The Valley of Heart's Delight




Occupying a position of distinguished preferment as a representative of the bar of San Jose and a prominent figure in the public life of the state, Richard Felix Robertson has attempted important things and accomplished what he has attempted. He is a man of unusual mental versatility and in every sphere of life in which he has acted he has left an indelible impress through his ability and tireless energy, which never falls short of the successful accomplishment of its purpose. He is of Scotch descent, the ancestry in the paternal line being traced back to the Robertson family of Perth, Scotland, who emigrated to Virginia and were contemporaries of Daniel Boone in the settlement of Kentucky. In the maternal line he is a direct descendant of Dr. Manuel Hedeza, who was a surgeon in the army of Spain and went to Mexico while that country was still under Spanish rule.

Richard F. Robertson was born in Mazatlan, Mexico, October 12, 1863, a son of Richard Lew Robertson, who served as United States consul at that city from October, 1861, until March, 1864. He married Canuta Hedeza, who was born in Culiacan, Mexico.

 In the public schools of San Francisco, Cal., their son, Richard F. Robertson, pursued his education and he was later graduated from the Kent College of Law of that city. He started out in life as a messenger boy, working for the American district Telegraph Company from 1879 until 1881, when he resigned his position to accept employment in the ticket office of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad company. Following the amalgamation of this road with the three others running parallel to it, and the consequent reduction in the number of employees, he entered the service of the Southern Pacific, acting as interpreter and translator of Spanish, and also working in the construction department. On November 1, 1883, he went to visit his people, who were then residing in Los Gatos, Cal., and being favorably impressed with the place, he decided to make it his home, accepting a position with the Southern Pacific Railroad, with which he remained until April, 1884. He was the first to suggest to that company the advisability of the Mayfield cut-off, thereby decreasing the railroad distance of twelve miles to Los Gatos and to Santa Cruz, and this also gave railroad service to a section which had been built up, but with no adequate railroad facilities.

In April, 1884, Mr. Robertson engaged in the hotel business in partnership with his stepfather, A. Berryman, and in April, 1887, they sold out to the late Charles W. Holden. Later they secured from Harvey Wilcox the lease of the corner upon which now stands the First National Bank in Los Gatos and acquired the insurance agency of the old and well-known firm of Proctor & Trailer, which Mr. Wilcox was at that time conducting. They operated the business under the firm name of Berryman & Robertson until 1903, when they disposed of the enterprise to Milligan Brothers & Company. In 1885 Mr. Robertson's initiative spirit led him to become one of the founders and constructors of the Los Gatos Gas Works, and in 1889 he became one of the organizers of the Commercial Bank of Los Gatos, and also of the Los Gatos Building & Loan Association. In the same year he planned the Los Gatos Cemetery and for twelve years was its secretary and superintendent.

In 1895 Mr. Robertson took up the study of law and was admitted to practice in 1898. He became one of the organizers of the League of California Municipalities and for seven years was a member of the committee on judiciary. He aided in drafting and proposing laws to the legislature concerning the government of cities and acted in an advisory capacity to the committee on law of the Assemby and committee of jurisprudence of the Senate. He likewise drafted the articles for the incorporation of the city of Mayfield. In 1903 he opened an office in the Auzerais Building, where he remained until the erection of the First National Bank Building, when he established his office there. In 1915, following the death of Mrs. Robertson, he became a resident of San Jose, where he has since follwed his profession, and the list of his clients is now an extensive one. His legal learning, his analytical mind, the readiness with which he grasps the points in argument, all combine to make him one of the most capable lawyers who has ever practiced in Santa Clara County and the public and the profession acknowledge him the peer of the ablest representatives of the bar of this city. From 1898 until 1905 he served as city attorney of Los Gatos, making a most creditable record in that office.

A t Los Gatos, on January 5, 1887, Mr. Robertson was united in marriage to Miss Cassie Shannon, a daughter of Thomas and Amanda (Blackford) Shannon. Her father was one of the original party of Jayhawkers, coming to California through Death Valley in 1849. Four children were born of this union, two of whom survivie; Wilfred F. Robertson married Edith M. Shephard, of San Jose, and they reside at Sacramento, Cal. During the World War he enlisted in the U. S. Navy and rose to the rank of yeoman. Ynez Amanda married Justus Verne Cook, of Oakland. Mr. Cook also served in the Navy as chief yeoman.

Mr. Robertson is a member of Trinity Episcopal Church of San Jose, and fraternally he is identified with the Elks, belonging to San Jose Lodge, No. 522. He is also connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, being a past noble grand of Ridgely Lodge, No. 294, of Los Gatos, and he has also held office in the Knights of Pythias, being a past chancellor of Los Gatos Lodge, No. 175, now consolidated with San Jose Lodge, No. 47, in which he still maintains his membership. He is likewise a prominent Mason, belonging to Los Gatos Lodge, No. 292, F. & A. M., of which he is a past master; Howard Chapter, No. 294, of Los Gatos, and he has also held office in the Knights of Pythias, being a past chancellor of Los Gatos Lodge, No. 175, now consolidated with San Jose Lodge, No. 47, in which he still maintains his membership. He is likewise a prominent Mason, belonging to Los Gatos Lodge, No. 292, F. & A. M., of which he is a past master; Howard Chapter, No. 14, R. A. M.; San Jose Council No. 20, R. & S. M.; San Jose Commandery, No. 10, K. T. He is a stanch Republican in his political views and a leader in the ranks of the party. He has several times served as a delegate to the county Republican conventions, of which he once acted as secretary, and in 1896 was secretary of the McKinley League of Los Gatos.

Mr. Robertson is also a veteran of the World War and his military record is one of which he may well feel proud. On August 5, 1917, he enlisted in the One Hundred and Forty-fourth Field Artillery, which became known as the "Grizzlies," and in November, 1917, was transferred to the One Hundred and Fifty-ninth Infantry. In January, 1918, he received orders from Washington, D. C., to assist in forming the First Army Headquarters Regiment, a requirement of the Government being that its members should be able to converse in French and other continental lanuages, as from its ranks men were to be selected to act as military police, in charge of areas in France under American jurisdiction. Mr. Robertson was one of the first four men selected to open up the secret service office in Paris under command of the provost-marshal. He was also at headquarters in Tours for nine months, and during his service abroad was sent as confidential representative of the Government to various places in France and Spain. He served under General Connor and Brigadier-General Bandholtz. On November 30, 1919, the Paris office was closed and on December 21 he returned to the United states, receiving his discharge at New York City, February 28, 1920.

His life has been one of intense activity, intelligently directed into those channels through which flows the greatest good to the greastest number, and his efforts have brought him a measure of success that is most desirable and have also proven of benefit to his fellowmen in many fields. The nature and magnitude of his work in public and private connections have constituted a factor in California's promotion, power and prominence and he stands as a high type of American manhood and citizenship.

Transcribed by Marie Clayton, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California,
 published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 560