VALLEY OF HEART's DELIGHT
Geography.-Almaden township is bounded on the north by Santa
Clara and township; on the east by San Jose and Burnett townships; on
the south by Gilroy township, and on the
west by Redwood township.
Topography.- Save a very small belt of land lying along the base
of the foot-hills, the entire township is mountainous, the peaks of
which rise to a great altitude. Two of these, one named by the
Indians Choual, and the other Oumouhum (since called Mount Bache), are
three thousand five hundred and thirty, and three thousand seven
hundred and eight feet respectively.
Soil- The soil of Almaden township is various. A strip of
land at the base of the foot-hills, and on their sides is adobe, while
farther out in the valley it is gravelly reddish clay, and requires
more moisture than in many other districts nearer the bay.
Products- Much of the town ship is lad out in vineyard, and
fruit of other kinds is not much cultivated. The grape being
especially adapted the gravelly soil reaches much perfection, yet
cereals also find great attention.
Timber- At an early day the timber, principally live and white
oaks, extended in to the valley as far as the Los Gatos
Creek, but the ground having been reclaimed, enough of trees is
only now left to give the appearance to the country of a well-wooded
Climate- Situated as Almaden township, within the Warm Belt, the
climates is most enjoyable Heavy frosts are unknown in Winter;
copious showers obtain through out the season, while the nights during
the hottest weather are cool, and the days inoppressive.
Early Settlement.- The New Almaden Quicksilver mine, the most
productive of its kind in the world excepting only its older namesake
on the frontier of Estremadura, in Old Spain, was very long ago known
to the Indians who were wont to resort thither to procure red paint
where with to adorn their nude bodies. They were unaware,
however, of the presence of quicksilver, and were soon salivated
to such an extent that every physical comfort was quickly
sacrificed. Noticing the natives thus bedaubed, a Spaniard named
Castillero inquired of them whence it came; thus he discovered
the mine, located it and filed his claim therefor. He lost his
title to it, however, by not complying with certain conditions, thus it
passed out of his hands and into those of the Quicksilver Mining
Company/ A full history of the mine and its concurrent litigation
will be found on page 32 of this work. In the year 1845 the mine
was first worked for quick silver, but on a small scale, but no record
exists of its yield until the year 1850.
It is presumably correct to give to James Dwyer the credit of being the
first American settler in Almaden township, where he located in
October, 1852. at the time, between the mines and the land which
he then and still occupies, there were no habitation save an adobe or
two occupied by Spaniards, while towards Los
Gatos there was no house
at all. In the course of qa week, however, a man named Ebenezer
Dodge, a veteran of nearly eighty years of age, had a claim on a
portion of the ranch of Joseph McCarthy.
The next to arrive was
Zadok A. Riggs, who coming to the
state in September, 1850, mined a
little, and on November 30, 1852, came to Almaden township and located
where he now resides, which he afterwards purchased when the survey was
completed, and some five thousand acres discovered to belong to the
Government in stead being the property of two Spanish grants- Narvaiez
and Hernandez. About this time William A. Morrison located on
Frank Hamilton's place; early in the following year, 1853, Henry Phelps
settled on the Schoefilld place, and George B. Jameson on the farm now
occupied by William La Montagne, while John Cooney took up his abode on
the ranch were now resides George H. Bosc. In the Fall of
1852 William D. Brown went upon the place now the property of the
widow Wheeler, and with him there came Frank Anerich alias Richmond,
who married one of his daughters and now resides on the adjoining
farm. There was also present on the vineyard which he now owns,
Mr. DeFrank, who had already laid out his vines. In the month of
AUgust, 1854, Michael Norton settled on the farm now occupied by his
widow and son, John R., while further up the valley , there settled in
the same year D. E. Skinner.
In the month of May, 1853, Joseph Mc Carthy located that tract of land
now the property of the Lone Hill Vineyard, but continued his residence
in the City of San Jose. In the Fall of 1855 he purchased from
Ebenezer Dodge his present farm, known as St. Patrick's Ranch, where he
established a domicile, and labored until, in 1875, he was enabled to
erect a handsome dwelling, at a cost of eight thousand dollars, which,
three years later, fell a prey to the fiery fiend. On a portion
of his property, not far distant, Mr. McCarthy had another frame
residence, which, too, was destroyed by fire on the morning of General
U. S. Grant's visit to San Jose. Both these conflagrations are
supposed to have been the work on an incendiary. In 1855, to the west
of Mr. Rigg's land, there established
themselves a few Italians, among
whom was C. Piatti, but remaining only a short time they sold out to W.
W. Pratt, of San Jose. The next settler to come to the township
we believe to have been Lewis F. Parker,
who located on the land he now occupies, August 26, 1856, it being then
a squatter's claim. Shortly afterward the Lone Hill Vineyard was
planted by D. M. Harwood, while in the following month, Frank
Hamilton came and pitched his camp on the ranch now occupied by the
At this period a large proportion of the cultivable lands were lying
wild, and occupied by large quantities of timber. There were no
roads, nor fences, while all commodities were procured from San
Jose. However, this state of affairs was not to be for long, for
magnificent roads were soon to penetrate over hill and dale' with these
conveniences of travel the settlement was rapid, and with the impetus
given by the quick development of the mines, the township today is one
of the most populous in the county. It is believed that the first frame
house within its limits was constructed by either Messrs. Riggs or
Brown, but there is the probability of there both built at the same
time. The first to get married was Joseph McCarthy, and in the
natural sequence of events, the first birth in the township is credited
to his wife, on New Year's day, 1856- twins.
The first school house, in the township, was that of the Pioneer
district, erected in 1850. The original building has long since
given place to a a new one. Who the teacher was we cannot
learn. In the year 1857, another school house was erected on land
belonging to Frank Hamilton, and was taught by W. F. Sturgis. It
was afterwards moved across the road to Pratt's land; from there it was
taken to a site on the property of F. Bose, where it was burned in
1872, and the presnt elegant building, of the Union district,
constructed in 1873, on a portion of the ranch of C. Schoefield.
On January 26, 1865, a riot occurred at the Almaden mines, as the
exorbitant demands of the miners would not be accepted to by the agent
of the company. It was found necessary to appy for military assistance,
which had the effect of causing the disaffected to look at things
with a calmer eye.
There are no town nor villages in the section save at the mines,
therefore records of these will be found elsewhere. Only about
one-fourth of the township is under cultivation, but its value lies not
so much in this as in the undeveloped wealth which lies concealed
within its picturesque mountains.
Goodrich's Free-Stone Quarry- Levi Goodrich, proprietor was
in 1875, and is situated in Almaden township, about eight miles south
from San Jose. It covers an area of about five hundred acres,
which is owned and controlled by the proprietor. The supply is,
comparatively speaking inexhaustible, and the quality, for building
purposes, good. Mr. Goodrich has worked it continuously since
1875, and the stone work for the Court House in San Jose, State Normal
School, San Francisco City Hall, and Masonic Temple in Oakland, came
from this quarry. The shipping is done at San Jose, and gives
employment to from fifteen to forty men. Office, room twenty,
Knox Block, San Jose.
Transcribed by Cdf
History of Santa Clara County, California
San Francisco: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1881, 838 pgs.
ALMADEN TOWNSHIP BIOS-
(cick here for all Santa Clara Biographies)
BAILEY, Boanerges R.
BAKER, Reuben J.
CASEY, Lewis C
JEFFRIES, John and James
PARKER, Major Lewis F.
RIGGS, Zadoc A.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT
SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY - THE VALLEY OF HEART's DELIGHT