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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


David William Batchelor

Whatever portion of the world has received as citizens people of Scotch blood, such sections reap an inestimable benefit from the presence of men and women of irreproachable characters, earnest industry and progressive spirit, whose descendants will form the bulwark of the prosperity of any country and bring honor to any land. There is no citizen more devoted to the welfare of the United States than he who proudly points to Scotland as his ancestral home, and the men who are most loyal to the land of their birth are the ones who show the deepest love for their adopted country and in whose minds patriotism is ever united with humanity and brotherly compassion.

The above applies truly to David William Batchelor, a well-known resident of Penn Grove, Sonoma county. He was born in the old historical town of Montrose, Forfarshire, Scotland, July 17, 1872, being the second sone among fourteen children (evenly divided as to sons and daughters) born to his parents. They were Robert Scott, born November 27, 1833, at Abothan House, Forfarshire, and Betsy (Smith) Batchelor, born in Montrose February 7, 1838. All of the children received good educations, and David W. Batchelor received the privileges of Montrose Academy. After leaving school he entered an architect’s office with the idea of learning the business, but in the meantime he was seized with an unrest and desire to come to the new world that made further work at learning the trade impossible. At the age of eighteen years he set sail from Glasgow for the port of Canada, arriving at Quebec July 14, 1890. A few days later he went to Montreal, later to Toronto, and in the latter city he was fortunate in securing employment in a surveyor’s office. During the year and more that he lived in Toronto he succeeded in saving a neat sum of money, in the accumulation of which it was his idea to ultimately engage in farming, having a good knowledge of farming as conducted in his native land. His first step in this direction was securing a position as foreman of the cattle department of the Beaverton model farm, a position which he filled for three years, during which time he traveled over a large part of Canada and the United States, making observations and investigations as to a suitable section of the country for a future home. The result of his investigation was a preponderance of evidence in favor of the United States, and upon resigning his position in the fall of 1893, began his westward march. With an open mind, free from prejudice, he discerned for himself the merits and demerits of the various places which he passed through in coming to the Pacific coast. He arrived in San Francisco January 13, 1894. There as elsewhere he set out on an excursion of investigation, and contrary to his usual verdict, he was pleased with the outlook. Continuing his investigation, he traveled over the Bay counties in an endeavor to find suitable land upon which to raise poultry. It was at this point that his eye fell upon an advertisement wherein he noted that ten thousand acres had recently been subdivided at Cotati, and with the hope of finding suitable land in this vicinity he came to inspect the land the following morning. Finding conditions as represented, he selected a twenty-acre lot and made the first deposit on it. Settlers at that time were few, and Cotati and Penn Grove could boast of little more than their names. This condition, however, did not dismay Mr. Batchelor, for his industriously set about improving his land, purchasing a team and wagon, and with a plow which he borrowed, broke the soil preparatory to putting in a crop of wheat. For a time after locating here he slept under his wagon, with his horses tied to the wheels, until such time as he was able to erect a barn, when this served as home and stable temporarily.

Mr. Batchelor established himself in the chicken business here on a small scale, starting with three dozen hens, and increasing his flock until he finally had eighteen hundred laying hens. In the meantime he had built and occupied several houses on the ranch, finally, however, erecting a modern five-room house which he equipped with an acetylene gas plant. All of this had been accomplished after six years of hard work on his part, and believing that he was deserving of a rest, he took a trip to Scotland to visit his parents. He was proud to tell them of what he had accomplished, for on leaving them six years before they had declared that he would be glad to return home in three months time. After a visit of three months in the home land he was satisfied and even anxious to return to California and resume the work which he had temporarily laid aside. At this time he was the proud owner of one of the best chicken ranches in this section of country, free from debt, and he therefore ventured to purchase other property. This he did as a matter of speculation, for, after dividing the land into small tracts, erecting buildings and stocking it with poultry, he disposed of it. He continued the buying and selling of land in this way for some time, always disposing of it readily to purchasers who were eager to locate.

Mr. Batchelor finally took another respite from the cares of business, taking an extended tour which included England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States. In none of the countries visited did he discover any spot that pleased him any more than did Sonoma county, Cal., and it was therefore with considerable satisfaction that he again returned hither and resumed his activities with more zest and earnestness than before. It was after his return from this expedition that he disposed of his home place and began buying and improving land for the purposes of sale, for he was convinced that the land held great possibilities for supporting a large population. It was therefore with considerable pride that he watched the growth of Cotati and Penn Grove, noting the erection of schools, churches, stores, club and lodge halls, on ground that he had so recently been pasture land. It is not too sweeping an assertion to say that Mr. Batchelor has built up and sold more poultry ranches than any other person in Sonoma county.

Mr. Batchelor made a third trip to his native land in the spring of 1906, leaving San Francisco May 1, soon after the earthquake and fire in that city, in which he lost some property. After spending nine months abroad he returned to Petaluma and purchased property upon which he erected a cottage, and into this home he brought his bride January 22, 1908. Before her marriage she was Miss Susie White MacFarlane, who was born in Hector House, Aberdeen, Scotland. Their marriage was celebrated in Santa Rosa, Rev. William Martin, of that city officiating. Two children have been born of this marriage, a daughter, Aurdrie, born May 24, 1909, and a son, Ian, on May 24 of the following year. It is Mr. Batchelor’s purpose to continue opening up land for settlement to home seekers in Sonoma county, working especially in behalf of the Cotati rancho, of which he is the sole agent. It is his hope that all the large ranches will be divided and settled upon by earnest, hard-working men and their families, which while proving an inestimable benefit to the settler in providing him with a home which otherwise would be well-nigh impossible to obtain, the country at the same time is benefiting by his citizenship. No one has been more indefatigable to bring about this than Mr. Batchelor. He is a member of the school board of Eagle district, which he serves as clerk, and he is also qualified to act as notary public.

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