Twentieth Century Ranchers
Married on August 8, 1899, Numa and Minnie Thorne Boone bought 200 acres of San Ramon land and built a 22-room classic Dutch Colonial house in 1900. Her parents, Captain Charles and Mary Thorne lived in Santa Clara where she was born in 1863. They used her inheritance and his savings to purchased rich farm land which had been part of the original Amador Rancho. Their unique house is now a feature of San Ramon’s Forest Home Farms Historic Park.
The Boone name was made famous by frontiersman Daniel Boone in the 1700s. Several of his descendants came to California after the Gold Rush and landed in Danville and San Ramon. Numa Sims Boone was the second child of James and Sara Boone who settled for good in Danville in 1865. Numa Boone was born in 1867, educated locally, attended high school in Oakland and ranched with his father first on the home place and then for himself.
Prominent in the community and successful in their agricultural enterprises, Numa and Minnie eventually owned 250 acres and worked several thousand more. Over the years the Boones produced grain, hay, tomatoes, pears, walnuts and raised various kinds of stock. He served as President of the San Ramon Valley bank for ten years. He belonged to the Grange, the San Ramon Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West and the Woodmen of the World.
Their son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Ruth Boone, carried on the family’s agricultural enterprises. They owned a large spread which extended across the valley, planted primarily to walnuts and tomatoes, with a flag stop at the railroad. Boone did extensive custom grain harvesting and processed walnuts for ranchers in the Diablo and Tri-Valley. He invented a truck-mounted device which efficiently knocked down walnuts and was used for date-picking in other parts of the state.
In an interview Ruth Boone recalled that, after bachelor ranch hands from the various ranches were paid, they would often enjoy themselves gambling at a place called Connie’s in San Ramon village. She remembered Connie Young telling her “I made a fortune from the men at the Boone and Bishop Ranches.” And she said he probably was right.
Today the Boone Ranch headquarters comprises the 16-acre Forest Home Farms Historic Park, a San Ramon park which focuses on the San Ramon Valley’s agricultural history. The property and buildings were a gift to the public from Ruth Boone in 1997. The Eliza and David Glass House (1877) was moved to the Park in 1998 and restored. This Park has been placed on the National Register for Historic Places, the only site in San Ramon to be so recognized.
Written by Beverly Lane, 2017
Sources: Histories of Contra Costa County (1917, 1927), Museum of the SRV and Forest Home Farms Historic Park archives, Ruth Boone’s oral histories.