James U. Castle, who resides at 505 South California street, Stockton, is a typical California pioneer and representative in a high degree of the enterprise and business capacity of those who cast in their lot with this country during the early days and were eminent factors in its growth and development and likewise shared in its prosperity and wealth of resources. He is one of the most influential citizens of San Joaquin county as it exists to-day, but the story is often told of him that when he arrived on the western coast during the palmy days of the fifties, all the capital that he could call his own was “two bits” and a ten-cent piece, so that in the success that he has since wrought out he has well proved the mettle of his character and his ability to meet all the exigencies of life.
Mr. Castle’s ancestry is English, and he comes of substantial stock and lineage. He was born in New York state, February 28, 1830, being a son of Hasting and Mary (Champlin) Castle, the former a native of Connecticut and the latter of Vermont. His maternal grandfather Champlin was a Revolutionary soldier and served throughout the struggle that made the colonies free.
Mr. Castle grew up in Delaware county of New York state, and what education he enjoyed in his youth was rather meager and was obtained mainly in the subscription schools of the neighborhood. In 1847, when he was seventeen years old, he accompanied his parents to what is now Kenosha county, Wisconsin, and later moved to Grant county of the same state. In 1852 he left the latter county and set out for California, where he purposed to establish himself and gain his success in life. He was accompanied on this journey by his two brothers, George H., a former sheriff of San Joaquin county, now deceased, and Christopher C., who now resides in Eldorado county. They joined the usual emigrant train of those days, and, crossing the Mississippi on April 5, 1852, arrived in Hangtown (now Placerville), California, on the following August 20. From then on until 1856 Mr. Castle employed his energies in mining on the middle fork of the American river. In 1856 he came to San Joaquin county, and he and his brother Christopher were partners in agricultural enterprises until 1861. They owned nine hundred and sixty acres of land on the French Camp road four miles east of French Camp, and in 1860 on five hundred and ninety acres of this land sown to barley and wheat they raised fourteen thousand bushels of barley and six thousand bushels of wheat, which is considered one of the best yields in the history of the sand plains of that district. In 1861 the brothers dissolved partnership and James located on a ranch at what is now known as Castle Switch, six miles north of Stockton, and has followed with almost unbroken success his agricultural operations down to the present time. For several years he has also carried on a dairy enterprise. Castle Switch, located on the Southern Pacific Railroad between Lodi and Stockton, was named in honor of Mr. Castle and was located on land formerly owned by him.
March 31, 1868, Mr. Castle was married to Miss Emma Watkins, who was born in the state of Wisconsin. Mr. Castle is a Democrat in politics, and throughout his residence in San Joaquin county has been known for his devotion to the public welfare and the upbuilding of the community. He fraternizes with the Ancient Order of United Workmen at Stockton.
Mr. Castle has for many years had interests in mining enterprises and has met with much success in these operations. He is a member and a director of the Farmers’ Union and Milling Company, with which he has been associated since 1873, and was one of the promoters and organizers of the same. It was formerly and until a few years ago known simply as the Farmers’ Union, and has since been merged and formed into the present concern, which has its headquarters and warehouse at Stockton, and Mr. Castle has been a director since its organization.
Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.