Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Obituary

David Jacks

Submitted by Gary Carlson ~ June 20, 2007

Monterey Daily Cpyress
Monterey, California
Tuesday Morning January 12, 1909

Started as Clerk in Store and became a Multimillionaire

David Jacks, one of the oldest pioneers in Monterey, died yesterday at 13:30 o'clock at his home on the corner of Van Buren and Scott streets after an illness of about ten days.

Mr. Jacks was born in Crieff Perthshire Scotland, in 1820, and was 87 years of age at the time of his death. His ancestors were French Huguenots. In 1841 he left Scotland for New York, arriving there in August of that year. He went to Williamsburg and then Fort Hamilton in that state where he was employed in mercantile establishments as a clerk. Captain Robert E. Lee, afterward the celebrated general was at Fort Hamilton at the time and traded with Mr. Jacks and became a fast friend of the clerk. James L. Flood , one of the famous millionaires of California learned the trade of carriage making at the establishment where Mr. Jacks was employed.

While at Fort Hamilton a company of the United States Army that was stationed there was ordered to California, and the commissary sergeant needed an assistant to help him in his clerical capacity and engaged Mr. Jacks to accompany him on the trip.

About this time Mr. Jacks read a letter in the New York Herald from Rev. Walter Colton, a chaplain of the navy that was stationed at Monterey and at the time holding some civil office, telling of the wonderful gold discoveries of California. Mr. Jacks concluded to invest his saving some $1400, in goods which he thought would sell at that time among the people of California.

He sailed with the company on the ship the Sea Queen from New York on December 14, 1848. A stop was made a Rio Janeiro and Valparaiso and California was reached in April of 1849.

Mr. Jacks disposed of the goods he had brought with him inside of forty eight hours for $4000. Revolvers that cost $18 in New York rapidly sold in San Francisco for $50. He at once loaned his $4000 at one and one-half percent a month, the party keeping it two years when he paid up in full. He secured work in the custom house at once. He was not satisfied with his pay which in those days was very low, and Mr. Jacks and two companions outfitted and on the 11th of October 1949 were to start for Sacramento, and the mines. A big rain storm came up and the roads became impassable to the mines, and Mr. Jacks lost all desire to search for gold in the mines.

Toward the last of the year Mr. Jacks determined to come to Monterey, and on the first day of January 1850, he landed here. He came down on a Panama steamer, which in those days stopped here, the fare from San Francisco being $25. Mr. Jacks at once secured employment as a herder for the government and was in charge of a band of 300 horses and mules that were kept on the San Francisquito ranch twenty four miles south east of Monterey. It is said that while riding around these herds Mr. Jacks became inbued with the idea that the land in California would one day become valuable and then and there made the resolve to be a great land owner. From that time on every cent he could get he right into land and thus laid the foundation for the great fortune he has left.

After a few months of this herding Mr. Jacks threw up the job and came into Monterey, where he secured employment as a clerk with James McKinley, who then conducted a large grocery and dry goods store. He has a salary of $2000 a year, and he remained with the store for two years, and saved every cent of the money he received.

In 1851 Mr. Jacks engaged in farming in the Carmel Valley, at the same time retaining his clerkship in the store. His success at farming was indifferent, as he had to hire men to do the work. In 1854 he personally took hold of the farm himself and went into the raising of potatoes. He realized a ggod sum for the potatoes and the next year was enticed into hog raising, the price of the animals being high. He bought a good sized herd, but the price of feed became very high and he disposed of the herd at a loss a couple of thousand dollars.

In 1856 he returned to Scotland to visit his family, and remained nearly two years, but in 1857 he returned to Monterey. He assumed charge of the large interests he had aquired and which he had left in the hands of an agent. He began loaning money and whenever he had any on hand that there was not a reday borrower for he bought land which at the time ranged from $1.50 to $3.00 an acre. Many times the borrowers of the money could not pay the debts and Mr. Jacks was compelled to take the land upon which he held mortgages. In this way some of the largest holdings were secured.

