Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


A building contractor whose success is undoubtedly traceable to his high character and the application of a past valuable experience to the problems entrusted to him by his patrons is Thomas A. Oakes, of Santa Cruz. Born at Boston, Massachusetts, February 12, 1857, he is a son of Moses and Margaret (Wallace) Oakes, the former a native of England, and the latter of Boston, and both now deceased. Mr. Oakes died when his son Thomas was about four months old-and Mrs. Oakes passed away in 1921.

Following the death of her husband, Mrs. Oakes brought her son to California in the summer of 1857, via the Isthmus of Panama, and the boy was reared at Susan-ville, Lassen county, until he was twelve years of age. Then he learned the trade of cabinetmaking and woodworking in the furniture shop of W. S. Chadburn, in San Francisco, and when he was a young man he located at Reno, Nevada, where he was in the furniture, upholstering and undertaking business for himself for ten years. Returning to Susanville, he remained for twelve years in the upholstering business there, and then located at Richmond, California, where he engaged in building operations. He erected the Neal block, the first public hall built in Richmond, the Pottery Works, and various buildings in Howard, Mission, Larkin and California streets. He has made his home in Santa Cruz since 1912. He was superintendent of construction on the largest pottery plant in the state, the West Coast Porcelain Manufacturing Company's plant at Burlingame, San Mateo county, a work requiring three and one-half years of his supervision. The structure is six hundred feet long, and largely stands today as a monument to his skill and ability. One kiln was also six hundred feet in length and cost sixty thousand dollars to build. His building operations in 1890-91 included one hundred cottages in Ogden, Utah. He built the Live Oaks school in Santa Cruz county, the first brick schoolhouse in the district. In Carmel he also built the new post office, and a modern two-story apartment and store building, a1 so of brick which he owns. In recent years he has built and sold houses in Santa Cruz county, and he put up a number of homes in the Chris Johnson tract and the Wilson tract, which are in the chicken-raising district, where he has also built extensively. chicken. houses, housing from eight hundred to one thousand chickens. His work is likewise to be seen in the Parkway district.

On the 27th of April, 1887, Mr. Oakes was married, at Reno, Nevada, to Miss Abbie E. Nash, of Lexington, Michigan, and they have one daughter, Margaret Elizabeth in high school. Mr. Oakes is a past grand in Eclipse Lodge, No. 403, I. O. O. F. of Richmond, California, and he has been an Odd Fellow since 1877. Mrs. Oakes has been identified with the Rebekahs for twenty-three years and held office in the order while at Susanville. They are highly respected residents of Santa Cruz and the sterling traits of character which they have displayed in all the relations of life have won for them many friends.

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.