Josefa (Pepita) [Maina] BESTEIRO GRACIANI56,57 was born
on 6 Aug 1884 in Madrid, Spain.30
Full name: Josefa Justa. She was born at Príncipe de Anglona uno, piso
1º. (Principe de Anglona: desde la Costanilla de San Andrés á
la de San Andrés. . . En el (plano) de Espinosa lleva el nombre . . . de
calle Sin Puertas . . . ) She lived at Plaza de la Cebada 10 in Madrid, Spain
between 1889 and 1906.11,58,59 The family
was living at this address when her brother Jorge was born in 1889 and still
living here during the 1905 census.
When Richard SIGNES was in Madrid looking for family information in August 1997,
he wrote "When I was in Madrid, strolling through the neighborhood in which
Maina and family grew up, I realized that Plaza de la Cebada, diez, was just
about fifty yards from the well known "Teatro de La Latina". All sorts
of images of the Gracciani actors/actresses came to mind. " She received
first communion on 4 Jun 1897 in Madrid, Spain.60 Carmen SIGNES (Beaton) has a prayerbook of Pepita's,
with the inscription "Libro con el que hice mi Primera Comunion en la Iglesia
de Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena de Madrid el dia 4 de junio 1897. Pepita
Besteiro Grazziani" (note the "zz" spelling). She was educated
at a conservatory about 1900 in Madrid, Spain.42
She lived c/Madera Alta, 28-3° dcha in Madrid, Spain between 14 Nov 1906
and Mar 1907.59 She immigrated
on 2 Apr 1907 to Havana, Cuba.4,23,61
There is a document dated 9 March 1907 that gives Josefa permission to leave
Spain. Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI notes that the travellers consisted of Victorina
GRACCIANI and three of her children (Domingo had gone earlier and Emilio never
went). She lived in various places between 1907 and 1921. Here is
an attempt at a summary: 1884-1907: Madrid / 1907-1908: Havana / 1908-1909:
Madrid / 1909-1911: Havana / 1911: Spain (Valdemoro in August; Santiago?) /
1912: Havana / 1912-1916: New York / 1916-1917: Havana / 1917-1921: New York
/ 1921-1953: Paterson, NJ / 1953-1968 Totowa Borough, NJ.
She was living on 28 Aug 1908 in Madrid, Spain.4,42 Isabel
BESTEIRO GRACCIANI notes that Josefa returned to Spain with her grandmother Joaquina
(who had visited Cuba, according to this story, in an unsuccesful effort to get
her pregnant 45-year old daughter Victorina to return to Spain with her). There
is a photo of Josefa, inscribed by herself, that reads as follows: "Mamá,
para que vea estoy más gruesa y mande por mí. La dedico este postal
con mucho cariño. Su hija Pepita 28-8-1908 Madrid" (Mother, so
you see I'm getting heavier; send for me. . . ") (Note -- address on the
card was "A Dª Victorina Gracciani / Consulado - 104 y 106 / "Isla
de Cuba" / Habana.)
She returned to Havana on 1 Jun 1909.62
Arrived in Havana on the Reina María Cristina. She returned to Spain in
1911.42 After the birth
of their daughter Carmen, Josefa and her husband and daughter returned to Spain
where Antonio briefly resumed his medical studies in Santiago de Compostela.
Because of Pepita's ill health, however, the doctors recommended warmer climate,
and they returned to Cuba. While in Spain, the couple's second child, Manuel,
was born, and Victoria was born after their return to Cuba. She immigrated on
18 Sep 1912 to New York, NY, USA.42,63,64
She sailed on the S.S. Saratoga with children Carmen, Manuel and Victorina.
She was preceded in the immigration to the US by her husband, who continued
to urge her to wait to join him until he had found a job. Her mother, however,
offered her two pieces of advice: "don't leave a man alone that long"
and "as long as you don't show up with the kids he won't find a job."
(Victorina was 5 weeks old when they left.)
She lived in New York, NY, USA between 18 Sep 1912 and 1921. See
Antonio LAGOS TOLEDO entry for details. She travelled to Cuba just prior to
the birth of her fourth daughter, the second Lolita, about Nov 1916.42 With her infant children Dolores and Antonio having
died within three weeks of each other in New York City, she was afraid to bear
yet another child there. Leaving her husband Antonio in NY, she travelled to
Cuba with her children Carmen, Manuel and Victoria. She returned to the US after
the birth of her daughter Dolores on 2 Apr 1917 in Havana, Cuba.40,42 In March
1917, her husband had written her in Cuba advising her and the children to return
home: according to his information, the US was about to declare war on Germany,
which would likely make it impossible for them to return during its duration.
When she and her children (Carmen, Manuel, Victoria and the baby Dolores) prepared
to depart from Havana, it was discovered that Manuel had pink eye and he was
forbidden to accompany them. Fearful because of her husband's admonition, she
boarded the boat and left Manuel in the care of his grandmother and Aunt Betty
(Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI) for approximately 2 years. The boat, the S.S. Mexico,
left Havana at 29 March 1917 and arrived in New York on 2 April. The US declared
war on Germany on 6 April.
She lived in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA between 1921 and 1953.
See Antonio Lagos Toledo entry for details. She was naturalized on 18 Nov 1943.
She lived 299 East 31st Street in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA in 1952/53.
When her husband Antonio died in November 1952 her daughter Carmen won the right
for her to move to their house. After the sudden 1953 death of Joe Baron, however,
she moved to Totowa Borough where she helped care for her granddaughter Mercedes
Baron while Mercedes' mother Josephine worked. She lived 100 Greene Avenue in
Totowa Borough, NJ, USA between 1953 and 1968.
She visited Madrid for the first time in 56 years in Aug 1965.
She first traveled to Germany for the wedding of her grandson Emil SIGNES. (Two
interesting stories about this trip: 1. In Gata de Gorgos, the home town of her
son-in-law Emilio SIGNES MONFORT, which followed the Spanish tradition of widows
wearing black for the remainder of their lives, Pepita astounded everyone by
wearing a pink dress. 2. When in a Madrid hotel, she demanded to know why the
desk clerk spoke to her in English. "But you spoke to me in English"
he stammered. "Oh", said Maina, who despite speaking very little English,
She died on 4 Feb 1968 in Totowa Borough, NJ, USA. Cause of death
was cancer. She was also known as BESTEIRO GRACIANI (one "c"). Played
the piano and the castanets. Per her daughter Carmen, her special interests
were family, sewing, embroidering, reciting poetry, cooking, reading, theatre,
playing the piano.
Dolores BALL (Carr) in 1992, honored: "Maina, who was pure love, who always
gave completely of herself and never expected anything in return, who would do
anything to avoid hurting anyone's feelings. While Papa was always aware of everything
that went on in their home, Maina always understood everything."
Josefa (Pepita) [Maina] BESTEIRO GRACIANI and Antonio [Papa] LAGOS TOLEDO
were married on 20 Dec 1909 in Havana, Cuba.65
They were married at 2 PM at the Iglesia de Monserrate de la Habana. Family
story: Josefa's mother Victorina did not attend the wedding, because she was
forbidden by her husband Manuel, who was Antonio's brother, and angry at the
fact that his brother was marrying his stepdaughter. Victorina's cousin Joaquina
LORENZO GÓMEZ, however, who had been brought up as her sister, did so surreptitiously.
When Manuel asked where she'd been that evening, she responded "Where your
wife should have been -- if she'd had the courage." [Note of 2001: it has
not yet been shown that Joaquina was in Havana in 1909.]
LAGOS TOLEDO56,57 (son of Francisco (Frasquito) LAGOS MUÑOZ and Mª
del Carmen (Mariquita) TOLEDO RUIZ) was born on 25 Sep 1880 in Periana, Málaga,
Spain.35,66,67 His full
name was Antonio José María de la Santísima Trinidad. Born in
his parents' house on "Calle de la Fuente." He was living between
1885 and 1905 in Madrid, Spain.68
In a 1950 letter to Antonio DÍAZ TOLEDO he notes that he left Periana when
he was 5, which took place in 1885. His brother Francisco was born in Periana
in November 1884, but no more family members births or deaths are recorded there
except for the deaths of his father and mother, who apparently went home to die,
in 1900 and 1903, respectively. We know that his sister Mercedes was born in
Madrid in 1891.
He was educated at a seminary and later at a medical school between 1898 and
1903 in Madrid, Spain.42,69 (Dates approximate.) According to the oral family
lore, he attended seminary with the intention of becoming a priest; he later
attended medical school. It is believed he had a patron, perhaps an uncle (José
Ignacio MORENO NÚÑEZ, a cousin of Antonio's grandchildren, notes that
is likely that Antonio's father Francisco was the beneficiary of the support
of his granduncle Manuel LAGOS ZAPATA, the archpriest of Ronda). Nevertheless,
to date (2001) no evidence has surfaced of his atending either a seminary or
a medical school, with the exception of a picture of him smoking a cigarette
while attending a cadaver. Supposedly he had to leave medical school for financial
reasons; again, details are unknown. His mother died in 1903 (his father had
died in 1900 and his uncles Manuel and Antonio LAGOS MUÑOZ IN 1901; all
of his siblings with the exception of Manuel were either dead or would be before
the decade was out).
He was a «escribiente del servicio agronómico» (scribe in the
agricultural service) in Zamora province, Spain between 11 Jun 1900 and 30 Apr
1901.70 He was a «amanuense
del Censo de la población» (scribe for the Census) in Madrid, Spain
between 17 Nov 1903 and 1904.71
He immigrated about 1905 to Havana, Cuba.54,72,73,74 He received a clearance for
travel purposes from the "Registro Central de penados y rebeldes" on
19 June 1905. We know from a letter by his sister Mercedes that he was in Havana
in February 1906. (When he arrived in New York in 1912, it was indicated on
the passenger manifest that he had been in New York City before, in 1905, and
from this it seems he visited NYC on the way to Havana, as has been documented
for his brother Manuel. There is, however, no equivalent documentation for an
Antonio visit in 1905.) He was a professor of Spanish and French languages and
literature in Havana, Cuba between 1905 and 1912.75 He lived at Inquisidor, 14 in Havana, Cuba in 1907.72 He was registered with the Spanish
Consulate in Havana as a resident of Havana at this address on 11 January 1907.
He lived at Galiano 125 in Havana, Cuba in 1910/11.76,77,78 Apartado 1292. This was the address at which the family
lived when his daughter Carmen was born in October 1910 and baptized in March
1911. [Apt. # from letter written to Adolfo LAGOS MUÑIZ.] He was educated
at an unknown medical school in 1911 in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.42 After the birth of their daughter
Carmen, Antonio and his wife and daughter returned to Spain so that Antonio could
resume the medical studies he had left earlier in the decade (again there is
no documentation for this). Because of his wife's ill health (she was suffering
from phlebitis), doctors recommended a return to warmer climate. (It is not
clear if financial reasons also played a part.) While in Spain, the couple's
second child, Manuel, was born, and Victorina was born after their return to
He immigrated on 13 Feb 1912 to New York, NY, USA.63,79 Left Havana
on the SS Havana on 10 February 1912, arrived in New York on 13 February 1912.
He lived in New York, NY, USA between 13 Feb 1912 and 1921.40,64,80,81,82 Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO (Signes) writes "Our first
home, I heard, was on 14th Street near Jane and Union Square. . . Our last home
in that city was at 526 East 83rd Street. This was near the East River where
there was a park where we went roller skating. . . Uncle Mannie said the house
had been torn down to build a highway . . . " On 28 April 1916, their address
was recorded as 344 E. 85th Street. Carmen Lagos remembers this to be the house
where the two babies died.
From passenger lists, the following addresses were recorded. On 18 September
1912, when Josefa arrived with Carmen, Manuel and Victorina: 290 W. 12th Street.
On 2 April 1917, when Josefa arrived with Carmen, Victorina and Lola: 12 E.
46th Street. On August 15, 1917, when Joaquina Lorenzo arrived, and on 24 April
1920 when Victorina and children visited, the address was 526 E. 83rd Street.
