A Mackerel Festival was held on Saturday, Sept. 29 at the Sacramento Portuguese Holy Spirit Society, located at 6676 Pocket Rd. Kids activities included grape stomping and games. For more information, call 997-5074.
The historical St. Elizabeth Portuguese National Church building at 1817 12th Street has been a part of the Sacramento community for nearly a century. And throughout the existence of the church, many residents of the Riverside-Pocket area have been members of this parish.
Prior to St. Elizabeth’s founding, many Portuguese in the Riverside-Pocket area attended Masses and other religious services at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament at 11th and K streets, St. Rose Parish at 7th and K streets and St. Stephen Parish at 3rd and O streets.
Parish established in 1909
The beginnings of the St. Elizabeth parish date back to early 1909, when Bishop Thomas Grace was petitioned by the Portuguese community to establish a church to meet their needs for the conducting of Portuguese services, as well as other traditions.
These traditions mainly included the annual Festa do Espirito Santo (Holy Ghost Festival).
Soon after the request was made for a new parish, property was acquired and plans were completed for the construction of what would become the St. Elizabeth church or “Igreja de Santa Isabel” to its early members. The name of the church was selected in honor of the beloved 13th century queen of Portugal.
Plans for the church were made at Manuel S. Williams’ grocery store at 1630 11th Street and the property for the church was donated by Manuel and his wife.
Early reinforced concrete structure
The church, which was one of the first reinforced concrete buildings constructed in the capital city, was designed by Frank Shea and John Lofquist of San Francisco.
Shea and Lofquist designed the building to resemble the 15th century Igreja de São João Baptista (Church of St. John the Baptist) in the island of Terceira in the Azores Islands of Portugal.
Selected to construct the building was the well-known Sacramento building contractor Charles A. Vanina, who resided at 2022 M Street (now Capitol Avenue).
During the time that the church was being built, the parish was already in existence.
The parish began at St. Stephen Parish with the October 24, 1909 baptism of a Portuguese child named Joseph Viega.
St. Elizabeth’s first pastor was Father Joao (John) Vieira Azevedo, who was born in the Azorean island of Pico on Nov. 25, 1880.
When he was 21 years old, Azevedo came to California to finish his studies for the priesthood.
After being ordained two years later, he completed assignments in Yreka, Fort Jones and Sutter Creek.
Azevedo was later assigned to Sacramento to establish the St. Elizabeth parish.
On May 10, 1948, Azevedo was bestowed the title of monsignor by Bishop Robert J. Armstrong.
Although he appeared stern and was recognized as being strict in the discipline of the children who he tutored, Azevedo was very well liked and respected by all members of his congregation. He remained active as the church’s pastor until June 1955.
In addition to assisting in the planning process for the church, Azevedo was involved in the dedication of the church on Feb. 2, 1913. Azevedo presided over the dedication with Bishop Grace.
An active dedication day
On the day of the dedication services, the first wedding at the church was also held, as Joseph Valine and Rosa Neves were married inside the new structure.
Also occurring at the church on the same day was the church’s first baptism, that of Mary Alvernaz.
Several years after the church was constructed, various features were added in the church’s basement.
Among these features were a community center – known as the “social hall,” where plays and other entertainment were presented – a kitchen and a unisex bathroom.
Also in the basement was a stage, which was initiated by Azevedo to accommodate his first communion and confirmation classes.
Two years following Azevedo’s service as the church’s pastor, Father Valdemiro Machado Fagundes, whose secondary education had been financed by Azevedo, became the church’s second pastor.
Fagundes’ experience leading up to his years as the church’s pastor included serving as St. Elizabeth’s associate pastor from 1951 to 1955 and the church’s administrator from 1955 to 1957.
A sad moment in the church’s history occurred on the morning of Tuesday, April 2, 1957, when Azevedo passed away.
Fagundes, who was born in the island of Terceira in the Azores Islands, had a much different appearance than Azevedo.
His youthful looks, which were enhanced by his crew cut haircut, high energy and young behavior caused parishioners to initially question his readiness to become the church’s pastor.
As Fagundes matured, he gained the respect of the parishioners, and his willingness to intervene in their welfare and financial problems endeared him to his congregation.
Fagundes, who was also appointed monsignor, retired as the church’s pastor on January 1, 1985.
A retirement party for Fagundes, who passed away on Sept. 26, 1996, was held at the Elk Grove S.E.S. (Sociedade do Espirito Santo or Holy Ghost Society) Hall on Jan. 13, 1985. The event was chaired by Al Balshor of Balshor Florist.
St. Elizabeth’s next pastor was Jose F. Ribeiro – of the Society of Jesus – who served the church from 1985 to 1991.
Ribeiro, who was born in Penude Lamego, Beira Alta, Portugal on Sept. 15, 1935, had previously served in Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Following Ribeiro as St. Elizabeth’s pastor was Eduino T. Silveira, who served the congregation from 1993 to 2005.
