Portuguese Family Histories



The following people have been added here from the pages of the book Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area. If there is anything marked with red text, it 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 Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area. I would be happy to learn more from what each visitor knows.

Joseph P. Armes (Armas), of Santa Cruz?, Flores

Manuel P. Armes (Armas), of Santa Cruz?, Flores

Joe Cabral, of Flores

José Facha, of Santa Cruz, Flores

John Souza Foster, of Flores

Antone Frates (Antone Frates Facha), of Flores

Joaquim Pedro Lopes, of Caveira, Flores

Joseph S. De Rosa, of Flores

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These are the stories of people from Flores:

From pages 183-184 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOSEPH P. ARMES (Jose Armas) was born in Santa Cruz, Flores, in 1847, and immigrated to the Newcastle area of Placer County, Calif., in 1863. On December 19, 1880 in Auburn he married MARY A. FRATES (Freitas), who was born in Faial on May 9, 1859, the daughter of Francisco Jose Silveira de Freitas and Maria Luisa Coracao de Jesus. Her mother was the daughter of Jose Antonio and Marianna Luisa Santos. Jose Santos had been a tax collector in 1810. Mary Frates had come to the U.S. to visit an aunt, and stayed to marry Joseph Armes

Joseph, a fruit farmer in the Newcastle area for nearly 40 years, had been the organizer for the Republican Party for Placer County. He died on February 25, 1909, in Newcastle. He had left for town driving his horse and buggy, and had a stroke before he reached town. The horse continued on to town, and waited at the customary place in front of the Lowell store. It was not determined how long he had been dead when he was discovered about eight o'clock at night; apparently passersby thought he was asleep. Mary ran the ranch after the death of her husband, and in the 1930s received an award for having one of the few unmortgaged ranches in the area.

One night while she was away visiting her daughter Grace in Auburn, the ranch house burned to the ground, unable to be saved because of a problem with the water pressure. The hired men saved some furniture, a few pictures, and the washing machine. The fruit house across from the main house also burned.

The death of her husband, and the burning of her ranch house, were not the only tragedies Mary Frates Armes had to face: Less than four months later, her youngest son, Joe, was murdered by Mary's housekeeper, Alma Bell, who lived with the Armes family, and with whom Joe was having an affair.

According to the story in the Sacramento Union, an Auburn saloon owner, Manuel Neves, was spreading stories about Alma, who sought to explain them away to Joe Armes, whom Alma claimed was her fiance. Also, she was jealous of Minnie Foster, who also lived with the Armes family in the fruit season, although there was apparently no reason for the jealousy. But Joe wouldnt listen to Alma.

An account in the Placer Herald of Auburn on June 12, 1909, stated that Alma Bell shot Joe because he refused to marry her. She went to the Armes home around 6:00 p.m. where she got Joes pistol, and then went to the cabin where Joe and his brothers were sleeping, saying she wanted to talk to him. About 10:30 that night Joe got up and started to accompany her to a neighbors house. A short while later Joe's brothers Manuel and Frank heard two shots. Going outside, they found Joe with a bullet hole through his heart and Alma gone.

Alma Bell threatened to kill the entire family, and hid in the bushes around the farmhouse. Mary and her daughters stayed in the house, avoiding doors and windows until Alma was found after a three-day hunt. She surrendered to a deputy sheriff, saying she had meant to kill herself, too. She was sentenced and served a term in prison.

Mary Emily Armes died May 9, 1947, at age 87, after an illness of six weeks. She had a sister, Mrs. Joseph Ferry, in Newcastle.

The children of Joseph and Mary Armes, in addition to Joe:

Manuel, who died in Auburn in 1948, married Mary Serpa; Frank, who had fought in World War I, died in 1940; John, who never married, died of a concussion; Mary married Manuel Brown, and then Richard Negley, and died in 1968; Julia T. (1895-1972), a charter member of UPPEC, married Carroll R. Couture, son of Dr. Alfred N. and Dr. Ella R. Couture of Auburn; Evelyn married Edward Eyering; and Grace, who died in 1976, married Harold Harrington of Auburn.

