Joined: 27 Nov 2007
Location: Monterey County, California
|Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2008 1:53 pm Post subject: David Jacks
|DAVID JACKS was born in Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, in 1822. His ancestors were French Huguenots. He came to New York in August, 1841, and engaged as clerk in a store, first at Williamsburg, and then at Fort Hamilton, where he remained till 1848 in a large mercantile and manufacturing establishment. His employer, who was a very capable business man, was the inspector of all the wagons and harness bought by the Government in that market for use in the war with Mexico, and who, like so many others, under similar circumstances, was inclined to extend favors to the army officers at Fort Hamilton, expecting that those favors would be returned in some form, thereby placing officers, by implication at least, under some sort of obligations to him. Captain Robert E. Lee, who was then stationed at the fort, and who had, in his official capacity, large dealings at this store, preferred always to deal with Mr. Jacks, and studiously avoided the proprietor. So thoroughly honest was he that he shrank from laying himself under obligations to any one in any manner that might in the least interfere with the conscientious discharge of his duties to the Government as a purchasing agent. Thus Mr. Jacks came to know him well, and to admire very highly his nobleness of character.
James C. Flood, in after years a miner and banker in California, learned the carriage-maker's trade at this establishment where Mr. Jacks was employed, working there three years or more. As the clerks had all they could do, young Flood, after his days work was done in the shop, would often come in and help them, which kindness on his part they greatly appreciated.
About this time the commissary sergeant of a company of the United States Army, which had been ordered to California, needed a competent assistant to help him to keep his accounts correctly, and he engaged Mr. Jacks to go with him in that capacity. Having about the same time read a letter in the New York Herald, from Rev. Walter Colton, a chaplain of the Navy, stationed at Monterey, and holding some civil office there, giving definite information about the gold discoveries, Mr. Jacks concluded to invest his earnings, amounting to $1,400 or $1,500, in goods which he thought would sell out there. He sailed with the company on the Sea Queen from New York for San Francisco, December 14, 1848, stopping at Rio De Janeiro and Valparaiso, at both of which places they were shown gold from the new Eldorado, the nuggets exhibited at Rio de Janeiro having been brought overland from Valparaiso.
He arrived at San Francisco in April, 1849, where he disposed of his goods in forty-eight hours, realizing about $4,000. Revolvers costing $18 in New York readily sold in San Francisco for $50. He loaned his money at one and one-half per cent per month (the rates of interest ranging at that time from one to five per cent per month), the party keeping it upward of two years, when he paid up in full.
Mr. Jacks was employed in San Francisco as an inspector in the customhouse at $100 per month, his duties being performed mostly on ship-board, as there were no wharves then, cargoes being discharged by means of flat-bottomed lighters. Lightermen received $8 per day, and were scarce at that, as nearly everybody had gone to the mines.
On the 11th of October, 1849, Mr. Jacks and two other young men had their supplies of clothing and provisions ready to start on the following day for Sacramento and the mines. During that night the rain commenced and continued three days and three nights. Reports came from Sacramento and the upper country that teams could not haul provisions from Sacramento to the mines; that the roads were so bad, or the ground was so soft from the heavy rains as to be impassable for teams. Flour, bacon, beans, etc., in the mines, went up to three times the prices they were worth before the rains. And so Mr. Jacks gave up all notion of going to the mines—then or afterward.
The semi-monthly arrival of the Pacific mail steamers was quite an important event in those times in San Francisco. Once Mr. Jacks says he went to the post office at four o'clock in the morning, and took his place at the end of a long line, and there remained— the postmaster being very short of help—till the post office closed, with still a number of persons ahead of him! There were so few women in San Francisco at that time that if one walked along the streets the men would watch her, of course in a deferential way, and when she had passed them they would turn round and stare at her till she was out of sight, so great a novelty was the sight of a woman in those days! They could also see a few French women in the gambling houses, which were then numerous, and often gorgeously equipped, even when located in large tents or other temporary structures.
