John C. Black, a representative of the bar of Santa Clara county, living in San Jose, was born in Butler county, Pennsylvania, a son of James and Nancy A. (Russell) Black. he acquired his early education in the public schools of his native county and afterward attended Alleghany and Westminster colleges. In 1855 he emigrated to California, attracted by the discovery of gold in this state, hoping that he might rapidly acquire a fortune on the Pacific coast. For two years after his arrival he engaged in mining and then turned his attention to teaching school. During his leisure hours he read law, being thus engaged until 1863, when he was admitted to the bar of the superior and supreme courts at Sacramento. In 1872 he was admitted to practice in the United States district courts and also the court of appeals at San Francisco.
In the year 1864 Mr. Black was appointed deputy district attorney of Yuba county, California, which position he creditably filled until June, 1865, when he removed to San Jose and entered upon the practice of law. At the general election in 1871 he was chosen district attorney of Santa Clara county and acted in that capacity until 1874. He has since been continuously engaged in law practice with offices in rooms 18 and 19 of the Knox block. He has there been located for a third of a century and has long maintained a foremost position in the ranks of the legal fraternity of this part of the state. He has been retained as counsel either for the prosecution or defense in almost every case of importance tried in the courts of this district. Among the notable lawsuits with which he has been connected is that of the Cummings murder case, which was tried in 1889, and the damage case of Nichols versus Demphy. After a bitter contest of four years, during which time the case was twice taken to the supreme court, the judgment was affirmed and the damages collected. Mr. Black thus winning the case for his client. He also defended Legarbo in a trial for murder. He had scarcely any ground on which to base his defense and yet so ably did he conduct his case that he reduced the verdict to murder in the second degree. With a nature that could never content itself with mediocrity he has applied his attention diligently to the mastery of the principles of jurisprudence, and he never enters the courtroom unless he is well prepared for the presentation of his case. In argument he is logical and forceful, and seldom fails to win the verdict desired.
In 1868 Mr. Black was united in marriage to Miss Marian Millard, a daughter of Levi Millard, of San Jose, California. Their union has been blessed with six children: Clara, now the wife of George B. May; J. N., who is connected with the police department of San Jose; Walter R., who is a law student and clerk; Edmund M.; James G.; and Eleanor, who is now a student in the high school of San Jose. In his political views Mr. Black is a very ardent Republican, unfaltering in his allegiance to the principles of the party and keeping so well informed on the issues of the day, that he is ever able to support his position by intelligent and strong argument. He belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen, also to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has taken the Rebekah degree, and the Degree of Honor. As a lawyer and citizen he is well known and the position which he occupies in the regard of his fellow citizens is indicative of a life of honor and uprightness.
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.