The Valley of Heart's Delight

Leading Citizens of California


The personality and career of Benjamin Flint present a fascinating study to the analyst of character. He was a man of extraordinary mental versatility, unusual resourcefulness and organizing skill and while he won for himself place, power and position, he also became a dynamic force in the development of California, with whose history his name is inseparably associated as one of its  upbuilders and honored pioneers. His birth occurred at New Vineyard, Maine, February 21, 1827, and he was the third in a family of ten children. A representative of an old and prominent New England family, he was accorded liberal educational advantages for those days, attending the grammar and high schools of Anson, Maine, and afterward completing a course in civil engineering at the academy of North Yarmouth, Maine, and afterward completing a course in civil engineering at the academy of North Yarmouth, Maine. He secured a position in the office of the Maine Central Railroad at the time that line was built in the state and he also taught school for a while in Maine.

Attracted by the opportunities of the West, Mr. Flint secured passage on a vessel which left New York City on the 15th of March, 1849, and arrived at San Fran-
cisco, Cal., on the 29th of August of that year, going by way of the Isthmus of Panama. In search of the precious metal, he went to the mines of Amador County, Cal., where he remained for a year, meeting with average success. He then embarked in the cattle business at Volcano in order to meet the demands for fresh meat in the mining camps and from its inception the venture proved a success. In order to restock his ranch he returned to the East, purchased a fine band of sheep, which he drove across the plains to Southern California, arriving there on the first of April, 1853. As his business grew he admitted as partners Thomas Flint, a brother, and Llewellyn Bixby, a cousin, the enterprise becoming known as the Flint-Bixby Company. They acquired over 100,000 acres of fine pasture land in Los Angeles County on which they raised large numbers of cattle and sheep, conducting an extensive and lucrative business in wool, hides and fresh meat. Subsequently Benjamin Flint became associated with Jotham Bixby and they purchased 40,000 acres of good grazing land near Los Angeles, and at a later period the Flint-Bixby Company became the largest exporters of wool in the state. At one time he was interested with James Irvine, Sr., in the San Joaquin Ranch, now in Orange County. Mr. Flint also became president of the Guadaloupe Island Company, located off Mexico and engaged extensively in breeding high-grade Angora goats, having an average herd of 7,000 head a season. In the control of his business interests he displayed marked ability and energy, and became a dominant figure in business circles of the state. He was elected president of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, but owning to the heavy demands upon his time was obliged to decline the offer, although he subsequently accepted the office of vice-president of the road, being instrumental in securing from the city of San Francisco the franchise which enabled the company to complete its line. Before the advent of the railroad the Flint-Bixby Company operated a line of stage coaches from San Francisco to Los Angeles and they also became important factors in the development of the sugar beet industry, in addition to various cinnabar and quartz mines. During his later years Mr. Flint made his home in San Benito County, acquiring large land holdings near San Juan and Hollister, on which he raised cattle upon an extensive scale. His home ranch was known as San Justo, and here he resided for many years previous to his demise, which occurred in October, 1881. He was a man of culture and refinement, with lofty ideals and aspirations, and delighted in travel, visiting all parts of the United States and Mexico.

On May 27, 1857, Mr. Flint was united in marriage to Miss Caroline L. Getchell, a representative of an old and prominent New England family and a direct descendant of Governor Bradford of Massachusetts. Mrs. Flint was born at North Anson, Maine, and immediately after her marriage started across the plains for California, continuing a resident of this state until her demise on October 17, 1908, when she was seventy-three years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Flint became the parents of seven children; Benjamin; William R. and George C., twins; Walter P.; Robert W.; Eva and Caroline. Mr. Flint joined the Masonic order in 1854 and in religious faith he was a Congregationalist. He was a big man--big in that power which understands conditions, grasps situations and molds opportunities into tangible assets. He never deviated from the course which the world regards as right in the relation between man and his fellowmen and in all of his business career held closely to the rules which govern strict integrity and unabating industry.


His son, William R. Flint, was born in San Juan, San Benito County, Cal., March 13, 1869, and his education was acquired in the grammar and high schools of Oakland. On starting out in life for himself he went to Fresno County as manager of the Adobe Ranch, comprising about 26,000 acres of land. At the time Madera County was formed from Fresno County. Mr. Flint was appointed one of the commissioners by the governor to form that county. Following the outbreak of the Spanish-American War he entered the service and was sent to the Philippines, later returning to San Francisco. With his brothers he became the owner of a ranch of 3,000 acres situated near Hollister, upon which he remained for about fifteen years, during which period he was called to public office, serving for four years as state representative and for an equal period as state senator, his district comprising San Mateo, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties. His political record was a highly commendable one, characterized by loyalty to every trust reposed in him and the fearless defense of those measures which he believed to be for the best interests of his state and nation. A few years ago he disposed of his holdings in San Benito County and is now interested in Santa Clara County, making his home in San Jose.

In San Juan, San Benito County, Cal., Mr. Flint was married to Miss Mary L. Kemp on May 21, 1901. She is a native of San Benito county, her parents, Frede-
rick W. and Marie Louise (DesLand) Kemp, being pioneers of San Juan Bautista, where her father followed the occupation of farming. Mr. Flint is a progressive Republican and an active worker in the ranks of the party, having served as a member of the state central committee. He is affiliated with the Masonic order, being a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite and Knights Templar Mason and a Shriner, and he is also an Elk. He is likewise a director of the Sempivirens Club, which was the principal factor in saving the Giant Redwoods of Santa Cruz County. He is deeply interested in all that pertains to the welfare and progress of his community, county and commonwealth and has long been a strong advocate of the conservation of California's magnificent redwood forests. He is a worthy son of a distinguished sire. By inheritance he bears a name that stands for the highest ideals in business and social life and he ranks with the leading and representative citizens of the Santa Clara Valley and of California.

transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922
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