see 1881 bio

The Huff House of Mountain View- and more Family History

Among the most influential and best known of the men who devoted many years of their active lives to the agricultural enterprises of the Santa Clara Valley, was the late James A. Huff, who, from 1864, was a successful farmer and fruit grower of Mountain View. He was an Ohioan by birth, born in Butler County, February 21, 1832, the second in a family of nine children born to Amos and Margaret (Case) Huff, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was a carpenter by trade and left his home section to live in Ohio in 1835, subsequently removing to Cass County, Mich , where he purchased a farm. Devoting his time assiduously to his trade as carpenter and builder, the farm work was left to his sons, six in number, and they cleared and cultivated the land for him. The later years of his life were spent upon this place and he reached the advanced age of eighty-seven years; his wife also died there.

Owing to the unsettled condition of the country to which his parents had removed and scarcity of schools, Mr. Huff's education was exceedingly limited. He worked upon his father's farm until attaining the age of twelve, then for a neighbor for six and one-half years, afterward spending three years more on the home place. He then bought a farm of his own and shortly afterward, January 28th, 1857, married Emily E. Gard, the second daughter of Jonathan Gard, a wealthy pioneer of Cass County, Mich. On April 6, 1863, with his wife and two children, he started overland to California, the trip being made by means of horse teams and covering a period of six months. The two children were buried on the way, one in Omaha and the other on the banks of the Platte.

The party of which Mr. and Mrs. Huff were members settled in Napa Valley, but they continued to the vicinity of Mountain View, where they arrived September 6, and began farm pursuits upon a farm where the water works in Palo Alto is now situated, harvesting a crop from about 200 acres in the fall of 1864. Later in the same year, Mr. Huff bought his first farm in California—ninety-seven acres about a mile and a half north of Mountain View.  Successful as a farmer and stockraiser, he branched out into the seed, fruit and berry business, adding more acreage as his industry demanded, until his holdings consisted of 460 acres.

Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Huff in this third California home, of whom five are living at this time: Henry, an orchardist near Mountain View, is an extensive grower of walnuts, apricots and prunes. Active in church, civic and agricultural progress, he was a clerk in the Indian Service for a number of years, and later a bookkeeper for the Renton Clay Works at Seattle, Wash., before deciding to give his whole time to horticulture. Frank L , the postmaster at Mountain View, is represented elsewhere in this work. Emily Lozetta, died when seven years old. William E., deceased, conducted a meat market at Palo Alto. He died when twenty-eight years old, after marrying Miss Gertrude Bubb of the pioneer Bubb family of Mountain View. His widow now resides in Palo Alto. Their one child, Lucile, a graduate of Stanford, married Dean Buchan, vice-president of the First National Bank of Palo Alto, who served as first lieutenant, Q. M. C., in the late war, and is now vice-commander of the American Legion in Palo Alto. J. Arthur is an orchardist on a part of the old Huff home place near Mountain View. Charles A , for many years employed in the Post Office Department at Washington, D. C., is now engineer for the Scotia Lumber Company in Humboldt County. Alpheus E., commonly known as Bert, is also an- engineer with the Scotia Lumber Company of Humboldt County.

In politics, Mr. Huff was a Republican, but preferred to exercise his right of franchise as an American citizen in private life free from the entanglements which usually beset the office seeker. His chief activity centered in his farm. Although hay, grain and stock were at first his chief products, he later gave much attention to the fitness of various soils to the growth of seeds, berries and trees. His experiments along these lines were necessarily extensive and carried over long periods of time. Although they were sometimes very expensive and, of course, attended with many individual failures, they ultimately had much to do with his individual success, and were of inestimable value to the community. He was a pioneer in what is now one of the greatest berry and fruit sections in the world. Although exceedingly busy on his farm, he was not uninterested in public affairs. He was always active in church and school matters as well as an active director in the Farmers' and Merchants' National Bank of Mountain View. During nearly the whole period of his life in the vicinity of Mountain View, he was a clerk of the board of trustees of the little country school near his farm, and a worker in the Christian Church of which he and his family were members.

Mrs. Emily Huff died in March, 1890, and in 1906 Mr. Huff married Mrs. Emma Ball, a lady from his old Michigan home, an accomplished and charming woman, acquainted with many of the friends of his youth who helped much with his many friends and his sons to keep his old age active and cheerful. She is now living in Mountain View. His death, which occurred on October 8, 1915, left a vacancy in the citizenry of his community hard to fill.
From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1065


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight