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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Thomas Edgar Barlow

The records of the Barlow family show that it is of English origin, and the first member of whom we have any knowledge in this country is Warren Barlow, whose early years were associated with the colonial history of Connecticut. From that state he subsequently removed to Sullivan county, N. Y., and there his son Thomas Barlow was born June 25, 1809, his grandson, Solomon Q. Barlow, also being a native of the same county, born May 20, 1837. The latter was given such education as the times afforded, and in addition to attending the schools in the vicinity of his home, also attended Ellenville high school, from which he graduated. Subsequently he engaged in farming and lumbering on the homestead farm, continuing this until 1862, when he removed to Pompton, N. J.,, where he was agent for James Horner & Co. for two years. At the expiration of this time, in 1861, by way of the Isthmus of Panama, he came to California, locating in Two Rock valley, Sonoma county, and on April 21, 1864, he located upon the ranch which was the home of the family for the following eight years. In 1872 he purchased a ranch of two hundred and twenty acres in the same valley, six miles from Petaluma, and here he carried on stock-raising and horticulture until his death. In New York state, before coming to the west, he was married to Elizabeth J. Denman, who was born in that state, in Sullivan county, March 14, 1837, the daughter of William Denman, who died December 3, 1875. Six children comprised the family of Mr. and Mrs. Barlow, as follows: Eva R., Mrs. Thomas Mordecai, of Petaluma; William D., who died in infancy; Fannie D., Mrs. W. H. Darden, of Corning, Cal.; Anna D., who died in Petaluma; Thomas E., of this review; and Elizabeth L., Mrs. J. W. McNeil, of Honolulu, a teacher in Oahu College.

Next to the youngest in the parental family, Thomas E. Barlow was born in Two Rock valley, Sonoma county, February 2, 1867. He attended the public schools of this locality and graduated from Petaluma high school in 1884. The death of the father in the meantime had left the care of the ranch to the mother, and in 18985 Thomas E. assumed the responsibilities, continuing farming and horticulture there for about seven years. In 1892 he purchased the nucleus of the ranch which was his home throughout the remainder of his life, which consisted of thirty-five acres of land in Green valley, which he set out to fruit. For a time after purchasing this property he continued his residence on the home ranch, in conjunction with its management also dealing in farm products and fruits. Later he removed to his own ranch and thereafter gave his attention to its cultivation, adding to his original purchase as he was able, until he had one hundred and sixty-four acres of fine land, all in fruit with the exception of thirty-five acres. He was one of the pioneer fruit raisers of this locality, and at one time produced more blackberries than any individual on the coast, having ninety acres in this fruit, which was readily disposed of in San Francisco and also in northern markets. He was instrumental in getting boys from the Boys and Girls Aid Society in San Francisco to pick berries during vacations, which gave them a pleasant outing in the country as well as an opportunity to earn money. With the idea of making a pleasant camping place for his young helpers Mr. Barlow set out a eucalyptus grove, and the camp is now a well-established institution. The boys are still employed here each summer, being in charge of a superintendent and matron, and they and their helpers take away at the end of each season between $4,000 and $5,000. After the death of Mr. Barlow in 1904 Mrs. Barlow continued his policy in conducting the ranch and her thorough capability for discharging the duties which the death of her husband imposed upon her has been amply demonstrated. The camp has been suitable equipped with every convenience, and in 1911 a large drier with all modern improvements was installed upon the ranch, its capacity being seven hundred tons of green fruit annually. Commodious warehouses and packing houses as well as a fine residence have also been built on the ranch. Besides the raising of berries a specialty is made of raising apples, Gravensteins, Baldwins and Wagners predominating. Eight hands are employed throughout the year on the ranch, but during the busy season two hundred hands are given employment. Mr. Barlow gave the right of way for the Petaluma and Santa Rosa electric road across his ranch and Barlow station was so named in his honor. He was active in the organization of the Green Valley Congregational Church, which he assisted in building, and was also a trustee of the organization. Politically he was a Republican.

In Santa Rosa, February 18, 1891, Mr. Barlow weas united in marriage with Miss Laura Ellen Miller, who was born near Healdsburg, the daughter of Thomas B. Miller. He was born in Rhea county, Tenn., December 31, 1826, the son of James P. and Charlotte (Bell) Miller, the former born in Virginia and the latter in Tennessee. In 1830 the family removed to Alabama and in 1835 to Arkansas, five years later locating in Newton county Mo, and in 1842 in Benton county, Ark. In 1846 James P. Miller enlisted in the Twelfth Regular United States Infantry, and served as first lieutenant in the Mexican war. In 1849 he accompanied his sons, Thomas B. and Gideon T., overland to California and at Millerstown, near Auburn, they opened a store, and subsequently were similarly engaged in Washington on the Yuba river, until 1850, when the father returned east. After coming to California Thomas B. Miller engaged in mining in Placer county until 1850, when he went to Nevada City, Cal., where he made a strike and was very successful afterwards in mining on the Yuba river. In the fall of 1852 he came to Sonoma county, farming in various localities until 1855, when he took up his residence on one hundred and sixty acres of land near Healdsburg, upon which he remained until 1874, when he sold the property and purchased three hundred and twenty acres five miles west of Santa Rosa. Here he engaged in fruit and hop raising, besides which he raised fine horses and cattle. His marriage, April 17, 1853, united him with Mary Ann King, a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Horn) King, both of whom were natives of Virginia and came to California from Missouri in 1850. In the family of Thomas B. Miller and his wife were the following children: James P., a hop-raiser near Healdsburg; Charlotte E., Mrs. E. H. Parnell, of Green Valley; Thomas B., a hop-grower of Santa Rosa; Louisa H., Mrs. S. W. Purrington of Mount Olivet; Mary Alice, Mrs. Alexander Ragle, of Eldorado county, Cal.; Irene B., Mrs. S. E. Ballard, of San Jose; Josephine, Mrs. Spencer Grogan, of Santa Rosa; Laura Ellen, Mrs. Barlow; Henrietta, Mrs. F. B. Chenoweth, of San Francisco; and Robert L., who died in Santa Rosa. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Barlow, as follows: Mary Elizabeth, who is a graduate of Mills Seminary; Anna Maude; Warren Leland; Laura Louise; Thomas Denman; and Wilbur James, all at home.

In the passing of Thomas E. Barlow Sonoma county lost one of its most enterprising citizens, one whose enthusiasm and determined efforts did much to advance the agricultural standard of the county and state. He was an enthusiastic advocate of good roads and worked indefatigably for the cause, believing that good highways are among the prime essentials to agricultural progress. A charter member of the Sebastopol Berry Growers Association, Mrs. Barlow is no less enterprising than her worthy husband. In order to get the Berry Growers Association established on a firm footing she built a large warehouse at Sebastopol on the steam road, and from this has developed the large and flourishing organization which it is today.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011