The Valley of Heart's Delight
MRS. SARAH ELIZABETH LESTER
originally of Ledyard, New London County, Conn
comes to Santa Clara County, California, 1883
SURNAMES: Avery, Spicer, Fanning, Chapman, Snyder, Hughes, Van
Among the real builders of the community, mention must be made of Mrs.
Sarah E. Lester, who has borne her part in home-making and rearing an
honorable and highly respected family. Born in that old colonial town
of Ledyard, New London County, Conn., August 3, 1847, she is the
daughter of Judge Edmund and Bethiah Williams (Avery) Spicer, and a
granddaughter of John Spicer, all natives of Connecticut. Her father
followed the occupation of school teaching, farming and merchandising,
besides holding many positions of trust and honor. For years he was a
member of the school board of his district from 1867 until his death
held the office of postmaster at Ledyard; from 1836 to 1851 held the
office of county clerk, from 1853 until 1865 was county treasurer, in
1849 was elected to represent his district in the state senate, and for
twelve years, beginning in 1855, served as judge of the probate court.
During early life he served as captain of a rifle company, and ever
afterward was known as Captain Spicer. On the organization of the
Ledyard Library association he became one of its charter members, and
served as its secretary for eighteen consecutive years, retiring in
1885. In 1867 he was elected treasurer and librarian and continued to
serve until his death in 1890. He was active as a member of the
On November 16, 1836, he was united in marriage with Miss Bethiah W.
Avery, and they were the parents of seven children; Mary Abby, Mrs.
George Fanning of Hartford, Conn.; John Sands died at Norwich, Conn.;
in 1906; Sarah E., the subject of this sketch; Carry C., Mrs. Amos
Lester of San Jose; Celia W., Mrs. Jonathan F. Lester of Norwich,
Conn.; Edward E. of Gorton, and George W. of Deep River, Conn.
Sarah E. Spicer attended the public schools of Ledyard and lived with
her parents until her marriage at Ledyard, May 24, 1871, to Nathan L.
Lester, also a native of Ledyard, who was born January 1, 1843, a son
of Isaac and Mary J. (Chapman) Lester, farmers at Ledyard, Conn., and
representatives of some of the oldest New England families. Nathan I.
was the third oldest of ten children, namely, Amos Lester of San Jose;
Mary Jane, Nathan L., Jonathan and Franks, deceased; William and Samuel
of San Jose; Sarah Emma, Walter and Henry, the last three passing away
Nathan Lester's boyhood was spent in farm work during the summer and in
the schoolroom during the winter months. In 1861 he came fro the first
time to California via the Isthmus of Panama and settled first in Napa
County, and in company with his brother Amos engaged in wheat raising
for seven years; he then returned to Connecticut where he married and
settled on a farm and while there he served as selectman of Ledyard.
Here he remained until 1883, when he came again with his wife and four
children to the Pacific Coast, this time settling in Santa Clara
County, where he bought the
old homestead on South Lincoln Avenue, in the Willows.
Mr. Lester made a practical study of horticulture, and found both
pleasure and profit from this interesting side of country life.
Thirty-one acres were planted to prunes, and the venture was a success.
This was added to until he had sixty-seven acres in orchard. He gave
close attention to the management of his ranch, and aside from voting
the Republican ticket and assisting in the maintenance of the
Congregational Church, he had no interests outside of his home.
In June, 1900, while building a dryer he fell from a ladder and
received injuries that resulted in death, three days later, on June 27,
at the age of fifty-seven years.
Mr. Lester was a prominent member of San Jose Grange. He was a
man of honorable stand for high morals and the preservation of the
sancitity of the home. No one in the county was held in higher esteem,
and his passing away was a great loss, not only to his family, but to
the whole community, by whom he was deeply mourned. Mr. and Mrs. Lester
were the parents of seven children and there are thirteen
grandchildren; Alice is now Mrs. C. L. Snyder, residing in San Jose and
they have two children--Philip Lester and Rixford Kinney; Nathan L.
married Miss Sylvia Hughes and they have two children--William Walter,
Jr., and Elizabeth; Sarah Emma and George are deceased; Fred E. married
Miss June Van Dorsten and they have three children--Edith Annette, Fed
Raymond and H. Cilker, they have four children--Beatrice Ann, Marion
Sarah, William Hamilton, Jr., and George Edward. Mrs Lester is a
prominent member of the Congregational Church and is president of the
Willing Workers Society. She owns and maintains the old home on South
Lincoln Avenue, but spends most of her time with her sons and
daughters. A cultured and refined woman, she has gathered about fine
qualities and the spirit of hospitality which takens in all who visit
Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 431
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHIES
SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY