Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Herbert J. Cowles, a well known and progressive young orchardist of the Watsonville neighborhood in Santa Cruz county, was born on the place on which he resides and where he has lived all his life, having thus grown up to a business which he has developed until he has come to be recognized as one of the leading orchardists in this section. He was born May 21, 1885, and is a son of Horace H. and Mary (Rodgers) Cowles, the latter of whom is still living. She is a daughter of James Rodgers, who was one of the pioneers of Watsonville.

The late Horace H. Cowles, who in his generation was for years one of the prominent orchardists of Santa Cruz county, was a native of the state of Vermont, born September 30, 1849, and was a son of Timothy Cowles, also a native Vermonter, who was one of the California pioneers, he having come to this state by way of the Isthmus in 1852. Timothy Cowles found conditions here to his liking and sent back east for his wife to join him here. She left her children in charge of relatives until proper home provision could be made for them here and then early in 1863 these children, Horace H. Cowles, then nine years of age, and his younger sister, aged seven, came to California under proper care, by way of the Horn, and rejoined their parents.

It was in San Benito county that the Timothy Cowles home was established and there Horace H. Cowles grew to manhood. He later came to Santa Cruz county in 1881 and he decided to make his permanent home here. In 1883 he bought the place on which his son is now living and proceeded to develop there a fine orchard, establishing his home on the place. Prior to that he had for some time farmed the Flint ranch of eight hundred acres in the San Juan valley and also for a time had been engaged in farming at San Andreas, but the place he selected for his own in the Watsonville neighborhood suited him very well and he set about to improve and develop it. In 1896 he erected on that place the present substantial dwelling house and there he spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring in April, 1908, untimely and suddenly, the result of an attack of ptomaine poisoning. His widow still is residing on the old home place, where she is very pleasantly situated. His father, the pioneer, Timothy Cowles, lived to the great age of ninety-six years. To Horace H. Cowles and wife were born five children, the subject of this biographical review having four sisters, namely: Florence, wife of George W. Webb; Lillian, wife of Lynn Marsh; Ethel, wife of Fred Hudson, and Gertrude, wife of Harlow Ford.

Reared on the home farm in Green valley, Herbert J. Cowles supplemented the education received in the local schools by a course in the business college at Santa Cruz and from the days of his boyhood has been attentive to the labors incident to the development of the fruit ranch. He married in his twentieth year and continued to make his home on the place. Following his father's death two years later he took over the management of the ranch and has so continued, long having been recognized as one of the leading fruit growers of this section. Mr. Cowles has a fine place of fifty-one acres of full bearing orchard and his operations are carried on in strictly up-to-date fashion. He is a member of the local lodge of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at Watsonville and is also affiliated with the local camp of the Woodmen of the World.

Mr. Cowles has been twice married. In 1906 he was united in marriage to Miss Edna Mann, who died in 1920, leaving four children, George, Eloise, Hazel and Omar. On September 13, 1922, Mr. Cowles married Miss Ethel Jones and to this union one child has been born, a son, Carroll. They have a pleasant home on their place and Mr. and Mrs. Cowles have ever taken an interested and helpful part in the general social activities of the community in which they reside. Mr. Cowles has from the very beginning of that organization been an active factor in the promotion of the interests of the local farm bureau and has served as a director of the same.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.