For two years prior to his pastorship at St. Elizabeth, Silveira, who was born in Fenais da Luz in the Azorean island of Sao Miguel on Aug. 10, 1955, served as the church’s administrator.
Januarius Rodrigues, a retired pastor who was born in India and speaks fluent Portuguese, became the church’s temporary pastor on Feb. 24, 2005.
On following July 1, Rodrigues was replaced by three fathers – Giancarlo Mittempergher, Antonio Luiz Madeiros and Edwin E. Limpiado – from the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata.
Presently, Mittempergher, who is St. Elizabeth’s first non-Portuguese pastor, and Madeiros serve as the pastors for both the St. Elizabeth parish and the Holy Cross parish in West Sacramento.
An important moment in St. Elizabeth’s history occurred on Feb. 18, 1983, when the church was designated as a “Point of Historical Interest” by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
A bronze plaque recognizing this designation is located on the west tower of the church, near the edge of the stairway leading into the church.
Today, St. Elizabeth Portuguese National Church is recognized as the oldest Portuguese national church west of New England.
The designation of a Portuguese national church is rare, as altogether there are only three of these churches throughout the United States.
The Catholic Church infrequently grants this designation for churches in certain areas with large ethnic populations.
A centennial for the parish, which included a Mass with Bishop Jaime Soto and a candlelight procession, dinner and dancing at the Portuguese Hall in the Pocket area, was held on October 10 and 11, 2009.
Many people associated with the church are hopeful that a centennial celebration honoring the dedication of the church will be held next February.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
In the early 1850s, Portuguese immigrants began to settle in the Pocket area. They had small, wood-frame houses with basic rooms built for them and their families. And eventually, larger and finer homes began to be constructed in the area as local incomes and families grew.
In 1909, the Antone Luiz Silva family had a 10-room, Victorian-style home constructed for them in the area by Manuel Valine, a local contractor who was known as “Calisto.”
Because of his knowledge regarding the area’s devastating 1904 Edwards Break flood, Silva had the house built on a knoll against the levee.
During about the same period of time, Manuel Seamas of the Grangers Dairy, which was located at the present site of Elks Lodge No. 6 at 6446 Riverside Blvd., had a similar, fine home constructed on his 100-acre dairy property.
The Silva and Seamas homes were built with an almost identical architectural design, which would cause one to conclude that the Seamas house was also constructed by Calisto.
Manuel Ferreira Dutra, who was known as “Shopinah” and was born in 1876 in Faial in the Azores Islands, immigrated to America when he was about 12 years old.
Shopinah, who was mentioned as a ferryman for the Glide Ferry in a recent Pocket News article about river ferries (Read story at www.valcomnews.com), was best known as the carpenter of the Pocket.
Overall, Shopinah was a carpenter, repairman, barn builder and general handyman, who was known as one who could fix just about anything that needed to be fixed.
Sometime in the mid-1910s, Shopinah, who built small homes in the area, spent three months remodeling the home of Manuel Dutra, Jr.
Pocket residents of the time were known to speak of Shopinah’s work with high regard and they would say that he used so many nails that whatever he built would “never come down.”
As opposed to using professional methods of measuring, Shopinah, who could not read or write, used various lengths of sticks for his measurements.
Another one of Shopinah’s specialties was building small religious shrines – “oratorios” in Portuguese – for family homes.
One Shopinah-built shrine – that of Maria L. Milhomens (Silva) Dutra – was donated to the Portuguese collection of the Sacramento History Museum, appeared in two separate
Portuguese exhibits at two local museums and is presently stored in the Sacramento History Museum archives.
Among Shopinah’s construction projects was the emergency building of a temporary, shed-type school on the Rogers ranch at the present intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Pocket Road, nearby today’s Garcia Bend Park.
The original Lisbon School, which was a converted barn, was destroyed in the aforementioned 1904 flood.
Shopinah, who was known for his infectious smile and easy going demeanor, died in a tragic accident when his bicycle was struck by a motorist on the dark, narrow Riverside Road (presently Riverside Boulevard) on March 8, 1941.
Following the era of Calisto and Shopinah, a new generation of contractors – who were apprenticed under Calisto – built homes in the Riverside-Pocket area.
Among these contractors were Antonio “Tony” Fernandes Terra and his brother, Frank Leal Terra, who formed a partnership, called Terra Bros., in 1923.
Tony and Frank built Tony’s home at 2940 Freeport Blvd. – the current site of Capital Power Equipment, next to Taylor’s Market – in 1924.
It was also during the 1920s that the Terra brothers built two spacious, brick houses in the Riverside-Pocket area.
One of these houses was the Manuel Garcia home at the intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Florin Road.
The other house was the Manuel Silveira Alvernaz home on Riverside Boulevard, near 35th Avenue. The home, which was built in about 1928 in a large parcel that was later subdivided, is no longer visible from the frontage road, which is Riverside Boulevard.
Sometime after the construction of the Alvernaz home, Tony and Frank ended their relationship as business partners.
Frank continued to work as a home builder on his own until his retirement in 1941.
Tony also worked individually, as he constructed homes until sometime after his son, Alfred, completed his education at Sacramento Junior College (today’s Sacramento City College). Alfred apprenticed under his father and then joined him in his business.
Alfred continued to build under his father’s license until obtaining his own license.
Tony, who moved to Santa Cruz, where he built, resided in and managed the Park Avenue Motel until 1957, died in June 1978.
One of Alfred’s most notable accomplishments as a building contractor occurred after he purchased lots in the Greenhaven 70 subdivision, where he constructed homes that suited the buyers’ specifications.
Due to the May 1964 death of Alfred, local subcontractor Jim Mulhern completed the Vickerman home on Royal Garden Avenue in Greenhaven 70.
Another local builder was Miguel “Mike” Furtado, who was born on July 6, 1884 in the island of Pico in the Azores Islands.
In 1901, Furtado immigrated to America and was soon afterward residing in Rio Vista.
Furtado obtained his general contractor’s license – No. 40 – in 1918 and he built many homes in Sacramento, including in the Land Park area.
Houses built by Furtado, who apprenticed and worked for Calisto, are easily recognized for their three-valley rooflines, which are focal points over the entrances of these homes.
With the annexation of the Riverside-Pocket area, John Joseph Machado of the Munger Lake area sold the majority of his property, but was able to maintain a lot to build a new home.
Machado selected Furtado due to his reputation as a builder of high quality homes.
Like other Furtado-built homes, Machado’s home included the three-valley roofline and a very functional floor plan.
The well-known contractor Norman Fernandez, who was the son of John Fernandez, the owner of the Sierra Builders firm, also built homes in Greenhaven 70. One of his two-story homes was constructed on Royal Garden Avenue.
The partnership of Ralph and Don Nevis also built homes in Greenhaven 70, one of which was a home on Parklin Avenue.
Upon Ralph’s death in 1966, Don continued to build houses on his own.
These houses included the home of Anthony Dutra, Jr. of the Dutra House – 8144 Pocket Road – family.
With these summaries of local builders, it is evident that the Riverside-Pocket area is a place with a rich, longtime tradition of fine home construction.
Editor’s Note: Since the publishing of a two-part series regarding the Lisbon schools of the Pocket area last October (read articles at www.valcomnews.com), readers requested additional information about Upper Lisbon School and its surrounding area. The following article provides more history about this school and the area.
In the early days of the Pocket area when the area consisted of mostly Portuguese farmers and their families, it was important to these families to have schools established for their children. One of the earliest of these schools was the Upper Lisbon School.
On Jan. 21, 1873, the Sacramento Lisbon School District was established under the leadership of Manuel E. DaCosta and other local Portuguese-American farmers. This school district was the only ethnic school district in the Sacramento area from the 1870s to the 1940s.
Although an earlier and separate district, the Yolo County Lisbon School District, predates the Sacramento Lisbon School District, the Sacramento district grew larger and operated for a longer period of time.
The first school of the previously mentioned Sacramento district was known as the Lower Lisbon School.
The Lower Lisbon School was originally located in a converted barn, which was used for the school until the flood of 1904 demolished the building and students were transferred to a temporary school on the Rogers property near today’s Garcia Bend Park at 7654 Pocket Road.
Some of the students in the temporary school on the Rogers property were transferred to the Upper Lisbon School, which was located on the west side of the present day intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Park Riviera Way, where a large ranch-style home with a three-car garage is situated.
The Upper Lisbon School served the children from the Pimentel’s Ingleside Café (presently The Trap bar) area and children who lived southward to just beyond Portuguese Hall on the old Riverside Road (present day Riverside Boulevard).
Most of the families of the school’s first through eighth grade students resided in “Dogtown,” an area that was located immediately south of Portuguese Hall to
the present intersection of Park Riviera Way and Riverside Boulevard.
Riverside-Pocket area native Dolores Greenslate described how the area became known as “Dogtown.”
“The area was known as ‘Dogtown,’ because everybody had numerous dogs in the area,” Greenslate. “There were so many dogs, in fact, that they all came out to greet you as you passed by. The area also included a waterwheel, which was powered by a large dog. The water was pumped for personal usage and for small irrigation purposes.”
The surnames names of the families who lived in “Dogtown” were: Azevedo, Nevis, Silveira, Holmes, Sarmeinto, Curry (Correira), Lewis, Perry, Mello, Gomes and Prady.
The Upper Lisbon School was built above a set of wooden stairs, as a one-room schoolhouse.
The school grounds originally included an outhouse that was located behind the school, but an indoor bathroom was eventually installed in a corner inside the school.
Teachers who taught all eight grades at the school were: Emma James, Mildred Fernandes, Letitia Seamore, Dorothy Sweeney, Inez Applegate, Julia McMahon, Brizady Giannoni, Miss Lombardi and Eleanor Harkness.
James and Fernandes, who were both graduates of the school now known as Chico State University, were of Portuguese descent, which was a definite advantage for children who were born of immigrant Portuguese parents who spoke only their native language in their homes.
James – formerly Emma Furtado – was born in her family home, just north of what is now known as The Trap – began teaching at Sutter School in 1922, and then at Upper Lisbon School from 1931 to 1934.
Her lengthy career continued at Sutter School from 1941 until the closure of the school in 1952.
James, who served as principal of Sutter Union School during its final year and became Mrs. Daniel Buckley in 1953, then taught at another south area elementary school until retiring in 1962.
Fernandes, whose family’s home was located near the site of the present day Garcia Bend Park, replaced James as a teacher at Upper Lisbon School in 1934 and continued in this position for the following six years.
After leaving Upper Lisbon School, Fernandes, who married Edward Calay, a World War II pilot, moved to Antioch and later San Francisco to continue her teaching career.
Fernandes taught first through third grade American children in a town close to Tokyo, and other students in Guam, Michigan and in a northern residential area of Sacramento County before retiring in 1976.
After both Lisbon schools closed in 1945, the schools’ combined students were transferred to Sutter School, which was then renamed Sutter Union School.
Soon after the closure of the Lisbon schools, the Upper Lisbon School building was purchased by the A.A.D.E.S., the Portuguese lodge that owned the original Portuguese Hall and grounds.
The school building was relocated behind St. Mary Church, next to the original Portuguese Hall.
The former school became the meeting place of the lodge and was also used for church classes and other purposes.
After the 1913 hall was demolished in 1967, in order to replace it with a new building, the Upper Lisbon School building was also demolished.
Elsie (Silva) Jardine, a resident of the south Sacramento County town of Herald and a 1945 graduate of Upper Lisbon School, shared her memories about attending the school.
“When I first started school, Upper Lisbon School was a one-room school with no indoor plumbing,” Jardine said. “Before I graduated from the eighth grade, we did get indoor plumbing, but we still had the wood stove in the corner for heat. We had all eight grades in that room with one teacher.
“I was always alone in my grade with the exception of the seventh grade. I had a boy classmate for part of the year.
“I remember helping the teacher with some of the younger kids when I was in the seventh and eighth grades.
“I have fond memories of that little school in the Pocket.”
Being that Portuguese immigrants settled the Riverside-Pocket area more than a century ago, it should come as no surprise that one of the area’s oldest events is the Sacramento Holy Ghost Festa. The festa is a Portuguese religious festival honoring Portugal’s 14th century queen, Isabela, who was later canonized a saint.
Known as the Riverside Holy Ghost Festa until 1966, this local event was first held in the Pocket in 1914.
This festa or “festival” is actually older, as it began in 1897 in the Associacao Azoreana do Divino Espirito Santo (Azorean Association of the Divine Holy Spirit) or AADES, Grant. Grant was an area in today’s Carmichael.
The demise of the Portuguese population in the Grant area resulted from the relocation of the Portuguese lodge to the Pocket, which had developed into a sizable Portuguese settlement.
The move was made possible through Francisco J. Luiz (later Frank Lewis, Sr.), who with his neighbor, Antone Pereira Rodrigues (Antone Rodrigues Perry), would travel about 18 miles from the Pocket to the Grant area to attend the AADES lodge meetings.
Luiz donated two acres of land from his ranch in the Pocket for the purpose of moving the lodge from the Grant area to the more populated and still growing Pocket area.
In feeling that the relocation of the lodge to Luiz’s propert
y provided the best situation for the future of AADES, the organization’s members approved the relocation through a vote.
In 1909, the building was cut in half and transported via large wagons and teams of horses and reassembled on the land that Luiz had donated.
Once relocated, the lodge was used by the organization for its meeting hall.
The structure, which is located on Pocket Road (the old Riverside Road), a quarter mile from where Park Riviera Way branches out from Riverside Boulevard, was also used for the storage of items such as flags and banners for the festa.
The organization’s move to the Pocket helped the AADES to substantially increase its treasury to an extent that the lodge was able to construct a new, two-story hall adjacent to the clubhouse.
Construction of the new hall was completed in 1913 and the old hall was remodeled in
to the Igreja de Santa Maria (St. Maria Church).
The building of the new hall resulted in the debut of the Riverside Holy Ghost Festa.
The 2003 Portuguese Heritage Publications of California book, “The Holy Ghost Festas” – a history of Portuguese festas in California – does well in describing the immigrants’ desire to hold festas in the Golden State.
The book notes that in addition to carrying on the Holy Ghost Festa tradition of their homeland, the immigrants also desired to “blend in, to belong and to feel accepted.” And the festas held in California helped to fulfill such desires.
In carrying forth the festa tradition from the Grant area, the Portuguese of the Pocket area held the first Riverside Holy Ghost Festa in conjunction with the church’s dedication on May 31, 1914.
In addition to the AADES festa, a festa was also held at the same location by another Portuguese lodge, IDES (an abbreviation for a Portuguese name meaning the “Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Ghost”) No. 125. This latter mentioned lodge, which included many local far
mers and dairymen, was founded in the Riverside area on Dec. 27, 1913. This lodge’s festa was last held in about the early 1940s.
At the first AADES Riverside Holy Ghost Festa, Mary Silva, who was about 15 years old, was selected as the festa queen.
The festa queens were selected in various ways such as being appointed by the lodge president, the number of tickets sold or favoritism by the organization.
The young women chosen to be queen generally range in age from 15 to 17 years old.
A junior queen – an honor that was not part of the Riverside Holy Ghost Festa – is also selected from girls between the ages of about 13 to about 15 years old.
In very large organizations, thus not including the featured lodge, a “baby queen” is sometimes represented.
The festa queen usually appoints two or three side maids to assist her with her duties in the festa parade.
The parade is the integral part of the event and features decorated floats, flags and lodge banners, Portuguese and other local bands, queens from other areas such as Rio Vista and Dixon, and officers of the organizations.
Additional parts of the event include a barbecue of marinated beef, a Mass, in which the queens are crowned by the priest and a feast that commemorates Queen Isabela feeding her poor during the great, 14th century famine of Europe.
Although this is a traditional Portuguese event, other members of the community who appreciate other cultural gatherings are welcome to attend this year’s festa, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 11-12.
The Saturday barbecue, which mostly consists of potluck items with families purchasing spits of meat for their groups, will begin at about 5 p.m. and will be followed by the presentation of the queens later in the evening, generally at about 8 p.m.
On Sunday, the parade begins at 9 a.m. at Portuguese Hall and travels along a specified route on its way to the church, where Mass and the crowning of the queens is held.
Following the crowning ceremony, the procession forms again and marches on a route back to the hall.
The queens are first seated to preside over the feast of sopas and carne (soup and meat) – pans of sliced French bread and mint ladled with the gravy of the cooked beef, along with platters of the meat. The other parade participants follow the queens and their aides prior to all others attending the festa.
After the feast, guests will exit an area featuring an intricately decorated alter consisting of the crown and displays of flowers.
Attendants at this exit will accept donations and pin a commemorative ribbon on the shirt or bodice of each guest.
Back in the 1920s, the Pocket area was a much different place than it is today, as the area consisted of many ranches that were mostly operated by Portuguese farmers. Also among the workers of the area was Faustino Silva, who was well known for his slaughterhouse.
Faustino, who was born Faustino Da Silva in the island of Pico in the Azores Islands of Portugal on Oct. 10, 1900, arrived in the United States when he was 19 years old.
After traveling to Sacramento by train, Faustino first resided with one of his three sisters in the old “Arizona” area of Sacramento at 4th and T streets.
Faustino obtained his first employment in California working as a farmhand on the Joe J. (Nordeste) Machado ranch in the Natomas area, just north of Sacramento.
Following his time on the Machado ranch, Faustino began working at the River Lines, Humphrey Vineyards in Perkins, just east of Sacramento.
In 1924, Faustino, like many locals of the time, became an employee at the Southern Pacific shops in Sacramento.
After becoming established at the shops, Faustino married Sacramento native Mary Jessie Marks, the daughter of Pico natives Antone and Mary (Azevedo Vieira) Marks, on Nov. 7, 1925.
While living at their 4th and T streets residence, Faustino and Mary Jessie had their first child, Marie.
In 1927, Faustino moved with Mary Jessie and Marie to the Pocket area, so that Faustino could establish a slaughterhouse business and have a house constructed for his family.
The house that was built on the family’s property was located at the edge of Riverside Road.
When the family moved to their property, which was located on about a five-acre parcel, near the northern intersection of today’s Riverside Boulevard and Park Riviera Way, the property already included an old slaughterhouse that was formerly owned by Jerry Jaksich, Sr. Jacksich was also known for his position as part-owner of the Belevedere Meat Market at 330 S St.
In addition to his duties at his slaughterhouse, Faustino attended cattle auctions and also purchased animals from local ranches and dairies. He also slaughtered dairy cows and calves for veal.
Employed full-time by Faustino at his slaughterhouse were his main deliveryman, Arthur Neves, Arthur’s brother, John Neves, Frank “Cap” Perry and Melvin (“Garsha”) Garcia.
Part-time slaughterhouse workers were: Clarence Nevis, Marvin Silveira, Marvin’s brother, Alvin Silveira, and Folsom area resident Joe Azevedo.
