Campo Grande (neighbourhood, Recife)
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Last update: 12/12/2016
Near the current neighbourhood of Campo Grande was the territory of Salgadinho, which for a long time was called Carreira dos Mazombos, as found in documents from the 17th century when campaigns against the Dutch were taking place. The word carreira means ‘run’, and slaves used the African word mazombo for the children of Europeans who were born on Brazilian soil. Later, the term was extended to all white men present in the colony.
The earliest historical mention of Salgadinho comes from 1645, the year in which a Dutch chronicler described certain jousts at the festivities celebrated by Prince Maurice of Nassau. The land was cut long ago by the Estrada Velha de Olinda [Old Olinda Road], proceeding through Campo Grande, along Estrada do Belém and then taking the direction of Estrada João de Barros, terminating in Soledade.
The locality of Campo Grande was located between Feitosa and Salgadinho, or more precisely at kilometre 4,691 of the Olinda-Beberibe Railroad. It got that name because it had no trees and formed a vast, flat field. It was there, taking advantage of the area’s topography, the people of Recife built the Campo Grande Racecourse. In the early 19th century, work began on the Estrada Real de São José do Manguinho. This road originates a large network of secondary roads servicing the perimeter of Recife’s suburbs. With a length of 32 kilometres, the roads that make up this network are referred to as the Estradas Suburbanas [Suburban Roads]: they leave the city extremes and finish in Apipucos and Beberibe, and have an extension to Madalena and Campo Grande. In 1866, the construction of the Estrada do Campo Grande began, which begins in Salgadinho and ends on the right bank of the Beberibe River.
Interestingly, in the Salgadinho excavations in 1869, a fragment of stone from some kind of headstone or monument was found that features a Latin cross on one side and a star on the other. Both symbols are embossed and have perpendicular side strokes.
The author of this text raises the hypothesis that the fragment found was part of a sculpted object for a New Christian (or even Jew) still fearful of the horrors of the Inquisition. This person may have felt a cultural/religious need to leave the Star of David (one of the relevant Jewish symbols) on the side that would be hidden, while on the visible side of the tombstone (or monument) would be the Latin cross – the most important symbol of Catholicism, which was the only religion that Portuguese colonisers accepted.
By 1915, the Campo Grande Railroad was replaced by Pernambuco Tramways’ electric tram lines. But until the 1920s, the only buildings in the area bordered the railway line and then the tramline: beginning in Feitosa, near the Belém chapel, and reached the limits of Salgadinho – Olinda’s starting point. It is worth noting that in Campo Grande, prior to 1940, there were only about ten narrow streets with no prominent residential buildings.
The Campo Grande Racecourse has more recently been replaced by the Clóvis Beviláqua School Group and an extensive residential area built for Pernambuco civil servants.
In the 18th century, a woman named Josefa Francisca da Fonseca e Silva lived in Recife city. She had six large farms in Campo Grande that stretched from the passage called “Maduro” to the city of Olinda, and were called: Principal, Olinda Pereira, Doutor Castro, Costa Soares, Capitão Félix Paiva and Campelo. In addition to these farms, Josefa owned also most of the mangroves located around Santo Amaro, as well as an area on which stood the Tacaruna Textile Factory. It should be noted that the Beltrão Sugarcane factory operated there years ago, which belonged to Colonel Delmiro Gouveia.
Through a public deed dated 16 September 1806, Josefa Francisca decided to donate her farms and mangroves to Dom Antônio Pio de Lucena e Castro. When he died, everything he received through donation was left by testament to the Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Glória on Rua da Glória in the Boa Vista neighbourhood in Recife, created by sisters of Pia União do Santíssimo Sacramento in 1722. So from 1806 until 1940, the Institution of Glória – dedicated to the preparation of nuns and education of orphans – was maintained financially by income generated by the assets inherited in Campo Grande.
In 1909, a chapel was built in Campo Grande under the initiative of the father of Fr Manuel Inácio Ribeiro de Oliveira Mendonça. He wanted his son to celebrate his first mass there. The chapel was small, measuring only 7.7m deep by 3.3m wide. Over half a century later, an heir of the chapel’s founder funded a major reform of the temple.
The parish of Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Belém [Our Lady of the Conception of Bethlehem] was created on 25 February 1911. Its first vicar was Fr Ricardo Borges de Castro Vilaça. However, it was the construction of the Church of Our Lady of the Conception that marked the beginning of Campo Grande being populated.
In terms of historical events, the Belém chapel played an important role during the Praieira Revolution in 1848. The chapel’s caretaker – as historical records show – was Inácio Ribeiro de Mendonça, and was a relative of Joaquim Nunes Machado, the founder of Praieiro party.
Joaquim Machado was wounded in battle and died on 2 February of that same year. Lest it fall into the hands of opponents, his comrades, led by Inácio Ribeiro, decided to hide the leader’s body in the Belém chapel. After having locked all the doors, the caretaker/relative gave the keys of the temple to his wife Ana Aurora de Jesus Ribeiro and took refuge in his home, located next to the church.
Captain Jerônimo Martiniano Figueira de Melo, finding the church all closed up, summoned Ana Aurora, in the name of the police forces: – I want the keys, or else I will send in the weapons.
The wife of the caretaker, without fear of reprisals, replied thus: - I do not have the keys. And if I did, I would not give you them.
With blows and strikes from sabres and weapons, Ana was attacked violently. But she did not relinquish the keys. The police chief then ordered the chapel doors to be broken down and from there the soldiers removed the body of the Praieiro leader, which had already began to smell. Wrapped in a hammock, the deceased was transported to Recife by the police.
Ana Aurora, on the other hand, was tortured and sentenced to prison. However, with an amnesty given in 1852, this courageous woman could be released from her prison in the Police barracks. She died very old, on 5 July 1876.
After 1940, an event changes the pace in the Campo Grande area: the board of Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora da Glória decided to reclaim the mangroves on its property. Then they allotted and sold the lands that were part of the suburb. This was truly what contributed to the emergence of residential buildings and the consequent growth of Campo Grande.
Recife, 24 July 2003.
(Updated on 28 September 2007).
Translated by Peter Leamy, August 2016.
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Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Campo Grande (bairro, Recife). Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Acesso em:dia mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.