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Madera Biographies: MACE

Captian R. P. Mace
March 8, 1893
age 72 years, 9 months, 22 days

Russell Mace Family



Captain R. P. Mace, who built the Yosemite hotel in Madera, was a scout in the Indian fighting days, a companion of Kit Carson, and a pioneer in California during the Gold Rush. His son, Russell H. Mace, is the present manager of the Yosemite hotel.

Russell P. Mace was born in Boston, Mass., May 14, 1821. His father, Eliphalet P. Mace, was a manufacturer of carpenterís tools. The boy spent part of his youth with an uncle in Vermont, and then ran away to sea on a coaster bound for New Orleans. That one experience of a sailorís life was enough. He stayed ashore at New Orleans, and for a time led an adventurous life that took him into the Comanche country to the northwest. At Independence, Missouri, he joined the trading train of the American Fur Company, en route to Bentís Fort on the Arkansas River.

Mr. Mace, while at Bentís Fort, had an opportunity to go to Taos, New Mexico, with Robert Fisher, noted scout and trapper. They had many narrow escapes from hostile Indians. Mr. Mace worked for the Bents for six years. Much of his time was spent with Kit Carson, hunting buffalo as meat supply for the traders. His range included what is now Denver and Pueblo. In 1844, Mr. Mace, but twenty-three years of age, returned to New Orleans where he remained for three years. Then he volunteered for the Mexican war and recruited a company of which he was captain. Part of his military experience included a trip to Yucatan, fighting Indians for the governor of that Mexican state.

On the breaking out of the California gold excitement, Captain Mace came to this coast by way of Panama, and reached the gold fields in August, 1849. He first spent a few years in the Yuba valley region, and then worked on down south. On the San Joaquin River, above Millerton, with a company, he spent three years in building a race to turn the river. The miners then struck it rich for a time, making on the first day from a few buckets of dirt about $900, and for several days $1000 a day; but the bed was soon exhausted. Captain Mace also discovered a rich quartz mine at Fine Gold gulch, which during his absence was mismanaged and destroyed. He engaged extensively in stock raising. But the "no fence" law put an end to the opportunity for wealth in stock, and he had to kill much of his cattle to dispose of them.

It was in 1874 that Captain Mace moved to Borden, on the newly built Central Pacific line. Here he operated a hotel until 1876, when the City of Madera was founded. Mr. Mace was one of the first to buy town lots in the City of Madera. In 1877, he built a two-story frame hotel at Madera, which was subsequently destroyed by fire. He replaced it with the present brick structure, the Yosemite.

Captain Mace represented Fresno County three terms in the California Assembly at Sacramento.

He was married twice, his second wife being the former Mrs. Jeannie Gilmore, a widow with one child, Matilda, who married Dr. Edgar Brown, the first physician in Madera. Captain and Mrs. Mace had four children: William, deceased, 1908; Mamie; Russell H. Mace, the present manager of the Yosemite hotel; and Inez (Mrs. F. F. Welch).

Captain Mace passed away in Madera, April 24, 1894.

From the History of Fresno and Madera Counties, 1933, Joseph Barcroft, editor for Madera County.

Last update: February 4, 2000
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