[Elizabeth Couture Slater]

From pages 184-185 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

MANUEL P. ARMES (Armas) and his wife, the former FRANCES NOIA said goodbye to the Azores in 1875 and sailed from the island of Flores to the United States to join their sons, Fred and Joseph, who had preceded them to Placer County, and who had written to their parents about the opportunities and the vast lands waiting to be farmed in California. The ship took Manuel, Frances and daughters Minnie, Mary, and Pauline to New York, and from there they made the overland trek to California.

When they arrived in California the Armes family, including the two sons who had preceded them, took up farming and bought an 80-acre ranch a couple of miles northeast of Newcastle. The family eventually grew to seven. Daughter Mary married Frank Peters, and Pauline married Joseph Enos. Frances and Manuel Armes are buried in the family plot in the Auburn cemetery.

Son MANUEL P. ARMES, JR. was born in 1857 in Flores, and was 17 when he came to the United States. His wife's name was Nancy. Young Manuel worked as a brakeman on the old Central Pacific Railroad between Sacramento and Truckee for several years, and was badly hurt in a train wreck in Bloomer Cut in 1885. He then went to work in the railroad shops in Sacramento for several years before returning to Placer County where he purchased a home and raised fruit at Dutch Ravine. Manuel Jr. died at his home on January 30, 1914 at age 57, after a lingering illness.

Son FRED P. ARMES was born in Flores on February 12, 1857, coming to California with his brother Manuel at age 16. After spending two years at mining in Siskiyou County, together they went to Newcastle where they engaged in fruit-raising, in time purchasing 160 acres which they cleared and set out to orchard. They obtained their start by peddling the fruit and produce in the settlements on the Forest Hill Divide as far as Michigan Bluff. Later Fred Armes purchased an additional 80 acres, which was also set out to fruit.

Freds first marriage was to MINNIE SANTOS, also a native of Flores. She died four years after their marriage, and then Fred spent about a year at Greenwood, Mendocino County, with the White & Company mills as a boss of the logging department. He then returned to his ranch. The brothers then dissolved their partnership and divided the property.

Fred then married ANNIE CASTRO of Oakland on October 26, 1890. She was the daughter of Frank and Annie (Caton) Castro, also from Flores. Frank Castro was a '49er and a pioneer in California.

When Fred sold his ranch at Newcastle, he purchased another one, the Shirland tract, where he lived for about ten years. He then sold it and in 1920 bought 24 acres on the old Sacramento road three-quarters of a mile from Auburn, where he raised fruit.

Fred and Annie Armes had ten children, including George, Fred, Louis, Julia (Holt), Arthur, and Margaret.

[History of Placer and Nevada Counties, 1924; Placer Herald, February 7, 1914]

From pages 200-201of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOE CABRAL was born December 19, 1897, in Flores, the Azores, and came to the U.S. when about ten years old, going to a ranch in Merced. He later worked on farms and on the haypress in the Riverside/Pocket area, and met MARIA SOUZA, daughter of Frank Julio and Mariana Julia Souza, who had come to Sacramento with her mother when she was four years old to join her father, settling at 18th and X Streets.

Maria and Joe met when her mother went to work as a cook for Joe Rico, for whom her father also worked. Maria lived on the ranch with her parents and attended Upper Lisbon School, later moving back to the city. Joe and Maria married on October 4, 1917, when Maria was almost 14. Their children: Bill, Violet, Betty Jean, and Jo-Ann. Betty Jean died in 1976.

Joe then went to work for Southern Pacific, making railroad rails. About 1919 they moved to Byron to work on a dairy with Maria's parents. They leased the dairy and worked there about two years, when they sold the business and moved back to Sacramento. Joe then became a carpenter and worked for contractors Mike Fortado and John Fernandez of Sierra Builders.

The Cabrals jointly with Maria's parents and Mike Fortado acquired three lots at 18th and Y Street on the northeast corner and built three homes. Maria and Joe sold their home and built a large home behind the front house with the first Portuguese tile roof in Sacramento.

In 1927 the Cabrals sold their home and bought 40 acres east of Perkins, now part of Rosemont. They constructed two homes opposite Albert Einstein middle school, and lived first in one house on Mirandy Drive, and then constructed a larger home several doors away.

Joe ranched the acreage raising olives and grapes mainly, and Maria packed fruit for the A.B. Humphrey Ranch. Maria traveled during the fruit season to other areas and came home on weekends.

Joe also worked on the haypress during this time, and later in his career mostly as a carpenter with Sierra Builders.

He sold half of the ranch for farming, and later the other half was sold to build the school. Joe retired then and traveled twice to the Azores and continental Portugal. He died June 11, 1983.

Maria Cabral later made a name for herself in Sacramento as a radio personality, as noted in Chapter 16, but even before that, around 1925, began acting in local plays. She performed at the Egyptian Theatre, a tent, which later became the site of the Alhambra Theatre on 31st Street, now Alhambra Boulevard. She acted in her first professional show, "Dear Uncle Henry," which ran for one week.

Previously she had acted in amateur shows at St. Elizabeth's Church, and also went to Oakland with Gabe Silveira to perform in a three-act show at the UPC convention.

While raising her family in the 1950s, she was active in the Luso-American Fraternal Federation as a Sacramento-Manteca youth director. She continued working with Luso after she retired from her career in radio. Until her husband died, she was also involved in other community affairs, including chairperson for Portugal for all of the United Nations International dinners at the old Fair Grounds on Stockton Boulevard, and Camellia Festival chairperson for the Portuguese representation in the 1960s and 1970s.

[Mary Cabral]

From pages 220-221 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOSE FACHA was born in Flores, and spent his early adult life at sea as a whaler for ten years, sailing out of Nova Scotia. One night he went out to harpoon a whale and it tore his boat to pieces. He couldn't swim, but he caught hold of part of the boat and he was saved. His ship sailed for San Francisco around the Horn, taking 30 days. Upon arrival there, he jumped ship and went to Weaverville in Trinity County to work in the gold mines.

He became naturalized in 1873, and homesteaded 160 acres in Red Bluff. However, on the doctor's advice to change climate because of sickness from ulcers, he returned to the Azores in 1878. He was 44 years of age, and there he married MARIA SERPA, age 20. He became the second largest farmer in Flores. He farmed in shares on the property of others, doing the work, cultivating and planting seed, then sharing half of the crop. His sons worked hard, too. The oldest, Joe, started working for the government at age 13, hauling rocks to build roads.

Jose wanted to return to the United States, but his wife didn't want to. She was afraid of the Indians, believing rumors that they killed and ate the white people. But Jose wanted his children to go to America so they could claim citizenship by virtue of his naturalization, and they all came to America before reaching age 21. Had they remained in the Azores after age 21 they could have been drafted into Portuguese military service.

Jose was a patriotic American, and used to make an American fiag out of paper. Whenever there was a celebration in Flores, Jose would tell his children that they had to carry the American flag along with the Portuguese flag. His wife, Maria, was a devout church-goer. One day she came- home from church and, alarmed, told her husband that he should burn his American citizenship papers because the priest had said anybody with American citizenship papers wouldn't go to heaven!

Both Jose and Maria died in Flores, he at age 79 in September 1912, and Maria at age 79.

They had eight children: Joe, Ventura, Alfred, Evangelina, Mary, Filomena, Joaquim and Antonio. Four sons and two daughters came to America and California. Alfred stayed in Nevada.

Two of Jose Facha's sisters, Anna Nunes and Mary Frates, also immigrated to California in the mid-1800s, having been sent for by Jose. Mary lived in Red Bluff, and Anna lived in Cottonwood, Trinity County. She died at age 108. When Jose had returned to the Azores, he left some cattle with his sisters. Whenever they sold a cow they sent Jose a $20 gold piece, which they called an Aguia (eagle).

Son ANTONIO FACHA was 18 years old when he immigrated to America in June 1912, coming as an American citizen by virtue of his father's naturalization in 1873. He was born December 10, 1893 in Santa Cruz, Flores.

Tony Facha went to Elko, Nevada, and worked on a cattle ranch for five years. On one occasion two young ranchworkers stole his shaving equipment. He went into the ranch house to get his gun to ride after them, and the gun fell to the floor and went off, hitting his right leg and knee. Instead of going after the boys he went to the doctor, whose treatment of the bullet wound with iodine was worse than the gunshot. The doctor told him to return in five days, but he never did.

When the United States entered World War I, Tony went into the army from September 1917 to April 22, 1919, serving in France and Germany. He returned to the Elko ranch after the war, rejoining two brothers, Joe and Fred. Joe was the ranch manager of the ranch. Fred later bought a 1,500-acre ranch 40 miles north of Elko, and Tony later became ranch foreman.

He decided to go to Newcastle to visit his brother Ventura Facha and sister Angelina Amaro, and stayed to work on fruit ranches around Newcastle, including that of Constantine Lopes. That same year he invested his wartime savings in a small fruit ranch, putting $3,000 down. He moved onto the property, plowed, pruned, sprayed, and planted more fruit trees. The seller of the property had told him that it had produced 1,500 boxes of fruit that year and could produce more. Then the following spring neighbors told Tony that the seller had lied about the production figures, and on checking at the shipping house he found that only 800 boxes had been shipped, not 1,500. He sued, but lost the case.

He knew then that he couldn't make a living on the property, so he left it, and went to work picking plums, pears, peaches and quince.

Meanwhile, he had gotten acquainted with ANNA KING, and they married on January 21, 1921, in Auburn. Tony then worked on the fruit ranch of his wifes godparents, Mary Z. Perry and her brother Manuel L. Perry, who had raised Anna. Anna worked in the fruit-pack-ing house until age 64, when Tony insisted she quit, much against her will. Tony told her, "If you try to work there, I'm going to tell the manager not to give you a job." Anna died on April 22, 1967.

Tony and Anna had five children: Dorothy Christensen, Genevieve Sacarino, Clarence, Richard, and Stanley Facha.

Anna's godparents donated a 60-by-108 sq.ft. lot to the three Portuguese lodges in Newcastle in 1917 to build a lodge meeting hall, Newcastle Portuguese Hall, which is now a State Point of Historic Interest and is on the National Register of Historic Places. (See Chapter 11.)

Tony Facha was very active in the veterans organizations, being commander of the American Legion post in 1972, commander of the World War I Veterans in 1974, and grand marshall of the Veterans Day parade in August in 1982.

He and his third wife, Gussie, live in Auburn.

Joe Amaro, who had gone to Nevada with Tony's brother Fred Facha, later settled in Gold Hill, Placer County. He had married one of Tonys sisters, and after she died in 1918 he married another sister.

[Tony Facha]

From pages 231-233 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOHN SOUZA FOSTER (John Souza de Alvieda Fustato) was born In Flores on January 1, 1844. He may have come to California on a whaling vessel, jumping ship in San Francisco. On December 27, 1875, at Andrus Island in the Delta, he married MARIA NAZARETH COREA, born March 20, 1844, in Madeira, who had entered the U.S. at Boston. She had two sisters, Joaquina (Josephine) and Levita, and one brother, John Corea, who lived in North Sacramento.

Around 1892 John and Maria Foster settled on a small ranch at the intersection of Routier Road and Folsom Blvd., where grapes were probably their main crop, which they packed and sold. Their children attended Brighton School, later renamed Edward Kelly Grammar School, still standing on Bradshaw Road.

John Foster was remembered by some of his grandchildren as a handsome man, quite tall, with a moustache. In his later years he had a stroke and was confined to a homemade wheelchair built by his son John, consisting of a kitchen chair on wheels.

He died March 3, 1922, and Maria died January 4, 1932, both in Mills. Their children:

JOHN FOSTER JR. (1877-1951) married Susan Ellen Thurman in 1906, and had nine children: Marjorie, Thelma, and Donovan who died as infants; Delmar, Dorothy (Dona) Harris, Harvey, Donald, Cledith, and Cecil. Susan, who was born in Missouri, died in 1958.

John Foster Jr. was born near the Brickyard in the Pocket district and worked on the Yolo side of the river. He used to tell his children that he would undress on the Sacramento side, swim across the river, and then put on the work clothes that he had stashed there and proceed to his work, reversing the process at the end of the day. When he was 15 years old the family moved to Routier Station (Mills), where he worked delivering for the Studarus Grocery, which is where he probably met Susan, who was a maid for the Studarus family on Coloma Road.

John later tended bar at Routiers Station. At one time he owned his own well-drilling rig, and later worked for the Natomas Gold Dredger Co. on Dredger No. 2, which worked the area from Nimbus to Mills. He then worked for Western Pacific Railroad until he hurt his ankle and retired. Eventually John and Susan settled in Perkins. Susan took up oil painting after she had raised her family.

Their son, Delmar, at one time owned a bakery in Sacramento. Delmar's son, Larry Foster, a college art instructor, is a world authority on whales, writing on that subject for various magazines, and doing the large foldout chart on whale species that appeared in the December 1976 National Geographic. He also played the zither and designed jewelry, one of his creations being the whale pin used in a fund-raising Help-the-Whale campaign.

Another son, Cecil, a noted local birdwatcher, was featured in both Sacramento newspapers in 1981 for his establishing at his home in south Sacramento one of the first backyard wildlife habitats certified by the American Wildlife Federation.

MANUEL FOSTER (1878-1939) worked in or around Nevada mines with the Mendonca brothers before settling at Live Oak, Calif., with his wife, Betty. Some relatives remembered his ride to Mills Station from Nevada on horseback.

JOSEPH FOSTER (1880-1963) married Mae McLaughlin, and had children Noel, and Mary Pope. Noel was a truck farmer in the Salinas area

MARY FOSTER (1882-1962) married MANUEL MENDONCA in 1901, and had a son, Henry, who changed the spelling of the name to Mandonca. (See MACHADO MENDONCA.)

LUVETA FOSTER (1883-1964) married Manuel's brother, JOSEPH MENDONCA, in 1907, and had children Barbara Francis, Aileen Ignacio, Melvin, Margaret Amarel, Dolores, Agnes Azevedo, Marie Lowery, and Joseph.

ANNA FOSTER (1885-1959) married MANUEL WILLIAM KING, a clamshell dredger captain. For 14 years after their marriage in 1907 they made their home on the various dredgers, constructing the levees for the reclamation of the many islands of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Their only son, Foster King, spent the first seven years of his life living in the captains quarters on the dredger Trojan. His parents then moved to a home in Sacramento at 22nd and F Streets so Foster could attend school. Manuel King then commuted to his work on the dredger, and Anna became active in the St. Francis Guild. Foster retired from PG&E and lived on a small island in the Sacramento River near Isleton. He married Lois Carrington.

ROSA FOSTER (1887-1965) married JOSEPH BETTENCOURT (1878-1967) in 1907. Joe Bettencourt was raised in the Riverside area of Sacramento, and farmed where Mather Field is now. Upon marrying, Joe and Rose moved to Salinas for three years, then to Hollister and San Juan Bautista, where they bought a truck farm and raised their nine children: Wilbert, Lorraine Guerra, Ernest, Veronica Botelho, Clarence, Joseph, Evelyn Rianda, Violet Smith, and Johnnie. (A tenth child died in infancy in 1919.)

