Among the enterprising, progressive and public-spirited citizens of Santa Clara county is Ernest Woodbury Conant, of San Jose, who is now serving as county treasurer and who is also connected with horticultural interests, being accounted one of the active and successful business men of his portion of the state.

He was born on the 2d of July, 1862, in Dayton, Hennepin county, Minnesota. Far back into English history can his ancestry be traced. There is record of the family as early as 1277, or during the reign of Edward I. Rev. John Conant, D. D., a lineal ancestor of our subject, was rector of Exeter College and vice chancellor of Oxford University, devoting his life to educational work. He became a distinguished representative of his profession and one whose labors had marked influence upon the intellectual development of his locality. The first representative of the name in America was Roger Conant, who crossed the Atlantic in the vessell Anne, that arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in July, 1623. He built the first house at Salem, Massachusetts, and was actively and prominently identified with the early history of the colony. Seventy-seven members of the Conant family, descendants of Roger Conant, were identified with the war of the Revolution as patriots of the American army, while seventy-six of the descendants took an active part in the war of the rebellion as defenders of the Union. There were also ten representatives of the family in the war of 1812 and one in the Mexican war.

Timothy Conant, the father of Ernest W., was a native of Ohio, and at the outbreak of hostilities between the north and the south he enlisted for service as a defender of the Union cause, becoming a member of Company F, Fourth Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers. He participated in many important engagements and went with Sherman on his celebrated march through Georgia to the sea. He afterward became a member of Phil Sheridan Post, and at his death was buried with military honors at San Jose, California, in 1889.

He engaged in farming in Minnesota for a number of years, and in 1873 came with his family to California. The following year he established his home in San Jose and was engaged in farming and fruit-raising in Santa Clara valley until he was called to his final rest. He married Miss Martha Davis, a descendant of the Rev. Robert Jordan, an English clergyman who came from England in 1642 and settled in New England. Mrs. Conant survived her husband for only six weeks. He passed away in the month of September, 1889, and her death occurred on November 8, 1889. Their only surviving daughter is Mrs. James Moore, a widow, who is now living in San Jose and whose husband was well known as proprietor of a fruit farm and ranch in this portion of California.

Ernest Woodbury Conant, the only son, acquired his early education in the public schools of his native state, and when a youth of eleven years he accompanied his parents on their removal to California, continuing his studies in San Jose. When he had completed the high school course in this city he entered the University of California as a member of the class of 1884, but owing to a serious injury which he sustained as the result of an accident, he was unable to complete his collegiate course. After returning to San Jose he became engaged in fruit raising, and has since devoted his energies largely to horticultural pursuits. Not only does he raise fruit, but also ships and dries it, thus placing it upon the market. He owns a valuable ranch of thirty-eight acres conveniently and pleasantly located about four miles from San Jose. He is well known as a representative of one of the most important industries of California -- the production and marketing of fruit -- and in the control of his business interests he is meeting with most creditable success.

In the fall of 1902 Mr. Conant was elected to the office of treasurer of Santa Clara county upon the Republican ticket. He received a majority of over nine hundred and was one of only three candidates on the Republican ticket elected. Certainly this is a strong indication of the high position which he holds in the public regard and confidence, and his course in office has ever demonstrated that he merits the trust reposed in him.

In 1889 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Conant and Miss Agnes Pender, a native of California and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Pender, who are residents of San Jose. They now have three children, two sons and a daughter: Ernest L., David J. and Mabel. Mr. Conant belongs to the Masonic fraternity and is a past master of San Jose Lodge No. 10, F. & A. M. He is widely and favorably known throughout the community in which he makes his home, his abilities well fitting him for leadership in political and business life. Here he has resided continously from his early boyhood days, and the fact that many who have known him from his youth to the present time are numbered among his stanchest friends is an indication that his has been an honorable career. The terms progress and patriotism find prominent place in connection with his life history, for throughout his manhood he has labored for the improvement of every line of business or public interest with which he has been associated and at all times he has been actuated by fidelity to his county and her welfare.

Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II

The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine

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