Bio- Sawyers

A booster whose services to Santa Clara County are always highly appreciated is French W. Lake, the orchardist of Bodfish Road, near Gilroy. He was born in Brodhead, Green County, Wis., on August 5, 1888, and since his settling in the Golden State has made good to such an extent that his own success is the best endorsement of things Californian. His parents were Jacob and Lavina (Burdick) Lake, the former a native of Wisconsin, who was reared in Lafayette County, brought up on a farm and there sent to school. He engaged later in lumbering and in milling, and in 1897 he migrated to California and settled in Los Angeles. After a while he conducted a general store at Lamanda Park, and there he also operated a ten-acre ranch. At the end of three years he returned with his family to Wisconsin, and when, in 1906, they again came West, they located at San Jose. Since then, Mr. Lake has been farming near Saratoga on a very desirable ranch he acquired by purchase.

French Lake continued his studies at the Polytechnic College of Engineers at Oakland, from which he received his degree in 1913; he entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad and remained in the Department of Construction, Western Division, until 1916, then enlisted in the U. S. Army, at Oakland, and joined the infantry; and two years later he received his commission as second lieutenant. The following year he was made first lieutenant in the First Engineering Corps, and then he was detailed to service at Washington, D. C. He remained with the War Department nine months, but at the first opportunity for foreign service he volunteered, reaching Antwerp, Belgium, in the fall of 1919.

While at Washington, Mr. Lake was married to Miss Gertrude Smith, a daughter of Norwood Smith, a prominent attorney of Natchitoches, La., representing the Texas, Louisiana & Pacific Railroad, and at Natchitoches she was reared and schooled. On arriving abroad he was assigned to Department B, 1st R. R. Op. Engrs., at Coblenz, and he had a wonderful experience in a foreign land; and his experience was all the more agreeable because he was permitted, with the privilege given concerning wives to other officers, to send for Mrs. Lake. In August, 1920, a baby son was born to them at the romantic spot on the Rhine, and the little fellow was at once named French W. Lake, Jr. In December of the same year, Lieut. Lake asked for his release, and resigned his post; and on returning to America, and California, he came into the Santa Clara Valley and settled here. Wishing to establish interests for himself, he purchased the farm known as the J. P. Sargent ranch, not far from the Lewis place in the foothills near Gilroy, and he at once set about the development of the property, and such has been his success that in the past year alone he has made wonderful strides. He is most optimistic about the future of the Valley and he never loses an opportunity to inspire others with enthusiasm and courage.

From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. 
page 1585


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight