Monday, December 5, 2011

Spanish naming customs

Spanish naming customs use a given name followed by the paternal name of the father and the paternal name of the mother. Another Spanish custom is that a woman will not change her name to her husband’s name when she marries, thus preserving her lineage. 

When my grandparents left Spain, they did so to become Americans. They blended traditions from Spain with America in that they gave their children Spanish names, but called them by the American equivalent.

This is evident in the way our grandparents identified themselves. As they became more acclimated to the American way of life, they changed from the Spanish tradition of using family names to the American method of keeping only the husbands family name. For instance, when registering for passage from Hawaii to California and the Federal Census’ our grandparents used Ortega as their surname, and eventually grandpa changed from Juan to John.

Therefore, when quoting an historical document that misspelled a name, I have recorded the name as found on the document and tried to place it within single quotation marks, thus helping to preserve the link to the original document and or its index. Additionally, names quoted from birth certificates or birth index, are the legal name, not the name we know people by.

The first five of the
Ortega children
Back row: Manuel, Francisco, Juan
Front row: Antonio, Amor

Spain at the Turn of the Century

Political instability marked the history of Spain before and after the Spanish-American war of 1898. During this time the Kingdom of Spain was a feudal system, the land owned only by royalty. The common people worked for small wages, when there was work to be found as work was seasonal at best.

Spain experienced flooding that destroyed most of the country’s crops, making it difficult to find work to support a family. There were religious restrictions and added to that, young men were being conscripted into the military; unrest, threats, challenges, small wages, the people dreamt for a better life.

The province of Andalusia was known for growing many citrus fruit such as oranges and mandarins, orchard crops like fruit and nuts, and field crops including tomatoes and sugar. The Moors brought sugar cane to Spain since the early 700’s. This made Spain the perfect place to recruit workers for the sugar plantations in Hawaii.

Three Brothers, One Family

On February 22, 1888, Juan Antonio Ortega Caballero was born to Antonio Ortega y Ortega and Josefa Caballero Chica. In the following years, two more sons were born, Jose Ortega Caballero born December 7, 1889, and Francisco Ortega Caballero born August 24, 1898.

Josefa, Francisco, Antonio

Leaving Spain

In 1898 the US annexed Hawaii and in 1900 it was established as the Territory of Hawaii. In 1905 the United States legislature created a Board of Immigration whose main purpose was to bring immigrants and their families to Hawaii. The hope was that these new immigrants would bring their families with them work in the Hawaiian plantations, and eventually become citizens. Prior to this the plantation workers came from the Orient as single men, who would return to their homeland, taking their earnings with them.

In the winter of 1906 representatives of Hawaii’s sugar industry arrived in the sea port of Malaga in the southern tip of Spain. Enticing bulletins were posted in places of business and public gathering places throughout Andalusia, all in an effort to recruit workers and their families to immigrate to Hawaii. Eventually the news of guaranteed work in Hawaii and the promises it held traveled by word of mouth farther inland, drawing workers not only from the coastal provinces, but from the villages of Jaen where our family is from. The enticing bulletin caused many to leave their homeland for pacific paradise of Hawaii.

Not only did this bulletin give promise of guaranteed work in Hawaii, but it described the climate of Hawaii as one of beauty which provided the opportunity of year round work. According to the bulletin they would be provided with a house to live in free of charge with water and electricity, their own acre of land to grow food to feed their families and free school for the children (mandatory). Expected wages were dependent on gender and age. If after the 3 year contract was fulfilled, they remained in Hawaii, those who were good workers, were given the home they lived in and approximately 1 ½ acres of land. Our families chose to leave Hawaii after 2 ½ years.

Those that sought the dream of a better life came from all walks of life, besides agricultural workers such as our family; there were all kinds of laborers, fishermen, factory workers, grocers and those discharged from the army as well as families with sons in their teens, in an effort to avoid being conscripted into the army.

Spanish families spent several months talking and planning with relatives and friends. Once the decision was made to leave Spain for the new world, families needed to be examination by local doctor to declare that they were of good health.  They also needed various documents, including their birth certificates, marriage certificates and certificates of widowhood. Only able-bodied persons would be accepted and a letter from the village priest stating they were persons of good standing and that the children that were with them were legally theirs.

The immigrants were allowed to bring a trunk filled with clothes and other items such as cooking utensils, tools of their trade, musical instruments, etc. Some brought garbanzo beans and other seeds to plant in their gardens.

This was the true American Dream, no more wondering if there would be work to feed your family as they had experienced in Spain. Plus the promise of owning your own home and land; something that was a far reach in their current situation.

Overland trek to Malaga, 1907

Possible land route to the port of Malaga
the top blue markers identify Torredonjimeno and Martos

Grandpa’s family was from Martos, Grandma’s family from Torredonjimeno, both in the province of Jaen. The two families lived about 10 miles from each other (17 km). In order to make it to port city of Malaga to board the SS Heliopolis, which would in turn take them to Hawaii, they traveled from Jaen to Malaga which was around 170 miles (268 km). Only the 1907 SS Heliopolis departed from Malaga, the other five voyages departed from Gibraltar between 1911 and 1913.

Robert Rodriguez, a descendent of another SS Heliopolis passenger, has shared the following translated information from a Malaga newspaper.

            Most of the travelers congregated in the larger towns like Jaen, and Granada. From these towns, Don Carlos Corvetto, the company responsible for hiring the new workers, transported all of the passengers to Malaga via wagon trains, then on to Hawaii aboard the SS Heliopolis.

Because of the people and animals walking with the wagon trains, they generally only traveled between 3 and 5 miles a day. They would have traveled on dirt and gravel roads, many of which would have had large ruts from previous wagons that traveled the roads. However, Spaniards being early risers and accustomed to long work days, they may have traveled more like 10 miles a day. That means the journey could have taken only 17 or so days, by wagon train.
Along the way, the wagon train stopped at small “hotels” (pensionses) along the route that provided a room with breakfast (desayuno), midmorning snack (almuerzo), lunch (comida), afternoon snacks (merienda), or dinner (cena).  Since the families were large, there were not enough rooms in these inns. Many slept in the wagons, in the barns, or in the cooler storage areas under the hotels. Don Carlos Corvetto paid for all expenses along the way, recording them by family to each man’s name to be paid off later with wages earned from the plantations. The average expense of the voyage from the first 3 ships was just over $207 per adult male or around $62 per individual.

After they arrived in the port city of Malaga, they were housed in warehouse like buildings and provided blankets. One building served as a dining hall, another as a bathhouse with showers and space to wash their clothes.

Spanish Families embarking the SS Heliopolis at the Port of Málaga Spain

Once they were in Malaga, families waited their turn to begin the process of being accepted as passengers aboard the ship. First, their documents were checked, then they were given a quick physical to detect physical defects or illnesses; scars and other distinguishing marks were recorded as were their physical descriptions such as gender, age, height, weight, color of hair and eyes. As they were registered by family, the ship also recorded place of origin, and number of people in the family; with each member going through the same process, it took quite a while to board the ship. As they boarded the ship the families were given an ID number, this number was used throughout the voyage and their time in Hawaii.

All three brothers and their parents along with Juan’s betrothed, Guadalupe, and her parents, not only immigrated to America together, but stayed close by in those early years.

Voyage to life in the new world

Voyage # 1: SS Heliopolis, 1907

During the years from 1907 to 1913, 6 vessels brought just over 8,000 Spanish immigrants to Hawaii on cargo ships fitted to accommodate passengers. The Board of Immigration had chartered them from London, they were steel screw, three-masted cargo steamers with two decks. The first ship carrying Spanish immigrants left the port of Malaga for Hawaii aboard the S.S. Heliopolis in March 1907. With the dream of a better life in their hearts, they left behind family, property, and economic uncertainty to homestead in the new world.

The procedure for registering for a voyage was to be seated by family and then by age. Listed adjacent to great grandfather Francisco Cañada’s family were Juan Ortega Cañada, Josefa Exposito, and two little children, perhaps a cousin and his family.

The voyage of the SS Heliopolis began on March 3rd from Cardiff, Wales and arrived in Malaga, Spain on March 7th under Captain Ketley. When the Heliopolis first set sail there were 850 families registered making a total of 3,823 passengers. After its initial departure from Spain on March 8th, the Heliopolis returned to Spain, at which time 1,574 immigrants disembarked. These people felt that the hygienic facilities and food on the ship were not adequate. Our grandparents continued on the ship with its very dirty and crowded conditions.

The ship again left the port of Malaga on March 10th and sailed through the Straits of Gibraltar, heading west towards the Azores, southwest toward Argentina, then down to Sandy Point, Straits of Magellan (Punta Arenas, Chile for refueling) on April 4th. It continued northwest across the Pacific Ocean arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii on April 26th. When the ship went through the Strait of Magellan, many people jumped ship as they were tired of the conditions and lack of space.

As the voyage took place a full seven years before the opening of the Panama Canal, ships had to make the long and treacherous route via the Drake Passage and the Straits of Magellan near the southernmost tip of South America. The voyage took 47 days; on board were 608 men, 554 women, and 1084 children. The Heliopolis was a steam Ship with the Century Shipping Co. Ltd.
Most of the Spanish families had planned to return to Spain at the end of the contract. Our family intended to head to California from the beginning. California was reported to have rolling hills, hot days and cool nights which were perfect for farming, lots of land and the climate was the same as their homeland.  When they arrived they found great fertile farm land with lots of water for irrigation.
Here I have plotted an approximation of the routes for the three known voyages of our family

Arrival in Hawaii, 1907

The first group of immigrants from the Spanish region of Andalucía brought with them happy memories of Spain; they looked forward with hope and faith about the promised future in a new and strange land. The memories of their homeland mixed with the spirit of hope helped the passengers as they endured rough seas, and cramped quarters as the realization of their dream of a new life lay ahead. Many of the passengers had brought their accordions and guitars which they played as others sang and danced to pass the long days while on board, they also played cards, and formed new friendships.

Upon arrival in Hawaii, doctors again examined everyone this time as a preventative measure against exposing the native Hawaiian populations to the European diseases such as mumps, measles and chicken pox. 

As the passengers left the ship, they were separated, men and boys from women and young children. During this brief separation, each passenger went through a process that removed bugs from both themselves and their belongings. Following this, they were taken to the immigration dining room where families were reunited and fed a good meal. Gradually, the unpleasant experience of being separated from their families and fumigated for bugs faded; conversation and optimism again peaked.

Hawaii truly was a paradise, rainfall and misty air kept the island green and beautiful, there was fresh fruit all year long and work throughout the year.

Life on a Hawaii Sugar Plantation

Once they had been reunited with their families and were fed, they were met by representatives from the Sugar and Pineapple plantations who gave them their work assignments and signed them up for housing. Single men were given the option of higher pay, but they would live in a boarding house where they would pay for room and board. The married men and their families were provided with a home and a plot of land to grow a vegetable garden and to raise chickens etc. As promised, there was free (mandatory) school for their children and free medical care. Within each plantation they were divided into camps with camps being spread out about a mile from each other. The plantations would try to assign families and friends to the same camp.

There were different sizes of houses to accommodate families with the majority having four rooms. The houses also included a storage room to keep the wood they used for cooking. They had both indoor and outdoor cooking area with a beehive oven outside for baking bread. For the most part, the women cooked outside.

