Contra Costa County











     To win a competence by the labor of his own hands, to succeed in spite of deterring obstacles and such disadvantages as lack of schooling and influence, and to give his children the best possible educational and other advantages to be found on the western coast, are dreams which have happily been realized in the life of William J. Estes, a retired citizen of San Jose, and member of the Santa Clara Valley Pioneers.  He was born in Ray county, Mo., June 27, 1842.  Mr. Estes gained his chief inspiration  from his parents, who were variously connected with the early history of California.

     His father, Joel Estes, was born in Kentucky, and when a young man immigrated to Missouri, where he had the good fortune to succeed as a farmer, and to win a noble wife in Jane Albright.  He spent the winter of 1849-50 in disposing of his farm and implements and preparing for the long ox-train journey across the plains as soon as spring should set in.  Upon arriving in California he settled on a quarter section of land near Bridgeport, Solano county, but sold his right to this land at the end of a year.  He then moved to Contra Costa county, bought a quarter section of land comprising the Romero grant, and after improving to to some extent, found that he was without true title thereto, and also sold his right to this ranch.  Somewhat discouraged he returned to the east and remained ten years, but the longing which overtakes all who have once basked in the sunshine of California was not to be resisted and he returned to Contra Costa county, and resided there many years, in the meantime making trips to his old home in Missouri.  During his later life he engaged in considerable prospecting, visiting Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and other mining centers, but finding no climate or people as satisfactory as those in California, returned and spent the balance of his life in Tulare county, where his death occurred in 1894, at the age of eighty-two years.  His wife lived to be eighty-four years old.

     William J.  Estes was a child when he accompanied the family to California, and as his mother always remained in the state while his father was off prospecting, the children were kept together under the maternal care.  William found work by the day and month as soon as he was old enough and as he was frugal and thrifty he was able to purchase a farm of eighty acres of government land near Brentwood, Contra Costa county, in 1868.  He soon began the improvement and cultivation of his land, and as his harvests grew larger he was able to add to his possessions, and now owns four hundred and seventy-four acres, all under high state of cultivation.  Mr. Estes has thirty acres under almonds, and an orchard of various fruits, devoting the balance of his land to grain and stock.  He has made many improvements and has adequate barns, outbuildings and implements.

     Mr. Estes married Mary A. Wallace, a daughter of Robert Wallace, the latter of which is a resident of San Francisco.  Mrs. Estes was born on the ocean on the way from England to America, but thought without a country, she is a type of the strong and gentle womanhood of the west, training her children with rare discretion and patience and setting before them high ideals of life and labor.  Mr. and Mrs. Estes have a common ground of pride and interest in the family which has been given to them, and they have left no stone unturned to develop whatever of worth and ability lay dormant in their natures.  As he advanced in years Mr. Estes left the ranch and purchased a home in Ukiah, where three of the children graduated from the high school.  In order to give them better educational advantages he sold his property in Ukiah and, leaving his eldest son, William J. Estes, Jr., in charge of his ranch, moved to San Jose, where they attended the normal school and Stanford University, and otherwise fitted themselves for the responsibilities of life.  The love and care which the children bestow upon their parents at the present time is proof of the appreciation which they feel for their unceasing efforts in their behalf.  Fred R., the second son, a graduate of the Ukiah high school and state normal, has been engaged in educational work, and was admitted to the bar in 1904, and is now practicing law in San Jose.  Marion A. is the wife of Prof. T. P. Mitchell; Ira A. graduated at the sate normal, and Irene M. is now a student at the state normal; Mabel is deceased.  Mr. and Mrs.  Estes are members and active workers in the Christian Church, of which Mr. Estes has been a deacon for many years.  He is a man of unswerving integrity, of great public spiritedness and generosity, and in his home and among the public is honored for his noble and exemplary life.





Transcribed 3-16-15  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 446-449. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2015  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library