Mr. Jacks arrived at Monterey on the first day of January, 1850, and he has made his home here ever since. He came on the steamer California, the fare from San Francisco being $25; the steamer was bound for Panama, and Monterey was one of her stopping places. Monterey at that period was the headquarters of the Tenth Military Department, which included all of California and Oregon, and which was under the command of Brigadier-General Bennett Riley. Mr. Jacks well remembers most of the young officers who were then stationed at this point. Among them were: Captain H. S. Burton of Company F of the Third Artillery, afterward in command at Fortress Monroe; Lieutenants Ord and Hamilton; Captain H. W. Halleck, who afterward became general of the army in the Civil war, was General Riley's chief engineer, and in fact most of the duties of the governor's office devolved on him; Captain Kane was quartermaster, and Lieutenant Sully was commissary of subsistence; Major Canby, with his wife and adopted daughter, was here then, and was Riley's Adjutant-General; Lieutenant Derby, afterward widely known as the genial and witty humorist "John Phoenix," was stationed here; also Lieutenant Steele, who was with a company of infantry, and Captain Lyon, was in command of another infantry company; there was also a Captain "Wescott; and Captain Baldwin, was in charge of ordnance. Captain W. T. Sherman was here occasionally at that period.
Some 300 head of horses and mules belonging to the United States, under charge of Mr. Jacks, were kept on the San Francis-quito rancho, about twenty-four miles southeast of Monterey. Expeditions consisting of a small force, well armed, with wagons and supplies, etc., were sent out into the interior (Tulare and San Joaquin valleys), for the purpose of making known to the Indians that there was a government or military force in the country which would make itself respected.
Of course there were lively times in Monterey then, as the United States had considerable military forces stationed here, and large sums of money were disbursed. Gold dust, Spanish doubloons or ounce pieces, and Mexican silver dollars were very abundant. Mr. Jacks clerked for nearly two years, at a salary of $2,000 a year, for James McKinley, who had a large grocery and dry-goods store. The traders from the Mariposa mines came to Monterey to buy goods, bringing each from fifty to 150 pack mules, usually purchasing from $6,000 to $8,000 worth of goods at a time, and paying for the same in gold-dust, which usually was received at $16 per ounce, and which the Monterey merchants sent to New York, where they generally realized about $18 per ounce, net.
In the latter part of 1851, Mr. Jacks engaged in farming, though with indifferent success, in the Carmel valley, hiring men to work the land. In 1854 he personally took hold of the business of raising potatoes, paying from six and one-half to seven and one-half cents per pound for seed potatoes at Santa Cruz, employing western farm hands at $80 per month and board; also Carmel mission Indians, who were excellent workers, at $40 per month and board. From twenty-two sacks of seed potatoes left over after planting, which he sent to San Francisco, he realized $252 net, over and above expenses, including $20 a ton freight and twelve per cent commission. But the results from the planting were not quite so encouraging. Three speculators came to Carmel, in June of that year (1854), offering or proposing to buy from $20,000 to $40,000 worth of "spuds" at two cents a pound, deliverable in November or December following at Monterey, in storehouse or on the wharf; but they finally concluded a contract with Mr. Jacks for $8,000 worth, on the same terms. Jacks was the only man who would sell at this price, because potatoes had been sold that spring at from three and one-half to seven and one-half cents per pound. In the outcome, this syndicate paid Jacks the $8,000 as agreed, but never took a potato, although he delivered them all at the warehouse according to contract! but they afterward hired him to haul them off and throw them away.
Subsequently, two young men came to to Jacks and contracted for the delivery, at one and three-fourth cents per pound, in the spring (1855), of 300,000 pounds of spuds, paying one-half the money down. They never paid the balance and never took the spuds away.
These last buyers, Mr. Jacks was informed, "hedged" by selling :the potatoes and receiving the same amount of money they paid Jacks; but as he was not aware of this hedging, and supposing that the original buyers still owned the goods, he had pity on them and did not insist on their complying with the balance of their contract. He sold that season $20,000 worth of potatoes, and came out about $500 short; expenses, including high wages, etc., ate up everything.
