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Guide to the David Jacks Papers, 1845-1960
Special Collections M068  
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: David Jacks Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1845-1960
    Collection number: Special Collections M068
    Creator: David Jacks, 1822-1909
    Extent: 2.5 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions:


    Publication Rights:

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
    Material published in Arthur E. Bestor, Jr.'s book, David Jacks of Monterey, and Lee L. Jacks His Daughter, is copyrighted. The copyright is held by the Board of Trustees of Stanford University.


    Gift of the Jacks family, 1945, and of Norman Earl, July 1966.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] David Jacks Papers, M068, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    David Jacks was born in 1822 in the village of Crieff in Perthshire, Scotland. In 1841 he followed two older brothers across the Atlantic. He was a clerk, for a short time, at Williamsburg, N.Y., and in the mid 1840s, was a wheelwright at Ft. Hamilton, N.Y. In 1848 news of the discovery of gold in California reached the East Coast. Young Jacks became an accountant for a sutler attached to the 3rd Regiment of Artillery. This outfit left New York in November or December of 1848, went around the Horn and landed in San Francisco in April of 1849. Jacks spent the remainder of that year working at the Presidio and became naturalized as U. S. citizen in December.
    In January 1850, the steamer "California" carried David Jacks to Monterey. He worked for a short time for a merchant, Joseph Boston, and then became a clerk for James McKinlay who ran a grocery and dry goods store. McKinlay was also interested in real estate and loans. In the winter of 1851, McKinlay took a trip to San Francisco, leaving Jacks to handle the store and his various business interests. Loaning of money and acquiring land became very important in Jacks' life, making him the largest landowner and richest citizen of Monterey County.
    David Jacks married Maria Christina de la Soledad Romie on April 20, 1861. They had seven children. Mrs. Jacks, the daughter of German immigrants, was born in Mexico. Her parents, Juan Federico and Maria Frohn Romie moved to Monterey where they held quite a bit of land. One of the Romie properties was the Rancho El Pescadero which later belonged to Jacks. Mary's three brothers also helped Jacks run and manage his constantly increasing holdings.
    Jacks' whole life and career in Monterey was marked by an almost constant series of lawsuits both by and against him. Most of them concerned conflicting property and boundary claims. He had two lawyers in Washington, D.C. handling his claims before the Supreme Court, and numerous others in California. In l868, Jacks bought D.R. Ashley's share in the Monterey Pueblo Lands. He thus became sole owner of property that was to cause him a good deal of trouble. In 1877, the City of Monterey brought the initial suit for fraud to try to recover the land. Litigations continued until 1903 when the courts finally ruled in favor of Jacks.
    David Jacks was also one of the builders of Monterey County. He was instrumental in the construction of the narrow gauge Monterey & Salinas Valley railroad in 1874, and in its sale to the Southern Pacific in 1879. In 1875, he donated a large amount of land for the founding of Pacific Grove as a religious resort. He also helped to found the community of Del Monte. He donated funds for organizational and individual charities. He helped support churches, ministers, and missionaries of almost any Protestant denomination that seemed to need it. Jacks was also active in the field of education. This included financial support of the Monterey County public schools, and service as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of the Pacific. He so impressed his children with the importance of education that many years after his death in 1909, his family contributed handsomely to Stanford University in land and other securities. Part of these funds endowed two professorships in education.


    The DAVID JACKS PAPERS include correspondence, primarily business; legal and official documents in the form of leases, bills of sale, transfers of title, and court actions; financial papers; maps; clippings and printed materials; and photographs, photostats and prints. There are also some notes from various sources and interviews which Arthur E. Bestor, Jr. made in connection with his biography of David and Lee L. Jacks. This was printed in a limited edition by Stanford University in 1945.
    The Jacks material is dated between 1845 and 1905 with the bulk falling in the 1860s. The largest single subject is Jacks' personal business. In this category, as in all those in this collection, the legal and financial papers are equally as important as the correspondence. The business material pertains to the management of Jacks' properties, the shipping and sale of produce and livestock locally, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the purchase of needed material and equipment.
    Because of the seemingly endless law suits in which he was involved, there are a great number of legal documents and records and a lot of correspondence with lawyers. Most of it is related to land questions. The two most important are the Monterey Pueblo Lands case and the claims regarding the Rancho Chualar before the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. A very interesting case not pertaining to land is that with H.H. Bancroft's The History Company over an article and etching of Jacks for The Chronicle of Kings.
    The financial papers are full of drafts and cancelled notes. The former show some of Jacks' activity as a business agent for persons such as D.R. Ashley, and his charity in California and in Scotland. The cancelled give some idea of the scope of his loan activities.
    The collection also includes several folders containing papers of Margaret Jacks and other family members, dating between 1895 and 1960.