John C. Goldsworthy was born in Wisconsin on 1840 to John and Ursula (Edwards) Goldsworthy. His father was a mining engineer. At the age of 17, Mr. Goldsworthy came to California and spent four years in the mines where, because of his age, he was known as "The Kid".
He studied at the University of the Pacific at San Jose from 1861 to 1864 and was a member of the first class of civil engineers to graduated from that institution. For two years following graduation, Mr. Goldsworthy was associated with Sherman Day of San Jose, a noted mining engineer of that city and later Surveyor-General of the United States.
In 1866 he moved to Virginia City and made a complete topographical map of this entire mining region. After a year, he served as a mining engineer in San Francisco.
In March, 1868, he came to Los Angeles where he would work as a surveyor and engineer until his death. When he arrived in Los Angeles, the city was comparable in size with El Monte. Since each town seemed to offer the same advantages at that time, he elected to settle in El Monte.
It is recorded in the History of Los Angeles County that "the office of city surveyor of Los Angeles was erected at his suggestion in 1870, and he was elected its first incumbent". His biography based on an interview in 1936 with his son, Frank W. Goldsworthy, states that "…in April of 1872 he was appointed to the combined office of City Engineer and Surveyor in which he served seven months. Later elected City engineer in 1878, he served that year and 1879".
Sometime during his early surveying career, he surveyed Sixth Street between Main and Figueroa. He was paid $35 for this work only to be the target of the local press for charging "such a large sum" for the survey.
After leaving his city position, he became a Deputy Surveyor with "the Federal Administration" for a number of years. During this period he surveyed and sectionized the territory abounding "what is now the town of Sherman" when that land was subject to entry as government lands.
In the 1980's, he and a partner established the firm of Goldsworthy and Wheeler, Civil, Mining and Hydraulic Engineers.
Mr. Goldsworthy's wife was Miss J. E. Pullis who had attended a San Jose seminary for young ladies when Mr. Goldsworthy was a student at the University. They had seven children.
In later life, Mr. Goldsworthy engaged in real estate transactions, and was active with religious and fraternal (Masonic) organizations in the city until his death in 1906.