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November 14, 2007 > History


The Lewis Family

In 1902, Antonio D. Luiz left his native Fayal, Azore Islands, to make a new home for his family in America. He took his eldest son, Joseph, with him and left behind his wife, Maria and five other children.

Antonio purchased a parcel of land on Central Ave. in Centerville, an area that would play a key role in the life of the family for the next century. He became an active member of the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, now called Holy Spirit Church. The following year, he was joined by his second son, Anthony, and the three created a working farm. They provided a well, tank house and windmill to pump water for their use. They built a house and barn, planted vegetable crops and an apricot orchard, and added farm animals.

Antonio made arrangements to bring his sons Fred, Manuel and John, his daughter Marie and his parents to Centerville in 1904. The younger children attended Centerville Grammar School and Antonio cared for his parents the rest of their lives.

Although the parents kept the Portuguese name of Luiz, the younger generation became the Lewis family. They all worked together to produce crops and make a living on the farm. As they grew up and married, they left the farm and, having learned their lessons well from their father, were able to set out on their own, becoming very successful farmers.

The only girl in the family, Marie, married Anthony Rose. In 1923, they built their home on Central Ave. where they raised their daughter, Vivian. The house still stands today. Marie, as was typical of the time, was a housewife with varied outside interests. Her favorites were the Holy Spirit Church Altar Society and the Washington Hospital Pink Ladies.

Manuel married Marian Perry. Their Tudor home, where children Robert and Mitzi grew up, still stands on Thornton Ave. Manuel left farming and became Postmaster of Centerville. In 1962, he retired after serving as Fremont's first Postmaster for 28 years. He was a member of the local draft board during World War II and active in Woodmen of the World and the Knights of Columbus.

Joseph married Mary Perry, sister of Manuel's wife. They made their home on North Main St. (now Fremont Blvd.) which they shared with children Beatrice, Mabel and Dolores. Joseph had an apricot orchard there and grew cherries on Peralta Blvd. near Sequoia Rd. That property was sold to Lincoln Homes for one of Centerville's first housing tracts.

The other three brothers concentrated on their principal crops - cauliflower and tomatoes - usually bound for F. E. Booth Cannery, and sugar beets sold to the Holly Sugar Company in Alvarado.

John married Suzie Vieux and built their home, also on Central Ave., where it stands today. Their children were Naomi and John. John farmed land near his home as well as in the Irvington area. He was a member of the Men's Club of Washington Township and was active in the Knights of Columbus.

Fred married Helen George and bought Dr. Eaton's house across from Centerville Grammar School. Their daughter, Elaine, grew up there and recalls her dad contracting with the military to grow green beans during World War II. Fred farmed properties on Stevenson Blvd. and land now part of Brookvale and Glenmoor. He was a volunteer fireman, a director of the Alameda County Fair, and a director of the Bank of America.

Anthony and his wife Zulmida, with their children Norma and Edward, lived on Peralta Blvd. Their home stood on land bought from Washington High School when it moved to its present location. Anthony farmed that land, but most of his operation was concentrated in Newark where he owned land west of Mayhew's Landing Rd. He dealt with the school district again when he sold a parcel of his land for the construction of the present Newark High School. Tony was involved in a number of community and philanthropic organizations.

Advanced age and ill health forced Antonio Luiz to sell his farm and move to a smaller home - again on Central Ave. and close to his church. The farm was eventually bought by Glenmoor Homes. In 1952, two of the Lewis granddaughters - Elaine Lewis Dutra and Vivian Rose Costa - and their husbands bought homes in Glenmoor and were fortunate enough to be sold lots on the old "home place."

Mr. Luiz's decision at the turn of the century to bring his family to this country was a wise one. It provided a happy and prosperous life for them, and they became a credit to the community.

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