Pereira, Ritta Angelica

Born: 1818-XX-XX Madeira Islands

Died: 1892-02-05 Springfield, Illinois

Flourished: Springfield, Illinois

Alternate name: da Silva, de Silva, da Salvia

Ritta Angelica Defrates (DeFreitas) was a dressmaker in Springfield, Illinois. Born Ritta Angelica da Silva, she was among a group of Portuguese Protestants who, facing prosecution from the majority Catholic population, fled Portugal and took up residence on the island of Madeira. Experiencing further persecution on Madeira, da Silva and her fellow Protestants immigrated to the United States in 1847, eventually inhabiting two Illinois settlements—one in Springfield and one in Jacksonville. Each settlement numbered approximately 500 people. In 1851, da Silva entered into a dressmaking partnership with Vaculla Augusta Auxior. Abraham Lincoln loaned da Silva $125 in 1854 as a mortgage against her Springfield plot of land, which she paid in full by November 1858. In January 1856, she married Francisco Antonio Defrates (DeFreitas).

Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:225; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 27 March 1849, 2:3; Arthur Charles Cole, The Era of the Civil War 1848-1870, vol. 3 of The Centennial History of Illinois (Springfield: Illinois Centennial Commission, 1919), 19; Illinois Daily Journal (Springfield), 26 May 1851, 3:1; Mortgage of Ritta Angelica da Silva to Abraham Lincoln; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Sangamon County, 29 January 1856, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Ninth Census of the United States (1870), Springfield, Sangamon County, IL, 36; Obituary, The Illinois State Journal, 6 February 1892, 5:4; Gravestone, Calvary Cemetery, Springfield, IL.