Served with John C. Fremont
SURNAME: McFARLAND, FREER, SWORDS, SIMMONS, :LEAVENWORTH
No history of Santa Clara County could well be written without more than a passing mention of this well-known pioneer. He was one of those hardy and adventurous men who made up the exploring party under Captain Fremont, and who, after braving the dangers and hardships of plains, deserts, and mountains, reached the then Mexican Province of California in 1846. The war with Mexico having commenced while Captain Fremont and his command were yet in the mountains, the Captain was ready, upon his arrival, to lead the Americans already here to the conquest of this sunny land. His own gallant band became the nucleus of the force that soon drove the last armed Mexican from the soil, and thus paved the way for the hosts that followed and peopled this State. In these historical events, Mr. Cross was an active participator.
A brief review of the history of his life gives the following facts: He was born near Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County, New York, July 29, 1825. His parents were John and Ann Frances (McFarland) Cross, natives of Scotland. His father removed to Dane County, Wisconsin, in 1842, where he lived until his death, which occurred in 1882, at the advanced age of ninety-six years. George was reared as a farmer, receiving such an education as the county schools afforded. At the age of seventeen years, he was apprenticed to Milton Colwell, a blacksmith of Rochester, Wisconsin. In the spring of 1845 he left Wisconsin for the West, going overland to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the employ of Kit Carson, and returning to Fort Independence in the same year. There he remained until, in the spring of 1846, he enlisted in the United States service, and was attached to Captain Fremont's exploring expedition, which was bound for Oregon. He came overland in this command, which was afterward ordered into California, and reached Sonoma County before Commodore Sloat's occupation of Monterey. Mr. Cross was engaged in the memorable " Bear Flag" raising in Sonoma County. He went with his command to Monterey and Los Angeles, where he received an honorable discharge from the service in 1847.
After his discharge he located in what is now Alameda County, near Livermore, and there engaged extensively in stock-raising on shares for Hon Pablo Barnell, with quite successful results. In 1848 Mr. Cross was engaged with Mr. Marshall and one other man in building Sutter's Mill, and digging the historical mill-race in which gold was afterwards discovered. After completing the mill, he went to Sutter's Fort, and was there when Mr. Marshall brought the samples of gold taken from the mill-race to General Sutter. This gold was discovered by a young lad, who he thinks was a step-son of Mr. Marshall. No one at the fort was able to test the gold properly, and the sample was sent to Dr. Benjamin Cory at San Jose, who in turn submitted the same to Thomas O. Larkin, formerly American Consul at Monterey. Mr. Larkin pronounced the find to be gold, and the excitement which followed was intense, causing Mr. Cross, with many others, to abandon his stock-raising and seek the gold-fields.
He remained for some months in the mines, and during that time procured no less than 200 pounds of gold! In the fall of 1848 he came to Santa Clara County, remaining until the next spring, when he located in the San Joaquin Valley and again engaged in stock-raising. After a residence of three years in that locality, he returned to Santa Clara County and located at McCarthysville (now Saratoga), on Campbell's Creek. Here he built one of the first saw-mills in the county. He also owned a large tract of land, including the famous Congress Springs. Mr. Cross remained at this place, conducting his various enterprises, until 1863, when he sold out to a San Francisco company. He then rented a farm of 400 acres on what was known as the Palo Ranch, owned by Charles White, and engaged in raising grain for about four years. He then purchased, in 1867, the land which he now occupies.
This property is located on the Milpitas and Berryessa road, in the Berryessa District, about five and a half miles northeast of San Jose. It contains twenty acres, fifteen acres of which is devoted to orchard culture, there being 700 prune trees, 480 apricot trees, 125 pear trees, 75 cherry trees, and a few trees each of apples, figs, and crab-apples. The remaining five acres is devoted to vineyard, producing grapes of the White Muscat and Rose of Peru varieties. Mr. Cross has, in the past three or four years, grafted French prunes on his apricot roots, and has succeeded in getting these grafts into bearing in the second year of their growth. His apricot trees have for the past eight years yielded each year an average of $150 per acre.
On the seventeenth of August, 1852, the subject of this sketch was united in marriage with Miss Lavinia Freer, daughter of Jonathan and Hannah (Swords) Freer, residents of Missouri. They have had thirteen children, ten of whom are living. Their names are: John, residing in Nevada; Thomas, living on the old homestead; Charles, living in Oregon; James and George, who are at home; Elizabeth, the wife of Frank Simmons, residing at San Jose; Edith, Ida, Daisy, and Fannie, who are members of their father's household. Their daughter, Mary Ann (now deceased), married Royal Leavenworth, of San Jose. She left one child, Lorena Leavenworth, who lives with her grandparents.
Mr. Cross is a
member of the San Jose Lodge, No. 23, of the United Druids. He is politically
identified with the Democratic party, and has held the position of Roadmaster of
his district for fifteen years. Naturally, he is deeply interested in all the
public affairs of the county and State in which he has so long made his home,
and in which he has so many friends and acquaintances.
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.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT