2013 December 22

Carmen Beatrice Ponce Sforzini

A Brief Family History

Topics

Carmen and Harry in their backyard orchard

Ethnicity/Culture

Carmen is of pure Spanish heritage, as both of her parents were born in Spain. Carmen’s mother, Mary Anaya, was born and raised in a small village of white adobe hillside homes in Benagalbon, which was founded in 1776. It lies in close proximity to Malaga in southern Spain. Carmen’s father, Francisco Ponce, was born and raised in the lovely city of Sevilla, also located in southern Spain, west of Malaga.

Family History

A depressed economy compelled both families to leave Spain in 1907. They sailed on cargo ships for three months, around South America to the big island of Hawaii. Carmen’s mother, Mary, was nine years old when she made this journey with her parents and her five siblings (Jose, Joaquin, Antonia, Rafaella, and Amalia). The ship landed in the port of Hilo where families were taken by train to a sugar cane plantation in Paiwello.

For the next seven years, Mary’s parents and siblings worked in the sugar cane fields while she cooked the meals (killing chickens by hand!), cleaned their hut, washed the family clothing, and raised her three younger sisters.

The family remained in Hawaii as indentured servants. After seven years, they were given “Free Passage to California” as they had been promised by the agents for the sugar cane plantations. Upon arrival in California, the Anaya and Ponce families traveled to the Santa Clara Valley of California and purchased prime agricultural land.

Settling in Cupertino, the Anaya family purchased parcels of land and became ranchers of apricot, peach, and cherry orchards. Three years later, when Mary was 19, she was introduced to Francisco Ponce, whose family also worked the fields in Hawaii as indentured servants. The two had a short courtship and were married in 1917. That same year, their first daughter, christened “Mary” was born. Young Mary soon had three more sisters: Carmen, Connie, and Madge.

Carmen was born in 1919 in Santa Clara as a first-generation Spaniard-American. She met her future spouse, Harry Peter Sforzini (a first-generation Italian-American, born in 1916) at Fremont Union High School in Cupertino, CA. This high school is still standing and looking as lovely as it did all those many years ago.

Harry courted Carmen for seven years, and at the age of 21, Carmen married Harry on May 11, 1941. They shared a wonderful and loving life together until Harry’s death in 2010 at age 93.

Carmen was the second of four sisters; Harry was an “only” child. The couple had two daughters: Sharon, who now lives in North Bethesda, Maryland, and Charlotte, who lives locally in Alamo, California.

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