He continued farming in 1855, planting potatoes, bayo beans and barley. All of these brought excellent prices and he cleared this season, ending in the spring of 1856, about $8,000. During the preceding three years, hogs had been going up in value, and he had meanwhile gathered about 300 head, some of which were fine-blooded English stock, which had cost him from $50 to $80 a piece. The entire lot had cost him in the aggregate between $2,500 and $3,000, but as he made up his mind to visit his old home in Scotland, he offered them for $1,000, without finding a buyer; but finally sold them all for $50, as they were "eating their heads off," in barley, worth in the market four and one-half cents per pound, and besides, if he left them he would, become responsible for any damage which they might cause to his neighbors. He thereupon quit farming and went to Scotland, remaining there twelve months, visiting his mother and sister. In a little more than two years, the parties who had bought these hogs realized about $4,000 for them.
Mr. Jacks returned to Monterey from his visit to Scotland, in the latter part of 1857. He took personal charge again of his extensive business—having left it, during his absence, in the hands of agents—and continued to loan money, or to carry on one line of a banking business without actually having a banking house. He says he was averse to purchasing lands as he considered he was not so well adapted to their management as to the management of money; his policy being like that of most savings banks in loaning money, to get the interest and principal, and not to get land; although often, as with them, he was compelled to take lands which he did not want. He says that about 1860, having a mortgage for money loaned on five and one-half leagues of land, he compromised to receive only three and one-half leagues, leaving two leagues to the mortgagors, which would all have been absorbed by foreclosure at the then very low price of land. In fact, he afterward offered these lands again and again at seventy-five cents per acre without finding purchasers. Therefore, in spite of his adoption of this policy in his business of loaning money, as has so often happened with others, in the course of years he has come to be a large land owner.
THE NARROW-GAUGE RAILROAD.
The Monterey and Salinas Valley railroad, narrow gauge (the pioneer railroad enterprise of Monterey county), was built in 1874, by the business men of Monterey and the farmers of Salinas valley. When completed and ready to be operated, having two locomotives, and two passenger coaches, and eight box cars, and forty flat cars, the cost of the same was about $360,000; and, the farmers being unable to borrow the amounts of money necessary to pay up their subscriptions to the capital stock, Mr. Jacks borrowed $75,000 on his ranchos, "Chualar" and "Zanjones." Of this sum he put $25,-000 into the company, and loaned most of the balance to other stockholders. He also acted as treasurer for the company about twenty months, disbursing all funds received, amounting to some $250,000, for which services he never received one cent. He sank over $40,000 in this road, which was finally sold to the Southern Pacific Company. This latter corporation converted it into a broad-gauge road, connecting it with their general continental system, and giving, instead of one train a day, two trains and sometimes three trains daily, between San Francisco and Monterey.
The presiding elders of the San Francisco Methodist Episcopal Conference having conferred with Mr. Jacks in May, 1875, with reference to a suitable seaside location for holding annual camp-meetings, he suggested the site where the town of Pacific Grove now stands, and Bishop Feck and other influential church members, after carefully looking over the ground, strongly approved the selection, and urged the brethren to go ahead and prepare for holding camp-meeting there that same summer, which was done, the people gathering there in large numbers on the 9th of August, and continuing religious services daily for three weeks. Bishop Peck was present at the commencement, and, with appropriate ceremonies, dedicated the grounds as a Christian seaside summer resort, for which purposes they are still, and doubtless long will be, devoted. A more detailed account of the settlement and growth of Pacific Grove appears elsewhere in this work; but it is proper also to state briefly here the honorable and generous connection of David Jacks with the founding of that town. In preparing the grounds, erecting buildings, providing bedding, etc., much labor and expense was necessary, for which Mr. Jacks advanced personally about $30,000. During the next year he expended in improvements about $3,000, and a camp-meeting was held that year, and the popularity and fame of the place as a summer resort, where religious, social and literary societies could annually hold their reunions, and where all could find rest and recreation, and renewal of strength and health, amidst the pines and along the sea-shore, have steadily increased from year to year till the present time. The wisdom shown by Mr. Jacks, Bishop Feck and others in selecting this location and in laboring to build up this beautiful town, has been abundantly vindicated by results. A clause in the deed prohibits gambling and the sale of spirituous liquors on the grounds hi any form, and this provision has certainly produced good practical results.
