Palo Alto

The manager of the Palo Alto Engineering and Construction Company at Palo Alto, with offices at 548 Emerson Street, Jean B. Balcomb was born at Binghamton, N. Y., on June 26, 1868, being a son of Francis and Lydia E. (Goodno) Balcomb, the former a leading carpenter and builder at Binghamton, N. Y., who later moved out to Kansas where he died in 1888. The mother is still living, making her home at River Forest, near Chicago, Ill. Jean B. was five years of age when the parents moved from New York state to Danville, Ill., and was ten years old when the parents removed to Russell County, Kans. There the father bought a farm, but continued to work as a carpenter and builder. Jean B. started working with his father in Illinois at building when only eight years of age, and grew to young manhood in the state of Kansas, being the third of a family of six children: Clara, Mrs. W. W. Greene, lived in Oregon where she died in 1917; Ernest is a professor at the State Normal at Arcata, Cal.; Jean B. of this review; Emily Lydia, the wife of R. R. Grant, resides at Andrews, Ore.; Francis is a lawyer at Chicago, Ill.; Mary, resides with the mother at River Forest, Ill., and is a noted reformer, being a writer and lecturer, who was in France during the war and after the war, spoke throughout England for the cause of Prohibition.

After the father's death, Jean B. Balcomb helped to support the widowed mother and family and paid for his schooling and education out of his own earnings. He began to work for the American Bridge Company, doing certain lines of carpenter work when but eleven years of age, and when fourteen went with a surveying party in Kansas, being soon promoted to rear chainman. Entering the Colorado Agricultural College at Ft. Collins, Colo., he obtained the C. E. degree in 1895, and became an irrigation engineer, and later became U. S. mineral surveyor, being thus engaged at Cripple Creek, Black Hawk and Telluride. He then came out to California in 1900, doing post-graduate work in civil engineering at Stanford University in 1900-1901. After that he held positions with the Pittsburgh Filter Company one year, Hudson River Concrete Company one year, the Lake Construction Company, Chicago, six years, the Iowa Mausoleum Company, Waterloo, Iowa, and the Buena Vista Power and Irrigation Company in Harney County, Ore., for five or six years until the breaking out of the late war, when he was placed in charge of the Officers' Training classes at Ft. Rosencrans, Ore., and was promoted to major in the Engineering Corps; his commission as major was on the way at the signing of the armistice.

 He was appointed as a member of the Federal Board in 1920 and served as educational director at San Francisco and later was assigned to the Base Hospital at Palo Alto, serving until the spring of 1922, when he became the manager of the recently organized Palo Alto Engineering and Construction Company. This company has signed up for $80,000 worth of work within the past two months. Among the jobs may be mentioned the remodeling of the City Hall at Palo Alto--a $20,000 job, the Tamplin residence, and the Los Altos grammar school. Mr. Balcomb's engineering work is known to San Francisco, Chicago, Kansas City, New York City and other places. He designed and partly built the new sewer system for Kansas City, Mo., in 1905. He put in the 0. K. Sewer at Kansas City, twenty-five feet in diameter, capable of discharging 70,000 gallons per second, at that time-1905---the largest in the world.

Mr. Balcomb was married at San Francisco in 1903 to Miss Rose Gibbs, of Los Angeles, Cal , who is a graduate of the University of Southern California and a post-graduate student at the University of California and Stanford. Mr. and Mrs. Balcomb have become the parents of five children: Violet, a sophomore at Stanford; Jean, a junior in the Palo Alto high school; Leland, Ernest and Rose. The family live at No. 335 Emerson Street, Palo Alto.

 Besides his work as engineer and builder, Mr. Balcomb rendered valuable services as a member of the graft investigation commission upon which he served for six months. He is a very instructive talker and is the author of a system of classification and charts for employment and promotion purposes. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Palo Alto and enters heartily with the upbuilding spirit of that community where he is recognized as a man of unusual ability. He counts honestly by his ability as a construction engineer. His father, a leading builder, was thrown upon his own resources when only thirteen upon the death of his father, Silas Balcomb, who was a lumber man. The Balcomb family is of prerevolutionary connection, of Welsh and English origin, and have been actively engaged as builders and lumbermen from the earliest times. Great-grandfather Jonathan Balcomb moved from Connecticut and settled in Pennsylvania, and thence the family moved to Broome County, New York, in the early part of the last century. They were active in Colonial days. Fought through the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars. As an heirloom there is in the family an old musket which saw service in the hands of a Balcomb in the French and Indian War.

From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1554


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