JAMES W. EASTIN
ARRIVED IN CALIFORNIA 1847
SURNMAES: JOHNSON, ELLIOTT, FINE,CRANDALL
No history of the county would be complete without more than a passing mention of the man whose name heads this sketch. He is a pioneer of his State, county, and district, having come to the State in 1847, and settled in this county (in the Moreland District) in 1850.
He was born in Madison County, Kentucky, February 7, 1821, of an old Virginia family, whose history dates from the coming of his great grandfather, Philip Eastin, from England to Virginia in 1750. With him came two or three brothers, who settled in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Philip Eastin followed agricultural pursuits, which as a rule have been the occupation of his descendants. The grandfather of James W. Eastin was Stephen Eastin, who settled in Fayette County, Kentucky, about 1790. A few years later he removed to Madison County, the same State, and there improved a homestead adjoining the home of Green Clay, the father of Cassius M. Clay. He married, in Virginia, Susan Johnson, who was first cousin of Richard M. Johnson, who was Vice-President during the presidency of Martin Van Buren. They died at the old homestead. Stephen Eastin was wealthy and owned many slaves. Before his death he freed all his slaves except those who were helpless, and for these he made provision for care and maintenance.
The father of the subject of our sketch was Robert Johnson Eastin, who was born in 1788 in Virginia. He was a child four years of age when his parents settled in Kentucky, and he always lived in that State. In 1808 he married Miss Mary Elliott, who was also a native of Virginia To them were born nine children, four sons and five daughters. Of this large family, besides the subject of our sketch, but one son and one daughter are now living. The son, John Walker Eastin, now lives in Logan County, Kentucky.
James W. Eastin, the subject of our sketch, was early trained to the duties of a farm life in Madison County, Kentucky, receiving his education in the schools of that county. When he reached his majority, he went to Lafayette County, Missouri, and there engaged in agricultural pursuits. In 1843 he married Miss Rebecca A. Fine, who was born in Tennessee. Her father settled in Missouri while it was yet a Territory. Mr. Eastin led the quiet life of a Missouri farmer until stories of the wonderful climate and resources of California induced him to undertake the then long, tedious journey to the Golden State. May 9, 1847, with his wife and one child, and such simple household articles as could be stored in one wagon, with ample provision for the season to be spent on the way, they left Missouri. Reaching California September 10 following, which was before the discovery of gold, they thus became advance guards of the hosts who brought American civilization to this bright, sunny land.
The first money he earned in this State was by helping to build a house, receiving for his work $1.50 per day. He then engaged in keeping a boarding and lodging house, at which he accumulated some little money, when he commenced loaning money to the Spaniards, who used it for gambling purposes, taking horses and saddles in pawn, often doubling his loans in two or three days; and by the first of January, 1848, he had accumulated $230 in gold. He then entered into copartnership with a Maj. Daniel McDonald, and started a small store, but his partner dying in a few weeks after their store was opened Mr. Eastin closed up the affairs of the firm in May, and on the first of June he engaged in mining on the South Fork of the American River, remaining there until September, when he removed to San Francisco. Here Mr. Eastin bought a yoke of oxen and a wagon and engaged in teaming until April, 1849. He then left his family in San Francisco, and with a company of six men started for the mines. At Sacramento the party bought horses, which they packed and set out for the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River, remaining until August, when he returned to San Francisco. Again in October, he returned to mining in Oregon Gulch, near where Georgetown now stands. Here Mr. Eastin met with very good success. So rich indeed were the mines that he with three others took out $2,200 in three days, some nuggets weighing as much as four ounces. Notwithstanding his marked success in the mines, Mr. Eastin decided, at the beginning of the rainy season, about November 1, to return to San Francisco, where he remained until May, 1850. After an unsuccessful prospecting tour in the mining regions he returned and soon after went to Santa Clara County, and located a claim of 160 acres, on which he settled in August, 1850, camping until October. The house which he then erected forms a part of his present habitation. The lumber for the original house cost Mr. Eastin $180 per thousand feet, and he paid a carpenter $12 a day to put up the frame, himself finishing the structure with a hatchet and saw.
Perhaps no other man in Santa Clara County has lived so long in the same house. He has improved 194 acres, a large portion of which he yet retains. One of the oldest peach orchards to be found in the State, was planted by him in 1855, and is yet in bearing. He has, in all, twenty-two acres in orchard, producing a general variety of fruit.
The good wife who braved the trials of the overland journey of 1847, and who helped to build up the pioneer home, lived many years to enjoy the fruits of her labors, her death occurring March 15, 1883. She was the mother of five children, three of whom are living. Her eldest, Lafayette, whom she brought to California a child of two years, is now a prominent citizen and trusted official of Ventura County, being an Attorney and County Clerk. He is a graduate of the University of the Pacific. John W. is a resident of San Francisco, as is also Mrs. Mary E. Crandall, the only daughter.
Mr. Eastin has
served his county in important official trusts, acting in the early years as
Magistrate and Associate Judge. His acquaintance is large, and everywhere he is
known as "Judge Eastin." His recollection of early events is most vivid, and
often he is called upon to decide which is right of different opinions
concerning matters nearly forgotten by others. As a writer, he is clear and
forcible, and as a conversationalist most entertaining. In the old days he was a
Whig, and an ardent supporter of Henry Clay. Since that party dropped from
sight, he has been a Democrat. As an Odd Fellow, he is affiliated with Santa
Clara Lodge, No. 52.
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.
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT