Contra Costa County











     Throughout central California no man is better known or more highly respected than John F. Boyd, whose summer home is on a large stock farm in Green Valley, about three miles from Danville, while in winter he and his wife occupy their beautiful home in San Rafael, Marin county.  As a breeder and raiser of thoroughbred horses and cattle, he has no peer on the Pacific coast, and his skill and success in this line of industry is practically world wide.  During his earlier life he was engaged in mining---engineering and managing mining properties---in the gold regions, but now, owing to the strange vicissitudes of fortune, has attained a place of eminence among the wealthy capitalists of California.

     While in the prime of his vigorous young manhood, Mr. Boyd wooed and won as his bride Miss Louise Arner, who was born in New York.  Her uncle, Daniel Cook, a man of great enterprise and foresight, made a good deal of money by judicious investments, and having taken up his residence in California became a large landholder.  About twenty-five years ago he purchased a portion of the beautiful estate now included in the stock ranch belonging to Mrs. Boyd, and had it laid out by a skillful landscape gardener, the extensive grounds being intersected by charming avenues, drives and walks.  With the vast capital that he had amassed in mining operations, he erected a costly residence, magnificent barns and outbuildings, and when this was done he went to Kentucky in search of the best thoroughbred trotting horses to be found in the Blue Grass region.  Bringing back with him to his ranch both brood mares and stallions of a famous breed, he built a one-mile track, and began training horses for the track, and also for the various home and domestic markets. He likewise began breeding cattle, becoming one of the largest stock breeders and stock raisers of Contra Costa county.  At his death, he was succeeded by his brother, Seth Cook, who was engaged with him in mining in pioneer days, and who was his direct heir.  Seth Cook, also a practical man of business, purchased adjoining land, added many improvements to the already beautiful estate, and at his death, which occurred in 1889, left his property to his niece, Mrs. Louise (Arner) Boyd, and it has since been under the management of Mr. Boyd.

     With characteristic energy Mr. Boyd has continued the improvements previously begun, and has added by purchase one thousand acres of land, having now a ranch of six thousand acres.  The landscape features of his estate are especially noteworthy, stately shade trees of all kinds ornamenting the lawns and driveways, the gardens being artistically laid out, and filled with plants and flowers of tropical beauty and luxuriance.  His residence, which he occupies in the summer, is almost palatial, and the remaining buildings, including houses, barns and office, are beautiful and substantial.  A lover of good horses and fine stock, Mr. Boyd has spared neither time nor expense in keeping up the reputation of his estate as a model stock ranch.  Around the mile track he has planted gum trees, and there he has erected twenty-four box stalls, with all the equipments for properly caring for his valuable roadsters, and has a fine stand for the use of the judges.  Mr. Boyd raises many notable horses, thoroughbreds, one especially worthy of mention being Klatawah, a three-year old, whose record has never been beaten.   From his stables he sells from sixty to seventy horses every year, disposing of them in foreign countries oftentimes, having sold to the German government, in Australia and the Sandwich Islands as well as in the larger cities of the United States, the stock from his farm, known as Oakwood Park Farm, being recognized both at home and abroad as superior in excellence of speed and intelligence.  Mr. Boyd also raises Durham and Devon cattle, selling hundreds of each grade every year for breeding purposes, and likewise fattening them for the markets.  These he likewise sells abroad as well as at home, shipping large numbers of cattle to the Japanese government, to the Sandwich Islands, and to Peru.

     In caring for his ranch, Mr. Boyd keeps the best of help, and plenty of it, having trained horsemen and skilled agriculturists in his employ.  He carries on general farming, raising hay, grain and alfalfa, and in a rich valley, at the foot of Mount Diablo, he has a magnificent orchard of choice fruits, and in addition has large orange and lemon groves.  The estate is well watered, two running streams passing through it, and the land is also irrigated for the raising of alfalfa and vegetables, the water from a mountain spring, eight miles distant, being conducted to a reservoir which is capable of holding forty million gallons, and from there is conveyed by pipes to all the fields, and to the various buildings on the estate.  During the winter season, Mr. and Mrs. Boyd and family live at San Rafael, where they have likewise a very pleasant and attractive home.  Mr. Boyd's office, where an immense business is transacted, is at No. 33 Nevada Block, San Francisco.





Transcribed 3-20-16  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1049-1050. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library