founder and Superintendent of the Garden City Mill and Lumber Company, settled in San Jose in the spring of 1875, and started in the planing mill and lumber business, establishing, in company with others, the Independent Mill and Lumber Company, with a capital stock of $50,000. The mill and yard were located on North San Pedro Street. Mr. Gillespie was chosen President and Superintendent. The business was successful from the start, and grew rapidly in volume.
At the end of three years a proposition was made by outside parties to increase the number of stockholders, and the capital stock, to meet the necessities of the growing business. Negotiations were entered into, which resulted in bringing three new men and the required money. Immediately upon the completion of this arrangement a series of manipulations were begun by these new stockholders, which terminated in freezing out Mr. Gillepsie and the originators of the enterprise, leaving them without a dollar of stock or moneyed interest, and a total loss of capital put in, which, in Mr. Gillespie's case, was $5,000, thus sweeping away his entire property and forcing him into bankruptcy in 1879. But not being of those who surrender to reverses or pause at difficulties, Mr. Gillespie at once set about retrieving his fortune, with no capital but a determined will, a good business head, willing hands, and an enviable reputation for honesty in dealing. But he did not fight single-handed with adversity, for his wife and daughters came to the rescue, and turned their hands to whatever honorable employment offered to help earn a living for the family. After a severe struggle friends came unsolicited to his aid, with offers of money and credit. By these helps he was enabled to start another small planing-mill on North San Pedro Street, taking as a partner H. W. Kate, their combined cash capital being $700. The business was so prosperous that before the end of the first year Mr. Gillespie bought out his partner, paying him $700 for his interest. In 1880 Mr. Gillespie leased the lot on which the Garden City Mill now stands, corner of Orchard and El Dorado Streets, and through the voluntary assistance of business acquaintances, in money and credit tendered, he proceeded to greatly enlarge the capacity of his mill.
From this change of base dates a career almost phenomenal in business success, under Mr. Gillespie's enterprising management. Each year witnessed a large increase, and a demand for a corresponding enlargement of facilities, until the mill and work-shops now cover an area of 150x200 feet, besides storehouses and office. The mill is thoroughly furnished with the best improved wood-working machinery, and everything used in house finishing is manufactured,—sash, doors, blinds, screens, mouldings, etc.,—of the finest workmanship and material. In 1884 Mr. Gillespie gave Mr. Saph a one-third interest in the business, requiring no cash investment, and paying him $100 a month for his labor. In a little over three years the partnership terminated by Mr. Gillespie purchasing Mr. Saph's interest, paying for it $4,000 in cash.
Immediately after, in February, 1888, Mr. Gillespie began arranging for the formation of a joint-stock company, which was consummated on March 1, 1888, with a capital stock of $100,000. He was made superintendent and manager of the business, and with his characteristic energy looks after every department, making contracts and collections, purchasing stock, and supervising the mill work, in which are employed twenty-five skilled workmen.
The subject of this memoir was born in Brown County, Ohio, fifty-three years ago. His father being an intemperate man, his seven boys were compelled to support themselves and the rest of the family from a very early age; hence Mr. Gillespie never attended school but ten days in his life, and did not learn to read or write till after he was twenty-one years of age. In 1856 he went West and located in Indianola, Warren County, Iowa, and there engaged in the coopering business, having learned the trade in Ohio. He carried it on a number of years successfully. While there he was the prime mover in organizing the First National Bank of Indianola.
On February 11,
1857, the subject of this sketch was married to Miss Nancy Peck, a native of
Greencastle, Indiana, daughter of John and Sally Peck. Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie
have a family of five children. Besides several houses and lots in San Jose, Mr.
Gillespie owns a fine fruit ranch near Los Gatos, with thirty acres of bearing
fruit-trees and vines.
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 The Valley of Heart's Delight