HON. LEWIS A. SPITZER
Bio- Pen Pictures
SURNAMES: WENTZ, AMISS, RUPP, BRYANT, HUDSON, EASTERDAY, DAVIS,
County Assessor, comes from an old family and one that has made good citizenship a rule through all its branches. The paternal line is as follows: Henry Spitzer and Catherine (Wentz) Spitzer, his grandparents, had seven children, viz.: Moses, Charles, Samuel, Mary, Nancy, William, and Elizabeth. Henry and Catherine Spitzer were of German descent, and both were members of the Lutheran Church. Henry Spitzer was a German and came to America more than a century ago and while he was a young man. He located at Newmarket, Virginia, where he established a rifle factory. He lived to an old age, and on his death the factory was carried on by his sons Charles and William. Charles died November 4, 1862, and the business was conducted by William until August 25, 1884, when he too died. The rifles manufactured by this house were noted throughout the West and South, and whoever had a Spitzer gun had the best that was then known.
Charles Spitzer, born 1807, married Elizabeth Frances Amiss, October 29, 1833. Their children were: Mary Catherine, Lewis Amiss, Sarah Ann, and Robert Henry. Mary Catherine was born at Newmarket, January 21, 1838, married Wm. F. Rupp, of that place, and is still living. Lewis Amiss is the subject of this sketch. [Error in this sentence - not appropriate.] Sarah Ann, born in Newmarket December 22, 1844, died in Newmarket August 11, 1849. Robert Henry, or Henry (as he was always called), enlisted in the Confederate army when he was sixteen years of age and served under Stonewall Jackson until that officer was killed, and then under A. P. Hill until the close of the war. He came to California in 1872, locating at Hollister, where he was married to Miss Alice Bryant. On the eighteenth of August, 1882, while out hunting, he was shot and killed by a friend, through mistake.
The father, Charles Spitzer, died in Newmarket, November 4, 1862, and the mother, Elizabeth F., died in Wyoming Territory October 25, 1881, while on her way to California to visit her sons, Lewis and Robert. Lewis, who had gone out on the road to meet his mother, whom he had not seen for twentyfive years, found on reaching Ogden that she had died twenty-four hours before his arrival ! He was only in time to perform the last sad rites over the remains of her whom he had loved so dearly and reverenced so highly. With the assistance of kind friends, he laid her to rest in the Ogden Cemetery.
The maternal ancestry of the subject of this sketch, who were Scotch, is as follows: Thomas Amiss and Philip Amiss came to America as soldiers in the English army at the time of the war of the Revolution. Arrived here, they deserted and joined the Continental army, with which they served through all the campaigns of Washington until peace was declared. At the termination of the war, they settled in Westmoreland County, Virginia, about two miles from the home of General Washington. Thomas Amiss married a Miss Hudson and removed to Rappahannock County, where they founded the town of Amissville. They had a large family of children, of whom one son, Gabriel, married his cousin, Margaret Amiss, daughter of Philip Amiss. From this marriage came John Amiss, a soldier of the War of 1812, and for more than thirty years County Clerk of Albemarle County; Philip, a resident of Rose Hill, Kosciusko County, Indiana (Philip's son, James M. Amiss, M. D., is now successfully practicing medicine at Silver Lake, Kosciusko County, Indiana, and the other children are equally well placed); Lewis, who died in St. Louis, Missouri; and Elizabeth F., the mother of the subject of this sketch.
Louis Amiss Spitzer was born in Newmarket, Shenandoah County, Virginia, February 10, 1840. His early years were spent at home. He passed the winter of 1856 with relatives in Pocahontas County, Virginia, returning home in the spring of 1857. On the twenty-sixth of April of that year he started West, arriving in St. Louis in May; went to Minneapolis; back to St. Louis; thence to Vicksburg, returning again to St. Louis; spent a few months in Belleville, Illinois, after which he obtained a position in the clothing store of Morris D. Myers & Co., opposite the Planters' Hotel in St. Louis. He remained there till the spring of 1858, when he started for Leavenworth, Kansas, and after arriving fell in with one of Majors Russell and Waddell's freight trains, Col. A. R. White wagon-master; joined the train and drove an ox team to Camp Floyd, Utah, arriving there September, 1858; went to Salt Lake City, and with five others bought four horses and a wagon and started south through the Utah Valley. The day before the party arrived at Fillmore City, the capital of Utah Territory, the Indians mistook two Mormons for soldiers and killed them within a few miles of Fillmore, and after finding they had killed their friends, they threatened to kill the families also, thinking thus to remove all danger of revenge being taken. On the arrival of the party in Fillmore the Mormons begged them to remain and help protect the families. They did so, remaining until the Indians were made to understand that they were not going the right way about it to undo the wrong done by them. This act of protection on the side of the party secured them constant good treatment as long as they remained in the Mormon settlements. After getting out of the Mormon settlements they had several skirmishes with the Piute Indians, but arrived safely at San Bernardino, California, in November. A few weeks later he went to the Gila River mines, in Arizona, but, not finding them as represented, returned to Los Angeles and went to the Kern River mines. Learning of an expedition being formed to establish a wagon road from Fort Tejon, California, to Fort Smith, Arkansas, under command of Col. E. F. Beal (now General) and Mr. S. A. Bishop (now of San Jose), Mr. Spitzer joined the party, being the youngest member of it, and spent the summer in Arizona and New Mexico. Came to Visalia in the fall, and in the spring of 1860 went to Mono Lake, where he engaged in teaming, mining, keeping restaurant, etc. On one of his prospecting tours he and his party camped during a snow-storm for several weeks under a quartz ledge twenty-five or thirty feet high. This was afterward located, and, as the old Esmeralda mine, has given millions of wealth to the world.
Leaving the mines he went to Fresno County, and worked for the Overland Stage Company. From there he went to Monterey County, in March, 1861, and in 1862 to San Luis Obispo County. He came to Santa Clara County in the spring of 1863 and worked in the redwoods, felling timber for Fremont's mill. In the fall, with W. T. Brown, of this county, formerly of Louisiana, he started for the East, intending to join the Confederate army. In Austin; Nevada, Spitzer was laid up all winter with inflammatory rheumatism, and the trip was abandoned. He prospected and worked in Nevada until 1865. He came to Santa Clara County the fall of that year and then went on to San Luis Obispo County to engage in farming and stock-raising, until the spring of 1867. His next venture was with Thomas McGreal, in Oregon, where they bought 400 head of stock cattle. They brought them to California and sold them. Mr. Spitzer then engaged in farming in this county.
For four years he served as Deputy County Assessor under Henry Phelps, from 1875 to 1879, and continued to farm until he was elected County Assessor in 1882, on the Democratic ticket. He then sold his farm and moved to San Jose. At the conclusion of his term of four years he was re-nominated by acclamation by his party, and re-elected by a good majority.
In July, 1865, Mr. Spitzer was married, at Austin, Nevada, to Miss Elizabeth H. Easterday. Mrs. Spitzer is the daughter of Francis and Sarah (Davis) Easterday, who were married October 27, 1842. Her father was born in Carroll County, Kentucky, and her mother in Franklin County, of that State. Mrs. Spitzer's parents had eight children, as follows:‑ William Thomas, born July 27, 1843, married Nannie T. Baird, of Carroll County, Kentucky; Margaret, born May 6, 1846, married Simon S. Higginbotham; Elizabeth Hardin, born August 5, 1848, married Lewis A. Spitzer, July 4, 1865; Lewis, born June 29, 1851, died March 23, 1854; James, born October 20, 1853, died April 10, 1854; Sarah. Frances, born January 16, 1856, married Thomas W. Whitehurst; John Davis, born November 15, 1858; Lucy Ellen, born November 1, 1862, married William T. Blake. The last two children were born in Clinton County, Missouri, and all the others in Carroll County, Kentucky. The old folks are now living seven miles southwest of San Jose, where they have a fine vineyard of fifty-six acres.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis A. Spitzer have had nine children, all born in Santa Clara County, as follows: Mary Ellen, born February 11, 1867, just one day after her father's birthday; Francis Easterday, born August 6, 1868, just one day after his mother's birthday; Maggie Lee, born December 12, 1870 ; Sarah Elizabeth, born September 23, 1872; Charles Henry, born March 21, 1874, died July 17 of same year; Lewis A., born. February 27, 1881; William S., born October 16, 1882, died April 29, 1883; Florence Virginia, born December 8, 1883; Ethel Lorraine, born March 10, 1888. The eldest boy is now upon the ocean, somewhere in European waters; the others who are old enough are attending school or college in San Jose.
Mr. Spitzer had an uncle who left home before he, the subject of this sketch, was born, and who has never been heard from; but there is evidence that the Spitzer of the ill-fated Donner party who died at Breen's cabin in 1846 was this uncle.
Mr. Spitzer is
one of the best products of America and her institutions—a self-made man—one
who, by pluck, perseverance, honesty, and honorable dealings with all men, has
placed himself in the front rank. Whether with him or against him politically,
all are his friends personally, and he is universally considered a diligent,
capable, and trustworthy public officer. He is not a member of any church, but
he is a believer in the Christian religion. He is a member of several fraternal
societies, viz.: Friendship Lodge, No. 210, F. & A. M.; Howard Chapter, No. 14,
R. A. M.; San Jose Commandery, No. 10, Knights Templar; San Jose Chapter, No.
31, O. E. S.; and Enterprise Lodge, No. 17, A O. U. W.
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
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight