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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


James Cahill

Probably nowhere in the world is the raising of chickens followed with greater success than in Sonoma county, and among those thus engaged mention belongs to James Cahill, a resident of Santa Rosa, on Rural Route No. 1. His initial efforts in this business date from the year 1895, and each year in the meantime has witnessed an increase in the volume of business transacted, until new he maintains one of the largest chicken hatcheries in Sonoma county.

The Cahill family is of Irish origin and the father of James Cahill was the first to establish the name in this country. He came to the United States in young manhood, and in New York met the lady who was to become his future wife. He is now deceased, dying at the early age of forty-seven, but his wife is still living, a resident of Grand Rapids, Mich., and is now in her seventy-third year. Three sons and four daughters were born of this marriage, and all are still living. It was while the family home was in Detroit, Mich., that the birth of James Cahill occurred February 11, 1855. Later the family removed to Grand Rapids, and in the schools of that place James attended school, and there also had his first experience as a wage-earner, for a time filling a position in a handle factory. At the age of twenty-one he started to work in earnest, having obtained a position in the office of the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad. As a testimony of his ability and fitness for the position it may be said that he continued with this road for fourteen years, giving it up at the end of that time to accompany the family to California. With the record of his long service in Michigan as a recommendation he had no difficulty in obtaining a position with the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, and for a number of years he continued in the employ of this company, his headquarters being in Oakland. Upon resigning his position he came to Sonoma county, in 1895, and purchased ten acres of land near Santa Rosa. Here he began the raising of chickens on a small scale at first, increasing the business as his experience and means would permit, until today he maintains thirty-one incubators, from which during the season of 1909 he hatched about fifty thousand chickens. No figures are available for the present year's output, but judging from the indications it is destined to be the banner year in the history of his business. Besides his hatchery he also has about fourteen hundred laying hens. When Mr. Cahill came to Sonoma county he felt confident that a great future awaited it, but even his wildest dreams have been very conservative in the light of events. This prosperity is nowhere more noticeable than in the value of real estate, which has increased many fold. Mr. Cahill paid $650 for the ten-acre tract composing his ranch, and today the same property could not be purchased for $10,000.

In 1882, Mr. Cahill was united in marriage with Miss Minnie Hulburt, a native of Iowa, and the only child of this marriage is James F. who was born in 1883. He is assisting his father on the ranch. His wife was formerly Alice Westcot, and they have two children. Politically Mr. Cahill is a Republican, and he still continues his membership in the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, although he has not been actively identified with railroad affairs for a number of years.

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