The Valley of Heart's Delight

Editor of The California Pioneer and The California Elk


   Well known throughout the state as the editor and publisher of The California Pioneer and later of The California Elk, Alexander P. Murgotten has done much in this capacity to promote the good of the organizations which his papers represented, and has also rendered efficient assistance in advancing the interests of San Jose, the city in which he has resided for fifty-six years. A member of one of the early pioneer families of California, he has spent nearly all of his life in this state, and by his intelligence, ability and integrity has been influential in promoting its industrial, social, fraternal and political welfare.  A son of the late Henry Clay Murgotten, he was born February 10, 1846, in Lagro, Wabash County, Ind., and he comes of distinguished French ancestry, his great-grandfather Murgotten having been a wealthy Parisian.  Grandfather Murgotten was an officer in the French navy in 1808, served under Napoleon, and after the second banishment of Napoleon was in a ship that was lost off the coast of America.  Being rescued by an American vessel, he settled permanently in Baltimore, Md., living there until his death, of cholera, in 1831.  He was a practical business man, and quite well-to-do, for in addition to his earnings he received regular remittances from his father in France.  The correct French spelling of his surname Mr. Murgotten has never definitely ascertained.

   In Muncie, Ind., December 24, 1837, Henry Clay Murgotten married Susan Shaffer, who was born in Lycoming County, Pa., a daughter of Adam and Elizabeth (Gordener) Shaffer.  Elizabeth Gordener was of French ancestry, and was a daughter of George Gordener, who was a life-long resident of Lycoming County, Pa., and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  On December 24, 1887, in Placerville, Cal., Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Murgotten celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, the occasion being one of joyful memory.  Mrs. Murgotten lived but a few months longer, passing away in San Jose, June 21, 1888.  Of the children born of their union two survive, namely:  Mary H., widow of Hon. William A. January, of San Jose, and Alexander P., the subject of this sketch. Henry Clay Murgotten was a staunch Republican in politics, a past grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and one of the founders and leading members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Placerville.

   Coming with his mother to California when a boy of six years, the father having preceded them, Alexander P. Murgotten was carried across the Isthmus on the back of a native.  He was reared and educated in Placerville, Eldorado County, attending the public schools until sixteen years old.  He was one of the first newsboys in the mines, beginning to sell papers as soon as he arrived there.  The New York, Boston and St. Louis papers, although six months and even a year old, sold readily for fifty cents, and illustrated papers brought fifty cents and a dollar each.  He later entered the employ of William A. January, publisher of the Mountain Democrat, and in his office learned the printer's trade. Coming with Mr. January to San Jose, in 1866, on January 1, he worked for two years on the Santa Clara Argus, as foreman of the office. Embarking then in business for himself, he has since been extensively engaged in job printing and publishing.  In 1877 he started the Pioneer, a paper that had a good circulation and was devoted to the interests of the California pioneers.  From 1885 until 1889 Mr. Murgotten was in the employ of the Government, being superintendent of deposit melting in the United States Mint in San Francisco, and likewise being the representative of the superintendent between the melting, refining and coining departments, in this capacity handling all the gold twice, millions of dollars' worth of it passing through his hands every day. On change of administration Mr. Murgotten returned to San Jose, and as junior member of the firm of Cottle and Murgotten resumed the publication of the Pioneer, continuing with his partner for five or more years.  In February, 1901, he established The California Elk, a large, twelve-page quarto, issued monthly in the interests of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States, also actively and profitably engaging in a general printing business.

   In San Jose, June 28, 1868, Mr. Murgotten married Martha Kelley Munroe, a native of Medina, Ohio.  Her father, Charles Munroe, started for California by way of Cape Horn in 1851.  He resided for a while in San Jose, but during the excitement caused by a rich discovery of gold in Central America, he went to the mines of that country, and died there.     Mr. and Mrs. Murgotten celebrated their golden wedding anniversary June 28, 1918.  Of their union five children were born, two living, Henry C. Murgotten and Rev. Dr. F. C. Murgotten.

   Politically, Mr. Murgotten is a Republican and fraternally, he belongs to San Jose Lodge No. 10, F. & A. M.  He is a Shriner, a Sciot, belongs to the Scottish Rite and a member of the Sons of the Revolution, is a past noble grand of Garden City Lodge No. 142, I. O. O. F., and is a charter member of San Jose Lodge No. 522, B. P. O. E.  He was one of the prime movers in the forming of the Santa Clara County Pioneers' Society, which was organized June 22, 1875, and of which he was secretary for a quarter of a century, resigning the position in 1900, but is again occupying that office.  Religiously, Mr. Murgotten is a member of the Episcopal Church, and is liberal in his religious views, according to everyone the right to worship God as conscience dictates.

   During the Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, Mr. Murgotten was president of the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County and was instrumental in engineering one of the largest and most interesting days--Pioneer Day--when more than seventy thousand attended from all parts of the state.

Transcribed by Joseph Kral, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 345

San Benito Advance

3 Feb 1877
The  "Pioneer" is the name of the new weekly paper published by A.P.
MURGOTTEN, of San Jose…It is to be devoted to the interests of Santa
Clara valley and to be the official organ of the Santa Clara Valley
Pioneers. Why the Pioneers want a paper devoted exclusively to their
interests is a mystery to us; but then it is their business, and this is
a free country.

transcribed by Dee S.