1860 Gilroy Census link

Geography.- The township of Gilroy is bounded on the north by those of New Almaden and Burnett; on the east by Merced county;  on the west by Santa Cruz county.

Topography.- The Gilroy section of Santa Clara valley is a fertile plain, fairly timbered in a park-like fashion, with oak, sycamore, cotton-wood and willow trees, inclosed on the north-east by the Contra Costa range, dividing it from the San Joaquin county, and on the west by the lofty Coast range of mountains.  At either extremity the mountains curve and apparently meet, as if inclosing the valley within their rocky barriers, but even in their narrowest place, the foot-hills are still half a mile apart, while at the southern end the Santa Clara merges into the Pajaro valley.

Streams.- The water outlets of Gilroy township are the Coyote, Las Llagas, Las Uvas, and the Pajaro, with their tributaries, affording no navigable communication, but plenty of sport in the trout and salmon seasons, while several good-sized sheets of water, notably the Soap lake, are covered with wild fowl of all kinds.

Climate.-From the bays of San Francisco and Monterey glide in the sea-breezes, tempering the Summer heats, they themselves being rendered balmier by their travel through the winding gaps and over the woodland vales, losing all their bleakness, yet retaining much of their freshness.  Cold, chilling blasts are never felt, owing ot the  two opposing currents, and even the fogs drop their refreshing moisture pleasantly, having lost their rawness in their mountain climbing.  The sweltering heat often encountered at the depot by railroad travelers, who halt  for their midday meal, has unjustly given  the City of Gilroy a torrid name, but such is only the dictum of the bird of passage, observation, both barmetrical and thermometerical, proving the undoubted salubrity of the township.

Soil.-Nothing can be said in this regard but that nature had been more than usually benign to this favored spot.  The valley is prolific to a degree, being especially adapted to fruit-culture and dairying, while the cereals attain the richest perfection.

Products.- The valley is a district of artesian wells, natural and artificial, the latter ranging in depth from over three hundred to fifty feet, the water thus obtained being in great demand for irrigating and other purposes.  The dairying interest is one of the most important resources of the district, no less than twelve hundred thousand pounds of cheese being annually made.  The most prominent dairymen are Messrs. Rea, Reeve
Brothers, Sargent & Butterfield, Donnelly & Laughlin, Henry Reeve, Bryant, Ellis, Watson, Rowland, Zuck, Dexter, Doan, Eschenberg, Maze, A. Wilson, Davis & Cole, E. A. Davison and Henry Miller, whose dairy upon the Bloomfield ranch is a model institution.  The fruit products, embracing the apples, pears, peaches, plums, berries, and grapes, average about three hundred and fifty tons a year, a portion of which is dried.  Among the principal growers, although nearly every farmer has an orchard,  may be named Messrs. Horace Wilson, Hall, Fine, Hildebrand, Ferguson, Angney, Massey Thomas, Ousley, Francois, Cordiss of Oakland, Chappell, Dryden, Starle, Day, O'Toole, Furlong, Patterson, Miller, Haycock, Trombly, Duncan, Hodges, Rea, and Reeve.  Of these C. Francois manufactures annually in the vicinity of twenty-five thousand gallons of wine and brandy; Horace Wilson produces each year about six thousand gallons of cider and two thousand of vinegar; Mr. Hall has a considerable flock of highly-bred Angora goats; while the immense possessions of Miller & Lux, and of the Sargents, with their almost innumerable cattle, are too well known to need any further description from us.  Tobacco has heretofore been grown in considerable quantities in the district, and is still cultivated with great success by Mr. Culp on the San Felipe farm, in the southern portion of the township.

Timber.-- The redwoods on the east side of the Coast Range provide the district with lumber, posts, poles, pickets, shingles and fire-wood, and beyond this produces enough to cause a by no means small export trade of fifty thousand dollars annually.  The principal part of this business is done by Whithurst & Hodges, who are the principal owners of these timber lands, where they have a saw-mill, erected by Bodfish in the year 1853.  Besides this particular class of timber the county abounds with various other specimens, all having their particular use, either in the fashioning of dwellings or tending to the comfort of one's "ain fireside."

