Jacksonville Daily Journal,


Jacksonville Daily Journal, August 29, 1879
Thirtythird Anniversary
5,000[?] Portuguese From Springfield and Jacksonville Held a Grand Celebration at the Fair Grounds.

The morning of August 28, 1879, dawned bright and clear, and early in the day our citizens of Portuguese descent began flocking in groups by dozens, by scores and even by hundreds, to the Fair Grounds, west of the city, where they in conjunction with their friends of the same descent from Springfield, would celebrate the 33d anniversary of their departure from native Isle of Maderia [sic], when, true to the principles of their Christian faith they chose rather to suffer privation and hardship than to surrender their religious convictions. With hearts of gratitude they came yesterday to engage in a celebration of the day of their departure. The committee of arrangements-- Messrs. E. M. Vasconcellos, Tony Vasconcellos, Joseph P. Correia, Tony DeFrates, Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Smith, M. Correia, M. Mendonza, and John Day had worked faithfully and well and the preparations for the entertainment and comfort of the assembly, were ample. At a little past ten o’clock the excursion train from Springfield arrived in the city, conveying thirteen coaches of excursionists. This number added to those from Jacksonville and Morgan county who had already gathered at the Fair grounds, swelled the number to several thousand and soon after eleven o’clock the exercises at the stand began. A platform had been erected near the north end of the amphitheatre, which was tastefully decorated with evergreen and a trellis was erected upon the front bearing the designs in gilt letters, “33d Anniversary,” “Gloria a Deos,” 1846-1879.
Mr. E. M. Vasconcellos, with ability and ease presided over the gathering and announced as the first number on the programme.
Music -- “Opening Lay” -- which was well rendered.
The singing was by a combination of the choirs of the two churches in Springfield and three in Jacksonville, and was a most agreeable feature of the exercises. From Springfield the singers were Messrs. Emanuel Mendonza, Emanuel Gomez, Jr., and Sr., Louis and John Sylvester, Misses Jennie Gomez, Emma Sylvester, Ellen Gonsalves, Sarah Sylvester, Carrie DeFrates, with Mr. J. J. Sylvester as leader. The singers from Jacksonville were under the leadership of Mr. John Day and were Messrs. E. M. Vasconcellos, Emanuel Fernandes, A. M. DeFreitas, Misses Carrie Estaque, Delia Vieira, Hattie Gonzales, Ellen Gonzales, Jennie Fernandes, Naomi Baptiste, Mary Fernans, Mary Vasconcellos and Joanna Estaque.
Mrs. Jennie Fernandes and Miss Ada Gonsalves presided at the organ.
After the opening chorus prayer was offered by Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, Jr.
Next came a song in Portuguese “O Come e Agradavel,” which was given with a hearty good will and good expression. A fitting address of welcome was then given by Mr. E. M. Vasconcellos. A song in Portuguese, “Avante! Avante!” was followed by an address by
Mr. J. J. Sylvester, of Springfield, who spoke in the absence of the venerable Rev. A. Hale, who was detained by sickness. He was glad to be in their midst once more. Was glad to see many who had come over with him in the ship “William of Glasgow” in the same iron [?] road to the blessed land of liberty where they had lived for so many years. here God has blessed them wonderfully. Whilst many have been among sinners, they had been protected and blessed of God. As God was with the people of Israel in Egypt, in the Red Sea, until they reached the promised land, so He had been with their people. Let us keep those holy words which we heard from the good servant of God and our fathers in the gospel. His great desire was to be here to-day, but I believe he is here in spirit.
“Wake the Song of Jubilee” was a rousing good song and well sung, after which
Rev. J. M. Sturtevant, D.D. spoke at length.
Thirty years ago he had called upon the recently landed Portuguese exiles at their quarters in New York, and had shaken the hand of many of the fathers and mothers of those present. He was among the crowd who were present to welcome them on their arrival here. Had taken two of them to his home, and for many years they had remained there. One of them was now in the better land, and the other alive, and still faithful to the principles and convictions which brought him here. Antonio Nunes is a good man and true. The causes which brought the Portuguese from Madeira also brought the ancestors of the American people hither. They both sought freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. They fled from the same persecution in England which drove you from your native land. As such I welcome you today, and am exceedingly happy to welcome you. I wish to lay down, first, the proposition that all that is most pure and blessed in government and liberty and to social [unreadable] which we enjoy, is because most of our ancestors came to this free land because of persecution for their religious principles. The determination to enjoy religious freedom [unreadable] that makes us free, happy and prosperous. The great secret is that they wanted a place to worship: that’s the secret: that is our American Palladium.. Republican France has not yet learned this lesson, that every man must be allowed to worship God as he deems best, for she either killed or driven from her shores the very best men who woust have taught her that lesson, the men who were true, God-fearing men, whose consciences guided them in the true way. I welcome the Portuguese today because they brought such a conscience. Such a conscience is the source of untold temporal blessings. It could not have been any hope of worldly prosperity that brought the Portuguese here. It was their religious convictions. It was because they feared God. The resources of our country have been developed under the conviction of the right of religious freedom, and, in order to retain this hold upon the blessings of our common society, we must be true to our religious convictions. The future dwellers beneath these skies, and the future owners of these broad acres, are to be those who are true to the teaching of their parents in this regard.
Following this address came a song entitled “The Message of Peace.”
Mr. Emanuel Affonso,
of Springfield, was introduced, and said he was in a place new to him, and thought he could not do better than to read from the Holy Bible, which he did, selecting the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy. He compared their own deprivation and trial with that of the Israelites and in appropriate words extolled them to keep the law so that they might enjoy the fruits which it would bring. The song “O, Senhor e o [?] Pastor,” and then the announcement was made that an adjournment was now in order.
This was spread in the building used by the Fair Association for the fine art display. In this building the tables were laid, and the array of good things which were piled in such profusion, attested the skill of the Portuguese women in the culinary art. Some idea of the immense quantities of food may be formed when it is true they fed over 1,500 people and gathered up more than a dozen baskets of fragments. The arrangements for dinner were most excellently carried out and everybody had the opportunity to get all they wanted to eat. None were sent away hungry. After dinner “Home of the Blest” was sung by the choir, and
Mr. R. W. Diller,
of Springfield spoke briefly of the change in the condition of the Portuguese when they landed in 1849, and now. Those who came then have seen vast improvements. Then there was but one railroad. No sewing machines, no reapers were then to be found. They have seen the change from the primitive time to that of substantial improvement. They have noted the change in the manner of marketing, the change in dress and in many other regards. The speaker well-remembered that almost as soon as the Portuguese learned to saw wood they learned to tell the price and whether it was a wagonload or a huge cord pile, the answer was invariably “75 cent, no split.”
The song “The Reapers,” was next given by the choir, and
Mr. Joseph Cherry
spoke of the reception given the exiles on their arrival. Not only were the good people of Jacksonville and Springfield ready and willing to extend a helping hand, but many warm-hearted Christians at Waverly. The speaker read some extracts from a letter sent back to their native isle by Rev. A. Hale which recounted their destitute condition and the warm and cordial manner in which they were received and taken to the homes of the Christian people.
“The Sweet Bye and Bye”
was the sung in Portuguese, and the next speaker introduced was
M. P. Ayers, Esq.,
who in his usual sprightly manner opened his speech with a number of witty sayings, which brought a broad smile to the faces of all his hearers. He said that he little thought when he carried provisions to the Portuguese in the basement of the first Presbyterian Church in 1849, that in thirty years the same people would be holding as grand a celebration as that. Had anyone told him that in thirty years that same people, then so destitute, and their descendants would feed over 1,500 people bountifully, and have plenty to spare, he would have thought him a fool. This fact was due to just three traits of character, vis: Industry, economy and honesty. These pursued rightly by the oncoming generation would make them the possessors and tillers of the land.
After singing “Stand Up for Jesus,”
Rev. E. N. Pires
was introduced and spoke very acceptably. The points of his discourse were briefly these:
A great moral and spiritual convulsion in Madeira one generation ago, in 1846, had hurled these people on the shores of America. They reached here in 1849, met with a XXXChristian reception, and it has filled their hearts with lasting gratitude. they had grown up with Jacksonville, and were strongly attached to it; loved the town and all her interests, as their home and the home of their children. By thirty years of contact with American influences and institutions they had reached a transition period. They differed from the Portuguese of Europe in though, feelings, manner of living, sympathy, tastes, etc. yet if they were not so changed as to have become entirely American. this transition period is important, and needs to be guarded, so that we may not drop too much nor incorporate too much. Portuguese in the north must keep pace with descendants of the same race in the south (in Brazil). A manly type of the southern Portuguese we saw in Dom Pedro, who visited this country three years ago. A man, learned, humane, wise, full of good and strong sense. He fully met the highest expectations of the American people. No public man here, or crowned head in Europe, is his superior.
The elements of the Portuguese character to be continued and transmitted were said to be (1) Industry. they are hard working class at anything that offers and eat their bread according to the scripture injunction. (2) Economy. He counseled them to be saving. Live within their income. Pay their debts. Be content with a plain simple manner of life. (3) Acquire something. the Portuguese want a home and will have it. A place beyond any ones control. Get a spot of god’s earth and stick to it and it will stick to you. (4) church-going. the Portuguese love the sanctuary and its privileges. (5) Politeness. Be courteous to all. (6) Humane. Have regard for all men white or black. (7) Have regard for law and authority. (8) have gravity and dignity. (9) they have a fixed attachment to the family relations; let there be no divorcing--marry the wife of your choice and stand by her through life.
some American qualities to be cultivated were said to be: (1) To aim at the broader intelligence of Americans. Read more; think more; keep posted as to the movements of the nation and the world. Tone down the passion and impulsiveness by a decided development of the intellect. (2) A higher and purer morality. there is a higher and purer morality in Protestant countries than can be found in Catholic ones.
After the close of this excellent address and benediction and prayer, a business meeting was held, with Mr. E. M. Vasconcellos as chairman, and John Day, secretary. Rev. E. N. Pires read the following resolutions, which were unanimously adopted:
Resolved, We are gratified that in the Providence of God our lot was cast in the United States of America, a land of freedom and plenty.
We long for the day when narrow, oppressive Jesuitical laws shall be repealed and al Portuguese citizens, whether Protestant or Catholic, shall be treated and protected alike, as is the case in this country.
As in the past we will continue to trust God in time to come.
A general committee to arrange for future celebrations was chosen, as follows:
1st Presbyterian church, Springfield--Manuel Affonso.
2d Presbyterian church, Springfield--Manuel Mendonsa.
1st Church. Jacksonville--Manuel Mendonsa, Jr.
2d church, Jacksonville--A.P. Vasconcellos.
Central Chruch, Jacksonville--A. J. Vieira.

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edited on 03/31/01