Woolsey J. Shaw was born in Montgomery County, New York, October 17, 1809. His father, John Shaw, was a native of New Jersey, and his mother, Joan (Woolsey) Shaw, of New York. His father was a blacksmith, to which calling Mr. Shaw was reared, and he also, in his young manhood, had considerable experience in farm labor. His education was limited to the common schools of that date. At the age of twenty-two years he went to Lake County, Ohio, and worked for his uncle in the manufacture of axes and farming implements. He continued this occupation until 1832, when he returned home and accompanied his father and family to Perry, Lake County, Ohio, at which place, in connection with his father, he established a blacksmith shop. In 1835 he married Miss Phebe Ann Bartrom, the daughter of Levi Bartrom, of Lake County, Ohio.
In 1844 he retired from his blacksmithing, purchased a farm, and commenced his career as a farmer. After two years of farm life he engaged in boating on the Ohio Canal, and freighting on Lake Erie. In 1846 he removed to a farm on the Fox River, near Chicago. He erected a blacksmith shop upon his farm, and for the next four years was engaged as a farmer and blacksmith. In May, 1850, he started overland for California. His trip across the plains was devoid of particular incidents until he reached the "sink of the Humboldt," where he lost his horses, and was compelled to walk for over three hundred miles to his destination. Arriving in Placerville, El Dorado County, July 4, 1850, he entered into mining, an occupation which he followed at this point and on the north fork of the Feather River until the next year. He then returned East by the Panama route and remained with his family until 1852. In the spring of that year he started across the plains accompanied by his family, arriving in California that fall. In the spring of 1853 he came to Santa Clara County and located in the Berryessa District, on the Penetencia Creek, taking up one hundred and sixty acres of government land. He commenced its cultivation and improvement, and also followed the occupation of blacksmith at this place. Other claimants sprang up and contested his claims, but after a long course of litigation he secured his title.
In 1858 he purchased the Alum Rock Ranch, containing 736 acres. The famous Alum Rock Springs were upon this ranch. In 1865 Mr. Shaw built a hotel at the Springs, which is still standing. While owning this land Mr. Shaw was largely engaged in stock-raising and the dairy business. He also owned three hundred acres of land on Kings River, Tulare County, which he stocked with cattle. In 1874 he closed up most of his business in Santa Clara County, and moved to Fresno County, where he was extensively engaged as a stock-raiser until 1881, when he returned to Santa Clara County and took up his residence upon forty acres of his old homestead, in the Berryessa School District, where he has since lived. This land is in orchard, and is in a high state of cultivation, showing great care on the part of Mr. Shaw. Among the trees of this orchard are one thousand five hundred Silver and French prunes, nine hundred peaches, five hundred apricots, one hundred and fifty plums, and a variety of nearly all the fruits grown in this county. The land is so situated that it can be irrigated from the Penetencia Creek during the rainy season. Mr. Shaw is now (1888) in his eightieth year, and, despite his long and laborious life, is hale and hearty. His mental faculties are unimpaired, and his memory is stored with a rich fund of reminiscences of early life in California. He has been a member of the Methodist Church for nearly sixty years, and has all his life been a strong advocate of schools and churches. In politics he has been a strong Republican, but at present is a Prohibitionist. Of the seven children born to them, six are living, namely: Adelia, wife of George Frizier, of Los Angeles; Henry H., who married Miss Lizzie Valpey and live in Alameda County; Matilda, wife of Henry H. Wing, of Oakland; Henrietta, wife of J. Maulsbary, of Fresno County; Levi, who married Miss Nathan and lives in San Benito County; and Laverne, wife of Henry White, of Napa County.
SOURCE: 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.Transcribed by Carol Lackey- pages 240
SANTA CLARA COUNTY BIOGRAPHY PROJECT
SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight