DEHART, WILLIAM (1843 - 1928)

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History of the State of California and Biographical Record of Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties, James M. Guinn
William DeHart
Pioneer Cemetery, Watsonville

The White & DeHart Co., which was incorporated November 23, 1896, is one of the leading industries of Watsonville and the Pajaro valley. Its inception may be attributed to the enterprise and keen foresight of William DeHart and Edmund White, who conducted the business in partnership for a considerable period. In 1899 Mr. DeHart bought out his partner's interest, since which time he has been president of the company, and his son, Joseph, secretary. Under their direction a warehouse has been built, 40 x 100, and a boiler of one hundred-horse power has been added. From their plant are turned out all kinds of fruit boxes, berry crates and baskets, and they also conduct a feed mill and general lumber mill. The basket department has a capacity of twenty-five thousand two and one-half pound baskets per day, sixteen hundred apple boxes a day, and others in proportion. During the busy season employment is furnished to as many as fifty hands, all of whom, trained under his personal oversight, have become skilled basket and box makers. Redwood and pine lumber are used in the factory, obtained almost wholly from the forests of this state. Near the factory two cottages have been erected. It is the ambition of both father and son to secure the highest success for their enterprise, and they are justly proud of its large output and the general demand for its products.

When a child Mr. DeHart accompanied his parents to Iowa and grew to manhood on a farm. In 1862 he enlisted at Birmingham, that state, in the Thirtieth Iowa Cavalry, but soon re-enlisted in the Marines. He participated in the siege of Vicksburg and served principally on the Mississippi River. At the close of the war he returned to Iowa and learned the blacksmith's trade at Birmingham. On entering into business for himself, he not only carried on a shop, but also dealt in farming implements. On selling out there he went to the then territory of Washington, and after ten months, in 1869, came to California, settling at Whiskey Hill [Freedom], Santa Cruz County. There he bought out L. P. Helm's blacksmith shop, which he carried on for six years. On selling that, he bought from F. Williams one hundred and sixty acres, of which he planted twenty-five acres in apricots, prunes and peaches. This property he still owns, but has rented it to tenants since turning his attention to the mill and basket manufacturing business. The interest which Mr. DeHart feels in matters connected with war days led him, years ago, to identify himself with the Grand Army of the Republic, and for some time he was active in its workings. He has also been interested in the Odd Fellows and is connected with both the lodge and encampment, in the former of which he holds rank as past grand. (p. 282-283)

Watsonville Pajaronian (May 21, 1928)

William DeHart Honored Pioneer Is Buried Tomorrow

The last half score of Pajaro Valley members of the Grand Army of the Republic was broken yesterday, when William DeHart, one of Watsonville's pioneers died at 10:15 a.m.

Dr. George Tolman was in attendance. Mr. DeHart had been ill for six months, but had rallied, when, a short time ago, he fell when going into the door and though no bones were broken, the shock of the fall was too much in his weakened condition, and he succumbed.

He was 85 years old, having been born in Illinois, Feb 26, 1843. When a small child he was taken to Vernon, IA., where he grew up, and on Feb 7, 1864 married Mary A. Rodabaugh. To this union were born a son and a daughter. The son, Josephine died some years ago, but the daughter, Etta, is now Mrs. D.H. Dodge and resides in Watsonville.

Mr. DeHart enlisted in the 30th Iowa Cavalry at Birmingham, IA on Jan 9, 1863, but shortly reenlisted in Co. C of the First Marines and served throughout the war without being either wounded or imprisoned, receiving his discharge Jan 19, 1865.

He was in the siege of Vicksburg and many engagements along the Mississippi.

At Birmingham after the war, he learned the blacksmithing trade, and opened a shop there. After seven years he emigrated to Dalles, Ore., in 1868, and the next year came south to Watsonville, where he has resided ever since.

On identifying himself with the life of this city, he bought LP Helm's blacksmith shop at Freedom, (then Whiskey Hill) and conducted his business there six years.

After he sold his blacksmith shop he bought 160 acres from F. Williams, 25 acres of which he planted apricots, peaches and prunes.

In 1887 he and Edmund White joined forces to go into the lumbering business, and set up a mill near Mount Madonna on the old toll road. There they cut timber for three years, then moved to the Thompson tract, and cut that out. Finally they moved to Watsonville, and set up a mill here where the Pajaro Valley Ice and Cold Storage plant now is. They had both a box factory and feed mill. About ten years ago he retired from business.

On Nov. 23, 1896, the White & DeHart Co. was incorporated and became one of the leading industries of the city. In 1899 Mr. DeHart bought out his partner's interests, and afterward remained president of the company, with his son as secretary.

The plant furnished fruit boxes, berry crates and baskets, having a capacity of 25,000, 2 1/2 lb. baskets a day, 1600 apple boxes a day, and other supplies as well. During the busy season 50 hands were employed, all under Mr. DeHart's personal supervision.

The funeral services conducted by the Odd Fellows of which he was a past grand master, at his request, will be held from Aston & Neal's undertaking parlors tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 followed by burial in the I.O.O.F. Cemetery. It is probable the G.A.R. will furnish a firing squad at the grave, there being now only nine left in the fast thinning ranks, and they will wish to pay military honor to their comrade.


One by one the cherished friends of the Pajaronian editor leave this earthly scene and make us feel very lonesome.

We got acquainted with "Bill" DeHart some twenty six years ago and have enjoyed his friendship ever since. Deceased was a man who, in his heyday, brooked silly any dissent from his views. He was a man of positive convictions- not backward in explaining and defending them. Of a rugged, hardy nature, when he admitted you to his friendship he was a most enjoyable comrade.

John Royse and "Bill" DeHart were cronies in their boyhood days in the east and it was a joy to get them together and hear them swap yarns and reminiscences.

Mr. DeHart had much to do with the progress of this community. For years he ran a boxmaking and planing mill on the corner of Walker and Second streets and the fame of "White & DeHart" was widely known.

Wm DeHart was a good man. He was an upright and conscientious citizen who always strove to better conditions.

We are sorry- extremely sorry- to hear of his passing away.

Date of Birth: 1843-02-26

Date of Death: 1928-20-05

County: Santa Cruz

Cemetery/City of Burial: Santa Cruz County

Plot: 14-30

Mortuary: A&N

Cause of Death: Pul/Pnmnia

Date of Marriage: 1864/02/07

Spouse: Rodabauagh_ Mary A

Occupation: Mfg/Lumber

Height: 6'3

Local Address: Second St 165

Last City: Watsonville

Native of: IL

Father Native of: Ely ()

Enlisted: 1863/01/09

Discharged: 1865/01/19

Military Unit: USM_ 1 Inf_ Co C

Rank: Pvt

Military Notes: E-Brmnghm_W_P_ (IA 3CV)

GAR#: M26

Available records used to obtain information:
Cemetery records
Santa Cruz County death records
Military records
Santa Cruz and Monterey newspapers
Voter Records

CW Reference: RLM 1881 Roster

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Old Soldier: the story of the Grand Army of the Republic in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2004.
Date: Undated
Coverage: Santa Cruz (County)
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson.
Identifier: OS-0251


Nelson, Robert L. “DEHART, WILLIAM (1843 - 1928).” Old Soldier: the story of the Grand Army of the Republic in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2004. SCPL Local History. Accessed 20 Jan. 2020.