Cambrian: Opinion

Tales from Town: One story leads to another a the Cambria Museum

Bud Marian, ranch manager for William Randolph Hearst, poses with his horse, Pico, in this 1935 photo.
Bud Marian, ranch manager for William Randolph Hearst, poses with his horse, Pico, in this 1935 photo. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CAMBRIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Like most everything at the Cambria Historical Museum, the exhibit on local ranches is a work in progress. By that I mean, happily, local folks are adding to our collection by bringing in photos and other memorabilia that tell the story of the early pioneers of our region.

Cambria native Joyce Williams is one of those folks. She recently gave us a copy of a photo of her uncle, Manuel Claudius Mariano, or Bud Marian, as he was known when he worked as the ranch manager for William Randolph Hearst.

She also provided a shot of some cowboys, including her grandfather, Antone Williams, who worked for George Hearst. As you can see, the story of Joyce’s family stretches pretty far back in Cambria history. A few years ago, she and Dawn Dunlap wrote it all down, and I have space for a few snippets here.

Joyce’s paternal great-grandparents Juan and Florinda Pereira came to San Simeon in 1864, one year before George Hearst. Like other Portuguese pioneers of our area, they first lived on San Simeon Point, where Juan worked at the whaling station. They left in 1870 to farm and run a series of dairies on land north of San Simeon. Their marriage produced 16 children, including Joyce’s grandfather, Antone. At some point in time, all 16 of the Pereira children changed their last name to Williams.

Antone Williams began working at a dairy near San Simeon when he was very young and then worked six years for George Hearst as a dreyman. He married Rosa Machado of San Luis Obispo, and they had three sons, including Joyce’s father, Tony. They purchased 140 acres of the Kaetzel farm on East Main Street in Cambria and lived in the lovely home where Fog’s End is located today. Antone and his sons built a new barn and dairy house, sold fresh milk and cream to many Cambrians and raised alfalfa in the field across the street.

Joseph Mariano, Joyce’s maternal grandfather, was born in the Azores in 1846 and immigrated to Boston in 1858. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War and today is the only Civil War veteran buried in the Santa Rosa Chapel Cemetery. In 1870 Joseph came to work at the San Simeon Point whaling station, and five years later met and married Maria Fernandes.

In the late 1890s they bought a house on West Street in Cambria and opened a saloon on Main Street. They closed the saloon after one son was murdered in 1906. Their other son, Manuel, married third-generation Cambrian, Elsie Whitney, and they lived in a tent on family ranchland near the headwaters of San Simeon Creek. That is where Joyce Williams’ mother, Kathryn, and her three siblings, including Joyce’s uncle, Bud Marian, were born. The children attended the New Era School on San Simeon Creek Road, the current site of Shirley and Bill Bianchi’s home.

Joyce’s parents, Tony Williams and Kathryn Mariano, first met as children when they attended the New Hesperian School on the hill above Main Street. After Katherine’s graduation in 1921, Tony asked for her hand and was sternly refused by Katherine’s mother, who arranged for her daughter to marry Aldo Luchessa. In the mid-1930s, Aldo was killed in a mining accident, leaving Katherine with a young daughter, Norma Lee.

Tony Williams, in the meantime, learned the cattle business, and in 1936, purchased his first ranch, the Paterson Ranch on San Simeon Creek Road. He rekindled the romance with Katherine and married her in 1937. Three years later, Joyce was born.

Tony Williams was a self-made man who ran a successful cattle operation for many years and purchased several local ranches, including the Kaetzel property his parents had purchased in 1903. Today, Joyce lives on the former Paterson Ranch, her father’s first purchase. There’s some symmetry to that, don’t you think?

The story and photos from Joyce Williams gave me an idea: Why not have an album at the museum and ask others in our agricultural community to bring in copies of their family photos, letters, news clippings and other memorabilia that we can share with visitors? The album is ready and waiting to feature your relatives and the stories of their lives on our local farms and ranches. Drop off materials at the Cambria Historical Museum at the corner of Burton Drive and Center Street in Cambria’s historic East Village or call 927-4274 for more information. The museum is open 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday.

Susan McDonald is a member of the Cambria Historical Society Board of Directors. For more, go to