Ribeira Izé is said to be the first church established on Príncipe and Ribeira Izé its first city.
The land is said to have been a wedding gift to D. Maria Correia from her husband José Ferreira Gomes to grow the new crop – cocoa – that he had brought from Brazil. But D. Maria Correia had a church built instead.
The Fantastic History of
D. Maria Correia Salema Ferreira aka Maria de Cara
D. Maria Correia Salema Ferreira was born in Príncipe in 1788, the daughter of a wealthy Brazilian farmer and a native from Príncipe.
In 1812, Maria married José Ferreira Gomes, a Brazilian farmer involved in the slave trade. Gomes is thought to be responsible for planting the first cacao tree in São Tomé and Príncipe, in Roça Simalô.
In 1837, Gomes died and 10 years later, at age 59, Maria married Aurélio da Silva, who was 38 at the time, Brazilian-born (and wealthy), who also died.
Having inherited the estates of both her husbands, Maria had become a very powerful woman, meaning Maria became the manager of her own assets. Contemporaneous accounts indicate she kept two palaces – Roça Simalô and Roça Ribeira Izé – each equipped with a staff of full-time servants in which she displayed her wealth and lived alternately.