Hispanic Division: Back to Agricultural Settlements in Central California

Agricultural Settlement in the San Joaquin Valley

One example of a Portuguese settlement in the San Joaquin Valley is the agricultural community of Tracy in southwestern San Joaquin County. Shown here is a portion of a 1966 county land ownership map, which has been annotated to indicate those land owners in the vicinity of Tracy who are most obviously of Portuguese descent. Some of the family names that have been highlighted include Vieira, Silva, Rocha, Ornellas, Parreira, Souza, Costa, Furtado, and Pombo. Tracy's Richard W. Pombo, the only congressman of Portuguese ancestry currently in the U.S. House Representatives, represents this area.

Founded in 1878 as a railroad town, Tracy has developed into a prosperous agricultural center, aided by the fertile soils of California's central valley and a maze of irrigation canals and pipelines. The major agricultural products of this area include cherries, apricots, walnuts, almonds, alfalfa, safflower, asparagus, tomatoes, wheat, barley, cauliflower, cattle, dairy products, corn, pumpkins, and dry beans. Farmers of Portuguese ancestry, as indicated by the numerous family names on the map, have played a major role in the agricultural economy and prosperity of this area. For example, Larry Teixeira, a Portuguese-American, initiated the California Dry Bean Festival in 1987. This is now Tracy's largest event, attracting more than 30,000 people to the town the first weekend in August.
San Joaquin County, California, Plat Map
San Joaquin County, California, Plat Map. Madison, Wisc.: County Plat and Directory Co., 1966. Color facsimile. Geography and Map Division, G4363.S26 1966 .C6 (22).

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Agricultural Settlement in the San Joaquin Valley