Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Sorry to have been away from my post, so to speak. I am back again with this new post which will talk about  Funchal, capital of Madeira. We continue the Origins of the People of the School Street village.

Funchal is where my maternal Grandfather, Manuel Motta was born.  I am noticing more and more that international readers are visiting this blog.  Manuel is but a shadow in our history.  No photographs exist of him, and only what my grandmother Isobel told us in a recorded interview helps us to know him.   Perhaps: someone is out there with some information about him and our family on that side.  I hit so many dead ends in my research that I need to jump start again.  What I do know puts a personal side to our description of this beautiful city.

Manuel was born  in Funchal in the parish and village of Santa Maria  Major on October 15, 1895 to Antonio and Maria C. da Motta.   This is a venerable church in the baroque architectural style that is also called Igreja de Sao Tiago Minor. It also had other names , as over the centuries it was rededicated when the need arose.  Here my grandfather, his parents and theirs and on into the past were baptized, confirmed, often married and in my grandfather's case had their funeral masses.  As an aside, land being so rocky and limited, burials took place only temporarily when cremation then took place and common sites were used.  For this reason there are few memorial name stones in Madeira.  This is a problem for those seeking genealogical knowledge as, of course, cemeteries are a large source of information,  In all of Madeira, there are only a few "cemeteries".  More to come as more photographs and input come in from our readers.

 My grandfather's paternal grandparents were Maria de Conceicoa and Manuel da Motta. Maternal grandparents were Helena de Jesus and Francisco Fernandes. This information was gleaned from two fragile letters that my mother kept from Maria and Manuel written in 1940 and 1941. This allowed us to get his birth certificate and. much later, his death certificate.

Manuel had at least two siblings that we know from one of those letters.  A brother, Jose, who was in South Africa, a common destination for Madeirenses.  We know from my mother that a sister named Carolina or Carlotta cared for my grandfather in Madeira when he was dying.

We must assume that my grandfather immigrated to the U.S. prior to 1915 which was when he met my grandmother Isobel in Bristol and they were married.  Isobel wrote that an uncle (was it maternal or paternal? ) introduced them in the shoe factory where they both worked in that town.

Manuel clearly loved his little family.  He, and they often, visited Madeira and he went there in his final illness. He died in his early thirties.  That little family found only tragedy in America.  Their little son died at 18 months of age.  Their daughter, my mother, spent her childhood from the ages of 9 1/2 to 18 in a Boston orphanage after my grandmother became seriously ill.

Funchal is a beautiful seaside city.  I can see why my grandfather so loved it. I was fortunate enough to find these photos on madeira,webcam. com which tell us what the city was like when he was born and probably for most of his life.

Today, from a website
I found these great old photos.  Taken from an 1880 publication
"Views of Madeira" it contains 18 clear old photos of that time.

Here are just a few.

The first is taken in front of the Grande Hotel in Monte where the toboggan rides still originate.
The gardens in front of the old entrance to the hotel are famous today, according to the author of the site.  These fellows chose the sled ride down be accomplished with bullocks instead
of strong young men.

        Below is another photo from that time of the Cathedral in Funchal built between 1493 and 1514.

More to come about Funchal....and hopefully, more from all of you reading the posts.  
Thanks in advance.


  1. I just returned from Funchal yesterday and have lots of pics. I just put them all on Facebook. Let me know if you'd like to see them.

    1. absolutely.....let me know how to access....friend me?