HISTORICAL EXCERPTS from the Late 1800s
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Sources
  • History of Morgan County, Illinois: 1878 Donnelley, Loyd; Reproduced by Unigraph, 1978, p 371

  • History of Sangamon County, Illinois: 1881 Inter-State Publishing Co, pp 578-560, 610

  • Historic Morgan & Classic Jacksonville: 1884-1885 Charles M. Eames, pp127-128

  • History of Morgan County, Illinois: 1878
    Portuguese Presbyterian Churches: "In reference to the Portuguese Presbyterian Churches, the paper says: In addition to three English churches, there are three Presbyterian congregations among our Portuguese fellow citizens. In November, 1849, a company of about four hundred of this nationality, reached this section of the State, settling in Waverly, Springfield, and Jacksonville. They were religious exiles, mostly from the island of Madeira, and having been under the spiritual guidance of a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman, they naturally allied themselves with that denomination in this country. Churches were formed in Springfield and this city. From the latter sprang, in May, 1858, a second church. In 1872 the latter organization was again divided. In the three churches there are now some four hundred members. They occupy two substantial frame buildings on Jordan and North Streets. The last formed congregation are using the court house for worship at present. The pulpits are supplied now Rev. Henry Vieria, Rev. Charles Barton, and Rev. Emanuel Pires."

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    History of Sangamon County, Illinois: 1881
    "In the city of Springfield are many Portuguese, and as it is uncommon to see such numbers of this nationality in this country, the question is often asked, "How came they here?" Their story is an interesting one. … Robert B. Kalley was a young physician in Scotland. He felt it his duty to go as a missionary to China, and was ordained by the Free Church to preach the Gospel. In 1838, he and his wife left their home to go to China. On the voyage Mrs. Kalley was smitten with disease. Her friends thought she would not live to reach China. There was no vessel to carry them back to Scotland, so they turned aside to visit Madeira. Dr. Kalley did not know Portuguese, but thought that while hindered in the work he had set out to do, he yet might do good in instructing the people of this island. He at once set about learning the language, and soon mastered it so that he could begin his labors.

    A co-laborer with Dr. Kalley was Rev. William Hewiston. The two, with the aid of such others as could be secured, did a grand work on the island. But a time of persecution came. The Catholics on the island would not endure the hated Protestants. The life of Dr. Kally (sic) was threatened and he had to flee from the island in disguise. The Portuguese converts, too, had to flee for their lives, or that they might worship God in peace according to the dictates of their own conscience. Hundreds fled to other countries. A vessel was chartered to take as many as could be accommodate to Trinidad. But this was only to be a temporary place of rest.

    In the early part of 1847, there were about five hundred Portuguese exiles in Trinidad. How were they to be supported? They were in a strange land, and were not familiar with the language of their benefactors. They found all classes of people here from different nations. Several of the planters were willing to hire them to work sugar estates, but they knew nothing of that kind of labor. Some of them had been wealthy, and their hands were not skillful enough to toil for their daily bread.

    A church organization was formed in Trinidad in April 1847 by Mr. Hewiston, would could not remain to care for them. Mr. DaSilva was at once selected and was ordained as their pastor. (Arsenio Da Silva was born on the Island of Madeira and educated for the priesthood, but would not take the vows. He became a merchant and accumulated a large fortune. He married and had one child, a beautiful daughter, who grew to womanhood, when disease overtook her. The best physicians of the island were called but could do her no good. Finally, Dr. Kalley was called. The daughter was healed, and father and daughter were converted to the Protestant religion. Mr. DaSilva became a member and elder in the church under Mr. Hewitson. But he was too prominent a man to be permitted to dwell on the island and he had to flee for his life.)

    (Mr. DaSilva) had six hundred in his flock and all exiles. It was truly a charge. The labors were great, but he did not despair. The property of the exiles, and the uncertain prospect of a better condition in Trinidad were truly an anxiety in his mind. No land could be obtained for them to settle upon, and there was little hope of their living by their toils so long as they must become mere slaves in the hot fields, or in the friendless houses of strangers.

    Like the Pilgrim Fathers in Leyden, they began to look toward some other land for a home. Their cry went out to the Christians of the United States, and a voice of welcome rolled across the waters. The "Great West" the beautiful Illinois country, with its grand prairies, were picture before their eyes.

    The American Protestant Society sent Rev. G. Gonsalves to Trinidad to inquire into the condition of the exiles. Mr. Gonsalves returned and was followed shortly after by Mr. DaSilva, who arrived in New York in December 1848. But death claimed him befoe he could make the arrangements that he desired for his flock. He died January 10, 1849.

