The Valley of Heart's Delight

third generation California Pioneer

Surnames: Stephens, Tye, Tribby, Gifford, Papson, Freer, Vermillion

Representing the third generation of California pioneers, Mrs. Mary E. Hansen can well be proud of her ancestry and the honored part they have played in  the progress and advancement  of the Golden State. Her maternal grandparents were Robert A. and Mary (Tye) Stephens, the father's birthplace being on the English channel, while Mrs. Stephens was a native of Connecticut. They were married in New York City and in 1852 came to California by the way of the Isthmus.  Robert A. Stephens was a soldier in the U.S. Army and while enroute to the Pacific Coast his ship was wrecked but he was among those saved. After arriving in California he was stationed at Fort Redding to guard the immigrants from the depredations of the Indians, and here his wife, who had received a good education in her native state, was engaged by the government to teach the Indians the ways of civilization, but notwithstanding all her efforts she met with the same discouragement that many other benefactors of the race have experienced owing to the Indian's untoward nature.

On February 16, 1863, while Mr. and Mrs. Stephens were still stationed at Fort Redding, the first of their nine children was born, a daughter, Julia, who became the mother Mrs.  Mary E. Hansen, our subject.  When Julia Stephens was a babe of two years, her parents removed to Santa Clara county, settling at Santa Clara in 1855, and here she was reared and educated.  In 1875 she was married to Nathan Smith, at San Jose; he had come to California as a boy with his parents, James Hartford and Elizabeth (Tribbby ) Smith, who were pioneer settlers of Lake County, Cal., and shortly after his marriage, Nathan Smith settled in Lake County with his bride and this remained their home until Mr. Smith's death in 1909.  Four children were born to them.  Frank Smith, a resident of Milpitas; one child died in infancy; Mary, now Mrs. James Hansen of Milpitas; William, a farmer in Lake County, died in 1919, and left three children.  There are nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.  At San Jose, in 1920, Mrs. Smith was married to Douglas Gifford of Lake County, where he is a large ranch owner in Cobb Valley.  Mrs. Gifford in also the owner of valuable property in San Jose and San Francisco.

Mary E. Smith was born on the Smith homestead in Cobb Valley, Lake County, and here her girlhood days were spent until her first marriage which united her with George W. Papson, who was born near Berryessa, Santa Clara County, his parents being William and Matilda A. (Freer) Papson, very early settlers and ranchers of Santa Clara County.  Mr. and Mrs. Papson became the parents of five children, four now living as follows:  George Raymond, a rancher of Santa Clara County; Verona K; Ina A. the wife of F. M. Vermillion, has one child named Evellyn; Earl W. . Mr. Papson passed away on October 23, 1915, and on October 23, 1919 Mrs. Papson was united in marriage with James Hansen, a highly-esteemed resident of the Milpitas district, who sketch also appears in this history  Mr. Hansen has been a resident of this section for more than forty years and has made a splendid success both as a rancher and as an orchardist.  Mr. and Mrs. Hansen now make their home on a fruit ranch of thirty-three acres south of Berryessa on Capitol Avenue, where they have a cozy county residence.  Liberal and kindhearted, and a woman of much capability, Mrs. Hansen has entered heartily into the life of the community and has in every way demonstrated her worthy heritage as the descendant of her honored pioneer forebears.

Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1102