Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


William J. McGowan, one of the big operators along the lines of agriculture in the beautiful Pajaro valley in the vicinity of Watsonville, proprietor of an admirably kept ranch in what is known as the Trafton district in Monterey county, is a native of New Jersey but has been a resident of California since the days of his boyhood and thus feels himself very much a Californian. He was born in the city of Gloucester, New Jersey, January 4, 1861, and is a son of John and Elizabeth (Jarvis) McGowan, who later became residents of California and whose last days were spent here.

The late John McGowan, who for many years was one of the best known men in the Watsonville neighborhood, was a native of Ireland, who grew up in his native land and in 1844 came to America and began working as a farm hand and gardener in the Camden vicinity in New Jersey. He saved his money and after his marriage bought a small farm of his own and in that state was engaged in farming for twenty years, at the end of which time he disposed of his interests there and with his family came to California and established his home in the beautiful Pajaro valley, in the vicinity of Watsonville, where he became engaged in general farming and stock raising and where he spent the remainder of his life, his death occurring on March 5, 1901. His wife died in 1872.

William T. McGowan was three years of age when he accompanied his father from New Jersey into the Pajaro valley in 1865 and from the beginning of his father's ranching operations there he took an active interest in them, being helpful in the labors of developing the place and bringing it up to a high state of cultivation and productiveness. Following his marriage he bought a place of his own and has since been farming there, his place lying over the line in Monterey county. Mr. McGowan has a fine tract of two hundred and fifty-four acres, all in the rich bottom lands, save about thirty acres, and he has done well in his operations, the greater part of his land being given over to agricultural products. He has improved this place admirably and has one of the best farm plants thereabout. Mr. McGowan is a Knights Templar Mason and has ever taken an interested part in the general social and civic life of the community.

On September 4, 1889, William J. McGowan was united in marriage to Sarah M. Trafton, a native of the Pajaro valley, daughter of Charles D. and Eliza (Cathers) Trafton, concerning whom further and fitting mention is made elsewhere in this work. To Mr. and Mrs. McGowan eight children have been born: Charles Wilford, Mildred, deceased, Clarence O., Lester D., Myrtle Estelle, Merrell, Ralph and Eleanor, all of whom are married save the three last named. The three elder sons of Mr. and Mrs. McGowan are veterans of the World war, with overseas records and all are members of the local post of the American Legion in Watsonville. Charles Wilford McGowan was in the motor section of the Twentieth English Corps, with which he served as a master engineer, and with that command saw some pretty active service in France. He married Susan Uren and has two children, Dorothy and Wilford. Clarence 0. McGowan served as a radio operator in the aviation section of the American Expeditionary Forces in France and also participated in some pretty strenuous action with that command. He married Katherine Hopkins and has one child, a son, Robert C. Lester D. McGowan, the third son, rendered service overseas with the light field artillery, was through the memorable campaign in the Argonne and was afterward with the Army of Occupation on the Rhine. He married Janet Dresser. Myrtle Estelle McGowan became the wife of Neal Light and has two children, Jeannette and Carol. Mr. and Mrs. McGowan thus have five grandchildren, in whom they take much pride and delight.

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.