In 1850, Isaac Julian Harvey (1816-1899) headed to California, looking for opportunities created by the discovery of gold; in Marysville, he saw those opportunities. He returned home to Illinois and headed west the next year after an absence of 16 months.  He was typical of his generation of merchants, who arrived in California seeking fortune and excitement but staying to build new homes for their families.  In 1868, the he built that home in Salinas.



Sarah's life mirrored that of her husband’s, moving many times with her restless tireless husband.  Along the way, Sarah gave birth to ten children, burying five of them as infants. In Salinas, she finally found her home, “double parlors so that young people could dance between them... a palm tree for a touch of elegance, and a Berkshire rose at the end of the porch”.   


Sophronia Elizabeth (1848-1946) (1848-1946) spent winters in Marysville, attending Miss Postman's School for girls and summers at Spanish Ranch, a mining community where her father had a hotel and store.  Later, Sophronia would become the first teacher in Salinas; her school consisted of an old saloon, an unpainted boarded shack with a few chairs, boxes and table. 


Eleanor Josephine (1853-1942) was born in Marysville, California. In the spring and summer she lived at Spanish Ranch, where Issac owned and operated a hotel for visitors on the way to the gold fields.  We would know little about her times, rare in the mining country, but Josephine wrote a number of vignettes describing everyday life, like watching the Chinese Peddler empty his baskets. You can read her memories of those summers in the 1850s in a collection of short stories called: Growing up at Spanish Ranch.


Mabel (1860-1951) was the 10th child, moving to Salinas at 8 years old, where her father opened a mercantile store.  When that store went bankrupt, the family took in borders; one was future husband Frank Sawin Baker.  The wedding was held in the front parlor at 5am to catch the 6 am train to San Francisco.


William (1846-1864) spent his entire life in the gold country. He was a great companion to his little sister, Mabel.  Together they paned for gold, played cat’s cradle, or just romped through the house.  “Willie” died at the age of 16.  His death was a great blow to his mother who kept his picture by her bedside in her Salinas home for the remainder of her life. 


Absolam Benton (1837–1894) was a partner to his father, working in his stores and accompanying him on mining and business ventures. Their businesses did not bring them riches.  In 1864, Benton set out to Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, looking for mining prospects.  His diary shows him to be an observant and articulate man, who grew to realize California’s real value was in its soil.