JOSEPH GOULD NORWOOD
The Southern Route to California, 1849
SURNAMES: GOULD, PRIOR, HOUSTON
Among the earliest settlers of Santa Clara County must be mentioned the subject of this sketch, he having taken up, as a claim, the tract upon which he now lives, at the early date of 1849, and making it his home two years later. The farm is situated in the Braley District, about three and a half miles west of Santa Clara, on the Saratoga and Alviso roads. It contains eighty acres of highly cultivated land, devoted chiefly to the production of hay and grain, such stock being raised as is needed for carrying on farm operations. Among the noticeable features of this property is a handsome group of large oak trees that surround the house, one of which is said to be the largest in the county.
Mr. Norwood dates his birth in Portland, Maine, January 17, 1807. His parents, Joshua and Lydia (Gould) Norwood, were natives of Maine. The family were greatly bereaved by the loss of the father in 1816, he being drowned at sea. The mother spent the remainder of her life in her old Portland home, her death occurring in that city in 1833. The early youth of the subject of our sketch was spent in school, but at the age of fifteen years he commenced an apprenticeship of six years in the cabinet-making trade. After the conclusion of his apprenticeship, he spent the next two years working at his trade and at piano-forte making in Portland and Boston. But he was not content to be a mere wage earner, and in 1830 started out in business for himself, establishing a piano-forte manufactory in Portland. He afterwards removed to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he established similar works, which he conducted for three years. Upon selling his business, he went to work for Chickering, of Boston, remaining there until 1849, when the failure of his health determined him to seek a complete change of climate and scene. The great tide of travel was turned toward California, and Mr. Norwood made the overland trip. The route chosen was known as the Southern trail.
usual dangers incident to overland travel, the party met with a very sad
experience, two of their number, a Mr. Spaulding, of New York, and a Mr.
Kingsley, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, being killed by Indians on the Colorado
River. Mr. Norwood reached California in September, 1849, and spent the two
years previous to becoming a resident of this county, in San Francisco, engaged
in cabinet-making and later in, carpenter work. While working at the former
trade, he received at one time as much as $16 per day. As before stated, he made
this county his home in 1851, and has since been a useful and honored citizen of
it. His family joined him two years later.
He had married, in his native State, Miss Elizabeth Prior, daughter of Matthew Prior, a sea captain of Bath, Maine. From this marriage four children were born, two dying in youth. George J., born in 1836, now lives with his father on the old homestead. Sarah Elizabeth, born in 1839, married James Houston, and is a resident of Fresno County.
has enabled Mr. Norwood to witness and to aid in the remarkable development of
the county. His integrity of character has won from all the respect due the
useful member of society. He retains his physical strength to a great degree,
and, although over eighty years of age, is still able to assist his son in the
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.