Pioneers of Placer County CA

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This is a very small list of pioneers in Placer County. If you know of a pioneer not listed here, please contact the county coordinator/webmaster. We'd love to hear from you!

Placer Herald, Auburn, Saturday, 10-9-1937
Looking Backward – Sam Aston, Placer’s First Sheriff

Sam was an early California character, strikingly fitting the times and conditions. Physically he was a fine specimen of manhood. He was tall, muscular, and as straight as an Indian. He had a good head, a fine face, and an eye that was all love or all vengeance, according to his emotions. He had a great will power, and his better nature dominated most of his acts. When aroused, however, he was a tiger and woe to him who stood in his way. Whether mild or mad, he seemed to know no such word as fear. Fortunately, however, he was seldom mad. Others in his presence might lose their temper and swear and fight and even shoot, but Sam on such occasions was usually cool, collected, and good-natured. While known to be afraid of no man and a match for any, his efforts were always for peace. As Mark Twain said of Buck Fenshaw, “he would have peace if he had to fight for it.” That is, Sam would interfere if needs be to stop an unequal fight or a shooting scrape when he saw some good man might be needlessly killed. He was always for fair play. Such a man, as may be supposed, was personally quite popular. But with all his natural endowments, he could neither read nor write. This lack of learning, however, seemed to make no difference with the men in the mines when it came to the matter of choosing the first sheriff of Placer, when the county was organized soon after the admission of California into the Union. Sam was overwhelmingly elected, and in spite of his illiteracy, he filled the office very acceptably. Early in his term and before the county had time to build even a jail, Sam arrested a Chinaman for sluice robbing. A little earlier the culprit would have been hung without ceremony to the limbs of the nearest tree, but now California was a State of the Union, it had a Constitution and a code of laws, and officers chosen to administer them. According to the moral code of the earliest miners, any man, whether white, black, red, or yellow, who would rob a miner’s sluice deserved to be hung on the spot, and this course was generally adopted. But the moral code had been superceded by the written code, and the law officers were bound to see that the offending Chinaman be tried and treated according to the written code. Hence, while one of Sam’s deputies stood guard over the sluice robber, a jury was impaneled to try the case. Out under the spreading branches of a great live oak tree, the stump of which has been pointed to as the scene of the earliest court trials in Placer County, the jury assembled, and with the judge seated on a camp stool and the jury on a log, the trial proceeded. The District Attorney prosecuted and a young lawyer (afterwards famous as a district and superior judge) defended. The testimony showed that the Chinaman had been caught in the act, and after brief arguments by the attorneys and a few words of instruction by the judge, the case was submitted to the jury. They retired to the shade of another tree to deliberate, and in a few minutes returned with a verdict of “Guilty.” The case was now up to the court. He could not hang the Chinaman, and the county had no jail. Here was a dilemma. The judge reflected for a few moments and then, as though relieved by a bright thought, said, “This man stands convicted for a very serious and aggravating offense, and yet under the laws of California we cannot hang him. The statute suggests imprisonment, and yet we have no prison. His offense must be discouraged. The miner, with no means to guard his claim except at the expense of needed sleep, and with no safe in which to lock the dust, must be protected from the depredations of thieves. To this end an example must be made of this offender. I think there can be no criticism if we administer to him a severe corporal punishment. I therefore sentence this Chinaman to receive fifty lashes on the bare back to be administered by the sheriff, and I direct that he exert his full physical force in executing the sentence and use the best blacksnake he can procure for the purpose.” When the Chinamen in camp heard that this countryman was to be whipped, a proceeding to them more humiliating and disgraceful than death, they became greatly agitated, and excitement and noise in Chinatown was high. They hurried to the young attorney who had been hired to defend their countryman and eagerly asked him if he could stop the whipping. “I can appeal the case,” he said deliberately. “How muchie, how muchie?” they chimed in chorus. “Oh, about $500.” A hurried canvas resulted in collecting the dust, and after being weighed to satisfy the attorney that there was $500 worth, the latter took the gold and started up the hill to the cabin which was used by the sheriff as office and headquarters. On arriving there, he said, “Sam, you needn’t execute the sentence on that Chinaman. I am going to appeal the case.” “You are going to do what?” queried Aston. The answer, “I’m going to appeal the case.” “Peel be damned,” said the sheriff. “I peeled that scoundrel and turned him loose half an hour ago.” It is not recorded whether the attorney ever returned the $500 or the gold dust to the Chinamen or not. Aston’s end was a tragic and sad as his life had been eventful and romantic. Like many, many another big-hearted man, his success proved his undoing. His convivial habits led to excesses. In late years, he became a wreck. In the end he was found in a little back room of a mountain saloon. He was lying on his back with his mouth under the faucet of a barrel of whiskey, dead.

Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Our county and its people: a descriptive and biographical record of Saratoga County, New York ~
Anderson, George Baker
Boston:  The Boston History Co.,  1899,  Pages 140-141

was born in Auburn, Placer County, California, September 18, 1838, and came to Waterford with his parents in 1864. He was educated in the public schools, Eastman’s Business College of Poughkeepsie, and was graduated from the Albany Law School in 1888. He was admitted to the bar in 1889 and has practiced since then with success. In 1886 he was elected excise commissioner, serving three years; in 1888 he was elected justice of the peace and has served continuously since January 1, 1889; he was also elected school trustee in 1889 and is still serving in that capacity; also clerk of the board of education. He was elected justice of sessions in 1890, serving one year. In April, 1897, Mr. Atkinson married Bessie N. McDonald. In his political choice he is a Republican. Mr. Atkinson’s father, John Atkinson, was born in the north of Ireland in 1804, and came to the United States in 1840, locating in Waterford, N.Y. He married twice, first, to Mrs. Elizabeth Van Dekar, widow of Richard Van Dekar, and they had three daughters:  Elizabeth, Charlotte and Matilda; his second wife was Mary McAran, and they had five children:  John H., James W., Thomas P., Mary M. and Sarah J. John H. was a noted attorney-at-law here and in New York City and died March 26, 1890. Thomas P. died in 1883 and Mr. Atkinson died February 16, 1876, his widow July 26, 1898.

Sacramento Bee, 10-6-2002
Rattlesnake Dick's Deeds Exaggerated - But Colorful

In an earlier column, I mentioned that the list of notorious outlaws from this region included, among others, the infamous Rattlesnake Dick. That elicited a quick response from Barbara Heyward of Loomis. "From odds and ends that I have read and asked about," Heyward said, "I have pieced together a story about Rattlesnake Dick to entertain my young grandchildren from Manhattan. Truthfully, I've told the story so many times I can barely remember which parts I made up!" Such is often the case with these legendary bad boys of history. The legends and tall tales typically begin during the guy's lifetime, and multiply after his death. Dick Barter, the son of an English colonel, was born in Quebec about 1833. He moved West with family members about 1850, first to Oregon, then to California. Before turning to a life of crime, he was an honest gold miner at Rattlesnake Bar, a small mining camp next to Horseshoe Bar on the north fork of the American River. Heyward, an active member of the Loomis Basin Horsemen's Association, rides in that area, which is now part of the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. She tells her grandkids about the railroad built up Auburn-Folsom Road to the stone house - then a toll station - at King Road, where it stopped. "Rattlesnake Dick supposedly robbed the train and buried the gold somewhere nearby," she says, "which is why we always check deep in the holes that my black Lab digs, to see if we can find the gold." Barter got his dubious nickname not because of encounters with snakes, but because of the tenaciousness with which he kept mining at Rattlesnake Bar. Older miners at the saloons would sneer, "There goes Rattlesnake Dick." He developed a bad reputation after being falsely accused of stealing at least twice. (I found differing accounts that said he was accused of stealing a horse, a mule, cattle or cloth from a Jewish merchant, or more than one of the above.) Though he was at first defended and acquitted by respected Judge Benjamin F. Myers, Barter was unable to escape the stain of having been unfairly branded as a thief. He relocated to the boomtown of Shasta, and changed his name to Dick Woods in an attempt to clear his reputation. He was doing fine until a traveler from the Auburn area recognized him. "Rattlesnake Dick" returned to Auburn for revenge. Depressed about his failed reputation, he held up someone for $400. He went on to form gangs and terrorize the Sierra foothills from Nevada City to Folsom between 1856 and 1859, using the more romantic pseudonym "Pirate of the Placers." Barter developed a feud with and a hatred for Constable - later Sheriff - John C. Boggs. He became adept at breaking out of jails and committed a number of bold stagecoach robberies, becoming more defiant with each crime. His biggest ambition was to rob the mule pack train that came down from Yreka in Siskiyou County each month with $80,000 in gold bullion. Dick and his gang were only partially successful with the heist. He and another accomplice were caught stealing mules to transport the gold, with the others left holding the (heavy) bag. One legend says his partners buried Dick's unclaimed share of the gold in the hills near Redding (as opposed to your back yard, Mrs. Heyward!) On the night of July 11, 1859, Rattlesnake Dick met his Waterloo when he and an accomplice rode boldly through Auburn. He had a confrontation with a posse on Illinoistown Road near the future site of the Martin Park Fire Station. The station is named for deputy tax collector George Martin, the posse member killed in the infamous gunfight that night. Barter evidently was hit by gunfire during the shootout, but escaped on horseback with his accomplice. A posse hunted all night but couldn't find him. The next morning, the Iowa Hill stage found Dick's body with three bullet holes in it along the road near Junction House - now Foresthill Road and Lincoln Way. The two shots through his body may not have proved fatal, but it appears that the third shot, through his head, was inflicted by either himself or his companion. On the body were found a note from Dick and a touching letter from his sister. The note expressed Dick's hope that John Boggs also was in the shootout. Some think Boggs or Charles King were among the posse members, but I tend to believe the 1882 Thompson and West account that lists the three posse members as Martin, who was killed, Undersheriff George Johnston, who was injured by gunfire, and Deputy Sheriff W. M. Crutcher. Sheriff Lathrop Bullock, who had replaced King the month before, had the body taken to Auburn and put on display. Sam Whitmarsh, a prominent citizen who was running for county supervisor, angrily kicked Dick's corpse in the face. The townsfolk resented the gesture, and Whitmarsh lost the election badly a year later because of it. Richard "Rattlesnake Dick" Barter, 26, was buried at the county's expense in the Old Auburn Cemetery on East Street. His body was moved to the cemetery off Fulweiler Avenue in Auburn in 1893. His legend lives on, often exaggerated, in tales told by local old-timers. David Rosenaur and Karen Fox, owners of the Horseshoe Bar Grill in Loomis, are expanding onto adjacent property owned since 1912 by the great-great-grandson of William Barter, Dick's cousin. Their new full liquor bar - with upscale Belgian-style brew made on site - on the property will be named and dedicated Rattlesnake Dick's. A 21st century saloon: the perfect place to swap tall tales about one of the area's most notorious characters.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Small, Kathleen Edwards., History of Tulare County, California:
Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1926, Pages 197-198

One of the well known attorneys of Visalia and Tulare County, is a native of California, born in Damascus, Placer County, February 7, 1879. His father, Thomas Burke, came from Ireland alone at the age of seventeen years, and for the greater part of his life was engaged in gold mining. He is still remembered by old residents of Placer and Sonoma counties as one of the pioneer mining men of the state.

In his boyhood James M. Burke attended the schools of Healdsburg, Sonoma County, after which he entered the University of California, where he was a member of the graduating class of 1908. He then took the law course in the same institution, completing it in 1910. The following February he came to Visalia, where he accepted a position as deputy district attorney under Frank Lamberson, then district attorney. Here he remained for eight years, except for a short time in 1916, when he served as a private in the California National Guard on the Mexican border during the Villa trouble.

On January 1, 1919, Mr. Burke joined the law firm of Farnsworth & McClure, which then became Farnsworth, McClure & Burke, with offices in the Bank of Italy building, now generally recognized as one of the leading legal firms of Tulare County. Some time prior to his entrance into this firm he became interested in fruit culture and in connection with Mr. Booth, of Los Angeles, planted a vineyard and orchard ranch of fifty acres, which they have developed to a high state of cultivation, and in which he still holds his interest.

Politically Mr. Burke is a republican and as such takes a lively interest in public affairs. He is now (1924) serving his second term as a member of the Visalia city council. Fraternally he belongs to Visalia Lodge No. 1298, Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Mr. Burke was united in marriage to Miss Lillian M. Farnsworth, who was born in Amador County, California, and they have one daughter, Anne McLaine Burke.

Sacramento Bee, 5-25-1995
Claude Chana: Obscure Pioneer May Have Out-Gumped Forrest

