Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rufino Nicolau Moniz

Rufino Nicolau Moniz... about 16 years of age...
Rufino Nicolau
Rufino Nicalou with a lady friend...
Just look at this guy!!! Hollywood eat your heart out! Handsome, debonair, ladies man, dashing, just a few words to describe this colorful soul. Rufino also had a pet monkey named Patsy, so one could add eccentric to the list of descriptive words that define him. He was always referred to as, Uncle Ralph. I met him several times. However I was very young, so my memories are vague. He lived three thousand miles away! Those that knew him well say that he had a heart of gold to a fault and was always kind to his nieces and nephews. He was a rabble-rouser and stood up for what he believed in. According to cousin Anibal, Uncle Ralph's nickname was "Cop Souza" in the New Bedford, MA area. Some of his antics were not always carried out in a positive way and he would occasionally partake in some liquid cheer!

His nephew Hank writes; "Never having children of his own, he became like a second father to us. He was generous to a fault. I could take his car anytime I wanted it. I started driving at the age of 13 and took his car for a spin on many occasions. We all drove at a very early age because we lived in the small village of Tormey  - - private property belonging to the American Smelting and Refining Company - - hence no license required. We all miss him very much." 
Hank also writes: "My brother Monte picked up many of Uncle Ralph's traits, much to my father’s dismay.  Monte and Uncle Ralph made the rounds to many of the local pubs and always had a rip roaring time. Uncle Ralph was like a little bandy rooster, always ready to punch someone if they looked cross eyed at him. Monte also picked up Uncle 
Ralph’s generosity when it came to his family, especially his nephews and nieces. Monte treated my children exactly like Uncle Ralph treated us. We spent more time with him than any of my other Uncles because my mother would  fix his dinner every night and we would all eat together. He liked the ladies and had several girlfriends. I remember on one occasion ( I was 4 or 5) we went for a ride and he stopped the car to talk with a lady. He was so engrossed in conversation that he did not notice that I had pushed his cigarette lighter in and held it in. The smoke that soon started coming from under the dash brought an abrupt end to his flirting. It was a great loss to our family when he passed. He was like a second father to me, and I still miss him a lot." 

My mom says that he was very handsome and had a different lady for every night of the week. Uncle Ralph never married and has no known children.
Rufino Nicolau was the fourth child and first son of Rufino Moniz Junior and Maria do Rosairo. In some European families the birth of a first son is equated to the second coming of you know WHO! After three daughters I am sure this was the case! 
I have searched many databases on the web and cannot find any records to support a date in which he arrived in America. He was not on the ship's manifest in 1920 or any other manifest that I could find. No where is he mentioned in the documents of immigration that grandfather had petitioned. He was definitely here in the 1920's as he went to California with his brother's and sister sometime later in that decade. I do have a theory that will be discussed at a later time. Records that I do have state that he was born on December 6,1905 and would pass at the age of 82 in July of 1987. 
He became a US Citizen at the age of 47, September 21,1953. His residence at the time of his death was; 94525 Crockett, Contra Costa, California. Uncle Ralph worked on his sister Mary Vera's dairy farm and later in the sugar cane industry for most of his adult life.

New information: I visited Ellis Island, New York very recently in July. I met with a historian named Barry Moreno, upstairs in the third floor library. I asked him how to go about finding out how Rufino came to this country. I explained my theory that he was probably substituted for Henrique on the initial 1920 journey with grandfather. "Records were not kept like they are today," he said. The United States did not require passports like they do today. The government of Portugal required anyone leaving Portugal to have a passport as there was a mass migration out of that country at that time. He asked if Rufino had become a citizen of the United States. "He was," I said. "Then he would have had to file for Naturalization Papers and file a petition," he said. This document would require information on initial entry into this country. I already had his citizenship document number found on ancestry.com. I was to contact nara.gov with this info and ask for the petition documents. I found the appropriate contact and for a fee they would send me the information. 
My excitement heightened when I learned that my theory was correct. Ralph was indeed substituted for Henrique who came here in October of 1920. Why this exchange happened we will probably never know. But it explains why Henrique was listed twice, once in April on the Black Arrow and then in October on the Roma. Ralph's entry was nowhere to be found. 
The Naturalization Petition Document reads: filed in the district court of the United States at San Francisco. He came to this country, April 2 1920 on the SS Black Arrow and that he had lived in California since 1932. He was 47 at the time of petition. The petition was witnessed by Frances Moniz and Joe Pallotta Jr., his sister-in-law (Henrique's wife) and her brother. It was signed by T. L. Baldwin, Deputy Clerk. 
A bit of the mystery solved and goodness what a journey. Thanks to Barry Moreno at the Ellis Island Foundation for the time he spent with me. He is a man of great knowledge who truly enjoys his job. Our meeting lasted for about twenty five minutes while grandpa and my grand-daughters waited patiently. 

Comment by Cousin Hank: "I thought my dad came over with one of his sisters. I know he did not come over with Uncle Ralph as you have discovered. 

I’m not even sure what year my father left New Bedford to come to California, at my Aunt Mary’s request. I know he was a ranch hand and milk truck delivery guy shortly after arriving here. I don’t think my Uncle Ralph came with him, but came a little later. I can’t imagine my Uncle Ralph as a ranch hand, a truck driver yes, but ranch hand no. 
At time of his naturalization, both he and my dad worked at the American Smelting and Refinery Co. where my dad worked as a fork lift driver and my uncle as a truck driver. The company made bullets during the war and also refined other precious metals such as gold and silver. One of my dad’s friends was involved in a gold robbery at the company and got caught."

He was a colorful thread that added interesting texture to the tapestry of our family's history!
Rufino Nicolau center, along with two friends 


Henry and Ralph enjoying a day at the beach...

Once again if anyone has a memory to add please let me know!

2 comments:

Lynn said...

Not sure what about this drew me in, but read it to the end and was amazed to learn that this man's life found him living a mere thirty minute drive from where I live now. (Crockett and the sugar refinery are between us and the way to San Francisco on highway 80). I was born and grew up just up the road in Vallejo, California so he and I were definitely neighbors. (other side of the bridge between Crockett and Vallejo. (1941-1972 was when I was there. Our paths could have crossed. My father born 1900, so they were close in age!) How's that for six degrees of separation?

Beautiful photos and story.

Lynn said...

one other bit of connection. My husband's family (paternal)were fisherman in tall ships out of Nova Scotia and ship: The Effie M. Morrissey/Earnestina were ships his grandfather and uncles owned and is now docked in New Bedford, MA.

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