Among the many notable men who have lived in San Joaquin county, perhaps no one was more widely or favorably known than Ross Sargent. For over a half century he lived in the county and his influence and strength of character were always wielded toward progressive lines and for the upbuilding of the county and state of his adoption. His success in life was not attributable to any element of chance but on the contrary to a persistent purpose formed during the earliest annals of the county of which he was one of the earlist pioneers.
He was a native of Thornton, Grafton county, New Hampshire, born in 1821 and descended from sturdy New England stock. His earlier years were spent on the home farm, and when eighteen years of age he moved to Boston, where for a short period he worked for wages, afterward engaging in the milk business with his brother, J. P. Sargent.
In 1847 he went to Chicago and was the pioneer ice merchant of that city. This enterprise he conducted for about two years, and in 1849, in company with his two brothers J. L. and J. P. Sargent, he started overland for California, arriving on October 13, 1849. For a year and a half they engaged in mining, merchandising and teaming in Placerville, but in 1851 came to San Joaquin county, pre-empted land and started farming. From that time he began increasing his holdings by purchase and by reclamation of the rich overflowed land so that he became one of the largest land-holders in the county, his holdings reaching in the neighborhood of twenty-five thousand acres. Mr. Sargent used up-to-date methods in farming and has been notably successful. He invested heavily in different manufacturing enterprises in the county and also in city property in Stockton. As the years have passed, these holdings have grown enormously in value, and at the time of his death, June 15, 1903, he left an extremely valuable estate. Mr. Sargent was popular with all classes of people. He was an unassuming man and always showed great consideration for the rights of other people. Liberal and charitable to almost an excess, it is not strange that his death caused genuine sorrow in the homes of a large percentage of the people who knew and honored him. Mr. Sargent's large donation to the building of the Valley road is but one indication of his public spirit, but it was so in all matters where the betterment of the county was involved.
Mr. Sargent left two children, Dr. J. P. Sargent, of Stockton, and Mrs. M. S. Wilberforce, the widow of Alex Wilberforce, a prominent San Francisco business man.
J. P. Sargent was born in San Joaquin county, June 8, 1863, and after a high school education attended Bellevue Hospital Medical College and was graduated in the class of 1886. he is not in active practice but is devoting his attention to the management of the estate, the large interests absorbing most of his time.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume I
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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