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October 25, 2011

Shannon Road in east Los Gatos was named after Thomas Shannon, who came west to find his fortune in the great gold rush of 1849. This was just a couple of years after the tragic Donner Party journey, so his group of 30, who called themselves the “Jayhawkers“, took a southern route to California instead. Unhappily, crossing Death Valley was no picnic either, and many died en route to their land of golden dreams.

Thomas Shannon was a survivor though, he made it to the gold rich hills near Sacramento and beyond and took a wife, Amanda Blackford, whose family had also come west in search of a better life. With the advent of the Civil War, he enlisted (7th California Infantry Company B) and served a year and a half in Arizona. After that, he and Amanda settled in the area we now call east Los Gatos, where they bought 160 acres of land. In 1885 he petitioned for a road to be put in, and it was later used to access the Guadalupe Quicksilver (mercury) Mines.

The Shannon family home stood until the 1970s. I’m not sure where it was but it is gone now.

The Shannons had 7 children. Thomas died in 1903 and Amanda in 1918. Several of their children remained local. The last of them passed away in 1938.

Note on source: Much of the info from this article was found in the book “Signposts II” by Patricia Loomis, printed in 1985 by the Rosicrucian Press in San Jose. The book details information on the historical background of street names and places in Santa Clara County – about 50 of them in all.

This book can be purchased used from Barnes & Noble for about $15.

For more reading on Tom or Thomas Shannon:

RootsWeb article on the Jayhawkers and their journey through Death Valley

History-Sites.com story of the Jayhawkers and list of who survived and who died in the desert or elsewhere