Contra Costa County












            The fact that his father selected Contra Costa county as a permanent abode has never been regretted by Mr. Pearce, whose judgment concurs in the decision. A mere boy when he came to the far west with other members of the family, he grew to manhood in California and is thoroughly identified with its interests. The ranch which he owns and operates lies near Brentwood and was formerly the home of his father. Since the purchase of the land by himself he has set out fifty acres in almonds of the choicest varieties and finds the output of this acreage his most profitable crop although he has also given considerable attention to the developing of first-class orchard and the raising of grain. The house and barn on his place are of comparatively recent construction and contain up-to-date improvements, including a modern water plant. Altogether the ranch may be classed among the best improved tracts on the plains.

            The father of Mr. Pearce, who was a California pioneer of the ‘50s, bore the name of John Taylor Pearce and was born near Columbus, Ohio, being a son of John Taylor Pearce, Sr. After growing to manhood in Indiana he took up farm pursuits and also followed engineering. Accompanied by his wife, who was Sarah White, he settled on a raw tract of land in Iowa and labored assiduously in transforming the property into an improved farm. Meanwhile the discovery of gold was turning thousands of emigrants to California, and reports were constantly sent back concerning the ideal climate and rich soil of the Pacific coast regions. These reports induced him to dispose of his property in Iowa and prepare for the overland trip to the coast. With an outfit consisting of four mules, four horses and two wagons, and with an abundance of provisions, he and his wife with their four children started April 15, 1858, on the long and perilous journey across the deserts and through lonely regions whose sole inhabitants were treacherous Indians. Without any disasters, but wearied by the toilsome journey, they arrived in Sacramento September 10, 1858. The country delighted them. Its possibilities were apparent to the most casual observer. Without hesitancy they resolved to spend their remaining years in California. For two years the father leased land in Yolo county, where he engaged in general farming. His next location was Rio Vista, where he engaged in teaming and farming for five years. Meantime he visited various sections in search of a permanent location, finally selecting a large ranch at Walnut Grove, Sacramento county, which he purchased and on which he remained for six years. After selling that property he came to Contra Costa county (then very sparsely settled) and entered a quarter section near the present site of Brentwood. The soil was virgin, but rich in possibilities; and the climate was all that he could desire. A house was built for his family, outbuildings put up, grain sown and an orchard planted. Finding that fruit could be raised without the necessity of irrigation, he devoted considerable attention to horticulture, which proved to be a profitable experiment. Contented and happy in their home, he and his wife passed their last days. They were united in life and in death were not long separated. She passed away in 1896, at seventy-five years, while he died the following year at the age of seventy-seven. Their children were as follows: Elizabeth, the wife of William Shafer; Simeon, deceased; William F.; Lemuel B.; Sarah J., deceased; John T. (the third of that name), and Martha, the wife of P. J. Moody.

            Incidents connected with the journey across the plains still linger in the memory of William F. Pearce, who was born at Knoxville, Marion county, Iowa, December 3, 1850, and was a child of eight years at the time of coming west. Of an industrious and energetic disposition, he early began to assist his father in the cultivating of land, and after he had reached manhood he took up agriculture independently. In all of his labors he has enjoyed the co-operation of his capable wife, with whom he was untied in 1890, and who was Miss Jennie Forward, daughter of Walter Forward and a native of Marion county, Ore. Their only child is named Myra. Fraternally Mr. Pearce holds membership with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Among the people of the county in which so much of his life has been passed he bears the reputation of an honorable citizen and a progressive rancher.




Transcribed By: Cecelia M. Setty.

­­­­Source: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 514-517. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

© 2015  Cecelia M. Setty.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library