SURNAMES: MILES, HECKER
David Wood was born
in Schenectady, New York, May 4, 1817. His father and mother were both natives
of New York and both died in Illinois. The subject of this sketch was reared in
New York and emigrated to Illinois in 1842. In 1849 he started for California,
with an ox team, and reached Sacramento August 23, 1849. In October he went to
the mines at Coloma and vicinity, where he remained about two months. In
November he went to San Francisco, and January 1, 1850, took a steamer for San
Diego, which at that time was a mission, five miles from the ocean. At San
Diego Mr. Wood and his comrades purchased about fifty animals and brought them
up the coast by land, traveling from mission to mission. There were no fences
along the route, it being a stock-raising country. His idea at that time was to
fit out a pack train and go to packing in the mines, but in this he was not
successful, on account of not having the proper arrangements for packing, and,
finding the business unsuited to his taste, sold out. He then purchased an ox
team and went to freighting, in which he was successful, his last trip being in
July, 1850, when he made the journey from Sacramento to Shasta, clearing $500 in
At this time he was taken with malarial fever, sold his outfit, went to San Francisco, and from there returned, via Panama and New Orleans, to his old home in La Salle County, Illinois. He soon became dissatisfied with the country and decided to return to California, and again crossed the plains, in company with five other men, arriving in Sacramento August 21, 1853. On this trip he visited Santa Clara Valley, and was impressed with it as a desirable place of residence. He again returned to the East by way of Nicaragua and New Orleans, and, being satisfied that he would reside in California for life, he brought his family with him, coming by way of New York and Panama, and arriving at Sacramento May 5, 1855. He then removed to Gilroy Township, on a ranch five miles from Gilroy, and having some difficulty on account of land titles, he went to Tulare County, and in 1874 returned to Gilroy, where he has since resided. He was married in New York, September 8, 1842, to Mary Miles, a native of that State. To them were born eight children: Charles A., and Nelson H. (deceased); Mortimer D., a resident of Stanislaus County, California; James T., of Fresno County, California; George R., of Merced County, this State; Martha, Frank R., of Fresno County, and Mary, wife of Henry Hecker.
In politics Mr.
Wood is a Republican, and was an anti-slavery Whig. He formerly owned a ranch
in the San Joaquin Valley, of 7,200 acres, which he sold in 1874. He has now
retired from active life, but has an interest in the banks of Gilroy, Hollister,
and Salinas City, and is one of the leading stockholders in the electric light
company at San Jose. He has been an eye-witness to most of the substantial
growth of California. The first time he crossed the San Joaquin Valley he came
upon a herd of 600 elks. When he lived in that valley, the Spaniards had a
corral about five miles from the place, and he often saw them lasso wild horses
and in half an hour ride them.
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.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT