The Valley of Heart's Delight

BIO Pen-Pictures,page 237-238


MERVEY MORGAN LEONARD, manager and one of the directors of the Bank of Santa Clara County, at Santa Clara, was born in the town of Worthington, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, February 9, 1836. His father, Robert B. Leonard, was a native of Massachusetts, and of English-Welsh extraction, whose ancestors came to America previous to 1650, and settled in the eastern portion of the Massachusetts Colony. They were prominent iron manufacturers, their first forge being erected in 1652. His mother, nee Abigail Sampson, was also a native of Massachusetts and of English ancestry. She was a lineal descendant of Abram Sampson, who emigrated to America from England in 1629 or 1630, and who was a brother of Henry Sampson, one of the Pilgrims who came from England in the Mayflower. The Sampsons were numbered with the most prominent men of those early times.

Mr. Leonard was reared and educated at his native place, where for a time he was employed in his father's blacksmith shop. Not liking this occupation, young Leonard, at the age of seventeen years, engaged in school-teaching at the neighboring town of Chesterfield. Soon afterward, however, he abandoned school-teaching and engaged with a boot and shoe manufacturer as a cutter, in which capacity he continued until his nineteenth year. At this period of his youth he was seized with a spirit of adventure, and thus embarked for the Pacific Coast by way of Nicaragua, arriving at San Francisco in 1855. He spent two years in gold-mining on Humbug Creek, Siskiyou County, and though quite successful at mining he was forced to abandon it on account of rheumatism. He next embarked in farming near Santa Clara, and in 1861 purchased two hundred and eighty acres of the Quito Ranch, which he imroved and owned until 1875, selling which he became a resident of Santa Clara.

During the late war Mr. Leonard took strong grounds on the side of his country, and in 1861 enlisted in the Redwood Cavalry Company stationed at Santa Clara, ever ready to respond to the call of the State of California. Enlisting, he became Orderly Sergeant; six months later he rose to the rank of Captain, and two years was promoted to Major of the First Cavalry Regiment California State Militia, commanded by Colonel Taylor.

In June, 1875, he with others incorporated the Bank of Santa Clara County, and was made one of its Directors, and was for a short time Chairman of its Finance Committee, when he was chosen as its Manager. Previous to his becoming connected with the Bank of Santa Clara County, in 1874, he became associated with the San Jose Savings Bank, which went into liquidation in 1880, when, being its President, he carried it through the crisis of that year, paying the depositors in full, and returning also to the stockholders a large share of their investment. In 1882, when it became necessary to quiet the titles of the old Mexican land grant, the Los Animas Rancho, containing many thousands of acres,--which by its divisions and subdivisions, including the corporation of Gilroy, had become involved in confusion, and his adaptability to unravel the most intricate business problems being recognized by Judge David Belden, ---he was by him appointed, with two other gentlemen, commissioner to partition that body of land, which required nearly two years to accomplish, the partitioning of that rancho being the most difficult ever made in the State. With his numerous other business connections he is one of the Directors of the Garden City National Bank of San Jose, he being one of its incorporators when organized in 1887. He is also Vice-President of the Central Milling Company of San Jose, which has a system of eleven flour mills in the counties of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey, representing over a half million of dollars. Politically, Mr. Leonard is a Republican. He was a member of the Board of Supervisors of Santa Clara County for nine successive years, 1872 to 1881, acting as its Chairman a portion of the time.

In May, 18--, Mr. Leonard was married, at Milpitas, to Miss Adelaide L. Hart, who died at Santa Clara in 1882, leaving three children: Marion A., a student at the University of the Pacific; Lelia L. and Hervey H., attending the High School at Santa Clara. In September, 1884, Mr. Leonard was united in marriage, at Santa Clara, with Miss Ada May Hollenbeck.{transcribers note----the family name has been transcribed as HOLLENBACK in the 1860 Census} He is a member of Santa Clara Lodge, No. 52, I. O. O. F.

In briefly sketching the life and business career of our subject, mention has only been made of a few of the more prominent events of his life. While he has been blessed by Providence in his affairs above the average citize, it requires but a glance over the years of his business life to discover the secret of his success. In all his transcactions may be seen that fine mental equipoise, keen perception, firmness of purpose, and integrity of character which everywhere mark the successful man in every land.

SOURCE:  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.- Page 237-238 transcribed by Carol Lackey