    Appeals were now made for help to transport these exiles to the United States, and the appeals were not in vain. Arrangements were made to care for all that should come at Springfield, Jacksonville and Waverly. On the 19th of October, 1849, nearly three hundred left New York for their new homes in Illinois. Rev. Albert Hale, a father in Israel, thus wrote of these exiles shortly after their arrival in Springfield: "We are much occupied these days in ministering to our brethren, the Portuguese exiles. They arrived here just in time to enter on the severe winter weather, which now they, in common with all of us, have to endure. They are not much accustomed to sever cold weather, and as our city was very full of people when they arrived, it was well nigh impossible to provide them habitations; to provide comfortable dwellings was out of the question, as everything worthy of that name was already crowded full. But we have done what, under the circumstances, we could, and they are hoping for better times. So far as I know they are contented and happy. Many of them find employment at good wages and ready pay. They are highly valued as laborers, and will soon be able to take care of themselves without the aid of others. Indeed, the last thing to be looked for is that such men should long be a charge to their fellow men. If they maintain their strict religious principles and their habits of industry, there is but one destiny for them here, and that is plenty-independence."

    That is how the Portuguese came to be in Springfield and Sangamon country."

    FIRST PORTUGUESE PRESBYTERIAN

    The congregation was organized in Madeira in 1844, and its members emigrated in a body… arriving here in the fall of 1849. Services have been held continuously since that time. The present church building is a brick structure, situated on Madison street, between Fourth and Fifth. Rev. Mr. McGee was the last pastor the church had. The membership of the church is about one hundred.

    SECOND PORTUGUESE PRESBYTERIAN

    This society was organized about 1857. Its present house of worship, an unpretentious brick structure, situated at the corner of Eighth and Miller streets, was erected in 1861. ev. E.N. Piers (kleber note: Pires?) is pastor of the congregation, and also has charge of a congregation at Jacksonville, and therefore only spends half his time here. Services, however, are held every Sunday, conducted by the elders. The membership is about one hundred and twenty.

    NOTE: This 1881 History of Sangamon Country (p 579) implies that the Catholics of Madeira blamed a severe famine on the "Bible reading" Protestants; they feared the famine was a "curse on the people for allowing such men as Dr. Kalley and Mr. Hewitson to come among them and establish schools, read the words of God, and have meetings for prayer and praise." It also implies that prior to Dr. Kalley, few Madeirans could read and the Bible was an unknown book. As to persecution: most Madeirans, when jailed, did not pay for their upkeep. However Bible readers had to pay their own support in prison.

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    Historic Morgan & Classic Jacksonville: 1884-1885
    "The year 1846 (kleber note: 1849?) witnessed the arrival in this country of a band of from 300 to 500 men, women and children of Portuguese blood, exiles from the island of Madeira. They came to this country under the guidance of a missionary named Kally, who had labored among them in the island. They were comparatively poor. They had been converted, or proselyted (sic), from Romanism by Presbyterian missionaries, Mr. Kally being the chief instrument in the work. Their Catholic neighbors on the island persecuted and maltreated them for their desertion of the Holy Mother Church, and their residence on the island was made particularly disagreeable. Under these circumstances a happy thought occurred, to bring the little church to America and their co-religionists of Springfield and Jacksonville gave them a cordial invitation to settle at these points. Money was contributed and the little colony, like the Pilgrim Fathers, embarked for America, seeking a home where they might find freedom to worship God.

    They settled almost entirely in Springfield and Jacksonville. Occasionally their numbers have been recruited by accessions from the mother country, but these have not been large.

    As a rule, they came here poor in purse but rich in determination. They have prospered and many of them have become wealthy. They all manage as soon as possible, to acquire a piece of ground, no matter how small, which they can call their own, and they cultivate this with all the care and diligence they formerly bestowed upon the little patches of earth between the rocks and hills of their rugged native isle. As a class, they are industrious, frugal, upright, peaceful, law-abiding citizens and may be found in all trades and professions, to which they readily adapt themselves. Many have been placed in offices of position and have faithfully discharged their trusts, and filled the duties of their office acceptably.

    Many of the older class maintain the peculiarities of their native land, but the younger portion more readily than any other of our foreign born citizens, adapt themselves to the customs, manners and habits of their adopted land. They are for the most part, exemplary Christians, maintaining as they now do, in our city three churches and three Sabbath schools. Their girls are for the most part sweet singers and many of them quite beautiful; their dark complexion betraying their Arab or Barber blood. Their boys are bright and active, quick to learn and many of them will make good thrift business men."


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