Anyone who loves stories of adventure will be interested in this brief sketch of the life of Henry Veach, owner and proprietor of the “Zoo,” at Bradley, California. He was born on October 8, 1862, where the town of Thornton now stands. His father was a native of Ohio, and his mother was born in Missouri. In 1849 they came to California with an emigrant train, in which the wagons were drawn by oxen, being six months and six days on the journey. They first located at Placerville, but removed to the site of Thornton and later to Paraiso Springs, where Henry grew to manhood. In his boyhood the region was not thickly settled and he walked six miles to school.
At the age of eleven years he made him a bow and arrows and became so expert in the use of this weapon that many small animals and birds fell before his unerring aim. Then he got hold of an old army musket and improved his marksmanship. Since then he has owned a number of the best guns made. For a long time he supported the family solely by hunting and trapping, in which he became well known all through central California. He invented and constructed many novel and ingenious traps for fur bearing animals and wild fowl. One catch of wild ducks on Tulare lake amounted to one thousand, one hundred and seventeen fowls, which he sold at from fifty cents to two dollars a dozen, according to the species. In early days the ducks would come to this lake by thousands. Mr. Veach says he has seen them so numerous that at times they would cover acres of water so closely that it could scarcely be seen. In one day’s hunting, with a large gauge shotgun and No. 4 shot, he killed six hundred and fifteen ducks in only nine shots. In these present days, when game is growing scarcer every year, this story may sound a little “fishy,” but it is vouched for by persons who have known Mr. Veach for years and know him for a truthful man. He was engaged in hunting and trapping for forty-three years and during twelve years of that time never slept under a roof.
In 1888 Mr. Veach came to Bradley, where he has since resided. In 1916 he bought out a small store, which he removed to the state highway when it was completed. and now he carries a stock of groceries, confectionery and soft drinks. He has established a camp for automobile tourists, to which he has given the name of the “Zoo.” This name is appropriate, as he has the largest private collection of animals and birds on the Pacific coast, including bears, deer, monkeys, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, parrots, magpies, pheasants, Chinese sacred birds, that is said change their color three times annually, red laurel, a very rare bird, Siberian teal, and many other specimens from Mexico, South America and Australia. He has been offered big prices for his collection, but he knows what an attraction it is for tourists, many of whom spend a day or more in “Zoo,” studying the habits and laughing at the antics of the animals. Another reason why he refuses to sell is that during his long and varied experience as a hunter and trapper, he had an opportunity to observe birds and beasts in their wild state, and he feels qualified to care for those in the “Zoo” better than would many a stranger.
In 1882 Mr. Veach was united in marriage with Miss Etta Tillman and they have four children. Hazel became the _wife of Thomas Brown and both she and her husband assist her father in his business. Daisy is bookkeeper for the California Raisin Company at Fowler. Alta married Philip Budrow, who manages a confectionery and soft drink establishment at Monterey, belonging to Mr. Veach. Layton is at home and assists his father in the store and in looking after the automobile camp. Tourists advertise his camp and for many miles away the advice is given : “When you get to Bradley stop at Veach’s.”
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.