Bio-Pen Pictures

            Francis Alden Brimblecom and Edward Brimblecom are the sons of Rev. Samuel Brimblecom and Harriet (nee Buttrick), his wife.  Their father was the son of Colonel Samuel Brimblecom, who was for over fifty years a shoe manufacturer in Lynn, Massachusetts.  Harriet, his wife, was the daughter of Colonel Jonas Buttrick, of Concord, Massachusetts, and the granddaughter of Major John Buttrick, who commanded the “Minute Men” at the North Bridge, April 19, 1775, and gave the command to fire “the shot heard round the world.” 

            Francis A. was born in Norridgewock, Maine, in 1828, and Edward at the same place two years later.  They were members of a family of ten,--nine sons and one daughter,--nine living at this date (1888).  In 1830 the family moved to Westbrook (now Deering), two miles from Portland, where the father established Westbrook Seminary.  Six years later they went to Massachusetts, where the boys were at school and engaged in various occupations until 1850; then Edward emigrated to Ogle County, Illinois, where he engaged in farming.  Francis A. came to California, via Nicaragua, arriving in San Francisco by the S. S. Luis, on July 7, 1852.  They were delayed thirty days on the Isthmus, and the steamer, being crowded to its utmost capacity with her own passengers and others from the wrecked North America, the death rate was appalling and burials at sea of daily occurrence.  In San Francisco he registered at the Maine Hotel, where beds were bunks, in tiers of three, twenty or more in a room.  He frequently slept there afterward, with thousands of dollars, in fifty-dollar gold pieces, called slugs, under his pillow, without fear of disturbance, the patrons being miners and working men.

            He had the good fortune to fall in with Dr. Otis Blabon, from Santa Clara, with a two-mule wagon-load of potatoes, which he sold for twelve and a half cents per pound, and came to the valley with him, bringing all his business capital, fifty cents.  He got employment of Spencer Harvey at $75 per month, the lowest wages being paid at that time.  Mr. Brimblecom was then as green a hand as ever went into harvest-field, never having seen wheat except in flour.  The grain was stacked in the center of a corral and fifty horses driven round and round it, while the grain was pitched under their feet, and thus 500 bushels were threshed in less than a day, so fine that it was run through the fanning-mill, straw and all.  While cleaning grain, coyotes came within two rods of the corral and stole chickens, and were away like a streak.

            In October, 1852, he entered into partnership with Mr. Harvey for a year, farming and marketing, and thus Frank Brimblecom became the pioneer market-man of the valley.  Eggs were worth from $1.00 to $2.50 per dozen at wholesale in San Francisco.  It was a common thing to leave from $25 to $100 at a farm-house for a week’s eggs alone.  Butter was equally profitable.  There were many “bachelor’s halls” in those days, but his dealings were largely with the women of the valley, and they were women of integrity.  He would loan them from $100 to $500, without scratch of a pen, to assist their husbands in their operations, and do it indiscriminately; and the last dime was invariably paid.  These women, doing all their own house-work, would wash for their bachelor neighbors for twenty-five cents per piece, care for the vegetable garden, look after the poultry, milk the cows, make the butter, and poison the ground-squirrels, which were numerous and very destructive to crops, or shoot them with a rifle, which they handled as skillfully as a man.  They were equal to the necessities of the times.  Wives, mothers, Christian neighbors, worthy pioneers, they deserve to be remembered in statuary and song.

            In 1852-53 Mr. Brimblecom went to San Francisco by wagon, and often paid $7.00 per night for himself and two horses at Cook & Depoister’s “San Mateo.”  There were few houses and no towns on the road.  From Mission Dolores to San Francisco there was a plank road three miles over the sand hills (now solid city), where he paid seventy-five cents toll.  With the exception of a visit East, in 1857-58, and some time in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where he located government land in the timber belt, Mr. Brimblecom has employed his time in marketing, and of late years he has dealt mostly in potatoes.  During the Rebellion he belonged to the brave “Home Guards,” Captain (Colonel) Jackson’s Company, and was afterward commissioned Captain, but the company was soon disbanded, as the war was over.

            The old settlers will remember a younger brother, Henry, who joined Francis in business in 1853.  Together they made the first move to form the Republican party in this county.  Assisted by Dr. A. W. Saxe and editor F. B. Murdock, they prepared a “call,” to which they got a large number of signatures.  They then had them printed on large posters and circulated through the county, calling the convention held at the City Hall, San Jose, on April 24, 1856.  Dr. Spencer, father of the Judge, presided.  D. A. Dryden and William Maclay spoke.  Jacob Swope, Sr., was nominated for Representative, but afterward declined, although a strong Republican, and Noah Palmer and Mayor Quimby were elected to the Legislature, Republican success being due to the division of their opponents between Democrats and Know-nothings.  Henry went East in 1857, graduated at Dartmouth College, and settled at Woosung, Illinois, where he now resides with his wife and six children.

            In 1860 Edward sold his farm in Illinois and joined his brother in the market business, running a branch at Watsonville for several years, when he joined the Santa Clara branch.  He now has a farm at Santa Maria Valley, San Luis Obispo County.  The eldest brother, Captain Samuel A. Brimblecom, brought a vessel from China in 1849.  He took charge of the store ship, Panama, for Macondray & Co., in the San Francisco harbor, and went East in 1850 to be married.  He founded the town of Woosung, on the Illinois Central Railroad, in company with Captains Roundy and Anderson.  He returned to California in 1861 and took charge of the San Francisco branch of the business, and finally located on government land at Boulder Creek, Santa Cruz County, California, where he now resides with his family.  In 1863 they were joined by their mother and sister, Lucy Adeline, the latter having some claims as a pioneer, being the first woman to “prove up” on government land in the San Francisco office—the 160 acres adjoining Boulder Creek railroad station, which she still holds.  In 1878, the mother, then in her eightieth year, passed away.  Her remains were taken by her daughter to Concord, Massachusetts, where they rest with her fathers, who were pioneers of the East, and first settlers of Concord, Massachusetts, in 1635.

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. 294-296
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy