Portuguese family reunion draws 100-plus people

Mary Nevis (1878-1959), lower center, with a present in her hand, is shown in this 1957 photograph at the age of 80 with more than 80 members of her family. Mary was the wife of Manuel Nevis, Sr. Photo courtesy of PHCS

Mary Nevis (1878-1959), lower center, with a present in her hand, is shown in this 1957 photograph at the age of 80 with more than 80 members of her family. Mary was the wife of Manuel Nevis, Sr. Photo courtesy of PHCS

Members of the Correa family of Clarksburg recently hosted a large reunion that drew more than 100 farming ancestors of the Pocket.
Among the attendees of the event were Nevis, Dutra and Silva family members, who traveled from various parts of the country, including the East Coast and Hawaii.
The gathering was held on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the home of Bill and Louisa (Dutra) Correa.
Louisa grew up in the Pocket area’s well-known Dutra House and was the daughter of Lorrene Helen (Nevis) Dutra, who was one of the 15 children of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
Beverly Espinosa, who is Louisa’s cousin, explained how the reunion was arranged.
“We talked about it about a year ago at (The Old) Spaghetti Factory (at 1910 J St.) when we had a small (family) reunion (with about 40 people),” Beverly said. “Louisa decided that we would have (a large family reunion) at her house, and so we all got together about three months ago and tried to find relatives. We sent fliers, we sent out e-mails to let them know we decided on this reunion. A lot of it was (announced by) word (of) mouth.”
Eventually through much planning and preparation, the large reunion in Clarksburg finally occurred.
Certainly, part of the motivation to arrange a larger reunion was based on the advanced ages of some of the family’s senior members.
Planning for the reunion also provided motivation toward gathering additional family history and old photographs.
In the process of planning for the reunion, a group photograph from the family’s last large reunion in 1957 was reviewed.
About 25 of the more than 80 people who are pictured in that old photograph attended the recent reunion.
Using many historic family photographs, Beverly’s daughter, Mary Anne, created various posters to represent the reunion’s families. The posters were hung up to be viewed during the event.
Mary Anne, who helped organize the large reunion with Louisa and her cousins, said that the reunion presented opportunities to meet some of her cousins for the first time.
And Mary Anne added that she was pleased by the number of people who were in attendance at the event.
“The turnout was more than we expected,” Mary Anne said. “We had thought that we might reach 100. So, we were well over 100. I think I counted about 110 people. This is fantastic. It turned out much better than we anticipated, and we’re hoping to get more (family) stories. There was an interview questionnaire that went out to everyone as they signed in, so I’m hoping that they’ll turn that back in and we’ll get other stories.”
During the gathering, three of the most senior attendees of the event shared their memories with The Pocket News.
Two of these people were Irene Williams and Dolores Tippett, whose parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Mary was one of the aforementioned 15 children of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
Irene Williams, right, and Dolores Tippett were among the more senior attendees of the reunion. Their parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Irene Williams, right, and Dolores Tippett were among the more senior attendees of the reunion. Their parents were Daniel and Mary (Nevis) Rose. Photo by Lance Armstrong

The Nevis family’s history in the Pocket dates back to 1868, when Manuel’s parents, Joseph and Mary Silva (later Nevis), moved to the area.
During their interviews with this paper, Irene and Doris spoke about various events in their lives.
Irene, who was the most senior family member at the event, was born on Jan. 29, 1922 and married George Williams on Dec. 28, 1940.
In recalling her youth, Irene said that she was once crowned the Riverside Portuguese Holy Ghost Festa queen.
“We had a big chamarrita – a big dance,” Irene said. “So, we danced all night and talked all day. And then we danced on Saturday. On Sunday, we went to church and showed my outfit. I had a long, white dress, so they wanted to see the queen’s dress.”
After being asked how she felt to have been honored as the queen, “Irene said, ‘Oh, I thought I was smart.”
Irene added, “My uncle (Frank Rose) was one of the big shots of the town and he chose me to be the queen. So, that’s how I got to be elected to be queen.”
And when asked if she was the prettiest gal in town, Irene responded, “Sure, why not?”
Dolores, 82, recalled that both her father and mother worked until her father became ill.
“They both worked and then my dad got sick and didn’t work anymore, so my mother was the bread winner,” Dolores said. “When I turned 17, after I graduated from Sacramento High School, I went to work with my mother. We worked at Sutter Laundry (at 1714 28th St.). We worked at another laundry. And then I got a job at Capital National Bank at 7th and J (streets), and then it was Crocker-Anglo (National Bank) and then Wells Fargo bought it. After that, I quit working (for) eight years and I had two children, one deceased.”
Dolores added that her work experience began much earlier than she had previously mentioned.
“As soon as I walked, I think I was out in the field picking almonds,” she said.
In further speaking about her father, Dolores said, “Every day of the week, he went to the Colonial (Theater at 3522 Stockton Blvd.). He would go every day and see the same movies, two and three or four times, and he would sit there all the time. I lived on 10th Avenue, 14th Avenue, 16th Avenue and Stockton Boulevard. We moved. We never stayed in one spot.”
And after being asked to speak about her own entertainment activities around that time, Dolores said, “I used to go catch the bus with the Red Cross and go to the different Air Force bases and dance. I did that for about eight years and then I got married (to Kenwood Tippett, who was the nephew of Carmichael Fire Chief Dan Donovan) and I lived in Carmichael. I’ve been there (for) 55 years.”
In describing a more local story about herself and Irene, Dolores said, “We didn’t know how to swim, so (her uncle Clarence Nevis) threw us in the Sacramento River (near today’s Garcia Bend Park), and to this day, she doesn’t swim and I don’t swim. It scared us. I was crying and crying and my uncle said, ‘What are you crying for?’ And I said, ‘You threw me in the river.’ He said, ‘I wanted you to swim.’ And I said, ‘That’s no way to teach anybody to swim.’ I was about 6.”
Edward Mauricio, who turned 91 on Oct. 2, was also among the more senior family members at the reunion.
A sign directs guests to the Nevis family reunion. Photo by Lance Armstrong

A sign directs guests to the Nevis family reunion. Photo by Lance Armstrong

Edward’s father was Manuel Mauricio and his mother was Carrie (Nevis) Mauricio, who was a daughter of Manuel and Mary Nevis.
During his interview for this article, Edward said, “I (grew up about a half-mile from the Pocket) in the (Riverside) area right next to the river, until I was 5 years old,” Edward said. “My father passed and then my mother got rid of the ranch and we lived in the house across the street. The ranch was 33 acres, and was (on Riverside Road), about a mile south of William Land Park. (The ranch) had wheat, some grapes, alfalfa, some orchards, peaches. That’s all I can remember.”
Edward said that following his father’s death, his uncle, Manuel Cabral, operated the ranch for about one or two years.
A Japanese man named Shig Masuhara, and his family, operated the ranch up until World War II and then returned to run the ranch again, since the Machado family had ranched the property for them during their internment.
Edward said that during the summers of his high school years, he worked on a hay press to earn money, and that his first car was a 1926 Model T.
“I had promised the gentleman that I bought (the car) from that I would take good care of it,” recalled Edward, who had a sister named Isabel Matranga. “I said, Yes, I will.’ And the first thing I did was take the fenders off, cut the top off and then we would go out there on 24th Street and Fruitridge (Road) and race around the open field there.”
Although no plans for another reunion have been set, there are nonetheless family members who would like to see more reunions for their family in the future.
One such family member is 19-year-old Eric Espinosa, who said, “As someone else was saying, when older generations of the cousins were growing up, they all knew each other, because they were neighbors who lived next to each other. So, like my generation, and my siblings and such, we don’t like really know all of our cousins, and even like our extended cousins. So, it’s really nice to get to come together and meet all of these people that we’re actually related to. And so then, the reason I want to see this continue is because it’s only going to get bigger.”

