Pvt. Antonio DeFrates Refine

Co. I - 130th Regiment Illinois Infantry

Co. I - 77th Illinois Volunteers

Antonio DeFrates Refine was one of a band of Presbyterians who later in Portuguese history was called the " Portuguese Exiles". A Scottish minister had converted them to Presbyterianism. Unless they recanted, they would be exiled; none did, and so in 1846 they were sent first to British Guiana. My great-grandfather, who was born in 1833 was 13 years old at the time when spelling and reading were not very important to any of them.


After the minister died in British Guiana, the Portuguese exiles left British Guiana and went to New York from there they went to Springfield, Illinois. A presbytery in Springfield, Illinois volunteered to take them in and sponsor them. So they left New York for Springfield, Illinois, were they joined the Fourth Presbyterian Church. The church was called the Portuguese Church. It has since been sold to another congregation and their records are at the history department of the Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

DeFrates is a very common surname in Madeira and during this period some took the name Rufino, some took DeFrateis and changed the spelling to DeFrates. My great-grandfather began to spell his name Antonio De Refine after the Civil War. The people, who mustered in the Portuguese men at Camp Butler, misspelled Antonio's last name a little but the archives department in Illinois rectified that and so as the documents show it was then spelled Antonio D. Refine.

Antonio's first son, James Refine died around the age of three in 1869 and also at this time Antonio's wife was pregnant with another son. This son was given the name of the deceased son and I was told that this was not an uncommon thing to do back then. So my grandfather was also named James D. Refine. He later sometimes signed his name James De Refine. Since 1869 every male in our families has had James in their name – even my two grandsons!

Antonio became a fireman in Springfield, Illinois and his son, Melvin James, my father, became a policeman on the Springfield force.

Antonio died March 22,1897, in Springfield, Illinois. He was a member of Stevenson GAR Post #30 in Springfield, Illinois.

I really am unable to say more about Antonio De Refine except to say he was proud to have served for Abraham Lincoln who was "claimed" by the people in Springfield, Illinois, my hometown.