San Jose, years before it became a town was a wilderness, a veritable hunting ground for wild animals by the inhabitants of its neighboring towns. The earliest inhabitants were known as Negritos (Baluga) headed by Kapitan Danding, a Negrito convert residing in Pinagcuartelan. These early inhabitants depended mostly on hunting and fishing for their livelihood. Some hunters from the neighboring towns found San Jose as a good place for settlers due to its wide and uncleared agricultural land. The first group of settlers made some clearings (kaingin) in the outskirts of the present town.
Originally, San Jose was a part of the town Puncan, but later on, because of its nearness to the town of Lupao, it was made a barrio of the latter. The early history of this town was coupled with the early history of Puncan and Lupao. Formerly, San Jose was known as the barrio of "Kabaritan" derived from "barit", an Ilocano word for a plant that belongs to the rattan family. "Kabaritan" means the place where "barit" grows in abundance.
On March 19, 1894, San Jose curved out its own course, on this date it became a full pledged town, with an interim government headed by a Kapitan Municipal. "Kabaritan" (now known as San Jose) was made an independent town from Lupao and was named after Saint Joseph (San Jose), the patron saint of the place.
Several years before the Philippine Revolution the Ilocanos from Tarlac, Pangasinan, Ilocos Region and some parts of Nueva Ecija, especially the towns of Sto. Domingo, MuÃ±oz and Lupao, came and plunged deep into the forest of Kabaritan, and cleared its wilderness. It was from this time then that the growth of the town really started. The progress of the town was through the enterprise, thrift and hardihood of these settlers, headed by Canuto Ramos.
During the Spanish Regime, the barrio of Kabaritan was a municipal district of Lupao, headed by a Teniente Absoluto. Later, when Kabaritan was declared a town in 1894, the head was changed to a Kapitan Municipal. The first man appointed as Kapitan Municipal was Canuto Ramos. He served from 1894 to 1898. One of his remarkable achievements was the Construction of an Irrigation System which was later taken over and enlarged by the government (Now the Talavera River Irrigation System) which irrigates vast rice fields as far as the towns of MuÃ±oz and Talavera.
When the revolution broke out and upon the surrender of the Spaniards in 1898, a revolutionary government was set up in San Jose. The town remained as such until the establishment of a civil government under the Americans in 1901.
San Jose, under the American Regime, became a progressive town. Its inhabitants enjoyed more rights and privileges; political, economic, intellectual and religious than before. This was due to the establishment of various schools, churches, public buildings and the construction of roads and bridges, which made possible the fast progress of the town.
From 1898 to 1900, a military government under the American Regime was established. Jose Cardenas was appointed Kapitan Municipal. During his term, the appointment of town officials, the town planning, and the opening of new settlements were among his achievements.
The second appointed Kapitan Municipal during the military government (1900-1901) was Celestino Javalde who continued the opening of new settlements and the construction of roads in the Poblacion.
When the civil government under the American Regime was established, Cornelio Ramos was appointed Kapitan Municipal. He continued the construction of roads in the poblacion and he also took a hand in the construction of irrigation canals leading to the different barrios of San Jose.
In 1904, the Filipinos were given the right and freedom in choosing the appropriate men to take the reins of the government. An election was held. The first elected Municipal President of the city was Crisanto Sanchez (1904-1906). Among his achievements was the construction of roads, the naming of the streets in the poblacion and the appointments of municipal officials.
Again, (1906-1908) Celestino Javalde was elected Municipal President. With the help of his Vice-President and other municipal officials, he stressed land reforms, which paved the way for equal distribution of lands.
The President-elect of 1908-1910, Valerio Escobar concentrated on the Construction of Roads from Sibut to San Agustin. He also founded the barrios of Sta. Barbara and Kapisungan (now Bagong Sikat).
Desiderio De Guzman had a chance to be elected in 1910 and served up to 1912. He had many achievements but among all these, he paid more attention on the improvements of records in the Poblacion.
During the incumbency of Municipal President Agapito Kurameng, (1912-1916), he initiated the Construction of a Concrete Elementary School Building (Gabaldon building) which now comprised one of the central school buildings of the San Jose West Elementary School. The improvement of roads, expropriation of lots for the Municipal Hall and the Public Market were among his other achievements.