He kneels, larger than life, along Interstate 80 in Auburn. A high school in the city is named after him as well as a street. Claude Chana is one of the most famous figures in Gold Rush history, celebrated in the statue as the man who found gold May 16, 1848, in the Auburn Ravine five months after James Marshall's famed discovery in Coloma. The Auburn discovery, the second major gold strike in California, expanded the Gold Rush region and helped convince fortune-seekers that the foothills were full of gold. Although larger strikes were made later along the Yuba River, the discovery of gold in Auburn Ravine spawned the settlement that eventually became the city of Auburn. And how do we know Chana, who died 113 years ago this week, is the man who found gold? We don't, says an author of a book about Auburn at least not as well as we know other California history. Published nearly a decade ago, Mary Gilberg's "Auburn: A California Mining Camp Comes of Age" prompted her innocent hunt for primary sources letters or diaries to support the account of the gold find. She didn't set out to disprove Chana's discovery, just to find primary historical evidence of it. She turned up nothing. "I just couldn't substantiate it," said Gilberg, who has since moved to Washington state. "I went to primary resources wherever I possibly could. It may have been I couldn't find anything other than myths and legends about the man. I was not prepared to go along with what had been said." Her book says "local tradition has him discovering gold." "I was kind of left with the feeling that tradition, myths and stories are really important to the community," said Gilberg. Karri Samson, who works at the Auburn-Placer library and has written about Placer County history, said Gilberg did her homework when it came to local history. "She was a really good historian," said Samson. Most area historians, including Samson, say they still think Chana discovered gold in Auburn Ravine 147 years ago, but they agree that the historical evidence is understandably limited. Gold Rush California, said today's historians, was a young territory without newspapers or a government to record documents, and it was populated by people more interested in getting rich than becoming famous. "Nothing in history is absolute," said Duke Davis, who has written nearly a dozen books on Placer County and Sierra foothills history. But Davis, who wrote his master's thesis on Placer County in the years 1848-1852, said, "I've never heard anything to discount the Chana story." Gilberg's simple show-me inquiry the first step of any serious inquiry into history about the Auburn gold discovery does lead to some interesting dead-ends and cul-de-sacs. An issue of the weekly Placer Herald printed after Chana's death in 1882 carries a single paragraph on the subject that makes no mention of an Auburn gold find. A Bear River News story about Chana's life published the year before likewise says nothing of a gold discovery. Kenneth Owens, a professor of history at California State University, Sacramento, and editor of a book about John Sutter, isn't surprised that contemporary accounts often overlooked Chana's discovery. James Marshall and John Sutter weren't celebrated until the 1880s, Owens said. That was when the Native Sons of the Golden West began to create a kind of cult of key Gold Rush-era figures, he said. The effort was spurred partly by anti-immigration forces angry at what they saw as the potential disappearance amid the arrival of new residents from Asia and elsewhere of a California dominated by white Northern Europeans, said Owens. "You have this sort of history as a mechanism of cultural warfare over what place California really is," he said. Celebrations in 1898 marking the 50th anniversary of the Gold Rush gave a big push, Owens said, to what he called "the cult of the Anglo-American pioneer" promoted by people "we would today call racists." Does it matter really, in the mix of things, whether Chana discovered gold in Auburn? Juanita Neyens, a former mayor and now city councilwoman in Wheatland who wrote a history of the town, said Auburn thought it mattered a great deal several decades ago when officials wanted to move Chana's grave from Wheatland to Auburn. "There was quite a bit of furor in town," recalled Neyens. "We said no. We wouldn't give him up. We said we were going to keep him." Bill Wilson, who worked for The Sacramento Bee and now writes a column on Placer history for the Auburn Sentinel, said he thinks Chana is properly credited with the Auburn Ravine gold find. "There's nothing that says anything to the contrary," he said. Jack Steed, who with his son Richard wrote "The Donner Party Rescue Site: Johnson's Ranch on the Bear River," agrees. "I am inclined to believe it," he said of Chana's gold find. Noting that Chana later bought a vast ranch along the Bear River, Steed said the most likely source of his wealth was gold. "He got money from somewhere," said Steed, who is president of the Sacramento County Historical Society. Wheatland resident Neyens cited the same reason for believing that Chana found gold in the Auburn Ravine. "I've never questioned it," Neyens said. "The man had to have money from some place." And she's not comfortable with the inquiry into the historical record on Chana's role. "To me it's unfair," Neyens said. "Unless somebody can say he definitely did not he should keep the credit." Auburn resident Donna Howell, who has written extensively about Placer County, said no newspapers or government records existed when Chana made his discovery and helped start the 1849 stampede to California that spawned newspapers and led to statehood. "I think he did it," said Howell, who once traveled to a Southern California library to establish the origin of Auburn's name. Credit for Chana's discovery rests on an 1882 history of Placer County published by Thompson and West of Oakland. If one reads an account of Chana's life and his gold find in the Auburn Ravine, inevitably the source is the Thompson and West county history. For people who like their history free of jarring revisions, the good news is that the Oakland publisher gets high marks for its research, and the Placer book is praised specifically. It is a respected account of the Sierra foothills whose sources include Claude Chana. "It's the Placer County bible," Foresthill resident and area historian Norman McLeod said of the book, which at 461 pages the size of a telephone book seems almost as big as the Bible. It is a richly detailed and illustrated account of the county, recently republished and often used for historical reference. Myron Angel, the author of the Thompson and West book, was an early resident of Placer County who helped settle what became Colfax and discovered Rich Bar on the north fork of the American River. Angel certainly brought a historical perspective to the Sierra foothills. Newspapers, he wrote, are very interesting while fresh, regarded as useless rubbish in a week or month and as a sacred relic when years have dimmed their color. Although county histories are not always a reliable source, Owens said they can be "sort of halfway between a reliable primary account and unreliable folk history" the Thompson and West series rates high on the historical scale. "More often than not they turn out to be correct," he said. Chana, an old-timer by the early 1880s and a bachelor, was no doubt happy to share what he knew. The Bear River News account in 1881 noted that he was "bowed, toothless and decrepit and has scarcely the wherewithal to keep the wolf from his door. Notwithstanding his misfortunes though," the paper noted, "Claude is the same genial whole-souled fellow that he was years ago, and nothing pleases him better than to have friends call upon him to recount the times of long ago over again." If some newspapers omitted Chana's Auburn gold find, his May 25, 1882, obituary in the Marysville Daily Appeal includes a reference to the discovery. Yet a Wheatland newspaper in 1875 referred to Chana when arguing against the view that pioneers came to California to mine and not to farm a debate spurred by the battle between farmers and hydraulic miners over the effect of mining debris on California agriculture. Claude Chana, one of the old pioneers that settled on Bear River near Wheatland is yet with us," wrote the Wheatland Free Press on Oct. 2, 1875. "He knows that he came for agricultural purposes and did not dream of anything like gold mining. He has followed an agricultural life on the ranch where he settled in 1846, up to the winter before last when the sediment destroyed what was left of his once fine farm." Perhaps it was a case of a newspaper using a man's life to advance an editorial argument but still a curious role for a man now credited with such an important gold discovery. One is easily drawn to the Chana that emerges from history. Born into a peasant family in France, he came to the United States at age 29 in search of the same opportunities that lured waves of immigrants. He lived in New Orleans for a few years, then moved to Missouri, at that time the outpost of the frontier. Lured by accounts of rich land and mild weather he came to California, the newest frontier of the Americas. Within a few years, Chana found gold in the Auburn Ravine, moved up to the Yuba River soon after and found more, but was more interested in farming than mining and used his riches to buy land, accounts say. His ranch near the Bear River was his private paradise, land that reminded him of his native France. Chana raised fruits, winning an award at the first State Fair, and produced wine. Debris washed down by hydraulic mining, however, eventually overran his farm and Chana was forced to sell the site at auction for only $500. He spent his final years in Wheatland, just over the border from Placer, making wine. He is buried in a grave marked simply "Pioneer." Several facts seem unarguable about Claude Chana:  He lived close enough to the site now known as Auburn to have discovered gold, he knew John Sutter, and he made enough money in gold to buy considerable land not far from Auburn. Arguably, Chana also displayed a Forest Gump-like ability to experience crucial moments in early California history. He said the California Company, with which he traveled to California in 1846, rode briefly with the Donner Party before Chana and others went their own way. Chana said the California Company made it over the summit just two weeks before the early snows that trapped the Donner Party in the winter of 1846. And Chana, according to his brief 1882 obituary in an Auburn paper, was the first to greet the Forlorn Hope, an advance group of the Donner Party that crossed the summit and reached Johnson's Ranch early in 1847. Chana did indeed arrive in California in 1846 the same year the Donner Party was trapped in the Truckee basin. If he was the first at Johnson's Ranch to greet the Forlorn Hope of the Donner Party that struggled over the summit, it's curious that no other account of that most famous pioneer tragedy mentions Chana's role. Something does seem uncertain about his life which may be only the unsurprising outcome of an era when historical records were few and their significance clear only years later. Is it Chana's fault that his French name was variously spelled as Chana, Chanon, Chano and Charnay in California? Some perplexities remain in this matter of Placer history. The book printed nearest the time of the 1848 Auburn Ravine gold discovery, the Placer County Directory of 1861, says "no reliable account exists" as to who discovered gold Auburn Ravine. "That just throws coals on the fire for discussion," Dave Tucker, director of Placer County museums, said of the directory's conclusion. However, historian Owens doesn't see the earlier history as particularly damning to the case for Chana's gold discovery. "The 1861 account I'm not going to put a whole lot of weight on that," said Owens, who is the director of the Capital Public History Program on the CSUS campus. "I don't know how hard they looked or where they looked." Placer historian Davis agrees. The 1861 directory was "kind of a spur of the moment thing," Davis said. "It seemed that was a rush-up job," he said, a way to sell advertising. Turning to the diary kept by John Sutter, whose fort near what is today downtown Sacramento was the center of early Northern California, doesn't shed much light on the Auburn gold discovery discussion. The diary refers to Chana's stops at the fort and tantalizingly enough, Sutter refers to Chana's return May 8 to Bear Creek. That puts Chana where he could begin his planned trip to Coloma to hunt for gold. But no "smoking gun" of history is to be found in Sutter's diary to settle with any authority the question of who was responsible for Auburn's first gold find. The diary ends in May 1848, the same month Chana is supposed to have discovered the ore. Given the communications of the era, it would have taken at least a month for word of the find to reach Sutter. Hubert Howe Bancroft's series on California history, the single richest source of Gold Rush history, contains only a brief mention of Chana. As a source of history, Chana seems to get a mixed reading. Thompson and West, which published the Placer County history, also printed a history of Yuba County. The Yuba history notes that Chana cited the account of an Indian woman in his employ who survived an 1833 malaria epidemic that killed many California Indians in the region that became known as the Sacramento Valley. Modern historians still point to the epidemic as an early example of the effect settlers had upon the native people. In Chana's account, the Indian woman said the Hudson Bay Company of trappers introduced the disease to get Indians out of the valley because they interfered with trapping. To accomplish that, the trappers sent the Indians clothing infected with the disease, Chana recalled the Indian woman saying. According to Thompson and West's Yuba County history, Chana said trappers he met in Missouri before coming to California verified the Indian woman's account. And Chana said it was the prevailing explanation among Indians and early setters as to the epidemic's origin. "This theory does not seem credible," the Yuba County history noted, "as such inhumanity could hardly exist among members of an organization so fair and honorable in all its dealings as was the Hudson Bay Company." It was likely, said Thompson and West, that Indians "in their ignorance and superstition" ascribed the disease's origin to the trading company because of their jealousy and rivalry with the foreign trappers. Modern history is far less generous to interests like trading companies and far more respectful of the Indians. Was Chana just ahead of his time in believing the Indian woman? Whether he was representative of his era in his treatment of the Indians or a rare exception is hard to establish. The party with which Chana set out for Coloma in May 1848 was made up of some two dozen Indians and three white men, including Chana. A letter from Chana to Thompson and West on a separate matter, the discovery of gold on the Yuba River, suggests his interest in determining the truth. When the publishers ask him who found gold, Chana suggests they talk to another man whom he said was among the first to work the river and thus might have a more accurate account. Some episodes in Chana's life read so well they seem almost story-like. That's how the Yuba County history introduced his account of how he came to plant almonds along the Bear River after coming to California in 1846. Chana, the book says, relates the following story:  Before leaving Missouri for California, friends gave a farewell dinner where almonds were served at the table. He stowed some in his trunk to eat on the way to California and forgot about them, only to discover them upon his arrival. A friend suggested planting some of the almonds, which Chana said bore fruit in 1854 and won the premium at the first State Fair in 1858. Can it all be true? The pioneer who traveled with the Donner Party, avoided the group's mountain entrapment by only two weeks, was the first at Johnson's Ranch to meet the advance group of the Donner Party, went on to discover gold in Auburn, found more gold along the Yuba River, got rich, bought land, and was ruined by hydraulic mining debris years later? Yes, it can. Much of the Chana story is supported by contemporary accounts, and the historical documents that lack them such as those involving the Donner Party and the gold discovery occurred before any forum such as newspapers was around to record them. The 1875 auction of Chana's ranch was advertised in the Wheatland Free Press, and an article about the sale referred to the "far-famed Claude Chana ranch." An Auburn newspaper listed him as one of the wealthiest men in the county. "Maybe he didn't do it personally," Foresthill resident McLeod said of Chana's role in the Auburn Ravine gold discovery, "but someone in his party did. Somebody had to do it. It might as well be Chana."

Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928

F. W. Crowder was born March 1st, 1852, in Windsor, England, the son of Frederick and Anna (Rich) Crowder. In 1873 at Slough, he married Miss Annie Cox, a daughter of John Josiah and Jane (Smith) Cox. Soon after their marriage, they came to America with a group of Englishmen and went to work at a smelter in the Salt Lake Valley for an English firm. After spending six years in that part of the country, the Crowders came to California. Part of their time was spent in San Francisco, Sacramento, and other places, wherever Mr. Crowder could obtain work. In September 1882 they moved on their present home place about one mile and a half west of Roseville. They owned about fifty acres set out in a fine vineyard and orchard. Mr. Crowder is prominent not only in horticultural circles but also as a financier, he being an organizer and director in the Farmers and Mechanics. The Dry Creek precinct voting place has been located on his ranch, and he has served on the election board for years. Thirteen children have come to bless the lives of this worthy couple. Those living are Francis John Crowder, a rancher near Roseville; Alice Jane Emerson of Antelope; Frederic George Crowder, a rancher near Roseville; Bertram Ralph Crowder, a rancher near Roseville; Lewis, an employee of the Southern Pacific and resides at Roseville; Thomas A., on a fruit ranch and he served in the world war and resides near Roseville; Daisy, wife of Harry C. Smith, a railroad man who resides near Roseville; Lillian, wife of D. Mariani, a rancher near Roseville; and the late Earnest and William Henry Crowder and Nellie M. Benson. Mr. and Mrs. Crowder have twenty-two grandchildren. The golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. Crowder was celebrated at their home on January 12, 1923, and all of their children and grandchildren were present on that happy occasion.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Small, Kathleen Edwards., History of Tulare County, California
Chicago:  S.J. Clarke Pub. Co.,  1926, Pages 205-206

It happened – very fortunately, in this case – that James Freeman was prominently active in the Native Sons of the Golden West, and that in time he became a delegate to several state conventions, one of which was held in Monterey. Having seen the historic old town, he determined, if possible, to make his home here. In 1908 therefore he returned and purchased Mr. Oliver’s undertaking business and ever since he has regularly added to its equipment, and increased his stock of all that is necessary, as he is far away from the usual source of supplies. He has a dignified chapel in which funeral services may be held and he owns two motor-hearses. With his careful personal attention to the desires of each and every patron, he finds it relatively easy to give satisfaction of the kind that evokes grateful appreciation. In his difficult, delicate and decidedly responsible work, Mr. Freeman is ably assisted by his wife, who is also a licensed undertaker.

Mrs. Freeman was Miss Esther M. Fletcher before her marriage, and she is a daughter of the pioneer, Levi Fletcher, who first settled in California in 1857. Seven years later he returned east, where he remained until 1888, but the irresistible lure of California drew him back here, in 1888, about the time of the great “boom” in southern California, and he became interested in development of the granite quarries near Rocklin. Mrs. Freeman belongs to the Eastern Star, and she is a past matron and charter member of the Hebe Roseville chapter. She also belongs to the Cypress Lodge of the Rebekahs, the ladies auxiliary of the I.O.O.F., of Pacific Grove, and she is an ex-president of the Monterey Civic Club, and also of the ladies of the Sherman Circle, Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Robert Wainwright Auxiliary of the Veterans of the Spanish-American War of Monterey. Mr. Freeman is a charter member of the Native Sons of the Golden West, having first belonged to Rocklin Parlor, from which he was transferred to the Parlor at Monterey, and he is a Knight of Columbus, a Forester, a Moose and an Eagle. He belongs to various patriotic bodies and is second to none in participating in any good work for the general uplift of the community and for the advancement of the best interests of all Monterey County.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
The Bay of San Francisco: the metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its suburban cities : a history.
Daniel Webster: Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1892, Pages 203-204

