I always thought it was kind of funny to hear someone say that they were 1/2 Brava and 1/2 Fogo considering that these are two very small islands are less than 30 mins from each other and, historically, inhabited by descendants of the same families. Nevertheless, I am one of those mixed Brava/Fogo people, lol!

My paternal grandfather, Papa aka Joao Antonio “Popinho” Lopes, was born in Relva, Mosteiros, Fogo on September 30, 1913 to Jose Antonio Lopes and Maria de Barros Abreu. He married my grandmother, Severa (Teia) Fortes da Cruz in 1937. He had 3 sisters, Maria Fidalgo Lopes, Catherina Lopes and Rosa Lopes d’Andrade, and at least two brothers, Roberto Jose Lopes and Manuel Jose Lopes. His father, Jose Antonio “Nho Djedje” Lopes, born in 1875 and arrived in the US in 1907 with his cousin, Anibal Jose Lopes. Nho Djedje worked on building the railroad in Cape Cod. The last arrival I have found for him was in 1925, when he was 50 years old, aboard the Leonardo da Vinci.

Nho Djedje’s parents were Roberto Jose Lopes and Catherina de Barros Abreu who were married on May 25, 1856 in the church of Nossa Senhora de Ajuda. They were residents of the town of Achada Grande. Roberto was the son of Jose Antonio da Cruz and Ignez Lopes de Miranda, daughter of Manuel Lopes da Veiga and Isabel de Miranda. He had at least three brothers, Manuel Jose Lopes (b. 1859) Eugenio Jose Lopes (b. 1862) and Isidoro Jose Lopes.

Catherina was the daughter of Pedro Jose de Barros Abreu and Maria d’Andrade. Her paternal grandparents were Manuel de Barros Abreu and Maria de Miranda. Her maternal grandparents were Manuel d’Andrade and Beatris Donelha, daughter of Andre Donelha. Coming across the Donelha surname was a pleasant surprise. Dr. Trevor Hall, Johns Hopkins University, has written that “Donelha” was a transcription error in early records for “da Nolli” and that the Donelha family are descendants of Antonio da Noli, Italian discoverer of Cape Verde and its first governor. Mr. Marcel Gomes Balla has an equally compelling argument that they are descendants of the Ornelha family from Madeira who once hosted Christopher Columbus during his third voyage to America in 1498. Either way, it’s an interesting find to have a direct connection to this family. This Andre Donelha may be the author or a descendant of the author of the same name of “An Account of Sierra Leone and the Rivers of Guinea of Cape Verde” written in 1625. The book was published again in 1977 edited by Avelino Teixeira da Mota.

Papa’s mother, Maria de Barros Abreu, was the daughter of Pedro de Barros Abreu and Maria Michaelina Lopes Friere. Her paternal grandparents were Andre de Barros Abreu (son of Manuel de Barros Abreu and Maria de Miranda, referred to above) and Joanna d’Andrade, daughter of Luis d’Andrade and Rosa d’Andrade. Maria’s maternal grandparents were Joao Lopes Friere and Rosa Goncalves.

If you’re keeping up with this, Papa’s paternal great-great grandparents were also his maternal great-great grandparents making his parents second cousins and it gets even better…Joao Lopes Friere (Papa’s great grandfather) is family to Luis Lopes Morino Friere, my grandmother, Teia’s, great-great-great grandfather and her grandfather, Isidoro Jose Lopes, was Papa’s great grand uncle.

I had the opportunity to visit Relva, located on the northeast coast of Fogo. The home my grandfather lived in still exists with the most beautiful view of the ocean.

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