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Stratton, James T. OAC

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Stratton, J. T. (James T. )


Biographical History

James Thompson Stratton was born on October 9, 1830 at Thompsonville, New York, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Stratton. His maternal grandfather was the Honorable William A. Thompson, first judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Alston and Sullivan counties, New York.

Stratton was educated at the Columbia Grammar School in New York, and came to California, via the Isthmus of Panama, just after the Gold Rush. He arrived in San Francisco on the "Columbus" on June 6, 1850. His first work in California was a survey of the town of Benicia; later, in 1851, he travelled up the American River to try his luck at the diggings. In 1853 he completed a survey of the town of Alameda, and in the following year he returned East to marry Cornelia A. Smith at Sing Sing, New York, on October 30, 1854.

Returning to California following his marriage, Stratton settled in the town of Clinton, now renamed East Oakland. In 1858 and 1859 he was the County Surveyor for Alameda County, and made many important surveys in other parts of California, becoming an authority on the large Mexican grants. It is said that he subdivided more Spanish ranchos than any other surveyor.

Stratton was appointed U.S. Surveyor-General for California by President Grant in 1873, but because of failing eyesight he was forced to abandon the job in 1876. During the period from 1880 to 1883 he served as Chief Deputy State Surveyor under General James W. Shanklin. Toward the end of his life he was associated with Shanklin in many land ventures throughout the state. It may also be noted that Stratton was a pioneer in the introduction of the Australian eucalyptus into California, planting over 300 acres of these trees on his Hayward ranch.

Stratton's death occurred in Oakland on March 15, 1903. He was survived by his wife and four children: Frederick Smith Stratton, George Malcolm Stratton, Robert T. Stratton and Mrs. Walter Good.

From the finding aid for James T. Stratton Papers, 1857-1903 (Bancroft Library)

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