CAPT. CHARLES H. WAKELEE
SURNAMES: CHERRIETREE, PITTS,
was born in Rochester, Monroe County, New York, October 20, 1819. His father, Abner Wakelee, was born in Greene County, between Albany and New York, and was ninety-four or ninety-five years old when he died. His mother was Amanda Cherrietree, also of Greene County. They were both old residents of that locality, and died in Rochester. They had seven children in their family, four of whom are now living. After the death of his first wife, Abner Wakelee was again married, to Miss Dolly Pitts, of Livingston County, New York, by whom there were four children, two of them living. C. H. Wakelee is next to the eldest of the first children. He was raised principally in Rochester, where he lived until he was twenty years of age. He can remember many things that occurred there when he was a small child, as the building of the Erie Canal from Albany to Buffalo and from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, and the aqueduct across the Genesee River at Rochester, which at that time was considered a remarkable piece of engineering. He can remember distinctly the passing of General Lafayette through the city, and many things pertaining to that and other events.
His early education was received at the Collegiate Institute, which was built at Rochester, at that time, and when he was twelve years old, upon the death of his mother, he was sent to his grandfather in Greenville, Green County, and attended the academy at that place. When he was seventeen years old he purchased a stock of drugs for a man in Rochester, started the business for him and ran the establishment. Next he took a dry-goods store, of a merchant who had failed, and young Wakelee was employed to sell out the stock and straighten up the business for the benefit of the creditors, which he did in a very acceptable manner, having a peculiar business tact and ability for a young man of his years, which placed him early in life to fill responsible positions of trust, and earn for him a high regard among business men.
When he was twenty-one he married and moved to Perry, Wyoming County, where he went into the drug business for himself; remaining there nearly a year. He then sold out and took a trip through some of the Western States. Returning to New York, he bought a stock of drugs at Newark, Wayne County, where he was in business about two years. He then went to New York city and entered the dry-goods house of Cutters, Phelps & Co., on Cedar Street, second door from the post-office, and for six months in the year was traveling for the firm making collections and straightening up bad accounts. He remained there between two and three years, and then went to New Orleans and entered the house of J. H. Beard, the largest real-estate broker in the city and one of the finest auctioneers in the world. While he was there Beard went East and Mr. Wakelee took the entire charge of the business. From there he went to Panama and had charge of the fitting up and furnishing of the Aspinwall House, an immense structure built there before the railroad was constructed. He remained there about a year and then sailed for California, on board the California, Captain Dick Whiting, an extra ship bringing a load of fruit for the United States Government, and landed in San Francisco the first week in February, 1852. He then, in connection with Charles Minturn, started a line of steamboats between San Francisco and Petaluma. Captain Wakelee had command of one of the steamers, which he ran for several years. This partnership was continued up to 1857, when the Captain sold out his interest in the business, which was brought up to a good paying industry. He then, with a good capital, started in the real-estate business in San Francisco, and operated in general stocks. When the stock board of that city was organized the first meeting for business was held in Captain Wakelee's office, he being one of the original members. He made his home there, and extended his business all over the State, which resulted in a profitable enterprise.
In February, 1885, he came to Santa Clara County, where he bought his present ranch, known as the McCoon property, of eighty acres, lying about a mile south of the county road between Mayfield and Mountain View, which place was planted with the very best kinds of fruit and table grapes without regard to expense, and has been kept in the most perfect manner to the present time. It is now one of the best places of its age in the State, which the writer of this article can verify by personal observations. The first which we examined is the vineyard of fifteen acres in table grapes grafted in the resistant stock now five years old, which are in good bearing condition, and as fine as any seen in the valley. The varieties comprise 20 rows of Flaming Tokay, 31 rows of Rose of Peru, and 34 rows of Cornichon, 8 rows of Muscats, 22 rows of Black Hamburg, 4 rows of Isabella, 4 rows of Sweetwater, and 29 rows of other varieties. The orchard has apricots, consisting of three varieties: Moxpox, Hemskirts, and Royals. The peach varieties are the early Crawfords, being only two years old, numbering about sixty trees. They are well loaded with fruit and equal to anything in the State. The nut trees, with plums intervening, consist of 350 pecans and about 50 English walnuts. Of the plum varieties there are 100 Japan plums, 240 Yellow Egg plums, 30 Jeffries plums, and 40 Chestnuts. The olives, about 80 in number, well loaded with fruit, are five years old, and have born for two years. There is also a family orchard, consisting of figs, cherries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, etc. There is a strip of country lying between the San Francisco and San Jose road, toward the foot-hills, that has not been fully appreciated until recently, which is now proving from actual experience to be the cream of the county for vine and fruit-growing. Captain Wakelee's place fully demonstrates this fact. One marked peculiarity of that place is, the vines are set out ten feet apart and the trees thirty feet apart; and the place, generally speaking, proves the correctness of this theory.
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.