Guide to the James A. Clayton Family Papers, circa 1850-1905

Part of the Edith C. Smith Photograph Collection

Guide prepared by Daniel Jarvis
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0147
Phone: (408) 808-2064
©2010Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. All rights reserved.

Guide to the James A. Clayton Family Papers, 1850-1905

Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History

San Jose State University

Contact Information:

  • Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History
  • San Jose State University
  • One Washington Square
  • San Jose, CA 95192-0147
  • Email:
  • URL:
Collection processed and guide prepared and encoded by:
Daniel Jarvis
Date Completed:
March 2010
©2010 Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History. All rights reserved.

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.

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


Series I Correspondence 1850-1896

Physical Description: 14 folders

Series I Description:

Series I contains the correspondence between members of the Clayton family, arranged chronologically by year, if given. James Clayton wrote much of this correspondence to his wife while he was traveling. There are also numerous letters from the Clayton children to their parents, with one group of letters recounting a visit to the Yosemite Valley. Two additional documents worth mentioning, since they are not correspondence, are filed with Series I for the sake of simplicity. The first item is located in the folder one and consists of a court document dated March 26, 1863. In this document Clayton certifies the motion of a defendant to "strike out portions of complaint" in the court case. The second item, located in the folder two, is a basic receipt for the purchase of a piano from a merchant in San Francisco.
Box 1, Folder 1


Box 1, Folder 2


Box 1, Folder 3


Box 1, Folder 4


Box 1, Folder 5


Box 1, Folder 6


Box 1, Folder 7


Box 1, Folder 8


Box 1, Folder 9


Box 1, Folder 10


Box 1, Folder 11


Box 1, Folder 12


Box 1, Folder 13


Box 1, Folder 14



SERIES II Photographs Circa 1850-1905

Physical Description: 107 photographs

Series II Description

Series II contains the Clayton family photograph album, and with the exception of several photographs stored separately, is kept in its original order. Three of the photographs display two of the family residences, their early home on N. Market Street and later home on N. First Street. In one of the photos James A. Clayton is pictured in his garden at their home on N. First Street. Most of the photographs, however, display individual and group portraits of immediate and extended family members.

ecs2003 James A. Clayton


ecs2004 Florence Clayton


ecs2005 James A. Clayton


ecs2006 Edward William Clayton


ecs2007 Willis Sherman Clayton


ecs2008 Mary Emma Clayton


ecs2009 Ethel Clayton


ecs2010 John J. Clayton


ecs2011 James A. Clayton (2 copies)


ecs2012 Anna S. Clayton (2 copies)


ecs2013 Bradley & Jean Clayton


ecs2014 Edna Clayton, 1890-1908


ecs2015 Flora Haskell


ecs2016 Allie Haskell


ecs2017 Elijah Clayton


ecs2018 Hannah J. Clayton


ecs2019 Unidentified Woman


ecs2020 Unidentified Man


ecs2021 Mrs. John Clayton


ecs2022 Uncle William Clayton


ecs2023 Susan Clayton


ecs2024 Three Haskell Brothers. Henry, Daniel, and third unidentified brother


ecs2025 Flora, Allie, & Walter Haskell


ecs2026 Aunt Alvana Haskell


ecs2027 Henry Haskell


ecs2028 Unidentified Woman


ecs2029 Unidentified Man


ecs2030 Grandma Thomson (Amy F.)


ecs2031 Cousin Edward Clayton. Son of William


ecs2032 Teresa Leigh (Rodgers)


ecs2033 Mary Clayton Embree, daughter of Eli & Hannah


ecs2034 Elijah Clayton


ecs2035 Hannah Woodward Clayton


ecs2036 Charles S. Preble


ecs2037 Ella Thomson Preble


ecs2038 John Clayton


ecs2039 Unidentified girl


ecs2040 Ethel Clayton


ecs2041 J.K. Barney


ecs2042 Unidentified Woman


ecs2043 Nettie Clayton Flewton


ecs2044 Unidentified Woman


ecs2045 Mrs. Johnson


ecs2046 Samuel Johnson


ecs2047 Mrs. Jane Cutler


ecs2048 Antonio Fatjo


ecs2049 Unidentified Man


ecs2050 Edward W., Mary, & Willis Sherman Clayton


ecs2051 Charles Edward Clayton


ecs2052 Unidentified woman


ecs2053 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Rea


ecs2054 Carrie Rea


ecs2055 William H. Quinn Sr.


ecs2056 Florence Quinn


ecs2057 William & Emma Bechtel


ecs2058 Joshua R. Bechtel


ecs2059 George Howe Bechtel


ecs2060 Dophia Palmer Stetson


ecs2061 Clayton Embree


ecs2062 William Bechtel


ecs2063 Theophilus Kirk


ecs2064 Emma Thomson Bechtel & William Bechtel


ecs2065 Christianian Vietzman "Ann" Clayton


ecs2066 Samuel Joel Clayton


ecs2067 Johnnie Clayton (Samuel's son)


ecs2068 Charles W. Clayton


ecs2069 Unidentified Woman


ecs2070 Unidentified Woman


ecs2071 William Howdle, Esq.


ecs2072 Hannah Clayton Howdle


ecs2073 Ethel Clayton


ecs2074 Cornelia Clayton


ecs2075 Hazel Preble & Amy Thomson


ecs2076 Amy French Brown Thomson


ecs2077 Anne E. Earle


ecs2078 Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.


ecs2079 Florence Gates


ecs2080 Ella Thomson Preble


ecs2081 Anna L.Thomson Clayton


ecs2082 Flora, Allie, & Walter Haskell


ecs2083 Edward, Willis, & Mary Clayton


ecs2084 Ethel Preble


ecs2085 Ethel, Dorma, & Hazel Preble


ecs2086 Florence Gates Baldwin


ecs2087 Willis Sherman Clayton & Ernest P. Lion


ecs2088 Florence Gates


ecs2089 Florence Gates


ecs2090 Unidentified Women


ecs2091 Anna Florence Clayton


ecs2092 John James Clayton


ecs2093 Mary Emma Clayton


ecs2094 Anna Florence Clayton


ecs2095 Anna Florence Clayton


ecs2096 Jennet Jacks


ecs2097 Clara D. Houghton


ecs2098 Allie Haskell


ecs2099 Susannah Minor


ecs2100 Ethel Clayton


ecs2101 Ethel Clayton


ecs2102 Willis Clayton & George Carter


ecs2103 Mary, Eddie, & Willie Clayton


ecs2104 Mary & Eddie Clayton


ecs2105 Mary E. Clayton


ecs2106 Annie Johnson


ecs2107 Clayton Residence at 143 North Market Street


ecs2108 Clayton Residence at 471 North First Street


ecs2109 Clayton Residence at 471 North First Street