Contra Costa County












            Ceaseless industry, supplemented by good judgment, has rendered possible the success gained by Mr. Cakebread since coming to California in early manhood. Ranching has been his life occupation, but of recent years he has made his home in Antioch, retired from active labors, enjoying in the afternoon of existence the comforts secured by indefatigable labor and wise investments. In spite of the fact that he ad his wife came to this country entirely without means, they have not only reared and educated a large family, but assisted their children in getting a start in the world, and have themselves attained a position among the wealthy and honored residents of Contra Costa county.

            Of English birth and descent, Robert Cakebread was born in Oxfordshire May 12, 1838, being a son of Robert, Sr., and Hannah (Horton) Cakebread. Little of special moment occurred to individualize the years of his youth, which were passed in the usual routine of school training, home work and recreation. While still a mere lad he met Miss Martha Smith, a native of Warwickshire, and a daughter of James and Martha (Lovegrove) Smith. Their engagement, entered into while they were quite young, resulted in their marriage March 3, 1857. Neither of the young couple had any means, nor were prospects in their home neighborhood flattering. Accordingly they determined to seek the far-distant state of California, and in May of 1857 took the long journey to San Francisco. From there they proceeded to Stockton. Not being able to secure employment where they could remain together, they went to different ranches and worked for three months, then went to Tuolumne county and established a primitive home in the midst of frontier conditions.

            For a time Mr. Cakebread worked by the day in mines, and in addition, worked claims of his own, meeting with the usual succession of hope and disappointment that is the fate of the miner. After nine years had been devote to mining he determined to take his little capital and seek a home elsewhere. With this purpose in view he settled in Contra Costa county, on the east side of Mount Diablo, where he bought out a squatter an embarked in the sheep business. At the expiration of five years he secured employment as engineer at the Somersville coal mines and continued in the same position, receiving excellent wages for a period of nine years. With the money thus earned he purchased a ranch of three hundred and twenty acres, partly covered with timber. After planting a crop of wheat and barley he cut off the timber and sold the wood. Others were amused at his attempt to cultivate timber land and predicted a dire failure, but when they saw that the soil proved well adapted for grain they followed his example. This one act furnishes the keynote to his character. He has ever been independent in judgment, relying upon his own convictions, rather than the judgment of others. In any community he would be a leader, not a follower. Naturally a man of such a disposition would attain prosperity. Not many years after his first purchase he had capital to invest and for $5,000 bought a lease of nine hundred acres of the Marsh grant, which he improved, but which he subsequently sold out to a son. He next purchased one-half section of the Wills ranch, which he placed under cultivation to grain. A little later he acquired an adjoining tract of eighty-four acres, of which he planted twenty-two acres to almonds. On this property, as on the previous purchase, he erected a large barn and granary. The last purchase that he made of farm property comprised one hundred and sixty acres formerly owned by F. P. Baker. In addition to buying these various tracts he made valuable improvements on each and brought the land into the best state of cultivation, studying the quality of each, in order to select for it the crop that would produce the largest results per acre. By so doing he was enabled to reap large harvests, while others less judicious failed to earn a livelihood from their land.

            Desiring to give his children city educational advantages, Mr. Cakebread came to Antioch, where he erected a residence that later was sold to Hon. J. P. Abbott, and he then built his present house, the beauty of which is enhanced by the well-kept lawn and surrounding garden bright with flowers. Since coming to Antioch he has officiated as a trustee of the Christian Church, of which he and his wife are earnest members. Fraternally he is associated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, while she holds membership with the Rebekahs. Fifteen children were born of their union, but four died in infancy, and three others, Robert, Sarah and Arthur are also deceased. Those now living are as follows: Mary Ann, wife of William Chick of Los Angeles; John, who married Lena Guest; Lizzie, the wife of Frederick Wickham; William, whose wife bore the maiden name of Henrietta Swindal; James, who married Anna Smith; Charles, whose wife was formerly Adell Paul; Robert J., who married Alfaretta Lincoln, and Mattie, the wife of Samuel Morgan. The sons are prosperous ranchers and the daughters are comfortably situated, forming altogether an honored and honorable family deservedly esteemed among the resident of Contra Costa county.





Transcribed by: Cecelia M. Setty.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 987-988. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2016  Cecelia M. Setty.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library