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Santa Clara County












JOHN BURLEIGH WATERMAN.  Noteworthy among the respected pioneers of Los Gatos is John Burleigh Waterman, a man of good ability, sound judgment and upright moral principles.  Beginning life even with the world as regarded his finances, he has been in truth the architect of his fortunes, by industry, frugality and thrift accumulating a competency, enabling him now to live free from business cares or labor.  He comes from English stock on one side and Holland Dutch on the other.  On the mother’s side John Guild was the progenitor of the family.  The latter was born in 1616 in England.  Immigrating to America in 1636, he settled in Dedham, Mass.  His descendants were numerous, and became scattered throughout New England, some of them moving to Wrentham, Mass., some locating in Keene, N.H., while others settled in Connecticut.  Grandfather Waterman served as an orderly on General Washington’s staff in the Revolutionary war.  He was a life-long resident of Connecticut.  His son, James B. Waterman, married Mercy Guild, a native of Woodstock, Conn., and a daughter of Joab Guild, a farmer, who removed from New Hampshire to Connecticut, and there died March 1, 1861.  Joab Guild married Belinda Burleigh, a daughter of John and Persis (Harwood) Burleigh, the former a cousin of William H. Burleigh, the noted “Free Soiler.”


James B. Waterman was born, lived and died in Connecticut.  He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and afterwards followed the trade of a harness maker for a full half century.  Of the nine children born of their union, seven are living, John Burleigh being the fifth child in order of birth.  One son, Francis W., served in the Civil war, belonging to a Connecticut regiment.  Another son, William, came to California in 1864, crossing the plains, and died in Santa Cruz in 1901.


At the age of nineteen years John Burleigh Waterman left the home farm in search of fortune.  Making his way to Iowa in 1855 he worked in Burlington, then a small place, for a year.  Going to Omaha, Neb., in 1856, he was employed in farming, and in teaming in the Platte river valley for eight years.  In 1864, accompanied by his wife, two children and his brother William, he migrated to California, crossing the plains with horse teams, and getting through without trouble.  He made the journey by the way of Fort Laramie, being but eighty-five days on the road.  Settling first in Santa Cruz, he carried on farming there for a while, and then took up mountain land and engaged in business as a lumber manufacturer and dealer, a stock raiser and a vineyardist.  Disposing of his ranch in 1875, Mr. Waterman located in Los Gatos, which was then but sparsely settled, there being only thirty houses within a radius of three miles, and but two stores and one church in the town.  Mr. Waterman resumed his occupation as a teamster, for many years running a six-horse team and hauling heavy loads to the quicksilver mines and to San Jose.  After the completion of the railway in 1879 he continued his particular line of industry, carrying freight to the mountains and mines until 1894.  Since that time Mr. Waterman has lived retired from active pursuits.  He has acquired a goodly property and occupies a fine residence, which he built on Broadway in 1885.


July 29, 1859, in Dodge county, Neb. Mr. Waterman married Elizabeth R. Graham, who was born in Salineville, Ohio, a daughter of Nathaniel Graham, who was born in the north of Ireland.  She died in Santa Cruz, Cal.  She bore him three children, namely: Minnette Jane, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Francis James, superintendent of a fruit ranch in Yolo county; and William Nathaniel, who died in childhood in Ohio.  May 10, 1866, in Santa Cruz, Cal., Mr. Waterman married for his second wife Mrs. Hannah R. (Butler) Pressey, who was born in Union, Me., a daughter of Phineas Butler, Jr.  Her grandfather, Phineas Butler, Sr., was a farmer in Maine, and served throughout the entire Revolutionary war as a soldier.  Phineas Butler, Jr., a life-long resident of Maine, was a farmer and a deacon in the Baptist Church.  He married Catherine Ulmer, who was born in Thomaston, Me., his native place also, and was a daughter of Mathias Ulmer, a native of Waldoboro, Me., and a thrifty farmer.  Her grandfather Ulmer, and his father, were active participants in the old French and Indian wars.  Hannah Butler married for her first husband, in Maine, Jonathan Pressey, who was engaged in mercantile pursuits in Hancock county, Me., until his death in 1859.  In 1864 she came to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama, accompanying her sister, Mrs. C. S. Simmons, formerly of Santa Cruz, and now of Felton.  Mrs. Waterman has also a half-brother in California, Phineas W. Butler, a resident of Penryn, Placer county.  In politics Mr. Waterman is a sound Republican, sustaining the principles of his party by voice and vote.  His father was first a Whig and later became actively identified with the Free Soil party.





Transcribed by Donna Toole.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 546-551. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2015  Donna Toole.







Santa Clara Biography

Golden Nugget Library