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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


James E. Kent

It is a far cry from the rock-bound coast of Nova Scotia to the vine-clad hills of California, but such is the distance that intervenes between the land of Mr. Kentís birth and the home of his maturity. Bleak were the skies and stern the landscape that greeted the vision of his early years. The struggles to earn a livelihood in the midst of an environment so adverse robbed his boyhood of the pleasures rightfully belonging to the age, but enabled him to form habits of self-reliance and patience of inestimable value to him subsequent activities. While he is not one of the pioneers of Sonoma county nor an early resident of California, he has resided here for a period of sufficient duration to enable him to gain an adequate conception of local resources and climate advantages. It was during 1903 that he came to Sonoma county and since 1905 he has engaged in general mercantile pursuits at Camp Meeker, where he conducts the only store of its kind in the village.

Born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1850, James E. Kent was the son of parents who spent their entire lives in and near Halifax, but the ancestry is of New England extraction. The maternal grandfather was a private soldier in the Revolutionary war, and the paternal grandfather commanded a regiment of that historic struggle. Upon completing his studies in the schools of his native city James E. Kent served an apprenticeship to the carpenterís trade and later followed the occupation as a journeyman. Too constant devotion to his work, coupled with exposure to the severe climate of the country, led to the failure of his health and forced him to discontinue the trade. Meanwhile as early as 1872, when he was twenty-two years of age, he had married Catherine Rafuse, a native of Nova Scotia. While still living there this estimable lady was removed from the home by death in 1878. Two children survived her and later accompanied their father to California. The son, Edgar, is a resident of Los Angeles. The daughter, Alberta Annie Louise, married Frederick Keesling and makes San Jose her home.

At the age of thirty-two years Mr. Kent removed from Nova Scotia to Boston, Mass., but the climate proved too severe for his strength and two years later, in 1884, he sought the more genial climate of the western coast, where he has since been benefited by the improvement of his health as well as the establishment of prosperous business relations. During 1887 he married Miss Carrie E. Kenfield, who was born, reared and educated in California, and whose mother was a native of Pennsylvania. It has been the good fortune of Mr. and Mrs. Kent to win and retain the esteem of their acquaintances in and near Camp Meeker and they have identified themselves intimately with the best interests of the village, contributing their quota to its material upbuilding and promoting all enterprises that appeal to progressive citizens. While they do not affiliate with any secret orders and while there are no children to bless their home, they are busy, contented and capable, finding their days closely occupied with business enterprises, social amenities and domestic affairs. The political opinions of Mr. Kent bring him into active co-operation with the Democratic party and he supports its ticket in the national elections, but in local affairs he gives his ballot to the men whom he considers most capable and efficient, without consideration of their party views.

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