Vignette > A Small Farm

Bettencourt Farmhouse today

Mary Bettencourt was born on November 15, 1910 in a farmhouse that her father had built in 1905 on a 3-acre parcel in Homestead Valley.  Both of Mary’s parents had emigrated from the Portuguese Azores. Her mother was her father’s second wife. Her four half-brothers between 4 and 8 years old and her grandfather made a total three adults and five children living in the house. The 800 sq. ft. house had four bedrooms and one other room for cooking and eating. The cook stove heated the house. In 1910, there was no indoor toilet, no electricity, no icebox, no telephone, and no radio. In 1922 when Mary was 12 years old she had her own bedroom—the four boys had graduated from Summit School and were living and working on southern Marin dairy ranches. Mary walked to Summit School two miles each way. In the summer the family sometimes went by horse and wagon to Stinson Beach where she and her mother would bathe in the hot springs while the men fished.  On the way back they would stop at Big Lagoon (Muir Beach) and load up the wagon with driftwood to fuel the wood stove.  Mary lived on the property until she died at age 100, first in the farmhouse and later in a house her husband built behind the farmhouse.