Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Joseph M. Chaney, a building contractor of 328 Cayuga street, Salinas, is a native of the state of Maine. He was born in Whitefield, Lincoln county, November 26, 1856, and when a youth spent three years in the mackerel fisheries along the Maine coast. In 1873, or when seventeen years of age, he came to California on an emigrant train, taking two weeks for the trip, and paying sixty-six dollars fare, from Boston, Massachusetts. His brother had come to this state five years before and met him at Emigrant Gap, in Placer county, when he landed in the Golden state in midwinter. He worked in Nevada county for the St. John Canal Company for three years, being engaged on construction work in the building of flumes. Later he returned to Maine, but came to California once more and this time located in Nevada, and then in Placer county, where he worked as a carpenter, and assisted to build the big flumes, then used in hydraulic mining. He was particularly active in and around Nevada City, where he saw a great deal of the interesting life of those days. Later still, he worked in the quartz mines, building mills and hoists, and doing general carpenter and millright work, and continuing in that field until 1888, about the time of the collapse of the great "boom" in southern California realty.

Learning of work that he might secure in Watsonville, Mr. Chaney moved to Santa Cruz county and there assisted in the construction of the Spreckels sugar factory, being in time appointed to the position of factory foreman. For seventeen years he made a fine record in his work for this company, living for ten years of this period in Watsonville, and when the big sugar factory was started in 1898 near Salinas-the largest beet-sugar factory in the world, he was made foreman of construction of the new plant. In 1905, however, he established himself in business at Salinas as a contractor, and during the ensuing year put up the Index building, the Schroeder block and the Muller building, and remodelled the plant of the Salinas Valley Ice Company. He also built complete the equipment of houses, barns, windmills and other outbuildings on many ranches, and six years after he had left the employ of the Spreckels Company, he secured from that widely-known concern a commission to build the necessary ranch houses and other structures at their King City ranch. Whatever Mr. Chaney has done in California, speaks well for him and well for those who engaged him.

Mr. Chaney married Miss Fannie Ott, a native of Nevada City, California, and they have three children: Rowena, wife of O. Bardin; Leonardo, a veterinary surgeon of King City, and Gladys, wife of Douglass McConnell, a civil engineer with the Standard Oil Company at Richmond, California. For thirty-two years Mr. Chaney has been an Odd Fellow, his membership being in Alisal Lodge, No. 163, I. O. O. F.

Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California's history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925, 890 pgs.