The Valley of Heart's Delight

JAMES H. LYNDON- Los Gatos Pioneer- Sheriff, Mayor and Postmaster


 Photo of John and Anna LYNDON  and his brother James LYNDON

A faithful, efficient public official, whose record for unchallenged public-spiritedness and personal bravery, and also for exceptionally high integrity, was such that his name will always be held in esteem, was the late James H. Lyndon, for more than forty years a resident of Los Gatos, and from 1894 to 1898 sheriff of Santa Clara County--than whom, perhaps, there never was a doughtier, or one more deserving of the wide popularity which he enjoyed. He was born in Grand Isle County, Vt., on May 6, 1847, the son of Samuel and Polly Caroline Lyndon, with whom he lived until he was sixteen years of age, attending the fashioned Yankee home. Then in 1863, he made his way to Burlington and enlisted in the Fifth Vermont Infantry, where he was promptly rejected by the inspecting officer on account of his age. The next year he succeeded both in getting to Massachusetts and in getting accepted as a member of Company I, Twenty-first Massa-chusetts Infantry, after which, with some 300 other recruits, he was sent to Galloupe's Island, in Boston Harbor, and from there, after six weeks of drill, despatched to Annapolis until the middle of April, when he was ord-ered to join his regiment at the front; and, marching by way of Washington, D. C., he and his comrades overtook the second Divison of the Ninth Corps, near the Rapidan, just before the battles of wilderness. He particpated in these battles and in those of Spottsylvania and Cold Harbor, in which latter engagement his regiment suffered heavy losses; and after the battle of Cold Harbor, the Ninth Corps was ordered to City Point, where for several months the Army of the Potomac invested Peterburg. After the capture of several of the outposts, with heavy losses, the city of Petersburg fell, after a siege of several months.

From Petersburg of the Army of the Potomac followed Lee's army for several days, the Ninth Corps gooing as far as Farmville, which they reached on April 8, 1865, and the next day, General Lee surrendered his army to General Grant, which practically closed the war. The Ninth Corps lay at Farmville for about a week, when it was ordered to City Point, where, after a week or ten days, transports were furnished them and they were sent to Alexandria, Va.They remained just back of that review of the armies of Grant and Sherman in Washington, in which James Lyndon participated; and after that he went into camp again for two or three weeks, when his regiment was ordered home, and he was mustered out and given his honorable discharge at Reedville, Mass., in August, 1865.

Mr. Lyndon then, with a natural yearning for the scenes of his boyhood, returned to his old home in Vermont; and in 1866 he attended the Academy at Alburg Springs and for two terms supplemented his schooling. California and its lure had seized his imagination; and in December, 1868, he started via the Panama route, arriving in San francisco January 23, 1869. His brother, John W. Lyndon, who was James' senior by eleven years and had come out to California in 1859, had preceded him to Los Gatos and had established there a lumber yard, where later James hurried to Los Gatos and accepted a position as clerk in John's employ. In 1872 he bought his brother's business and ran it for a year, when John bought an interest in it, and returned to his former activity; a year later, James sold his interest to John, and embarked in hotel management at the Ten Mile House, later known as the Los Gatos Hotel, which he made more and more famous as a hostelry, until he sold out in 1875. He again clerked for his brother, remaining with him until 1883; but in that year he set up in the lumber business for himself near the depot in Los Gatos, which business he continued to manage for years.

Mr. Lyndon was best known, perhaps, particularly in San Jose, as the broad-minded Republican sheriff of Santa Clara County, an office he filled most creditiably. Under President Harrison, he was also postmaster of Los Gatos, and he had the honor of serving as the mayor of that law-abiding town, and he was an active member of Los Gatos Lodge No. 282, F. & A. M., and of Ridgley Lodge, I. O. O. F., and he belonged to the ancient Order United Workmen; he was past post commander of the E. O. C. Ord Post of the G. A. R.

At San Jose, on August 12, 1873, James H. Lyndon was married to Miss Anna J. Murdock, a native of Ontario, and she and five of their children who still survive, cheered by their lives and affection the sturdy pioneer when he breathed his last, on March 28, 1912, one of the most widely known and best-beloved ciczens of the county. These worthy sons and daugheters are: James Lloyd Lyndon of San Jose; William W. Lyndon of San Francisco; Clarence H., Mrs. Ray Lyndon Lee, and Mrs. May Nichols of Los Gatos, and Mrs. Hazel Ryland of Oakland. Santa Clara County today owes much of its present prosperity and greatness to men like Mr. Lyndon, for by enduring hardhsips and indefatigable work and true optimism they paved the way that the future generations may enjoy. Mr. Lyndon was very active and energetic and was ever to be found a leader in the vanguard of progress.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 403