Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A CHAMORRO IN NEW ORLEANS



MANUEL SAN NICOLÁS

In 1919, we find a Chamorro man living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His name was Manuel San Nicolás, born in Hagåtña in 1878, the son of Mariano.

In 1893, Manuel came to the United States. More than likely, he joined the crew of a whaler or some commercial vessel stopping by Guam. That would have made him 15 years old, not unusual at that time period.

In the U.S., Manuel worked in various jobs,

Manuel is found in the 1920 US Census named "Manuel Nicolas." It's not unusual for names to change slightly, and sometimes completely, in documents of those days, especially with non-Anglo names. But we know from documents that Manuel lived at 1215 Royal Street in the year 1919, and the 1920 Census entry is for the residents at 1215 Royal Street.

The Census says that Manuel is from the Philippines, but we know that many Chamorros listed Spain or the Philippines as their place of origin in those days because the Marianas were not well-known by others back then, and because the Marianas were a province of the Philippines which was under Spain in the 1800s.

According to this Census, Manuel was married to a woman from New Orleans named Louise, who is of Portuguese and Mexican descent. Other records show that her maiden name was Laurence (sometimes spelled Lawrence) and that they had married in 1905. They had four children by 1920 :a daughter Manuella, aged 13, and two sons, Manuel, aged 4, and Peter, less than a year old.

Manuel and Louise reappear in the 1930 Census in New Orleans, still on Royal Street but now at house number 2237. Their older children, Manuella, Manuel and Peter are not living with them anymore but they have the following children living with them : Thomas (13), Raymond (6), Rita (3) and Calvin (4). If Thomas is truly 13 years old, he should have been listed in the 1920 Census, and maybe he is, but named Manuel. If people had two given names, records sometimes use the 1st and at other times the 2nd given name, which explains the discrepancy. In 1930, Manuella would have been 23 years old by then and possibly married. Peter could have died in infancy. Many did in those days.

Interestingly, the 1930 Census says that Manuel was from the Philippines but all the children's entries state that their father Manuel is from Guam! So much for human record keeping.



One of Manuel's seasonal jobs was to go to Cuba and work for the Hershey company. Needing a better source of sugar for his candies, Mr. Hershey bought acres and acres of sugar cane fields in Cuba in 1916. Manuel would go there to work as Centrifugal Foreman at the mill.



The Hershey Mill in Cuba at the time Manuel would have worked there

Another time, we find a document showing that Manuel went to Veracruz, Mexico on account of work. It seems the 15-year-old sailing boy never lost his love of travel.

What became of Manuel's Chamorro children? One of them, Raymond, moved to Kentucky where he died in 1984.



Despite numerous records simplifying San Nicolas to just Nicolas, Raymond signed his name using the full name San Nicolas

It would take some research to find out where Manuel's descendants are today and if they have any inkling of their Guam and Chamorro roots.

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