John Steinbeck’s grandparents lived in Hollister at the intersection of Line and South Streets when this photo was taken during their 50th Wedding Anniversary party on June 1, 1906.

That is Almira Dickson Steinbeck in the center (apparently she prefers to only have photos of her right side taken) surrounded by her five daughters-in-law. Some of their expressions are priceless, and it is fun to imagine what they are thinking of having their photo taken on this momentous occasion.

In the second image, John is the littlest boy in the center with all of his cousins in 1906 at his grandparent’s 50th-anniversary party.

In East of Eden, John Steinbeck wrote imaginatively about the Salinas Valley Hamiltons—grandparents, aunts, and uncles on his mother’s Scots-Irish side. But his father Ernst Steinbeck’s people, solid Central California farmer-entrepreneurs living east of Salinas, were also important in the writer’s early life. Folks in Hollister, California, the San Benito County village where the family migrated from New England in the 1870s, like to remind visitors that Steinbeck Country starts in their city, a peaceful farming community set among the rolling hills near historic Mission San Juan Bautista. When John Steinbeck was growing up in Salinas, Hollister was a day’s ride over the steep San Juan Grade, so the Hollister Steinbecks weren’t around as much as the familiar Hamilton clan. But the dramatic story of how they came to Central California is, if anything, even more memorable than that of the Hamiltons, and Steinbeck wrote about it in the 1960s.

The Salinas Valley and San Benito area are known for being the setting of the novels East of Eden and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.

Courtesy: San Benito County Historical Society &