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Guide to the James A. Clayton Family Papers, circa 1850-1905
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Indexing Terms
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement of the James A. Clayton Papers

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: James A. Clayton Family Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1850-1905
    Collection Number: ECS03.06
    Creator: James A. Clayton Family
    Extent: Containers: 2 boxes

    Volume: 1.5 cubic feet Selected online items available
    Repository: Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University
    San Jose, California
    Abstract: The James A. Clayton Family Papers is a collection of correspondence and photographs that document life in the Clayton family of Santa Clara County during the latter half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The family correspondence records aspects of life events and personal dynamics among its members; this is especially the case with James A. Clayton and his wife Anna.
    Language of Material: All material is in English.
    Selected digitized images from this collection.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Sourisseau Academy. Neither the original photographs nor the digital images held by the Sourisseau Academy may be reproduced, published, or used on the Internet without the expressed, written permission of the Executive Secretary. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Sourisseau Academy as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher. The credit line, "Courtesy of the Edith C. Smith Trust Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History" must accompany any such use.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], James A. Clayton Family Papers, ECS03.08, Edith C. Smith Photograph Collection, Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History, San Jose State University, San Jose, California

    Acquisition Information

    The James A. Clayton Family Papers were donated to the Sourisseau Academy by the Edith Corinne Smith Trust in 2009. The collection appears to have been part of the Florence Gates Baldwin estate, granddaughter of James and Anna Clayton.

    Biographical Note

    James A. Clayton was born 20 Oct 1831 in Bugsworth, Derbyshire, England, and died 1896 in Los Angeles, CA. He married Anna Louinia Thomson in March 1869, daughter of Robert Thomson and Amy Brown. She was born June 1843 in Richmond, Indiana, and died 19 Feb 1917 in San Jose, Santa Clara Co., CA.
    In 1853, Clayton became permanently identified with Santa Clara where he operated a photography studio. He subsequently moved the studio to San Jose; and in the late 1850s, he relocated his family to San Jose. While in Santa Clara, Clayton and John B. Hewston started the city's first temperance movement. Clayton was also one of the region's first leaders to initiate the establishment of a local YMCA. In 1861, Clayton was elected county clerk on the Republican ticket and was elected again in 1863, while continuing to operate his photograph studio. In 1867, he entered the real estate business in San Jose and remained active in that profession until his death in 1896.
    Prior to 1887, most property available for purchase in Santa Clara Valley passed through his hands at least once. Clayton started the first abstract and title business in Santa Clara County, one of the first in the state. He became a promoter and partial owner of the first electric lighting plant in the county and was one of the founders of the First National Bank of San Jose in 1874. He later served as its president for many years. After Clayton had been in the realty business several years, he started to promote the Santa Clara Valley with illustrated literature that was distributed widely in the American Mid-West.
    James and Anna Clayton had seven children: Mary E., married to Caroll W. Gates and lived in Los Angeles; Edward W., for many years associated with his father and later with the James A. Clayton Company real estate business; Willis C., also connected with James A. Clayton Company real estate interests and one of the presidents of the First National Bank of San Jose; Ethel, a graduate from the University of the Pacific and associate with her father's company; Grace Elizabeth, who died in infancy; John J.; and Florence.
    Excerpt adapted from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County, California, (Los Angeles: Historic Record Co, 1922), pp 803.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms may be used to index this collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Clayton, James A. (1831-1896)
    James A. Clayton Family
    Photograph Albums--California--Santa Clara County (Calif.)--19th Century
    Real estate business--California--Santa Clara County (Calif.)--19th Century
    Santa Clara County (Calif.)
    Tomas, Anna Louinia (1843-1917)

    Scope and Content

    The James A. Clayton Family Papers is composed of personal letters and photographs from the Clayton family in Santa Clara County during the latter half of the 19th century. The papers are divided into two series: Series I dates from 1850 to 1896 and contains letters and postcards between James A. Clayton, his wife Anna, and their children. Series II contains the Clayton family photograph album, which spans the latter half of the nineteenth century and the dawn of the twentieth century. The majority of these photographs consist of portraits of immediate and extended family members, along with friends and associates.

    Arrangement of the James A. Clayton Papers

    The papers are arranged into two series:
    • Series I: Correspondence, 1850-1896
    • Series II: Photographs, 1850-1905