AMZI B. CARY
No history of Alameda county would be complete without specific reference to the life and labors of Amzi B. Cary,
of San Leandro, whose business activities have been of a character and magnitude that have had large bearing on
the progress and development of his section of the county. For many years he has been a prominent figure in banking
circles and is now the vice president of the San Leandro Branch of the American Trust Company, of San Francisco.
The latter institution, which is the outcome of the merger of the Mercantile Trust Company of California, founded
in 1854, and The American Bank, founded in 1871, is one of the largest banking institutions of the country, having
total resources of nearly three hundred million dollars.
The Bank of San Leandro was organized in 1893, opening for business on May 15, with a capital stock of twenty five
thousand dollars, and was first located in an old frame building that occupied the site of the present banking
building. Its officers were as follows: S. Huff, president; L. C. Moorehouse, vice president; Charles H. Hale,
cashier; directors, S. Huff, R. S. Farrelly, T. P. Cary, Joseph Herrscher, Dr. G. Viveon, J. B. Mendonca and L.
C. Moorehouse. The First National Bank of San Leandro was organized in 1910 out of the profits of the San Leandro
Bank, which was a state bank, and two banks were operated with the same set of officers and directors. S. Huff
was the first president and was succeeded by L. C. Moorehouse, after whom came Amzi B. Cary, who filled the executive
position from 1915 to 1924, when the banks were taken over by the American Trust Company. The present banking house
was erected in 1914 by the two banks, both of which occupied the first floor, and this is the present location
of the institution, the San Leandro Branch of the American Trust Company. The present officers are: Amzi B. Cary,
vice president; Charles H. Hale, manager; Lester F. Sterner, assistant manager, with A. B. Cary, A. Lucio, J. B.
Mendonca, H. T. Smyth, R. W. Tutt and Charles H. Hale as members of the advisory board.
Amzi B. Cary was born near Knight's Ferry, Stanislaus county, California, November 1, 1863, a son of Talcott Fatchin
and Elizabeth (McGee) Cary. The Cary family is of English origin and the progenitor of the family in this country
was John Cary, who settled in Massachusetts in colonial days. From this family sprang Alice and Phoebe Cary, the
well known poets and hymn writers, Eugene Cary, who ran for mayor of Chicago against the late Carter Harrison,
and many others who have been distinguished as surgeons, preachers, lawyers, soldiers, manufacturers and business
Talcott Patchin Cary was born in Boston Valley, near Buffalo, New York, and the old Cary home in which he was born
is stilL owned by a descendant of John Cary. It is noteworthy that in the five generations of children born in
that house there has been but one girl. Mr. Cary came to California in 1852, and for several years was engaged
in gold mining at Poverty Hill, in Tuolumne county. In 1855 he became interested in farming and stock raising at
Knight's Ferry, Stanislaus county, in which he met with success, becoming owner of an improved farm of four thousand
acres. At about the time of the building of the Central Pacific Railroad to Modesto he moved to that place, which
at that time was practically ruled by the lawless elements to such an extent that it became necessary to organize
a vigilance committee to curb their gambling and criminal activities. In 1878 Mr. Cary brought his family to San
Leandro, where he continued his prosperous career and became one of the most influential men of the community.
He took a deep interest in its welfare and advancement and donated to the city the ground for the free public library,
on which a building was erected through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie. He served as a member of the board of
education and as city trustee and aided in the development of the city along all lines. He was an active member
of the Presbyterian church, to which he gave liberal support, as he also did to worthy benevolent causes. On his
home place he planted fifty five acres to cherries and apricots and also acquired large landed holdings in the
San Joaquin valley. He became financially interested in the old Sweepstake factory at San Leandro, which was one
of the first concerns to manufacture agricultural implements in California. He died at San Leandro, May 21, 1923,
at the advanced age of ninety five years, honored and respected throughout the community. He had five brothers,
namely: Luther, who became a physician and served as surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil war; Van Renssalaer,
who succeeded to the old Cary homestead at Boston Valley, New York; Richard, who became a noted manufacturer in
western New York; Amzi B., who also was an army surgeon during the Civil war and died from the effects of exposure
and hardships, and who was the favorite brother of Talcott P. Cary, who named his son in his honor; and Eugene,
who served as a captain in the Union Army, afterward became a lawyer, served as a judge, became dean of the insurance
men of the United States, and was a candidate for mayor of Chicago. One of Amzi B. Cary's sons, Frank, is now a
noted surgeon of Chicago.
After coming to California Talcott P. Cary was married to Miss Elizabeth McGee, who was born in Virginia and who,
on the maternal side, was descended from the Lee family so noted in Virginia public life and of which General Robert
E. Lee was a member. The McGees were frontiersmen and pioneers, moving westward in advance of civilization and
settling in Kentucky, Texas and California, crossing the plains, by way of the old Santa Fe trail, in 1850. Members
of the family settled first at Santa Barbara, but later went to Tuolumne county and engaged in mining. Mrs. Cary
died in San Leandro, at the age of sixty nine years.
To Talcott P. and Elizabeth Cary were born three children, namely: Lucy C., who is the widow of Austin Walrath,
and resides at 706 Estudillo avenue, San Leandro; Maggio, who is the wife of E. C. Perkins, of Oakland, California;
and Amzi B. Amzi B. Cary was reared at Knight's Ferry to the age of nine, and obtained his education in the public
schools of Knight's Ferry, Modesto and San Leandro, the Oakland high school, and at Hopkins Academy, in Oakland.
At the latter institution he first met Charles H. Hale, with whom he has been associated in business for a third
of a century. For several years after leaving school Mr. Cary handled cattle and sheep at Knight's Ferry, raising
great heards of Hereford cattle and large droves of Merino sheep. He prospered in that line and bought his father's
stock farm there, to which he added by subsequent purchase until he owned twelve thousand acres of land. In 1895
he sold his farm and live stock interests and became one of the organizers of the Bank of San Leandro and, a few
years later, of the National Bank of San Leandro, with both of which institutions he remained actively identified
until their merger into the American Trust Company in 1924, acting as president for the last nine years of that
period. Since that date he has been at the head of the San Leandro Branch of the American Trust Company.
On September 18, 1889, in Alameda, California, Mr. Cary was united in marriage to Miss Bessie E. Gibbons, a daughter
of the late Professor Alexander Gibbons, who was a graduate in both medicine and theology, and became the president
of the College of the Pacific at San Jose, which is now located at Stockton. To Mr. and Mrs. Cary were born four
children: Lois, who died at the age of seventeen years; Dorothy, who died in infancy; Ruth and Lucy, twins, the
former a graduate of the State Teachers College at San Jose, while the later is a graduate of Leland Stanford University
and is the wife of Max Cochrell, who is a student in the law school of the University of Colorado.
Politically Mr. Cary has always been an active supporter of the republican party and has served as a member of
the county central committee and the state central committee of that party. He has never been a candidate for public
office, but has been influential in the political affairs of his section of the state. He is a member of Eden Lodge,
No. 113, A. F. & A. M., of which he is a past master; San Leandro Chapter, R. A. M., and Oakland Council, R.
& S. M. Mrs. Cary is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church of which denomination her father was a minister.
The family lives in an attractive home at 730 Estudillo avenue, built by Mr. Cary in 1889, where the spirit of
hospitality and good cheer has always reigned. While his individual affairs have made heavy demands on his time.
Mr. Cary has never lost sight of his obligations to his community and has given his earnest support to all measures
calculated to better the public welfare or advance the city's interests along material, civic or moral lines. Owing
to his successful business career, his probity of character, his genuine worth and his kindly and genial manner,
he commands to a marked degree the confidence and esteem of his fellowmen and is regarded as one of the representative
citizens of San Leandro.
History of Alameda County, California
BY: Frank Clinton Merritt
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago, Ill 1928
Alameda County, CA
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