WILLIAM DANFORTH PERINE
William Danforth Perine, manufacturer of artificial stone and pavement, Oakland, was born in Washington county, New York, May 20, 1826, a son of John and Hannah (Billings)Perine. The Perines are believed to be of Huguenot descent, the ancestors first taking refuge in Holland, whence they afterward came to New Netherlands (New York). Grandfather Pierre Perine and his Holland Dutch wife came to America and settled in New Jersey, and afterward in Washington county, New York. John Perine, the father of our subject, was probably a native of Washington county, was a blacksmith and farmer, and lived to the age of sixty-three, dying in 1848. The mother, of New England descent, lived to be eighty-two years of age, dying about 1883. There were five sons and two daughters, of whom three sons and one daughter are living, the oldest, Mary Perine, being now seventy-eight.
At the age of eleven years young Perine began to help on his father's farm, attending school during the winter season. At twenty-one he became foreman of construction on the Hudson River railroad, and then, in 1849, on the Cleveland & Pittsburg railroad; then the Troy & Boston; then the Great Western in Canada, until 1852. All this while he was under his older brother, the contractor, Nicholas Perine, now of Fruitvale, except when he was on the Hudson River road.
In 1852 Mr. Perine introduced the raising and manufacture of flax in Waterloo county, Canada (now Ontario), erecting scutching mills on Doon river. His older brothers, in order of birth, were Billings, Melanchthon, Joseph and Nicholas. Mary was the oldest of all the children, and Catherine the youngest, who died about the age of forty-five. The product of Mr. Perine's culture and manufacture was used after the close of the war for the making of twine and cordage. The brother, Billings, is still engaged in this industry.
In 1868 our subject came to California, and raised the first flax in San Luis Obispo county, on the Rio Grande, realizing a fair crop. Subsequently he raised also the first flax at Half-Moon bay, in San Mateo county - about 1,000 acres; was there three years; was next in Amador valley, in Alameda county, raising wheat, three years; next, for three years, 1873-6, at Napa, making artificial stone for the State Insane Asylum at that place, and then for a short time engaged for the Government at Benicia in similar work. Since 1876 he has been engaged in this industry on his own account, making a specialty of sidewalks, having laid more in Oakland than has anyone else. He had a nine-year's contest with the California Artificial Stone Paving Company, and was declared not to have infringed, Judge Sawyer's decision being sustained by the United States Supreme Court, which declared that he could have secured a patent had he applied for one, as his process is so distinctly different from that used by the California company. Mr. Perine has also laid large quantities of stone in Stockton, Pasadena, Napa valley, and at other places. About 1887, in partnership with George Mothersole, of Oakland, he embarked in quarrying roofing slate at Chili Bar, two miles from Placerville, on the south fork of the American river. This is destined to be a large industry, of which Mr. Perine owns more than two-thirds, and his firm will be soon known as the Chili Bar Slate Roofing Company. This slate is highly commended by the prominent architects of San Francisco and Oakland, and is also indorsed by the Trustees of the Napa Insane Asylum as equal to the best imported and superior to the best Pennsylvania, being the most flexible and of the greatest resisting power.
Mr. Perine is a member of Oakland Lodge, No. 188, F.&A.M., a Past Master in the order, and a Royal Arch Mason.
He was married in Lansingburg, New York, to Miss Elizabeth Vanderhuyden, who was born at that place September 11, 1835, a daughter of Jacob and Catherine (Gaston) Vanderhuyden, both of whom died comparatively young, leaving two children - Mary and Elizabeth; the former was born in 1831. Their grandparents, John and Elizabeth (Lansing) Gaston, both lived to be nearly ninety. The Gaston family came from New Jersey and were remotely French. The Lansings and Vanderhuydens were among the early Holland settlers of that section, the former giving their name to Lansingburg. The grandfather, Jacob D. Vanderhuyden, was one of the family that owned the original site of Troy, New York, and the first ferry there, across the Hudson. About 1870 the city of Troy satisfied the claim of the Vanderhuyden heirs to clear the title to the land on which Fulton market was built, owned at one time by Jacob D. Vanderhuyden, the grandfather of Mrs. Perine. The first brick buildings in Troy were imported from Holland. He owned the site of Troy, and Mrs. Perine's father inherited some of the land. Mr. and Mrs. Perine's children are five in number, as follows: Catherine Gaston, born March 23, 1859; William Cuthbertson, born in 1862 and died in 1880; Gertrude Elizabeth, born August 4, 1870; Margaret Louise, April 5, 1872, and Fred, April 25, 1877, the three youngest being natives of this State.
Dirk Vanderhuyden, owner of the site of Troy, New York, was born in Albany, about 1680, and died there in October, 1738. The first of the name in Albany came to this country from Holland about 1590. Dirk was an innkeeper in his native town, and a speculator in lands. In 1720 he obtained a grant of 490 acres in fee at a yearly rent of five "schepels" of wheat and four fat fowls. This grant, called the "Poesten Bouwery," was afterward known as Vanderhuyden's Ferry, and in 1789 was named Troy. (This was a village in 1801, and soon afterward was incorporated as a city.) The Vanderhuyden mansion, which was bought by Dirk's descendant, Jacob, in 1778, was built in 1725 by Johannes Beeckman, a burgher of Albany. The bricks were imported from Holland, and it was one of the best specimens of Dutch architecture in the State. Its dimensions were 50 x 20, side to the street, with a hall and two rooms on a floor, the massive beams and braces projecting into the rooms. It is described by Washington Irving in the story of Dolph Heyliger, in Bracebridge Hall, as the residence of Heer Anthony Vanderhuyden. The weather-vane, a horse running at full speed, was placed by Mr. Irving above the turret of the doorway at Sunnyside when in 1833 the Vanderhuyden house was demolished and a Baptist church built on its site.
Transcribed 12-18-04 Marilyn R. Pankey.
Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 1, pages 670-672, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.
© 2005 Marilyn R. Pankey.