The Valley of Heart's Delight

originally of Ledyard, New London County, Conn
comes to Santa Clara County, California, 1883

SURNAMES:  Avery, Spicer, Fanning, Chapman, Snyder, Hughes, Van Dorsten,

Among the real builders of the community, mention must be made of Mrs. Sarah E. Lester, who has borne her part in home-making and rearing an honorable and highly respected family. Born in that old colonial town of Ledyard, New London County, Conn., August 3, 1847, she is the daughter of Judge Edmund and Bethiah Williams (Avery) Spicer, and a granddaughter of John Spicer, all natives of Connecticut. Her father followed the occupation of school teaching, farming and merchandising, besides holding many positions of trust and honor. For years he was a member of the school board of his district from 1867 until his death held the office of postmaster at Ledyard; from 1836 to 1851 held the office of county clerk, from 1853 until 1865 was county treasurer, in 1849 was elected to represent his district in the state senate, and for twelve years, beginning in 1855, served as judge of the probate court. During early life he served as captain of a rifle company, and ever afterward was known as Captain Spicer. On the organization of the Ledyard Library association he became one of its charter members, and served as its secretary for eighteen consecutive years, retiring in 1885. In 1867 he was elected treasurer and librarian and continued to serve until his death in 1890. He was active as a member of the Congregational Church.

On November 16, 1836, he was united in marriage with Miss Bethiah W. Avery, and they were the parents of seven children; Mary Abby, Mrs. George Fanning of Hartford, Conn.; John Sands died at Norwich, Conn.; in 1906; Sarah E., the subject of this sketch; Carry C., Mrs. Amos Lester of San Jose; Celia W., Mrs. Jonathan F. Lester of Norwich, Conn.; Edward E. of Gorton, and George W. of Deep River, Conn.

Sarah E. Spicer attended the public schools of Ledyard and lived with her parents until her marriage at Ledyard, May 24, 1871, to Nathan L. Lester, also a native of Ledyard, who was born January 1, 1843, a son of Isaac and Mary J. (Chapman) Lester, farmers at Ledyard, Conn., and representatives of some of the oldest New England families. Nathan I. was the third oldest of ten children, namely, Amos Lester of San Jose; Mary Jane, Nathan L., Jonathan and Franks, deceased; William and Samuel of San Jose; Sarah Emma, Walter and Henry, the last three passing away in youth.

Nathan Lester's boyhood was spent in farm work during the summer and in the schoolroom during the winter months. In 1861 he came fro the first time to California via the Isthmus of Panama and settled first in Napa County, and in company with his brother Amos engaged in wheat raising for seven years; he then returned to Connecticut where he married and settled on a farm and while there he served as selectman of Ledyard. Here he remained until 1883, when he came again with his wife and four children to the Pacific Coast, this time settling in Santa Clara County, where he bought the old homestead on South Lincoln Avenue, in the Willows.

Mr. Lester made a practical study of horticulture, and found both pleasure and profit from this interesting side of country life. Thirty-one acres were planted to prunes, and the venture was a success. This was added to until he had sixty-seven acres in orchard. He gave close attention to the management of his ranch, and aside from voting the Republican ticket and assisting in the maintenance of the Congregational Church, he had no interests outside of his home.  In June, 1900, while building a dryer he fell from a ladder and received injuries that resulted in death, three days later, on June 27, at the age of fifty-seven years.

 Mr. Lester was a prominent member of San Jose Grange. He was a man of honorable stand for high morals and the preservation of the sancitity of the home. No one in the county was held in higher esteem, and his passing away was a great loss, not only to his family, but to the whole community, by whom he was deeply mourned. Mr. and Mrs. Lester were the parents of seven children and there are thirteen grandchildren; Alice is now Mrs. C. L. Snyder, residing in San Jose and they have two children--Philip Lester and Rixford Kinney; Nathan L. married Miss Sylvia Hughes and they have two children--William Walter, Jr., and Elizabeth; Sarah Emma and George are deceased; Fred E. married Miss June Van Dorsten and they have three children--Edith Annette, Fed Raymond and H. Cilker, they have four children--Beatrice Ann, Marion Sarah, William Hamilton, Jr., and George Edward. Mrs Lester is a prominent member of the Congregational Church and is president of the Willing Workers Society. She owns and maintains the old home on South Lincoln Avenue, but spends most of her time with her sons and daughters. A cultured and refined woman, she has gathered about fine qualities and the spirit of hospitality which takens in all who visit her.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 431