Lance@valcomnews.com

Great steamer race of 1938 drew thousands of spectators

The steamers Delta Queen and Port of Stockton participated in a much anticipated race along the Sacramento River on June 26, 1938. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

The steamers Delta Queen and Port of Stockton participated in a much anticipated race along the Sacramento River on June 26, 1938. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Editor’s Note: This is part 15 in a series about the history of the Sacramento River.

This summer marks the 75th anniversary of one of the largest attended events in Sacramento history – a grand race between the steamboats Delta Queen, representing the capital city, and Port of Stockton, which plied the waters for the city of which it was named.
On June 26, 1938, these majestic paddlewheelers participated in the competition that was held as a result of a challenge made by city officials of Stockton.
The challenge was Stockton’s response to Sacramento Mayor Tom Monk’s statement that capital city boats could beat any nearby riverboat.
A coin flip, which was won by Sacramento, determined whether the race would be held on the Sacramento River or the San Joaquin River.
Both of Sacramento’s major dailies announced the event a day prior to the race, which would be a revival of the early day steamboat races on the same river.
The Sacramento Bee, in its edition for that day, noted that the race would “bring to a climax the rivalry between the two inland ports of Sacramento and Stockton.”
Included on another page of the same edition was a photograph of two local, young beauties, Margaret Piccardo and Justine McDougal, who were shown perched on the railing of the Delta Queen.
A caption noted that the women would be “cheering for the Delta Queen in the Sacramento vs. Stockton race tomorrow on the Sacramento River.”
On the day of the race, about 10,000 people stood on the then silver-colored, less than 3-year-old Tower Bridge to get a glimpse of the boats.
Thousands of other spectators lined the banks of the river to view the happenings.
At the helm of the Delta Queen was Capt. William L. Cooley and piloting the Port of Stockton, which was originally known as the Capital City, was Capt. George H. Malone.
Those who desired a more intimate view of the race paid 50 cents each to be a passenger aboard the Delta Queen. The Sacramento Union reported that 9,000 people paid the fare to ride on the boat.
Also riding on the Queen on that special day were Monk and other city officials, as well as county officials.
After departing from The River Lines dock area, just south of the Tower Bridge, the boats traveled to the race’s starting point at the foot of Y Street – now Broadway.
The race began with the loud sound of a gunshot and the boats then proceeded toward the first turn in the river.
At that point, the Port of Stockton pulled aside and allowed the Queen to pass her and take the lead. “Ladies first!” The Union would later exclaim.
The paper also noted, “Probably any good racehorse can be trained to wait for a slower opponent.”
Due to sandbars and turns in the river, the boats were unable to pass one another until they approached the Freeport Bridge.
It was then that the Port of Stockton edged past the Queen en route to a portion of the river that was described in The Union as being “well beyond Clarksburg.”
Despite being intended to settle the question as to which boat was faster, the race instead ended with much controversy.
Initially the race was determined to be a tie, but it was later announced that the Port of Stockton won by nine seconds.
In the following day’s edition of The Union, writer Lindsay Arthur wrote: “We doubt if the timekeepers even had a watch, but they finally got together and announced that the Stockton boat had won the 14-mile race by nine seconds.”
The Bee, in its coverage of the event, reported that the Delta Queen led “most of the way, but lost the race on the Sacramento River yesterday.”
Despite the victory for Stockton, many Sacramentans, including City Manager James Dean, felt that the Stockton boat had a significant advantage against the Sacramento boat, since the Queen carried hundreds of people and few people rode on the Port of Stockton during the race due to its no passenger license.
Furthermore, many of the people adding weight to the Delta Queen and apparently slowing its progress were visitors from Stockton.
Then there was the aforementioned portion of the race when the Port of Stockton allowed the Delta Queen to pass it, thus aiding to the race’s close finish.
Although it is only speculation, this act may have been completed for the benefit of staging a more competitive event for listeners of a live radio broadcast of the race and for audiences of later shown film coverage of the event.
Cameramen from six newsreel companies had cameras mounted on the Port of Stockton and another camera filmed the race from an automobile on a river road.
Arthur described the race as a “great ride, but pretty much of a lemon for competition.”
Additionally, Arthur noted that although the Port of Stockton, which was built 17 years before the Queen was constructed, could be considered an “old hulk,” she retained an important part of her assets.
“She still has speed and that’s what it takes to win a race,” Arthur wrote.
But with no definitive conclusion as to what city was truly the victor, Monk challenged Stockton to another race.
The challenge was accepted and it was eventually determined that the race would be held on April 22, 1939.
However, the event would not be held as a true rematch of the 1938 race, as the race would feature the Delta Queen, representing Sacramento, and the Delta King as Stockton’s representative.
Additionally, the course of the race was changed to begin at the Port of Stockton and end at Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay.
An article about the race on the following day’s front page of The Union carried the headline, “King beats Queen by 150 yards in revival of river racing.”
Under the command of Cooley, the Queen left the Tower Bridge at 8:25 a.m. and later met with the King, which was under the direction of Cpt. William J. Atthowe.
During the race, which was broadcast from the deck of the Queen by radio station KFBK, the King and Queen traded places in the lead several times, and the race remained close until the King built a substantial lead during the last 15 miles of the race.

Ravenous Café: A neighborhood gourmet restaurant

Ravenous Café owner Wade Sawaya fondly remembers the wonderful dishes his mother made for her family and the love and care she added to make each meal special.
Born in the Azores Islands in Portugal, Sawaya had his first experience in the restaurant business washing dishes at the air base where his father worked as a civilian.
“When I decided to join the Air Force years later, I still had a part-time job waiting tables,” Sawaya says. “I decided to keep on that path.”
Sawaya has been in the restaurant business for over 20 years and is a certified Sommelier. Sawaya worked for the world renowned Broadmoor Hotel and many other fine establishments before buying his own restaurant. He believes what is most important is making sure the diners have a good time. Sawaya is completely dedicated to his business and doesn’t mind working 24/7.
Ravenous chef, Roberto Lainez has been preparing appetizing dishes for close to seven years and Sawaya says he is incredible.
“I can pretty much do what I want here, making my own twist on the food,” Lainez said. “If someone comes into the restaurant and wants something a little different than what is on the menu, I try to remain open to their ideas.”
Lainez is from New York and started his career there. He said he has always enjoyed trying new restaurants to see what other chefs are making and still enjoys going to new places.
Sawaya moved to Sacramento from Boulder Colorado after he bought Ravenous in August 2011. Sawaya likes the fact that Sacramento is in the heart of good wine. He said the Pocket is a great neighborhood and the people are friendly.
“This is your restaurant,” Sawaya says. “It’s Pocket’s fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere and people don’t have to drive too far.”
A specialty offered by Ravenous is the endless mimosas for $10 when ordering an entrée for Sunday brunch. The signature dish at Ravenous is the risotto. There is a different risotto every day in addition to the fish of the day. Arctic Char and Barramundi are a couple of the chef’s favorites. There is a European influence in most of the dishes prepared. Ravenous changes their menu each season to provide the freshest ingredients in their food.
“I love it!” says Karen Waring, a Pocket resident for 22 years. “This place stands up to any restaurant downtown.”
Waring said it’s nice to have a restaurant so close that serves gourmet food. There’s a good wine selection and Waring said it’s also a nice place to just order appetizers and wine with friends.
Ravenous believes in supporting small businesses and buys everything locally. As part of their wine selection, they carry Scribner Bend wines, a local winery from Clarksburg, Bella Bru bakery breads, produce from Produce Express, which are all the local farms with an 80-mile radius and their meats from Preferred Meats out of Oakland.
A native of Sacramento, Skip Lee provides the art on the walls at the restaurant. The art adds warmth.  Sawaya wants people to feel cozy, like they are at home.
“I feel like I’m entertaining folks every night in my dining room,” Sawaya says. “Great music, great food and great wine.”
“Over the years I have learned the importance of beginning with the freshest ingredients, preparing them with care, and serving them with love so that people do not just have a good time at a restaurant, but they felt like they were treated like family.”
Sawaya highly recommend reservations.
Ravenous Café is located at Pocket Road and Greenhaven Drive.
The hours are as follows: Thursday through Sunday dinner 5-9 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 pm., Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday dinner (no lunch) 5 to 9 p.m. (Endless mimosas for $10 with purchase of entrée).
Ravenous is closed Mondays. The restaurant will serve a five-course prefix menu on New Year’s Eve for $75 per person. Reservations are required. Visit  http://www.ravenouscafe.com/ or call 399-9309 for details.

Silva family history in the Pocket began more than a century ago

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series regarding the history of the Antone “Tony” Luiz Silva and Joao “John” Luiz Silva families and their descendents.

Among the many early Portuguese families of the Pocket area were the Antone “Tony” Luiz Silva and Joao “John” Luiz Silva families.

Both Tony and John, who were brothers, immigrated to the United States from Topo, Sao Jorge Island in the Azores Islands of Portugal. The brothers’ original surname was Avila, but they acquired the surname, Silva, after arriving in the U.S.

Tony was the first to arrive
The first of these immigrants was Tony, who arrived in America at the age of 17, and joined his brother, Joseph, who was herding sheep in Inyo County, around Lone Pine and Bishop.

In that county, Tony worked for two separate wages. One of these wages was $1 per day and for another employer, he was paid with food. However, Tony was not content working for food and after three days, using his broken English, he asked to be paid $3. The employer responded by giving Tony three kicks in his rear and ordering him off his property.

After leaving Inyo County, Tony, who was known to sign his name, “A.L. Silva,” because of his illiteracy in English, went to Sacramento County and became employed at the Elk Grove Winery in Elk Grove.

He then went to the Grant area in today’s Carmichael area and worked on a hay bailing press and farmed hay and grain.

Tony and Mary meet
While in the Grant area, Tony met his future wife, Maria “Mary” Nevis, who was born in the Azorean island of Terceira on Aug. 5, 1881. Mary had then-recently immigrated to the Pocket with her cousin, Vera Bettencourt, and lived with one of the two Costa families of that area.

Tony and Mary were married – most likely at the St. Joseph Church in Freeport/today’s Clarksburg – in April 1899.

In about 1902, Tony and Mary moved to the Freeport area, where Tony farmed and had a small dairy, adjacent to where John also farmed and operated a dairy.

Together Tony and Mary had seven children, Mary, Joseph L., Olive, Rose, Hazel, Anthony and the first-born Rose, who died in infancy. As a father, Tony acquired the nickname, “Lavafraldas,” which indicated the “washing of diapers.”

One day, one of Tony’s friends was driving by his home and observed Tony hanging up his children’s diapers on the outside line next to his house. The friend rolled down the window of his vehicle and shouted, ‘Oh, Antone Lavafraldas.’ This name became Tony’s nickname and remained with him for the rest of his life.

Tony and Mary settle down in Pocket
Sometime after the 1904 Edwards Break, which flooded the Sacramento side of the Sacramento River, mostly south of Sutterville Road, Tony purchased 102 acres of swamp land in the Pocket.

Before Tony could even begin to farm this land, the property had to be drained of its river water seepage and cleared of tules and brush.

It was also on this property that, in 1909, Tony had a 10-room Victorian constructed for him by Manuel Valine, a contractor who was known as “Calisto.” As a protection against flooding, Calisto built the home on a knoll.

In order to continue his work as a dairyman, Tony established a dairy on his Pocket property. The property also included a large orchard and a family vegetable plot.

In about the early 1920s, Japanese families began residing in the Pocket area and, in many cases, leased land from Portuguese farmers. It was during this early period that Tony leased his Pocket property to Saichi Hironaka, who was an American citizen. Hironaka then subleased the property in three parts to the Tanaka, Ishimoto and Shirai families.

In 1934, Tony acquired an additional 100 acres from Joe Rico.

Tony passed away on Jan. 30, 1945 and his entire property remained with his family in the ownership of his widow.

What became of the property
From the early 1960s through the mid-1980s, Tony’s former property was sold at different times in individual sections for the residential redevelopment of the Pocket.

Twelve acres of Tony’s former Pocket property was donated in 1960 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for the construction of a new church and parochial school. These 12 acres were exchanged for a 5-acre site on Florin Road, where the church was built and named St. Anthony Church in memory of Tony.

John immigrates to America
Tony’s previously mentioned brother, John, who was born on Jan. 10, 1879, immigrated to America in 1896. He arrived in New Bedford, Mass., where two of his sisters resided and then lived with them there for some time before joining Tony in California.

John was later hired to work at the Sacramento Brick Co. on Riverside Road (now Riverside Boulevard). He maintained this employment for several years.

On Dec. 17, 1904, John married a 20-year-old, Faial, Azores Islands-born woman named Inacia “Nancy” Silva at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. For their honeymoon, the couple traveled on a riverboat to San Francisco.

After returning to the Sacramento area, John and Nancy settled on rented property that was owned by the Glide family on Babel Slough in Yolo County. On this property, John operated a dairy with his brother, Tony.

The brothers grew alfalfa for feeding their cows and potato and beans to feed their families, which included John and Inacia’s eight children who were born on this property. Altogether, John and Inacia’s family included nine children: Mary, John L., Jr., Madeline, Tony, Anna, Joaquim (“King”), Manuel, Dolores and Emily.

In 1916, John purchased about 100 acres in the Pocket area from Frank Rico. Included with this purchase were two houses, three barns and a large orchard, which was located between the houses. Orange trees were among the trees of this orchard.

Also within John’s Pocket property were various crops, including alfalfa, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, sugar beets, spinach and milo.

John farmed his property into the 1950s, at which time he retired and his sons continued the operation of the farm.

Just prior to John’s death on July 7, 1970, part of his acreage was sold to developers.
Nancy died on Dec. 3, 1976, and the remaining part of the property was sold by her family in 1979.

Pocket area family’s history dates back to 1865

Among the early day families of the Pocket area was the Rodgers – later Rogers – family, whose history in the area dates back to 1865.

It was during that year that Albert, Joseph and John Mendes immigrated to the United States from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal and made their way to the Pocket area.

Names changed

THE HISTORICAL RODGERS HOUSE in the Pocket area was constructed for Albert and Rose Rodgers in about the late 1870s. The section of the house on the left side of the photograph was added onto the original portion of the house in about the early 1900s. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

THE HISTORICAL RODGERS HOUSE in the Pocket area was constructed for Albert and Rose Rodgers in about the late 1870s. The section of the house on the left side of the photograph was added onto the original portion of the house in about the early 1900s. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Upon their arrival in America, two of these brothers had their surnames changed, with Albert becoming Albert Rodgers, and John becoming John Potter. Joseph, however, continued to use his birth-given last name.

After making their way to the Pocket area, the brothers began working as laborers, most likely on local ranches, with their goal to accumulate sufficient money to buy their own property.

The Albert Rodgers family

In 1880, Albert, after purchasing his own property and establishing his own ranch in the Pocket area, married 16-year-old Rose Gear, who was born in the Azorean island of Terceira.

Since Rose Gear – a name obtained from descendents of the Albert Rodgers family – is not a Portuguese name, this name was possibly derived from the Portuguese name, Rosa Agear.

Together, Albert and Rose had the following children: Emma (1883-1889), Albert, Jr. (1885-1977), Willie (1887-1898), Mary (1889-1890), Emma (1892-1920), Margaret (1893-1978) and twins Frank (1896-1980) and George (1896-1984). The couple had two Emmas, as it was a common practice to reuse the name of a child, who had died at a very young age, when the next child of the same gender was later born.

