Bio-Pen Pictures

            Charles A. Pitkin, residing on the Meridian road near the Stevens Creek road, purchased the fifty acres on which he now resides in 1882.  He then planted 1,200 French prunes, 450 silver prunes, 1,200 apricots, 500 Bartlett pears, 350 yellow egg plums, 600 peaches, 300 cherries, 175 Hungarian prunes, 56 Washington plums, and 220 fruit-trees of different varieties for family use, making in all about 5,000 trees.  In 1887, on twenty acres, from 900 apricot trees, there was a net result of $2,000, from 800 various prunes over $1,000, from the yellow egg plums $342, and from 56 Washington plums $56.  In the year previous the prunes netted $1.50 to the tree.  There is on the place a fruit-drying apparatus, which seems to possess several marked advantages, and on which Mr. Pitkin has been allowed two patents.  The fruit to be dried is in trays placed on shelves on a large revolving wheel inside an immense brick oven, these two parts of the apparatus resembling a large cracker-baking oven.  The slow revolution brings the fruit within the very dry and the more moist strata of heated air, also in the currents of greater and less heat slowly and at intervals, preventing danger of burning, and enabling the fruit to gather in the lower part of the drier a condensation of jelly-like moisture, re-absorbing and retaining to the fullest extent the natural aroma and flavor of the fruit.

            Mr. Pitkin was born in East Hartford, Connecticut, in July, 1837, and reared on his father’s farm.  He was attending the East Hartford High School at the age of sixteen, when he left school and went to work in the Colt Pistol Factory in 1856, remaining there one year.  He was then employed in the firm of Bidwell, Pitkin & Co. as bookkeeper, in which his brother was interested.  In 1860 this firm changed its name to Pitkin Bros. & Co., the subject of this sketch being admitted to the firm, and their business the manufacture of steam, water, and gas apparatus.  He remained in the firm until the winter of 1877-78, over twenty years, when he came to California and bought twenty-two acres in the Willows, which he planted partially in orchard, and sold later, buying the place on the Meridian road.

            In 1862 he was married to Miss Henrietta Lockwood, daughter of James and Charlotte (Chamberlain) Lockwood, residents of Hartford, Connecticut.  Mr. Lockwood was a member of the firm of Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co., extensive printers and publishers of Hartford, having engaged in that business with Case, Tiffany & Co. in 1836.  Mr. and Mrs. Pitkin have had four children:  Charles A., Jr., interested with his father in fruit culture and drying; Charlotte P., the wife of Rev. W. P. Williams, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Mayfield, California; James D., who died in childhood; and Caroline H., a graduate of the Willows Grammar School.  The Pitkin family trace their history back to the thirteenth century, when, in Hertfordshire, many important positions were held by members of the family.  William Pitkin, the progenitor of the family in the United States, came from England in 1659 as King’s Attorney for the Connecticut Colony.  His son and grandson, both named Wm. Pitkin, were successively Chief Judges of that colony, and held for 125 years the highest official places in Connecticut.  The fourth in descent was a member of the Governor’s Council from 1766 to 1785, Colonel during the Revolution, Judge of Supreme Court nineteen years, Member of Congress in 1784, and his father Governor of the State, “elected by a majority so large that the vote was not counted!” on account of the stand he took in resisting the acceptance of the Stamp Act.  Mr. Pitkin is a member of the Masonic Order, and of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He has been a Republican from the inception of that party, is in favor of full prohibition, and believes in absolute protection of American industries. 


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. 387

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler

Proofread by Betty Vickroy



SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight