sábado, 5 de novembro de 2011


Guilherme Giesbrecht. Date and place unknown

What could link two cities, one in Northern Europe and other in the Campinas region, in the state of São Paulo, Brasil? Basically nothing. Kaliningrad, formerly Königsberg—"the king´s mountain"—, is today a Russian territory inside Poland lands, but until 1945 it was a city located in Germany. A thousand-year city, it was well known for the Seven Bridges mathematic problem, from which I already wrote in this blog. Jaguariúna, formerly Jaguary, is located a few kilometers north of Campinas, and it is much smaller than the German city. It is still shy of its 120th anniversary.

Santa Maria do Jaguary Church, 2005.

What links both cities is a German man called Willhelm, or Guilherme (in Portuguese) Giesbrecht. He was my great-grandfather, born in 1866 in Königsberg. History tells his godfather was the King of Prussia who a few years later would become Kaiser Willhelm I and that he left his parents and one sister in Germany, and arrived finally in Rio de Janeiro, not before staying presumably in Buenos Aires and Chile. Guilherme married in Diamantina, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, right away, in 1890, when he was already working probably in the old city of Ouro Preto, in Minas, for the future Paracatu Railway. In 1892, he moved to the Jaguary Railway Station, in Mogi-Mirim, state of São Paulo, in order to work in the duplication of the Mogiana Railway lines.

One of the "eleven houses", still there in 2005.

Due to many reasons the duplication did not get through, and he was invited by Colonel Amancio Bueno, one of the few people living close to the station, to build a small village: he should erect "eleven houses and one church." That's what Guilherme did. In 1895 he left town. Later he was recognized as one of the founders of Jaguary, which turned into an autonomous city in 1953, already with a new name: Jaguariúna.

It is difficult to know if this was his intention; I believe he had never thought about it. His first son, Hugo, my grandfather, was born there in 1893. The other eight sons and daughers were born in different cities, depending on where the couple was working those times. It is almost certain that Guilherme has never returned to Jaguary. He worked in several other railways until the 1920s. From then on, he involved himself in road construction, like for instance the São Paulo–Belo Horizonte, in the region close to the latter city. Another city in which he is cited in its history is Brumadinho, in Minas, exactly for the time he spent there buiding that road, which today does not pass there anymore.

Königsberg right after Second World War.

It is also unlikely that he has ever come to the city of São Paulo, where my grandfather and his children lived from 1934 on, when they arrive from Ponta Grossa, Paraná. He lived most of his life in Minas Gerais, possibly because of his wife, born in Diamantina. For the last thirty years of his life he lived in Governador Valadares, the former Figueira do Rio Doce. He died there in 1957.

In late 2008, the city of Jaguariúna published a marvelous book about the city, citing Amancio Bueno and Guilherme Giesbrecht as its founders. I was invited for the ceremony and I was there. I already knew the city. There are still some houses (a few) of the original eleven built by my great-grandfather. The book shows them all. There is also a plant of the city drawn by himself. The church is still there and has been repaired recently. It is beautiful yet small. Because of that, another one was built at circa one block after the square. The old church is called Santa Maria. Would it be a homage to his wife?

In some place of the city, I did not look for the area, there is a neighborhood called Vila Guilherme Giesbrecht. As per the existing buildings — there is a picture in the book — it is probably a very recent settlement. To the people who live there, the name should be very difficult to pronounce.

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