Antone (Tony) Manha immigrated to Mason Valley in 1901 from the Azores, a group of Portuguese Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Mason Valley attracted many of the islanders who wanted to farm, including Tony’s brother Jose and eventually 10 more brothers and sisters. Each found a place to work as a laborer for room and board and to earn a few dollars to send to the remaining family members in the Azores. Tony worked for Manuel Bettencourt whose family had immigrated from the Azores before the Manhas. He met and married Bettencourt’s daughter, Virginia, in January 1909. By December 1909, Tony was able to lease the “Poor Farm” from Lyon County. He raised and milked dairy cows, raised hay, and planted gardens. Two more brothers immigrated to help on the farm and in January 1912, Tony was able to purchase the farm from W. Melarkey. They had two children: Agnes Marie born Dec. 15, 1909, and Joseph William born March 27, 1912. When Tony passed away in 1933, Joseph took over the operations. He married Josephine Borsini in 1939 and they had twins William (Bill) David and Marjorie Ann in April 1940. Josephine was a vital part of the farm. She helped milk 100 cows twice a day, and cleaned the barn and equipment to maintain their high cleanliness rating from the state health inspector. She planted a huge vegetable garden, an orchard and flowers, and raised chickens. When Joseph passed away in 1980, Bill took over the major workload on the farm. Bill and his wife Lorraine continue to manage the farm which is leased in part to John Thompson who raises alfalfa and, in part, to Christopher Ranches, LLC, of Gilroy, California, who raises premium garlic. According to Lorraine, you can still see Josephine’s old wild roses that bloom near the house. In 2013, the Manha Farm was a recipient of the Nevada Centennial Award Ranch & Farm Award.
This entry is from the Nevada Centennial Awards Ranch & Farm Program which recognizes agricultural families who have owned and operated the same land in Nevada for 100 years or more. Forty-seven families have now been inducted into the program that began in 2004. The awards program is sponsored by the Nevada Agriculture Plate funds, Farm Bureau, Agricultural Foundation, Nevada Department of Agriculture, Cattlemen’s Association and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. For more information about the Nevada Centennial Awards Ranch & Farm Program please visit http://agri.nv.gov/.