Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


The life history of C. H. King is useful and full of suggestion to the young man who, just on the threshold of manhood, asks himself the question, "How shall I succeed?" It illustrates most forcibly that concentrated thought, industry, and intelligent, well-directed, and persistent effort are the most prominent essentials of success.

Mr. King was born May 3, 1844, in Ontario County, New York, on the banks of Hemlock Lake, which has since become a conspicuous watering-place. His early life was spent on a farm, and his educational opportunities were confined to the public school and a few terms at a village school. There was no day-dream, adolescent period in his life. From a child he became a man, pursuing various avocations, from chopping cord-wood to the business manager of a lecturer, and at times supplying the place of the lecturer. He came to California in 1859, and attended several terms at the Sotoyome Institute, preparing himself for the profession of a teacher. After receiving his certificate he taught school a few terms, and, health failing, he went to the Sandwich Islands. His first duties on the islands were discharged as private preceptor in the family of Rev. C. B. Andrews, a missionary and prominent educator. He was subsequently one of the overseers on the Lewer's Plantation.

After spending two years on the islands he returned to California, in 1865, and resumed teaching in Butte County. From here he started to the Yellowstone Valley, and after going as far as Scott Valley, Siskiyou County, he received information which caused him to change his course for the coast. The trip was beset with perils, Indians on the war-path being numerous, but he arrived safely at Trinidad. Here he taught school for a number of years, meeting with the usual financial success of teachers.

But by far the most important point in the life of the subject of this sketch occurred in 1870. It is the beginning of a new chapter in his career, a chapter fraught with interest to every young man. One day he was on an island a short distance from the mainland, near Trinidad. By dint of exertion he climbed its brushy slope, and found a green, open spot on the highest point. Here he fell into a retrospective reverie, from which he awakened with the conclusion that his life was a failure, and before he left that spot he had mapped out a plan of action, and made resolutions which he instantly proceeded to put into operation. Some of the work of his early life had made him familiar with the timber and lumber business; and it was here that his efforts were directed. He concentrated his energies, worked diligently, and was rewarded by the rapid accumulation of money. He connected himself with Joseph Russ, and after several years of prosperous business, he went to Mexico to purchase land for a company, but did not buy, as the tract was a myth. In 1878 he went to San Francisco, and took charge of the business of the firm of J. Russ & Co. The following year he went to Eureka, and to Mexico again, and after his return bought the interest of Mr. Russ' partners.

It was shortly after this he concocted the scheme the carrying out of which was the work of his life. Others had attempted it and failed, but in the lexicon of C. H. King there was no such word as fail. His scheme was to control the redwood lumber interests of California. His first work was to quietly bond all the redwood property he could get. Before anyone had an intimation of his plans, he had bonded two-thirds of the redwood land of California, and was in Scotland organizing the California Redwood Company. The company was duly incorporated with a capital stock of $5,000,000, Mr. King receiving $1,400,000 for the interest of himself and partner. He was appointed business manager in San Francisco, D. Evans in Eureka, and Faulkner & Bell financial agents. The company owned two hundred thousand acres of the finest redwood land in the State, together with mills, railroads, vessels, etc. The prospects were bright, but the agents began such a system of extravagance, contrary to the advice and protests of Mr. King, that it was obvious that financial ruin was inevitable. Mr. King was wedded to this work. It was the scheme of his life. He expected to develop it, and make a great fortune, and it was with reluctance that he withdrew. But the inevitable crash came. That property to-day is worth $50,000,000, and if it belonged to the company and had been judiciously managed, its value would have been twice that sum. Mr. King's good judgment and tact were displayed in disposing of his stock as well as in organizing the company.

In 1884 Mr. King purchased the San Lorenzo Rancho, of thirteen thousand acres, and thus became identified with Monterey County. Besides farming this fine property, he is engaged in speculative enterprises, buying and selling real estate, etc. In 1875 he was married to Miss Kate Brown, of Yreka. He has six children, four boys and two girls, and when he is not at his ranch, lives in a beautiful home on Clinton Street, Oakland, Cal.

Source: Monterey County : its general features, resources, attractions, and inducements to investors and home seekers. Salinas, Calif.: E.S. Harrison, 1889, 89 pgs.