Los Gatos Businessman

Bio-Coast Counties

In Santa Clara county, Cal., as well as in other communities, almost every branch of trade is represented by men of ability, who have learned well how to cater to the public wants in a exceptional manner, furnishing excellent values to their customers, yet, by a system of quick sales and small profits, realizing a neat profit on their investment.  Mr. Pearce is just such a man and for the past twenty years he has conducted a general merchandise store in Los Gatos, handling hay, grain, wool, feed and hardware, with a complete line of both staple and fancy groceries.  Commencing business on a small scale, he has enlarged his stock from time to time, showing a great deal of enterprise by his methods, and his business has increased correspondingly.

It was in the faraway state of Wisconsin, in Blue Mounds, Dane County, that Mr. Pearce was born, September 7, 1858, and he is the eldest of six children born to William and Louisa (Dunstan) Pearce, both natives of Cornwall, England, the former born January 26, 1819, and the latter in January, 1828.  The father emigrated to the United States of America in 1848, settling for a time near Hartford, Conn.  He was a miner by occupation and a little later removed to Wisconsin, and it was in that state that his marriage took place, he being united with Miss Louisa Dunstan at Blue Mounds, in 1856.  Mrs. Pearce accompanied her parents to Canada in 1841, and they located for a few years at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and in 1849 they removed to Dodgeville, Wis.  Mr. and Mrs. Pearce reared a family of five sons and one daughter and  in 1860 they came to California.  Mr. Pearce followed mining pursuits in British Columbia for a brief period, and afterwards engaged in quicksilver mining at New Almaden for some twelve years, then moved to a ranch in the suburbs of Los Gatos, Cal.  Many useful years of his life were devoted to the general merchandise business in Los Gatos.  It was about 1869 that he bought his ranch in the vicinity of Los Gatos, purchasing at that time one hundred and eight acres of land and turning his attention to general farming.  Selling to advantage in 1884, he engaged in mercantile pursuits as stated, and a successful business was carried on there under the firm name of the W. L. Pearce Co, .  Incorporated , until his retirement in 1895.  He died in Los Gatos, October 8, 1902.  HE was a member of the Christian Church, and in politics a Republican.

Being but a few years old when his parents  located in California, James H Pearce received his scholastic training in the common schools of that state, and in April, 1875, he became apprenticed to learn the blacksmith's trade near Santa Clara.  In 1877 he continued his trade in Los Gatos and the following  year entered the employ of Mr. George Seanor, working at his trade as a journeyman for several years.  Not being entirely satisfied to continue working in this capacity and desiring to fit himself for mercantile life, he accordingly entered business college in 1882, taking a complete course in San Jose, Cal., spending the summers in clerking in a store.  In 1884 Mr. Pearce, in partnership with his father, started in a general store in Los Gatos and for several years was associated with him, but in 1887 he sold his interest in this store to his father, and embarked for himself in Los Gatos, thereby laying the foundation for his present business.
(see a photo of the store and more family information here)

The marriage of Mr. Pearce in 1886 took place in Los Gatos, and he was united with Miss Henrietta G. Gray, daughter of James W. Gray, formerly of London, England, the birthplace of both.  Mr. Gray was a painter and paper-hanger, and emigrating to America, located in Kansas City, Mo, in 1865, and in 1882 he went to Los Gatos, Cal.,  his present residence.  Two children, James H., Jr., and Rita, brighten the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pearce.  In his political convictions, Mr. Pearce is a stanch supporter of the Republican party, and he is a valued member of the K. of P, I. O. O. F. and Rebekah lodges.  He takes a fitting interest in educational municipal affairs, having served on the school board, and at the present time is a member of the city council.

History of the State of California of Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California- Guinn, 1904, page 1252
transcribed- cdf

Santa Clara Biography Project

Santa Clara County History-The Valley of Heart's Delight