WILLIAM DEWEY HOBSON
Strong in his ability to plan and to perform, strong in his honor and his good name, William Dewey Hobson was one of the notable men of his era, a power in constructive development and evolution, and to him was appropriately applied the title of “Father of Ventura County.” He was born in Green county, Illinois, June 20, 1829, a son of Peter John Hobson, who was a native of England and whose father was a minister of the Church of England. The wife of Peter J. Hobson was Eloisa Dewey, a native of Virginia. She was a daughter of the Hon. Stephen Dewey of Bennington, Vermont, and a cousin of the late Admiral George Dewey.
William D. Hobson pursued his studies in the common schools of his native county, where he remained until 1849, when he started for California, making the overland trip in a covered wagon drawn by oxen. On arriving in this state he engaged in mining at Weaverville (now Coon Hollow), in Placer county, and became the owner of several valuable mines, for which, being a bricklayer, he built large sluiceways. Later he went to Sacramento, where he erected the Western Hotel and under his management this became a famous hostelry in the early mining days.
Eventually Mr. Hobson drifted into the cattle business and in that connection traveled on horseback to all parts of the state. During one of these trips he came to San Buenaventura, then a part of Santa Barbara county. At that time there was but one house between the mission and the Rancho Camulos, an adobe house on the site of Santa Paula. He could find only one cultivated spot, which was later known as the Dominguez vineyard, on the Del Norte rancho, south of the river. A visit to the Thomas Wallace More ranch in the Sespe influenced Mr. Hobson to come back and build and adobe residence near the present city of Fillmore. In addition he constructed the old More ranch house, the great Matanza building, used in the slaughter of cattle in the first big drouth, and many other buildings long used by Mr. More on his place. Mr. Hobson established an enviable reputation as a contractor, continuing in that line of business for many years. He erected the first brick structure in the county, the building known for many years as the Cohn store on West Main street, opposite the Santa Clara House, in Ventura county. He constructed the first courthouse, on the site of the May Henning school on Santa Clara street, also the brick school on the hill at the west end of Poli street, the Chaffee store building at the southeast corner of Main and Palm, the Henry Spear building (now demolished) on the southwest corner of the same streets, and the Great Eastern building at Main and Oak streets. Mr. Hobson became actively identified with the packing industry and retail meat trade of Ventura, admitting his son, Abram Lincoln Hobson to a partnership in the enterprise, and in 1881 sold the entire business to the son, who formed the Hobson Brothers Packing Company two years later, and in association with his brother, William A. Hobson, made this the largest concern of the kind in Ventura county. The partnership existed until the death of William A. Hobson, after which Abram L. Hobson continued the business alone until the cost of his career.
In 1851 William D. Hobson was married to Miss Isabel Jane Winemiller, who was born and reared in Ohio and who crossed the plains with her parents in 1850. Of the ten children born to Mr. and Mrs. Hobson, seven lived to maturity, namely: Mrs. Frances Marian Rice, now deceased; Mrs. Clara Jane Williams, who has also departed his life; Cyrus H.; Abram Lincoln, whose death occurred March 7, 1929; Peter John; William Arthur, who passed away in July, 1913; and Mrs. Mary Belle McMillian, who passed away January 4, 1934.
The father of these children was called to his final rest August 28, 1915, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. He was a man of exceptional ability, actuated by high principles and worthy purposes at every point in his career, which was one of marked usefulness, and left behind him a memory that is cherished by all who knew him.
Source: California of the South Vol. V, by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 468-470, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis. 1933.
© 2012 Joyce Rugeroni.