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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


William J. Edgeworth

In keeping with Mr. Edgeworth's fine, well-proportioned physique is a mentality that is able to plan and organize and an executive ability that enables him to put his projects into definite and tangible shape. This many-sided ability has probably been nowhere put to better use than in Sebastopol, where as the father of the town, as he is called, he has done a noble part by his protégé. Scarcely an enterprise has been started that has not been the fruit of his brain or been assisted by his support and encouragement, and to him and his colleague, William Barnes, is due credit for the crowning achievement of the town's history in its incorporation in 1900.

England was the early home of Mr. Edgeworth, born in Essex, November 24, 1863. He was well educated in the schools of his native country, and there too he had his first experience in the business world, being engaged in the vegetable business for a time. During young manhood he went to Ireland, where he joined the army, being the youngest non-commissioned officer in the service. Added to many other accomplishments he was a fine athlete, having few if any equals in this respect. Returning to England, he served four years in the Eleventh Hussars, after which he retired to private life.

Following close upon his army experience Mr. Edgeworth came to America in 1886, and after a short stay in New Bedford, Mass., came in the fall of that year to California, going directly to the metropolis. Altogether he remained in San Francisco for five years, at the end of which time, in 1892, he came to Sonoma county and has since been a resident of Sebastopol. His first experience in this locality was as a rancher on nine acres of land, making a specialty of the raising of fruit; adjoining property was later added tohis original acreage until his ranch included thirty acres, besides which he had two hundred acres in potatoes. The attractions of the mines induced him to dispose of his ranch interests and for a year and a half thereafter he followed the life of a miner, meeting with poor success, however, and thereafter he returned to Sebastopol, satisfied that here lay his fortune, and from the time of his return he has continued to bend his energies with this thought in mind. Establishing himself in the real estate business, he purchased property and after subdividing it, improved it with residences, he being the first to handle property in this way in this section of the county. The widom of his plan to thus boom the town had the desired result, and from that time forward Sebastopol had a steady and substantial growth. In 1900 he and William Barnes were the chief promoters in having the town incorporated, all of which was the direct outcome of Mr. Edgeworth's plan to make the town an attractive and desirable place in which to settle. Realizing the need of a bank in the growing town he supplied the need in the organization of the Analy Savings bank, which proved its need by the hearty response with which it met on the part of depositors, and it is now one of the most substantial banks in the county. Another organization which is directly traceable to Mr. Edgeworth's efforts is the Santa Rosa and Petaluma railroad for which he himself bought up the right of way for the road, and otherwise managed the undertaking to its completion. It is nottoo sweeping an assertion to say that he has been the prime mover in the development of this entire section of Sonoma county.

In 1885 Mr. Edgeworth was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Sheehan, and twelve children have been born to them as follows: Margaret, William, Gertrude, Rose, Herbert, Lillian, Grace, Harriett, Jennie, Victoria, Delphine and George.

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