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 inaccuracies 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.

Joseph Martinez Borba, of Terceira

José Sousa Brazil, of Cinco Ribeiras, Terceira

Manuel R. Holmes (Manuel Joaquim Leal da Rocha Homem), of N.S.daConceição, Angra

Antone A. Martin (Antonio A. Martins), of N.S.Conceição, Angra, Terceira

Joseph Gonsalves Rico, of Biscoitos?, Terceira

Frank De Souza, of Raminho, Terceira

Manuel Gonçalves Veiga (Manuel Rosalena), of Raminho, Terceira

Tony Vega (Antonio Viega), of Raminho, Terceira

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 Terceira:

From pages 197-198 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

JOSEPH MARTINEZ BORBA was born in Terceira, October 8, 1878, the eldest of ten children of Joseph Martinez Borba, Sr. and Anna Felicia Ignazia. The others: Mary, John, Jesse, Rosie, Ignacia, Francis, Frank, Manuel, and Joseph.

Joseph Borba was educated in the schools of the Azores, and lived at home with his parents until he came to California at age 22 and worked at a dairy farm at Menlo Park for $15 a month. He later worked on the California Transportation Company's boats at $35 a month. Then he settled in the Delta, near Isleton, where he leased 40 acres for three years to raise vegetables, then bought 55 acres on Grand Island in the Delta, and four years later bought a 155-acre orchard for a total spread of 205 acres devoted to fruit, asparagus, beans and potatoes.

In 1905 he made a trip back to the Azores to visit his parents and other relatives, and stayed five months. In 1906 he married MARY CAROLINE da ROSA of Pico, the youngest of four children of Joseph and Anna da Rosa. Joseph and Mary Caroline had one child, Anna.

His first wife died in 1917, and Borba then married MARY de MELLO, born on Andrus Island, and daughter of Luiz de Mello, a farmer. Borba and his second wife are the parents of five children: Joseph, Mary, Manuel, Vernal, and Edna.

He also owned a home in Pacific Grove, to which the family made frequent trips.

From pages 240-243 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

MANUEL R. HOLMES (Manuel Joaquim Leal da Rocha Homem) was born in the São Bento area of Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, on January 6, 1889 (His baptism records him as born on 7 Jan 1889 in N.S.Conceição, Angra, but in his own handwriting in his Social Security application, he said he was born on 6 January. His father was the one from São Bento.), the oldest son of Francisco da Rocha Homem and Luisa Estera Leal da Roza. Luisa was born in Concepcion, Chile, the daughter of Manuel Leal da Roza and Margarita Arreagada Vasquez. (See Da ROZA.) The other children: Francisco (Chico), Maria, Jacinto, Angelina, and Jose.

At age 10 or 11, around 1900, Manuel went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to the home of his granduncle, Jose da Rocha Lourenco, who had a business processing sugarcane. His paternal grandparents, Francisco and Isabel Vitorina da Rocha Homem, had gone to Niteroi, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, when quite young, and died there of yellow fever before they could send for their only child, six-year-old Francisco, who was then raised in Terceira by an aunt.

Manuel worked in his uncle's sugarcane business, but was not physically well, having a congestive lung problem which hadn't improved during his time in Brazil. After eight years he returned to Terceira, by then safely past the vulnerable age for service in the Portuguese army. But his health didn't improve there, so around 1911 at age 22 he embarked for the United States and Sacramento, where his younger brother, Jacinto, had already established himself.

As a teenager in the Azores he had a hobby of making wooden toys with a footpedal jigsaw, many of which he sold to a store in Angra, and used the proceeds to pay part of his passage to America. He brought the jigsaw with him and later used it most of his adult life in California.

JESSE HOLMES (Jacinto Rocha Homem) had come to California around 1902, about 13 years of age, in the company of Manuel Moniz, brother of King Moniz mentioned below, and soon went to work at the Da Roza Elk Grove Winery as an apprentice bookkeeper. It was he who changed the family name from Homem to Holmes, and when the rest of the family came over they went along with the change, although Manuel, proud of his Portuguese heritage, never quite approved. An English name like Holmes didn't seem out of character for a family of blond males all over six feet tall. Manuel's nickname in the Azores was cebola branca (white onion).

The name change was apparently quite gradual. The Sacramento City Directory for 1908 lists Jacinto R. Homem, a clerk for the Manuel S. Williams grocery store, and boarding at 2015 11th Street. The 1909 Directory lists Jesse R. Homem, clerk for Sacramento Rochdale Co. By 1911 he had become fully Americanized in name, working as a clerk for the Southern Pacific Co. under the name Jesse R. Holmes. The Directory shows him boarding at 519 T Street in 1912, at 231 I Street (Commercial Hotel) in 1913, back at 519 T in 1917, and at 1724 S Street in 1919, with a star before his name indicating he was in the military service at the time.

He was drafted or enrolled into the army in World War I, and served in France, returning as a sergeant. He went to work for Western Pacific Railroad after the war, and rose eventually to the position of western freight manager. He was with W.P. for 30 years. At one time he was planning to marry one of the Manica girls, but a girl he had met in France, Belle Hague, followed him to California after the war, and he married her instead. They had no children.

Fully Americanized, and having little if anything to do with the local Portuguese, he was active in the American Legion, serving as Commander of Oakland Post No. 5. Upon his retirement from Western Pacific in the Bay Area he was Clerk of the Oakland Municipal Court from 1945 to 1959. He died August 5, 1960.

Manuel, upon arriving in Sacramento in 1911, lived for a while with his granduncle, Antone Leal da Roza, a Sacramento building contractor, and then went up to the Oroville area where his relatives, a Leal family, had a sawmill. The Leals built for Manuel in their yard a small screened house, fresh air being the standard treatment for consumptive conditions in those days. He then moved back to Sacramento to the home of Florindo Leal da Roza, son of Manuels granduncle Guilhermo Leal da Roza, where again a little screened room was built for him. But he didn't improve, so a couple of years later Manuel returned to the Azores.

On the ship back to the Azores he encountered a Dr. Vitrino Bettencourt, a highly respected physician in the Azores, and upon reaching Angra he proceeded to treat Manuel for his condition, which was not tuberculosis as some had thought, but fluids which had accumulated in one lung. The fluids were drained and the lung deflated, which took care of the problem. He functioned successfully the rest of his life with just one lung.

Meanwhile, the family in Angra had fallen on hard times. Manuel's father, FRANCISCO da ROCHA HOMEM, had inherited the money-lending and pawnshop business that his father-in-law, Manuel Leal da Roza, had established in Angra, the first of its kind in the Azores. Francisco had gone to work at the new business as a clerk, and it was there he met LUIZA LEAL da ROZA, and married her when she was just 13 years old (actually aged 15). (The store was called a Prego because when customers brought in gold jewelry as collatoral for money borrowed, the jewelry would be wrapped and hung on a nail (prego) on a shelf behind the counter.) He had expanded the business with the considerable funds of a lottery that he had won, but lost the money in injudicious loans which were not paid back.

As he began to lose money, he started to drink. The drink compounded the problem, and he lost more money, and before too long the family was destitute, losing two homes in Angra.

Francisco left the Azores for the U.S. to join his son, Jesse Holmes, who was working at the time in Sacramento as a bookkeeper for Western Pacific Railroad. Jesse got his father a job as a night watchman at Southern Pacific Railway. The rest of the family followed in the spring of 1914 his wife Luisa, sons Manuel and Jose, and daughter Angelina with the financial help of Luisa's uncle, the aforementioned Antone Leal da Roza. (See Da ROZA.)

Jesse met them upon their arrival, and moved the family into a rented apartment above a soda store at 6th and T Streets, later to become the Machado Grocery. Francisco, however, was living separately in a little house on 6th Street while working nights at S.P. He managed to get on the day shift, and was to move in with the rest of the family at the end of the day, going home from S.P. on the PG&E streetcar that ran past the house.

On August 12, 1914, youngest son Joseph, then about age 10, heard a commotion outside and went out to investigate. The streetcar was stopped and a crowd of people was congregating. He found that his father, Francisco, had been fatally injured when he stepped off the Third and T streetcar. The newspaper account read: "Frank Holmes... appeared to be dazed when he stepped from the car... While it was running at top speed he calmly stood up and stepped off. He fell on his back, hitting his head on the pavement." He died the next day in the county hospital.

Meanwhile, Manuel Holmes and his friend, King Moniz, had gone to work for a liquor store at 3rd between K and L Streets owned by a Slavonian. Having learned something about the business, Manuel then decided to open his own grocery and liquor store around 1915, borrowing money from his granduncle, Antone Leal da Roza. The store, called Dove Liquor Company, was on the corner of 18th and S Streets, in a building owned by Manuel A. Freitas. The building was later occupied by Santos Meat Market, and today is a Japanese restaurant.

Groceries were sold as well as liquor, and Manuel and his young brother Joe delivered by horse and buggy down as far as the Pocket area to the various Portuguese farmers in the area, including the Silveira farm, where he met MARY AGNES SILVEIRA (Mamie), daughter of Jose Francisco and Emelia Candida Leal Silveira, natives of São Roque, Pico, and quite well off financially until Jose Silveiras death in a farm accident. (See SILVEIRA.)

By that time the Holmes family was living in an upstairs apartment in a house at 1420 S Street, along with two boarders, King Moniz and Manuel Felix. Luisa, Manuel's mother, cooked for all of them.

Then Manuel and Mary Agnes Silveira got married in 1915 and they moved to an apartment at 17th and S Street. Meanwhile, Manuel was still supporting his mother, his brother Joe, and his sister Angelina, and to ease the burden he pressured Angelina to marry Alfredo Dias da Silva, later owner of the Portuguese newspaper 0 Progresso. Although Angelina and Alfred had children, it was not a happy marriage, and Angelina and Manuel never got along after that because of his pressuring her into the marriage. (See SILVA.)

In 1918 Manuel and Mamie moved to Tulare, Calif., where he bought the Star Grocery and sold liquor shipped down from his Sacramento store by his brother Joe. The Tulare business did well. Then, satisfying a yen to get into the dairy and cattle business, Manuel sold the store for $9,000 and bought cattle and rented pastureland. Knowing little about the cattle business he lost a lot of his money and moved back to the Sacramento area where, for a while, he sharecropped alfalfa for West Sacramento Land Co. in partnership with Manuel Alvernaz.

Unsuccessful as a farmer, he went to work for S.P. at night as an oiler, about the time younger brother Joe was leaving to work in the Bay Area shipyards. A strike there forced Joe back to Sacramento, where he went to work for Clay Chipman at a Standard Oil gas station until forced to leave because he wasn't a U.S. citizen.

Manuel and Mamie moved to Oakland in 1924 where Manuel solicited advertising for the newspaper Jornal Portugues before going to work for Bay Area creameries as a salesman and then into business for himself in Homerite Creamery, a wholesale ice-cream manufacturer.

In 1947 Manuel and Mary Agnes divorced. Manuel returned to Terceira, the Azores, married Maria Bettencourt de Amaral, and returned with her to Santa Cruz where they went into the egg business. Instead of wholesaling their eggs, Manuel sold them personally in a route he developed from Santa Cruz through Oakland up to Sacramento, supplemented by a line of linguica & morcella from the Gomes linquica plant, for which he had many customers in the Sacramento area.

Manuel became ill around 1965, sold the egg business, and returned to Angra in the Azores, where he died October 14, 1972, at age 83. Maria subsequently returned to California, where she died November 5, 1989, at age 85.

Manuel and Mary Agnes Holmes had four children: Elmer, Lionel, Harold, and Dolores, all but Lionel born in Sacramento. He was born in Tulare. Elmer was raised on the Sacramento ranch by his grandmother, Emelia Silveira Enos, and attended Upper Lisbon School. Following graduation from Sacramento High School he married Dolores Lewis, who lived on Riverside Road around the bend from The Trap. She was the daughter of Joseph Waxon Lewis and Philomina Pradie. The marriage lasted one year.

JOSEPH L. HOLMES (Jose Leal Rocha Homem), the youngest of the family, described his granduncles, the Leal Da Rozas, as the familys patrons in Sacramento. They were like saints to us all. Joe married CARRIE PERRY of Chico, daughter of Domingos Perreira and the former Rosa Da Rosa. Joe and Carrie had one child, Margaret, and lived in Oakland at the time. They subsequently divorced. Since then Joe has resided in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz, where he and his wife, Evelyn Biagini, operated a large mobile-home court until her death in 1988.

ANGELINA ROCHA HOMEM and Alfred Dias Silva had four children, Clarence, Dorothy, Alfred Jr., and Esther, who lived with their mother in Oakland. Alfred Sr. meanwhile had remarried, to Mary Silva of the Mills Silva Bros. Winery family, and together operated the Portuguese newspaper 0 Progresso in Sacramento for three years. (See Chapter 16.)

The other Rocha Homem children, Francisco Jr. (Chico) and Maria de Conceição, never came to America. When his father lost his money, Chico dropped out of Coimbra University where he studied to be a professor of literature, and went to work for the postal-telegraph service. He transferred to Funchal, Madeira, and eventually became postmaster there, commuting weekends to his home and small winery at Arco de São Jorge in the north of Madeira. One of his sons, Dr. Silvano Rocha Homem, is a physician in Cartaxo, outside Lisbon. Maria de Conceição married João Jacinto Armas do Amaral in Angra, where both were school teachers. One son, Dr. José Leal Armas, was director of the Instituto de Agricultura in Terceira until his retirement, and now teaches genetics at the University of the Azores.

