The Valley of Heart's Delight



It is interesting to chronicle the life of the pioneer, the man who in his prime entered the wilderness and claimed the virgin soil as his heritage, and by braving the perils and hardships began the improving of the land, so that is it possible for the later gereation to enjoy the case and comfort of the present-day civilization, wrought by the hand of those pioneer ancestors. Rapidly these grand old men are passing away, and among the very few remaining of the early settlers of Santa Clara County is Marshall Pomeroy, a representative of the Pomeroy family, whose entrance into California history dates back to 1849, when Warren Pomeroy, the father of our subject, landed at San Francisco, having come hither via the Isthmus of Panama in the early rush to the gold mines.

Warren Pomeroy was born in Somers, Conn., in 1801 and was of English descent, the family being traced back to Pomeroy Castle, in England, and they were among the early settlers of New England. Mr. Pomeroy married Lucetta Wardwell, also a native of Somers. He was engaged in the marble business and had built it up to a successful basis when the news of the gold discovery in California went abroad, and leaving the business in charge of his sons, he made haste to reach the new El Dorado. On arriving in San Francisco he at once made his way to the mines and for several years sought the elusive golden treasure, but finally chose agriculture as a surer way to fortune, locating in Santa Clara County, where he did much pioneer agricultural work. He made three trips back to his old home, bringing his wife and the remaining children out in 1859, three sons having already come to California. In 1865 he moved to San Jose, which was from that time his permanent home. He retired from active business some time before his death, which occurred in 1891, his wife having preceded him some years before.

This worthy couple had nine children, of whom Marshall was the next to the youngest. He was born at Somers, Conn., February 10, 1835, and received his education in the public schools, also attending the advanced or select school at Somers, where he was reared until the days of his young manhood in the environment of a typical New England home. After his school days were over he clerked for a time in Springfield, Mass., and then in New Britain, Conn., but the confinement did not agree with him and he decided to come to California and see the country whose possiblities his father never tired of lauding.

Leaving New York in March, 1858, on the steamer St. Louis for aspinwall, he crossed the Isthmus to Panama City and took the steamer John L. Stevens
for San Francisco, and in the month of April arrived in Santa Clara County. He went to work on his father's farm, but he found everything new and wild and quite different from the East, so much so that he was taken with a severe feeling of homesickness and resolved that when he had saved up enough money to pay his way back East, he would return home. Before he could do this, however, he received word that his mother was coming out, bringing the rest of the family. On their arrival, his old longing for the east left him and he soon imbibed that liking for the West that has held so many thousands. Thus he came to feel the same as his father had expressed it--that New England was a good place to emigrate from and that California was a good place to go to. During the first few years he made trips up and down the Coast, but after investigation he concluded that he could not find any place superior to Santa Clara County, and he has never regretted casting his lot here. During the Civil War he was a member of the Alviso rifles, but was never called out. After farming with his father for some years he purchased 180 acres at Milpitas, where he raised grain and stock.

In May, 1867, Mr. Pomeroy was united in marriage with Miss Ella French, who was born in Michigan in 1850 and came with her parents across the plains in an ox-team train in 1852. Her father, Alfred French, for a time followed mining and then settled in Sacramento County, where he served as a member of the State Legislature. After this he resided for a time in San Francisco, and then located at Milpitas and it was here that the young people met. Mr. and Mrs. Pomeroy continued farming at Milpitas until 1875, when they removed to San Jose. Mr. Pomeroy having been appointed a deputy sheriff under Nick Harris, serving the term of four years. He then concluded it was best to return to ranch life, where his children could have the benefit of the great outdoors, so he bought 208 acres two miles west of Santa Clara on the San Francisco road and went in for raising hay, grain and stock. When his boys grew up they induced him to set out an orchard, and with their help he set out 120 acres of trees, 100 acres being in prunes and the balance in apricots. He also installed a pumping plant for irrigating the ranch, and built drying and packing houses, until he had one of the best improved places in the valley. His sons having grown up, and some of them married, he turned the netire management of the place over to them and in 1900 purchased the residence at 429 North Third Street, San Jose, where he has since made his home. The holdings are incorporated as the Pomeroy Orchard Company, of which he is president and Irwin E. Pomeroy, manager.

Mr. Pomeroy was bereaved of his faithful life companion Septemeber 3, 1917. She was a woman of much culture, making the home attractive and carefully looking after the rearing and education of her children, as well as assisting and encouraging her husband in his ambitions. Her passing away was deeply mourned by her family and large circle of friends. She left five children; Irwin E, is manager of the Pomeroy Orchard Company and chairman of the board of trustees of the California Prune & Apricot Growers, Inc.; Clarence is assisting in the management of the Pomeroy ranch; Mrs. Delia Surface presides gracefully over her father's home, giving him her loving care and looking after his welfare; Warren and Clovis are proprietors of Pomeroy Bros., large clothing merchants in San Jose. Mr. Pomeroy also has five grandchildren to gladden his life and of whom he is very fond.

Prominent in the ranks of the Odd Fellows, Mr. Pomeroy has been a member of Garden City Lodge for more than forty years. He cast his first vote with the Whig party and since the formation of the Republican party he has been a stanch adherent and exponent of its platforms. Mr. Pomeroy is now one of the few remaining of the very old settlers of Santa Clara County. He recalls the times, some fifty years ago, when he knew almost every man in the county and the great times they had at the conventions, where every one called each other by their first names. He marvels at the wonderful growth of the county, which has greatly exceeded his expectations.

The population has become so large that when he walks down San Jose's main streets there appears to be all new faces, for he rarely meets any of his old friends of those early and interestin days, when they began making those improvements that have made the county one of the most prosperous in the state. He can well exclaim, "All of which I saw and part of which I was." (Since this was written, Marshall Pomeroy passed away on November 30, 1921, mourned by his family and many friends.)

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,  published by Historic Record Co. , 1922  page 534