WILLIAM B ORTLEY
One is reminded of the fact that many interesting industries engage the attention of brain folk in the work, without the world at large knowing much about it, from the story of William B. Ortley and his business enterprise, the gathering and shipping of clams and oyster shells. He was born in Alviso, a native son, by the way, proud of his association with the Golden State, in 1875, and his parents were J. J. and Almira (Wade) Ortley. The Wades came across the plains at an early day, and were enrolled among the sturdy California pioneers. Mr. Ortley was a boatman on San Francisco Bay, and it was then that he began to develop the shell trade, for he had a large warehouse, and many boats to carry bay freight. At that time, too, a great deal of the had and grain was shipped out of Alviso, and this was stored in his warehouse, prior to being shipped. Fruit has now taken the place of the hay and grain, and the warehouses are used for different purposes, and business in general is not as extensive as it used to be.
Our subject, however, in part to make up for this falling-off of profitable trade, has developed the clam and oyster shell trade, and to carry that on he has a boat of 150 tons, with a pump attachment, with which he pumps out the shells form the bay bottom, and then hauls them to the shore. He then sacks the shells and wholesales them to poultrymen and commission merchants over the entire West. He also uses his boat to load bay barges of 300 tons with shells, and these barges run to Sacramento and Petaluma, where the shells are disposed of . J. J. Ortley, the father, lived to be eighty six years old, and he continued long in active business, assisted by his son, who eventually took over the enterpriese. Mr. Ortley ships, on the average, two carloads a month of shells, from which he derives a very satisfactory income, although his necessay operating and maintenance expenses are also high-much higher than most persons would be inclined to consider. Politically, Mr. Ortley is an independent, believing in holding himslef above the narrowness of pary lines, and giving his support enerously to the man and the measures he believes to be best and most worthy of endorsement.
from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1218
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