Early Settlement.- Would it were possible to banish grim death, preserve the ancient settler in his pristine vigor, and retain him with his memory unimpaired; were such things possible, then 'twould be an easy task to pen the recollections of the courageous men who were the harbingers of joy and comfort to what is n w a fertile district and a contented people.  Foremost among the alien settlers of California, and first in Santa Clara county , is the name of John GIlroy, the godfather of the township now under consideration.

Such, however, was not the proper name of this pioneer.  HIs name was John Cameron, a native of Inverness-shire, in the north of Scotland, was a member of that famous clan which acknowledged Lochiel as its chieftain, and was born in the year 1794.  In his youth, feeling the restraints of home somewhat keenly, and the curb of filial duty slightly strained, he left the "land of brown heath and shaggy wood," bade farewell to the rocky precipices of Ben Nevis, that grand old mountain, and the bleak, dreary moors of Knoydart, while without leave-taking or sign of any kind, he turned his back upon his home and went forth to fight the battle of life with the plaintive highland wail of "Lochaber No More" mayhap lingering in his ears.  Once removed from hone the roving disposition which had incited him to leave father, mother, brother, sister, urged him into choosing the sea as a profession, and it is in this capacity that we find him on the coast of California, running under the false colors of an assumed name, for he had adopted that of his mother, who was a Gilroy.

There are divers statement current as to how Gilroy came to the State, some averring that he arrived in  a Hudson bay Company's ship, and others that he came in a vessel belonging to the North-west Company.  We are inclined to discredit either of these representations, but place the most implicit reliance on that of Julius Martin, himself a pioneer of 1843, who, besides enjoying the fullest confidence and personal friendship of John Gilroy for years, has many times heard from his own lips the story of flight from home, his assumption of his mother's name,  his landing in California, and his locating in Santa Clara county,. reasons for believing Mr. Martin's story which are indisputable, when joined to the fact that he is a gentleman of much ability, good education and excellent memory.

John Cameron alias arrived at Monterey in or about the year 1813, on one of Her Britannic Majesty's ships, on board of which he was rated as Captain's coxswain.  When on duty at that port receiving an order from subordinate commissioned officer which he failed to carry out, he was reprimanded by the Midshipman, when Gilroy's passion getting the better of his discretion, he struck his superior, thus committing the most unpardonable breach of discipline.  He knew that for this offense there could be no exculpation, therefore arrangements being perfected, he was judiciously entered as sick and with a fellow-sailor sent  ashore to recuperate, and await the turn of affairs.  When in sick quarters he concocted a plan for escape, and took in to his confidence a comrade, who was afterwards known by the name of "Deaf Jimmy."  Leaving the hospital they lay perdu in Monterey for several days, when the vessel sailed without them trusting to find them at some future time.  The "Union Jack" once out of sight, these worthies cast about for employment, and ultimately found their way to the Santa Clara valley, and stopped at the little village of San Ysidro.  Here Gilroy would appear to have fairly established himself.  In 1821 he married a daughter of Igncio Ortega, the owner of the San Ysidro Rancho, and upon his death received a portion of that large tract of valuable land.  Mr. Martin states distinctly that when he arrived in 1843, there were but two owners to the San Ysidro grant, John Gilroy and his brother-in-law Quentin Ortega.  The residence of the former, which has been unfortunately torn down, stood at the corner of the Old Gilroy and SAn Felipe road, near the present residence of Francisco Silveira, in the village of San Ysidro or Old Gilroy; while that of Quentin Ortega occupied a position close to where stands the small frame building of Joseph Gilroy, one of the few living representatives of the old Scotch pioneer, and about a hundred yards from the dwelling of Mr. Crews.  The two houses were not more that fifty yards apart, and midway was drawn the imaginary line bounding the two properties, that lying to the north being owned by Gilroy, and that to the south by Ortega.