Mr. Jacks was one of the prime movers in the construction of the Monterey and Salinas railroad, which was built by businessman of Monterey and farmers of the Salinas Valley, and he mortgaged his Chular ranch for $25,000 in order to put money in the road. He lost some $40,000 in this road which was finally sold to the Southern Pacific.

In the course of his land speculations Mr. Jacks secured the large tract which now comprises the city of Pacific Grove and the Seventeen Mile Drive, and when in May 1875 the presiding elders in the of the San Francisco Methodist Episcopal Church suggested to him a suitable seaside resort for holding annual camp meetings. He laid out the site of the town that is now Pacific Grove. Mr. Jacks advanced $30,000 providing tents and cottages and furnishing the same so they could be occupied. The wisdom Mr. Jacks then displayed in selecting the camp meeting site has resulted in the building of a thriving city.

In 1880 Mr Jacks sold El Pescadero and Punta del Pin os ranches which are nearly the whole Monterey Peninsula and the townsite of Pacific Grove to the Pacific Improvement Company. The tract contained 7000 acres of land and sold for $35,000.

Mr. Jacks returned his attention to farming his holdings in Chular in 1878 and he inaugurated the plan of leasing the land to small farmers on shares and the Chular and Alisal ranches have been conducted in such a manor ever since.

At the time he transferred all of his holdings to the David Jacks Corporation about a year ago, Mr. Jacks had accumulated a little over 100,000 acres of land in Monterey County. No person ever came into or left Monterey, but that he rode through the Jacks estate for nearly twenty miles. He owned all of the land on both sides of the railroad from Monterey to Salinas river and along the county from Monterey to the Salinas river belonged to him with the exception of a short stretch which was a part of the Laguna Seca ranch. In the southern end of the county he owned the great Chular ranch of some forty thousand acres and adjoining land. Besides these lands he owned considerable property in Monterey.

In San Jose Mr. Jacks owned some $750,000 worth of property and also some valuable realty in San Francisco. In all he accumulated $6,000,000 worth of property.

In transferring this vast estate to his wife and children according to the contract filed, Mr. Jacks reserved for himself but a monthly income of $150. The David Jacks Corporation has, since its formation kept the vast estate in tact and have been carrying out the plan formulated by the founder of a great fortune.

On April 30 1861, Mr. Jacks married Miss Maria Christina Soledad Romie, who now survives him. He leaves five children, Mrs. Janet C. Balch of Los Angeles, Miss Lee L. Will, Mary R. Margaret A., Romie C, and Veda G. Jacks.

Mr. Jacks was by far the largest landowner in Monterey county, and one of the largest in the state, yet he boasted that every acre he owned he paid cash for. In the early days he secured passion of the city lands of Monterey at a sale ordered by the then board of trustees for some $1200. The public lands including many thousand acres of land. In after years litigation was commenced for the recovery of the land and they were in the courts for years, a decision having been handed down by the United States Supreme Court a little over two years ago, in which the claim of Mr. Jacks was upheld.

Mr. Jacks gave a great deal to charity which was never heard of. In a business transaction he was very strict. It is said by one who knows he had disbursed fully $100,000 on account of charity. In politics Mr. Jacks was a Republican and in religion a Scotch Presbyterian. He has assisted many churches and schools and for forty years he bore the major part of the expense of maintaining Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Pacific Grove and Monterey.

He was one of the pioneer fruit growers of Monterey county, and for fifteen years he tried to grow prunes in this county.

Mr. Jacks at the time of his death was a trustee of the San Francisco Theological Seminary at San Anselmo and an honorary member of Troup C of the National Guard at Salinas.

The funeral of Mr. Jacks will be held on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock from his residence. Rev. Mr. W. J. Clifford of the First Presbyterian Church of this city will conduct the services. Interment will be in the Protesant Cemetery in this city.