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Agricultural Settlements in Central CaliforniaThe second largest concentration of Americans claiming Portuguese ancestry is in central California. During the middle of the nineteenth century, the first Portuguese settlers were associated with the scattered whaling stations along the California coast. With the discovery of gold in the 1850s, some of these fishermen moved to the gold mining camps in the Sacramento Valley. Most of these early immigrants were Azoreans, who had come to California from southeastern New England.
Although this initial migration was relatively small, larger numbers of Portuguese started moving into the area during the last decades of the nineteenth century. These newcomers engaged primarily in agriculture, including dairying and intensive vegetable and fruit farming. At first they settled in communities on the east side of the San Francisco Bay such as Oakland, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, and Santa Clara, and then eventually in the San Joaquin Valley, developing fruit, vegetable, and dairy farms in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Kings, and Tulare counties.
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