IRA COTTLE


There are few people now living in Santa Clara county who have been identified with its history and made their home within its boundaries for a longer period than has Mr. Cottle, a pioneer of 1854, now residing on Lincoln avenue, San Jose. When he came to the far west the railroad had not yet spanned the continent nor had the art of telegraphy obliterated distance. California was but sparsely settled, and its residents were principally miners and cattle-raisers, a cosmopolitan throng gathered together from every part of the world, showing little trace of the Spanish regime of the past or the American supremacy of the future. The fruit industry, which has since brought the state world-wide fame, had not yet sprung into existence, while kindered or different lines of enterprise were still awaiting the progressive pioneer. Reflecting upon the advanceent of the past half century. Mr. Cottle may truly say: "All of which I saw, and part of which I was." Now in the twilight of his busy existence somewhat retired from the world's activities, he finds pleasure in comparing conditions of the past with those of the opening years of the twentieth century and rejoices in the supremacy which the state has won among the commonwealths of our nation.

Mr. Cottle was born in St. Charles county, Missouri, October 10, 1819, being one of a family of seven sons and six daughters, whose parents, Oliver and Charity (Lowe) Cottle, were natives respectively of Vermont and Tennessee. For many years the family lived upon a farm in St. Charles county, Missouri, but made a brief sojourn to New Orleans on their way to Texas, and it was in New Oreleans that the father fell a victim of the yellow fever, and died. The mother returned with her children to Missouri and from there went to Des Moines county, Iowa, where she remained until death. Without any educational advantages to aid him in life Ira Cottle became self-supporting at an early age, and in 1836 went to work in the lead mines of Wisconsin, where he was employed for a long period. In 1849 he began to cultivate a farm in Clayton county, Iowa, and in 1854 crossed the plains with ox teams, arriving in California after a journey of six months. In 1858 Mr. Cottle moved from the east side of the Coyote creek district where he had been living, to Willow Glen, Santa Clara county, joining his brother Royal Cottle, who had settled there in 1857.

At an expenditure of $2,500 he became the owner of one hundred and twenty-five acres forming a part of the Nar Vaez grant. For many years he engaged in raising hay and grain, but subsequently set out much of the land in fruit, being among the first to ineterest himself in horticulture. After having managed the place successfully for years, he disposed of it by sale or gifts to his children, and now retains only seven acres in his possession. While living in Wisconsin in 1846 Mr. Cottle married Mary Ann Baker, who was born in indiana and died in California. Of that union five children were born. William Oliver and George Byron, who reside near their father's place; Charles Albert, who died soon after the family came to California; Susie E. and Mary Ellen (twins), the former being the wife of David Wight, Jr., and the latter deceased. The second marriage of Mr. Cottle united him with Mrs. Clara (Chase) Smith, who was born in Rochester, New York. her father, Rev. Jacob Chase, was a minister in the Universalist denomination throughout all of his active life. After the completion of her education in an academy in Rochester, Miss Chase was married to Joseph Smith, a native of New York and a mason by trade. She came to California in 1861 and settled in San Francisco, where she made her home until her marriage in 1876 to Mr. Cottle.

While not a politician nor an office seeker Mr. Cottle has always been interested in matters affecting the welfare of his county and state, and has been a student of political economy. After the disintegration of the Whig party he allied himself with the Republican party upon its organization and has since been a stanch supporter of its men and measures.

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

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


Return to Biographies Index, Volume II

Return to California AHGP home page

Return to Sacramento County AHGP home page