census, residing in Waialua in the household of his eldest son, José.
João died on 29 April 1922 at the age of 80. His death certificate states that his cause of death was due to "shock-hemorrhage from self inflicted (knife) wound of abdomen". However, family story further explains the cause of this self-inflicted wound.
Of his death, his great-granddaughter, Juliette Otholt Crosson, writes:
"João died 30 April 1922 after cutting open his abdomen with a knife, in the washhouse at his home. He apparently had a cancer so painful he could no longer stand it, and the story is he decided to cut the pain out of his body. This story implies he did not specifically intend to commit suicide, but was out of his mind with pain."
To expand on the above story, another great-granddaughter, Toni Souza Nakamura, writes:
"I grew up hearing this story... it was told not in a sad way, but, almost with reverence and awe that he was brave enough to do so... perhaps this is how the family coped."
João is buried in Puuiki Cemetery in Waialua, in a family plot with his wife, Maria Filomena, and son Eugene, who died in 1907. Maria Filomena had originally been buried in 1904 at the old Catholic Mission graveyard and was removed to Puuiki on 5 May 1922, after nearly 18 years in the old cemetery. Burials were no longer allowed at the old cemetery, so her children moved her so that she and João could be together in Puuiki.
|Photo via FindAGrave.com contributor David Dunnavant|