Submitted by Anita Crabtree


"This family story was written many years ago and a copy given to me, and some things in it are wrong (such as the first California Governor being COLEMAN).  It's possible that they were married by the First Governor, but the writer got the name wrong; or they were married by someone named Coleman, who was some kind of official (and he was elevated to Governor in the story.  You know how everyone seems to embelish their family history.)  The facts of the trip to California have been written from information from several descendents, but I can't prove who married them, or that their son, Lewis Henderson, was the first white child born in San Jose."

The Carpenter sisters were born in Rensselaer County, New York, in 1827, 1836 and 1844.  In 1846 they began their adventurous journey, which would eventually take them across the Northern American continent.  In 1846, with their parents, Silas and Sabra Eddy Carpenter, they migrated to Jefferson County, Missouri.  Remember, all this traveling took place with horse, buggy and/or wagon.  The following year, father Silas, died from Typhoid fever.  He left his wife Sabra and the three sisters, 21, 11 and 3 years old, and their young brother, John, 5 years of age.

Shortly thereafter, Rachael went to visit with her father's sister's family in Kentucky.  Both Rachael and her Aunt loved to ride horses.  Rachael had a fiance who had joined the 49 gold rush to California.  Both Rachael and her Aunt, being of an impetuous nature and loving to ride horses, decided to ride to California.  In April of 1850, Rachael, now a young lady of 22, joined with her Aunt and Uncle, and their man and woman slave, and set out in a covered wagon train, for California.

 In the same wagon train, Rachael met an attractive young man from Kentucky, Robert Henderson.  Upon arriving in California, she spent some time in the gold fields looking for her fiance, and discovered that he had died.

Traveling to the San Jose area, where her Aunt and Uncle had settled, she met up with Robert Henderson.  They were married by the first California Governor, Governor Coleman, in a ceremony at her Aunt's home.  Robert had accumulated some funds from the gold fields, and purchased some property in San Jose, along Coyote Creek.  There, in November of 1851, their son, Lewis, was born.  He was the first white child born in San Jose.  Robert and Rachael spent some time in the gold fields near Hangtown and operated their ranch on Coyote Creek in San Jose.

 In 1854, Robert made a trip back to Missouri.  The following year, 1855, with 4 year old son Lewis, Rachael made the arduous trip back to Missouri to meet her husband.  She took a ship to the Isthmus of Panama, and then by boat and mule to the east coast of Panama.  Then by ship and horse to Missouri.  In 1856, their second child, a daughter, was born in Missouri.  The following year, 1857, Rachael and Robert, along with their two young children and her widowed mother and younger 17 year old brother, made the overland covered wagon trip back to California.  Her brother died at 18 years of age in San Francisco.

In 1858, they purchased a ranch, near what is now Kelseyville, in Lake County.  They spent their time traveling between the San Jose ranch and Lake County.  Their family appears in the 1860 census, as living in Napa County, in Big Valley near Clear Lake.  The mother, Sabra Eddy Carpenter also appears on this census living with the Hendersons.  Sabra Eddy married a William B. Elliot in 1861 and died soon afterwards in 1863.  Efforts to locate her grave in Lake County have proven impossible.

In 1869, the Hendersons purchased a ranch, 12 miles south of Los Angeles in Pico Rivera, from Governor Pico.  They now spent time commuting between the three ranches.  Tragedy struck the family, when in 1871, at the Pico Ranch in Los Angeles, Robert died at the early age of 47.  Rachael spent the remainder of her life with the children in the Kelseyville area and Pico Rivera.  She died at her daughter, Fannie Henderson Barlow's Pico Rivera Ranch in 1904.  Her son, Lewis Henderson, tired of commuting, remained in Kelseyville and became a prominent rancher and served as a Lake County Supervisor for 24 years.  He died in 1917, at the age of 66.  Descendants of his continue to live in Lake County.


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight