The Blanchard family was established in Ventura County by Nathan Weston Blanchard, who exemplified the highest type of California pioneer. He was born in Madison, Somerset County, Maine, July 24, 1831, and after attending the academy at Houlton, in that state, taught school for a time. Later he was a student at Waterville College (now Colby University), receiving a degree from that institution.
Early in 1854 Mr. Blanchard came to California, crossing the Isthmus at Panama. He went first to what is known as the “Southern Mines,” but not meeting with success there, he went to Placer County where he lived until he moved to Ventura County. In Placer County he tried mining again, and was again unsuccessful. In Iowa Hill Divide he was employed by Kneeland and Wilcoxsen, meat and cattle men, and later went into partnership with them. His next venture was in the lumber business in partnership with the Towle brothers and he was engaged in this business until he moved south to Ventura County, then Santa Barbara County, in 1872. There he bought a part of the land grant, Saticoy y Santa Paula, from E. B. Higgins and with him engaged in general ranching which had as one of its major interests sheep raising. A flour mill which was the only one between San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles was put up and a fine quality of flour was produced.
The location of the mill connected with the water privileges of the creek, suggested the founding of a town at this point, which Mr. Blanchard named “Santa Paula.” In 1874 he started an orange and lemon orchard and was thus the pioneer in the citrus fruit industry in this valley. He was one of the three men who were responsible for the building of Santa Paula Academy, which was subsequently given to the district to be used as a high school. Mr. Blanchard was one of the charter members of the Central Pacific Railroad and a moving spirit in every project destined to prove of benefit. He and Mrs. Blanchard gave to the town of Santa Paula the Dean Hobbs Blanchard Memorial Library in honor of their first child. He was elected to the state legislature from Placer County and served during the sessions of 1862-63. His religious affiliation was with the Congregational Church of which he was a generous supporter. A York Rite Mason, he was a past commander of Ventura Commandery, K. T., and also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution and of the California Club of Los Angeles. His death occurred October 22, 1917. Of him it was said: “He gave to the world the best of an essentially virile, loyal and noble nature and his standard of integrity and honor was inflexible. A man of high civic ideals, he manifested his liberality in connection with measures and enterprises tending to advance the general welfare of the community and was universally recognized as a citizen who was well worthy of the unqualified confidence and esteem in which he was held.”
On December 21, 1864, Mr. Blanchard was married to Miss Ann Elizabeth Hobbs, a native of North Berwick, York County, Maine, who died in November, 1924. Five children were born to them: Dean Hobbs, Sarah Eliot, Eunice Weston, Nathan Weston, Jr., and Thomas Goodwin. Dean Hobbs and Thomas Goodwin died early in life. Sarah Eliot Blanchard, residing in the old family home, is the only one now living. Eunice Weston, the wife of Dr. Arthur L. Kelsey, was killed in 1929 in an automobile accident. She was accompanied by her husband, an adopted child and another child, all of whom were fatally injured. Dr. and Mrs. Kelsey were the parents of a daughter, Elizabeth, who is Mrs. John E. B. Merriman of Ventura County. They have two children, Sarah Eliot Merriman and John William Blanchard Merriman.
Nathan W. Blanchard, Jr., the first boy baby to come to Santa Paula, was born October 16, 1873, and grew to manhood in this community. He was associated with his father in the citrus fruit industry, the original orchard having trees which have borne fruit for more than a half century. He was a member of the Jonathan Club of Los Angeles, was vice president of the Limoneira Company, owners of the largest lemon orchard in the state of California; president of the N. W. Blanchard Investment Company; and a member of the executive board of the First Branch of the Pacific-Southwest Trust & Savings Bank of Santa Paula. He was a worthy son of an honored sire and at his death on February 5, 1932, the editor of a local paper said: “His many friends and neighbors in this community who have enjoyed his acquaintance these many years, and have known his inner life, whether in the home, the lodge, the many benevolent associations, or in the field of sports, will miss his kind, genial and generous personality.”
His widow, Josephine Esther (McClelland) Blanchard, resides in the home built by her husband. It adjoins the old home of Nathan W. Blanchard on Palm Avenue. Mrs. Blanchard is one of California’s native daughters. Her father, Dr. James Long McClelland, journeyed to California in the ‘70s and became one of the best known representatives of the medical profession in this state. He had a large practice in Fresno, where he made his home until nearly eighty years of age, passing away January 27, 1932. Dr. McClelland’s widow, Sophia (Byrd) McClelland, lives in Los Banos. Their son, Dr. James H. McClelland, a graduate of the medical school of Stanford University, is practicing successfully in San Francisco, as a specialist in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and throat. He has a wife and one daughter.
Elizabeth Isabella McClelland, a sister of Mrs. Blanchard, lives near Reno, Nevada. She is the wife of Harry E. Hansen and the mother of five children.
Nathan W. Blanchard, Jr., and Josephine Esther McClelland were married in Fresno, California, in 1908. They became the parents of three sons, of whom Nathan Weston (III) is the eldest. He graduated from Yale in the Class of 1931and began the study of law at Stanford in the autumn of that same year. After his father’s death the following spring, he returned to his home to go into the family business. He married March 26, 1933, Miss Barbara Finley Weston, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Hopkins Weston, of Santa Clara.
Dean Hobbs Blanchard, the second son, is at present studying abroad, and Eliot McClelland Blanchard, who graduated from the Thacher School in 1932, is now a student in Stanford.
Transcribed by V. Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: California of the South Vol. IV, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 145-148, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 V. Gerald Iaquinta.
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