Scope and Content
Arrangement of the Pedro de Saisset Family Collection
Title: Pedro de Saisset Family Collection
Date (inclusive): circa 1860-1950
Collection Number: 12
Pedro de Saisset Family
3 boxes (1.5 cubic feet)
Sourisseau Academy for State and
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.
Collection is open for research.
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.
[Identification of item], Pedro de Saisset Family Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State
University, San Jose, California
The Pedro de Saisset Family Collection was donated to Sourisseau Academy by Thomas N. Layton in 2011.
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.
The following terms may be used to index this collection.
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.
Sunol, Maria Dolores A.
Sunol, Maria Josefa Brigida
Sunol, Narcisia Meleton
Catholic church buildings
France -- Marine -- Officers
Alameda County (Calif.)
Buen Retiro Ranch (Calif.)
Rancho Valle de San Jose (Calif.)
Santa Clara County (Calif.)
Santa Clara (Calif.)
San Jose (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,
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