Early Settlers of California

 Bio-Pen Pictures

residing on Saratoga Avenue, three miles from Santa Clara, in the Moreland District, has been identified with Santa Clara County since 1853. He was born in Marion County, Indiana, in 1826, and is the son of John and Ruth Gruwell. When a babe, his parents removed with their family to Quincy, Illinois, and thence, in 1837, to Farmington, Van Buren County, Iowa. There the home was established and retained for several years.

        Melvin L. was the youngest of a family of nine children, five boys and four girls. Of this large family, three sons and two daughters are now living. Jacob, who is a minister in the Southern Methodist Church, lives at East San Jose; Laban H. is a resident of Contra Costa County; Mrs. Melinda Williams, a widow, lives in Los Angeles; Mrs. Avis Garrigus makes her home in Santa Clara; and the fifth is the subject of our sketch. The deceased are: Asa, who died in Meridian District, in this county; Robert, who died in the Hamilton District; Mrs. Lydia Harding, who died in Alameda County; and Mrs. Jemima Houghton, who died in San Jose. In 1849 the eldest brothers, Asa, Robert, and Jacob, came with their families overland to this State, and all spent the first winter in Los Angeles. Asa settled in Stanislaus County, leaving it to come to this county in 1861. Robert went to the mines at Rough and Ready, and, after remaining there less than two years, became a pioneer of Santa Clara Valley. Jacob first made Stockton his home, but settled in this county in 1851. Mr. and Mrs. Garrigus came by way of the Isthmus in 1851.

        Melvin L., whose name heads this sketch, with his brother, Laban H., and their father (his mother died in Iowa in 1847), in 1852 followed the older brothers, coming to the State overland. He was also accompanied by his sister, Melinda and Lydia, with their husbands. The last one of the family to settle in the Golden State was Mrs. Houghton, who, with her husband and children, came overland in 1859. The year following his arrival, Melvin L. Gruwell spent in the mines at Sonora, and in 1853 he came to this county and took possession of his present home. Soon after his father died, November 25, 1853, at the ripe age of eighty-one years.        

        Mr. Gruwell has now lived in the Moreland District thirty-five years, and owns 112 acres. His original purchase contained 178 acres, of which he sold a portion in 1887. The difficulties of obtaining a title were great. His first purchase was of a squatter right, but he was afterward obliged to buy out several claimants, who claimed the land under other grants. The ranch was formerly devoted entirely to general farming, but now about thirty acres are in orchard and vineyard.

On the twenty-ninth of March, 1855, Mr. Gruwell wedded Miss Sarah Jane Wear, who was born in Jackson County, Missouri. With her parents, William W. and Thurza Wear, she crossed the plains and mountains to this State in 1852, settling near Mountain View, of this county. Here both of her parents died, the mother about 1869 and the father in September, 1885. Mr. and Mrs. Gruwell have ten children: Ruth E., the wife of Eben Vandine, of this county; Martha Ann and Lydia J., at home; William W., of Lake County, this State; Arthur J., of San Jose; Charles Lee, Thurza W., Lawrence C (Bio Below), Kate, and Lulu, all at their parents' home.

        In politics Mr. Gruwell is affiliated with the Democratic party. He is a member of the ancient and honorable order of Masons. A long and useful career in Santa Clara County has won for Mr. Gruwell the well-deserved respect of his fellow-citizens, as good management and industry have won prosperity in business.

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.
Pg. 566-567


An enterprising, experienced and progressive horticulturist whose success in helping to advance the state of California horticulture and agriculture has stimulated others to renewed and great efforts is Lawrence C. Gruwell, who enjoys the esteem and fidelity of a large circle of admiring friends. He was born on the old Melvin Gruwell Ranch on Saratoga Avenue April 8, 1867, the son of Melvin L. and Sarah (Wear) Gruwell, natives of Indiana and Missouri, respectively. Melvin Gruwell, who was born in 182.6, was a merchant in Indiana until he crossed the plains to California in 1852 and located in Santa Clara County. With a partner, Benj. Stinson, he owned a 172-acre farm where he resided until his death, in 1910; his wife surviving him one year.

Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Gru well were the parents of nine children: William, deceased; Arthur J , deceased; Charles Lee, a horticulturist here; Martha A , who is in partnership with our subject; Lydia became the wife of Jacob Breitenstein, also of this vicinity; Lawrence C., the subject of this sketch; Theresa, Mrs. Vanderpeer of Oakland; Kate, the widow of Jas. Hemphill, resides with her mother and sister on the farm; Lou became the wife of Joseph Hemphill, and resides at Roselawn. Melvin Gruwell was a very successful man and everyone spoke of him in terms of warm regard. He was an adherent of the Democratic party and in religious faith was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He had been a member of the Masonic lodge for sixty-three years, when he passed away at the age of eighty-four.

Lawrence Gruwell received his education in the public schools in his neighborhood. He assisted his lather on the farm from the time he was a lad of ten years and when he became a man and started in as a farmer and has continued in that line, now operating a farm of fifty-four acres which belongs to him and his two sisters. He has brought it to a high degree of productiveness, having set it to prunes and apricots, operating it with a tractor and most modern implements. They have substantial farm buildings, including a drying plant. Mr. Gruwell is an independent in his political views, voting with the party that best expresses his convictions. He was made a Mason in Liberty Lodge No. 299, F. & A. M., Santa Clara. He is also a member of the Improved Order of Redmen.
From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1481


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight