William Warren, son of John and Mary Leonard (Wilson) Warren, was born in Ayrshire, Scotland, November 15, 1830. William was baptized and reared in the Episcopal Church and came to America with his parents when six years old. They settled in New York for a while and then removed to Fall River, Massachusetts, where his parents died. William lived at home till fifteen years of age, when he went to sea, shipping as a common sailor in a trading ship bound for the coast of Africa. He followed the sea till 1856. When twenty-one or twenty-two years of age he took command of a vessel trading in the South Pacific Seas. In 1856 he settled in Japan and went into commercial business, buying and selling teas, silks, and other products of Japan. Owing to the scarcity and monopoly of vessels, he bought his own vessels and ran them for several years. When the first concessions were made with foreigners after the Revolution in Japan in 1859, Mr. Warren built the first European house in Nagasaki, and was doing business up to the time the first Pacific mail steamer left Japan in April, 1867, when he took passage on this steamer, Colorado, Captain Bradbury commanding, and returned home to Massachusetts and was married, in Warren, Rhode Island, to the youngest daughter of Captain Martin, an old sea captain. In September, 1867, he returned to Japan in the steamer China, the first trip made there by this vessel, and arrived in Yokohama, November 6, 1867, where he remained two months.
When Hiogo opened to the commercial trade of the world, Mr. Warren was one of the first Americans to engage in business there. He opened a branch house, doing a general commercial business. He also acted as agent for the Japanese, who owned large coal mines, in supplying ships, etc. He built the first European house in Hiogo on the foreign concession. His wife was the first American lady who settled in Hiogo. They had a son, Harry L., born there August 15, 1868, and was the first child born there of American parents. Mr. Warren closed his business in 1870, and in March of that year took passage for home and arrived in Rhode Island with his wife and child in May. In 1876 he began the manufacture of wadding, under the firm name of Textile Wadding Company, of which he was the owner and manager. He carried on the business till some time in 1882, when the factory was burned down. Although it was partly covered with insurance, Mr. Warren met with a heavy loss. In 1883 he removed to California and bought his present ranch of 120 acres near Saratoga, where he has since resided. They have a family of three children: Harry, before alluded to, Florence A., and William, Jr. Mr. Warren has thirty-five acres in vines, and fifty-five acres in prunes, peaches, and plums, all choice varieties. He is the first man in this locality who began to grade fruit and classify it to make a commercial commodity of it. His brand of prunes, called the “Warren Brand,” is used by leading grocers of San Francisco, and for choice varieties are taking the place of the foreign article. He has been very successful as a packer, and has an evaporating establishment and conveniences for putting up fruit. His agents, Field & Stone, of 126 California Street, ship all his fruit that can be spared to Cleveland and other Eastern cities.
While living in
Hiogo, Japan, the first Masonic lodge organized there was in Mr. Warren’s
dining-room, he being a Mason. This now is a large and powerful lodge, and is
named the Hiogo and Osaka Lodge.
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 Kathy Sedler
Proofread by Betty Vickroy
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