Porter and Sesnon Family PapersMS.196

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz 95064

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: Porter and Sesnon Family Papers
Creator: Porter (Family: Porter, George K.)
Creator: Sesnon (Family: Sesnon, William T.)
Identifier/Call Number: MS.196
Physical Description: 8 Linear Feet 14 boxes
Date (inclusive): 1880-1997

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights for this collection reside with the University of California. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. The publication or use of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use for research or educational purposes requires written permission from the copyright owner. Responsibility for obtaining permissions, and for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information on copyright or to order a reproduction, please visit guides.library.ucsc.edu/speccoll/reproduction-publication.

Preferred Citation

Porter and Sesnon Family Papers. MS 196. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Susan Sesnon Dolkas for the Porter and Sesnon Families, December 2000.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, family photographs, writings, ephemera and realia related to the prominent Porter and Sesnon families of Santa Cruz, California.

Biographical / Historical

The Porter legacy in California stretches back to the Gold Rush Era, when a trio of Porter cousins, George K., John T., and Edward F. "Ned" Porter, made their way from New England to Santa Cruz County and engaged in a wide array of entrepreneurial activities.
In 1854, another cousin, Benjamin Franklin Porter made his way to California by crossing the Isthmus of Panama on foot, before joining his family members in Soquel. He became active in the local economy and, in the mid­ 1850s purchased the Soquel Tannery along with his cousin George and C.W. Moore.
In the autumn of 1867, Benjamin returned to New England, where he married his childhood family friend, Kate Hubbard. The couple returned to California, where they started a family. Mary Sophia "May" Porter was born in Soquel on October 9, 1868. Mary's sister Sadie died of typhoid fever at the age of 24. Mary was the lone descendant and heir of her father and mother's vast estate, and of her Uncle Ned's, who also had extensive residential and commercial holdings in the Soquel township.
In 1896, Mary married William T. Sesnon, of Alameda, a businessman and civic leader who served as clerk of San Francisco County. William expanded the Porter family business and real estate holdings into successful oil ventures, manufacturing sites, and land development. The couple had four children - Porter, Katherine, Barbara and William Jr., who were raised spending their summers at the Pino Alto estate in Soquel.
When William Sr.'s health deteriorated in the late 1920s, the once thriving salons at Pino Alto came to an end. William died in 1929, and Mary passed away the following year. The property was eventually sold off, first to the Salesian order, before it was finally purchased by Cabrillo College in 1978, where it became known as the Sesnon House.
Descendants of the Porter-Sesnon clan have always been active and generous in the community. Porter College at the University of California Santa Cruz is named after Benjamin Franklin Porter, while his daughter's love of art is memorialized at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery.
Excerpt from, Dunn, Geoffrey. "Mary Porter Sesnon and the Magic of 'Pino Alto'". Santa Cruz Style, Spring 2018.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Santa Cruz County (Calif.) -- History -- Sources


Correspondence 1890-1956

Scope and Contents

This series contains incoming and outgoing correspondence between Porter and Sesnon family members and friends.
Box 1, Folder 1

Mrs. B.F. Porter, 17th [no month] from Frank, "Dear Ma" circa 1892

Box 1, Folder 2

Mrs. B.F. Porter from Frank, "Dear, Dear Ma" February-March 1892

Box 1, Folder 3

Mrs. B.F. Porter from Frank, "Dear Ma" circa May, December 1892

Box 1, Folder 4

Kate H. Porter from Frank, "Dear Ma" circa August 19, 1893

Box 1, Folder 5

Mrs. B.F. Porter from Frank, "Dear Ma" October 1893

Box 1, Folder 6

Mrs. B.F. Porter from Frank, "Dear Ma" December 1893

Box 1, Folder 7

May S. Porter from Albert Eisenberg October 23, 1891

Box 1, Folder 8

Telegram Eisenberg to Miss May Porter. Milano October 26, 1891

Box 1, Folder 9

Miss May S. Porter from Albert Eisenberg, "Dear May" November 17, 1891

Box 1, Folder 10

May to B. F. Porter "My dearest Papa" June 28, 1891

Box 1, Folder 11

May to B.F. Porter "My dearest Papa" October 24, 1891

Box 1, Folder 12

Miss M. S. Porter, from N-, "My darling Ritz" May 18, 1892

Box 1, Folder 13-16

Mary Porter from Eugene Frankfurter "ma chere amie" September-November 1892

Box 1, Folder 17

Mademoiselle Marie Porter from Eugene Frankfurter, "Ma chere amie" February 14, 1893

Box 1, Folder 18

Wedding Invitation to Miss May Porter, announcing the marriage of Anna Fisher Meeks to Dr. Frederick Oscar Chamberlain July 17, 1893

Box 1, Folder 19-20

Miss May Porter from Frank Howard, "My dear Miss May" August 1893

Box 1, Folder 21

Miss May Porter from Frank Howard, "My dear Miss Porter" April 2, 1896

Box 1, Folder 22

Molly to Miss May Porter "My dear May" June 1894

Box 1, Folder 23-24

Sophie to Miss May, "My darling May" June-August, 1894

Box 1, Folder 25

Miss May from E.E. Park [?], "My very dear friend" August 5, 1894

Box 1, Folder 26

C. Jus. to Miss M. Porter, "My dear Friend" November 17, 1894

Box 1, Folder 27-34

Miss May [and] Sarah Porter from Mom, "My darlings" December 1894

Box 1, Folder 35-36

Miss May [and] Sarah Porter from Mom, "My darling girls" March-May, 1895

Box 1, Folder 37

Miss May [and] Sarah Porter, Monday, A.M. from Mom, "My darlings" circa 1894

Box 1, Folder 38

Miss May [and] Sarah Porter, Monday noon from Mom, "Mr. Sesnon leaves…" circa 1894

Box 1, Folder 39

Misses May and Sarah Porter, [partial letter] from Mom, "…wishes I shall" undated

Box 1, Folder 40

Alicia M. to The Missis May and Sarah Porter, "My dear Missis May and Sarah" March 12, 1895

Box 1, Folder 41

"Dear Miss Porter" from W.B. Jorry [?] Jr. April 19, 1895

Box 1, Folder 42

G.S.G. to Miss Porter, 7.30 P.M. "Mr. Sesnon has" April 26, 1895

Box 1, Folder 43

George to Miss M.S. Porter "Dear May & Auntie Kate" March 22, 1896

Box 1, Folder 44

May Porter from M [arnie?], "My Dearest May" July 12, 1896

Box 1, Folder 45

May Porter from [?], "Dear May, I am mad" December 10, 1892

Box 1, Folder 46

Sarah Porter from Alice Reese [?] "My dear Ia-" September 19, 1893

Box 1, Folder 47

W. Sesnon Esq. from W.K. Vickery, "Dear Sir" January-March, 1895

Box 1, Folder 48

Gift card: To May from Will, "To my dearest May" December 25, 1893

Box 1, Folder 49

Silver Wedding Anniversary Invitation for Mr. and Mrs. John T. Porter April 28, 1884

Box 1, Folder 50

Place card "Miss Porter" with painted Geisha undated

Box 1, Folder 51

Four envelopes addressed to Miss M.S. Porter from Rome, Geneva, Florence, San Francisco 1891-1892

Box 2, Folder 1

4 Western Union telegrams to Miss Porter from William Sesnon circa July 1891-1894

Box 2, Folder 2-3

Mary Porter from William Sesnon circa 1891-1894

Box 2, Folder 4-11

Mary Porter from William Sesnon circa March-December 1891-1894

Box 2, Folder 12-22

Mary Porter from William Sesnon May-November 1891

Box 2, Folder 23-33

Mary Porter from William Sesnon January-August 1892

Box 2, Folder 34-37

Mrs. George Hubbard from Kate Hubbard Porter May-December 1891

Box 2, Folder 38-49

Mrs. George Hubbard from Kate Hubbard Porter March-December 1892

Box 2, Folder 50-59

Mrs. George Hubbard from Kate Hubbard Porter January-August 1893

Box 3, Folder 1-22

Marie Porter from William Sesnon March-December 1893

Box 3, Folder 23-62

Mary Porter from William Sesnon January-December 1894

Box 4, Folder 1-39

Mary Porter from William Sesnon January-November 1895

Box 4, Folder 40-62

Mary Porter from William Sesnon January-September 1896

Box 5, Folder 1

Mr. Hubbard from Kate H. Porter, "Dear Papa" June 26, 1890

Box 5, Folder 2-19

Benjamin F. Porter from Kate H. Porter July-December 1891

Box 5, Folder 20-57

Benjamin F. Porter from Kate H. Porter January-December 1892

Box 5, Folder 58-78

Benjamin F. Porter from Kate H. Porter January-October 1893

Box 5, Folder 79

Mr. and Mrs. Porter Sesnon from Goodwin and Virginia Knight October 1956


Photographs 1880-1976

Scope and Contents

This series includes photographic portraits of family members, groups and organizations, outdoor excursions and travel.
Box 6, Folder 1-9

Portraits of Mary Porter Sesnon, William T. Sesnon, groups, family travel, and a movie set. circa 1880-1950

Box 7, Folder 1-7

Cocktail parties, hunting and fishing parties, Cow Palace livestock shows, PG&E group, Sonoma County Trail Blazers annual trek. circa 1940-1957

Box 8, Folder 1-6

Hunting and fishing parties, political meetings, Sonoma County Trail Blazers annual trek. circa 1950-1976

Box 9, Folder 1-9

Portraits of William T. Sesnon, Mary Porter Sesnon, Helen Sesnon, family home and grounds, images from the "oil and gas file", and small album - Kern Board of Directors Meeting at Orcadia Lodge Spider Lake, Wisconsin. circa 1920-1968


Writings 1912-1915

Scope and Contents

This series includes diaries, speeches, letters, and William T. Sesnon's Pan Pacific International Exposition materials.
Box 10, Folder 1

Notebook of typewritten speeches by William T. Sesnon 1912-1913

Box 10, Folder 2

Diary - Willam T. Sesnon re: Pan Pacific International Exposition, Europe, speeches circa 1914-1915

Box 10, Folder 3

Diary of Mary Porter Sesnon 1922-1923

Box 10, Folder 4

William T. Sesnon speech to Japanese Consul circa 1910-1915

Box 10, Folder 5

William T. Sesnon address to San Francisco Chamber of Commerce circa 1910-1915

Box 10, Folder 6

William T. Sesnon address to Chamber of Commerce at Palace Hotel 1913

Box 10, Folder 7

William T. Sesnon dedication speech for Porter Memorial Library January 27, 1913

Box 10, Folder 8

William T. Sesnon speech regarding banking circa 1910-1915

Box 10, Folder 9

William T. Sesnon address to San Francisco Chamber of Commerce February 2, 1914

Box 10, Folder 10

William T. Sesnon address to California Cattleman's Association Convention April 8, 1919

Box 10, Folder 11

Letter to William T. Sesnon signed by L.M. King April 16, 1912

Box 10, Folder 12

Paraphrase of telegram mentioning William T. Sesnon for Pan Pacific International Exposition April 17, 1912

Box 10, Folder 13

Letter from Rev. Clampett wishing Bon Voyage to William T. Sesnon promoting Pan Pacific International Exposition circa 1914-1915

Box 10, Folder 14

Photograph of William T. Sesnon addressing the delegation from Italy at the Pan Pacific International Exposition 1915

Box 10, Folder 15

Proposal of William T. Sesnon to pursue San Francisco Chamber of Commerce policies as a director of the Pan Pacific International Exposition circa 1915

Box 10, Folder 16

Letter and translation to William T. Sesnon from Emile Dupont and A. Roger Sandoz, General Secretary of French Committee for Foreign Expositions 1912


Ephemera and Realia 1890-1997

Scope and Contents

This series contains Sesnon and Porter family histories, clippings, menus, dance cards, programs, travel documents, plaquettes, and the research materials of James Dolkas.
Box 11, Folder 1

European travel - brochures, cards, programs circa 1892-1895

Box 11, Folder 2

Hotel stationery circa 1890-1895

Box 11, Folder 3

Caffi Ristorante Riffi Program November 5, 1891

Box 11, Folder 4

Salle de Cirque des Champs Elysees program 1892-1893

Box 11, Folder 5

"First Regular Smoke" invitation May 12, 1893

Box 11, Folder 6

Dance cards circa 1892

Box 11, Folder 7

Receipt for Miss Porter March 1895

Box 11, Folder 8

Dining documents - invitation, seating plan, place card for dinner honoring President Wm. Howard Taft 1911

Box 11, Folder 9

Baggage declaration and entry form of William T. Sesnon from the Lusitania April 24, 1912

Box 11, Folder 10

Menu to "Banquet to the President of the U.S." - Pan Pacific International Exposition October 13, 1911

Box 11, Folder 11

Menu to "Banquet to Hon. Wm. Randolph Hearst." - Pan Pacific International Exposition January 3, 1912

Box 11, Folder 12

Menus from luncheons honoring the Swedish General Export Association, the Chinese Commission, and the Portuguese Minister 1912

Box 11, Folder 13

"Celebrating the Opening of the Panama Canal" - Pan Pacific International Exposition March 15, 1913

Box 11, Folder 14

Certificate of Authority presented to W.T. Sesnon - Pan Pacific International Exposition April 1912

Box 11, Folder 15

Invitation of reception to Hon. Judson Harmon, Govenor of Ohio - Pan Pacific International Exposition October - November, 1912

Box 11, Folder 16

Pan Pacific International Exposition - programs 1912

Box 11, Folder 17

William T. Sesnon placecard - Pan Pacific International Exposition 1915

Box 11, Folder 18

Program of the American-Japanese relations 1920

Box 11, Folder 19

Menus circa 1891-1913

Box 11, Folder 20

Business and calling cards circa 1895-1930

Box 11, Folder 21

Note cards, place cards, reciepts, envelopes circa 1890-1930

Box 11, Folder 22

3 souvenir plaquettes from Pan Pacific International Exposition 1915

Box 12, Folder 1

Travel pamphlets circa 1920-1930

Box 12, Folder 2

Senior Week - University of California - Commencement book 1922

Box 12, Folder 3

Soquel Parish News June-August, 1943

Box 12, Folder 4

Grand National Junior Livestock Exposition Banquets 1949-1951

Box 12, Folder 5

Booklets, brochures, and Founders Certificate for San Antonio Mission circa 1953-1966, 1984

Box 12, Folder 6

Menus 1960

Box 12, Folder 7

Statement regarding Cabrillo College 1976

Box 12, Folder 8-9

Clippings circa 1912-1965

Box 12, Folder 10

Cow Palace clippings and brochures circa 1953

Box 12, Folder 11

Photogravure plate of William T. Sesnon undated

Box 13, Folder 1

German theater program August 21, 1891

Box 13, Folder 2

Stabilini & Colombo - Milan theater program November 3, 1891

Box 13, Folder 3

Teatro della Pergolo - Milan theater program December 8, 1891

Box 13, Folder 4

Northridge housing development - San Fernando Valley, CA - brochure circa 1950-1955

Box 13, Folder 5

Clippings, photocopies - San Francisco Examiner April 12, 1912; UCSC Review 1982 1912, 1982

Box 14, Folder 1

"Excerpts of letters sent by William T. Porter to Mary Porter" - bound booklet 1891-1894

Box 14, Folder 2

Histories of the Porter and Cumming family - photocopies circa 1990-1997

Box 14, Folder 3

History of John T. Porter and Tanning Company circa 1990-1997

Box 14, Folder 4

"Men with a Mission: The Porters of San Fernando" - California Historian 1997

Box 14, Folder 5

Histories of the Porter family and town of Soquel, California circa 1990-1997

Box 14, Folder 6

Histories of the Porter/Sesnon families and the Apple Lane Inn - research materials from James Dolkas circa 1990-1997

Box 14, Folder 7

"The Porters of California: A Perspective on a Pioneer Family's History and Land Acquistion in California" circa 1990

Box 14, Folder 8

History of the Porters: Benjamin F., George K., Edward "Ned", John T., Frank F. (1873-1899) circa 1990-1997

Box 14, Folder 9

Clippings: California Historian 1997