Spelling change to ‘Rogers’

Albert Rodgers, Jr. was the only member of his family to continue using the original spelling of his family’s surname. Otherwise, the spelling of this surname was eventually changed to “Rogers.”

ROGERS FAMILY GATHERING. Left to right, Mary Agnes Silva Rogers, Frank Rogers, Margaret Lee Machado, Albert Rodgers, Jr., Anna Rogers, George Rogers and Anna “Annie” Fagundes Rogers are shown in this family photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

ROGERS FAMILY GATHERING. Left to right, Mary Agnes Silva Rogers, Frank Rogers, Margaret Lee Machado, Albert Rodgers, Jr., Anna Rogers, George Rogers and Anna “Annie” Fagundes Rogers are shown in this family photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

The Rodgers children were raised on the family’s 18-acre ranch, which was located where today’s Park Rivera Way intersects with Pocket Road.

All of the children of Albert and Rose attended the original, converted barn Lower Lisbon School in the lower Pocket area.

The old school was washed away in the area’s 1904 flood and the lumber from this school was hauled by horses and wagons to the Rodgers ranch. With this wood, a shed-type building was constructed for a temporary school until the new Lower Lisbon School was built.

The Rodgers also owned an additional 11 acres on the opposite side of the then-Riverside Road.

The 1908 Sacramento County Reclamation District 673 surveyors map clearly distinguishes this parcel, which extended from the levee across the old Riverside Road to not far from today’s Florin Road.

Albert passed away when he was 74 years old in 1923 and Rose died when she 41 years old in 1905.

Ranch land divided

Following Albert’s death, seven acres of his property remained in the family, as this land was divided amongst his children.

WEDDING MEMORIES. Frank and Mary Agnes Rogers are shown in their 1917 wedding photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

WEDDING MEMORIES. Frank and Mary Agnes Rogers are shown in their 1917 wedding photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Frank had one acre, bordering Riverside Road to the west on the levee side of the property, and George built his home on the adjoining acre on the opposite side of the parcel.

Furthermore, Margaret kept four acres, which included the old home.

The other, seventh acre was located across the old Riverside Road, which was then considered a “wagon road,” and became the property of Manuel “Parola” Perry, Sr. The Perry home was situated on the opposite side of the road from the Frank Rogers parcel.

Rogers descendants

Margaret, who was married on two separate occasions, was first married to Manuel Lee and then to Tony Machado.

The children of Manuel and Margaret, in order of birth, were: Laverne, Agnes, Gertrude and Dorothy.

Margaret and her second husband, Tony, did not have any children together.

The second-born Emma of Albert and Rose married Joseph Souza, who was known by the nickname of “Joe Bonnie.”

Joe Bonnie’s ranch was located south of the town of Clarksburg, where Joe Bonnie and the second Emma resided.

In a ceremony held on Dec. 16, 1916 at St. Joseph Church in Freeport (now Clarksburg), George married Anna “Annie” Fagundes, who was born on Oct. 6, 1897.

Mildred Rogers, who was born on May 17, 1919 and died on July 30, 1941, was George and Anna’s only child.

George’s employment included fishing commercially for catfish at the old brickyard – present day Lake Greenhaven – to Clarksburg.

EXTENDED FAMILY. Joseph and Lorraine Valine are shown in this c. 1941 photograph. Lorraine was the daughter of Frank and Mary Agnes Rogers. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

EXTENDED FAMILY. Joseph and Lorraine Valine are shown in this c. 1941 photograph. Lorraine was the daughter of Frank and Mary Agnes Rogers. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Additionally, George owned a trucking business, which included three trucks that hauled produce for the Libby, McNeill & Libby cannery from 1930 to 1950.

George, who passed away on May 15, 1984, also was a Pocket/Riverside school bus driver and a driver for the American Crystal Sugar Co. in Clarksburg. He worked for American Crystal for nine seasons, upon which time he retired in 1961.

Like his brother George, Frank established his own family. He married Mary Agnes Silva (1900-1971), the daughter of Antone L. and Maria Silva of the Pocket, on Nov. 12, 1917.

This union produced two daughters, Lorraine, who married Joseph Lester Valine, and Aileen, who married Richard Cabral.

Many locals are familiar with Joseph and Lorraine Valine’s son, Roger Valine, who served as the chief executive officer of Vision Service Plan, which was recognized as the nation’s largest eye care wellness benefits provider.

Establishing his own long employment career, Frank, after marrying Mary Agnes, began a trucking business that included six trucks. These trucks were used to haul hay and produce.

Frank purchased a 43-acre ranch, adjacent to and north of the John M. “Joao Maria” Silva ranch, where he planted asparagus and later sugar beets, tomatoes and alfalfa.

Unfortunately mixed in with Frank’s many positive moments in life was his serious hunting accident near the Sacramento River .

During a July 1979 interview with two of his family members, Frank described the accident, as follows: “I rowed the boat across the river and I couldn’t get it to the right place where there was a path and the wind (pushed him farther down river than desired)…and I tied (the boat) up. And I was climbing up where it was kind of a tough place to go. And I was going up the levee and I had the barrel of the gun like this (he took the microphone and showed it pointing upward) in my hand, going up the levee. And the gun happened to slip and I went and I grabbed the gun and grabbed it at the point of the barrel. At that time, both of my feet slipped and I leaned on the gun (and when) I leaned on the gun, it went off.”

Although Frank injured his left hand, he was nonetheless able to mostly overcome this handicap and lead a relatively normal life.

FRANK ROGERS is shown at the age of 24 in this 1920 photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

FRANK ROGERS is shown at the age of 24 in this 1920 photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Frank’s 43-acre ranch was part of the historic McGee Ranch. This ranch was first sold to Anna Leonora Garcia Pimentel and then later purchased by Joe Sarmento and Frank “Capitao” (“Captain”) Perry.

Frank Rogers eventually purchased the property in an auction after the property went into foreclosure.

During the late 1960s, Frank sold his property to a real estate firm for development.

The real estate firm later sold a portion of this acreage to the city of Sacramento for the purpose of creating Garcia Bend Park and its boat launch ramp.

Early Sacramento wineries experienced many challenges

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part series regarding Manuel Silva Nevis and his wineries.

When it comes to reviewing the history of early wineries of Sacramento, it is important to recognize Manuel Silva Nevis, who was associated with three Sacramento wineries.

Nevis’ early start

THE CALIFORNIA WINERY office on 21st Street is shown during its post-Manuel Silva Nevis era in 1909. / Photo public domain, Courtesy of The Lance Armstrong Collection

THE CALIFORNIA WINERY office on 21st Street is shown during its post-Manuel Silva Nevis era in 1909. / Photo public domain, Courtesy of The Lance Armstrong Collection

As explained in part one of this series, Nevis was able to establish himself in the winemaking industry through the financial assistance of his father-in-law, Joseph S. Miller, who was reported to have been the first Portuguese person to settle in the Freeport/Clarksburg area.

With this financial backing, Nevis founded the Eagle Winery at 1519 18th St. in 1881.

Nevis’ success with the Eagle Winery led to his ownership of two other Sacramento wineries, the California and Pioneer wineries.

Although Nevis sold his remaining share in the 18th Street winery to the Azores Islands-born cousins, Manuel Joaquim Azevedo and Joaquim Leal Azevedo, on April 27, 1889, this business transfer did not mark the end of his use of the name, Eagle Winery.

A second Eagle Winery

According to a historic advertisement in The Sacramento Union, Nevis – who officially established M.S. Nevis & Co. on May 2, 1889 – was already operating a separate winery by the same name by as early as May 18, 1889.

The advertisement noted that this winery, which was located on 21st Street, between R and S streets, was “prepared to fill orders at wholesale (prices) for all kinds of California wines and brandies upon the shortest notice.”

The wording of this advertisement is of additional interest, since a special arrangement regarding wine sales had been made as part of the Azevedos’ complete acquisition of the 18th Street winery.

As part of the transaction, for the following two years, Nevis would not be permitted to sell retail wines and the Azevedos would not manufacture wines or offer wholesale wines in the city of Sacramento.

Legal battles

Unfortunately for these businessmen, their relationship suffered greatly due to legal battles between them.

The California Winery was located on 21st Street, between R and S streets. / Photo courtesy, the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

The California Winery was located on 21st Street, between R and S streets. / Photo courtesy, the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

On Oct. 10, 1889, The Union reported that in response to a suit brought on by Nevis, Superior Court Judge W. C. Van Fleet had issued a temporary order requiring the Azevedos to discontinue their use of the Eagle Winery name.

Nevis, who had completed a large addition to his 21st Street winery about a month earlier, claimed that he had legal right to the Eagle Winery trademark and sought $500 in damages.

The Azevedos, who were represented by attorneys A.L. Hart and Joseph W. Hughes, filed a cross-complaint claiming their own right to the name and demanded $5,000 in damages.

Two weeks after filing his first suit against the Azevedos, Nevis, through his attorneys, Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, began another suit, claiming that the Azevedos had violated their contract to refrain from selling wholesale wines for two years.

The legal issues between Nevis and the Azevedos were officially resolved in Superior Court by Van Fleet on March 29, 1890, as Van Fleet ruled completely in favor of the Azevedos.

In regard to the name, Eagle Winery, the judge determined that Nevis made no effort to retain the trademark at the time of the transfer and that the name would officially be considered part of the business deal.

Winery renamed

As a result of the judge’s decision, Nevis renamed his 21st Street winery, the California Winery.

The earliest reference to the California Winery name discovered during research for this article appears in an advertisement in the Nov. 29, 1890 edition of The Union.

Under an artistic drawing of the winery, the advertisement includes the words: “Finest wines and brandies for holiday trade. All orders will receive prompt attention. M.S. Nevis, proprietor.”

Despite its legal battles, Nevis’ 21st Street winery continued to prosper, as is evident through an Oct. 11, 1890 Union classified advertisement, which called for the hiring of 20 men at the winery.

Depression troubles, name changes

Nevis continued the operation of the California Winery until 1894, when the winery, due to financial struggles during a national financial depression (the Panic of 1893), became the property of the California State Bank, which was located at the northwest corner of 4th and J streets.

The winery was renamed the Calutha Winery and operated under this name for about year.

It was at this time that George Peltier, the bank’s vice president, and Fred J. Kiesel, a resident of Ogden, Utah, purchased the winery and reinstated the name, California Winery.

Pioneer Winery

Nevis’ involvement with the aforementioned Pioneer Winery at the corner of 21st and R streets began in the late 19th century and by at least 1899, he was working as the winery’s manager.

According to the 1901 city directory, Nevis had recently become the owner of the Pioneer Winery, and his son, Joseph, was working as the winery’s manager. Nevis and his wife, Emma, also had five other children, Morvin, Roy, Cecilia, Henry and Leo.

Untimely end

Manuel Silva Nevis, an immigrant from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal, was a proprietor of three early Sacramento wineries. / Photo courtesy, the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

Manuel Silva Nevis, an immigrant from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal, was a proprietor of three early Sacramento wineries. / Photo courtesy, the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

Nevis’ ownership of the Pioneer Winery ended abruptly through a fatal tragedy.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 21, 1907, one of the winery’s employees, Joseph L. Manica, who resided at 1621 R St., began to search for Nevis at the winery to receive orders regarding a new carload of grapes that was to be unloaded.

After searching for Nevis for several hours, Manica eventually discovered Nevis’ straw hat lying alongside a vat.

In worrying that Nevis might have fallen into the vat, Manica went to the bottom of the vat, where his worst fear was quickly realized.

Details regarding this incident were published in The Sacramento Bee in Manica’s own words, as follows: “(At the bottom of the vat), I found him in a sitting position and when I shook him, I knew he was dead. I am convinced that he fell into the vat accidentally while on his way to the door.”

The drowning was the second drowning by a Nevis family member in a year’s time, since Nevis’ brother, Antonio, drowned in Graham’s Pond, about three miles southeast of Elk Grove, on July 16, 1906.

Following Nevis’ death, Emma became the sole owner of the Pioneer Winery, which was then managed by Harry B. Kingsbaker.

Kingsbaker moved to San Francisco in 1908, but Emma continued the operation of the winery for another two years.

From poverty to riches: Sacramento man established historical Eagle Winery

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part history series regarding Manuel Silva Nevis and his local wineries.

Historically, one of the industries that stands out in the Sacramento area is wine manufacturing. Among the city’s wine manufacturing businesses were the Eagle, California and Pioneer wineries, which were associated with Manuel Silva Nevis.

The Eagle Winery

At the age of 33, Nevis became the first proprietor of the Eagle Winery, which opened in 1881. Nevis was an immigrant from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal. He lived in the town of Freeport in the historic postal area of today’s Clarksburg in Yolo County. He resided at 1830 21st St. during the latter part of his life.

MANUEL SILVA NEVIS, an immigrant from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal, was a proprietor of early day Sacramento wineries, including the Eagle Winery, which he founded in 1881. / Photo courtesy, Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

MANUEL SILVA NEVIS, an immigrant from the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal, was a proprietor of early day Sacramento wineries, including the Eagle Winery, which he founded in 1881. / Photo courtesy, Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

The Eagle Winery was established on the south half of the block bounded by 18th, 19th, O and P streets.

According to the Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society, many Portuguese people who were residing in the Pocket area during this era made their own wine for general consumption.

Festa wine demands

But when it came to needing large lots of wine for the Holy Ghost Festas at the original St. Joseph Church on the Freeport/Clarksburg side of the river, they relied on wine from Sacramento – including wine produced at the Eagle Winery.

The main structure of the winery was a two-story, 66-foot by 120-foot, brick building with a corrugated iron roof and a basement. It was built by Nova Scotia native Nicholas Harvie, a notable local carpenter and contractor, at a cost of $9,000.

A Harvie-built sherry room with brick floors, concrete ceilings and walls and steam pipes throughout was located to the south of the main building.

Enter the father-in-law

Nevis’ father-in-law, Joseph S. Miller financed the construction of the winery. Miller was reputed to be the first Portuguese person to settle in the Freeport/Clarksburg area.

Miller was born Joseph Souza Nevis in São Jorge in the Azores Islands. He acquired the surname, Mello, when he was bonded to a John or Antonio Mello at the age of 13. Later, he changed it to Miller.

Like many immigrants in 1849, Miller heard news about the California Gold Rush, purchased mining equipment and headed out in search of riches.

This endeavor proved to be unsuccessful, but his early time in California led to other Portuguese, including members of his family, joining him in the Golden State. Among these Portuguese people were some of the earliest residents of the Pocket area.

Miller was a prominent landowner in the Freeport area and was a member of the Sacramento Society of California Pioneers – those who arrived in California prior to 1850. The society also included James W. Marshall, who is recognized for discovering the gold that led to the great California Gold Rush, James McClatchy, the second editor of The Sacramento Bee, and James Lansing, a former Sacramento chief of police, sheriff and county assessor.

MANUEL SILVA NEVIS resided in this 21st Street, Queen Anne-style house during the latter part of his life. The house, which was built in 1898, is presently home to the H.R. Edgar Institute. / Photo courtesy, Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

MANUEL SILVA NEVIS resided in this 21st Street, Queen Anne-style house during the latter part of his life. The house, which was built in 1898, is presently home to the H.R. Edgar Institute. / Photo courtesy, Portuguese Historical and Cultural Society

Miller married an Italian immigrant, Josephine Therese Paravagna, who gave birth to Manuel Silva Nevis’ wife, Emma Nevis, on Aug. 3, 1865.

Desirable wine, brandy

During Nevis’ second year of operating the Eagle Winery, he placed an advertisement in The Sacramento Union, which noted that his winery had acquired “a very enviable reputation” and that his product was increasingly in demand.

The advertisement also described the winery as having various brands of wine and grape brandy that were offered at prices that would “defy competition.” Furthermore, the winery offered free deliveries to customers in any part of the city.

Failed expansion

The success of the Eagle Winery, which used wine grapes from Sacramento, Yolo and El Dorado counties, led to the June 5, 1884 establishment of a branch of the business at 420 J St.

An advertisement published in The Union regarding the opening of the branch noted that “Mr. Nevis’ knowledge and experience in the making of wine, in both this and other countries, places him in possession of advantages enjoyed by but few men engaged in the wine industries of California.”

To the disappointment of Nevis, the branch closed about five weeks later, because he felt a need to devote his working time exclusively to his main winery site.

State Fair recognition

The following year, the winery, which at the time offered port, sherry, white wine, Riesling, claret, zinfandel, Angelica and grape brandy, achieved additional notoriety when it was awarded a State Fair gold medal for “Best Display of Wines.”

Enter the cousins

Nevis remained the sole owner of the business until 1888, at which time he sold a two-thirds interest in the winery to his cousins, Manuel Joaquim Azevedo and Joaquim Leal Azevedo, who were immigrants from the Azores island of Faial.

Both Azevedo cousins arrived in the United States in the 1850s.

A PIECE OF POCKET AREA HERITAGE. The Manuel Silva Nevis house at 1822 21st St. is shown in this recent photograph. The house, which formerly had the address of 1830 21st Street, was relocated a short distance from the corner of 21st and R streets in 1907. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

A PIECE OF POCKET AREA HERITAGE. The Manuel Silva Nevis house at 1822 21st St. is shown in this recent photograph. The house, which formerly had the address of 1830 21st Street, was relocated a short distance from the corner of 21st and R streets in 1907. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Manuel, after sailing as part of a whaling fleet out of Boston for two years, mined for gold for five years in Butte County. Through his success in mining, he was able to purchase property in Freeport – where he would eventually farm for 12 years.

Joaquim arrived in the Sacramento area in 1852. He also farmed in Freeport.

The Azevedos returned to Portugal, but made their way back to America to engage in the wine making business in the Sacramento area.

Azevedo-owned

Shortly after becoming the majority owners of the Eagle Winery, the Azevedos purchased Nevis’ one-third share of the business in 1889. At that time, about 20 different kinds of wines were manufactured at the winery.

Self-made success

According to the Aug. 20, 1888 edition of The Union, Manuel Silva Nevis, in the time since he established the Eagle Winery “without a cent in his pocket,” earned $200,000 through the winery and increased his business’s annual wine production from 35,000 gallons in its first year to 150,000 gallons in 1887.

Sept. 11-themed, 25-year time capsule placed at St. Joseph Church

A very special event was held last Sunday, Nov. 6 in the Sacramento Delta town of Clarksburg at St. Joseph Church – a place of worship both historically and presently connected with the Pocket area – as members of the parish gathered to participate in a Sept. 11-themed, 25-year time capsule ceremony.

CLOSURE…FOR NOW. As part of the ceremony, the covering of the time capsule was placed over the top of the capsule to be sealed the following day. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

CLOSURE…FOR NOW. As part of the ceremony, the covering of the time capsule was placed over the top of the capsule to be sealed the following day. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Following the 9:30 a.m. Mass, members of the church gathered at the northeast corner of the church, where Father Dan Madigan conducted the ceremony.

The brick time capsule will be opened during another ceremony in 2036. Two large, blue plastic storage containers filled with items of remembrances and historical records pertaining to Sept. 11, 2001 and the church were placed inside the capsule, as well as other items.

Additionally, parishioners donated personal items associated with their own connections to the church.

Items placed in the time capsule included: a firefighter’s rosary, a book about Sept. 11, a newspaper announcing the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, a Pentagon/Sept. 11 memorabilia album donated by the Scott family of the Pocket area, copies of Madigan’s published books, photographs and one of the notable jackets of former St. Joseph parishioner Joe Borges (the founder of Clarksburg’s airport), newspaper clippings and photographs of early St. Joseph social clubs, the then-latest edition of The Sacramento Bee and the May 19, 2011 edition of The Pocket News, which includes an article with details about the Soto Ferry that transported parishioners to and from the church’s side of the river and the Pocket area.

As part of the ceremony, the cover of the time capsule was placed over the capsule to be sealed the following day.

Speaking at the event were Madigan, Jacqueline “Jackie” Pometta and Deacon Jim Healy.

The speeches were devoted in remembrance of the people who were directly affected by the Sept. 11 tragedies.

ST. JOSEPH PARISH has a rich connection with the Pocket area, as Pocket area residents have attended services and other activities of the church for more than a century. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

ST. JOSEPH PARISH has a rich connection with the Pocket area, as Pocket area residents have attended services and other activities of the church for more than a century. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

A pre-written Sept. 11 prayer was simultaneously read aloud by the group. The prayer included the words: “Almighty and ever-loving God, we remember Sep. 11, 2001, and pray for all those who were affected by the terrible events of that day. We remember, with love and respect, all of those who went tragically to their deaths. We remember those who still suffer from their injuries of that day 10 years ago and pray for their recovery. We remember the still grieving families and friends and all who lost loved ones.”

In closing the ceremony, Jennifer Kirtlan-Tickler led attendees of the event in the singing of “America the Beautiful.”

Following the service, Pometta, who served as the chairman of the ceremony, explained the story behind how she came to organize the event.

“What happened is: we were having our first annual barbecue and it just happened to fall on 9/11,” said Pometta, whose son-in-law, Air Force Sergeant Jason Dudley, survived an air attack over Iraq about eight years ago. “So, we thought, ‘Let’s make this really special for our first barbecue (and) we’ll do a time capsule.’ It started out as just doing items for 9/11 and then we decided that it was very important to put articles in (the time capsule) about the church.”

As part of the preparation for filling the time capsule, Pometta distributed a questionnaire for all the parishioners to describe where they were 10 years ago, when the events of Sept. 11 occurred, what memories they have of this infamous time in history and what the parish means to them.

Pometta said that she gained a greater understanding of the importance of the time capsule after two particular youth filled out the questionnaire.

DEDICATION DAY. The current St. Joseph Church is shown on its dedication day in 1924. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

DEDICATION DAY. The current St. Joseph Church is shown on its dedication day in 1924. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

“These (youth) were six years old (on Sept. 11, 2001) and they could remember what (9/11) was about and that’s when I started thinking, ‘This is very important for our children to know about this time capsule, so they know what they’re going to see,’” Pometta said.

Madigan, 74, said that he believes that the eventual opening of the time capsule should be a great experience for those who attend the 2036 ceremony.

“I think (placing a time capsule at the church) was a great idea,” Madigan said. “You can imagine the excitement here (in 25 years) and going in there and getting all kinds of literature and books, wine and all kinds of things. I would imagine that it would be a lovely, lovely day with great excitement to see the newspapers and everything. Hopefully they will be opening this (time capsule in 25 years) and I hope on that day they will invite me and that I will be here to say a few words.”

St. Joseph Church’s rich Pocket area connection

As previously mentioned, the Pocket area has a rich connection with St. Joseph Church, as the history of this church dates back to October 1892, when John Soto donated the Yolo County land for the sole purpose of building a Catholic church for the Portuguese farming community.

St. Joseph Church was consecrated in September 1893 and remained the area’s only Catholic church until the dedication of the Pocket area’s Igreja de Santa Maria – later known as St. Maria Church – on May 31, 1914.

Dredgers were later used to build up the river levees and because the old church was on the edge of the area’s levee, during winter months, when the river ran high, the water lapsed into the front doors of the church.