In 1880 Mr. Jacks sold to the Pacific Improvement Company, 7,000 acres of land, namely, "El Pescadero" and uPunto de Pinos" ranchos, which included the greater portion of the lands of Pacific Grove retreat that had not already been disposed of, at the price of $5 per acre, on which the company, it is currently reported, has since realized, in the sale of lots, several hundred thousand dollars.
In 1878, Mr. Jacks turned his attention again to farming, this time on the "Chualar" and "Zanjones" ranchos in Salinas valley, about ten miles south of Salinas city. Mr. Jacks was among the first in that section to inaugurate the policy of leasing lands on shares, instead of for a fixed cash rent, thus enabling his tenants to do well—and often very well—in good years, and to save themselves from financial ruin in bad years. The shares agreed on are usually three-fourths for the tenant, and one-fourth for the landlord. This policy works well in the long run for both parties. By it the farmer in a dry year is not compelled to see all his crop sacrificed to pay his rent. About 13,000, acres of these two ranchos are now under cultivation, one-third of the crops raised latterly having been wheat, and two-thirds barley. Mr. Jacks also has about 1,500 acres under cultivation on the Alisal rancho and lands adjoining, near Salinas city; here the tenants receive two-thirds of the crop and the landlord one-third.
Mr. and Mrs. David Jacks were married April 20, 1861, at San Luis Obispo. The maiden name of Mrs. Jacks was Maria Cristina Soledad Romie; and she was the daughter of J. F. and Maria A. Frohn Romie, natives of Germany who came to Mexico in 1835. She was born in Oajaca, in 1837, and came with her parents to Monterey in 1841, and has resided here ever since. She remembers that while yet quite young, she went to school here in Monterey, to Dona Anita, the wife of one of the Castanares brothers (probably J. M.), who taught children in Spanish, to read and write, and also the rudiments of arithmetic, as well as the catechism. Mrs. Jacks has a vivid recollection of the events connected with the raising of the American flag in Monterey in 1846, she then being about nine years of age. She says she thought at the time that the officers and sailors of the American men-of-war, with their neat, handsome uniforms, presented a fine appearance, as they marched from the beach to the "cuartel" in front of the Hartnell house, where she then happened to be. She remembers that the sisters, Mrs. Jimeno and Mrs. Hartnell, were much excited, and as they embraced each other and cried, she, Mrs. Jacks (or Maria Romie, for she was only a little girl then), asked a daughter of Mrs. Hartnell why her mother and aunt cried and "took on" so, and the reply was: "The Americans have come to take our country from us!"
Mrs. Jacks, having been born and raised in a country where Spanish was almost the only language used, came to regard that as her native tongue, as indeed it was; and as late as the time when she attended the Santa Clara College, in 1859, she was accustomed I to think in Spanish, and then mentally translated her thoughts and express them in English. She soon, however, learned to think in English, and now is able to talk with equal facility in Spanish, English and German,—the latter being the language of her parents.
Mr. and Mrs. Jacks have seven children, five daughters and two sons. Their names are: Janet, Louise L., William, Mary R., Margaret A., Romie 0. and Vida G. The eldest, Janet, was married in April, 1891, to Allan C. Balch; their home is in Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Balch graduated at the University of the Pacific, after which she took a post-graduate course at Cornell University. Louisa and Mary graduated at Mills Seminary. William attended the University of the Pacific three years, and Cornell one year; he is now studying law at the Harvard Law School. The three eldest daughters and William visited the Paris Exposition in 1889 and traveled in Germany, Italy, England and Scotland; and in 1892 the four eldest daughters spent the summer in Europe, Mrs. Balch acting as chaparon. Margaret is now attending the Boston Latin School. Mary studied music in Boston four years, after graduating from Mills; and she and Louise are taking a business-college course in the same city.
