Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies



DR. THOMAS FLINT

This gentleman is the senior member of the firm of Flint, Bixby & Co., a prominent citizen of the State, and a resident of San Juan, San Benito County, formerly a part of Monterey County. His connection with the history, growth, and development of Monterey County has been so intimate and conspicuous that this work would be incomplete without a sketch of his career.

He was born in New Vineyard, Somerset County, Maine, May 13, 1824, and belongs to the ninth generation of one of the first settlers of the United States, the eldest son of each generation receiving the name of Thomas. His father was a farmer, teacher, and civil engineer, and served three terms as State Senator. Dr. Flint was educated in public schools, by private tutors, and in the academies of Maine. He was well advanced in mathematics and languages, when he commenced the study of medicine. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1849, but has never made a business of the profession, although he has had considerable desultory practice, which he could not avoid, ever since. He is now Chairman of the Medical Society of San Benito County.

In 1851 he came to California via Chagres and Panama, and arrived at Volcano, this State, July 12, with about $5.00. He secured employment as manager of a business, at $250 per month, to supply mining camps with meat. He followed this business at Coloma and Volcano until Christmas, 1852, when, in company with his brother Benjamin, and L. Bixby, an old friend and subsequent partner, he started East via Panama. They took the gold they had accumulated to the Philadelphia Mint, and, after visiting awhile in Maine, they started west, reaching Terra Haute by railroad, that being then the extreme western terminus. From here they rode on horseback across Illinois.

At Terra Haute the firm of Flint, Bixby & Co., with a capital of $10,000, was formed. Their first business venture was to buy two thousand four hundred sheep, and fifteen yoke of oxen. They left the Mississippi River at Keokuk, on the 1st of May, and started to drive their stock across the plains to California. They arrived at San Gabriel, Los Angeles County, January 8, 1854, with thirteen hundred head of sheep and one hundred additional cattle purchased in Utah Territory. They started up the coast, and en route bought enough stock to make out the original number of sheep, and one hundred and twenty cattle. They stopped near San Jose, and rented the Santa Teresa Ranch for a stock range, where they remained a year. Their first purchase of land was the San Justo Ranch, in Monterey County, consisting of thirty-seven thousand acres. This was acquired in 1855. They subsequently acquired real estate in San Luis Obispo County, and other sections of the State, aggregating one hundred and sixty-seven thousand acres, and are at present the owners of about fifty thousand acres of California land.

The firm has been extensively engaged in staging, owning for twelve years the coast stage line between San Jose and Los Angeles, and Soledad and San Diego, about five hundred miles. Their Government contracts amounted to as much as $75,000 per year. For ten years they were in the commission wool business in San Francisco. They were largely interested in the beet sugar manufactory at Soquel, Santa Cruz County, which was moved there from Alameda, in which over $150,000 was invested. But this industry was killed by the reciprocity treaty with the Sandwich Islands. The firm has also been largely interested in mining, and are the owners of the Cerro Bonito and Monterey quicksilver mines, Chrome iron mines, in Stanislaus County, and silver mines in Arizona and Nevada. But stock-raising, farming, and staging have been the only lines that have yielded a profit.

Dr. Flint came to Monterey County in 1855, and, after the purchase of the San Justo Ranch, he moved to San Juan, where he has resided continuously since. His home place now consists of thirteen thousand acres, upon which there is a two-hundred-acre orchard of almonds, apricots, peaches, nectarines, olives, etc., in bearing, which is a practical illustration of the success of horticulture in the county. While taking a general interest in, and contributing largely towards, developing the State, he has always been a leader in enterprises intended to build up his county. He was one of the first men to import fine merino sheep, with which he stocked the Monterey Ranch. He was a member of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors for three years, and served four years in the same capacity in San Benito County. He was a member of the commissions to establish the boundary line between Monterey and Santa Clara Counties, to partition Natividad, Los Virgeles, San Antonio, and La Brea ranches (the two first in Monterey County, San Antonio in San Benito Connty, and La Brea in Santa Clara County), and has served the people in many other capacities. In 1875 he was elected joint Senator from Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties, and discharged the duties of his office in an able and satisfactory manner. He is at present a member of the Republican State Central Committee, and was a member of the delegation from this State to the Republican National Convention, which met in Chicago in 1884. He is also a director in the Bank of Hollister and in the Monterey County District Agricultural Association. Notwithstanding the multifarious duties of his business, and the time devoted to public service, he is a prominent member of a number of fraternal organizations. In the Masonic Fraternity he is a Past Master, Past High Priest, Past Commander, and a member of the Royal and Select Masters, and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He is at present a Director in the Grangers' Business Association, and Grand Patron of the O. E. S. of California. His wife, who is a most estimable lady, is the present Most Worthy Grand Matron of the O. E. S. of the United States. He has two sons and one daughter. The elder son, Thomas Flint, Jr., is joint Senator from Monterey and San Benito Counties.

Mr. Hill owns a handsome residence in Salinas, and his wife is an intellectual and accomplished woman. He has one son.

Source: Monterey County : its general features, resources, attractions, and inducements to investors and home seekers. Salinas, Calif.: E.S. Harrison, 1889, 89 pgs.