Few men in the Watsonville neighborhood have a wider acquaintance than Matt J. McGowan, a substantial rancher in the Trafton district of the Pajaro valley, and few thereabout are held in higher regard, for his good works in the community-have long established him as a real friend to all mankind. Many of the young men in the Watsonville community are proud to look upon Mr. McGowan as a typical “big brother” and his helping hand has been extended in many directions known only to those who have been the immediate beneficiaries of the help thus bestowed. At the time the movement for the erection of the new quarters of the Young Men’s Christian Association in Watsonville was under way Mr. McGowan was the president of that useful organization and in the task of raising funds for this enterprise he was indeed a host within himself, rendering thus a service which has not been forgotten. For many years he has been one of the trustees of the congregation of the local Presbyterian church and has ever been regarded as one of the stanch and dependable leaders in local good works. He has been successful in his ranching operations and his activities have been extended usefully in other directions.
Matt J. McGowan is a native son of California and is a past president of Watsonville Parlor, No. 65, of the Native Sons of the Golden West in Watsonville, an organization in the affairs of which he has been a leader since the time of its inception. He was born in the Trafton district in Monterey county, in the near vicinity of the city of Watsonville, which lies over the line in Santa Cruz county, October 30, 1866, and is next to the last in order of birth of the six children born to John and Eliza (Jarvis) McGowan, pioneers of that district in the beautiful valley of the Pajaro, and concerning whom further and fitting mention is made elsewhere in this work. The other children of this family are: James, deceased; William J., a substantial rancher of the Trafton district, concerning whom further mention is made elsewhere; Sarah, wife of C. W. Seevers of Watsonville; Robert, who is now making his home in San Jose; and Hugh, who is now a resident of the city of Los Angeles.
Reared on the home ranch in the Trafton district, Matt J. McGowan has been a resident of that place all his life, save for a few years during which he made his home in Watsonville for the advantage of better schooling for his children and a season years ago spent in a commission house in San Francisco. Following his marriage when past twenty-five years of age Mr. McGowan began farming on his own account and is now the owner of a fine ranch of one hundred and fifty acres in the Pajaro valley, all but about thirty acres of which lies in the rich bottom lands. He is carrying on his operations there in strict accordance with modern methods of agriculture and horticulture and has an admirable farm plant, all the improvements being of modern type, substantial and serviceable. He has other interests of a profitable character and has long been looked upon as one of the substantial citizens of that community. Mr. McGowan is a member of the Masonic fraternity and is also affiliated with the Native Sons of the Golden West, the Improved Order of Red Men and the Woodmen of the World and has been a member of the board of directors at the local Y. M. C. A. ever since that organization was established at Watsonville.
He is a republican in politics. Mrs. McGowan also is a native of California and has served the local parlor of the Native Daughters of the Golden West as president and is active in the local Farm Bureau and the Woman’s Club.
Mr. McGowan has been twice married. In 1892 he was united in marriage to Miss Louisa Thompson, who died in 1902, leaving four children: Alice, now living in Tazewell county, Virginia; Robert C.; John T.; and Jarvis McGowan. The last named is at home, an able assistant to his father in the operations of the ranch. Robert C. McGowan and John T. McGowan, twin sons of Mr. McGowan, are both veterans of the World war, with overseas records, the former having served in the light artillery in France, during which he had a part in the memorable drive in the Argonne forest and was later a member of the Army of Occupation on the Rhine; the latter rendered service with the army in Hawaii, where he now is making his home, employed in the service of the Standard Oil Company. Robert C. McGowan is engaged in the lumber business in San Jose. In 1905 Matt J. McGowan was married to Miss Jessie Ryason of Watsonville and they have a very pleasant home in the valley.
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.