The Valley of Heart's Delight
JOHN M. BATTEE
Santa Clara County Supervisor
HISTORY OF SANTA CLARA COUNTY 530
SURNAMES: McKean, Wood
A figure prominent in county circles and the community life of San Jose
for half a century and a man esteemed and respected by those early
pioneers, many of them his business and social friends, John M. Battee
passed away in this city October 30, 1921, at the age of ninety-three.
He was one of the oldest members of the Garden City Lodge, I.O.O.F. His
life was one of usefulness and energy, which left its imprint in many
ways upon the Santa Clara Valley. The records of the events of the
supervisors' meetings of 1870 show how active Mr. Battee was in that
period. He was elected and assumed the office of county supervisor on
March 7, 1870, and continued as a member and chairman of the board
until March 4, 1878. This was a time when San Jose was growing steadily
and beginning to assume proportions other than the center of an
agricultural district. On June 2, 1874, James Lick executed his first
trust deed setting aside his estate for charitable and educational
work, among the provisions of that document being those giving $25,000
for the purpose of establishing an orphan asylum in San Jose and
appropriating $700,000 for the observatory on land belonging to him
near Lake Tahoe, in Placer County.
Gratitude for the former gift, in resolutions prepared by Judge
Belden, of San Jose, was so deeply acknowledged that Mr. Lick changed
the location for the observatory and in August, 1875, with Hon.B.D.
Murphy, then mayor of San Jose, visited Mount Hamilton. An offer was
made to locate the observatory on Mount Hamilton if the county would
construct the road to the summit. On January 9, 1877, the Lick board of
trustees and county supervisors made an official inspection. The
following is quoted from H. S. Foote's "Pen Pictures from the Garden of
"Probably the most earnest and untiring friend of the road was
Supervisor J. M. Battee. To his devotion to the cause is due, more than
to any other one man, the successful termination of the great work that
has attracted the attention of the scientific world to the summit of
Mr. Battee was a man who was modest and plain in manner and speech,
determined, honest in all his dealing and one of the most far-sighted
and efficient county officials of the closing quarter of the past
century. Many obstacles faced the supervisors in building the road. Mr.
Battee stood determinedly through them all. The valuation of the county
at the time was about forty millions. To build a road costing
approximately $135,000 was considered quite a bite from the tax levy.
Under the guidance of John M. Battee the road was built without a bond
issue, excepting for a small portion, totaling about $12,000 at the
Mr. Battee was a native of Maryland, born on November 3, 1827.
He came via Panama to California in the early fifties, and here he was
married to Miss Clarissa McKean, a native of Ohio, who died many years
ago. For years the family resided at their home on Sunol Street, San
Jose, but in recent years Mr. Battee lived with a son at Los Gatos. He
is survived by two daughters and three sons; Mrs. Terry McKean, Mrs.
Louis E. Wood, Albert J., Fred and Phillip Battee. In his later years
Mr. Battee was actively engaged in horticulture, although in the early
days he was a grain farmer, owning large ranches here as well as in the
Salinas Valley. He developed a large prune orchard at Los Gatos, which
still belongs to the family. He was one of the founders and for many
years a director in the Farmers' Union at San Jose.
Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 530
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHIES
SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY-The Valley of Heart's Delight