The Valley of Heart's Delight

Surveyor/Engineer -City of San Jose Pioneer Biography


A representative  one of the oldest families in the Santa Clara Valley is Paul C. Sainsevain, whose father, Pedro Sainsevain, came to San Jose from his native place, Begay, France, when he was eighteen years of age, in 1836, and in this old Mission city he met and married Miss Paula Sunol, a native daughter of San Jose whose father, Don Antonio Sunol, came hither  from Spain in 1818, and was the second of the foreigners to come to Santa Clara Valley.  Don Antonio Sunol, became a large landowner and a successful and influential man.  On his maternal side , Paul C. Sainsevain, is also descended from the Bernal family, coming hither in 1787 with the old Mission fathers.

Pedro Sainsevain built the first sawmill in San Bernardino County, and with his brother Louis set out a large vineyard in Cucamonga.  Then he ran a sawmill near Santa Cruz and had a grant of land at Santa Cruz, a part of it now being the site of the powder works.  In 1849 San Francisco Bay was full of idle boats, as captains could get no sailors to man them because of the rush to the mines. Wishing to make a trip to Chile, Mr. Sainsevain chartered a boat and had to guarantee a crew, so he manned the boat with Indians, made the trip to Chile, purchased merchandise, and on his return sold his stock at a profit of $50,000.  He also engaged in business in Yerba buena.  When his  oldest children were of suitable age he sent them to Bordeaux, France, to go to school.  The mother made the trip and remained for some months, and while she was there Paul C. was born in Bordeaux, May 25, 1856.  In 1864 Pedro Sainsevain started a large wine business in New York City, but owning to the conditions of the times he lost heavily.  He continued on his ranch in San Jose, were he had 116 acres of vineyard, now Sainsevain Villa.  Afterwards he was again in business in San Francisco.  Then for about eight years he was in business in Central America, later returning to San Jose. After his wife's death he returned to France, where he spent the rest of his days.  They had three children Michael, deceased; Charles, a rancher of San Jose, and Paul C. of this sketch.

He was educated in the public schools of San Jose at and Santa Clara College, and after this he took up the study and practice of surveying and civil engineering under A. T. Herman for two years; then with his father he went to Central America, where he remained for a period of eight years.  On his return to San Jose he became secretary of the San Jose Electric Light Company, a position he filled for two years, when he assecpted a position with Mr. Pieper, city engineer of San Jose, continuing with him until Mr. Pieper's death, when Mr. Sainsevain received the appointment of city engineer, service acceptable for a period of six years.  During this time he laid out the main sewer and sewer system.  Next he was deputy county assessor under L. A. Spitzer until his death, and then under Mrs. L. A. Spitzer until the close of her term of office, when he entered the county surveyor's office eight years ago, since which time he has been serving under Mr. Ryder.

Mr. SAINSEVAIN resides in a comfortable home he owns in Sainsevain Villa, a subdivision his father laid out of the 116 acre farm in 1870.  In San Francisco occurred the marriage of Mr. Sainsevain and Lillian Ebeling.  She is a native daughter, born in San Francisco, whose father was one of the pioneer jewelers of that city.  Their union has been blessed with two children: Eugenio, died at the age of twenty years, just as he was entering Stanford University, and Isabele, now Mrs. Schweitzer, who has one child, Eugenio Schweitzer.

Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben from Sawyer's History of Santa Clara County, Pub 1922, Historic Record Co., page 776


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