[Gloria Francis Stemler, "Foster-Mendonca Family Photo History," 1981]

From page 234 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

ANTONE FRATES (Antone Frates Facha) was born in 1862 in Flores. He came to the U.S. as a young man and settled in the Pocket sometime around the late 1800s or early 1900s, working as a farm hand.

He married MARY FLORENCE LEWIS, daughter of Frank Lewis Sr., on April 19, 1913, in St. Joseph's Church in Clarksburg. Father Soares performed the ceremony. Mary Florence was born July 31, 1884, in the Pocket. They had twin sons, Jess and Joe.

After marrying, they went to live on her fathers 36 acre ranch, located south of and including the land where St. Mary's Church and Portuguese Hall are located. Later Antone acquired the ranch from his father-in-law. Antone lived and farmed there with the help of his sons until his death in 1942. The sons continued to farm the acreage until 1962 when the property was sold for subdivision.

Son Joe Frates was prominent in local Winter League baseball. Jess was in the army during World War II.

Mary Florence moved to town and lived there until her death on November 1, 1964.

[Jess Frates; Mary Dutra Rosa]

From page 250 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOAQUIM PEDRO LOPES was born in Caveira, Flores, March 15, 1886. He married MARIA de SOUSA [pg.250 of the book says Joaquina de Sousa], born July 12, 1889 in the same village. They were married October 1910 in Caveira.

He went to Newcastle in 1921 and worked a year or two on a fruit ranch, then moved to Tracy and milked cows. He bought a dairy but lost it during the Depression.

He had sent for his family soon after he arrived, but due to immigration quotas they were unable to come to the U.S. until 1932. They stayed in Tracy from June to October 1932 and then moved to Placer County.

He rented a fruit ranch from John Livingston in the Mt.Pleasant area for four years. Then he bought a fruit ranch in Loomis and farmed until he retired. He sold the ranch to his son Louis and moved to town about 1948.

Joaquim and Joaquina had five children: Elisa, Laura, Jaime, Louis, all four born in Flores, and Gerald, born in Placer County.

He died November 16, 1968 in Roseville; his wife died April 30, 1979.

[Elisa Lopes Cardoso]

From page 288 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOSEPH S. De ROSA came from the island of Flores. Upon coming to the United States, he panned for gold in the Folsom area for many years, later working for the Natomas Company, who paid its workers every six months. He walked to and from work a distance of about five miles.

Around 1890 he married ANNA De ROZA (no relation), a native of Pico. They had five children: Joe, Frank, Rose, Mary (died at a young age), and later another girl named Mary.

Anna made a number of quilts, one of which she donated to St. John the Baptist Church in Folsom to raffle off to raise money to install water pipes in the nearby cemetery.

Joe died in the late 1930s at age 89; Anna died in 1948.

Daughter ROSE ANNA De ROSA, who was born in Folsom, married MANUEL JOSEPH NORDESTE (Manuel Joseph Machado), who was born July 16, 1892 in Ribeirinha, Pico. He had come to Sacramento about 1919, where he first worked on the river boats and then had a grocery store at 3rd and S Streets called Nordeste Cash and Carry. He had started to use his grandfathers nickname of Nordeste (northeast) as there was already an M.J. Machado in the same business in Sacramento. He closed the store in the late 1930s and opened a bar at 3rd and N Streets, which he operated until his death in 1946. Rose died in August 1974.

The store was a meeting place in the early afternoon for the retired Portuguese men to gather and speak of the days events and the homeland.

Manuel and Rose Nordeste had three children: Irving (died at seven months), Thelma, and Lorraine.

[Lorraine Machado]

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