Bio-Pen Pictures

            Few men are so well known in Santa Clara County as James A. Clayton, who came to San Jose on the twenty-fifth day of August, 1850, and has been a leading citizen of the county ever since.

            Mr. Clayton is a  native of England, born in Derbyshire, October 20, 1831.  He came to the United States with his parents in 1839, they settling in the lead mines of Iowa County, Wisconsin, in 1840.  His parents, John and Mary (Bates) Clayton, were both natives of New Mills, Derbyshire, England, his father having been a lead miner in his native country, following this occupation, in conjunction with farming, during most of his life, while the mother’s parents were farmers.  John Clayton and his wife resided on a farm in Wisconsin, near Mineral Point, up to the time of their death, Mrs. Clayton dying in 1853, and Mr. Clayton in 1857, at the age of eighty years.

            To this worthy couple were born twelve children:  Joel, who died in Clayton, Contra Costa County (the town having been named for him).  He brought to California, in 1850, a train of emigrants, his brother, the subject of this sketch, coming with him.  He was largely concerned in coal mining, owning also a ranch of 800 acres, covering what is now the town of Clayton.  Charles, who came to Oregon in 1847, and to California in 1848, before the gold mines were discovered, died October 4, 1885.  He had been a Member of Congress, Surveyor of the Port of San Francisco, and held many prominent positions in that city and in the State, being one of the leading Republicans for over a quarter of a century.

            In company with his brother Joel, as before stated, James A. Clayton crossed the plains to California in 1850.  They were eighty-seven days making the journey from the Missouri River to Placerville, then called Hangtown.  Stopping a few days at the mines, he was then employed as clerk for his brother, Charles Clayton, in Santa Clara, who had been a resident of the valley since 1848.  Here he remained until February, 1851, when he returned to the mines, working there until the following November, when he went to Australia, and tried his luck at the mines there.  In August, 1852, Mr. Clayton, not yet of age, returned to California, residing, for a short period, in Stockton, but came again to Santa Clara County, in January, 1853, being employed as clerk in Santa Clara until he permanently settled in San Jose in 1856.  Here he purchased a photographic gallery, located on Santa Clara Street, near Market, removing, later, to Spring’s Corner.  This establishment Mr. Clayton conducted about thirteen years.  In 1861 he was elected County Clerk of Santa Clara County, and re-elected in 1863.  In 1867 he established a real-estate office, continuing in that business to the present date.

            Mr. Clayton was married in March, 1860, to Miss Anna L. Thomson, a native of Indiana, her parents, Robert P. and Amy F. (Brown) Thomson, having come to California in 1857.  From this marriage were born seven children:  Mary E., wife of C. W. Gates, of Los Angeles; Edward W. and Willis S., partners of their father in the real-estate business; Grace Elizabeth, who died in infancy; Ethel, born in 1868, who, with her brother, Willis, graduated at the University of the Pacific, Willis in 1884, and Ethel in 1886; John J., born in 1870, now attending school, and Florence, born in 1876.

            Mr. Clayton is a large property owner, but confines himself strictly to his business of real estate, loan and insurance agent, and real-estate auctioneer, and makes the loaning of money for capitalists a specialty.  He is a member of San Jose Lodge, No. 10, F. & A. M., also a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since 1857, and is a Trustee of the University of the Pacific; was a Lay Delegate to the Methodist Episcopal General Conference held in New York in 1888.  Has been a Republican since 1858, and was one of the Alternate Delegates for the State at Large to the National Republican Convention at Chicago in 1888.  He believes in the protection of American industries.

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.

Pg. 359-360
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight