Bio-Pen Pictures

the subject of this sketch, who came to California in 1852, was born in Jefferson County, New York, in 1828. His father, Eli P. Penniman, was born in Keene, New Hampshire, in 1800, and when about twenty years old went to New York State. He owned a woolen cloth factory in Lockport, New York, which he sold out and went to Illinois, in 1842, and bought a section of land from the United States Government within thirty miles of Chicago, in Lake County, near where Libertyville now stands. He died there in 1884. His mother, Margaret (Poor) Penniman, is a native of Jefferson County, New York. His father and mother were married in 1823, and to them were born five children. Hiram P., the eldest, was born in 1824, and in 1850 came to California, and is now living in Oakland; Louis E. was born in 1826 and died in Libertyville, Illinois; the next child is the subject of our sketch; the fourth child was a daughter, Mary Jane, born in Jefferson County, New York, in 1830, and is now Mrs. Ralph Bagg, of Afton, Iowa; the youngest child, Harriet J., was born in Jefferson County also, in 1832. In 1853 she and her husband, George S. Pottwin, came to California. She died in 1873, and her husband in 1886.

        Mr. Penniman attended the public schools and worked on his father's farm until he attained the age of twenty-four years, when he bought a team of four horses and a light two-horse wagon, and, leaving the parental roof, drove to Chicago, where, in company with Squire Lee, of Libertyville, Illinois, and his son, Austin Lee, he started to Council Bluffs, Iowa, to which place they drove, a distance of 700 miles, in fifteen days! On the last day of July of that year they drove into Placerville (having driven down from Carson, Nevada, over the old Hangtown road), and ate a good old-fashioned "vegetable dinner." They brought all of their horses through, which they sold for $400 each. They were just fifty-one days crossing the plains from the Missouri River. Mr. Penniman, in partnership with his brother Hiram, who had come to California in 1850, planted a vegetable garden of four acres at Sonora, on Mormon Creek, Tuolumne County. They sold cabbage at twenty-five cents a pound; raised one weighing thirty-eight pounds! - sold watermelons at $3.00 each, and eggs at $3.00 a dozen. He put a hundred acres in barley, which he sold for ten cents a pound in bundles, straw and all. The spot right where their garden stood was afterward prospected for gold, and parties had earned as high as an ounce a day. He remained on this ranch a year, then went to Contra Costa County, and took up a ranch of 160 acres, right back of Martinez, where he remained for twenty years; then he sold out to his brother Hiram, and moved into Martinez, where he kept a stable for two years, after which he came to this county, and says he has enjoyed life more than in any other part of California.

        Mr. Penniman was married, in 1856, to Miss Helen S. Huff, who was born near Cleveland, Ohio, a daughter of Alvin Huff, who died in Indiana when she was a child. Four children have blessed this marriage: The eldest, George Arthur, was born in 1857, and married, December, 1887, Miss Effie Bardsley, of Oakland, California. He is now a member of the firm of Ingram & Co., successors to A. C. Litcomb & Co., wholesale jewelers, 24 Post Street, San Francisco. The second child, Helen S., is a graduate of the San Jose High School, and also attended the State Normal School. She still remains under the parental roof. Luther E., born in 1870, is also a graduate of the High School of San Jose, and is now attending business college. Edwin R., who was born in the centennial year of 1876, is attending school at the Willows.

        Mr. Penniman's brother, Louis E., raised a company of volunteer soldiers during the late war, and, though unable to accompany them himself, owing to his business demanding his attention, he presented each of them with $50 to help out the cause.

        Mr. Penniman is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is a Democrat in politics, and believes in the protection of American industries, especially in the protection of the fruit interests of California.

Pen Pictures From The Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated. - Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago:  The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.

Pg. 600-601




SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight