Transfer Business, Santa Clara



Many lines of activity have felt the stimulus of the enterprise, business discernment and well defined plans of Manuel S. Silva, pioneer transfer man, rancher and capitalist of Santa Clara, who wields a wide influence in commercial circles of the city. He possesses initiative combined with marked executive ability, and to him opportunity has spelled success. He was born on the island of Gracioso. in the Azores, February 20, 1851, upon the estate of his grandfather, Manuel S. Silva, who reared a family of four sons and four daughters. The father, Joel Souza Silva, was married on that island to Callinna Souza Silva and they also had a family of eight children, consisting of four sons and four daughters. Mr. Silva followed the occupation of farming for many years and passed away at the age of seventy-four, while the mother died in 1859.

Manuel S. Silva, the youngest of the family, was reared upon a farm and through assisting his father early became familiar with stockraising, dairying and the basic principles of agriculture. When sixteen years of age he sailed for America, landing at Boston, Mass., and soon afterward became a member of the crew of a whaling vessel, sailing from Beverly, on which he cruised the Atlantic for fifteen months. They secured their first cargo of whale oil on the Western grounds, which lie between the United States and the Azores, going from there to the island of Fayal, in the Azores, where they disposed of their oil and other whale products. On their next whaling expedition they went to South Africa, thence to Brazil and the West Indies, taking in the Barbadoes, Guadeloupe and Dominique Islands and returning to Fayal, whence they sailed for Beverly, Mass., where Mr. Silva left the vessel. Going to Boston, he there spent a week and then went to Fall River, Mass., where for five years he was employed in a calico mill. At the end of that period he started for the West, and after reaching San Francisco, Cal.. arriving in 1873, he made his way to Half Moon Bay, where he spent four years, devoting his attention to the development of a farm.

In May, 1878. Mr. Silva came to Santa Clara County, being without funds. While residing in San Mateo County he had planted 1,000 sacks of seed potatoes, but owing to the prolonged drought of `1877 his crop was a failure and his indebtedness amounted to $1,500. Land in the vicinity of Santa Clara was then selling for twenty-five dollars an acre and farming was in a demoralized state. The farmers who did not understand soil and climatic conditions were in the habit of sowing forty pounds of seed grain to an acre and the yield was a very poor one. Mr. Silva and other Portuguese farmers conceived the idea of sowing a greater quantity of seed per acre and instead of forty pounds they sowed a sack to an acre. The result was a better stand and the yield per acre was practically quadrupled, this method being later adopted by the other farmers in the district, which was devoted principally to the raising of hay and grain. For four years Mr. Silva cultivated rented land and then purchased twenty-six and a half acres near Santa Clara, which he still owns, afterward taking up his home in the city. Here he has engaged for many years in the transfer business, being a pioneer in this line in Santa Clara. Owing to his capable management the enterprise has grown from year to year until it has now reached large proportions. He handles all of the freight consigned to Santa Clara business houses over the Southern Pacific Railroad and his son assists him in conducting the business, which is operated along the most modern and progressive lines. They utilize two motor trucks, one having a capacity of two tons and the other of eight. They  also have eight wagons which will carry from eight to eleven tons of freight, with from two to eight horses for each wagon, these being used for bad roads and mountain traffic.

While residing at Half Moon Bay Mr. Silva married Miss Mary Julia Silva, who passed away March 20, 1902, leaving one son, Manuel S., Jr. He married Miss Mary Francisco and they have a daughter, Lillie. They reside with Mr. Silva, Sr., in an attractive home at 1567 Main Street. Mr. Silva is a faithful member of the Santa Clara Catholic Church and is also identified with the I. D. E. S. and the S. E. S. Starting out in life empty-handed, he has worked his way steadily upward until he is today a dominant figure in business circles of Santa Clara.

From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1433


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight