President Coopertive Wine Company of Los Gatos

Bio-Pen Pictures


            John Cilker, son of John and Elizabeth (Barloga) Cilker, was born in Hanover, Germany, March 15, 1833.  His parents came to the United States when he was an infant, and located in Detroit, Michigan.  They afterwards removed to Joliet, Illinois, where his mother died about 1840, and then his father moved back to Detroit, where he died in 1841.  Upon his father’s death he was bound out to a lawyer in Detroit named Alexander Buell, and lived with him about two years, when Mr. Buell’s wife died and he was again bound out to a man named Peter Fisher, living with him two years, and when fourteen years old started out for himself.  He lived in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Missouri.  In 1857 he came to California and went into the gold mines near Placerville.  In June, 1858, he went to the Fraser River mines in British Columbia, where he mined for a while and then went to Washington Territory and engaged in the lumber business, which he followed for ten years. 

Mr. Cilker was married in Victoria, British Columbia, December 9, 1867, to Jane Lipsett, a native of County Donegal, Ireland, and then came to Santa Clara County and settled on his present place, on which all the improvements were made by him.  He has eight children living,--three girls and five boys.  Mr. Cilker is a stockholder and president of the Cooperative Wine Company of Los Gatos.  He has 174 acres planted as follows:  Twelve acres to almonds, now six years old and in good bearing; seventeen acres in French prunes, of which ten acres are five years old and seven acres three years old.  He has had one good crop from the older trees, and the trees are full this year.  He has 212 cherry trees six years old, bearing well; eight acres in white egg plums about two years old, and a family orchard of three acres of different varieties, consisting of 250 trees, which are doing well, and five acres of peaches, two years old.  He has also a large vineyard, of which 10,000 vines are three years old, 10,000 two years old, and 8,000 one year old.

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. 307
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy




One of the fine orchard properties of the Los Gatos district is the Lester, Cilker, Lester ranch of 186 acres, located on the San Jose-Los Gatos Road, and owned by William Hamilton Cilker and his two partners, Nathan Lester and William Lester. William H. Cilker was born on his father's old home place two miles northeast of Los Gatos, the son of John Cilker, long an honored citizen of Santa Clara County and one of the extensive horticulturists of his day. He was a native of Hanover, Germany, born there March 15, 1833, and was brought to the United States when an infant, by his parents, John and Elizabeth (Barloga) Cilker.

 They located in Detroit, Mich., and later came west to Joliet, Ill., where Mrs. Cilker died in 1840; the father ,went back to Detroit and there he passed away the next year. John Cilker, after his father's death, was bound out to Alexander Buell, a lawyer in Detroit, and later for two years to Peter Fisher, but when fourteen he started out for himself. He lived in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri, and in 1857 came to California across the plains and went into the gold mines near Placerville. In June, 1858, he went to the Fraser River mines in British Columbia, where he mined for a while, then removed to Washington Territory, where for ten years he was in the lumber business. While in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1867, he was married to Jane Lipsett, a native of County Donegal, Ireland, and immediately after their marriage they came to California and settled on the ranch near Los Gatos, which was thereafter their home. Here Mr. Cilker developed a fine orchard and vineyard of 174 acres, and was a leader among the fruit growers of the county. He was also president of the. Co-operative Wine Company of Los Gatos. He died here in 1909, survived by his widow.

Next to the youngest of a family of eight children, William Hamilton Cilker was educated in the grammar and high schools at Los Gatos, and graduated from the College of Civil Engineering of the University of California in 1909, with the B. S. degree. He followed civil engineering principally in the city of San Francisco as assistant city engineer on the new sewer system, the high pressure fire system and the municipal railroad system. In 1916 he became active in the management of the ranch, owned by himself and his two partners. Here they have developed water and installed an electric pumping plant with a capacity of 150 inches, sufficient to irrigate the entire ranch. which is devoted to raising prunes and grapes.

In San Jose, Mr. Cilker was married to Miss Hazel Beatrice Lester, born in that city, the daughter of Nathan L. and Sarah E. (Spicer) Lester, and they have become the parents of four children: Beatrice Ann, Marion Sarah, William Hamilton, Jr., and George Edward. Where national issues are concerned, Mr. Cilker is a Republican, and he is a Mason, belonging to Los Gatos lodge No. 292, F. & A. M.

Transcribed by Carolyn Feroben from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1466