Pioneer Day Royalty

© 2018-Paso Robles Press

Annual celebration returns Oct. 14

The first Pioneer Day took place on Oct. 12, 1931 and was organized by community volunteers working with generous donations of time, materials and money from individuals, businesses, churches and service organizations. The slogan from inception was, “Leave your pocketbook at home!” The goal was to provide a day of community friendship and a commemoration of the heritage of the Paso Robles area.

It would also become a day set aside to say “thank you” to all of the people who support the businesses and professional community in the area throughout the year. Most businesses, with the exception of the saloons and taverns, even “closed shop” so that the owners and their employees could participate in the activities as well. There were to be no charges for any of the events, no commercial concessions and lunch would be provided at no cost.

Today the tradition continues. Every year, on the second Saturday of October, Pioneer Day kicks off with an epic parade and concludes with a free “bean feed” in the downtown City Park, which consists of the Lion’s Club famous bean stew (cooked over flames for hours in whale oil barrels) and a dinner roll. Besides the parade and the lunch, throughout the day you can watch Gymkhana at the fairground where children compete on horseback in a series of challenging events. Check out the fascinating collection of local heritage portraits printed from glass negatives at the Carnegie Library in the center of the square, throw some horseshoes or perhaps even participate in the Whiskerino contest hosted by the Central Coast Barbary Girls; Madame Foxy Finley, Calamity Crispin, Ravishing Rebecca, Cantinas Christy, Sweet Charity and Fancy Flory.

Besides the events listed in these pages, there are a few other traditions to keep an eye out for. For one, there are people buying and selling “Smooth Puss” badges and others getting thrown in the “hoosegow’ for not wearing one. Then there are the beer swilling horses. Every year, at the end of the parade, the poor tired horses are trotted right into The Pioneer Saloon and literally “pony up” to the bar for a brew. There are sure to be many more, so if you already know what they are make sure to share some with someone who doesn’t.

The entire day is free to the public and entirely funded by business owners and dedicated citizens of our area who continue to say…

“Leave Your Pocketbook at Home!” and come, celebrate in friendship!

The Pioneer Day Parade starts promptly at 10 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 14 in downtown Paso Robles. The parade route starts at 16th and Spring Street and ends surrounding the Paso Robles City Park.

MEET THE QUEEN: Ellen Mae Hansen Schroeder

Born in Paso Robles on July 25, 1933, Schroeder has lived in the Shandon area, mostly in Shandon Heights, her entire life; always involved and loving her community. “I grew up in Shandon and attended all 12 years of school here. Wonderful times! In those days, you knew everyone. I graduated with the Shandon High School class of 1951. There were nine in our class. There are six still living plus one who moved to San Luis Obispo when we were freshmen.  Most live in the North County and we stay in touch.”

“I have a lot of people in Shandon ask when I’d be chosen to be Queen. I said, “maybe never.” I don’t know. When I got the call, I was pretty surprised!  My husband Milton had several uncles who were Marshals in the parade. His parents Ada Rebecca (Heaton) and John David Schroeder attended the first Pioneer Day parade in 1931 with all the kids – Milton Lee, Floyd, Elvira, Alice, Aileen, Mildred, Esther and Vernon.”

Schroeder’s ancestors began arriving in the Shandon area in 1885. Her maternal great grandparents Daniel Bozley Shaw from Tennessee and Lucinda Ann (Riggins) Shaw from Illinois homesteaded in Shandon as did seven of their eight children. While most farmed their land, one daughter and her husband owned a drug and sundries store. Schroeder’s maternal grandparents, Alpha Farris Shaw of Shandon and Dora Ellen Maze Shaw of Paso Robles were married in 1901 and lived on their homestead on Highway 41. They raised two children, Schroeder’s mother, Nona Vivian Shaw Hansen and Uncle Ralph Farris Shaw.

Schroeder’s paternal grandfather, Morten Peter Hansen was born in Stege, Moen, Denmark in 1863. In 1881, he traveled alone to the United States from Denmark when he was 18 years old.  His plans were to go to the Dakotas, but he met Hans Hansen who convinced him to come to San Luis Obispo County after living in Cedar Falls, Iowa for four years. He lived and worked in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo for a while before moving to Creston and Shandon in 1886 where he homesteaded land, built a cabin, improved the farm and built roads.

Schroeder’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth May Boring Hansen came from Mill Creek, Pennsylvania to visit an aunt.  She met Morten and married him on December 30, 1897. Morton P. Hansen did quite well for himself; owning several properties and became known as the “unofficial” Mayor.  Elizabeth and Morten had six children; all born in Shandon.  Their second child, Edgar Morten Hansen, was Schroeder’s father.

Her parents Nona Vivian Shaw and Edgar Morten Hansen were both born and raised in the Paso Robles and Shandon areas. Edgar farmed the original family homestead. They were married on September 5, 1926 in Oakland. Schroeder adds, “I am their only daughter born at Wiedman’s Maternity Home at 1940 Park Street in Paso Robles. Dr. A.H. Wilmar was the attending physician. Very warm days with no air conditioning! I have relatives who still call me Ellen Mae to this day. This is what happens when you live in the same area forever. My name is the middle names of both my grandmothers.”

Schroeder married Milton Lee Schroeder on April 26, 1952 at the Shandon Methodist Church, shortly after graduating from high school. They started their family with the births of their son David Morten Schroeder in 1953 and daughter Connie Jean Schroeder Duncan in 1954; both born at Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital.

Schroeder said, “We lost Milton on January 30, 2016. We’d been married for more than 63 years. I have a wonderful extended family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. My son David’s children are Dawn Ellen (Schroeder) Tarr (Rick), Kari Evalyn (Schroeder) Parrish (Chris) and Tawna Kay (Schroeder) White.  His stepsons are Jared Fountain and Dustin Fountain. His grandchildren; my great grandchildren are Thomas White and Kara White, Cierra Mae Parrish and Wynter Fountain. My daughter Connie’s children are Lisa Kay (Duncan) Smith. Wyatt Allen Duncan (Shannon) and Rawley Lane Duncan (Jasmine). Connie’s grandchild and my great grandchild is Brooke Lynn Duncan; parents Wyatt and Shannon.  Ellen’s family names are Maze, Shaw, Boring and Hansen. Her husband Milton’s family names are Gaylord, Heaton, Franz and Schroeder. 

Escorting Schroeder to the Pioneer Day festivities and riding the Queen’s carriage are her attendants; daughter Connie Schroeder Duncan and granddaughter Lisa Duncan Smith.  Lisa’s parents Pete and Connie Duncan attended Shandon schools, both graduating in the early 70s.


Daryl was born on July 8, 1940 in Paso Robles to L.M. “Buster” and Nancy (Jenkins) Stinchfield. The Stinchfields came to the Paso area in the early 1930’s. Daryl graduated from Paso Robles High School in 1958 and married his high school sweetheart Charlotte Roeder. Stinchfield has lived and worked in the Paso Robles area his entire life and has been very involved with both  the Pioneer Museum and Pioneer Day Committee Tractors.

One of Stinchfields favorite things about the Pioneer Day celebrations is being able to attend the “Old Timers Luncheon” hosted by the Paso Robles Rotary. Ironically, when asked what he thought about the honor, Stinchfield replied, “I always thought you had to be old to be a Marshal. I’m too young.”


Riley Rae Coelho


Riley’s maternal great, great grandfather Otto Wyss immigrated to the United States from Zurich,Switzerland in 1873; settling in Adelaida in 1876 where he worked as an engineer, machinist and map maker at the Klau quicksilver mines and then homesteaded in 1878. His daughter Pauline Johanna Wyss, Riley’s great great grandmother, was born in 1892 in Adelaida. She served on the first county fair board from 1942 to 1960.

Riley’s paternal great, great grandfather, James Wesley Dodd, came by wagon train from Kentucky to California; settling in Pleyto-Hesperia. His son Ed married Polly Johanna Wyss in 1912; settling in the Adelaida on the Wyss-Dodd ranch where Riley’s grandparents Skip and Nancy still live.

Riley’s grandparents are Stanley and Leslie Coelho, Darlene and Johnny Lawrence and Raymond (Skip) and Nancy White Dodd.

Riley is a senior at Paso High and plans to attend Moorpark College to study Exotic Animal Training and Management.

Julia Aurignac

San Ardo/Bradley

Julia’s ancestors came to California from France in the 1860s and  purchased land in San Ardo in 1875. The family increased their holdings from San Ardo to Bradley. Julia’s dad, Paul Jr. enriches the traditions of the Aurignac Ranch and its operation by advancing technology. Julia carries on the family tradition by working and living on the ranch with plans to live in the “Old Adobe” that has been on the property for over a hundred years. Her grandparents are the late Albert Aurignac, John and Leslie Tavernetti Cederquist, Sandy Bishof Cummings and Bob and Joanne Miller Cummings.

Julia is a senior at Templeton High with plans to attend a university and play a college sport.

Mollie Batrum

Hog Canyon

Mollie is a sixth generation Von Dollen. Her great, great grandfather Max Von Dollen settled in the Keyes Canyon area in 1886. His parents Johann Von Dollen and Caroline Martensen immigrated to the United States from Germany to California when he was 6 years old. In 1906 Max Van Dollen began farming 800 acres in Hog Canyon. Mollie’s great grandmother, Amelia married Harry McKee in 1945 and her son Robert farmed in the Bradley area with his Uncle Wilbert Atkins.

Her grandparents are Robert and Jennifer Gustafson McKee and Harry and Nancy Thomas Batrum.

Mollie is a senior at Paso High and plans to go to college to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist.

Mattie Lindsey


Mattie’s great, great grandfather Louis Lauridsen came to the Estrella area in 1898. He married Maren Jensen who was from his hometown in Denmark. Their son, Ingward, farmed with them and married Anna Paulsen in 1931. Ingward and Anna’s son Kenneth, Mattie’s grandfather was born in the Geneseo area, attended the Union School then Paso High and helped his father Ingward with the family farming operation.

Mattie’s grandmother Carrol’s heritage began with the Cavanaugh family in the 1880’s near Santa Margarita then on the Estrella Plains. Carrol still lives on the Lauridsen Ranch.

Mattie is a senior at Templeton High and plans to attend college to major in biology and chemistry then join the Peace Corps before attending medical school.


“Alex” Minnis

Willow Creek

The Willow Creek area is where Alex’s great grandmother Hilda Claassen Franklin was born and raised by her parents Abraham and Agnetha Schroeder Claassen. Her grandparents are Jacob and Gerhard Schroeder Classen who originally settled on the Godfrey Ranch in 1896 and later moved to Willow Creek. The Schroeder and Claassen families helped establish the San Marcus Mennonite Church located around Chimney Rock Ranch in 1897. Alex’s grandfather Harold Franklin is a retired teacher whose father was a circuit rider preacher with the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Alex attends Paso Robles Independent High School and plans to attend Cuesta College to study early childhood development.




Victoria is the seventh generation of the Edgar and Root pioneer family on her paternal side. In 1883, her great, great, great, great grandparents, John and Hannah Edgar purchased a farm in Estrella. Victoria’s great, great, great grandmother Florence married George Root in 1889 and purchased railroad land to farm and ranch.  Her great grandmother, Carol Root Smeltzer was the Pioneer Queen in 2010.

Her grandparents are Glen and Sandra Taft Smeltzer.Victoria’s grandfather Glen was a teacher at Paso Robles High School for 38 years..

Victoria attends Paso Robles High School, plans to attend Cuesta then travel to Germany to study brewing and return to Paso to start her very own micro-brewery.

Jadyn Steaffens

Indian Valley

Jadyn’s ancestor George Davis was married to Elecia Sumner by John Sutter at Sutter’s Fort in 1843. Davis served with Captain John Fremont in the Bear Flag Rebellion and the Mexican-American war. Jadyn’s great, great grandfather Claude Azbell was born in San Miguel in 1882 and in 1929, he was named the first Paso Robles Police Chief.

Her great, great grandfather Oscar Steaffens helped build Camp Roberts during WWII and great grandfather John Steaffens Sr. was the beloved Fire Chief of the Paso Robles Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years. Jadyn’s grandparents are David and Diane Steaffens and Rudy and Flor Valdez.

Jadyn is a senior at Paso High and plans to attend a university to study math and science.

Payton Tucker


Payton’s pioneer family goes back six generations on the Tucker side and  seven generations on the Davies side; both coming from England in the mid-1880’s. The Tucker family settled in the Creston area with great great grandfather Fred then moved to Shandon to drill wells and run the general store. The Davies side settled in Cholame to farm and raise cattle. Payton’s grandpa Gary grew up with his grandparents Kenneth and Lilah Word Davies, went to school in Shandon and worked on the Davies Ranch.

Payton’s grandparents are Gary and Kathy Tucker, Nita and Jim La Loggia and Michael and Linda Atkins Hamers.

Payton is a senior at Templeton High and plans to attend college and pursue a career in the medical field.

Katie Smith


Katie has a large family tree with relatives spread over Bryson/Hesperia, Bradley, Indian Valley, the Estrella Plains, Shandon, Dry Creek and Union District. Katie and her family still live on the Smith Ranch (the old Lynch Ranch) keeping the tradition of farming and cattle ranching. Her earliest ancestors, John “Ham” Parks Hamilton Smith and Dora Thomas Ray Smith homesteaded in 1874 in the Bald Mountain area. Her grandparents Archie and Edith McCornack tended the Lynch Ranch that was established in 1859. The family still uses the JTL brand today.

Katie’s great great grandmother is Byby Root. Her grandparents are Harold Robertson and Linda Smith; Mary Wolf Scantlin and the late Russell Root.

Katie is a senior at Templeton High and plans to attend Cuesta and Cal Poly. She also looks forward to competing in College Rodeo.

© 2018-Paso Robles Press

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