Mr. and Mrs. Jacks have been accustomed to keep a private teacher in their family for their younger children, all of whom, as they grow up, are receiving a thorough education in the best schools and colleges in the country.
From the foregoing hurried sketch, it is evident that the Jacks family is endowed with great force of character. Industry, virtue and religion have been taught by the parents, both by precept and example; and the lesson thus taught, in great plainness and simplicity, has not been lost on the children. As they have advanced toward maturity, where each is compelled to act for himself or herself, they have not lapsed into indolence and inactivity, but have voluntarily kept up their pursuit of knowledge, all according to their several preferences, in order not only more fully to develop their characters—make their lives richer—but to better fit themselves for greater usefulness in life.
Among the many moral and economic maxims taught and lived by the parents, the one, perhaps, most clearly enjoined, was, that it is not enough to teach and preach the right, but that it is more to the point to do it or, expressed in other phrase, it is all very well and proper, and our duty, to pray that the Lord will make the world better, but that we each are under obligation to personally labor to make it better, i. e., to cooperate, according to our several capacities, with the good Lord, in practically bringing about what we pray for. For forty-two years, Mr. Jacks has assisted (to the extent of from one-half to three-fourths of the cost of the same), in maintaining Methodist and Presbyterian churches in the town of Monterey; and he has also taught a Sunday-school class during the same long period. He believes large organizations, like churches and schools, are effective agencies for doing good, and therefore he believes in cooperating with them in their beneficent labors, in every way possible.
As has already been said, Mr. Jacks is a large land owner. In early times in California, lands outside of towns or settlements were considered of but comparatively little worth. They had been used mainly for pastoral purposes; and when their owners had sold off their stock during the mining era, or it had died in dry years, as sometimes happened,
they did not care, or perhaps were not able, to keep their lands and pay taxes on them; therefore, in many cases, it could be said with perfect truth for many years, that, with the exceptions noted above, vast tracts of land did not have a quotable value; and those persons of clear heads, who had faith in, the future, and some means, could get lands almost at their own price; and it is not altogether fair to attack the tenure of title to land by contrasting its present with its former market value. As well might the validity of title be questioned of lands owned by the Pacific Improvement Company about Pacific Grove, by comparing their present market value of $1,000 or $2,000 per acre with the petty price the company paid for them only twelve years ago, of $5 per acre.
As people slowly returned from the mines, and as the country gradually became more thickly settled, and as the newcomers learned something of the wonderful fertility of California soil, a demand for lands arose, and very naturally they greatly appreciated in value.
Of course the lands which Mr. Jacks bought, or had to take, or was besought to take, many years ago, are much more valuable now than they were then. But it should be remembered that money at interest, at the rates current in early times, would have doubled many times over in the last thirty or forty years.
In regard to the Monterey pueblo lands, the simple and indisputable facts of history seem to be: (1) That the United States Land Commission confirmed these lands according to certain metes and bounds, January 22, 1856, and the United States District Court finally dismissed the appeal, June 6, 1858; (2) that D. R. Ashley, Esq., was employed to prosecute, and did successfully prosecute Monterey's title to these lands before the, Land Commission arid the United States Court, whereby the City of Monterey became indebted to him for such services; (3) that in order to pay said indebtedness, the trustees, in accordance with the necessary legal formalities, proceeded to sell the pueblo lands at public auction to the bidder who would take the least amount of land necessary to liquidate the then existing indebtedness of the city, to wit, $991.50, and that the least amount bid was all of the pueblo lands, for $1,002.50 (indebtedness and fees), and the same were struck off to D. R. Ashley and David Jacks; (4) that D. R. Ashley conveyed all of his interest in said lands, by deed of June 28, 1858 (also April 8, 1862, to quiet title, and September 14, 1868), to David Jacks; (5) that the act of the Legislature of California approved May 11, 1853, authorized the trustees of Monterey to pay indebtedness incurred prosecuting title before the Land Commission and courts of the United States.
While it is not the function of laymen, or of the historian, to pretend to adjudicate land titles, it is competent from the purely historical standpoint, to assume that a theory based on prima-facie data is tenable until it is overthrown. Indeed a contrary assumption would be altogether in admissible. Mr. Jacks has been in possession of these lands for some thing like forty years, and his title to them has never, or not till very recently, been questioned in fie courts. D. R. Ashley, who conducted the suit before the United States courts for the confirmation of title, and who attended to the legal formalities of their sale at a time when they had but little market value was widely known, both in this State and in Nevada, as a very able and careful and conscientious lawyer. It is hardly presumable, that, in taking the necessary steps to secure the amount due him for services rendered to the city of Monterey, he would neglect any of the formalities or acts which were required to make the sale regular and legal. Therefore, until the courts decide otherwise, it is certainly permissible to assume that the prima-facie view is the true view for laymen to take of this matter, especially when such eminent lawyers as Williams and Thornton, McAllister and Bergin and S. W. Sanderson endorse the validity of these titles. Citizens may, perhaps, justly criticize the wisdom of the trustees in alienating the public lands of the city even for the pressing purpose of paying its honest debts, and insist that they ought to have devised or provided other means, but of course they were obliged to do as they could and not as they would.
Large portions of the pueblo lands of San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, were disposed of many years ago, for merely nominal considerations, and the tenure of these lands, now worth millions of dollars, depends on those sales, the legality of which has never been attacked. Whether the conditions surrounding those cases were analogous to those of Monterey, or whether the power of the city authorities to sell was substantially the same in all these cases or not, of course are matters for the courts to decide.
In politics Mr. Jacks is a Republican, and in religion a Scotch Presbyterian, although he has affiliated and earnestly labored with other protestant denominations besides the Presbyterians, especially with the Methodists.
John Frederick Romie and wife, and two sons, came to Mexico from Hamburg, Germany, in about the year 1835. They lived several years in Oajaca, where their daughter Maria, now Mrs. David Jacks, was born. They afterward traveled through the city of Mexico to Guadalajara, and to Tepic, where Mr. Romie followed his business of tailoring with success till 1841. While living at Tepic, the party which bad been expelled from California (the Graham party) arrived there, and its members told them ranch about California, its climate, etc., painting the natural attractions of the country in bright colors and assuring them that they could get all the land they wanted for the asking. But the consideration which determined them to come to California was the health of their eldest son Ernest, who, the doctors insisted, must go to a cooler climate. So that same year, 1841, they came by way of San Blas, in the vessel Gertrudez, to California, landing at Monterey, where they became permanent settlers. Here Mr. Romie followed his tailoring business, having brought cloths with him from Germany to Mexico, and thence to Monterey. Competent tailors were scarce here and he did a good business as cutter, etc., hiring men to do the sewing. After the discovery of gold, Mr. Romie went to the mines. He died at Placerville, in 1850. Mrs. Romie, whose maiden name was Maria A. Frohn, was born in Hamburg, in 1801. She died in Monterey at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Jacks, March 5, 1886, at the age of eighty-five years. The sons of Mr. and Mrs. Romie are: Fred Ernest, who resides in San Francisco; Charles T., of Soledad; and Paul T., of Salinas.
Source: A Memorial and biographical history of the coast counties of central California : illustrated : containing a history of this important section of the Pacific coast from the earliest period of its discovery to the present time, together with glimpses of its auspicious future, illustrations and full-page portraits of some of its eminent men, and biographical mention of many of its pioneers, and prominent citizens of to-day. Chicago; Lewis Publishing Co. 1893.
CAGenWeb Monterey County Coordinator