(Original article by Gabriel Goncalves Neto made in August of 2005, the eve of a wedding in Uberaba, MG. This translation is courtesy of Google Online Translation.)
(NOTE: The terms "farm" and "ranch" are used interchangeably in this article. They mean the same exact thing.)
See also the related article of the War of the Triple Alliance (refered here as the "War of Paraguay") on Wikipedia.
Emerenciano José de Andrade, my great-grandfather, was married to Ambrosina. He had 4 children, 2 before the War of Paraguay (1864-1870) the Manoel Andrade (Andrade Neca, politician, police chief), and Rita. After the war the other 2 were born: Adolfo and Cota. The war lasted 6 years and was encouraged by England and Germany who wanted to create a great country between Brazil and Argentina. José Emerenciano was a supplier of goods to the troops of the Brazilian imperial government. He had a troop of donkeys to carry rice, beans and dried meat for the war. In reward for services rendered Pedro II (Brazilian Emperor) gave 6 Sesmarias (Brazilian "Land Grants") which included land all the way from Prata, MG (city where my mother was registered at birth) until the Barrancas do Rio do Peixe (+ / - 100km by 50km). The largest nearby city is called Veríssimo, state of Minas Gerais (view online map.).
Emerenciano had several farms to his name, the main one was built in 1915 - Fazenda das Primas ("The Cousin's Ranch"). This became the headquarters for his widow Ambrosina when he died. She broke a little piece of their land and donated to the church, which became the town of Patrimônio do Rio do Peixe, which exists today (online map). When Ambrosina died the "The Cousin's Ranch" was given to her daughter Cota, married with Franklin.
My grandfather Adolfo Andrade was born in the second round after the war of Paraguay. He was short and extremely clever with money. He was married to Theodora Oliveira when she was 14. They had 8 children of which 6 reached maturity. Adolfo Andrade had the "Canhambola Ranch", where he built his main residence (circa 1917). In addition to the Canhambola Ranch, he had several other ranches, called "Cabaçal", "Aprazivel", and "Onça". All contiguous.
Adolfo Andrade died at 40 years of age of pneumonia and left Theodora a widow at the age of 34, "mean as a rattlesnake". Franklin, Cota's widow (daughter of Emerenciano Ambrosina), did everything to marry grandmother Theodora, but the old lady was unshakable, "Nobody can replace Adolfo," she said.
Adolfo Andrade wanted to be a banker. Had loaned money to many people. When she was widowed, my grandmother Theodora told her eldest brother (Ardelino) to go ask for all money that was due. He did just that, and kept half the money he collected. It seems incredible that they remained friends until the end of life. Did she know? I believe so. She bought protection. Despite her fame and despite the "jagunços" (gunmen/robbers), tradition did not favor independent women.
My mother, Carmita, was born in Fazenda Canhambola ("Canhambola Ranch"). Her siblings were Mauro, Lygia, Myra, Malba, and Adolfo. My aunt Myra told me that one of Ardelino's (Theodora's brother) children - Yolando - was totally in love with my mother Carmita as a teenager. He had an illness and died. Carmita went to the funeral and was sad for a very long time.
Whenever on of Theodora's children got married, she would give them a piece of the farm, with cows on pasture, and enough money in the bank. The youngest son, Jose Adolfo de Oliveira Andrade, kept the headquarters of the farm. Theodora kept the "Fazenda da Onça" for herself, which in turn was rented by her son Jose Adolfo for many years. There were some complaints that Theodora protected Jose Adolfo. In her typical manner she would reply: "the money is mine, I do with it what I want."
Then in 1931 Theodora and children moved to Sao Paulo. At that time Theodora had 12,000 cows and a lot of money in the bank. When they moved to Sao Paulo, Theodora bought a plot of land in the neighborhood of Higienópolis to build her home. she hired a famous architect and a French decorator (called Monsieur Ponchon). She had all the furniture hand made at the School of Arts and Crafts (very prestigious builder's school at the time); she bought Persian rugs; and she bought several paintings.
During the Constitutional Revolution of 1932 my grandmother had no money because the banks were closed. Her son Mauro got a friend of his - an "adventurer" - to swim across the Rio Grande river and bring money to his mother.
"Dna. Theodora", as she was called by all, had 12 siblings. All of them reached 80 years of age or more, without dying. And then, in a short time, all died. She was the "rich" sister. Since good schools in those days were difficult to find outside the city of Sao Paulo, a multitude of nephews lived in her house - Avaré Street, 244 - in Higienópolis (the house still exists to this day), while studying in Sao Paulo. The majority of them would only stay through the high school years, attending private schools. But one of her grandsons, Paulo, (Lygia's son), lived in her house for many years until he finished college. And during those days it was a tradition to have someone "monitor" young couples during dates, and I was often called to be "the third wheel" (chaperone).
Dna Theodora was next door neighbors to Dna Sebastiana Cunha Bueno, mother of Renata Mellão, married with Sergio Mellão. A little up and across the street lived João Veríssimo - still not rich at that time - and selling guavas condiments made by his wife at home. Many years later, without remembering this story, John Verissimo and I were both members of the Rotary Club of Sao Paulo. He was very rich, involved in wholesale food distribution, and was starting to open the network of supermarkets called "Eldorado".
Reginaldo and Ana Maria (the bride's parents) are both great-grandchildren of Emerenciano. A few years ago Reginaldo and Ana Maria bought the old headquarters of the "Cousin's Ranch ("Fazenda das Primas"), which had belonged to his grandparents. They found it totally abandoned. They rebuilt everything, paying attention to every single detail.
I visited Theodora's old house in Uberaba - located at rua São Sebastião, 13 (the house is still there). Despite moving to Sao Paulo she always kept a home in Uberaba. It is amazing to think of the strength of will and the wits of this woman. She left the woods - the middle of nowhere - for a city like Sao Paulo that would become one of the largest cities in the world.
PS. It had been 15 years since I last came to Uberaba. With the marriage of Paula, my cousins' Reginaldo Andrade and Ana Maria Cunha daughter, I decided to put these memories onto paper.
Gabriel Gonçalves N
July 16, 2009 | Gabriel Gonçalves N
The cousins' names are Reginaldo e Ana Maria Andrade Cunha (refering to the last paragraph of the story).
We have Google's Translation service to thank for the mixup.
July 18, 2009 | Gus Goncalves