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December 12, 2007 > The Ellsworth Family

The Ellsworth Family

Jane McCamy Beard was born in Alabama on Dec. 25, 1817. She was descended from prominent colonial Georgia settlers and grew up in Tennessee and Arkansas. Edward A. Ellsworth and Jane married in 1833 when she was 16 years old. Their son Henry Goodrich Ellsworth was born in 1835. Edward died in 1837 before his daughter Ellen was born.

Jane lived with her father-in-law in Washington, D.C. for awhile; then in 1843, returned to the Ellsworth family home in Lafayette, Indiana. Here she met and married Elias Lyman Beard. Their son John was born in 1845 while they were living in Indiana.

Elias Beard came to Mission San Jose in 1849 where he acquired and developed agricultural land with his partner John Horner. He and Jane established their home in the surviving adobe Mission buildings with their children Henry and John. Henry and John were listed in the 1852 school census for Santa Clara County, "District of San Jose Mission" dated Oct. 31, A.D. 1852.

Henry became a partner with Elias managing the family orchards, farms and other properties. Henry was active, raising and marketing the farm products such as peaches which he sometimes shipped by rail. Beard made references to Henry in his diary, especially about their travels and financial dealings. He noted that he had visited Rancho Tularcitos in November 1856 with Henry and stayed in San Juan Bautista after traveling 56 miles in one day. He also recorded in December that he had borrowed $700 from Henry. Beard's account book for his general store in one of the Mission buildings lists Henry as a customer.

Henry married Harriet Pierce Bryant in San Francisco in 1866. They lived with Jane and Elias Beard in their Mission home for several years. Son Oliver was born here in 1866 before the 1868 earthquake destroyed the Mission church. Son Edward was born in 1869 after the earthquake. The white cross in the oldest daguerreotype of the Mission marks the spot of their birth. Henry Jr., Jennie and Susie were also born in Mission San Jose. Caroline was born in 1881 after the family moved to Niles.

Henry purchased the Severance farm on the banks of Alameda Creek in 1880 and "transformed the lands into orchards" and became a widely recognized fruit grower. He was irrigating with water from the Spring Valley Water Company in 1889. Charles Shinn noted in 1889 that Henry had 75 acres of orchard and 28 acres of grape vines. He erected a two-story house for his family with a palm-lined driveway and farmed until his death in 1897. The 1898 Special Edition pictures the home as the residence of his wife, Harriet.

Oliver Bryant Ellsworth graduated from the University of California, earned a law degree and was a probate attorney in San Francisco. He lived in Piedmont where he was mayor for 20 years. Oliver collected art works and autographs and enjoyed gardening. He Married Lillian Mastick. Their daughter, Beatrice, was the grandmother of Audrey Ellsworth Freeman who helped gather information for this article.

Edward (Ned) Augustus Ellsworth, II stayed in Niles and ran the family orchard. He married Lizzie Snyder in 1892. Their children were Edward Bryant and Harriet. After Lizzie died Ned married Gertrude Dassel. Their children were Gertrude and Vernon, who stayed in Niles, ran the family business and served as secretary of the Niles Chamber of Commerce.

Ned erected his own home nearby, established a real estate firm, started a dryer in the orchard and bought the Niles Co-Operative Fruit plant. He helped organize the Niles State Bank in 1906 and served as vice president. He acquired and developed the Citizens' Water Company after World War I. The rerouting of Mission Boulevard in 1937 separated the two Ellsworth houses, took part of the orchard, and disrupted the palm-lined driveway to the original house.

Henry Goodrich, Jr. married Olive Pearl Wells in 1898. They lived in Oakland and their children were Rodney and Miriam.

Jennie married Robert Price and lived in Reno, Nevada. Their daughter was Harriet.

Suzie married Albert Royal in 1898. Their children, Albert and Carolyn, were born in Oakland.

Caroline, the youngest of Henry and Harriet's children, died of cancer at age 20.

Ellsworth family members sometimes returned to "the ranch" for get-togethers, but after World War II, it was sold for a housing development. The H.B. Ellsworth home became the Essanay Motel and then the Fremont Frontier Inn. Sherri and Martin Spillman purchased the remaining Edward Ellsworth estate for their home in 1973. The orchard is gone, but the two houses and downtown Ellsworth building survive as memorials to this prominent family.

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