Rufino Moniz & Maria Natalia Moniz
The Black Arrow, it's name alone conjures up visions of pirates, mystery and adventure. Docked in the harbor of Funchal, the Arrow awaited it's anxious passengers ready for adventure and the promise of a better life. Word had reached the shores of Madeira that life was good in America. It was the land of opportunity, offering work, housing, education, hope and abundance.
I can only imagine how grandmother felt? Walking the dock of anticipation with her one year old son John in arm, grand-father and four of his seven children from his first marriage.
Envisioning a very early start, a thick fog lending to the mystery that lie ahead. All dressed in their Sunday best each carrying some sort of satchel and maybe a small hand carved wooden toy for baby John. Grandmother had to have been nursing John as this was not the age of sterilization. My God, can you feel her butterflies and hear her heart pounding, leaving everything she knew behind. They were never to return.
Such sorrow had befallen this grand lady. She had lost her first husband and three small children to the dreaded influenza that swept across Europe. How does one soul endure such heartache and move on? She was only thirty one years of age the day she embarked this vehicle of opportunity, she would go on to bear six more children in America.
What might their accommodations have been like? I can only hope that they had some sort of privacy? What kind of food did they consume and what were the rest room facilities like aboard? Can you picture the long lines not to mention sea sickness? My mother says that it took close to thirty days to cross the Atlantic to Ellis Island and I am not sure if they stopped in the Azores or not. It would make sense that they did to pick up more passengers. Their passports were issued in February of 1920 and stamped by the American Consulate, March 6th 1920, possibly their date of departure. I recently learned from cousin Hank that there were Italian immigrants on board as well, relayed by his dad, Henry aged twelve at the time of the crossing. Sign language a form of communication for sure.
Mother says that they never really spoke of their hardships or their trip across, you just did what you had to do and move forward. How different my life would have been had they not taken this enormous leap of faith. Luckily the earth was proven not to be flat years earlier by Christopher Columbus, who married a woman from Madeira with the maiden name of Moniz. Hmm? Grandfather said his family were the first Monizs' to settle in Madeira from the mainland. No proof here just word of mouth!
Someday I will return to investigate their linage at greater length. Records were kept in churches, the church where my grandmother was baptized burned to the ground in Funchal where she was born. Grandmother was born in 1889, her birthdate December 24, hence her name Natalia, a Christmas blessing. In her thirty first year at the time of the crossing, she passed at the age of 76 in 1965. She was the daughter of Manuel Roderiques Neto and Maria Isabel de Jesus. Grand-father was born in Santa Cruz, Madeira in the year of 1874 on March 29, he passed at the age of 82 in 1956, we visited his church and place of baptism. He was 44 years of age the day he embarked the ship and celebrated his 45th birthday aboard. He was the son of Rufino Moniz and Maria de Freitas. I have no idea of the family that they left behind and if their parents were still alive at the time of their departure? Grandmother had two brothers that lived in Fall River, Massachusetts, John and Jesse Neto. How many more siblings did they have? I understand we have cousins in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Hawaii. Questions I hope to answer thru out our journey!
Their mode of transportation from New York to New Bedford is unknown to me at this time. Maybe one of my relatives has more information. My guess would be the railway. According to the photo of the ship's manifest they arrived at Ellis Island with the grand sum of $22.00, hopefully a sizable amount for that time. It was Friday, April 2 1920. They were sponsored across by grandfather's brother who resided in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Mary, Mother of the Archangels, how did they endure? Twenty two dollars, five children, transportation, food and housing yet to be found. I will never take the small amount of twenty two dollars for granted again!
The four older children were, Maria Viera, age 19, Maria Gloria, age 17, she would pass at sea and buried there. Henrique, age 12 years, Mario, age 10. There is no mention of Ralph the eldest son, who came a few years later. Hopefully the reason coming soon for his late departure. Caroline and Jordan stayed behind and would come many years later.
Grandfather's first wife would die in childbirth bearing their seventh child, Jordan. Once again such heartache and to lose a child while crossing the ocean, my heart weeps for their sorrow. Was their decision ever questioned???
We can only wonder...
The Black Arrow Photo Courtsey: Peabody Essex Museum
Built by Bremer Vulkan Shipbuilders, Vegesack, Germany, 1904. 6,600 gross tons; 409 (bp) feet long; 52 feet wide. Steam quadruple expansion engine, single screw. Service speed 13 knots. 900 passengers (100 first class, 800 third class). Steel hull, two decks.
Built for Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1904 and named Rhaetia. Mediterranean-New York service. Seized by U.S. Shipping Board, in 1917 and renamed Black Hawk. Transferred to United States Navy, American flag, in 1919 and renamed USS Black Arrow. Chartered by New York & Cuba Mail Steamship Co., in 1919. Mediterranean-New York service. Scrapped in 1924.~EllisIsland.org~