Monterey County California Genealogy and History

Monterey County: Biographies


Away back in 1849, the year gold was discovered in California, a boy was born in the Hocking Valley, Ohio, who was destined to play an important part in the development of the Salinas valley. That boy was Henry F. Melville, whose parents came to the Hocking Valley from England. The father was a miner and when Henry grew old enough to engage in that occupation, he was employed for several years in the coal mines of Ohio and West Virginia. While still in his teens he was overcome by a desire to travel. The result was he mined and prospected in most of the countries of the globe-Europe, Egypt, India, China, Japan, Central and South America, and all of the western states.

In the early '70s Mr. Melville came to Monterey county, California, and located mining claims. Not long after his arrival in this section he opened a hotel in Soledad, which he conducted for some years. For fourteen years he was chief of the Soledad fire department, which service exempts him from road and poll taxes and from jury duty. While chief of the department he managed a firemen's ball, with the proceeds of which a liberty pole was erected at Soledad in 1876-the first in the Salinas valley. The next year Mr. Melville located the Gold Ridge mines, from which a considerable quantity of gold has been taken out of the free milling quartz deposits.

The Copper Mountain Mining Company was incorporated on January 23, 1914, with Mr. Melville as president and general manager, which position he still holds. In 1918 he secured for the company one hundred and sixty acres including what are known as Vancouver's Pinnacles, noted for their romantic scenery. These Pinnacles in early days constituted the stronghold of the bandit Vasques and his gang. The one hundred and sixty-acre tract is surrounded by the Pinnacles National Monument, which was dedicated by Theodore Roosevelt when he was president of the United States. Fancy prices have been offered for the tract, but the company so far has refused to sell. A more complete history of the Pinnacles will be found elsewhere in this work.

Soon after coming to California Mr. Melville was united in wedlock with Miss Mary Belle Pugh, daughter of James P. Pugh, one of Monterey county's pioneers and the man who planted the first orchard and vineyard south of Salinas. To this marriage were born thirteen children, ten of whom grew to maturity, namely: Henry F., Jr., Samuel L., Clarence E., Kenneth P., Edwin J., Glen M., Eva, Hazel, Winifred and James. All the sons live in Monterey. William, who died in 1922, was a veteran of the Boxer revolution in China. Clarence and Kenneth volunteered in the navy and served during the World war though at the time of their enlistment both were under the draft age as required by the selective service act. Eva is now Mrs. Howell, of San Benito county; Hazel is now Mrs. Tarr, of Carmel-by-the-Sea; Winifred is now Mrs. Bonifacio, whose husband is a nephew of Senorita Rosa Bonifacio who took the rose from the then Lieutenant Sherman and planted it. It is now known as the Sherman rose and the Senorita has waited for fifty years for her lover to return.

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.