The Valley of Heart's Delight

and his wife Electa
Pioneers of Gilroy, California


A representative type of the pioneers of the early days was found in Samuel M. Ousley (some members of the family spell it Owsley), who came to California in 1853, braving the hardships of a trip across the plains and the privations of the early pioneers of the county.

He was born in Kentucky, February 18, 1813. On January 11, 1837, he was united in marriage with Miss Electa Rockwell, a native of Connecticut but a resident of Ontario County, N. Y., and in 1839 he removed with his family to Andrew County, Mo., where he resided until 1852. By this time the stories of the wonderful opportunities of the Golden State had reached into every village and city east of the Rocky Mountains, and every place added its number to the emigrants trains which were continually leaving for California. Mr. Ousley with his wife and seven children joined one of these trains, and experiencing the hardship of so long a journey arrived at Salt Lake City. The family stopped at a Government fort niney miles this side of that city during the winter, and in the following spring continued their journey, arriving at Deer Creek, near Placerville, in July 1853.

The next March they left this place and settled in Gilroy, Santa Clara County. The land titles being doubtful, he simply located his home and turned his cattle upon the open pastures, with the understanding that he would buy when the title was made clear.

This did not happen during his lifetime, as on October 1, 1855, he was killed by the falling of a bucket while working in a well on Captain Angney's farm, and the mother was left the sole provider for a large family--six daughters and three sons: Sarah J. married Joseph H. Thomas, and died, leaving a family of three children; Caroline E. married I. Horace Thomas, and one living child; Emma E. became Mrs. Francis Hoey, and died, the mother of nine children, seven living; John S., deceased; Porter W. and Bryant R., twins, the former living at home; M. Anna, at home; Mary Electa, born on Goose Creek, on the border of California, and Clara M., a native daughter of Santa Clara County. Left as she was in a strange land and with her almost helpless family, the eldest girl being only sixteen years old, her farm unpurchased, Mrs. Ousley never once despaired. She went
on from year to year, carrying her burden alone, watching carefully the moral as well as the physical training of her children; and each doing his or her share to keep the family together and help in its support, every year adding a little to the estate. She paid twice for her farm of 630 acres, erected good buildings, gathered around her the comforts of life, and lived until November 12, 1900, aged eighty-four years and five months, in the midst of her grown-up family in the twilight of life, with the assurance of a life well spent in service for others.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 407


SANTA CLARA COUNTY -The Valley of Heart's Delight

July 17, 2005