Contra Costa County











     One of the most extensive and successful farmers of San Ramon valley, Contra Costa county, is Robert O. Baldwin, who came to California in 1850 with nothing to presage the success which has rewarded his efforts and brought him to rank with the representative men of this section.  Like the majority of the men who sought the west at that time, he was occupied for a time in mining, and the success of those two years gave him the groundwork for his later success.  After deciding to invest his earnings he came to Contra Costa county, and since that time has amassed a large estate, reared a family, and won for himself a position of esteem and regard among his fellow citizens.

     Born in Boardman, Ohio, March 30, 1828, Mr. Baldwin was a son of James Perry and Margaret (Finley) Baldwin.  When he was a child his parents removed to Bath, Summit county Ohio, and there the father engaged in general farming and the operation of both grist and sawmills.  Robert O. Baldwin was reared in that location to manhood, setting out in 1850 for California.  His trip across the plains ended in Eldorado county, Cal., where he followed mining, afterward going to Plumas county and continuing the same occupation.  He met with success, but having amassed sufficient capital to start him in business he left the mines and came to Contra Costa county to visit Alex and Henry Moore, old Ohio friends located in the San Ramon valley.  So favorably impressed was Mr. Baldwin with the climate and the possibilities of soil and country that he decided to enter upon his new field in that location.  He accordingly bought, with William Meese, a squatter's right for $150, the land upon which Mr. Meese's widow now makes her home.  Wishing to engage in the raising of hogs and unable to purchase any in this section, as they were exceedingly scarce, a good sow bringing as high as $150, they went to Oregon and bought fifty sows, taking them to Portland and thence by water to Contra Costa county.  There was an abundance of feed, but the wild animals, such as elk, deer, bear and mountain lion, made them considerable trouble, especially the last named, from which they protected their hogs by means of high willow fences.  They then plowed their land and sowed grain, their only means of threshing the same being to drive horses over it and clean it on a blanket, the wind blowing out the dirt and chaff.  In 1854 they divided the land and Mr. Baldwin built a cabin, and three years later married, after which he added a story to his house and made it one of the finest of the day.  In 1888 it was moved back and his present beautiful home was erected upon the old spot, while the old home still stands, about as substantial as when first built.  In 1855 Mr.  Baldwin returned east and brought back locust seed from St. Louis, Mo., which he planted and today those stately trees add to the beauty of his place.  When the main road was laid out his house, which was on the old trail, was left out in the field, and to the main road he set out four rows of trees of different kinds making a circular drive from the road to the house and return.  His home is surrounded by flowers and shade trees, as well as nut and fruit trees, all set out by his own hands.  An extensive orchard of eight acres furnishes an abundance of fruit both for home use and the markets.  Mr. Baldwin now owns one thousand acres, upon which he raises high grade stock, cattle, horses and hogs, and has also three hundred of the best breed of sheep.

     In 1858 Mr. Baldwin married Mary Cox of Indiana and the daughter of Elmer Cox, and of this union were born six children:  May married the late Dr. Walter Hook, by whom she had two children, namely:  Beulah and Beverly.  She afterward married E. C. Gilbert.  Elmer, a farmer, married Zoa Kemp and has two children, Winona and Helen.  Jennie married George Everett and has two children, Wynella and Linus, Robert O., Jr., is a physician located in Oakland.  Perry, a farmer, died at the age of twenty-four years.  John F., a farmer, married Nellie Linekin.  Mr. Baldwin is a member of the Grange, and belongs to the Presbyterian Church, in which he officiates as elder.





Transcribed 3-28-15  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 499-500. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2015  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library