Portuguese American Revolutionary War Hero’s Obituary Discovered

You can learn a lot about the Americans who fought in our country’s wars—from the Colonial Indian Wars down to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq—from GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives.

Revolutionary War Hero Lives to Be a Centenarian

This old obituary gives us many details of the life of John Peters, a Portuguese American who fought in the Revolutionary War and lived to be over 100 years old. It was published in the Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia), 1 May 1832, page 2.

John Peters Obituary - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

Peters was there from the beginning of the troubles with Great Britain.

He was at the Boston Tea Party on 16 December 1773. He then joined the army.

John Peters Obituary - Boston Tea Party - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

During the American Revolutionary War he fought in the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Although Peters “lost one of his fingers” in that latter battle, he continued to fight for his new country.

John Peters Obituary - Revolution War Battles - Alexandria Gazette

He was “in the battles of Monmouth and Princeton, and assisted in capturing the Hessians at Trenton.”

The historical obituary of this old Revolutionary war soldier goes on to say “He was engaged in the capturing of Burgoyne and also of Cornwallis; he fought under Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge, where he was again wounded.”

It tells us he was “aged 100 years 5 months and 23 days” when he died on 23 April 1832. That calculates out to give us his birth date:  31 October 1731.

And just where was this centenarian veteran born? The old newspaper obituary tells us that he was born “in Portugal near Lisbon.”

John Peters Obituary - Born in Portugal - Alexandria Gazette Earthquakes That Shook the World in 1755 Remembered

The veteran’s obituary adds the extra detail that he “emigrated [sic] to this country shortly after the earthquake in 1755.”

According to Wikipedia that was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, “one of the deadliest earthquakes in history” with tens of thousands killed.

There were several powerful earthquakes in 1755. Another one was the Cape Ann earthquake that hit the U.S. 18 days after the Lisbon earthquake, on the northeast coast of Massachusetts.

Young Hannah Clark [Hannah (Clark) Lyman (1743-1842)], then a child of 12, was terrified by the Cape Ann earthquake. Her obituary clearly recorded her terror at living through that earthquake.

Hannah Lyman Obituary - Hampshire Gazette Newspaper

It was published in the Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 21 March 1832, page 3.

“She remembered distinctly the great earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755…It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrighted children clung to their parents. ‘I cannot help you dear children,’ said the good mother [Martha Phelps Clark, 1717-1803], ‘we must look to God for help.’”

According to Wikipedia this was “the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts.” Cape Ann and Boston felt the brunt of the earthquake’s aftermath; however hundreds of homes and buildings throughout the state of Massachusetts were also damaged. Northampton, Massachusetts, is 142 miles from Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

These two powerful earthquakes were so memorable that 77 years later they were mentioned in these 1832 obituaries.

Don’t let the stories of your ancestors’ lives be lost. Use GenealogyBank to find them and document their lives.

Portuguese-American newspaper going online

Diario de Noticias 1919-1973 is going online at University of Massachusetts Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives.

UMASS Dartmouth is putting the backfile of the Portuguese-American newspaper Diario de Noticias 1919-1973 free online.

University officials also announced that they have set September 18 as the official grand opening of the Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Archives, which the University is planning to make the most comprehensive and accessible U.S. collection of the information related to the Portuguese-American experience.

The digitization project, completed by the Claire T. Carney Library’s Ferreira Mendes Portuguese-American Archives in collaboration with the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, will make the 84,010 pages from 16,641 issues of the Diario de Noticias freely accessible to the world.

Click here to search this newspaper.

“By digitizing these documents, we are now able to share this unique resource with the rest of the world,” UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. “Thanks the financial support of the Azorean government, Luis Pedroso, and Elisia Saab — students, faculty and citizens from the SouthCoast to all corners of the globe, will have a major collection of Portuguese-American history at their fingertips. This is an exciting step in our development as the premier U.S. center of teaching and research related to the Portuguese-American experience which has shaped so much of our local and global history.”

Chancellor MacCormack also announced that the University will officially open the new archives facility with a major celebration on September 18.

Diario de Noticias was the most influential Portuguese-American newspaper of its era and the only Portuguese-American daily newspaper for much of that time. The newspaper was a critical independent voice during the dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (1928 to 1968).

The Diario de Noticias, widely known at the time as the “Portuguese Daily News,” began as Alvorada Diária (Daily Awakening) in 1919, when Guilherme Luiz purchased A Alvorada, a weekly Portuguese-language newspaper published in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1919 it became a daily, and in 1927 the name was changed to Diário de Notícias.

João R. Rocha purchased half ownership in 1940, and then bought out the paper, becoming publisher and sole owner in 1943. The paper enjoyed great success and a circulation of up to 10,000 that spanned the entire region, and was also read across the country, where the Portuguese had settled since the nineteenth century, and even in Portugal. It ceased publication when Rocha retired in 1973.

Its local successors are the Portuguese Times and O Jornal. “The Diario de Noticias is an invaluable resource for the study of the Portuguese-American daily experience in the region and beyond,” said Dr. Frank Sousa, director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture.

“In the advertisements and photographs we can glimpse the clothes people wore and the goods they purchased and for how much. There is news from the community not available in other newspapers, with reporting on local clubs, religious organizations, societies, businesses and politics. Weddings, births, and deaths are reported, providing a valuable source for social historians and genealogists.

“The goal of the ongoing digitization project is to provide the most comprehensive single source of Portuguese language newspapers published in the United States from the early nineteenth century to the present. The project is funded by the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores, Elisia Saab, co-founder of Advanced Polymers, Inc.; and Luis Pedroso, president of Accutronics, Inc.

This newspaper is not on GenealogyBank.com
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GenealogyBank.com has 1883 Pensioner List Online

GenealogyBank.com is pleased to announce that it has the five volume List of Pensioners – 1883 online. This basic reference set is actively used by genealogists.

List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1883. Senate Document. Serial Set Vol. No. 2078, Session Vol. No.5; Report: S.Exec.Doc. 84 pt. 1-5.

The List of Pensioners – lists the pensioners by State/Town. Volume 5 includes the lists of pensioners that lived overseas.

Each entry gives:
Name of Pensioner
Pension Certificate Number
Date of the Original Pension
Reasons why the person received the pension
The monthly pension payment
Post Office where the pensioner receives their mail

Tip: This is a crucial source for identifying pensioners from all wars still living in 1883 and it pinpoints where they were living – anywhere in the US or around the world.

Connecticut; District of Columbia; Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Rhode Island; Vermont

New York; Pennsylvania;

Illinois; Iowa; Ohio

Alaska; Arizona; California; Colorado; Dakota; Idaho; Indiana; Kansas; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; Indian Territory (Oklahoma); Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; Utah; Washington; Wisconsin; Wyoming

Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; Missouri; North Carolina; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; West Virginia.

Countries of the World – including Hawaii which was listed as the “Sandwich Islands”.

Africa; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Denmark; England; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Madeira Island (Portugal); Malta; Mauritius; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Romania; Russia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Wales; West Indies; Foreign – Address Unknown.
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