Last August, I went to São Miguel island, one of the nine Azores islands. I had a referral to a specific taxi driver, Joe, who was known to be pretty good at helping genealogists find families…and he was bilingual, too!
I did find Joe, and on our scheduled day, we went to the village that my great-grandparents came from. We drove to the church (which is pretty much the center of everything) and saw a snack bar across the street. Joe asked if anyone knew of the Mello family or the Correia family, which was also known as the Viola family. I pulled out the old photos that were at least 100 years old. The looked and scratched their heads. They looked at my family group sheets, which were in English, but they figured out what it meant. They shook their heads and talked some more. They went and got a woman from down the street. She seemed to know something, but I don’t what because I pulled out a picture of my great-grandmother’s sister, Anna, and said “mouca,” which means deaf. The taxi driver was talking to the men who knew the woman, Anna. She had lived in the next village over and they were giving him directions. So off we went.
We found the house where Anna had lived. Her oldest daughter, Maria do Carmo, was 81 years old and not in very good health. She lived in Anna’s house. She looked at the photo of her mother and started to cry. Then in came her nephew, who lives in Bermuda. He was in São Miguel, visiting his grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Luckily for me, he was bilingual. He said that his other aunt, Angelina, was 71 and might be able to give me more information. He said we were to follow him to Tia Angelina’s house. So Joe the taxi driver and I followed Mario to Tia Angelina’s house.
We were invited inside. I pulled out the old photos and we started talking. Joe the taxi driver translated, Mario translated some and then got his wife to come and translate some more. Angelina was able to identify some of the unknown people in the photos. Angelina’s daughter also lived in the household too. She looked at the taxi driver and said he looked familar. She thought for a moment. Then she said that Joe’s brother had married one of their cousins! So the taxi driver with the genealogy reputation turned out to be a cousin-in-law of sorts!
How odd it was to hire the taxi driver who’s brother had married into the family!
© 2002 Cheri Mello – Reprinted with the permission of the author