Portuguese Pioneers of Santa Clara Valley

The Portuguese have been coming to the Santa Clara Valley since the Gold Rush. Inspired by the stories of Azorean whalers who jumped ship in San Francisco or Monterey, people from the Azores began seeking a new life in America.

Settling in the verdant Valley of the Heart’s Delight, they quickly utilized their skills of farming and dairying to create new lives for themselves. Many families living in Silicon Valley today trace their roots back to these early pioneers.

Click on an article below.

The Alvernaz Family and Vasona Lake Park

José Alvernaz started Sun Ray Dairy in Los Gatos in 1933 and was a well-respected member of his community.

The Azevedos and the American Dairy Company

Manuel T. Azevedo was an immigrant who had owned dairies in San Mateo and Napa Counties before finally settling in San José and purchasing the American Dairy Company with Manuel Lewis.

The da Gamas of Hawaii and Santa Clara

Suffering hardship with the loss of their 1-1/2 year-old daughter the day before landing in Hawaii, João da Gama, Jr. and Maria Marques and their extended family made a life in Hawaii before moving to California.

Anthony Maderis -- Portuguese Builder

Selling men's and boys' clothing into his late-30s, Anthony Maderis changed course to build homes instead.

The Rose Family in the Shadow of Mt. Hamilton

Tracing their lineage in the area to the 1870s, the Rose Family was raised in the East Foothills of San José in a tight-knit Portuguese immigrant enclave.

The Santos Family of Alviso

Leaving school after the 8th Grade, Tony P. Santos served as mayor, councilmember, and police and fire chief of the City of Alviso while running a property ownership and management business.

Nascimento, Avila and Pombinho Pioneer Families

The Nascimento and Pombinho Families were lifelong friends who partnered to grow fruit and produce milk in the first generation, while the second generation returned to their fruit-growing roots.

The Vieira Family on Communications Hill

José Azevedo purchased 96 acres in 1896 and four generations were living on the land by 1959.