Nathaniels Father






Thomas S. Roberts was born April 11, 1794 in New Brunswick, Canada

In the 1850 census of Howland, Maine, Thomas is a farmer with property of considerable value. Thomas’s wife Sophia Danforth Roberts gave birth to and raised 10 children. Among them, the 1850 census in Maine lists Nathaniel at 28 (and identified as Danforth), is listed as a  Lumberman as are Amos ,22 and Dudley, 20. They are living in Howland. We are also aware that lumberman in these days followed the lumber booms. So we are not surprised when, in later later years, we see Nathanial move his family often, following the flow. This pattern emerge as a general pattern repeated by the Shaver families and subsequent generations of the Roberts/Shaver clan.  


The lumber boom in Maine goes back to the 1600’s, when the British appetite for masts and decking, stimulated colonization. The imposition of a law requiring that all trees with a diameter of 24” or more at a height of 2’ above the ground were property of the crown, developed resentments and divisions amongst the colonists. Records during the revolutionary period are confusing but suggest that Thomas’s birth in New Brunswick may have been the result of the enlistment of his father, Johnathan Roberts in the service of the crown. Enlistment was incentivized by the granting of property after service and New Brunswick became a haven for thousands of loyalist soldiers after the defeat of the British. That conclusion would, possibly, be supported by the discharge document below.

Sophia Danforth was born on April 7, 1799 in Argyle, Maine

Tory refugees going to Canada. New Brunswick

was established as a haven for Loyalists.

Few of the family members in this history wrote about their lives. Understanding are gleaned by stories,  recollections and attitudes passed on verbally and embedded in the soul. Also, the importance of kept objects are magnified significantly as markers of character and you will see that I use them to  illustrate stories and as symbols/epigrams of individuals identity. 

    I find that history flows and,  is best understood not by straight lines but like the branches of a tree, spiraling, variegating and often turning back on them selves. I also find that familial understandings, belief and attitudes are carried over many generations, even tens of generations. Stories, songs, sayings and poems when studied, speak volumes, revealing the character and voice of individuals as do even the tiniest of objects , kept and passed on. is a very useful tool to trace family lineage and help

to explain basic familial sense of self worth, values, cultural and financial inheritance. In the case of the Roberts family, as one example, figures like Sir Thomas Roberts of Glassenbury (1559 - 1629) and his wife Lady Francis (Maynard) Roberts (1563-1648) pop out, are typical and go a long way toward explaining how his son William Roberts (1622-1665) was able to immigrate to the colonies and establish the family very successfully in Maryland. 

    The frustrating thing is that you know that all these souls have interesting stories to tell and it is rare when you can actually get to them directly.

The voices of women, in particular are difficult to find. General tendencies can be gleaned and present generations can speak volumes. Of Lena, we can feel secure at this point to declare, she came from strong and prosperous people, grounded by lives on the frontier, the routine demands of family farm living and particularly understanding of the world of timber. 

Lena’s parents, Nathaniel Danforh Roberts and Oriana (Hanna) Pearson were originally from Maine. Their families: Roberts, Danforth, Robinson were early Colonial settlers,  Captain James Roberts served in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. Nathaniel and Hanna moved to Pennsylvania where Lena was born 1864 and grew up in what has been variously reported as Cedar Run, Cedar Realm, and Loch Haven.  They all speak to her later life in Shaver Lake where Cedar trees abound and perhaps the naming of “Rock Haven”, her later mountain home, was a play on Loch Haven, Pennsylvania. The family moved to Michigan with her parents at some point in her childhood. Certainly by the time she was 16, when she is listed in the 1870 Census in Pennsylvania with her father a farmer in 1880 the are in Michigan with her parents running a boarding house. She married Charles Burr Shaver in Blanchard, Michigan Dec. 6, 1883. Daughter Grace Mabel was born in Blan“hard Michigan Feb 24, 1887, and Ethel in 1889.  I think the family moved to Missouri in 1891 and then to Cali-fornia in late 1891-1892.  Doris was born in Fresno in 1897.  Things went well for them in Fres-no—C.B. became President of the Fresno Flume  & Irrigation Co. and build the flume and mill at Shaver Lake.  After C.B.s death in 1907, Lena became a very respected businesswoman in Fresno, very astute, an unusual position for a woman in those days. She managed the Shaver properties and as a major shareholder, she stayed active the lumber company affairs.  Harvey Swift took over as president and A.B. Long as vice president and managed the company very successfully for another 5 years. Her first love was the mountains—she spent summer always at Shaver and it is said that she preferred her mountain nom to her mansion in Fresno.  After the sale of the mill in 1912 and eventually the sale of the land at Shaver Lake to South-ern California Edison (each in excess of $1,000,000—a lot of money for those days). In 1919 Lena bought (with her son in law Harry Craycroft) a 160 acre parcel, which they subdivided to create Rock Haven , the first vacation homes at Shaver.

Lena had the Edison Company take her Shaver Lake home apart piece by piece and rebuild a home for her at Rock Haven.  Burr (Craycroft) told a story about how they laughed when they found that the board that had been in the kitchen and where all the grandchildren’s heights had been marked through the years was placed in the ceiling paneling of the second-floor bedroom!  Harry built a home as well and quite a number of Fresno families still have homes there.  In 1921 they purchased Armstrong’s Hotel and Store and Pine Ridge Post Office on a 360 acre parcel on Tollhouse Grade. They leased the running of the hotel and store for a time, but they spent a lot of time there.  Harry moved his medical equipment from Shaver and set up one of the cabins as his doctor's of-fice and was the Pine Ridge Post Master.  It was called it the Pine Ridge Hotel and Tavern, and they eventually grew to prefer it to Rock Haven—I think because of the room to garden, have horses and the social at-mosphere—many stopped there on there the way to and from Shaver Lake. In the late 20's the store burned down.  Burr said that he always felt guilty because he had "started “the fire".  And he had started the fire in the wood stove in the morning and sparks had caught the dry roof shingle on fire. He spent a lot of time at Pine Ridge with his grand-mother.  Her sister, Minnie built a cabin above the house and they spent many happy summers there with frequent visitors and Lena's grandchildren. Lena developed a heart condition later in life.  In the late 30's Burr, then in Medical School at Stanford arranged for Adeline Nord (Smith) to be her companion at Pine Ridge for a few summers in the mountains.  Adeline and Burr became good friends, she later married Karl Smith and they purchased and ran the Diamond D Ranch at Blaney Meadows, later to be called the Muir Trail Ranch. It was Lena’s great sor-row that the doctors would not let her go to the mountains the last cou-ple of years of her life—she wanted to die there.  In May of 1939, she died at her home in Fresno. Lena’s sister Minnie K. Roberts (Aunt Minn) also a native of Pennsylvania was married in Blanchard Michigan in 1884 to Harvey Swift who was born in Penfield  New York, May 21, 1853.  He too moved with his family to Hillsdale Michigan in 1869, where his family was in farming. At age 20 Harvey went into the lumber business, too.  He and his brother Lewis built a mill at Cheboygan, Michigan.  Harvey and “Lewis Swift and C.B. Shaver were all in evolved in organizing and building the mill, flume etc. at Shaver.  However, Harvey apparently did not move to California permanently until after Lewis’s death in 1901.  Then he came out, bought out Lewis’s interest from his widow and became a partner with C.B. Shaver. He and Minnie then moved to Fresno and Minnie built her beautiful house.  Minnie built a cabin at Pine Ridge and spent her summers there.  It is said that the doctors gave her five years to live in the late 1920’s, so she divided up her money and spent a portion each year, but she lived another 8 years!  But she must have managed, proba-bly with Lena’s help. Lena’s daughters: Ethel married Gus Hoover. They lived in Fresno on L Street for a few years and then moved to Los Angeles.  They had 3 children: Robert Benton Hoover, Richard Shaver Hoover, and Ethel Virginia Hoover Olsen.  Ethel died around 1945. Doris married Mick McDonald in 1917—She ran off to New York and they were married shortly before he left for overseas duty in World War 1.  Lena was not really happy!  Anyway, he returned.