The Construction of the Municipal building and the construction of more roads leading to the barrios were launched by Gregorio Cadhit (1916-1919). He was re-elected to office in 1919 to 1922. During his term in 1919 to 1922, he initiated the construction of one of the buildings of the public market.
As years went by, the town was becoming progressive that a need for additional public improvements and building constructions for the welfare of the populace was seen. As an answer to such demands, the newly elected President Rafael Rueda and Vice-President Estanislao Arquero with the help of other municipal officials put up a Puericulture Center and a Municipal Nursery during the period from 1922 to 1925. A second building for the public market was also constructed. Telephone lines connecting the poblacion with all the barrios were installed. A road to Kalbarito (now Palestina) was constructed and more improvement of roads was done.
Another man in the person of Raymundo Eugenio was elected Municipal President of San Jose for the period from 1925 to 1928. A third building for the public market was constructed and more construction of roads, particularly those leading to Andres Bonifacio, was put underway.
In 1928-1931, Apolonio Pascual and Vice-President Victorino Villar were instrumental in putting up the fourth building for the public market and the municipal dispensary. More improvement of roads leading to the barrios was also done.
Raymundo Eugenio was re-elected to office. He served from 1931 to 1934 with Vice-President Ladislao Bunag. Raymundo Eugenio was called the road-building President of San Jose because of the untiring efforts that he exerted in the construction of many roads especially roads leading to the barrios of Bagong Bayan, Porais, Tondod and Andres Bonifacio.
Apolonio Pascual was re-elected for the 1934-1937 term. Dimas Tomas was the Vice President for the same term. Due to a change on the set-up in 1935, which was known as commonwealth government, the heads of the municipal government came to be known and called Alcalde and Vice-Alcalde. Aside from the construction of more roads, the barrios of Patacla (now San Franscisco) and A. Pascual were founded. The water works that provides the people of San Jose with drinking water was constructed and installed. The home economics building of San Jose Central School was also constructed.
Under the Commonwealth government, Alcalde Pedro Del Pilar and Vice-Alcalde Severino Baustista, established NARIC (National Rice and Corn) buying stations in the town. This was during their term of office from 1937 to 1940. They were reelected for another term in 1940 to 1942. As a continuation of their policies, the improvement of roads was continued.
During the outbreak of World War II on December 8, 1941, San Jose became an evacuation center. Evacuees from neighboring provinces especially those from Manila and suburbs sought refuge in this town. The tranquility of the place was marred by bombings of two Japanese planes on December 23, 1941. The terror stricken populace, who suffered heavy casualties fled to the remotest barrios of San Jose. An emergency government under the Commonwealth government was established in barrio Porais with Basilio Duran as Mayor, appointed by the military forces of the Commonwealth Government. The emergency government existed for a short time, due to the arrival of the Japanese Imperial Forces on January 26, 1942.
An emergency government, under the control of the Japanese Imperial Forces was likewise established in Porais with Matias Bautista as Mayor. Due to non-cooperation of the appointed Mayor Bautista, the Japanese army was obliged to appoint Mayor Anastacio Bascos. Engr. Casimiro Panajon succeeded him. Mayor Panajon was however murdered by the soldiers of the Japanese Garrison of this town for his non-collaboration with them and his guerilla activities.
During the liberation, under the Commonwealth government, Anselmo Patacsil, Pedro Del Pilar and Basilio Duran were appointed in succession as Mayors of this town by the PCAU (Philippine Civil Affairs Unit) of the liberation forces. Each served for a short period of time in 1945-1946. They strived once more for the re-organization of the Municipal Government in cooperation with officials to coordinate the work of the PCAU. These persons helped in the establishment of emergency hospitals, the North Provincial High School and the re-opening of elementary schools.
On July 4, 1946, the Philippines were granted its independence. The form of government was changed from Commonwealth to Republic.
Under the Republic of the Philippines, Alfonso Villamar was elected Mayor with Paulino Margarejo as his Vice-Mayor, (1947-1951). Among their achievements were the maintenance of evacuees, pacification campaign, the rehabilitation of devastated government building, the establishment of a fire department and a municipal library and the improvement of roads.