The beginning of the city of Jataí occurs in the last period of the cattle expansion in the state of Goiás, when Joaquim Francisco Vilella and his son José Manoel Vilella depart from Espírito Santo dos Coqueiros (current Coqueiral) in the state of Minas Gerais and get into Rio Verde through the southwest hinterlands of the state of Goiás creating a catttle farm on the margins of the Rivers Claro and Ariranha.
Two years after the Vilella´s arrival also came José de Carvalho Bastos and his wife Ana Cândida Gouveia de Morais came to the place proceeding from Franca – São Paulo.
A friendly agreement was committed between these two families – the lands flooded by the left bank of Ariranha river would belong to Vilella´s and the lands covered by the streams of Bom Jardim river would be Carvalho´s property, thus forming the village of Paraiso of Jataí.
This way, without any help from the government of the Province of Goiás, the village itself has grown up going through the difficulties thanks to the hard work of the first settlers who also installed the first Town Council.
The first cemetery of Jataí probably appeared when Joaquim Francisco Vilella donated a piece of land to the Heritage of the Holy Spirit of Paradise Chapel in 1848. It was located on a small hill on the road linking Jataí to Rio Verde, quite far from the city what cause kind of problem to the people who had to cross the Jataí stream to bury their dead.
The residents requests led the priest Pedro de Brito Vasconcelos to have the initiative of installing San Miguel Cemetery and supported by José Manoel Vilella the cemetery was consecrated in January 1888. It was quite modest with a small chapel and surrounded only with a wire fence.
Due to the precarious situation of the facilities the Town Councillor Victor Invernizzi submitted a project for the renovation of the cemetery in 1910. To perform the job they hired the Italian mason Felix Toffani, quite active in the region. Probably the city-aspas-s most prominent families tombs were built by Toffani. San Miguel Cemetery was concluded in September, 1912, having its perimeter surrounded with brick wall, a sidewalk and a main entrance gate with two masonry columns about 5.0 m high. On the left side one could read “Memento homo quia pulvis est et in pulverem reverteris” (Remember man, from dust you were made and into dust you shall return), and on the right “Beati morturi qui in domino moriuntur” (Blessed are those who die in the Lord). This set was demolished in 1977 during the administration of the mayor Mauro Antônio Bento.
Today Jataí is considered one of the best cities in quality of life in the state of Goiás. Its
population is 98,996 inhabitants who occupy an area of 7.174,217 km² and live off agricultural and cattle-raising activities which are responsible for the industry development.
1729 – First incursion into the town of Jataí.
1740 – Domingos Alves Maciel settles in the place searching for gold.
1836 – Francisco Joaquim Vilella and his son build a farm for cattle- raising.
1838 – José de Carvalho Bastos and his wife come to the region.
1848 – Probable date of the construction of the first Cemetery of Jataí.
1864 – Rio Verde loses part of its territory when the Parish “Divino Espírito Santo of Jataí” (Holy Spirit of Jataí) is created. In the same year the Parish was elevated to District of Paradise of Jataí.
1867 – Father Antônio Marques Santarém laid the foundation stone of the first Mother Church of Jataí.
1882 – It is raised to the category of town, changing its name to “Vila do Paraíso” (Village of Paradise).
1885 – The name of the town changes to Jataí and occurs its emancipation; installation of the first Town Council.
1888 – Installation of the San Miguel Cemetery.
1890 – The city of Jataí is created and segregated from Rio Verde.
1895 – The town is raised to the category of city under the name of Jataí.
1912 – Remodelling of San Miguel Cemetery.
1911 a 1930 – It is managed by stewards.
1930 a 1947 – It is administered by nominated mayors.
1947 – > The first mayor is elected – Epaminondas Honório de Campo.
1977 – New remodelling and expansion of the San Miguel Cemetery.
1996 – Celebration of Jataí Centenary.
San Miguel Cemetery is located on Valeriano do Prado Street, downtown, with an area of 15,523.05 m². It is secularized, administered by the City Hall and follows the standard structure established at the time: the blocks are rectangular within also a rectangular field facing a long road ahead totally different from the normal pattern. From the sidewalk we see a row of palm trees that flank the internal part of the wall providing a peculiar imposingness to the dead space
Among the prominent persons who contributed for the generation and building of the city of Jataí we highlight Manoel da Costa Lima, Silvestre da Costa Lima, Serafim José de Barros, Abel Coimbra Ramos and Jerônimo José de Carvalho. There is also the presence of a good number of immigrant families that settled here and brought up their ancestors as the Alfaix family (Lebanese) and Rilke family (Yugoslavs).
San Miguel Cemetery is protected by Christ the Redeemer that is on the top of the “morro do Zequinha Eduardo” (Zequinha Eduardo´s Hill). Its oldest wing includes a series of tombs from the late nineteenth century. They have a standard architecture influenced by Byzantine culture thus proving the presence of this culture in the building of Jataí.
BORGES, Maria Elizia. l”>Funerary Art in Brazil(1880-1930). 0). Italian Marble Carver Craft. Ribeirão Preto. Belo Horizonte: C/ Arte, 2002.