SURNAMES: ELLIS, COOK, WOLF, HEMMENWAY, POHLMAN,
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.