The Valley of Heart's Delight


Bio- Sawyers

Among the representative horticulturists of Santa Clara County, whose methods have been backed by hard work and close application to the task in hand are Nathan L. and William Walter Lester. Nathan L. was born in Ledyard, Conn., January 20, 1876, and William Walter was born in the same town October 20, 1879; their parents were Nathan L. and Sarah E. (Spicer) Lester, both born in Ledyard, Conn. The father was born January 1, 1843, and was the third oldest of a family of ten children. His boyhood days were spent on his father's farm and very early he learned lessons of industry and thrift. The first time he came to California was in 1861 and in company with his brother Amos settled in Napa County and leased a tract of land and raised wheat and was thus for engaged for seven years; he then returned to Connecticut and settled on a farm and remained there until 1883, when he again removed to California, and came this time to the Santa Clara County and purchased the homestead on Lincoln Avenue in the Willows district, San Jose. He began his horticultural activities with but one thing in mind, a determination to succeed and the task was pleasurable to him and success crowned his labors to an unusual degree. He first planted thirty-one acres to prunes, which proved to be a profitable venture. There were times of discouragement, but these were courageously met.

 He married Miss Sarah E. Spicer in 1871, the daughter of that prominent and distinguished citizen of Ledyard, Conn., Judge Edmund Spicer, who had married Bethiah W. Avery. Judge Spicer was a school teacher, farmer and merchant, and also held many positions of trust and honor in New London County. He was a member of the school board for many years; was postmaster, county clerk, county treasurer, and in 1849 was elected to represent his district in the state legislature, and in 1862 was a candidate for the state senate, and for twelve years served as a captain of a rifle company, and ever afterward was known as Captain Spicer. He was one of the charter members of the Ledyard Library Association and served as its secretary for eighteen successive years. In 1867 he was elected treasurer and librarian and continued until his death in 1890. He was a prominent member of the Congregational Church.

 Mr. and Mrs. Spicer were the parents of seven children, Mrs. Lester being the third in order of birth. While building a dryer, Mr. Lester fell from a ladder and sustained injuries from which he died June 27, 1900. He was a highly honored and respected citizen of Santa Clara County, a thorough straightforward business man and could be counted upon to keep his word. Mr. and Mrs. Lester were the parents of seven children, Nathan L. being next to the oldest, and William Walter being the third oldest.

Both brothers were educated in the district schools of Willow Glen, and Nathan L. was also graduated from the Garden City Business College, San Jose, and William Walter attended the Washburn school. From their youth they had always assisted their father on the ranch, and were thus able to continue along the same lines that he had so ably established. The brothers' first purchase was a forty-acre piece in the Campbell district on the Johnson and Hamilton roads: it is in full-bearing prune trees, and is irrigated from a deep well. They next bought seventeen acres in the same district, making a total of fifty-seven acres. Later they purchased a nintey-acre orchard on the Penetencia Creek and White roads, devoted to prunes and apricots; this is also well irrigated. The home place of the Lesters is located on the Santa Clara-Saratoga road and consists of 254 acres set to prunes; on this ranch there are three deep irrigating wells and centrifugal pumps are used.

On the west side of the highway is Nathan L.'s palatial country home, while on the east side of the road is William's modern residence. The ranch in the Berreyessa district is irrigated by a deep well equipped with a turbine pump. The brothers also have a two-thirds interest in a 192-acre prune orchard between Los Gatos and Campbell. They also own several pieces of valuable downtown business property on Market Street in San Francisco, and also own a controlling interest in the St. Francis Realty Company, which owns four valuable pieces of downtown business property in San Francisco and of which Nathan L. is president. He is also a director in the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association.

Nathan L. was married in San Clara in June, 1907, to Miss Sylvia Hughes, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., a daughter of William B. and Katherine Hughes. Her father was an abstractor in Pittsburgh., Pa., until he brought his family to Santa Clara County in 1905, where they still make their home. Mrs. Lester received here education in the grammar and high schools of Pittsburgh. Mr. and Mrs. Lester are the parents of two children, Katherine and Nathan L., Jr. In all their holdings and transactions the brothers are equal partners and they both give it their entire attention.

William Walter was married in San Jose in May, 1914, to Miss Ethel V. Gerrans, born in Plymouth, Cal., a daughter of Jeremiah Gerrans, who was a gold miner in the early pioneer days of California. They are the parents of two children, William Walter, Jr., and Elizabeth Viola. Mr. Lester is a member of Fraternity Lodge No. 399, F. & A. M., San Jose, and with his wife is a member of San Jose Chapter of the Eastern Star; he is also a member of the Sciots. Both brothers have maintained the standard of honesty and industry followed by their father and are valued and prominent citizens of the county.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922
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Bio- Sawyers
The owner of a large acreage comprising some of the finest orchard property in the Edenvale district, Henry W. Lester has made a decided success in the field of horticulture. The oldest living son of one of Santa Clara County's most esteemed residents, Mr. Lester was born at Norwich, Conn., on June 6, 1876, his parents being Amos and Carrie (Spicer) Lester, both members of old Colonial families of New London County, Conn., prominent since pre-Revolutionary days in the life of the state.

In 1890 Henry Lester accompanied his parents to California, and his boyhood days here were spent on the ranch, attending school at San Ysidro, where he graduated. He former a partnership with his brother, John S. Lester, and they operated a ranch on Malone Avenue for some time. In 1912 he purchased 130 acres of the famous Hayes orchard at Edenvale, and since then he has acquired forty-seven acres devoted to a fine orchard, on Senter Road, near Edenvale. These valuable properties are yielding heavily, producing 650 tons of green fruit in 1921, and they are bringing in a handsome income. Mr. Lester has three irrigation systems on his two places, their cost totaling the sum of $20,000, and he usually requires the services of three men the year around to take care of this large orchard property, using both horses and Yuba tractors in its cultivation.

At Trinity Church, San Jose, in July, 1913, Mr. Lester was married to Miss Ethel Edith Cottle, the daughter of Mrs. Edith R. Cottle, the Cottle family being well-known pioneers of Santa Clara Valley. They have one daughter, Edith Ethel, and reside at the Cottle home place on Snell Road. An industrious worker and a man of the strictest integrity, Mr. Lester is keeping up the traditions of his forebears, and well deserves the success that has come to him.
Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben, , from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922
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FRED E. LESTER, -- A native son of Santa Clara County, Fred E. Lester was born at the old Lester family home on South Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, April 5, 1888, a son of Nathan L. and Sarah E. (Spicer) Lester, pioneer settlers of the county, represented on another page in this work.  He is next to the youngest of their seven children and was reared on the home farm, educated in the public schools and at the Pacific Coast Business College, where he graduated in 1908.  From a boy he was trained in horticulture and early in life took charge of the home place and is still operating it, two ranches in all, of which sixty-seven acres are devoted to prunes.

     In 1915 Mr. Lester was married to Miss June Von Dorsten, the ceremony taking place at her parent’s home, a daughter of Otto F. and Matilda (Snyder) Von Dorsten, natives of Colusa and Calaveras counties, respectively.  Her grandfather, H. A. Von Dorsten, crossed the plains with an ox-team train in pioneer days and was one of the earliest settlers of Colusa County, becoming a stockman and grain grower near Princeton; afterwards he came to Santa Clara County and improved the Von Dorsten orchard on Foxworthy road, that is still owned by his two sons.  Mrs. Lester’s maternal grandfather, P. N. Snyder, came to San Francisco via Cape Horn and was a pioneer miner in Calaveras County, where his active business life was spent; but he died in Santa Clara County.  His wife, Caroline Hodecker, came via Panama with her parents to Calaveras County and married there, and she also died in Santa Clara County.  Mrs. Lester is the oldest of two children and a graduate of the San Jose State Normal School.

     While still operating his mother’s ranch, Mr. Lester finds time for still further enterprises.  In 1914 he became interested and associated with his brothers, Nathan L. and William W., in a 175 acre orchard and was active until 1918, when they divided the property and the partnership was dissolved.  He then became associated with Otto F. Von Dorsten in orcharding, and they own a splendid orchard on Foxworthy road and a large orchard on Almaden road, devoted to the raising of prunes.  He is a member of the California Prune & Apricot Association and the California Walnut Growers’ Association.  Mr. And Mrs. Lester have three children: Edith Annette, Fred Raymond, and Marjorie Alice.  In politics Mr. Lester is a Republican, and he belongs to Fraternity  Lodge No. 399, F. & A. M. , of San Jose, and with his wife is a member of the San Jose Chapter No. 31, O. E. S.,  and both are members of the First Congregational Church of San Jose.

Transcribed by Susan Schooler , from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922
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