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June 14, 2005 > Stivers Family

Stivers Family

Simeon Stivers was born in Camden, New Jersey, July 23, 1826. He became an orphan at three years old when his parents went down with a ship at sea. Adopted and raised by his Uncle Earl Marshall and his wife, Letitia. Simeon attended Philadelphia High School and then began learning the carpenter trade at age 17.

Simeon came to California on the Brooklyn with his Uncle Earl and Aunt Letitia. He worked at his carpenter trade in Yerba Buena, now San Francisco, helping to build the first public school house there. He joined his Uncle Earl at Mission San Jose in 1848. They went to the gold fields soon after the discovery was made public and returned to Mission San Jose with enough gold to purchase land for farms.

Stivers bought 160 acres from John Horner, owner of part of the previous Mission San Jose lands. The survey of the land done by William Lewis, Santa Clara County surveyor, was dated December 12, 1850; a survey for Earl Marshall's land adjacent to Simeon's had the same date. A lagoon near the Marshall house was identified as Clear Lake. The southern lagoon was known as the Tule Pond or the Lagoon until it became identified as Stivers Lagoon.

Simeon met Anna Maria Jones in San Francisco when she was only eight years old. He decided that he would wait for her to grow up so she could be his wife. They were married years later on September 12, 1858 by elder John M. Horner. Simeon and Earl apparently had a prefabricated house shipped in pieces around the Horn and erected for their home near the present BART Station. Later, Simeon built a large two-story house on his ranch near Mission Boulevard for his home.

Anna's family came west to Salt Lake City in 1846 and then to San Bernardino in 1851. The family visited San Francisco where Anna met Simeon.

Anna and Simeon raised eight children who were born between 1859 and 1878. They attended Washington Public School (later Irvington Elementary) and Washington Union High School when it opened in 1892. Letitia, the oldest, was apparently named for Mrs. Letitia Marshall. Simon managed the ranch. He married Lillian Frances McCarthy. Their children were Grace, Lillian, Leland, Elizabeth, and Leslie. Charlotte was a graduate of the State Normal School. She married J.H. Millard of San Francisco. Their children were Ralph and Ernest. Samuel worked on the ranch. He married Elizabeth McCarthy. Their children were Marcella and LaVerne; both became local teachers. Champion was an attorney, a graduate of Hastings Law College, who lived at home. Mark died in 1953 and Anna died in 1957. Only Charlotte, Simeon, and Samuel married.

The Stivers name and ranch are well documented. Historian M.W. Wood gives a brief biography of the family. The 1878 Atlas of Alameda County lists Simeon as a farmer with 540 acres, but the map shows the Marshall-Stivers properties connected. Other maps showed the lagoons under a variety of names. Stivers was listed as one of the large landowners in 1880. The History of Washington Township lists members of four generations of the Stivers family living in Washington Township.

Earl and Simeon were trustees of the Irvington branch of the Reorganized Latter Day Saints Church in 1867. Anna was a faithful member and Simeon was a "generous supporter". Simeon was reported to be "liberal in his political views, voting for the best men and measures, but refused all official honors."

Simeon carried on general farming and stock raising, cultivating much of his 600-acre ranch. Simeon was credited as being a good manager with sound judgment, "attaining a place of influence among the farmers." His sons continued farming until they had to lease operations to John Lewis.

Anna and Simeon were honored at the 50th anniversary of the gold discovery held in San Francisco. Anna was an accomplished seamstress and embroiderer. One of her quilts made of swatches of silk and ribbons representing events of the time has survived as a treasured family heirloom.

Simeon died of pneumonia in his home on the ranch February 7, 1898 at the age of 85. The single family members continued to live on and operate the ranch. There were still about eleven direct descendants of Simeon and Anna living in the Fremont area in 1967.

The Washington Township District Hospital was opened on a 10-acre section of the Stivers ranch in 1958. The family held the rest of the 600-acre ranch intact until it had to be sold. Elizabeth Meyer contacted Kaiser, and the ranch was sold in 1955, and the money divided among the heirs, Anna and fifteen nieces and nephews. It was said to be the last large ranch in the area still owned by the family that founded it.

Marilyn Price recalled childhood visits when her grandfather, Simeon (Jr.), was living in the Marshall house and farming the ranch in the 1930's. She played in the barn and rode with her granddad while he was harvesting. She watched him fire up the blacksmith shop and hammer to repair farm equipment. She remembered the lane that led from Santos Ave (now Mowry) by the farm buildings over two railroad tracks to the house her great grandfather built near Mission Boulevard. She played with the Chinese children that lived near the lane. The main crops on the farm then were grain, tomatoes, and sugar beets.

Simeon lived in the simple prefabricated two-story house erected on the Marshall-Stivers property just west of the lagoon near the present BART station. The farm buildings included a large two-story barn, a smaller barn, a corral, a blacksmith shop, grain bins, bunkhouse, and a windmill.

The Stivers buildings are gone. The farm is covered with houses, but the lagoons remain as monuments to the Stivers-Marshall families.

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