Runnymede Poultry Farm

A splendid example of the successful progressive and enterprising Californian is Charles Weeks, the widely-known poutlry-man and wide-awake sub divider of Runnymede, the delightful suburb of Palo Alto, to whom Santa Clara County owes much for the extension of its fame.  A man of real, natural genius who still had to pass through many interesting and instructive, if not always satisfying experiences before he "found" himself, he has never failed to associate the highest integrity in the exercise of his gifts, with the result that he has come to render the most valuable service to his fellowmen, and to acquire, as well-merited returns on his varied investments, an enviable position of influence and comfortable competence.

He was born near Wabash, Ind., on February 18, 1873, the son of Thomas C Weeks, an esteemed resident of the Hoosier State, who was born in Wabash County, Ind., and who has come to be one of the most successful farmers and stockmen.  He married, in that county, Miss Mary Frances Jackson, also born and reared in Indiana, a distant relative of General and President Andrew jackson, and she died at her Indian home in September, 1921, about seventy years of age, leaving a family of five children, four of whom are still living.  IN december, 1921, Mr. Weeks, in the enjoyment of his seventy-third year, came to California for a visit, leaving the attractive farm of  ninety acres in Grant County, Ind., which has been the home place of the Weeks family since 1884.  A sister of our subject Mrs. J. F. Collins, resides at Runnymede, but the rest of the family are still residents of Indiana.

The only son in this interesting circle, Charles Weeks,  grew up at home until he was seventeen , attending the country district schools, and then he became a student at the Fairmount academy, in Grant County, from which, in time, he was duly graduated.  After that, he taught school for four years, and then he matriculated at de Pauw University, where he pursued courses for three years, teaching at the same time.  He next became interested in the restaurant business in Chicago, and after two years in that field and city, he removed to New York and for two years continued in the same field on enterprise.  In his famous poultry book-one of the best, by-the way, ever given to the press by an American writer- Mr. Weeks tells how having dropped  in to see a poultry show in the Eastern metropolis, the cackles of the
 high-grade fowls awakened memories of earlier days, and he decided to embark in the poultry-raising.

In 1904, he came out to California looking for a place favorable to intensive farming and the raising of poultry and as a trail , be bough a ten-acre place at Los Altos.  He soon found that water was too hard to get there, so he sold his little holding and in 1909 came to Palo Alto.  He there purchased five acres with a good pumping plant, tank-house and cottage, and this is now his wellknown home-place; and since then he has bought an additional five acres, and has rebuilt, putting up a new residence, with a large club-house and a lecture- hall, as well as an office, creating a social center along with the head-quarters of a poultry school.  His office is located in a large and well-planned structure, and there he has also sleeping rooms for employees, a cook house and a dining-room, used at times for lectures.  After his second trial, in New York City of the restaurant business, he returned to Indiana, where for two years he experimented in raising poultry; and since he began to study it both from a scientific and business standpoint, he had attained to something definite and worth while in progress before he came out to the Coast.

During the past seventeen years in which Mr. Weeks has been in California, he has evolved "Weeks System: of poultry raising and egg-production, and he has so developed his own undertakings in this line that he keeps 15,000 hens on his ten-acre ranch.  He builds his own mammoth incubators- seven machines which hatch out 25,000 eggs per annum; and he has made a specialty of breeding the justly celebrated variety of white Leghorns known as the Weeks heavy laying strain- the result of careful selection, for years, of Leghorns promising vigor and heavy egg-production.  He also breeds Duroc swine and rabbits  He is the prime mover in the annual fair held each year at Runnymede, which has become of much interest to the general public, affording, as it does, a revelation of what may be accomplished in poultry production, under the Weeks' System, with the proper conditions of soil, water and climate, in particular by the "little farmer."  It was Bolton Hall, the great writer, who said, :"three acres and liberty;" but it has been left for Mr. Weeks to demonstrate the possibility of a competency from one acre.

The charming suburb of Palo Alto famed for its balmy, bracing climate, situated on the bank  of the San Francisquito Creek, has a deep-black, loamy and very productive soil, and excellent irrigation facilities.  Such was his faith in this section from his advent here, that Mr. Weeks has bought, sub-divided and sold four valuable tracts, the first sub-division having been the Charles Weeks Poultry Colony.  This was parceled out into once acre lots, all  of which were sold off during the first year, in 1916.  The next year, another subdivision, also of 160 acres, was put upon the market, and this tract, Subdivision No. 2, he also sold within the years.  In 1918, Mr. Weeks cut up a third tract of 160 acres, known as the Woodland subdivision, and this he also sold within the year after it was opened.  In 1919, he offered Subdivision No. 4, upon which he installed a large pumping plant and  an extensive reservoir, from which he piped water to each lot, thereby saving much labor and expense to the lot-purchasers; and the arrangement has proven very satisfactory to all concerned.  Mr. Weeks has already laid out and sold 600 acres in Runnymede proper, in one-acre lots, thus greatly encouraging the ambitious person who hopes to attain his goal with a small amount of land, often all he can conveniently afford, and he is still adding to  he Colony by buying  and subdividing, from time to time, small, contiguous tracts, and only recently has acquired three new tracts at Runnymede, near Palo Alto, of twenty-five, fifteen and ten acres, respectively, where he is working his realty wonders  When Mr. Weeks first came to Los Altos,  he had only $1, 275; and both there and at Palo Alto he lost money, in the beginning, actually getting into debt to the tune of $10,000.  Then, through actual and sometimes bitter experience, he worked out the original system for which he as become famous, and after that he made poultry pay.  He could that the primary consideration was the right kind of hen, and then that it was abundance of green feed, and plenty of good water; and since he began to do well for himself, he has devoted no little part of his time and energy to assisting other folks to succeed and make money.  Having made a pronounced success of every subdivision at Runnymede, near Palo Alto, after many months' of investigation of land in the vicinity of Los Angeles County, as the ideal location for another colony..  This he has named Runnymede No. 2.  He is now busily engaged in colonizing the first forty acre unit, being a portion of the large Jenal Estate, adjoining the town of Owensmouth which is only 26  miles from Los Angeles on the lines of the Southern Pacific and Pacific Electric, while the Highway boulevard Sherman Way, passes the property, Mr. Weeks says that this is destined to become more famous than the renowned Runnymede at Palo Alto, and will afford an opportunity for hundreds of people to own a self-supporting garden-home in a cooperative community where the highest science is used in intensive production on small acreage.

Mr. Weeks is the editor and publisher of the "Little Farms' Journal," a bright poultry paper now published monthly; and he has made himself famous as the author of  the fresh, instructive, diverting and handsomely-illustrated volume, "Egg Farming in California;" which bears this inscription:  "This book is dedicated to all who are interested in production on small acreage- to those who love nature, and enjoy plants and animals- and especially to those who contemplate a state of higher independence of the land."  The volume opens with a description of Mr. Weeks' boyhood days, then tells how he progressed backwards-from city to the old farm; continues with an account of his first attempts at poultry raising in California; pictures the new poultry ranch as it is possible on rich soil with plenty of water, and next describes  the most intensive egg-farm n the world.  There are other absorbing chapters on sanitation in poultry houses, and the spirit of uplift and value to humanity in the whole book may be judged from such chapter-headings as ":The Sanest of Arts, the Art of Making a Living on a Little Land," "The Producer, the Hero and Savior of the War-Mad World," and Runnymede-A Place of Higher Independence for Man in His Own Garden Home."  Mr. Weeks' style is clear and interesting and this may account for his demand, no only as a contributor ot the leading agricultural journals of the day, but as a lecturer, as well.  He makes extended lecture-tours, sometimes absenting himself for weeks at a time; and he has been particularly active in cooperating with farm bureaus around Los Angeles and San Diego.  He employs ten men regularly, and has in G. S. Oliver, a most efficient and trustworthy office manger.  He has been one  of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Sate Land settlements near Durhan, and seldom fails to attend a poultry association meeting in California.

At Palo Alto, in 1905, Mr. Weeks was married to Miss Alice Johnson, of Fairmmount, Ind., and their union has been blessed with the birth of two children-Thomas B. and Charles, Jr.

History of Santa Clara County, California Sawyer, Eugene T.
Los Angeles, Calif.: Historic Record Co., 1922,  page 1005-1006
transcribed by cdf