Cheaper by the Dozen

Name sakes; Grace Smith- her story

I had forgotten Zayna’s middle name was Grace.  I know that Gretchen named her first born daughter Grace as well.

Jane Borg who lives in Watsonville and part of the Pajaro Valley Historical Association, interviewed Grace in the summer of 1988.  She published a book entitled Grace Dickson Smith.  I’d like to share a few of the conversations and pictures.

The first part of the book shows two views of the Dickson Ranch, Buena Vista Road, San Andreas District, near Watsonville, California.  This is what Grace had to say about them.


Borg:  “The home you are describing was on Buena Vista Road?
Smith:  “Yes, Buena Vista…….We had a beautiful view of all the valley from where our house was, because it was up high.  It looked down over all of Watsonville.”

 This photo was taken 2012 and is taken from the top of the hillside.  Yes, there is a view of Watsonville in the distance.  The area just below the buildings (used to be the milking stanchions) is where the house used to sit.   The property is now owned by Murakami Farms and they farm solely strawberries.

Smith: “…We had an orchard on the side, and up above was about 30 acres of strawberries.  In the front of the house was pasture where my father had cattle.  I can see why my folks bought that house, because they were both born in Vermont, although they didn’t know each other back there.  They were raised in a rural district in Vermont.”

Borg:  “Was (the ranch) pretty much always strawberries and dairy?”
Smith:  “No, no.   At first it was dairy, for many years.  We had help who helped milk.  As I remember, it was put in big cans and put at the foot of the hill, and they picked it up.  My father raised a lot of hay.  The farm was 110 acres, and in the front it’s hilly, with eucalyptus trees as you went to the house.  It wouldn’t be good for cultivating (on the front), and that’s where the cattle were.  The place where they grazed was all in front.  Above the house, it is flat, and that’s where the strawberries were and are now.  they weren’t put in unitl about 40 years after they lived there.


Robert Knox Dickson,                                   Gene Elizabeth McLellan,
born in Ryegate, Vermont                             born in Greensboro, Vermont
Grace (and Howard’s) father                       Grace (and Howard’s) mother
Smith:  “…My father had come and was working in San Francisco.  He was born in Vermont.  His name was Robert Knox Dickson.  He was working at a creamery in San Francisco.  The milk business at that time was a very big business.  My uncle (Bryce McLellan) that my mother came to visit had a big dairy near Richmond, near old San Pablo.  My uncle met my father through the business.  When my mother rand father were married, they found a place in Watsonville that seemed a lot like the homes in Vermont.”

Borg:  “Isn’t that interesting!  Were they married up in Richmond”
Smith:  “They were married in Richmond, at my uncle’s home there.”
Borg:  “They had apparently traveled down here and learned of the Pajaro Valley.”
Smith: “I can see why the chose that after seeing the old home in Ryegate where my father was raised.  it was on a hill, too.  a big farm.  He was one of 12 children.  He was the third from the youngest.  The youngest was a dentist in Montana.  another brother was a doctor in Ogden, Utah.  the older brothers and sisters stayed in Vermont.”

Robby, aren’t you the third from the youngest out of 12 children?  Do you think Mom and Dad waited to name the third from the youngest Robert Knox?


Dickson Farm, Rygate, Vermont                           McLellan Homestead, Greensboro, Vermont


1 Comment

  1. dicksonrk

    Aunt Grace had told me that her father and I shared the same birth order. I think it was serendipity that “the tenth child” was also the namesake… who knows? There is a funny story that I was named after Grandpa’s brother who died as an infant, his name was presumed to be RKD III, which made me the IV. However, during the trip to Mt. Herman in ’74 we visited the gravesite where he rests and discovered that his middle name was actually “McLellan”, RMD. This was news to me. Mom explained that Grandpa probably did not pay much attention to such things, and would have said, “A rose by any other name, is still a rose.”
    Mom had a knack for soothing lost innocence… I think. So, I am RKD IV on my birth certificate. But now you know the rest of the story. Here is a link to the text of the Grace interview. I posted it several years ago using the google sites…. enjoy.

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