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Manuel Bettencourt Silva
New Bedford Whaler
Manuel Bettencourt Silva was my great grandfather. He was born in May of 1856 on the island of Sao Jorge in the Western Islands. These islands are known as the Azores. They lie midway between America and the coast of Portugal.
Manuel Bettencourt Silva was the son of Joseph Bettencourt Silva. His mother's name is unknown. Manuel was an expert horticulturist, having extensive knowledge of grafting fruit trees,so much so that professors from the University of Rhode Island, which was primarily an agricultural school early in the century, consulted him frequently .The islands of the Azores have been farmed for centuries and quite often, as in Ireland, the farmers experienced crop failures. There were several such failures in the mid nineteenth century. Times were difficult. The young men of the islands were lured by the tales of the New England whalers who came ashore looking for strong young seamen. In addition, every young Azorean man of sixteen was required to serve eight years in the military of the Portuguese government. Perhaps these are some of the reasons young fourteen year old Manuel left his native land to journey to Americain 1870. It is likely that he emigrated aboard a whaling ship. He must have come into New Bedford, Massachusetts, the great whaling port of the last century. Little is known of how he spent the first ten years of his life in Massachusetts. He may have made a few trips as a whaling crew member. He soon left life on the sea to become a farm hand. He met a young woman, Anna Gomes, who arrived in this country in 1873 from her native Flores. They married about 1879 and spent the early years of their marriage in Portsmouth, Rhode Island ,New Bedford, and South Dartmouth, Massachusetts on farms. By 1886, the Silva family were living in East Providence, RI on King Street, near Potter Ave. In 1888, Manuel and Anna purchased their first home at 32 Orchard Street. Manuel was employed as a laborer. By 1900, he was working for the New Haven RR. In 1905, the Silva family purchased a new three decker home at 74-76 Fourth Street.
From 1912-1925, Manuel was an expressman for the railroad at Watchemoket Square in East Providence. On October 26, 1923 he lost his wife of 43 years. In 1927, he retired. Three years later on September 6,1930, he passed away.
Manuel will always be remembered as a fine gentleman. He was a hardy man, not afraid to work with his big strong hands to make a good life for his family. He tended his trees and property with great care and skill. He appears to have been a stern man, very distinguished looking with his white handlebar mustache and derby hat. His daughters and grandchildren lived in the big home and shared many good times. There was laughter,singing and music. Some difficult times, but most of all, happy times. He saw to it that his family would have a good life here in the country he adopted when he became one of it's citizens in 1910.
Ancestors of Manuel Bettencourt Silva
1. Manuel Bettencourt Silva, son of Jose Bettencourt Silva and Unknown, was
born on 16 May 1856 in Sao Jorge, Azores, died on 6 Sep 1930 in East
Providence, Providence Co, Rhode Island, and was buried in Sep 1930 in Saint
Francis Cemetery, Section 48, Lot 236, Pawtucket, Providence County, Rhode
Manuel married Anna Gomes, daughter of Joao Furtado Gomes and Catarina De
Jesus Trigueiro, in 1879 in New England.
Second Generation (Parents)
2. Jose Bettencourt Silva was born about 1830 in Sao Jorge, Azores and died in
Sao Jorge, Azores.
Jose married Unknown before 1856 in Azores.
3. Unknown was born about 1835 in Azores and died in Azores.
Unknown married Jose Bettencourt Silva before 1856 in Azores.