BIO- Pen Pictures

            Marcellus Ross, whose fine orchard and handsome residence are situated on Meridian road, between Willows and Carlos Streets, has there sixteen and three-quarters acres planted in fruit-trees, as follows:  500 cherries, 300 apricots, 200 peaches, 150 pears, and a variety of fruits for family use. In order to have strong, healthy trees, capable of sustaining a full load of fruit, he has, until this year, kept them well cut back, so that hereafter he will have large crops of fine marketable fruit.

            Born in Pike County, Illinois, in 1824, he has seen that State develop from an immense void of prairie and timber to the vast empire it now is. Pike County then extended from the mouth of the Illinois River to the far North, including Chicago, and west to the Mississippi River.  He was the first male child born in Pike County.  Educated first in Atlas, and later in Pittsfield, Illinois, he engaged in farming in that neighborhood, in which he continued until he entered the Union army, in August, 1862, when he was commissioned, by Governor Yates, Adjutant of the Ninety-ninth Illinois Infantry.  In this regiment he campaigned in Southwestern Missouri, under General Warren, until his health failed, compelling him to return to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1863, suffering from disability incurred in service, and was there mustered out. He returned to his farm, but was never again capable of the active work of the farm.  He sold out in 1881 and came to California, where he bought his present home, then a wheat-field, planted it immediately in fruit, and has since made the extensive improvements now on the place.

            Married, in 1848, to Miss Martha A. Kellogg, a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  To this union were born eight children, four of whom died in infancy.  Those arriving at maturity were:  Henry J., now living with this father and managing the ranch; Charles K., who died in Washington Territory in 1882; Frank C., now interested in real estate with his father in Tacoma, Washington Territory; Mattie H., now the wife of Benton A. Lewis, of Tacoma, Washington Territory.

            Mr. Ross is, and always has been, an ardent Republican.  Is a charter member of the John A. Dix Post, No. 42, G. A. R., of San Jose.  His parents were Colonel William and Ednah Ross.  The former was born in Monson, Massachusetts, in 1792; enlisted in the War of 1812, and was engaged in the Battle of Sackett’s Harbor, Massachusetts; was an Ensign in the army when he removed to Pike County, Illinois, in 1820; was a Colonel in command of troops in the Black Hawk War; settled at Atlas, Illinois, in 1820; built the first brick house there in 1821; also erected the first store building, the first grist-mill, and a band saw-mill about the same time.  The first wheat raised, ground, and made into biscuit, and the first apples raised in the county, were by Colonel Ross, and the first political and first Masonic meeting were held at his house in Atlas.  He removed to Pittsfield, Illinois, in 1836, where he engaged in mercantile and banking business until his death, in 1872, at the age of eighty-one years.  In 1832 Colonel Ross and his son (Marcellus) went on a visit to Massachusetts.  In returning to Illinois they passed through Michigan, having chartered a coach for four persons, driving from Detroit to what is now St. Joseph, Michigan.  They crossed Lake Michigan by a small steam flat-bottomed boat to Chicago, which was then an Indian station, comprising Fort Dearborn, two small cabins (probably trading stores), and about 500 Indians.  Colonel Ross was a delegate to the convention which nominated Governor Dick Yates the War Governor, at Decatur, Illinois, in 1860, and also delegate to the National Convention which nominated Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, one week later at Chicago.  President Lincoln was an intimate friend of Colonel Ross, often stopping at his house.  Just as Colonel Ross and his son, the subject of this sketch, were walking to the depot, on the way to that convention at Chicago, they saw Mr. Lincoln coming in the same direction, satchel in hand, on his way to his home in Springfield.  Colonel Ross waited until he came up, and said:  “Mr. Lincoln, had you not better go up to Chicago and help us nominate our next President?”  Mr. Lincoln answered:  “My better judgment tells me I had better not.”

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. 409-410

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy


 Bio-Pen Pictures

is the owner of a very pleasant home on the corner of Carlos and Northrup  Streets, at the Willows. He was born in Pike County, Illinois, January 7, 1835. His father, Col. William Ross, was a native of Massachusetts, and one of the earliest settlers of Western Illinois, to which State he removed in. 1818. He served as a volunteer from the State of Massachusetts in the War of 1812-14, and as Colonel of the Illinois Militia in the Black Hawk War. He was one of the first merchants and most prominent men of Pittsfield, Pike County. Being active and enterprising, he had much to do with shaping public opinion and directing public affairs. He served with honor in both Houses of the Illinois Legislature. He died in 1873 at the age of eighty-one years, leaving four children. Marcellus, the eldest, is now a resident of Hamilton District. The second child, William, is the subject of this sketch. Of the two daughters, Mrs. Helen M. Kellogg resides in Dakota, and Anna is the wife of Col. A. C. Matthews, of Pittsfield, Illinois, where they now live. Colonel Matthews was in command of the Ninety-ninth Indiana Volunteers during the Rebellion. He is a man of prominence, and has held several government offices since the war.

William Ross, with his wife and four children, removed from Pike County, Illinois, to Santa Clara County, in 1875. He engaged in business and made his residence in San Jose for six years, taking possession of his home at the Willows in 1881. He bought the property, consisting of twelve acres, during the preceding year, preparing the land for the orchard under his supervision, and planting his trees in 1881. The orchard contains 545 apricot trees, 350 cherry, 110 Bartlett pear, besides peach, prune, and plum trees. It is in splendid condition and full bearing. His fine residence was erected in 1881, and the family took possession of it during the same year. Mr. Ross and his son Marshall own a fruit ranch of thirty acres near Los Gatos, in the San Tomas District.

He is the owner of one of the finest homes in a district where so many fine homes are to be found. A live, energetic man, he is the possessor of the qualities essential to a successful horticulturist. Mr. and Mrs. Ross are the parents of five children, the youngest of whom was born in California. Their names, in the order of their birth, are as follows: Mrs. Edna Sloss, Marshall, Helen, Freddie, and Dwight.

Mr. Ross is a member of the Republican party.


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. 416



SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight