JOEL W. RANSOM
Ransom Fruit Farm
SURNAMES: NEWTON, BATTICE, LOGAN, RUY
Some of the grandest steps that have thus far been taken by Santa Clara County in the realization of her title, “The Garden of the World,” are due to men who are comparatively new-comers. Only four years ago the great Ransom Fruit Farm, just south of Madrone Station, was a hay and grain field, with nothing about it to make it more remarkable than hundreds of other places in the Santa Clara Valley. Then the present owner took charge, and the horticultural history of California probably presents no parallel to the progress that has been made here since that time. The tract contains 402 acres, including the right of way of the Southern Pacific Railroad, which runs through it. Thirty acres are used to pasture stock, while all the rest is given over to the culture of tree and vine fruits. South of the barn buildings is an orchard of apricots set out in 1884, and three years later it bore a heavy crop, in some instances more than 100 pounds being taken from a single tree. They are all of the Moorpark variety. North of the residence is a vineyard of five acres, a portion of which was set out by the former owner, to Mission grapes, into which Mr. Ransom has grafted thirty varieties of fancy French grapes. The new vines are all Zinfandels, and were planted in 1885. The portion of his ranch so far described lies west of the railroad, but on the east the rows of trees and vines stretch away to the eastward until they appear finally to come together in one green mass. At the northern end of the tract, and adjoining the railroad, is a vineyard of seventy-two and one-half acres,--all table and raisin grapes. To the east of this is a sixty-acre prune orchard, set with French prunes in 1884. South of this, Mr. Ransom planted 100 acres to French prunes, in 1885, and in 1886 he added ten acres more, making in all 170 acres in French prunes, which is the largest French prune orchard in the world, containing 19,000 trees. The next larger prune orchard is in Santa Cruz County, and contains 16,000 trees. South of the young prune orchard he has another vineyard of 110 acres, mostly in Zinfandel, Matero, and other wine grapes, set out in 1886, and presents a healthy appearance. The farm residence is a commodious, single-story building, and well adapted to this climate in construction and arrangement. Mrs. Ransom has devoted much time and attention to the embellishment of the grounds surrounding their home, and here may be seen, in healthy growth, almost every variety of tropical and semi-tropical plants. The orange and fig thrive here, while the magnolia delights the senses by the beauty and fragrance of its flowers. There are seventy-five fig-trees now in bearing, which form a border to the other plants. The oldest of these were set out in 1884-85, from cuttings brought by Mr. Ransom from Cloverdale, Sonoma County, and include the several varieties. There are also choice evergreens, geraniums, verbenas, calla lilies, pomegranates, etc. About six miles from this place, just south of Coyote Station, Mr. Ransom has another farm, known as a portion of the old Fisher grant, purchased in 1887, containing ninety-eight and thirty-six-one-hundredths acres. In 1888 Mr. Ransom cut four tons of volunteer barley hay to the acre on fifteen acres of this land, that had been used as pasture. There is an apple orchard of two acres on this place, eighteen years old, and also a small vineyard. The residence is a handsome two-story structure, with all the modern conveniences.
Joel W. Ransom was born in Salem, New London County, Connecticut, October 4, 1821. His parents, John S. and Lydia (Newton) Ransom, came from old New England families, his paternal grandfather having been a soldier in the patriot army in the Revolutionary War. His father, a farmer, was born in 1788, and died at a ripe old age, in 1871. Joel W. was reared in his native county until he left home October 4, 1841, to make his own way in life. He went South at once, and settled in Cahaba, Dallas County, Alabama, where he engaged in general merchandising. Upon receiving the news of the discovery of gold in California, he disposed of his property, and, January 22, 1849, set out for New Orleans, where he took a schooner for Panama. He was twenty-four days crossing the Isthmus. Here he remained two months and four days waiting for a sailing vessel, so that he could take passage to San Francisco. On the ninety-first day out from Panama he sailed through the Golden Gate. He at once went to the mines, and prospected on the North Fork of the American River until fall, when he went into camp on the Feather River. Mr. Ransom’s history from that time is the history of nearly every big-hearted miner of those days; he had his ups and downs, hardships and pleasures. In 1851 he went to Shasta County, and in 1854 to Trinity County. During the Florence excitement of 1862, he left there and traveled to Auburn, Eastern Oregon. In December, 1862, he went to Boise Basin, Idaho, and from there, in 1865, to British Columbia, and later, in the same year, to Montana, where, in 1866, he established himself in Butte County, and there resided until he came to Santa Clara County, to remain permanently. In Butte City he engaged in several kinds of business, and in the years 1871-72, was Assessor of Deer Lodge County, Montana Territory.
He has permanently
retired from mining, and does not intend to again engage in developing the
mineral wealth of the earth. New mines will be discovered, but civilization and
the railroad can no longer be far away. The man who has taken part in this
pioneer development has been necessarily thrown in contact with all classes of
men from every clime. This contact, under such circumstances, inevitably brings
out a man’s true character, no matter how polished or rough the exterior may
be. Santa Clara County welcomes Mr. Ransom, who, having passed through this
ordeal, is a thorough gentleman. Mrs. Ransom’s maiden name was Margaret Amelia
Cecelia Logan. She was born in Massachusetts. Her parents, William and Maria (Battice)
Logan, were also natives of the same State, her mother being of French descent.
Early in 1865 Mrs. Ransom came with a married sister and her family to Montana,
and in the summer of the same year was married, her first husband being James
Ruy, who died December 24, 1869. He was extensively engaged in merchandising in
Montana. On December 9, 1878, she was married to Mr. Ransom. She is a lady of
education and refinement, and, like her husband, is noted for her hospitality.
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.
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT