2022 Pioneer Day Belle and attendants will be announced this Sunday

PASO ROBLES — Seven young women are in the running to be named the 2022 Paso Robles Pioneer Day Belle, who will be announced this Sunday, Aug. 21, at the Pioneer Royalty Dinner held at the Estrella Warbirds Museum.

Belles and their attendants are young ladies representing a local Pioneer Family that came to the area between the 1880s and 1930. They are usually fresh high school graduates and young women. Their families have deep-rooted connections in the Paso Robles community. 

A Belle’s attendants represent the different areas that make up Paso and can vary each year. Areas often represented are Carissa Plains, Creston, Parkfield, Templeton, Adelaide, Linne Township, Paso Robles, San Miguel, and so many more.


Meet this year’s Belle candidates:

GraceAnn Cooper

GraceAnn is the seventh generation of the Edgar and Root pioneer families on her mother’s side. Her four-times grandparents John and Hannah Edgar, moved to a farm in the Estrella area in 1883 and homesteaded several different places around the area with their seven children. 

Related Families: Root, Smeltzer, Edgar

Jane Foltz-Cary

Jane is the daughter of Matthew Cary and Noel Foltz. 

Her paternal two-times grandparents, Joe and Teresa Allen, settled in the Bee Rock area in 1881. Their daughter, Audrey Cary, who was Jane’s great grandmother, was the Pioneer Day Queen in 2003.

Jane’s paternal grandmother, Ginni Rossi Cary, also has a Pioneer Heritage. Her parents were Maurice Rossi and Margi Mulhall Rossi. Maurice Rossi’s grandparents, Vicente Rossi and Angelina Coradi, started the Crescent Farms Dairy in Templeton in 1886. Margi Mulhall’s grandparents, Emanuel and Sarah Kuhnle, settled on the Estrella Plains Ranch in 1890. This ranch is still owned by the family today where Jane’s father, Matt, still farms.

Related Families: Rossi, Cary, Ferrini, Mulhall, Kuhnle, Allen

Brooklyn Pesenti

The Pesenti family history goes back five generations. Pietro (Pete) Pesenti, Brooklyn’s two-time grandfather, immigrated from Italy in 1910 and found work on the Paderewski Ranch. By 1914 Pete had earned enough money to send for his wife and daughter to join him in America, and in 1921, Pete and his wife Maria purchased land in the Willow Creek area. 

Related pioneer families: Pesenti, Reynolds, Dusi

Ellie Sonniksen​

Ellie’s maternal two-times grandfather, Herman Heilmann moved from Germany to Creston in 1910. He made a trip back to Germany in 1913, where he met and married his wife, Margarete Negelke. He returned to Creston in 1914 and began farming. Frieda and her husband Lee owned and operated a small dairy farm in the area and Frieda also worked at the Paso Robles Mercantile. 

Ellie’s maternal two-time grandparents, Fedele and Antoinette Ostini were also early Pioneers, moving to Atascadero in 1919 and eventually settling in the Templeton area.

Related pioneer families: Ostini, Heilmann, Van Tassel

Kylie Stroud​

Kylie’s two-time grandfather, Louis Lauridsen, settled in the Paso Robles area in 1898. He was a wheat farmer in the Union and Dry Creek area and was the founding director of the Farmers Alliance Business Association. 

Louis and his wife, Maren Jenson, had three children, Esther, Ingward, and Margrethe. Ingward Lauridsen and his wife Anna were Kylie’s great grandparents. Her Aunt Danna was a Belle Attendant in 1977, and her sister Becca Stroud was the Belle in 2019.

Related pioneer families: Paulsen, Lauridsen, Lund and Rude

Jenna Wilshusen​

The Wilshusen family’s pioneer history dates back to the mid-1920s in the Paso Robles area. Arthur Otto Wilshusen, wife Nora May (Woods) Wilshusen, and their three sons George, Jim, and Charley left Kansas to find opportunities out West. 

Jenna’s great-grandfather, Jimmie Spencer, grew up in Cholame and the El Pomar area, and in 1943 he married Elizabeth (Lib) Turner. In 1958 Jimmie Spencer entered into a partnership with Pepper Martin to own a grocery and butcher store in Shandon. 

Related Families: Spencer, Brush, Bertoni, Savage

Emily Wilson​

Neils and Mary Jane Johnson settled in the Templeton area in 1889. Neils had a great deal of timber on his land, and he cut a certain amount for wood each year. In 1913 following the death of Mary Jane, Nels sold his property and moved into town, where his house still stands at the corner of Crocker and 3rd streets in downtown Templeton. 

Related Families: Johnson, Nance, Clausen, Anderson, Wessel, Bland, Werling, Warner, Wilson

To read more about the belle candidates and Paso Robles Pioneer Day, head to pasoroblespioneerday.org/royalty