John Gilroy was a remarkable man.  In his prime he stood six feet in his stockings, as straight as an arrow, broad in the shoulders, a well-proportioned frame, with a keen eye, wide forehead, and lowering brow.  He was gifted with considerable intelligence, and though not having the advantage of an early scholastic training, became in the days of his manhood an excellent mathematician.  He served for many years as Alcalde of the district in which he resided, and was chosen a Justice of the Peace by Commodore Stockton in the troublous times of 1846, which his long residence among the natives fitted him for; he had, however, one besetting sin; be became an inveterate gamester.  The game of monte was the plague spot on every Spanish family; where strangers could not be found to join in it,  then it was indulged in among the members of their families in their own homes and thus did this stalwart Scot fritter away his lands, his herds, and at last his reputation, to meet his gambling debts, until nothing was left ot him but death.  Towards his last years he was in absolute want. Such was his poverty that he made application to the Society of California Pioneers at San Francisco, February 10, 1865, for assistance, which was refused, it is said on account of his not being a member of that association; but thanks to the British Benevolent society of that city, his old age received that modicum of comfort refused by other institution.  In 1868 he ws bed-ridden from rheumatism; he died in July, 1869, aged about seventy-six years.  The only issue of his loins now alive is a son who resides in San Luis Obispo county, and some grandchildren who are in about the village of San Ysidro, but who have little remembrance of the earliest known settler in California.  Gilroy's hospitality is still gratefully remembered by many a pioneer, and his memory is perpetuated in the thriving city which bears his name.  His comrade of 1813, "Deaf Jimmy," after reaming with him for some time, found his way to Sonoma and died on the rancho of Juan Martin.  What his real name was, whether William Malcomb or Malcolm, as Mr. Lancey says, we cannot say, for neither does Julius Martin, who knew him well, nor any other person whom we have consulted , remember ever having heard his proper cognomen.

The honor of being the first American settler in Gilroy township belongs to Philip Doke, who was a block and tackle maker on board a whaler and left his ship at Monterey.  He came into the valley before the year 1822, and marrying a daughter of Mariano Castro the owner of the Las Animas, settled on the tract now the dairy farm of Henry Miller at Bloomfield.

The third settler was  a Dane named Mathew Fellom.  He landed, from a whaler, in one of the Russian settlements on the coast, either Bodega or Fort Ross, Sonoma county, in the year 1822, and finding his way to the valley in the following year, acquired a portion of the San Ysidro tract and located on the land now occupied by one of his sons , and William N. Furlong.  Mr. Fellom, or Fallon, as his name is usually pronounced died in the year 1873. {Transcribers note-------the names is found transcribed in the 1860 Census as FALLOM-)

It must not be gathered from the foregoing that the strange settlers were by any means isolated.  In those days small villages were formed principally as a protective measure.  Indians were plentiful nd treacherous, wild animals were numerous and bold, therefore the ranchero and his followers built their dwelling within hail of each other, and the cluster of houses received the name of the grant on which it stood, thus was the village of San Ysidro brought in to existence by Ignacio Orgeta, and houses with gardens covering a considerable space, dotted here an there with no particular regard to the laying out of streets nor roads.  besides the immediate retainers of the rancheros, there were those who followed, not so much to labor in their own interest, or toil for their wealthier fellows, but that they loved the dolce far niente mode of living to be found on the haciendas of the rich.  A certain amount of state was maintained, which had been imbibed from the splendor-loving cavaliers of Old Spain; the ranchero seldom moved abroad, but when he did, it was upon a handsomely caparisoned hoe, with attendant out-riders, armed to protect their lord from attack.  The earliest locators brought with them cattle which in the natural sequence of things became roving bands of untamed animals that provided master and servitor with meat, while enough grain was not so much cultivated, as grown, to keep them in food.  Their mode of traveling was entirely on horseback; accommodation there was none; when halting for the night an umbrageious tree was their roof, the valley , at once their stable and pasture, while, when food was required, to slay an ox or kill a deer was the matter of a few moments.  Nearly all of the labor was performed by Indians, the natives of Spanish blood doing little but riding about looking after live-stock.  Fandangos and gambling afforded amusement ot all, while Sunday was the gala day when the inhabitants met each other socially and with unconfined joy, for their habits were simple, their natures hospitable and their tempers even; indeed we are assured that San Ysidro in lost long-ago days was ahead of all other places in California in its conviviality and liberality.

Until 1843 Gilroy was without any acquisition to its foreign strength.  In the month of December in that year came Julius Martin with his wife and three daughters.  He is still a resident of the township.  We deem it a privilege to have the acquaintance of this worthy pioneer, over whose white head have passed so many changes.  Twice ten years ago he was deprive of his sight, but God, as if in recognition of so deep affliction, has blessed Mr. Martin with that rarer faculty, a clear recollection, whereby he can paint in bright word-picutures the scenes which formerly he so keenly watched and so thoroughly enjoyed.  On our visit to Mr. Martin in search of information , it was a pleasure "beyond compare" to watch his face as quick intelligence lighted every feature, as flashing thought almost translated itself upon his eyelids, and happy reminiscence twinkled a the corners of his mouth.  He told us his tale in a pure and concise form, and answered out interrogatories without question or hesitancy.

On his arrival in the township, he found it as we have above described and at once settle din the village of San Ysidro, and occupied himself chiefly in hunting.  That Winter, 1843-4, James Hudspeth, now of Green Valley, Sonoma county, and his partner, Alexander Coleland, were at work in the redwoods near the present city, but left in the month of June following, for Sutter's Fort, therefore they could not be accounted settlers.  Indeed, save the Martin family. there were no permanent locators, until the discovery of  gold brought so many to the coast.  At this period, as may be imagined, there were no industries of any king; most, if not all, of the stores consumed were procured from the adjacent hers, the few fields, the Pueblo of San Jose, and the thriving town of Monterey, the medium of commerce being silver, but more often hides and tallow.  IN 1844, Julius Martin constructed a small horse-power four-mill, with a capacity of about twenty bushels per day, the stones used being still to be seen in Old Gilroy; and in the following year, 1844, Thomas O. Larkin, in conduction with Jose Maria Sanchez, erected a primitive soap factor at the upper end of the Ortega Ranch, about three miles from San Ysidro  The building, which was a frame edifice, stood on the bank of that sheet of water now known as Soap lake, and was in charge of an Englishman, who drive a thriving business while the establishment lasted.  The kettle here used was the old caldron of a whaling vessel, but increased in size by placing long slabs of wood upwards from the edges, with an incline outwards, until the height attained was about eight feet; these were banded together with hoop-iron, and finally built around with adobes, sufficient space being left underneath for a flue.  The necessary ingredients were thrown into the vessel in their natural state-without a semblance of preparation- while the alkali used was the substance called by the Spaniards teguesquite, which was scraped off the adjoining lands, and employed in this preparation.  When solidified, the material was cut into bars, taking to Monterey, and sold to the ships requesting port, the sailors on these prizing it highly on account of its being easily manipulated with sea-water.  In 1848, on the breaking out of the gold fever, this industry died; to-day, there is not a vestige of such an enterprise having been in existence.

A considerable traffic existed at this period between the population to the north and Monterey.  From Sonoma, Sutters' Fort, San Jose, and the Missions, all communication with the Capital was maintained along the main road, and San Ysidro was seldom without the weary wayfarer.  Through there J. W. Marshal passed when on the way  to lay his great discovery before the authorities, and from his own lips did they learn of the finding  of gold in Sutter's mill-race, at Coloma.  On this intelligence, the few settlers went to the mines, and left the little village to take care of itself.  The following years, however, saw them back to their old haunts, but no others came to settle in 1849, though W. R. Bane paid a visit ot the spot in that year.

