Portrait of the late Clara Ann Steverson, native Californian and descendant of African-American Gold Rush pioneers. Steverson passed away on June 19, 2011.
Clara Ann Steverson, 91, descendant of three major African-American Gold Rush pioneers, passed away of heart failure at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Harbor City, California on Sunday, June 19, 2011. A memorial service for Steverson was held at Bel-Vue Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, June 26, 2011.
A California native, Steverson was proud of her ancestors; great-grandfather Emanuel Quivers, grandfather Henry Hall, and her great-uncle Moses Rodgers. The three men, arriving by various routes, made their way to California in and around 1849 for the Gold Rush, while slavery was still in existence in the southern states. Once in California, they each made successful strides and lived an exemplary life, providing well their families during the early days of the California’s development.
Quivers, a former slave, whose extraordinary talent as a blacksmith and machinist resulted in him purchasing his freedom from J.R. Anderson, owner of the Tredegar Iron Works foundry in Richmond, Virginia and traveling by ship. He was later able to buy freedom for his wife and four children, as well, who joined him in California.
Hall, who arrived in California in 1849, was one of two African-American members in the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. He came from Texas on horseback at the age of 14 and in later years married Quivers’ daughter, Mary Ann. They had two daughters and two sons. Their daughter, Susie Hall, is Steverson’s mother. Hall was an excellent horseman and had a thriving business as a teamster, hauling to and from the gold mines for 25 years. When he died at age 59, he left a sprawling ranch to his family, which Steverson ultimately inherited.
Rodgers, also a former slave from Missouri, became a mining engineer and came to California for the Gold Rush in 1848. He quickly became known as an expert in the state and investors went to him for advice regarding mining claims. Records indicate he also owned several mines in Hornitos, Mariposa County. Rogers later moved with his wife Sara, another of Quivers’ daughters, to Stockton seeking a good education for his five daughters. Their elegant family home, located at 921 South San Joaquin Street in Stockton, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Steverson was born on April 23, 1920, the only daughter of Reverend Granville W. Reed, Sr. and Susie Hall Reed in Monrovia, California. The only daughter, they had also had three sons, Reverend Granville W. Reed, Jr., Theodore Reed and Arnold Phelps Reed, LLP.
Steverson grew up active in church, school and community, graduating from Monrovia High School in 1938. While a student at Los Angeles City College, she met Roscoe Steverson. They married in 1940 and became the parents of four children, Carol, Rosalind, Richard and Catherine.
Throughout her life, Steverson always exemplified excellence as a woman of God, wife, mother and friend. The family purchased a home in Compton, California where she resided for 63 years. She and her husband became members of Bel-Vue Presbyterian Church in South Los Angeles, California in March 1950, where she served on numerous auxiliaries and was a member of the church choir for over 50 years.
A devoted mother, she served as president of the PTA and was a founding member of the South Los Angeles Chapter of Jack and Jill. She was also a member of the Mr. & Mrs. Club, Neighborhood Block Club and was active in scouting programs with all four of her children.
Steverson’s career with the County of Los Angeles spanned over 40 years where she became clerical supervisor for the Registrar of Voters office.
Steverson retired in 1976 and then went into the travel business. She became an agent for DeVoe Travel Agency along with her husband and formed “The Steverson Travelaires.” The club enjoyed many trips throughout the United States and all parts of the world. Steverson also worked another 20 years part-time for the Retired Employees of Los Angeles County (RELAC). During this period she also became a member of the Elegant Ladies Social Club and joined the Hub City Chapter of Top Ladies of Distinction. In addition, she assumed her husband’s role as a member of the Watts-Willowbrook Rotary Club after he passed away in 1987.
In 1999 Steverson’s family held a reunion in Stockton, California, in which descendants of the pioneering family came from throughout the United States to honor three generations of family members buried in family plots in the Stockton Rural Cemetery. The family’s extraordinary history was spearheaded by Steverson’s niece, Viola Reed Baecher of Park Forest, Illinois. Baecher, a history buff with a passion for African-American history, began her search in 1996 based on oral history provided by Aunt Clara and her late father, Reverend Granville W. Reed, Jr.
After suffering heart problems in 2002, Steverson’s life slowed down. However, to the end, she still enjoyed attending church, spending time with her family and participating in various social activities. She was a passionate sports fan, who always enjoyed watching college and professional competitions. An avid reader, she read books and newspapers daily.
Stevenson was the matriarch of the Reed family. All of her siblings and elders have preceded her in death. She leaves to honor her memory her four children; Carol Tucker, Rosalind Stevenson (Robert Stevenson), Richard Steverson (Marianne Steverson), Catherine Bush (Michael Bush). Her surviving nieces and nephew, who are also descendants of Quivers, Hall and Rodgers include Theodore Carter (Marsha Carter) of Stockton, CA; Elinor Reed of Oak Bluff, MA; Reverend Rodger Hall Reed (Shirley Cason Reed) of Washington D.C.; Professor Richard Earl Reed (Umran Reed) of Chicago, IL, Viola Baecher of Park Forest, IL; Norma Reed Halthon of Antoich, CA; and Alexis Reed Mansion of Antoich, CA. Steverson’s grandchildren include Jerry Tucker (Terri Tucker), Cynthia Tucker, Jason Woodruff (Nicola Boykin-Woodruff), Kendra Ruffin (Willie Ruffin), Damon Woodruff (Lizy Woodruff), Teron Stevenson, Rick Steverson (Shawna Steverson), Todd Steverson (Theresa Steverson) and Lenita Lugo. She also leaves 13 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandson and a host of family and friends.