Monday, September 2, 2013

By Way of the Portuguese

My writing has taken a turn in a different direction these last couple of months. I’ve stopped working on my novel… in mid- keyboard tap… to take up a project that was unexpected, but welcomed nonetheless. Thirty plus years ago the genealogy bug bit me in the backside, and I’ve taken up the responsibility from time to time to find my ancestors. One-half of my family eluded my efforts no matter how hard I tried to find them. I thought I would never experience success, especially after hunting for non-existent records pertaining to a people on one of the tiniest of the nine Azorean Islands.
 
Last June, the director of the LDS Family History Center in Oakland, California contacted me after I made an online change to one of my ancestors. He asked me if I was related to the specific individual. Of course I was, and he asked me if I would be interested in research he had compiled as a surprise for a celebrity in another state. You can guess at my answer. To say I was excited is an understatement.

Then my education began. The director taught me how to read enough Portuguese to peruse records the Azorean government has provided online. To my surprise, the Catholic priests took great care to record baptisms, births, and marriages for the Azoreans, and because the island of Flores is so small, I’m discovering I am related to a great many of the people who lived there. The records are taking me back to the 1600s.

My goal is to find the majority of records for about half of my ancestry by early next year and then write a book of enlightenment for my family. This is also helping me understand my heritage and will provide background information so I can finish my latest novel about an Azorean family’s adventure in the early 1900 California Central Valley.

How do you thank someone for gifting you such a magnificent blessing? I will never find a way to sufficiently repay this man for helping me discover who I am and the culture which I am a part of. Obrigado!

 

5 comments:

Bonnee Crawford said...

Hey Peggy, it's great that you're making progress with your searching and that you think it will help you with your writing. I couldn't imagine what it would be like not knowing where you came from. I'd be very confused and curious if I didn't. Good luck for continued progress!

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Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I've been on the trail of a great-great-great grandmother who supposedly was Mohawk Indian, but the search broke down with my great grandmother. How lucky that you found someone to teach you Portuguese. I am trying to learn a little bit of Portuguese for a novel I am writing. Good luck with your own ancestry search.

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