Coutinho Family Collection [1899-2000]
Francisco Coutinho was a Portuguese immigrant who built a life for his family in the United States. He was born on June 6, 1874 in São Vicente on the island of Cabo Verde. His parents were João Coutinho and Julia Maria Alves Coutinho. Although he was born on an island, he grew up on the mainland in Lisbon, Portugal. He decided to first visit the United States in June of 1898, when he was 24 years old. He arrived in Brooklyn, New York City, where he stayed for a few years before moving to Massachusetts in January of 1900. He eventually settled in the North End of Boston and worked jobs as a steamship water tender and restaurant keeper.
Francisco Coutinho became naturalized in 1908 and was able to make multiple visits back to Portugal to visit his family. It was on one of these visits that he met his future wife, Emilia. Emilia Ferrão was born in Portugal on June 27, 1882 to Anselmo da Silva Ferrão and Maria Rita Nunes. She spent most of her adult life working various jobs, including time spent as a housemaid in 1906 and as a shop attendant at Grandes Armazens do Chiado, both in Lisbon.
Francisco and Emilia Coutinho had one son, named Manuel Nunes Coutinho, born on June 6, 1913. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in East Boston at 5 Harve Street. In 1917, Francisco’s younger brother, Manuel Coutinho, also immigrated to the United States. Manuel, who was born on December 24, 1883, first traveled through Buenos Aires before arriving in Brooklyn, New York. He went to stay with his brother in Boston before finding his own residence at 268 Commercial Street. He declared his intention to become an American citizen in 1919 while he worked as a lodging house keeper and fireman.
In 1924, Francisco fell ill and knew he did not have much time left. He wanted to pass away in his homeland, so he traveled with his wife and son back to Portugal. After he passed, Emilia and Manuel traveled back to the United States. As per the culture at the time, Francisco’s brother, Manuel, decided to keep caring for his brother’s widow and married Emilia in July of 1925. Although Emilia and Manuel were married until the time of Manuel’s death, they had no children together.
Manuel Nunes Coutinho, the son of Emilia and Francisco, grew up to have a very successful life in the Boston area. He married Frances Cancian and they had five children: Anne-Marie, Barbara, Cissy, John, and Paul. He continued to work with the Portuguese American community and volunteered at the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) to help immigrants, notably in Lowell and Lawrence, prepare for their citizenship tests. His work inspired the MAPS Manuel Nunes Coutinho Outstanding Volunteer Award after his death in 2002. This award is presented annually to local volunteers who have followed in his footsteps and dedicated their time to helping the Portuguese-speaking community.