Contra Costa County











††††††††††† JAMES SIMEON HOOK. A large land owner and successful farmer of Contra Costa county, James Simeon Hook has attained his present position of prominence through a thorough and comprehensive study of conditions existing in the field wherein his energies have been enlisted. Trained to a practical and useful life, he became independent upon the close of his college days, following the example of his father in the accumulation of landed property, until to-day he has in his possession nearly one thousand acres, devoted to orchard fruits, vineyards, grain and hay. In the prosecution of his agricultural duties he has met with a success which has numbered him among the representative citizens of this community. A native of California, he was born in Martinez, Contra Costa county, January 27, 1853, a son of William Hook, a pioneer and for many years an esteemed citizen of this section.

††††††††††† William Hook was born in Salem, Va., February 14, 1805, but was reared in Old Franklin, Howard county, Mo., whither his parents removed at an early date. With his twin brother, Elijah, he took up carpenter work and together they purchased supplies and went as far south as Texas, where they carried on their trade. In 1835 he married Miranda Brown, and in 1850 crossed the plains with his family, arriving in Placerville September 1. There his daughter Emma was born, October 15, 1850, the first white child born in that place. For a time he carried on a small business in Placerville as a trading point, later removed to Sacramento, then to San Francisco, and from that point to Vallejo. In 1853 he established one of the first stores in Martinez, Contra Costa county, and was very successful in his enterprise. As his financial ability increased he invested his savings in real estate, purchasing land west of Concord, this county. In a few years he owned hundreds of acres, upon which he made improvements, erecting a residence that became the home of the family and in which his son, Vincent Hook, now lives. He also dealt extensively in cattle and horses. Fraternally he was a prominent member of the Masonic order. His death occurred July 24, 1882, his wife surviving him until 1902, dying then at the age of eighty-three years. The children born of this union were as follows: Adam, Mary, Amanda, Ada, Elijah, Henry, John, James, Vincent and Walter E. Always a stanch supporter of educational advantages, Mr. Hook gave all of his children a fine college training.

††††††††††† James Simeon Hook was reared to young manhood upon his fatherís ranch, receiving his preliminary education in the public schools, after which he entered the state university, graduating therefrom with the class of 1874, the first graduating class of the college. Returning to Contra Costa county he entered at once upon the life which has since occupied his attention, beginning systematically and continuing his methods up to the present time. The ranch upon which his home is located consists of five hundred acres, which he purchased in one tract, and in addition he owns one hundred and fifty-five acres on the E. Hook tract, and one hundred and fifty-one acres at Pacheco, which he inherited. He has set out forty acres to orchard and one hundred acres to vines, the success which has accompanied his efforts being a credit to his thorough study and management of the situation. He has built a winery and makes up his own stock. He has a fine house and barns, and his lawns are covered with an abundance of shade trees and flowers, all the result of his own labors. His principal crop is hay, which he has found to be more profitable than stock-raising.

††††††††††† The marriage of Mr. Hook united him with Louise Gambs, a native of California and the daughter of John Gambs, a resident of Oakland. John Gambs was born in Germany, near Frankfort on the Rhine, December 24, 1827, and was reared to young manhood in his native location. In 1847, in February of that year, he came to New York state and engaged in farming for a year in Dutchess county. In 1848 he worked his passage to California around the Horn on the ship Oregon, arriving in San Francisco April 1, 1849. He went at once to the mines, where he remained only a short time, returning to San Francisco to engage in the hotel business. He lost this property by fire May 5, 1851, after which he went to Mariposa county and engaged in the stock business for ten years, when he sold out and located in Pacheco, Contra Costa county. In addition to the mercantile business which he here took up he bought a ranch and set out an orchard, retiring from active life in 1895, when he removed to Oakland. His wife, formerly Helen Ohl, was also born in Germany, and of this marriage were born the following children: Louise, John C., Helen, Harriett and Elsie.

††††††††††† To Mr. and Mrs. Hook were born three children, of whom Theodore Harold graduated in the Oakland high school in 1904 at the age of eighteen years, and is now a student in the State University; Cyril Randolph and James Stanley are students. Fraternally Mr. Hook is prominent, being a member of the Masonic order; Independent Order of Odd Fellows; the Rebekahs, of which his wife is also a member; the Woodmen of the World, of which he is council commander; Ancient Order of United Workmen, of which he is past master; Artisans, of Portland, Ore.; and Native Sons, of which he is past president.





Transcribed by Marie Hassard 03 April 2016.

≠≠≠≠Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 1064-1067. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2016 Marie Hassard.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library