[Joseph Leal Holmes; Lionel Holmes]

For more information about these Terceira families, contact Doug da Rocha Holmes.

Additional information was published in Portuguese about the ancestors of these Leal da Rosa families from Piedade, Pico, as related to both Pico and Terceira islands. 
See this link for information: Genealogias da Ilha Terceira, volume 5, pages 255 and 256 from the chapter for LEAL, branch nš 7

From pages 262-263 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

ANTONE A. MARTIN (Antonio A. Martins) was born in N.S.Conceição, Angra, Terceira, the Azores, in 1846. He married MARIA E. LEAL da ROZA of Piedade, Pico. They lived in Angra, Terceira, for a number of years before coming to California in 1895, eventually settling at 514 T Street in Sacramento, while Antone worked in the roundhouse of Southern Pacific Company. Antone died on September 22, 1926, at age 80; Maria died July 16, 1914, at age 63. They were the parents of four boys and three girls, John, Gabriela, Mary, Elith, Antone Jr., Emilio, and Rita.

JOHN BAPTISTA MARTIN, the oldest child, was born in Terceira in 1877, and came to Sacramento in 1893, when he was 16 years old, his passage being financed by his uncle, Jose Xavier Dias, who was married to Antonette Leal da Roza. John lived with his aunt and uncle until he married ROSE AZEVEDO, daughter of Manuel Azevedo and the former Maria da Gloria Fraga Silva. Jose and Antonette Dias were the parents of the Sacramento dentist, Dr. Edward Dias. (See DIAS.)

Like his father, John worked at the S.P. roundhouse. He worked at the slaughterhouse of Jerry Jaksich before Faustino Silva bought the operation, and then as a barber, purchasing from Bill Rose the barbershop on 6th Street between J and K. Later he went to work for the City of Sacramento and became poundmaster. They were the parents of Ralph A. Martin, who died in 1926 at age 22; Irene R. Martin, who died in 1985 at age 85, and who married Frank E. Gregory; John B. Martin, who died in 1960 at age 62, and who married Daisy Mumford; George Martin, who married Carrie Valine; Arthur Martin, who married Carries sister Clara; and Raymond Martin, who with his wife Arlene had a daughter, Arlene Martin.

GABRIELA MARTIN, the oldest daughter of Antone and Maria, was born in 1880 in the Azores. She married JOE BETTENCOURT, and had two daughters, Dora and Ethel. (See BETTENCOURT.)

MARY EMELIA MARTIN, the second daughter, was born in 1881 in the Azores. She married FRANK J. SILVEY, son of Frank Silva of Sao Jorge and the former Mary E. da Rosa of Faial. Frank J. Silvey died in 1965 at age 91. (See SILVEY.)

ELITH MARTIN, born in the Azores in 1891, died at age 18 in 1909 in Sacramento.

RITA MARTIN, the youngest of the children, first married a Mr. White, by whom she had a child, and then married Frank Schwander, with whom she had three children: John, who died September 7, 1889, at age 68; Lillian; and Rita, who married Marion Case.

The fourth child of John and Rose Martin, GEORGE MARTIN, worked as a boiler maker for Southern Pacific for 11 years, and then worked for his poundmaster father John, whom he succeeded as poundmaster upon Johns death. George worked for the City of Sacramento 41 years. Georges wife, CARRIE ENOS VALINE, was the daughter of Manuel Perry Valine of Pico, who died in 1928 at age 73. George and Carrie were the parents of George Martin, who married Betty Teet; and Miriam Martin, who married Robert Ciani.

[George Martin]

For more information about these Terceira families, contact Doug da Rocha Holmes.

From page 330 of Portuguese Pioneers of the Sacramento Area:

FRANK De SOUZA was born in 1890 in Raminho, Terceira. He served his stretch in the Portuguese military in 1912, and then immigrated to the East Coast of the United States and worked in New York and Massachusetts for a couple of years.

He came to California in 1917, and in 1921 married EDNA BALIEL, who was born in Sacramento in 1900. When they married Edna lost her citizenship under the laws of the time, and she had to apply for reinstatement. In 1922 they bought a ranch in Natomas.

They raised five children who attended Jefferson School and Grant Union High: Lorraine Maggenti, Frank De Souza, Rosemarie Heron, Victor De Souza, Carolyn Headley, and Frank Souza.

[Mary Ferreira Rosa]

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

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