Judson Gerald Hamilton

An old barn located at Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area still houses items that belonged to the family of Howard Harris, and a recent discovery of a saddle made by J.G. Hamilton prompted the following bit of research.

Judson Gerald Hamilton was born in Pennsylvania in 1839. He grew up in Iowa and when he left school he entered an apprenticeship to learn the trade of a harness-maker. The Civil War broke out and Judson enlisted in 1862 and served in the 21st Iowa Infantry until the close of the war, when he decided to join his brother Gilbert at his harness shop in Marysville, CA to complete his trade as a harness-maker.

Eventually Judson heard of opportunities to the south and moved to Hollister in 1869 and opened the first harness shop in town, carrying a full line of saddles, bridles, and spurs. In 1882, the harness shop underwent improvements, most notably a showcase of harness, 32 ft. long by 6 wide. An ad in The Hollister Free Lance in 1886 reads, “If anyone desires a good, strong harness, or in fact anything in the line of horse-furnishing goods, the best place in the county to obtain it is at the store of J.G. Hamilton, who has been in business here 17 years, and is prepared to stake his goods and work against all comers. Mr. Hamilton is one of the pillars of the county, and experience has proved that dependence upon him is well placed.”

Judson married Martha Dryden in 1873 and they raised five children, two boys and three girls. Their oldest son Frederick Judson Hamilton took over the harness shop when his father retired to his 36 acre ranch adjoining town. The property was originally purchased in 1876, but in 1902, he replaced the original structure with a modern building which is still standing today at 712 West Street, the newly remodeled Joshua Inn Bed & Breakfast.