The Valley of Heart's Delight


BIO Pen-pictures


This well-known and highly respected resident of Santa Clara County is a native of Vermont, having been born in Athens of that State, in 1820. His parents, John L. and Ruth (Dean) Shafter, were both natives of Vermont, living on a farm which they owned at Athens, and where they died and are buried, the mother dying in 1866, aged seventy-eight years; the father in 1868, aged eighty-one years. Mr. Shafter's paternal grandfather was born in England in 1759, removing to the United States with his parents when quite young. He became a soldier in the War of the Revolution, and later represented his district for many years in the State Legislature. The maternal grandfather was of English descent. Mr. Shafter attended the district schools of his native place and worked on his father's farm until the breaking out of the gold fever in California, when, with others composing a stock company who bought the ship Regulus, he came to California by way of Cape Horn.

Captain Bradford was the ship's commander, and they were 210 days in making the trip, arriving safely in San Francisco October 10, 1849. They had loaded the ship with provisions, with the timbers of a house ready to put up upon its arrival, to be used for mercantile purposes, and also with freight for others. On their arrival, however, they abandoned their plan of operating together as a company, and sold their house and provisions. The ship was taken to Benicia and anchored there, to be used as a home in case any of the owners should have occasion to use it as such, on account of sickness or other cause. Their chests and other effects were stowed in the ship, which was then left in charge of two keepers. These guardians afterward sold the vessel without authority, appropriated the proceeds, and returned to Massachusetts.

Mr. Shafter, with others, went to the mines, working in El Dorado County until the spring of 1852, with the usual average results, when he returned to the old farm in Vermont to take care of his father and mother. Perhaps another motive was mingled with filial duty, as he was married in September of 1852 to Miss Susan Richmond, a native of the same town. There were born to them three children: Frank R., now engaged in fruit-raising in Santa Clara County; Florence R., wife of Charles Bothwell, of San Jose, and Minnie, who died in San Francisco in 1862. Mr. Shafter lived on the Vermont farm from 1852 to 1859, his eldest child being born there; the other two were born at Point Reyes, California. In 1859 Mr. Shafter returned with his family to California, and took charge of the celebrated Point Reyes Ranch for its owners. Here he lived for five years, improving the ranch and developing the dairy industry at that point. In 1864 he rented a ranch at Point Reyes, and, buying stock, commenced dairying on his own account, being quite successful, until he sold out, in 1869. He then took his family for a visit to the old home in Vermont, his parents having died in the meantime. In the summer of 1870 he returned to California, coming to the Santa Clara Valley, where he purchased the "Fred Hall Ranch," containing 5,400 acres, in Hall's Valley, at the foot of Mount Hamilton. He engaged in stock-raising on this ranch until 1883, when he sold this property and has since lived in San Jose, his residence being at 443 South Fifth Street.

Mr. Shafter has been a Republican since the formation of the party, first being a member of the Free-Soil party from its organization. Mrs. Shafter had two half-brothers, who did good service in the late Civil War, one of them now enjoying a pension from the government on account of disability caused by service at Port Hudson, Louisiana. Her grandfather was in the Revolutionary War from Massachusetts. The grandparents of both Mr. and Mrs. Shafter were among the early pioneers of the section of Vermont.

SOURCE:  Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H.S.
Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888. page 256-257 Transcribed by Carol Lackey


-The Valley of Heart's Delight