The Valley of Heart's Delight

Trustee of the University of the Pacific, 1853

BIO Pen-Pictures,page 249

DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HEADEN, the son of Joseph and Mary Headen, was born in Virginia, November 24, 1813. His parents moved to Kentucky, where most of his youth was passed, in Shelby County, that State. The village in which they lived, Headenville, was named in honor of his father, Joseph Headen, who was a man greatly respected for his integrity and piety. A chapel which he built in the village also bears the name of Headen Chapel.

Deciding to educate himself for the medical proffession, Dr. Headen took a course in the Worthington Medical College, Ohio, at which he was graduated with high honors, in May, 1837. He went to Indiana, opened an office, and commenced the practice of his profession the same year. In January of the following year he married, and continued his practice of medicine in Indiana until 1852, when he came with his family across the plains to California, arriving in the Santa Clara Valley in October.

He bought a tract of sixty-one acres just outside the town of Santa Clara, and at once began to improve it, by erecting a house for his family. The rainy season came on, and the building materials being very scarce and hard to procure, many difficulties were experienced in accomplishing this task. This done, the Doctor next turned his attention to clearing off the land and preparing it for cultivation. It was in a state of nature, untouched by the hand of man, and covered with a forest of mustard so high that in hunting for his cattle the Doctor had to stand on the back of one ox to enable him to find the others! But despite the obstacles, the work of improving progressed. Flower seeds, many of which were carried across the plains in the Doctor's pockets, were planted, young trees were brought from the mountains in little sacks of earth and set out, and soon "the wilderness began to blossom as the rose", under the deft hand and good taste of Dr. Headen. The land was rapidly brought under cultivation, first to the cereals, then largely to strawberries and other small fruits, and later to orchard and vineyard, of the choicest varieties of fruits.

In March, 1853, Dr. Headen was elected one of the Trustees of the University of the Pacific, then a young and struggling institution. It soon became the idol of his heart, and he devoted much of his time and labor to it for about twenty years, in that official capacity. Many of these years he was Secretary of the Board, and during the time of the creation of the main college building he was Treasurer. From the time he settled in this valley, Dr. Headen was a faithful and consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was Steward and Trustee. He passed from this life to the reward beyond, on the twenty-eighth of August, 1875, and his remains were buried according to the ceremonial of the Masonic Order, of which he was a member. He left the widow, a son and three daughters, to mourn their sore bereavement.
(see bio of daughter
Miss Thomasine Headen ALBERTSON)

Since the Doctor's decease, Mrs. Headen has occupied the splendid homestead, one of the most beautiful in the valley, and now within the town limits, and has successfully managed the orchard and vineyard, realizing a fine income therefrom. More than one prize has been won by the product of her trees and vines. The vineyard consists of the choicest varieties of table grapes-- Muscats, Tokays, and others. Three years ago Mrs. Headen sold the crop of grapes on a little over six acres, on the vines, for $2,500. As high as ten tons to the acre have been produced; and from a single plum tree of the Washington variety she gathered one year nine hundred pounds of fruit.

SOURCE:  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. page 249 Transcribed by Carol Lackey

[ note: The granddaughter of Dr. Headen, Lois Headman Inman, inherited the family home- and her heirs sold it to the city of Santa Clara- it is now a historical site and local history museum]


SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY-The Valley of Heart's Delight