Guide to the Pedro de Saisset Family Collection, circa 1860-1950

Guide prepared by Stephanie Waslohn. Historical research by Charlene Duval.
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0117
Phone: (408) 808-2064
Email: research@sourisseauacademy.org
URL: http://www.sourisseauacademy.org
©2012 Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. All rights reserved.


Descriptive Summary

Title: Pedro de Saisset Family Collection
Date (inclusive): circa 1860-1950
Collection Number: 12
Creator: Pedro de Saisset Family
Extent: 3 boxes (1.5 cubic feet)
Repository: Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University
San Jose, California 95192
Abstract: The Pedro de Saisset Family Collection is primarily comprised of photographs of members of the Pedro de Saisset family from the 1860s to the 1950s. The collection includes portraits of family members, photographs of the family at their ranch in Alameda County and their city home in downtown San Jose, and photographs of extended family and friends in various countries. The collection also includes correspondence between family members and a few pieces of ephemera related to the family.
Language: English

Administrative Information

Access

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Neither the original photographs nor the digital images in the catalog may be reproduced, published, or used on the Internet without the expressed, written permission of either the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. The credit line, "Courtesy of Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History," should accompany any such use.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Pedro de Saisset Family Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University, San Jose, California

Acquisition Information

The Pedro de Saisset Family Collection was donated to Sourisseau Academy by Thomas N. Layton in 2011.

Biographical History

The de Saisset family was a prominent pioneer family in the San Jose and Santa Clara Valley starting in the late 1800s. Pedro de Alcantara Brazileiro de Saisset (1829-1902) was a San Jose pioneer, the Honorary Vice-Consul for France and founder of the Brush Electric Company. Pedro de Saisset was born in Paris, France, the son of Henrietta Josephine Mees (1803-1864) and Dom Pedro I of Brazil (1798-1834), Emperor of Brazil. Raised as the son of Pierre Joseph Felix de Saisset, "Officier de la Legion d'Honneaur" and Colonel of the French National Guard under Louis Phillip, Pedro de Saisset grew up within an old aristocratic family of France with a strong history of prominent military service including his step-uncle Admiral Jean Marie Joseph Theodore and a step-brother Captaine de Frigate Pierre Joseph Ernest de Saisset (1828-1891).
Pedro de Saisset was sent to the United States during the Third French Revolution in 1848. He arrived in New York and almost immediately upon arrival embarked on the Hector and landed in San Francisco on July 2, 1849. Pedro was sent with merchandise from his affluent family in France with the understanding that he could capitalize on the newly booming markets at San Francisco and then return to France to follow the family tradition of military service. Young Pedro faced unforeseen difficulties, however, after the captain of the Hector deposited Pedro and his personal baggage in San Francisco and sailed away with the majority of the merchandise. de Saisset managed to leverage what resources he did have on his person into buying real estate north of San Jose on the road to Alviso. Here he developed a small farm and carried freight between the boats docking in Alviso and San Jose.
According to descendants' accounts, it was while hauling produce back and forth from Alviso that he met Maria de Jesus (Jesusita) Palomares (1832-1907), the widow of Jose Sunol, a son of Don Antonio Sunol. Jesusita had three daughters from her previous marriage: Maria Dolores (called Lola) A. Sunol (1851-1910), Narcisia Meleton Sunol (1853-1894) and Maria Josefa Brigida Sunol (1854-1906). Pedro and Jesusita married in St. Joseph's church and Pedro built a three-story Victorian home on the west side of Market Plaza, between Park and San Carlos Street. Jesusita had inherited her husband's share of Rancho Valle de San Jose in Alameda County, consisting of 3,313 acres. Between Pedro's real estate investments, lands inherited through Jesusita's marriage to Jose Sunol, and land inherited through the Palomares family, the family became quite well to do and prominent, particularly in the local French community.
Pedro and Jesuita had four children together: two sons and two daughters. Marie Josephe Henriette de Saisset (1859-1947), called Henriette, was a teacher who later married Dr. E.A. Filipello. Ernest Pierre de Saisset (1862-1899), a graduate of Santa Clara College, became a prominent artist in the area after traveling to Paris to study painting at the Academie Julian. He returned to San Jose in 1895 and set up a studio at the family home on Market Street. Pierre Edgar Henri de Saisset (1862-1933) was a musician. Isabel de Sasisset (1876-1950) was the longest-lived of the children. As none of the Sunol or de Saisset children had heirs, Isabel left funds to create the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University in her brother Ernest's name. The de Saisset real estate holdings at the time of Isabel's death included the still-extant Alcantara Building Hotel Metropole (at South Market and Post Streets) and the New Century Block at the southeast corner of West Santa Clara and Second Streets.

Indexing Terms

The following terms may be used to index this collection.

Personal Name

de Saisset, Bertha Terese Charlotte
de Saisset, Ernest Pierre
de Saisset, Isabel
de Saisset, Jean Marie Joseph Theodore, Admiral
de Saisset, Marie Josephe Henriette
de Saisset, Paul
de Saisset, Pedro de Alcantara de Brazileiro
de Saisset, Pierre Edgar Henri
de Saisset, Pierre Joseph Ernest
Degraffenried, Friedrich Maria
Degraffenreid, Guy Arnold
Degraffenreid, Mathilde Maria
Degraffenried, Paul Bernhard
Pedro I of Brazil
Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil
Palomares, Maria de Jesus
Sainsevain, Charles M.
Sainsevain, Isabelle Paula
Sainsevain, Lydia B.
Sainsevain, Michael C.
Sainsevain, Paul C.
Sainsevain, Pierre
Sunol, Maria Dolores A.
Sunol, Maria Josefa Brigida
Sunol, Narcisia Meleton

Subjects

Catholic church buildings
France -- Marine -- Officers
French Americans
Missions
Painters
Photographs
Postcards

Geographic Names

Alameda County (Calif.)
Buen Retiro Ranch (Calif.)
Jamaica
Kenya
Rancho Valle de San Jose (Calif.)
Santa Clara County (Calif.)
Santa Clara (Calif.)
San Jose (Calif.)
Sunol (Calif.)

Scope and Content

The Pedro de Saisset Family Collection is comprised of three (3) series: Series I: Photographic Materials; Series II: Correspondence; and Series III: Ephemera.
Series I: Photographic Materials comprises the majority of the collection with 371 photographs spanning the 1860s to the 1950s. The photos follow multiple lines of the de Saisset family, primarily focusing on Pedro de Saisset's children. Included in the photos are extended family members such as the French line of the de Saissets, the Sunols, the Sainsevains and the Brassys. Also included in the photos are properties owned by the de Saisset family, as well as reproductions of Ernest de Saisset's paintings and photos of Ernest painting in his family-owned studio. Additionally, photographs of locations outside the United States, such as a family trip of the Degraffenreid line to Kenya and an unidentified Catholic priest’s mission work in Jamaica, are included.
Also contained in this series are a set of unidentified, out-of-state photographs obtained with the original purchase of the de Saisset materials.
Series II: Correspondence contains 72 postcards either addressed to or from various de Saisset extended family members including Isabel de Saisset, Henriette de Saisset, Lillie Sainsevain, and the Sunol sisters.
Series III: Ephemera contains printed items accompanying the previous two series' contents including envelopes from local photographers, the book Picturesque San Jose and Its Environments, and an award given to Isabel de Saisset on behalf of the Catholic faith.

Arrangement of the Pedro de Saisset Family Collection

The papers are arranged into three series:
  • I. Photographic Materials
  • II. Correspondence
  • III. Ephemera

Series Description

 

Series I: Photographic Materials, 1860-1951

Scope and Content Note

Photographic Materials comprises the majority of the collection with 371 photographs spanning the 1860s to the 1950s. The photos follow multiple lines of the de Saisset family, primarily focusing on Pedro de Saisset's children. Included in the photos are extended family members such as the French line of the de Saissets, the Sunols, the Sainsevains and the Brassys. Also included in the photos are properties owned by the de Saisset family, as well as reproductions of Ernest de Saisset's paintings and photos of Ernest painting in his family-owned studio. Additionally, photographs of locations outside the United States, such as a family trip of the Degraffenreid line to Kenya and an unidentified Catholic priest’s mission work in Jamaica, are included.
Box 1, Folder 1

3630-3638

Box 1, Folder 2

3639-3650

Box 1, Folder 3

3651-3655

Box 1, Folder 4

3656-3667

Box 1, Folder 5

3668-3675

Box 1, Folder 6

3676-3681

Box 1, Folder 7

3682-3692

Box 1, Folder 8

3693-3703

Box 1, Folder 9

3704-3722

Box 1, Folder 10

3723-3750

Box 1, Folder 11

3751-3764

Box 1, Folder 12

3765-3782

Box 1, Folder 13

3783-3809

Box 1, Folder 14

3810-3827

Box 1, Folder 15

3828-3842

Box 1, Folder 16

3843-3846

Box 1, Folder 17

3847-3866

Box 1, Folder 18

3867-3869

Box 1, Folder 19

3870-3941

Box 1, Folder 20

3942-3973

Box 1, Folder 21

3974-3983, 3998

Box 1, Folder 22

Unidentified, out-of-state portraits

Box O/S 3, Folder 1

3984

Box O/S 3, Folder 2

3825, 3862, 3985-3986

Box O/S 3, Folder 3

3987-3989

Box O/S 3, Folder 4

3990-3993

Box O/S 3, Folder 5

3994-3996, 3999

Box O/S 3, Folder 6

4000

Box O/S 4, Folder 1

3708

 

Series II: Correspondence, 1860-1951

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence contains 72 postcards either addressed to or from various de Saisset extended family members including Isabel de Saisset, Henriette de Saisset, Lillie Sainsevain, and the Sunol sisters.
Box 1, Folder 23

Correspondence 1

Box 1, Folder 24

Correspondence 2, 4001-4012

 

Series III: Ephemera, 1860-1930

Scope and Content Note

Ephemera contains printed items accompanying the previous two serie'’ contents including envelopes from local photographers, the book Picturesque San Jose and Its Environments, and an award given to Isabel de Saisset on behalf of the Catholic faith.
Box 1, Folder 25

Ephemera

Box 0/S 3, Folder 7

Picturesque San Jose and Its Environments

Box 0/S 3, Folder 8

Award for Isabel de Saisset