Cerro Alegre Rancho
(see Bio published 1922)
The importance of a man’s life is not always to be measured by the events that have transpired during its course, but rather by its tendencies, and the effect it has upon the world. It is for this reason that the possession and cultivation of land is of an importance far beyond that would be imagined by one who looks only upon the surface and watches for brilliant effects. The landed proprietors, men who have the means and opportunity to conduct affairs upon a large scale, and with an eye to the future, are of first necessity to a nation’s progress and genuine prosperity. In this class must be reckoned Mr. George B. Polhemus, the subject of this sketch, the proprietor of the Cerro Alegre Rancho, near Coyote Station, on the Southern Pacific Railroad. He owns 805 acres, which has been often spoken of by old Californians as the jewel ranch of the State for its size, being so elegantly situated (with rich alluvial soil, etc.), and being one of the few pieces of property where the avaricious farmer has not ruined the picturesqueness of the landscape by despoiling the land of its natural growth of magnificent oaks for a small return of wood. He also leases from the Piercy estate 3,300 acres more, all lying in a body and furnishing unlimited opportunity for development. Here Mr. Polhemus carries on dairy ranching upon the largest and most successful scale. He has 300 head of graded cows, of nearly all milk producing breeds—Ayrshires, Shorthorns, Jerseys, and Holsteins. He also keeps a separate herd (from dairy) of Holstein-Friesian cattle, numbering about fifty head, of which sixteen are imported cows, all four-year-olds, and the rest are Eastern and California bred, all registered. The dairy lands are composed of 300 acres seeded to alfalfa, 100 acres sowed to oats, 40 acres planted to pumpkins, 15 acres to mangel-wurzel beets, and 12 acres to carrots. Paddocks of 20 acres are used for calves and thoroughbred cattle, seeded to alfalfa and rye grass, and 100 acres half hills and half meadow, quite low and wet, used as night pasture for dairy cows. Of the balance of the dairy ranch 100 acres are seeded to barley for horse feed, while the rest of this magnificent estate (3,300 acres of hill pasture, fine grazing land) supplies range for the animals. Water is secured in great abundance for irrigation and other purposes, by a Byron Jackson centrifugal pump, which derives its supply from a shaft twelve feet square and twenty feet deep, with two ten-inch artesian wells in bottom sixty feet deep. This water supply has been commented upon by experts as something of a mystery, it being so great, having been measured at 5,000 gallons per minute, and when running most economically, and forcing through 4,000 feet of thirteen-inch sheet-iron pipe, which is laid under ground through alfalfa fields, the measurements were 3,400 gallons per minute. Water is taken from pipes by risers of the same size. Such is a slight account of this splendid ranch, which affords an unusually fine instance of what may be effected in California by energy and knowledge of the subject. Mr. Polhemus bought it in Nove., 1884, from the Wilson estate. We look for important results from the great enterprise which he has founded at Coyote, both in the way of raising fine animals and in the accomplishment of a still greater success in the making of butter and other dairy products, as in his business all kinds of improved machinery are in operation. It is a matter in which the county is deeply interested. Mr. Polhemus was chosen for the State Assembly by the Republican party at their convention in 1886; and, notwithstanding the district was strongly Democratic, he was defeated by a very few votes only. He has given up his political aspirations, and devotes himself entirely to his magnificent property.
Mr. Polhemus is a native of California, born in San Francisco, January
21, 1857. His earlier education was pursued in San Francisco,
under Rev. Dr. George Burrows, who took twelve students to prepare them
for a college course at Cambridge, but after devoting some years to
study, mostly under this noted teacher, he decided to give up his
college course, having thus laid the foundation broad and deep of an
education which time and experience are bringing to a ripe
fruition. He was married in January, 1887, to Miss Jennie Ryder, daughter of George W. Ryder,
of Santa Clara Valley.
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