Another one of Faustino’s workers was Manuel “Tiranha” Martin, who would purchase cattle that would be delivered to the slaughterhouse.
Among Faustino’s largest customers were the local Stop-N-Shop markets, which were owned by the Kassis brothers.
Part of Faustino’s profits outside of the sale of beef was his sale of hides and “offalls” – the name used for organs.
Although some people at the time believed that Faustino raised dairy cows, his entire interest was in raising beef cattle.
As Faustino acquired more beef cattle, he realized his need for additional pastureland, as he purchased an additional 2.5 acres near the northern boundary of his Pocket area property.
Faustino, who generally wore an off-white Stetson hat, purchased the property from A.S. Sebego, who was commonly known by Portugese people of the area as “Saboogs.”
With his desire to expand his pastureland for his cattle, Faustino purchased 43.91 acres from brothers Joe C. and Manuel C. Nevis in about 1939. This property, which later included Faustino’s new home, was located from the Sacramento River levee, southeasterly, to Riverside Road.
While residing in the Pocket area, the Silva family grew to include four more children, Faustine, Elsie, Robert and Gary.
Elsie, who lives in the Sacramento County town of Herald, which is located about 29 miles south of Sacramento, recalled the enjoyment she had while observing her father work in his slaughterhouse.
“I remember as a very young girl going back to the slaughterhouse and sitting in a safe place watching my dad for hours split beef with a huge cleaver,” Elsie said. “This was before he had an electric saw. Doing this all day gave him great muscular arms and shoulders.”
Elsie added that watching her father work was her own way of finding additional moments to be in his presence, since she otherwise did not spend as much time with him as she had desired.
Concentrating his interests in acquiring more cattle and pastureland, Faustino closed his slaughterhouse business in 1948.
The last parcel of land that Faustino purchased in the Pocket area was further around the present day Pocket Road.
During his time residing in the Pocket area, Faustino added to his notoriety as a pillar of the community by donating beef to the Riverside AADES for its Holy Ghost Festa dinner at Portuguese Hall, located at the beginning of today’s Pocket Road.
In addition to supplying beef for the event, Faustino worked with his close friend, Antone Dutra, to cut and prepare the meat for its all-day cooking.
Faustino, who was very admired for his friendly nature, generosity and long hours of physically hard work, also donated beef for the Freeport Festa and later to the Elk Grove Festa.
With a desire to further expand his cattle-raising business, Faustino purchased additional property for pasturing in the Yolo Bypass area, Sutterville/Land Park area, Meadowview-Freeport area and the Sloughhouse area.
Faustino also obtained his largest land acquisitions in El Dorado Hills and Herald. These properties each consisted of thousands of acres.
So great was Faustino’s name in the El Dorado Hills area that a street, Silva Valley Parkway, was named after him, and off of Silva Valley Parkway, an extensive elementary school in the posh Serrano community was named Silva Valley Elementary School.
Making this tribute even more impressive is the fact that Faustino owned his El Dorado Hills property for no more than five years, yet he was nonetheless able to make an extremely strong impression in the area.
But tributes to Faustino are not exclusive to El Dorado Hills, as a modern day street, which is known as Faustino Way, in the Pocket area on the site of the old Nevis brothers’ ranch, which he acquired, is named in his honor.
Although Faustino passed away at the age of 79 on Nov. 2, 1979, his legacy remains strong in the Pocket area and beyond.
This flood, which was known as the Edwards Break, began at the sharp turn of the Sacramento River, near what is today the intersection of Sutterville and Riverside roads.
Four-legged levee destroyers
This tragedy happened as a result of a levee being weakened due to the burrowing of gophers and squirrels.
During a heavy storm on Feb. 27, 1904, water penetrated the burrows to the extent that the water’s force caused the levee to break and flood the area.
Due to the magnitude of the flood, news about this occurrence spread beyond the Sacramento area.
One such report was a Feb. 29, 1904 article in The San Francisco Call, which included the following words regarding the flood: “The fact is, simply, that there has been a bad break in Reclamation District 535 (later known as Reclamation District 673), south of (Sacramento), and that it has flooded probably 10,000 acres of the richest land in the state.”
This break was wide enough that large objects such as boats and a barge entered the opening of the break and flowed down into the Pocket.
In one incident, the home of Antone Perry, who resided on the present day Park Riviera Way with his family across from today’s Lewis Park, was struck by the aforementioned barge.
Traveling southward on the floodwaters, the barge made a sudden, swirling turn and then sharply struck the back corner of the Perry home, which was thus forced off of its foundation.
Present within the home during this incident were Antone, his wife Amelia, and their six children.
Another very notable house in the Pocket was the home of Manuel Seamas, owner of the area’s well known Grangers Dairy.
