Nine hundred miles west of mainland Portugal and three hundred miles northwest of the continent of Africa, there are nine islands that form the archipelago of the Azores. (add who settled and from where)
In the 1800’s whaling routes connected these islands with America. Whaling captains looking for crew to work on their ships, encouraged young men to hire on. The islands over populated, created a circumstance of poverty, and social inequality which encouraged immigration to New England, Canada, Hawaii and San Francisco. Until the Azores became independent, the government of Portugal, a monarchy, and then a dictatorship under Salazar, ordered the men of the Azores to be conscripted into the army to fight their wars. Families hid their young men from the authorities and many hired on as hands on whaling ships and then jumped ship in American ports; New England, Hawaii and San Francisco. New England offered work in textile mills, Hawaii in the sugar cane fields and then the gold fields of Northern California lured many to immigrate to seek a better life.
These migrants, family oriented men, offered help to the next family member by providing passage, inviting them into their homes, and assistance in finding jobs until they could save enough money to send for their wives and children and go off on their own and make their own life.
My grandfather’s uncle, Frank (Faustino)Foster, signed on a whaling ship that came into San Francisco. He settled in Marin County and began working at a dairy in what is now called Terra Linda. Immigrants from the Azores acquired work on ranches doing what they knew: farming and milking cows. Frank, my grandfather Joao’s uncle worked on a ranch in what is now known as Terra Linda and he got Joao a job milking cows and worked with him as his first job in California. Frank was the one who encouraged my grandfather to change his name, to Americanize it. Joao Faustino then became John Foster. The Portuguese wanted to fit in and become Americans.
My grandmother’s brother Manuel Borba met John Foster while working with Frank Foster. They became friends and decided to move to Bolinas and work on a ranch milking cows for a Bolinas business man, Mr. Ingerman. He owned property and cows on the big mesa, but was more interested in running the town store. He rented his property, a house, out-buildings, land and the cows, to my grandfather and grand uncle.
On this property my John and Ernestina had their six children. John, Mary, (my mother) Anthony, Rose, Palmeda and Manual George. They lived there until 1919, John was 18 and George was 3, when my grandfather died from the “Spanish Flu” epidemic which caused the deaths of millions of people world wide.