Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


It has been pointed out in local annals that to a period antedating the American occupancy of California the identification of the ancestors of Charles E. Canfield, well known realtor of Santa Cruz, with the history of the coast country may be traced, this family thus being one of the oldest of the American stock in the state. Mr. Canfield is a native son of California and has been a lifelong resident of the state. He was born in the city of Monterey, October 31, 1865, and is a son of Dr. Colbert A. and Anita (Watson) Canfield, the later of whom was the daughter of that stout "pathfinder" and influential pioneer, James Watson, whose name ever will live in the annals of Monterey and of the coast country. James Watson, a native of England was here in the days of the beginning of the real American occupancy and opened and conducted a general store in Monterey, one of the first to be established in that place. Among his friends none was more prominent than General John C. Fremont and it was his privilege to assist that distinguished "pathfinder" and empire builder in his early explorations under the auspices of the United States government. The two men, it is narrated, formed a warm friendship, which neither time nor absence served to lessen. It is recalled that they were alike in their fearless temperaments and in their desire to promote the proper settlement of the west.

The late Dr. Colbert A. Canfield, in his generation one of the most widely respected and influential citizens of Monterey, was no less prominent in his line and his memory ever will be kept green in the community in which his gentle influence was for so long and so usefully exerted. Dr. Canfield, a native of Ohio, was the first resident physician at The Presidio and was for years an official of the old customs house in Monterey. All the old records reveal indisputably that his services in this region contributed greatly to the development of Monterey county along lines of permanent value. The knowledge he thus acquired through his experiences in the west brought him recognition throughout the country. The possessor of varied talents, which found their outlet in many fields of usefulness, he became most widely known through his articles published in magazines of a scientific and critical character, his profound ability as an original thinker and as a writer thus becoming widely recognized. During a long period Dr. Canfield acted as the Pacific coast agent and representative of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington and his special labors in behalf of that institution in the field of conchology created for him a permanent monument of memory in that engrossing field. The study of conchology was a delightful diversion for him during such leisure as his professional and official duties granted and he brought to this study a measure of original research that imparted a special value to his contributions in that field. The inexhaustible opportunities afforded by the wealth of material singular to this coast made it possible for him to gratify his ambition to extend his researches along that line and a splendid and really notable collection of shells rewarded the assiduity of his labors in this behalf. Thoughtfully considered and scientifically accurate articles on this subject from his pen frequently appeared in leading periodicals and he came to be recognized as an authority on matters relating to the shells of the Pacific coast. Dr. Canfield died in 1872 and at his passing left a good memory, for he had done well those things which his hand had found to do, and in all the relations of life he had been faithful and true.

Reared in Monterey and in Santa Cruz, Charles E. Canfield acquired his education in the schools of these sister cities and as a young man he became employed as a clerk in a grocery store in Santa Cruz, there becoming thoroughly acquainted with business forms and the details of the retail grocery trade. In 1892, the year before his marriage, Mr. Canfield engaged in the grocery business on his own account in Santa Cruz, in association with F. H. Stikeman, a partnership that was maintained for two years, at the end of which time he bought his partner's interest in the store and thereafter carried on the business by himself until 1898, when he sold the place and entered upon an engagement as a traveling salesman for a wholesale house. For two years Mr. Canfield carried on as a "knight of the grip", calling on the trade throughout California, and then he left the road and settled down again in Santa Cruz, taking up there the realty business which since has engaged his time and his talents and in which he has become quite successful, for years recognized as one of the leading realtors on the coast. Diligent in his own business, Mr. Canfield has not been unmindful of the obligation of public service resting upon those who are thus called and for four years he rendered acceptable service as a member of the board of commissioners for the city of Santa Cruz.

On April 19, 1893, in Santa Cruz, California, Charles E. Canfield was united in marriage to Miss Cora B. Picknell, who also was born in California, daughter of Samuel Picknell and a member of one of the pioneer families of the state. To Mr. and Mrs. Canfield two sons have been born: Carlton E. and Laurence P. Canfield, the latter of whom (1925) is a student at Stanford University. The lamented Carlton E. Canfield, a young man of much promise, was in attendance at a military training school for service during the time of this country's participation in the World war and there died, a victim of the dread epidemic of influenza that swept the country in 1918. The Canfields have a pleasant home in Santa Cruz and have ever taken an interested and helpful part in the city's general social and cultural activities. Mr. Canfield is a member of the local parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West and in the affairs of that popular and patriotic organization has for years taken an earnest interest.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.