THE ORIGINAL St. Joseph Parish was consecrated in September 1893. The church building was once physically connected to the church’s rectory, which presently sits just north of the present-day St. Joseph church building. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

THE ORIGINAL St. Joseph Parish was consecrated in September 1893. The church building was once physically connected to the church’s rectory, which presently sits just north of the present-day St. Joseph church building. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

When the levee was raised, the original church had to be demolished and a new church was built further down from the levee on flat ground.

Father Joseph Cunha, who served as St. Joseph’s pastor from 1922 to 1932, initiated and led the drive to raise funds for the construction of the new church.

The new church, which was built on land owned by W.W. Dwyer, Ethel Clare Dwyer and Mary E. Devlin with bricks manufactured from the brickyard that was located in the Pocket area, was built with its doors facing east.

Despite the loss of the original church, a portion of the old church remains in use today, as lumber from the old church was used in the construction of the new church.

Furthermore, the original church’s rectory was saved. The walkway connecting the old church with the rectory was removed and the rectory was remodeled and moved immediately north of the new church.

On May 11, 1924, Father Guilhermes Gloria, who was an active priest in the Northern California Portuguese community, dedicated the new church, which is located immediately south of the original church, adjacent to the old Soto property.

Cunha is quite notable in St. Joseph’s history as being the last pastor to say Mass at the original church and first pastor to say Mass at the then-new, now current church.

Today, because of the development of the Pocket area, there are no Portuguese ranches. Many Catholics of this area rely on St. Joseph Church for non-Portuguese-speaking Catholic services.

FILLED WITH MEMORIES. A youth places a plastic storage container filled with items of remembrances inside a time capsule at St. Joseph Church. The capsule is scheduled to be opened in 25 years. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

FILLED WITH MEMORIES. A youth places a plastic storage container filled with items of remembrances inside a time capsule at St. Joseph Church. The capsule is scheduled to be opened in 25 years. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Although the Pocket and Clarksburg communities continue to have members of some of the original Portuguese immigrant farming families, these locals are now in the minority of the congregation of the present St. Joseph parish.

But the fact remains that St. Joseph Church has a more than century long connection to the Pocket area.

THE COVER of the time capsule is carried to the time capsule during last Sunday’s ceremony. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

THE COVER of the time capsule is carried to the time capsule during last Sunday’s ceremony. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Sacramento’s Victor Silva was a notable ship builder

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two-part series regarding Victor Silva, a former resident of the Riverside-Pocket area.

In the early years of the Riverside-Pocket area, the Sacramento River was a very important part of the livelihood and existence of local residents.

Victor Dias Silva, shown when he was about 20 years old, was a descendant of the original shipwrights of the Azores Islands of Portugal. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Victor Dias Silva, shown when he was about 20 years old, was a descendant of the original shipwrights of the Azores Islands of Portugal. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Since most of the people of the area were farmers, they depended on the seasons for the growing of their crops.

During the non-farming times of the year, many turned to fishing for their income.

Local farmers fished in the part of the river from the Riverside-Pocket area to Rio Vista.

With such activity, there was a need in the Riverside-Pocket area for a person to build and repair their small fishing boats, which were longer than typical rowboats, since they were intended to carry as many as three men and hold large fishing nets and the catch.

This need was eventually filled by Vitorino “Victor” Dias Silva, who arrived in Sacramento at the age of 17 in August of 1915.

Victor, who was born in Pico island in the Azores Islands of Portugal on May 18, 1898, made the trip to America aboard a steamship with his cousins Manuel Nunes – later of Nunes Bros. boat builders, which was located at the foot of Y Street/present day Broadway – and Elvira Silveira, who later married Manuel Fonts, Jr. of the Clarksburg area. They arrived at Ellis Island on Aug. 2, 1915.

During his voyage, Victor washed dishes aboard the ship to pay for about a third of his passage.

Victor, whose parents were Manuel Vitorino Silveira (later Silva) and Ana Etelvina Teixeira Silveira (later Silva), was part of a family of ship builders, who began with Victor’s mother’s grandfather, who was the founder of the ship building industry in the Azores.

In later generations, male descendents of Victor’s great-grandfather in the Azores and others who came to America followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps in the designing and building of ships.

After arriving in the Arizona area of the capital city in the area of today’s Southside Park, Victor resided with his older brother, Alfred Dias Silva, who had immigrated to America several years earlier.

Minnie (Perry) Corey stands alongside Victor Dias Silva in this c. 1917 photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Minnie (Perry) Corey stands alongside Victor Dias Silva in this c. 1917 photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Victor’s first job in Sacramento was to work as a “deck boy” on the Capital City, which was one of the two passenger boats that preceded the famous twin river liners, the Delta King and the Delta Queen.

The docking area for the Capital City and its companion, Fort Sutter, and later the Delta King and Delta Queen was located just south of the old M Street on the Sacramento side of the river.

Victor’s experience as a “deck boy” aboard the Capital City began his career of working on paddlewheelers and other boats of the Sacramento River Lines.

In September 1921, John Maria Silva, Victor’s brother, came to America at the age of 20 and then settled in Sacramento to be close to members of his family and work with his brother, Victor.

After arriving in California, John’s first job was working on tugboats and barges along the Sacramento River.

John’s desire to work with Victor became a reality in the early 1920s, when the two brothers worked assembling the Delta King and Delta Queen at the Port of Stockton. Both vessels were built with ironwood decks from Spain, shafts and cranks from Germany and hulls from Scotland.

In 1924, John became employed with the River Lines (California Transportation Co.), which had already employed his brother.

Working side by side, Victor and John repaired riverboats and passenger ships such as the Capital City, Fort Sutter, the Delta King and the Delta Queen. The brothers also constructed new tugboats, barges and riverboats.

This typical fishing boat, shown in this c. 1900 photograph taken in Freeport, had a three-men capacity. Victor Dias Silva would repair and possibly construct this style of boat during his time as a Riverside-Pocket area resident. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

This typical fishing boat, shown in this c. 1900 photograph taken in Freeport, had a three-men capacity. Victor Dias Silva would repair and possibly construct this style of boat during his time as a Riverside-Pocket area resident. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

It was also during this era and later that movies were being filmed along the river. And on one occasion, John worked as an extra on the 1936 film, “Showboat,” as he wore a top hat, long, frock coat and a fabric bow and portrayed an early day passenger in a Mississippi River boat scene.

The brothers were working together once again in 1937, as they were employed in the construction of Capt. E.A. Paulson’s Superior Boat Livery on the west bank of the Sacramento River, just north of the then-two-year-old Tower Bridge. This construction was performed by the brothers after work and on weekends on River Lines’ ways, where boats were also pulled ashore for repairs.

Prior to being employed with his brother and after his time working aboard the Capital City, Victor also worked on the clamshell (bucket) dredger, Argyle, which helped build up the Sacramento River levees to their current heights from Sutter Bypass in Sutter County to Rio Vista in Solano County.

Originally working for the Argyle Dredging Co. as a maintenance and repair laborer, Victor quickly became a “leverman,” which was the most important job – a position involving the operation of the boom and clamshell.

While Victor was working on the Argyle, he met his then-future wife, Maria Gloria “Mamie” Machado, who was introduced to him by the Argyle’s cook at the time, Minnie Perry (later Minnie Corey). Perry was acting upon Victor’s request to find a nice girl to marry.

Victor and Mamie were married at the St. Elizabeth’s Portuguese National Church at the northeast corner of 12th and S streets in January 1923.

A commercial fisherman shows fish that he caught in the Freeport area in about the late 1920s. Victor Dias often repaired such boats during this era. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

A commercial fisherman shows fish that he caught in the Freeport area in about the late 1920s. Victor Dias often repaired such boats during this era. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

For a short time after his marriage, Victor would commute to the dredger in his 1922 Model T truck and return home on the weekends.

