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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


John Joseph Alves

An authority on fruit-growing in the Vine Hill district, Sonoma county, is to be found in the person of J. J. Alves, superintendent of the now famous Vine Hill View ranch, of which A. B. Hills is the owner, and in addition to caring for this property he owns and manages a ranch of his own in close proximity, the two properties representing nearly four hundred and fifty acres under cultivation, grapes and the various fruits being raised in about equal proportions.

The master hand responsible for the thrift and prosperity now visible at the Vine Hill View ranch is Mr. Alves. His adaptation for the work which he is so successfully following is inherited, no doubt, from his ancestors, who for many generations were natives of Portugal, where fruit-growing is the principal industry of the inhabitants. He, too, was born in that far-off country, in 1861, and was reared in his native surroundings until he was a youth of eighteen years. Coming to the United States at this age, he first located in Massachusetts, where his knowledge of agriculture was put to good account, for two years working on a farm near Swansea. During this time he was gaining valuable experience, not only familiarizing himself with the English language, but also gaining practical experience in American methods of farming. It was with this added experience to his credit tht he came to California in 1881, going first to Alameda county, where for six years he was foreman of a ranch of five hundred and sixty acres. At the expiration of this time he went to Humboldt county and was interested in the dairy business for two years after which he came to Sonoma county and has made this his home ever since. For the first three years he had charge of a ranch of one hundred and sixty acres for Mr. Bannister at East Windsor, after which he was in the employ of Ottson & Palmer in Santa Rosa for two years. Good fortune awaited him when he came to Sebastopol at the end of this time, for it was then that he assumed the management of the Vine Hill View ranch for A. B. Hills, at the Vine Hill. When he undertook the management of the property it was in a neglected condition, and in its restoration he has made a name for himself which has placed him high in te list of expert fruit-growers in this part of Sonoma county. His knowledge of grape culture was especially valuable to him, for of the four hundred and twenty-nine acres included in the ranch, two hundred acres are in vineyard, and the greater part of the balance of the ranch, or one hundred and fifty acres, are in fruits of all varieties. What he has been able to accomplish has been truly wonderful, and today Vine Hill View ranch is conceded to be one of the most productive and best developed ranches in the county. In addition to this ranch he cultivates a ranch of his own of twenty acres, situated close to the former, his own property also yielding excellent crops of grapes and blackberries, the former averaging sixty-four tons to the acre, and the latter three tons to the acre. It is not an overestimate of Mr. Alves’ accomplishments to say that he has entirely transformed the appearance and productiveness of ranches in this section of country, his success with his own and Mr. Hill’s property lending zest to other ranchers, who have redoubled their own energy, and as a result the entire neighborhood has taken a long step forward agriculturally.

In California Mr. Alves met and married his wife, who before her marriage was Miss Nellie McLaren, a native of the state. The five children born of their marriage are named in order of their birth as follows: John M., assistant cashier of the Pacific State Telephone and Telegraph Company of San Francisco; Annie, who has recently won a prize as the omost popular lady in a voting contest conducted by the Santa Rosa Democrat, the successful candidate being favored with a trip to the Yosemite valley; the remaining children in the family being William S., Frank S. and James H. While a resident of Alameda county Mr. Alves served acceptably as road master for some years, and his interest in public affairs has shown no diminution since coming to Sonoma county. On political questions he is independent, but always does his duty at the polls, voting for the man best fitted for the office in question. Fraternally he belongs to one order only, the Independent Order of Foresters.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011