In a history of the development of California John Gilmore McMillan would well deserve mention, for he has been actively connected with railroad construction in following his profession, that of surveying and civil engineering, and among the representative citizens of Santa Clara county he is held in high regard because of his personal worth and his fidelity in office. He is now serving for the fifth consecutive term as county surveyor, maintaining his residence in San Jose.
The width of the content separates Mr. McMillan from his birthplace, for he is a native of Bristol, Rhode Island. He was born on the 11th of July, 1851, belonging to a family of three sons and two daughters, four of whom are living. His parents, William and Sarah (McCoy) McMillan, were natives of Scotland and came to America in the early 40's, settling in Rhode Island, where they continued to make their home for a number of years. In 1852 the father came to California, hoping that he might have better business opportunities in a section of the country which offered such glowing prospects. He made the journey by way of the isthmus route, and engaged in mining in Butte county, where he still resides, being numbered among the pioneer settlers of that district who for more than a half century have been identified with the business development and advancement of that portion of the state. He had been in this state for about three years when, determining to make it his permanent home, he sent for his wife and children, who then joined him on the Pacific coast.
John Gilmore McMillan was only about four years of age when brought by his mother to California, and in the early schools of Butte county he began his education, which he afterward continued in the California State Normal School at San Jose. Much of his education, however, was acquired under the direction of his father, who was a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and is a man of scholarly attainments.
Mr. McMillan began teaching at the early age of sixteen years and followed that profession for a number of terms. During that time he also took up the study of civil engineering, and was elected county surveyor of Sutter county in 1877, and filled the position for about seven years, until 1884, when he resigned to accept a position with the Central Pacific Railroad Company, in the engineering department. He was engaged in making railroad surveys and was assistant engineer and assisted in the supervision of the construction work of Market, Haight, Valencia and McAllister street cable roads in San Jose. After the completion of those roads Mr. McMillan went to Guatemala, in Central America, where he was employed at railroad location and construction, returning to California in 1885. In that year he became chief engineer for Governor Leland Stanford on the location and construction work of Stanford University, this important task occupying his attention from 1886 until 1890.
It was in the latter year that Mr. McMillan was first elected to the office of county surveyor of Santa Clara county, and at each biennial election since that time he has been chosen for the position until he is now the incumbent for the fifth consecutive term. He has made a record in office that is above suspicion or reproach, and in his work he has rendered valuable service to the county by reason of his professional skill and hs fidelity to the duties of citizenship. During his first term of service he instituted a system of concrete bridges, making plans for all the steel and combination bridges, and also inventing and inaugurating an improved system in bridge flooring, which, after having been in use for about five years, has proved such a success and such an advantage over the old system, that it is being adopted by other counties with like excellent results. During the past year and a half Mr. McMillan has compiled an entirely new official map of Santa Clara county. He was elected on the Republican ticket, and his official record reflects credit upon the party that has given him its support. He also, however, numbers many friends and supporters from among the ranks of the Democracy.
In 1887 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. McMillan and Miss Lizzie Weisshaar, who was born in Mayfield, California, and is a daughter of F. W. Weisshaar, who was one of the pioneer settlers of California, coming to this state in 1855. To Mr. and Mrs. McMillan have been born two sons and a daughter: William Bruce, Percy Walter and Doris. Mr. McMillan belongs to the Masonic fraternity, in which he has attained the Knight Templar degree, and also the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. He is also identified with the Odd Fellows, the Elks, the Woodmen of the World, the Knights of the Maccabees and the Sons and Daughters of California Pioneers. For amost a half century he has been a resident of California and therefore its history is largely familiar to him from the time of the early gold discoveries and mining enterprises down to the present when its progress and accomplishment place it on a par with any state in the Union, while California is the recognized leader in manyproductive industries. In the line of his profession he has contributed in no small degree to its improvement, his work being of a practical nature that is attended with beneficial and far-reaching results.
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