HENRY TRUE BESSE
BIO- Pen Pictures
Henry True Besse, residing on Delmas Avenue, near San Jose, was born in the town of Wayne, Kennebec County, Maine, August 16, 1823. He is the son of Samuel and Mercy (Dexter) Besse. The founders of both families, Besse and Dexter, settled near Plymouth during its early history, and descendants of both families were pioneers of Maine. Jabez Besse, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, settled in Wayne, Kennebec County, over 100 years ago, and the maternal grandparents, Constant Dexter and his wife, settled in the same town about the same time. They were men of sturdy New England habit, strong in principle and religious faith.
Henry T. Besse was reared to manhood in the State of Maine, spending his youth on a farm, receiving his primary education in the common schools, and attending higher schools and teaching later. He left home and settled in Boston, Massachusetts, for the year that he attained his majority (1844). The gold fever caused him to seek his fortune on this coast, and he embarked at Boston, November 12, 1849. The voyage was long and tedious. Off Cape Horn an albatross was caught, and to it was fastened a collar, upon which Mrs. Besse had inscribed these words: “Bark Orion, off Cape Horn, Feb. 19, 1850." The albatross was again caught, with a hook, from another vessel, and the inscription and circumstances were published in Boston papers, causing the greatest anxiety on the part of those who had friends on board the Orion. However, the vessel reached San Francisco in safety on the sixth of May, 1850.
Mr. Besse engaged in placer mining for a few months, but during the following October started on the return trip to the East, this time choosing the Isthmus route, and reaching Massachusetts in January.
twenty-second of April, 1851, he married Miss Harriet Frost, in Lowell,
Massachusetts. Mrs. Besse was born April 2, 1822, and is the daughter of
Aaron and Rosetta Frost. After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Besse lived in
Massachusetts until 1855, leaving on the twentieth of March of that year for
Boone County, Illinois, where they engaged in agriculture. Soon after
locating there Mr. Besse entered the ministry of the Wesleyan Methodist
connection. He remained in the ministry until he came to California, thus
spending about thirty years in the service of the Master. In 1871 he became a
resident of Kansas, settling in Sterling, Rice County. In 1877 he returned
East and took charge of a church at Eagle Harbor. He acted as pastor of
churches at that place, and at points in Steuben County, for five years.
Thence he removed to Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, where he spent nearly
three years in the ministry. From Pennsylvania he came to Santa Clara County,
arriving here August 28, 1885. His present home, of five acres, he improved
from a stubble-field. He also owns a half interest in a Plummer Avenue
orchard of eight-year-old trees, comprising prunes, cherries, apricots, and
peaches. On his home property he has erected a fine residence. This is
surrounded by grounds tastefully laid out, at the entrance to which are placed
the letters of the word “Home.” After spending much of his life before the
public, Mr. Besse now enjoys a somewhat retired life in his pleasant and
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 Debbie Combs