A native of England, whose early days were spent in his native country of Cornwall, John Tonkin was born at St. Just on October 28, 1860.  His parents were Charles and Elizabeth (Ellis) Tonkin, and in the early days the father left his family and their Cornish home in 1862 and came to the United States, settling in Santa Clara County, where he worked in the New Almaden Mines.  Later he returned to his native land and passed away there.  Mrs. Tonkin subsequently came to California, where three of her sons had preceded her, and her death occurred at the mines, where the boys were employed.  She was the mother of four sons: Charles lives in San Jose, William died in that city; Thomas is also of San Jose and John, the youngest is the subject of this sketch.  He received a good education in the public schools at St. Just until the age of sixteen when he and his mother came to New Almaden, Cal. , where three of this brothers lived. He began working as a stationary engineer in the New Almaden mines running the hoists, continuing in that capacity for about fifteen years when he went to Tuolumne County and for two years was busy in the same line of work there, but on returning to San Jose he worked with Mr. Rich laying track  for the street railway then being constructed in San Jose. In 1896 he purchased his present ranch of thirty acres on the Los Gatos-Almaden Road, and this has since been his home.  It is all set out to prunes and has become a well-improved property.
Mr. Tonkin's marriage united him with Miss Elizabeth Cook, born in Keokuk, Iowa, the daughter of August and Dorothea (Wolf) Cook, who brought their family of two children, via the Isthmus of Panama, to Sacramento, Cal. where Mr. Wolf was car inspector for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company for many years until his death, December 23, 1887, his widow surviving him until May 11, 1892.  They were the parents of five children, three of whom grew up.   Christina is the widow of William Tonkin, residing in Union district; Elizabeth, Mrs. John Tonkin, deceased; Amelia, Mrs. Hemmenway, died in Sacramento.
Mr. Tonkin was bereaved of his faithful wife in January, 1901, when she passed away, leaving him two children; Raymond enlisted in the World War December, 1917, serving in Battery D, three Hundred Forty-fouth U. S. Field Artillery, and was sent overseas, sailing for La Havre, France, July 4, 1918,l serving on foreign soil for nearly eleven months, returning to Camp Jackson, South Carolina, in June, 1919, and thence to the Presidio, San Francisco, where he was mustered out after nineteen months service.  He was married in 1920 to Augusta Polhman, born in Medford, Ore., and he assists his father on the home ranch; Gladys presides gracefully over her father's home.  Nonpatisan in his views when local political matters are concered, Mr. Tonkin takes deep interest in the country's progress.  He is a member of the Prune & Apricot Assocation and fraternally he is affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and the Sons of St. George.

transcribed by C feroben from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page  1343