Portuguese Family Histories



The following people will be added here very soon. For now, only the ones in blue are ready to go now. The red text indicates new information about a person's origin or something not in the original text, either discovered by me or one of the visitors to these pages. I encourage everyone to help correct any inacurracies or typos. I have an ongoing project to identify the native village of each person mentioned in the book Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area. I would be happy to learn more from what each visitor knows.

Joaquim Leal Azevedo, of Faial?

Manuel J. Azevedo, of Faial?

John Silva Bittencourt, of Faial

Manuel Caldeira, of Faial

John F. Cardoso, of Horta, Faial

Nancy Carey (Ignacia Louisa Duarte Carreira), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Joseph Xavier Dias, Jr., descendant of Faial & Pico

Joe Duarte (José Furtado Duarte), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Antone Perry Dutra, of Faial

Manuel Dutra (Manuel Dutra da Costa), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Manuel Ferreira Dutra (aka Manuel Faria Dutra), of Faial

Joe Ferry (José Silveira de Faria), of Castelo Branco, Faial

Frank E. Fortado, of Faial

Vital Silva Fortado, of Faial

John Frank, of Faial

Joseph S. Frates, of Faial

Manuel Jacinto, of Faial

Frank Joseph Lewis, Sr. (Luiz), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Joe Perry Lewis, of Faial

Manuel Lewis (Manuel Luis Silva), of Faial

Manuel Marshall (Manuel Francisco Marcelino), of Faial

Joe Medeiros ( José Da Rosa da Madeira), of Horta, Faial

Joseph Francis Neves, of Faial

Joseph C. Neves (Joseph C. Silva), of Faial

Manuel Pimentel Nevis, of Faial

Joseph S. Pavão, of Flamengos, Faial

Antone Perry (Antonio Pereira Rodrigues), of Faial

Frank Perry (Francisco Pereira), of Faial

Thomas F. Perry, of Faial

Frank Peters (Pereira), of Faial

José Francisco Rodrigues, of Praia do Almoxarife, Faial

Manuel Francisco Rose (Da Rosa), of Castelo Branco, Faial

Joaquim A. Sarmento, of Castelo Branco, Faial

José I. Serpa, of Faial

Charles F. Silva, of Faial

Joaquim Francisco da Silva ("Milhomens"), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Joe F. Silva, of Feteira, Faial

Manuel Silva & wife Martha Bittencourt, of Feteira, Faial

John Smith, of Faial

John Soto (João Da Souto Freitas), of Castelo Branco, Faial

Joe Enos Vargas (José Ignacio Vargas), of Faial

Tony Vargas (Antonio Ignacio Vargas), of Pedro Miguel, Faial

Frank Joseph Vargus (Vargas), descendant of Faial?, Azores

You can add the story of your ancestors here. Send E-Mail to: Family-Histories@dholmes.com

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These are the stories of people from Faial:

From page 187 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOAQUIM LEAL AZEVEDO was born in the Azores on May 14, 1832, and settled in California in 1852 after working his way to Boston with his cousin, Manuel J. Azevedo, and then to San Francisco via Cape Horn.

He spent most of his early life in farming, both in the Azores and in California. After landing in San Francisco, he and his cousin Manuel formed a partnership, and then came to Sacramento County where they were able to accumulate a small fortune in a couple of years through mining, and invested their profits in land at Freeport, Clarksburg, and Grand Island in the Delta. They later disposed of most of the property in small tracts, but retaining land in the Freeport area where they farmed for a number of years, at one time transporting their produce by horse and wagon to Carson City and other mining towns.

In 1869, Joaquim went back to the Azores, there married ROSALIE GARCIA DUARTE, daughter of Manuel Leal Mendes and Josephine Azevedo, and returned in 1888 to farm in the Freeport area. Rosalie was born August 12, 1852.

In partnership with his cousin Manuel (see Manuel J. Azevedo, below), in 1887 the two purchased the old Eagle Winery, located at 21st and R Streets, later moving to 18th Street between 0 and P. They retired from the business when national prohibition went into effect. (See Chapter 10.)

Joaquim died June 18, 1924, at age 91, survived by his widow, five daughters and four sons, three of whom were physicians: Drs. Joseph L. and John A. Azevedo, who practiced in Oakland; Dr. Manuel L. Azevedo of Sacramento; and King L. Azevedo, Mrs. John K. Brown, Mrs. Thomas A. Arthur, Mrs. Nell Arthur, Mrs. John J. De Gloria, and Mrs. Joseph Silva.

Son JOSEPH AZEVEDO (Jose Leal de Azevedo) was born September 8, 1874, in Faial where he had attended school, completing his education in Sacramento. In 1895 he enrolled at St. Mary's College, and then studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of San Francisco (Cooper's College), graduating in 1901.

He practiced medicine in Sacramento for two years, and then moved to Oakland where he spent the rest of his life. In July 1889 in Oakland he married AMALIA B. GLORIA, the sister of Father Guilherme S. Gloria, and had six children: Dr. Joseph L. Azevedo, Alfred, Alice, Maria and Amalia (Borba). He died December 18, 1938. He had served as medical examiner of the UPEC, SPRSI, and IDES lodges.

[Robert Silva; Mrs. Joseph Silva; Carlos Almeida, in Portuguese Immigrants, UPEC, 1978]

From pages 201-202 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

MANUEL CALDEIRA was born in Faial, and settled in the Clarksburg area on the John Soto ranch a little north of the Freeport ferry landing. He married MARIA DELPHINA BITTENCOURT, also born in Faial.

She was a niece of John Soto, who sent for her and paid her passage to his home to help his wife raise her children. The Sotos considered her a helper, not a maid, and she was godmother to a great number of the Soto children, highly respected and appreciated by the Soto family. She was called "Ti-Tia Maria." She had one sister in the area, Martha Bittencourt Silva, who took over her sons grocery store in Freeport, the J. F. Silva Cash Store.

After Maria Delphina married, John Soto deeded a small parcel of land from his ranch to her in appreciation of her services to his family. There is a house on that parcel near the levee where Maria raised her two sons, Manuel and John Caldeira.

Son MANUEL CALDEIRA married MARY G. SILVA and remained in the family home, taking care of the aging Ti-Tia Maria until she died of old age at home. Manuel drowned in the Sacramento River, believed to have fallen off the Hood Ferry, in 1933 at age 49. There were no witnesses to the accident. He and Maria had two children, Marie Caldeira, who married Harry Baliel; and Manuel "Babe Caldeira, who married Verna Neves. Verna was the daughter of Jose Ignacio Neves of Pico and the former Filamena Lee. Marie and Harry Baliel continued living in the same family home after Marie's mother died in 1959. Widowed Marie, Ti-Tia's granddaughter, still lives in the same home.

Ti-Tia Maria Caldeira's second son, JOHN CALDEIRA, who was born January 27, 1886, did not live at home. He worked in the Pocket area brickyard for many years. He married ADELINE MILDRED VALINE (Addie), born April 9, 1887, sister of Maggie Valine Pimentel. Addie and John had one daughter, Edna Caldeira, who married Clarence Peters from Freeport. In retirement, John and Addie Caldeira had made their home in Aptos, Calif., but because of failing health moved back to Sacramento to be near their daughter. John Caldeira died August 15, 1966, and Addie a month and a half later on October 9, 1966.

[Ellen Silva Loverde; Edna Caldeira Peters; Anna Freitas Soto; Grace Freitas Rose]

From page 279 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

THOMAS F. PERRY, a native of Faial, ran away from home at age 17, went to sea and made three voyages around the world. Later he was steward on a Long Island Sound steamer plying between Fall River, Mass., and New York City.

He arrived in Newcastle in the late 1870s and bought a ranch of 160 acres, part of which he later sold. He was one of the first to plant fruit in that district. He and four associates organized the Lincoln Cannery, and he was on the first board of directors. He was influential in politics and prominent in fraternal orders.

He married MARY EMILY CORREA, born in Newcastle, and daughter of the late Joseph K. Correa, Sr. Thomas Perry died January 16, 1920.

Their son, FRANK E. PERRY, attended the Newcastle school and was graduated from Placer Union High School in 1909. He first went to work in the fruit-packing house in Newcastle. To gain a business training, however, he went to work for the White House in San Francisco, and later he did newspaper work for the San Francisco Bulletin.

In 1914 he opened a stationery and candy store in old Auburn, and in 1918 he established a business on Lincoln Way, where he carried in stock one of the most complete assortments of high-grade stationery and candies to be found in northern California.

In 1914 Frank Perry married JULIA MARSHALL of Newcastle, and they had a daughter, Lois.

[History of Placer and Nevada Counties, 1924]

From page 323 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOHN SMITH (his Portuguese name not known) was a native of Faial but raised in Pico. As a young man he was a whaler, and one of his voyages took him to California, where he remained.

Around 1871, he married MARY JOSEPH, who was born in São Jorge.

They settled on Grand Island in the Delta, and about 1886 bought 185 acres below Ryde where they built a home and spent the rest of their days. He sold 40 acres of this land, leaving 145 acres which his wife and children later farmed. He had also previously bought 155 acres on Georgiana Slough, subsequently owned by daughters Rose and Josephine, who resided there with their families.

Six children were born to the Smiths: John and Mary; Flora (Mrs. Manuel L. Rogers); Rose (Mrs. Sarment); Josephine (Mrs. Joseph Neves); and Joseph. John Smith's widow lived on the farm on Grand Island which was jointly owned by her and daughter Flora Rogers. (See ROGERS.)

Daughter ROSE SMITH was educated at the Georgiana district school near her father's ranch. In March 1896 she married JOHN BETTENCOURT of the Azores, a son of Antone and Antonette Bettencourt. John Bettencourt left the Azores at age 21, and settled first in Butte County as a farm worker before moving to Sacramento County where he worked on farms in the Delta. He then leased 50 acres, and for 12 years raised beans and asparagus. In November 1908 John and Rose moved into a house on the John Smith ranch that Rose's father had built for them. Upon the death of her father, Rose Bettencourt received 77 acres as her share of the family property.

The children of John and Rose: Rose, who married John Bisista of Hungary; Mary; Elsie, who married Peter Lausten; Iris; Dorothy; and John.

John Bettencourt died on March 22, 1909, and on May 7, 1910, Rose married JOSEPH G. SARMENT (Sarmento).

[History of Sacramento County, 1923]

From pages 324-327 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOHN SOTO (João Da Souto Freitas) was born in Castelo Branco, Faial in January in 1823, the son of Manuel and Vittoria Louisa Souto Freitas. At the age of 19, he went to sea in an American whaler, which arrived in New Bedford after a four-year cruise. He went on a second whaling voyage for four more years, and then spent about a year on coastal voyages between Boston and New York. In 1853 he sailed from New York around the Horn to San Francisco, where he was discharged.

It was probably while at sea on American ships that his name was Anglicized to John Soto. It is assumed that he came up the Sacramento River from San Francisco in 1853, locating in Freeport with other Portuguese settlers before he went mining in the foothills. He mined at Nigger Hill above Folsom for eight years, earning $2,000.

At that time there were no Portuguese single women in the Freeport area, so he decided to write to Faial and send for the girlfriend he left behind. He learned that she had died while he was traveling, so he sent for her younger sister, FRANCISCA EMELIA DUTRA, daughter of Francisco and Margareta Teresa Dutra of Faial.

She departed for the U.S. with her older sister, Mrs. Ignada Dutra Enos. Francisca was only 13 years old when she arrived. She and John Soto were married in February 1863 in Sacramento.

The John Soto family first lived in Yolo County where, in 1862, he bought a ranch. In 1878 he bought a second ranch of 131 acres in the Freeport area, and moved across the river. There he raised vegetables and barley for the market, plus a few colts, besides fruit and other necessities. In 1876 John Soto bought the Freeport Ferry, which crossed the river from Freeport Town to directly in front of his Yolo County ranch, to which they returned in the late 1880s and began to remodel the old home, leaving their older sons and working men to occupy the Freeport Town home.

At about this time the Sotos held a neighborhood meeting in their home, inviting a priest to say Mass, and then to discuss the planning for a church, eventually built by volunteer neighborhood labor on land donated by John Soto at the most southeasterly corner of his Yolo County ranch. The land was deeded to Bishop Patrick Monogue of the Sacramento diocese on October 1, 1892 (recorded November 12, 1889, Book 45 of Deeds, p.407, Yolo County Recorder.)

The church was consecrated in September 1893, with the Rev. Guilherme S. Gloria celebrating the Mass, and with a massive first communion and confirmation. The priest, at times, stayed in the Soto home until a rectory was built soon after.

At this time the Soto family was quite large, so the family divided. John Soto felt it was time to grant responsibility to his older sons by putting them in charge of the ranch and dairy that was on the Sacramento County side. The older sons and the workmen lived there separately, while the daughters, the smaller children, and the parents occupied the Yolo County home across the river.

In the 1890s John Soto started a saloon business immediately adjacent to his ferry landing on his Yolo County ranch. He himself never operated the saloon, instead selecting his third son, Antone, just married, to run it. There was a residence above the saloon.

John Soto also donated land between the levee road and the Sacramento River's edge in Yolo County for a hall to house the SPRSI lodge where the ladies' meetings, parties and dances were held. The building was built on pilings and mostly suspended over the water.

John Soto worked very hard, prospered, and was known to be a very good Samaritan. He sent for many relatives from the Azores and gave them farm-labor jobs, setting them up with housing accommodations, including meals, laundry, mending and ironing, all provided by the Soto family. He was very sympathetic toward poor elderly widows, very privately giving them a handshake, and leaving a $5 or $10 gold coin in the palm of their hand.

He fathered 18 children, the first born dying at 20 months and the last at birth. He idolized his wife, Frances, who was 20 years younger than he, always calling her in Portuguese "menina," or little girl. John sent for a niece, Maria Bettencourt, who later became Mrs. Maria Caldeira, to live at the Soto home and help raise their children. Frances always had household help in her home, in addition to the help from her older daughters.

It was customary in those days for the farm and household responsibilities to go to the oldest son and daughter. Duties were accepted and assumed by the younger siblings. The Soto sons took over the farm management, and the older daughter assigned each sister a specific duty.

There were five Soto sons, the eldest being John. While delivering produce with his father to Newcastle he met Amelia Correa, who was born near there at Dutch Ravine. They married on June 12, 1892, lived in Yolo County for a while, and then the next year moved to Newcastle's Ophir district where they rented ranches for about ten years. He then bought 60 acres about one mile to the north of Newcastle, ten acres of which were in orchard, and the balance in timber. He cleared the timber land and set it out to fruit, especially pears, peaches, plums and cherries. He also built a fine residence, a packing house and a barn, and a garage and a house for a tenant, and he put up his own pole line, to secure electric lighting service and the telephone from Newcastle.

He was one of the founders of the Newcastle Portuguese colony.

The departure of John and his bride Amelia for Placer County left only four sons and 11 daughters, so the tomboy girls rode horseback, herded cattle, pitched hay to the cattle, fed chickens and pigs; along with those who worked as dressmakers, mending, cooking, baking, house-cleaning, laundering, and bookkeeping. It was known in later years that Mama Soto even had her hair brushed by her daughters, so much did they make over her.

The Soto home became a legend throughout the neighborhood - one of respectability, unity, large friendly and joyful gatherings. Many young men frequented in the evenings with their musical instruments, playing music, singing, and dancing. There was a rule in the Soto house that the younger children were not to be seen nor heard during the evening parties. No one under 13 could come to the parlor and join the party, therefore there was a lot of peeking from behind the slightly opened bedroom door.

Heavy meals were served to all of the hard-working people, including the workmen - a full breakfast, dinner at noon, and supper in the evening. But at near bedtime, a light snack was served to the family only, usually consisting of "sopa of bread and milk" (bread dunked into milk). The milk was usually warmed up in winter. This was considered a filling and relaxing evening snack.

This usually was the time when hard-working father had an extra private moment to spare with his family. But by this time the younger children were usually quite noisy. Then Father Soto would quietly seat himself at the head of the table with bowed head and hands folded, as though ready to say grace. Then he would loudly clear his throat, and within a few moments all his children would be quietly seated with hands also folded and heads slightly bowed. Father Soto would acknowledge their discipline with a smile and remark, "I thought I heard so much noise a little while ago."

The Soto children were the first Portuguese children to attend the Freeport School.

John Soto was an avid pipe smoker, and developed cancer of the lip. He died August 26, 1901, and is buried in the Soto plot at St. Joseph's Cemetery, 2615 21st St., Sacramento.

The widowed Frances Soto was left with considerable property: the Sacramento County ranch of 131.0 acres, with a large two-story house, large barn and other accessory buildings and sheds; a Yolo County ranch of 80.77 acres, with a two-story house and full basement, beautifully landscaped with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the front yard; the Freeport Ferry; the saloon with an upstairs residence and a barbershop in the rear; two other homes - one south of the church and one north of the church where some of the ferry men and some of the Soto family members lived; and a large barn and tank house. All of the property was transferred to "Francisca Souto, et al".

She became a shrewd manager, overseeing her holdings, leasing her land, and keeping a watchful eye on the ferry operation. She would sit on a pillow at her upstairs window, keeping her eye on her ferry men while doing her darning and mending, according to granddaughter Hilda Brown Bettencourt.

Son Tony and wife Minnie chose to leave the saloon business for a new business in San Francisco, and were replaced by son-in-law Johnny Marks and daughter Isabel Soto Marks. (See MARKS.) When Johnny Marks died in 1919 in the flu epidemic, Bert Matthews took over the saloon. He was married to a Soto granddaughter, Marie Brown Matthews, daughter of Nancy Soto Brown and Frank Brown.

Frances Soto sold the ferry to Sacramento County when the franchise ended in 1921. She then moved to Sacramento with two of her daughters - Amelia Soto, who never married, and her widowed daughter, Isabel Soto Marks. The three made their home at 2327 4th Ave., Sacramento.

Frances Soto died in Sacramento February 13, 1924 at age 75.

The surviving children of John and Frances Soto (a son and daughter died in infancy):

The properties - the Estate of Francisca E. Souto, et al - were left to her heirs, all of her 16 children. Sons Manuel, Joseph and William farmed some of the land. The remainder of the land was leased out to others. The Soto Estate was sold in 1942 and the monies divided among each heir. Joseph W. Mento was the attorney who handled the sale-closure paper negotiations.

[Grace Freitas Rose; Anna Soto Freitas; Auburn Journal; History of Placer and Nevada Counties, 1924]

From page 335 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

FRANK JOSEPH VARGUS, the son of Frank J. Vargus of the Azores and the former Mary Silveira, married MINNIE FLORENCE LEWIS, the daughter of Frank Lewis and Mary Rose, and lived in the Pocket near the Dutra house. They moved to the Florin area, which some people called "the Plains."

Frank Vargus worked for the California Vineyard Co. taking care of large pumps, while Minnie worked at Libby, McNeil & Libby to make ends meet. He died January 16, 1931, at age 47.

He and Minnie had eight children, raising seven of them: Lawrence, Manuel (died in 1986), Alice Behm, Virginia Von Behrm, Clifford (died 1989), Mary Clayton, and Dorothy. (See LEWIS.)

Frank Vargus's brothers and sisters were Antone, Manuel, Clarence, and William Vargus; Carrie Santos, Rosa Fernandes, Virginia Maderius, Ida Fratis, and Mamie Francis.

[Alice Behm; Florence Hampton]

You can add the story of your ancestors here. Send E-Mail to: Family-Histories@dholmes.com

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