As a result of the Edwards Break, the Seamas house was flooded up to the ledge of the first floor window, which was located about 5 feet from the ground.
The flood also toppled the ornate, white, wooden fence that bordered the Seamas property and ruined the family’s renowned, spacious gardens, where gala parties were held with many guests.
Selfless acts of heroism
Although the majority of the residents’ animals were drowned in the flood, fortunately, with the exception of a man who was killed at the site of the levee break, those living in the area were able to survive this tragedy.
This fact was made possible through the selfless efforts of various men of the area.
Upon seeing the water rising to a dangerous level, men in the Riverside-Pocket area used their rowboats to rescue people who were stranded in their homes.
One such man was John Machado, who was known as “Jaoa Alvert” (“John Albert”).
Taking his rowboat from an area near his front porch, Machado transported his wife and infant daughter to the Reichmuth dairy area on high ground, which is known today as South Land Park Hills.
Machado then proceeded back to the Pocket to rescue area residents and take them to higher ground on the levee, where others had their homes. One of these homes was the home of his in-laws, Antone Perry, Sr. – the father of the aforementioned Antone Perry – and Mary Gloria Perry.
Machado, who was a tall, strong man, joined other men from the area who rowed their boats throughout the night in their efforts to bring stranded residents to higher ground.
Individual emergency preparedness
Although the Edwards Break flood took Riverside-Pocket area residents by surprise, this did not mean that they were without preparation for such a tragedy.
With an impending break of the levee in mind, the local rescuers referred to above, purposely kept their rowboats nearby their homes.
Additionally, most of the area’s homes were constructed with two levels with the lower level being for a cool storage area for perishable food and also possibly the kitchen area, which included a wood burning stove and perhaps a coal oil stove.
The upper level of such homes consisted of bedrooms, which were separated by a hallway that led to the front porch and stairway.
Some families in the area had their rowboats attached directly to these upstairs porches.
Area families were also educated with the knowledge of how to help save their homes during a severe flood.
One such method was to lean out a home’s upper windows or porch and break the lower windows with heavy objects or tools that were tied to long ropes.
The purpose of this action was to purposely flood the first floor, instead of running the risk of having the house carried away in the floodwaters.
Built on higher ground
In addition to the construction of ground level, two-story houses in the area, some people in the area also prepared for possible major floods by bringing in soil and building their homes on mounds.
On some occasions, soil for such houses was provided via dredgers that were used to build and repair the local levees and keep the river channel open for passenger and freight boats.
A dredger’s leverman would swing the boom, which transported large buckets of silt and soil, over the top of the levee and deposit the soil on the property.
The soil would then be leveled to the desired height of the home builder.
Pocket historian Dolores Greenslate said that she believes that among the area’s residents who built their houses on mounds was a Portuguese man, named Joe Lewis. This belief appears to be factual when considering that Lewis was known by the nickname, “Joe da Cabeco” (“Joe of the Top of the Hill”).
Following the break in the levee, several weeks passed before the floodwaters finally receded and people were able to return to their homes.
The most fortunate people of the flood proved to be those who prepared themselves by having their entire living quarters on the second level of their homes.
For those who kept their homes in this manner, their post flood work only involved repairing the foundations of their houses and their ground level, cool storage area.
Fortunately, unlike the people who resided in the Riverside-Pocket area during the flood of 1904, with the strengthening and higher level of the levees, people living in this area today are no longer constantly worried each winter about the possibility of major flooding.
The Riverside-Pocket area has undoubtedly changed since its early years when the area was predominantly home to Portuguese immigrants. Among the many developments of the area during its history was the establishment of several marinas along the Pocket side of the Sacramento River.
The first people to establish a marina in the area were descendents of Manuel Da Rosa Garcia, an early pioneer of the area. Originally his surname was spelled, “Gracia,” and evolved into the spelling, “Garcia,” which is correctly pronounced, “Gar-sha.”
Manuel, who was born in 1846 and emigrated from the Azores Islands, settling in the Pocket in the late 1850s, married Ana Leonora Silveira in 1878.
When he was 43, Manuel died as a result of a farming accident on Nov. 12, 1889.
Manuel and Leonora had five children, including their two sons, Manuel, Jr. and Joseph Garcia, who inherited the family’s property following their father’s death.
Shortly after the death of Manuel, Sr., Ana Leonora hired Antone Pimentel as a ranch hand.
Antone later became Ana Leonora’s second husband and their only child, Antone, Jr., was born to them. Antone, Jr. was eventually one of the owners of the Ingleside Café, which is today known as The Trap, a bar at the present day corner of Riverside Boulevard and 43rd Avenue.
While with his stepson, Manuel, Jr., Antone, Sr. was tragically killed in a duck hunting accident, once again leaving Ana Leonora a widow.
As time passed, Manuel, Sr.’s sons split their inherited property lengthwise and individually farmed each side of this property, which at the time also included the levee.
In the early 1950s, Joseph had the Garcia Bend Marina built on his portion of the levee; however, he personally never operated it.
Joseph first leased his marina to Bill Wheeler, who also operated the Da Rosa Marina, which was located near today’s 35th Avenue in the Riverside area.
The Garcia Bend Marina dock measured about 200 feet in length and featured two berthing for rowboats.
The primary purpose of the marina, which was located at the first bend of the river on Riverside Road (now Riverside Boulevard), after Portuguese Hall, was to dock boats for fishing purposes. However, no boats at the marina were available for renting.
The cost of berthing at the marina was $5 per foot, measured by the length of each boat.
Another feature of the marina was a small bar with beer, soft drinks and sandwiches.
Following Wheeler’s leasing of the marina, a subsequent owner took over the marina’s operation.
During the 1960s, ownership reverted back to Garcia family members, including Joseph’s daughter, Rosaline, and the spouses of Joseph’s daughters, Mabel and Ethel.
It was at this time that Rosaline, along with Mabel and Ethel’s husbands, Frank “Babe” Wittpen and Monte Dorman, respectively, decided to refurbish the dock and operate it themselves. This trio of owners was later joined by William Garcia, the son of Manuel, Jr.
Following the death of Wittpen, Mabel was found operating the business by herself. She therefore hired a man to assist her in keeping the marina business running.
In 1997, the Department of Water Resources requested that Mabel remodel and reinforce the wooden pilings with concrete pilings at a cost of $40,000.
Since Mabel was unable to financially meet this request, she decided to close the marina.
While operating Wheeler’s Landing – the original name of the Da Rosa Marina – Wheeler was assisted by a man, named Jim, whose last name is unknown.
The dock at this marina included a drink and sandwich concessions area, which was much smaller than the similar operation at the Garcia Bend Marina.
Also included at the dock were a few rowboats that were rented for the purpose of fishing.
About the time that Wheeler left the Garcia Bend Marina, he also left the Da Rosa’s marina and consequently the name of the marina was changed to the Da Rosa Marina.
During the operation of these two aforementioned marinas, Manuel farmed on his half of the inherited land and although he did not own a dock, he owned about 15 rowboats, which he rented for fishing purposes.
Since he did not own a dock, the boats were tied to poles that were secured to the shore. The poles were used to keep the boats from hitting the levee with the wake from passing boats.
Adding to the Garcia family’s history along the river, Ethel also joined the family’s boat rental business during the 1950s, while still residing on her father’s ranch.
Ethel’s five or six rowboats, which were rented to fisherman, provided a small revenue for her living expenses.
Another generation of the Garcia family, Irving “Irvin” Garcia, the son of Manuel Garcia, Jr., resided and worked on his father’s ranch until it was sold for subdivision.
During the time that Irvin was farming on his father’s ranch, he decided to construct his own personal dock for fishing.
The dock measured about 40 or 50 feet long and included a place for Manuel to tie up his boat.
The fishing area became known to outsiders, who would drive up to the levee to fish from his dock.
The number of fishermen arriving at the dock became overbearing to Irvin and out of desperation to maintain his privacy, he began to charge a fee to fish from his dock.
Initially, Irvin charged 50 cents per visit, then later 75 cents and finally $1. These increases proved to not be a deterrent, as the fisherman continued to arrive and pay these increased fees.
Eventually, Irvin, who passed away on July 23, 1999, fenced off the area leading to the entrance of his dock.
Another farmer who owned fishing boats for rent in the area was George Rogers, whose father – who was born Albert Mendes (later Rogers) in the Azores Islands – was a member of a pioneering Portuguese family in the Pocket.
The Rogers ranch, which was located at the present day intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Pocket Road, included acreage for the residences of Albert’s children.
George, who owned about a dozen boats, operated his fishing boat rental business on his father’s property next to the levee.
Eventually, George (1896–1984), who had a twin brother named Frank, sold part of his property and gave his business to his sister, Margaret.
Margaret, however, became ill shortly after acquiring the boat rental operation and thus terminated the business.
Another part of the Garcia history in the area occurred on the site of today’s Garcia Bend Park. This park is part of the historic McGee Ranch, about 100 acres of which was acquired by Anna Leonora Pimentel and farmed by her son, Manuel Garcia, Jr.
Anna Leonora later sold the ranch to Joe Sarmento and Frank “Capitao” (“Captain”) Perry, and Manuel, Jr. returned to farming on the original Garcia ranch.
Frank Rogers eventually purchased the historic McGee Ranch from Sarmento and Perry and farmed the ranch until he sold the property to a real estate firm in the late 1960s.
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. The park, which also includes tennis courts, soccer fields and a children’s playground, received its name as a tribute to Manuel Garcia, Sr.
The park has become a major attraction for the Pocket community and continues the area’s historic usage of the river for boating and fishing.