In 1850, after Julius Martin returned from the mines, he purchased twelve hundred and twenty acres from John Gilroy, for which he paid cash, and on it commenced to build a house, the choice of locality falling on that  portion of it which he now occupies, about a half a mile from Gilroy.  The old house which still stands within the enclosure of of our old pioneer, is thirty by fifty feet, divided into two rooms, the cooking and domestic cork being then carried on in temporary sheds, while it was entirely composed of redwood, cut , rived, split and shaved by Mr. Martin himself.  This was the first frame building in the township.  The first rush of the gold excitement over , we find that stores were opened in in Old Gilroy, in turn, by Claudio Dudit, Barbechon, Harrison & Bruen, Allen & Smith,  and Barnes & Newcomb, while Isaac Hale conducted a hotel.  These establishments, were, of course, not all opened at once  They are thus collectively spoken  of for the simple reason that the dates are unknown.

In the year 1850, James Houck came to the township, and established himself in a shake shanty, within what are now the city limits of Gilroy, and not long after, Lucien Everett arrived, when a partnership was entered into between himself and Houck.  These were followed in 1851 by Lawrence O'Toole,  James Fitzgerald, John S. Fitzgerald, and M. T. Holsclaw, who states that he not only built the first blacksmith's shop, but sowed the first grain in the district.  In 1852, John Eigleberry came to settle; he died in 1880, highly esteemed and respected.  In the next year we have the names of Jacob Reither, Thomas Rea, David Holloway, David Wood, David Zuck and family, WIlliam Fitzgerald, T. R. Thomas, Horace Wilson, Alfred Chappell, J. Q. Patton, George Anson, Massey Thomas, P. Fitzgerald, Eli Reynolds, Dempsey Jackson, and others, whose names we have been unable to obtain.  In 1854, we have Uriah Wood, W. Z. Angney, deceased, S. M.. Ousley, deceased, J. Donelly, Daniel C Day.  In 1855, among the settlers were:  Hugh S. Jones, Asa Fergusson, deceased, M. R. Fergusson, Perry Dowdy, and J. H. Ellis; in 1856, there locatred , with others, Christttian Wentz, S. P. FIne, J. H. Duncan, George Waston, Joseph Rice, Albert Wilson, J. Doan; in  1857, James Dunn, and H. Crews came to the township' on 1858; there arrived W. N. Furlong, J. D. Culp, J S. Rucker, Rodney Eschengurg, and P. B. Tully; in 1859, Dur Huber, S. M. Maze, David H. Neel and Samuel Rea and in t 1860 WIlliam Hanna, Peter Donnelly, and Alexander Watson.

The foregoing names are by no means thosse of all the settlers who located in Gilroy township up to 1860. Such a task ia an impossibility, their names are not all now remembered, and their habitations have ceased to be; we trust, that as far as we have gone, reclollections may be spurred in to reminiscense and some old friends be lifted from oblivion.

Before closing this portion of the history of Gilroy it should be mentioned that a description of the charming Hot Springs will be found on page 41 of this volume.

We have thus far dwelt upon the settlement of the district as a township.  It now becomes our duty to draw the attention of the reader to the  leading colies within:  we will , therefore, sketch briefly the histories, so far as we have been able to gather them of the village of San Ysidro, or Old Gilroy, the city of Gilroy, and the hamlet of San Felipe.

The remaining portions of this transcribed  history, when completed, will be placed on their own individiual community site pages
See San Ysidro or Old Gilroy

transcribed by C Feroben

History of Santa Clara County, California : including its geography, geology, topography, climatography and description : together with a record of the Mexican grants, its mines and natural springs, the early history and settlements, compiled from the most authentic sources, the names of original Spanish and American pioneers, full legislative history of the county, separate histories of each township, showing the advance in population and agriculture : also, incidents of public life, the Mexican War, and biographical sketches of early and prominent settlers and representative men, and of its cities, towns, churches, colleges, secret societies, etc., etc.
San Francisco: Alley, Bowen & Co., 1881, 878 pgs. Pages 271-278