The Valley of Heart's Delight




A most interesting family is that of Thomas and Henriette Pellier Casalegno, residing at 155 South Twelfth Street, San Jose, and boasting a large circle of admiring friends. Henriette Pellier was born at the Mission San Jose on June 17, 1860, the daughter of Pierre Pellier and his good wife, who was Henriette Renaud before her marriage. Pierre Pellier, a brother of the late Louis Pellier, the famous Santa Clara Valley horticulturist, was born at the Pellier home on the western coast of France, not far from Bordeaux, and was reared and schooled in France; and as he grew up on the home estate and worked hard, and after he had served seven years in the army of France, and he migrated to America to join his brother, Louis, who had come to California in 1847. He set out soon after the close of the revolution in French territories in 1848, and made the trip early in 1849 by way of the Horn, arriving at San Francisco six months later. He located in the Santa Clara Valley at San Jose, and becoming associated with his brother, Louis, who built one of the first frame houses in the Santa Clara Valley, finishing the same in true French style.

Early in 1854, Pierre returned to his native country, as he wished to seek a wife, and according to the story, he was married there that same year. Before returning to California, however he tried to induce his brother, John, to make the trip with himself and wife, but he did not visit California until Louis died. Pierre set out again for America, and this time, in a box carefully packed, he brought with him cuttings and seeds of many varieties of fruits from his native country which had been gathered by him before his departure, on orders from Louis Pellier at San Jose. Among others were the French prune trees, which proved to be there first ever set out in the Santa Clara Valley. There were also grapes and other fruits; and from 1856 the brother engaged in the nursery business at San Jose, and they also went in for ranching on rather an extensive scale and were brought Delphine and Joseph Delmas, then only eleven and nine years old, by request of their father, who was in California. In 1860, Pierre removed to the Mission San Jose, and there engaged in ranching and vineyarding. After three years, he returned to San Jose, and thence went to Evergreen, where he planted 150 acres to vines and farmed some 300-acres, which property still forms a part of the Pellier estate. In 1880, Mr. Pellier, accompanied by his two daughters, Helene and Elise, returned to France for a short tour, and in 1894 he died at Evergreen, at which place his wife had passed away fifteen years before.

The first time Pierre Pellier came to California it was around the Horn, when the vessel got caught in the ice. He had made the trip four times and once when crossing the Isthmus he had to pay twenty-five cents per bottle of water. The time consumed in a journey was about six months. When Mr. and Mrs. Casalegno and their two youngest daughters made the trip in 1914 they made the ocean voyage in five days. They made stops at many interesting points in Europe.
Their visit was one year duration, caused by the breaking out of the war and money hard to get on account of rate of exchange. They were glad to get back to California, well pleased with the Golden State.

Five children were born to Pierre and Mrs. Pellier. Louis died at the age of sixteen. Henriette is the subject of this story and was educated at Notre Dame College. Helen, now deceased, became the wife of P. Prudhomme and the mother of four children. Elise is the widow of Leon Renaud and Josephine who is Mrs. Mitchell Casalegno, is the mother of six children, and the happy family reside at Morgan Hill.

Henriette Pellier was reared at the old rancho home, and in 1880 married her first husband Peter H. Mirassou, a native of France, who migrated to America in 1878--a man of strong moral character who was very resourceful. They had five children. Denise is now Mrs. Enos Bechis, and she resides with her two children at Oakdale, on their 200 acres of orchard. Peter Mirassou has a vineyard of 100 acres at evergreen and lives there with his wife and two children 
(transcribers note- Edmund and Norbert)  Theresa, now Mrs. John Bidou, has two children and lives at Prunedale. Herman Mirassou and wife live on Cypress Avenue, with their four children; he is an orchardist. John Mirassou is a rancher on the McLoughlin Road. Mr. Mirassou passed away early in 1889 at Evergreen.

Her second marriage was to Thomas Casalegno, in July, 1890, and they remained on the old place till 1909, and where Mrs. Casalegno had lived for fifty years. The family then removed to Oakdale, where Mr. Casalegno, who had emigrated from Italy to America in 1885, proved successful as a rancher and business man. They resided at Oakdale for ten years and recently they removed to San Jose, in which hospitable city, at 155 South Twelfth street, they dispense a cordial welcome to their friends. The family belongs to St. Patrick's Parish Catholic Church. Mr. Casalegno has been successfully engaged in orcharding since he first pitched his tent in the Santa Clara Valley in 1905; and in his arduous work, prosecuted according to the last word of science and with most modern methods and up-to-date apparatus, he has been ably assisted by his family. Their eldest child, Celestine is at home, and Thomasine is the wife of M. Mondo, and resides at Ripon, in San Joaquin County.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 471


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