John immigrated from Kildare, Ireland, around 1853 and worked in Boston until 1855, when he moved to San Francisco. Later that year, John and his wife, Mary Cummings, relocated to Watsonville and John became a superintendent on a ranch near the coast. He became a renter in 1865 and eventually purchased 100 acres in Santa Cruz County. Over the following years, he added adjacent property to his parcel, first 100 acres, then 200 more. He also purchased 150 acres on the Salinas River from Pico de Castro and 200 acres nearby to use as pastureland. By 1892, the family owned nearly five miles of land in Santa Cruz County alone.
|The house and gardens of Peter J. Thompson in Watsonville [Harrison]|
|Lithographs of a rodeo on the Thompson Ranch in Watsonville, c. 1892 [Harrison]|
The ultimate fate of the Thompson family and its presence in the Salinas Valley is unknown. While many descendants of the family still live today in the Pajaro Valley, no information on John, Peter, or Christopher is forthcoming. The Salinas Valley property remains today an agricultural field.
Most traces of Thompson Station are now gone except for an especially wide section of undeveloped land between a large field and Old Salinas River. The original Pajaro Valley Consolidated Railroad right-of-way still exists, visible from Google Maps satellite view on the east bank of the river beside a private service road for the nearby farm. However, only the space for the former siding remains – there is no physical evidence of the siding itself having ever existed there.
Citations & Credits:
- Guinn, James Miller. History of the State of California and Biographical Record of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. Chicago: Chapman Publishing, 1903.
- Harrison, Edward S. History of Santa Cruz County California. San Francisco: Pacific Press Publishing, 1892.
- Martin, Edward. History of Santa Cruz County California with Biographical Sketches. Los Angeles: Historic Record Company, 1911.