Due to the amount of rain that would fall during a tropical storm, the houses were placed on stilts that raised the house about three feet off of the ground. This not only protected the houses from rivers created by the rains, but provided shade for their chickens, pigs and milk cows during the heat of the day. The roof was made from galvanized steel allowing them to collect the rain water in buckets placed at the corners of the house. This fresh water was used for cooking in addition to bathing and the washing of clothes. The houses were white-washed yearly to keep down the bug population.

They did not have electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing. They had community toilets, which they placed sacks on the doorways for privacy. The outhouses were white-washed and treated with lime to absorb order and keep the flies away; the waste was collected, and used as fertilizer both in the sugar cane fields and in their family gardens.

It did not take long for families to settle into their homes, the women would plant flowers including roses, carnations, and daisies and the men would turn their small plot into a vegetable garden filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, peppers, and garbanzos. The rain and the warm Hawaiian climate were perfect for growing vegetables; these were the foods they used to feed their families. All around were coconut, bananas and guava trees. What they could not grow, they bought from at the company store. When they purchased items, it was on the credit system, with the amount of their purchases deducted from their monthly pay.

The life of women was basically the same as it was back in Spain; they raised the children, kept the home, cooked and baked. Some women would even bake additional loaves of bread to sell. The Spanish tradition of baking bread used yeast made from potatoes mixed with their flour, a sour dough starter; this made it sweeter and more desirable to the Hawaiian women compared to the bread the Portuguese women baked. Women also had the option of working for the plantation owners, with their pay added to their husband/father. They also sold eggs, cow and goat’s milk, cheese and fresh produce.

Six days a week, from sun up until sunset, the men and those women without children, would work for wages; some in the fields, or in the mill itself.  Muleskinners earned an additional dollar a day as they not only drove the mules that moved the cane from field to mill, but cared for the animals. There were three plantings of cane a year, providing for work year round.

 In the field the men would cut and discard the top six or so inches of the cane with the soft leaves, the next foot of plant would be kept to use in the next planting, with the remaining of the plant being collected and sent by mule wagons to the mill for processing. This was tedious work from sunrise to sunset. They used a 20 inch knife to cut the cane. There was a hook at the end of the knife blade to help pick up the cane. The field workers were tired and sore by the end of their very long day

Once the mule wagon arrived at the mill, there were more workers who used their knives to unload the cane and placed into troughs. The Mill would then crush the cane forcing the juice to run into vats. There the sugar juice was crystallized. Some plantations would use trains to aid in moving the cane from field to mill.

In addition to planting and harvesting, the men would clear new land to prepare them for planting. For the most part, there was no need for irrigation because the majority of the plantations received enough rain to water the fields.

They would be paid monthly, with the earnings of the whole family being recorded and paid through the head of house; charges at the company store would be taken out before they were paid. There were no banks on the plantations, so if they wanted to keep their money in the bank they would take the train to Hilo, many of the Spanish workers would bury it thus using the “Spanish bank.”

In school, the children quickly learned to speak English this enabled them to communicate beyond their small community and make friends with children from other countries. Each plantation had a school in one of its camps. The children had to get themselves to school, sometimes walking several miles. The schools kept careful record of who attended, and if a child did not attend, they had to have a note from the camp doctor.

Each camp had doctors that would care of the workers and their families. The modest Spanish women preferred to follow the traditions of their homeland and utilized the services of the midwives that lived in the camps. Just 3 ½ months after the Heliopolis arrived, one woman gave birth to a little girl; she was baptized in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hilo, as were most of the other children born in Hawaii.

I am not certain which plantation our family was assigned to, it is quite possible that it was with the Pepeekeo Sugar Company as the family was living in Pepeekeo when Grandpa and Grandma were married.

The Pepeekeo Sugar Company was located on the windward side of the island of Hawaii between Onomea and Honomu. The plantation was approximately four miles long and ran along the ocean cliffs.

Michael James Franco

Michael James Franco
IN LOVING MEMORY 10/14/1946-08/31/2008