Jack Family History
The pioneering that established San Luis Obispo County’s extensive ranching industry is exemplified in the chronicle of the
Robert Edgar Jack family.
Upholding the family ranching tradition are the two daughters and son of Robert Edgar Jack, and seven grandchildren. These
family members are Gertrude M. wife of Charles K. Kaetzel, and their three daughters and son; Miss Ethel E., Howard V., and
the son and two daughters of R. E. Jack, Jr., deceased.
Howard V. Jack operates the family Cholame Ranch of 56,000 acres.
Robert Edgar Jack, pioneer rancher who established the Jack family in San Luis Obispo County, was born near the Kennebec River,
Maine, in September, 1841, member of a seafaring family for generations back.
A graduate of Wesleyan Seminary, Kent’s Hill, Kennebec County, Maine, he became accountant for William J. Dewey and Company,
New York City, a shipping and commission house, at the age of 21. A member of the New York militia, he joined the 56th New
York Infantry during the Civil War and saw service in quelling the negro riots in New York City and in the Battle of Gettysburg.
While with the commission house, however, Robert Edgar Jack had received a letter that shaped his career. Addressed to the
business house, it stated that the writer, Colonel W. W. Hollister, of the San Justo Ranch, near the present location of the
city of Hollister, California, had need for an accountant and secretary. At the close of the Civil War Robert Edgar Jack
accepted Colonel Hollister’s offer and headed west.
In 1858 Colonel Hollister and his brother, Joseph Hubbard Hollister, had left their Ohio home, collected a band of 12,000
sheep in Missouri and had driven their flocks across the Plains to California, stopping for a short time in New Mexico. From
the time of their arrival the name of Hollister has been written large in California history.
Robert Edgar Jack was associated with Colonel Hollister in operating the San Justo Ranch until subdivision of this property
was begun. Together they then purchased the Cholame Ranch, mostly in northern San Luis Obispo county, with a portion in Monterey
In 1870 Robert Edgar Jack married Nellie Hollister, daughter of Joseph Hubbard Hollister. A visitor after they had become
established was Captain Robert Jack, of Kennebec, Maine, father of Robert Edgar Jack, who sailed his ship around the Horn
to San Francisco to be with them and at the conclusion of his stay sailed back around the Horn, homeward bound.
Following the death of Colonel Hollister, Robert Edgar Jack purchased the Hollister interest in the Cholame Ranch, which since
this time has been more familiarly known as the “Jack Ranch,” and soon became known as the “largest” wool grower in Central
As the county developed and commerce grew, Robert Edgar Jack, with William D. Beebee and others, organized the County Bank
of San Luis Obispo and for some years was interested in banking in San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Santa Maria and Lompoc.
Active in politics he served as councilman in San Luis Obispo and in 1892, was delegate to the National Republican Convention
in Minneapolis which nominated Benjamin Harrison for President.
An old Spanish grant, the Cholame Ranch included 27,000 acres in use principally as stock range lands when it was taken over
by Robert Edgar Jack and Colonel Hollister. During their operations it was increased to more than twice this acreage.
With operations changing through the years, cattle have replaced sheep and sections of the extensive acreage cultivated and
planted to wheat and diversified crops.
-- Source: History of San Luis Obispo County by Senator Chris N. Jespersen, Editor 1939