An activity of some of the Argyle’s Portuguese workers was to occasionally entertain guests by playing traditional, live music from the Azores. One of these self-taught musicians was Victor, who played the viola.

Victor, in order to be closer to home, eventually began working for the River Lines again.

On Oct. 28, 1923, Victor and Mamie’s first child, Marvin, was born, and on Nov. 23, 1924, their daughter, Dolores, was born.

Although Victor continued working for the River Lines, passenger and commerce business declined on the river.

Because of this decline, Victor acquired additional employment, as he began working for the Lawrence and Erickson construction companies, which built many large buildings, including state buildings.

Victor’s expertise with these companies was specialized finish work.

In addition to John, Victor had an older brother, Joe, who also immigrated to America and moved to San Diego.

Joe’s oldest son, Joe, Jr., showed a great interest in ship building and design, and he would come to Sacramento to visit his uncle John to be tutored in ship construction and design.

Portuguese men work on a riverboat on the River Lines ways in 1935. Victor Dias Silva stands next to the propeller on the left and his brother, John Silva, stands alongside the propeller at the center of this photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Portuguese men work on a riverboat on the River Lines ways in 1935. Victor Dias Silva stands next to the propeller on the left and his brother, John Silva, stands alongside the propeller at the center of this photograph. / Photo courtesy, PHCS

Joe, Jr., who received more specialized ship construction and design training in San Diego, eventually built a ship model that was presented and accepted by the Smithsonian Institution.

Sacramento area resident dedicated to preserving her family’s history

For many people in the community, writing their family history is a project for the future, which oftentimes receives little to no attention. But perhaps serving as a motivator to other people, one Pocket area resident has dedicated herself to making certain that her family history is preserved.
Pocket area resident Gail Fernandez Jones, a former teacher at Caroline Wenzel Elementary School in the Pocket area, spends time observing several of her treasured family photographs. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Pocket area resident Gail Fernandez Jones, a former teacher at Caroline Wenzel Elementary School in the Pocket area, spends time observing several of her treasured family photographs. / Valley Community Newspapers photo, Lance Armstrong

Rich heritage

This person is Sacramento native Gail Fernandez Jones, who has a very rich family history in the Pocket, Greenhaven, South Land Park, Hollywood Park and Tahoe Park areas.

Jones, 59, who worked as a dance teacher before beginning a career as an elementary school teacher in the Pocket and Meadowview areas, explained that her drive to preserve her family’s history began as a result of a personal illness that caused her to follow new directions in her life.

“Due to the illness, I had to retire early and I needed something to do, so I decided to research and write my family’s history,” Jones said. “It was something that I always wanted to do. I figured that if I didn’t do it, nobody else would do it and the history would be lost for future generations.”

Motivating factors

In addition to her illness, Jones said that she was also motivated to write her family’s history upon the birth of her grandson.

“My grandson was born in 2002 and he was the original catalyst for my project to preserve the family history,” Jones said.

Unfortunately, due to Jones’ health issues, her motivation to gather information and write her family’s history was initially short-lived, as she almost entirely abandoned the project for more than eight years. But reinvigorated by improved health within the past year, she is back on track and working on writing her family’s history at a greater pace than at any time during her entire project.

Norman Fernandez stands in front of his South Land Park Hills house. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

Norman Fernandez stands in front of his South Land Park Hills house. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

With Jones’ deep, local roots, the value of her project is much more than a family history – it is also a notable part of the community’s history.

Portuguese heritage

Her grandfather, John Fernandez, who was born in the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal on Jan. 10, 1887, immigrated to the United States at the age of three with his parents, Manuel and Rose (Jacinto) Fernandez, and at least one of his sisters.

Jones said that John Fernandez had two sisters, Mary, who was born in the Azores Islands, and Rose, who was born in either the Azores Islands or the Greater Sacramento area.

El Dorado Hills aka. Clarksburg

Once arriving in America, the family made its way to the Clarksburg area, where they began a dairy farm.

Through her research, Jones discovered that her grandfather, who completed his education through the eighth grade, began an apprenticeship to learn the building trade, so that he could become a building contractor.

“My grandfather was a very dedicated man,” Jones said. “He asked some builder to take him on as an apprentice at no charge, so he could learn the trade. He then started his own company, Sierra Builders, during the Depression.”

The Fernandez family was responsible for the construction of many residential and commercial buildings in the Sacramento area, including this Raley’s supermarket at 2390 Fruitridge Road. The building is shown under construction in this 1953 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

The Fernandez family was responsible for the construction of many residential and commercial buildings in the Sacramento area, including this Raley’s supermarket at 2390 Fruitridge Road. The building is shown under construction in this 1953 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

Sierra Builders

John, who built one of the first cabins in the Strawberry tract along Highway 50 for himself during the 1940s, named his business Sierra Builders due to his love for the mountains.

Jones said that her grandfather began the business with no employees, but eventually took on his five sons – Ralph, Ray, Norman, Jack and Jim – as his employees.

Of these sons, Norman, Jack and Jim contributed the most time to the company, since Ralph began his own building company and Ray apparently died during World War II, as the plane he was flying over Russia went missing and was never found.

The earliest projects of Sierra Builders, which had a large office and lumber yard at 1716 26th St., was the construction of houses in Tahoe Park and the construction and development of sections of Hollywood Park.

One these Hollywood Park area projects, which included both residential and commercial developments, was an early Raley’s grocery store at 2390 Fruitridge Road.

The Raley’s project was part of a retail space that also included The Dance Center, which was owned by “Miss Pennie” Davies.

Jones said that she is quite familiar with this dance center, since she took lessons from Davies at this site and later returned to teach classes at the studio.

Norman Fernandez, center, is shown during his childhood with two unidentified youth in this 1926 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

Norman Fernandez, center, is shown during his childhood with two unidentified youth in this 1926 photograph. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

With the building boom that followed World War II, Norman, who was Jones’ father, founded the Norman Construction Co. in 1955 and began building custom houses. The majority of these houses were constructed in the South Land Park Hills area.

Greenhaven 70

After furthering his reputation as a quality builder, Norman, who married his accountant’s daughter, Betty Webb, in 1948, was invited to become one of the original 10 builders of Greenhaven 70, a development that was bordered by Riverside Boulevard and Greenhaven, Havenside and Gloria drives.

Jones, who moved from her home in Hollywood Park to South Land Park Hills in 1962, said that she also contributed to the Greenhaven 70 project by handing out brochures for open house events and decorating some of the homes with knickknacks from her own home and furniture from Gabe Silveira’s furniture store, G.L. Silveira Co., which was located at 2100 X St.

“The decorating really helped those home sell,” Jones recalled.

Shown inside his Land Park home in 1962, John Fernandez enjoys a moment with his dog, Skeeter. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones
Fernandez-Photo-05

Shown inside his Land Park home in 1962, John Fernandez enjoys a moment with his dog, Skeeter. / Photo courtesy, Gail Fernandez Jones

Jones said that one of the more interesting parts of the history of her family’s neighborhood developments was the naming of various local streets.

Street names

Among the more prominent of these street names are Johns Drive and Johnfer Way (a combination of John and Fernandez), which were named after Jones’ grandfather, Norman Way, which was named in honor of Jones’ father, and Jacks Lane and James Way, which were named in tribute to Jones’ uncles.

Other street names include: Trudy Way, which was named after the secretary of Sierra Builders, and Benham Way, a tribute to Ben Hammond, the insurance agent for Sierra Builders.

Although John passed away in 1966, his legacy in his longtime trade continues today through the local land developing company, Sierra-Fernandez.

Good advice

In pondering her project to preserve the history of her family, Jones said that she encourages others to write about their own family history.

“I encourage others to write their family histories,” Jones said. “Start talking to the people who are still alive right now. What I started with were dates and now what I’m really trying to get are anecdotes out of the people who are left. Gather stories, because if you don’t you’ll have nothing.”

lance@valcomnews.com