He was a chief instructor and manager of the Cortina Academy of Languages in
New York, NY, USA before 1919.77
He was a high school teacher of Spanish and Italian in Paterson, Passaic, NJ,
USA between Sep 1919 and 1947.83
Llegó a ser catedrático. He was educated at Columbia University and
received a Master of Arts on 23 Feb 1921 in New York, NY, USA.84 He lived in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA between 1921
and 1952.42,80,85 Carmen
LAGOS BESTEIRO de Signes writes "Our first home was at 321 Market Street,
on the second floor, over a store. From there we moved to 307 Park Avenue, also
over a store, then to a house I like best of all the houses in which I've ever
lived: 315 Park Avenue. . . Our next two homes were on 22nd Street, across from
School 24 [per Jo and Dee LAGOS BESTEIRO the 22nd St. house nos. were 922, then
924] . . . Then we finally were able to purchase a house at 129 Lenox Avenue."
922 E. 22nd Street was the residence shown on the 1930 census, where he paid
$55 per month rent.
He was naturalized on 18 Jun 1925.86
He got his first car and his driver's license about 1933 in Paterson, Passaic,
NJ, USA.47 Family story:
Shortly after getting his driver's license, he bought a brand new 1933 Chevy
(for about $600). Not long thereafter, he was in an accident. "A little
bit of damage", he said. His son Manny commented, however, that the only
thing left working was the horn.
He visited Cuba after his brother Manuel shot himself in a failed suicide attempt
between Aug 1934 and Sep 1934 in Havana, Cuba.42 When he left on this particular voyage, his children
remember that the band was playing "For all you know, we may never meet
again." Scheduled to arrive September 8 on the Morro Castle, he moved his
trip up a few days. The Morro Castle -- on his origiinally scheduled voyage
-- caught fire off the shore of Asbury Park, and 134 people were killed. (Antonio's
report on the reason for Manuel's misfortune: "She looked like Betty Boop.")
He retired in 1947 in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA.68 He spent several weeks being treated for lung cancer
between 8 Jul 1952 and 20 Sep 1952 in London, Ontario, Canada.87,88 He was
treated with cobalt therapy, which was a cutting edge technology at the time.
When he returned home, the cancer seemed to have been cured, but it returned
weeks later. He died on 15 Nov 1952 in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA.
He was a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer. He was buried on 18 Nov 1952
in Paterson, Passaic, NJ, USA. Holy Sepulcher Cemetery.
Dolores BALL (Carr) in 1992: "[His] character kept him in a position of
esteem with everyone who knew him and whose caring keeps him warmly in the hearts
of those of us fortunate enough to remember him."
Josefa (Pepita) [Maina] BESTEIRO GRACIANI and Antonio [Papa] LAGOS TOLEDO had
the following children:
|Manuel (Manny) LAGOS BESTEIRO.|
|Victorina (Vicky) LAGOS BESTEIRO.|
|Dolores LAGOS BESTEIRO ** was born on 31
Jul 1913 in New York, NY, USA. She died on 18 Jan 1915 in New York,
NY, USA.56,80 Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO de Signes: "Lolita died
of whooping cough. Fortunately Aunt Betty (Isabel BESTEIRO GRACCIANI) was staying
with us at the time, which made it possible for Maina to stay with us children
while she accompanied Papa to each of the funerals [of Dolores and her brother
Antonio]." Nicknamed Lolita.
LAGOS BESTEIRO ** was born on 31 Oct 1914 in New York, NY, USA.
He died on 30 Dec 1914 in New York, NY, USA.56,80 Per Carmen LAGOS BESTEIRO de
Signes, died of an infection in his navel which may have been caused by a coin
the midwife put over it to flatten it. "Fortunately Aunt Betty (Isabel
BESTEIRO GRACCIANI) was staying with us at the time, which made it possible for
Maina to stay with us children while she accompanied Papa to each of the funerals
[of Antonio and his sister Dolores]."
|Dolores (Lolita, D, DD, Gee) LAGOS BESTEIRO.|
|Carlos Antonio (Charlie) LAGOS BESTEIRO.|
|Josephine (Jo, Jo Jo, Piti) LAGOS BESTEIRO.|