Deputy Assessor of Alameda County, William G Hawkett was born in Todd's Valley, Placer County, California, March 23, 1856, a son of Arthur Wellington and Margaret B. (Towner) Hawkett. His father, who was born in Essex County, New York, December 17, 1826, first learned the trade of nailmaker in his father's factory at Altoona, Pennsylvania, whither the family had meanwhile moved from New York. He afterward learned the trade of mason and brick-layer, and in 1852 came to California, locating in Placer County as a miner. Mrs. Hawkett, who was born in Canada, January 2, 1830, of American parents, rejoined him in Placer County in 1853. He continued so engaged for several years, and is interested in mines and mining property to the present time, in this State and in Oregon. He came to this State early in the '60s and embarked in the business of con­tractor and builder. He constructed the first macadamized street in Oakland and built the Wilcox block, the first three---story building erected here. He afterward built the Benitz block and the Broadway block. He was a half owner of the Altoona cinnabar mines, thought to be the richest quicksilver mines in California, which he sold in 1875. He is still interested in mining in Oregon. W. G. Hawkett, the only living child of his parents, came to Oakland in August, 1865, attended Brayton College, and at the age of fourteen took a situation as messenger in the State Assembly in Sacramento, which he held for two sessions. He then went to Gold Hill, Nevada, and for a year was clerk in a quartzmill. In 1874 he returned to Oakland and resumed his educational course for a season. In his twentieth year he went into the grocery business on his own account in West Oakland, under the style of W. G. Hawkett & Co., continuing eight months, when he sold out to H. M. Collins. In 1878 he was appointed deputy County Recorder under P. R. Borein, serving five years and ten months, and then tinder his successor one year. Resigning that position, he was appointed deputy City Assessor by J. M.Dillon, and remained with him until the close of his long term of twenty seven years in April, 1889. Mr. Hawkett then joined Mr. R. S. Leckie, under the style of Leckie & Hawkett, searchers of records. They built up a good business in their line, employing nine clerks, and their professional work was so carefully done that it is accepted as standard by the banks, insurance companies and attorneys in Oakland. In 1890 Mr. Leckie was elected Assessor of Alameda County, and he at once appointed Mr. Hawkett as his chief deputy. They then sold their business as searchers of records and now give all their attention to official business. Mr. Hawkett was a member of the old Oakland Parlor, No. 2, N. S. G. W., and at the organization of the Grand Parlor of the State was chosen its first president; he is now a member of Piedmont Parlor, No. 120, and also of Occidental Lodge, No. 6, A. 0. U. W., in which he served as recorder twelve years and passed through all its offices; also of Upchurch Legion, No. 9, S. K., and of Ivanhoe Lodge, No. 1889, Knights of Honor, and of Harbor Lodge, No. 256, I. 0. 0. F. Mr. Hawkett was married in this city, Oak­land, October 8, 1879, to Miss Emma F. Webb, a native of Lancha Plana, Amador County, California, and they have three daughters, viz.: May Isabelle, born August 8, 1880; Frank Ethelyn, September 4, 1885; Marguerite Helen, February 23, 1889.

Roseville Tribune and Register, Wednesday, 8-21-1929
90th Birthday of John Holt Recalls Early Placer Days

The very earliest days of Placer County history were recalled here Monday when John Holt, who settled in this section in 1858, celebrated his ninetieth birthday at his home at 118 Pleasant Street. A large group of friends attended the gathering. Mr. Holt came to America from England when a lad of 18, working in the mines of Michigan Bluff from 1858 till 1864. He entered the cattle business and prospered, becoming known as one of the leading shippers of the state. His cattle grazed over a large acreage known as the San Juan Grant. That portion of Roseville known as Sierra Vista and Los Cerritos was owned by him before it was subdivided and settled. Leland Stanford, who conducted a store at Michigan Bluff in those days, induced Mr. Holt and his brothers to settle in the Sacramento Valley. When the Central Pacific Railroad was built, he made ties for the company. In 1897 he was married to Elizabeth LeMaistre in Sacramento. A huge birthday cake decorated with candles was presented Mr. Holt by Mrs. Harold Bywater of Loomis. Mr. Holt cut and served the cake. Despite his years, he is hale and hearty and proclaims his intention to celebrate at least ten more birthdays. Among the guests of the evening were Mrs. Alice Richart, Mrs. L. Ketcham, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence McRae, Mr. and Mrs. J. Stoffels, Mr. and Mrs. Nicora, Mrs. Harold Bywater, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Blair, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Boston, Miss Verna Bywater, Master Roy Bywater, Miss Delphine Shaffer, Master Francis Stoffels, Mr. and Mrs. O. Prideaux, James McCune, Misses Maud and Louise Slater. Mrs. Joseph Bywater of Loomis, who had been with Mr. and Mrs. Holt for several months, assisted as hostess.

KEEHNER, Mr & Mrs Charles
Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Keehner are among the oldest pioneers of Roseville. Mr. Keehner came to Roseville on July 1, 1870, when there was but one store with the post office in it. The late Lee Thomas owned and managed it. Mr. Keehner owned a blacksmith shop on the corner of Vernon and Lincoln streets, which he ran for forty years. Charles Keehner was born at Auerbach in Germany, November 6, 1847, the son of George and Margaret Keechner. In 1867 he crossed the ocean to America. Mrs. Keehner was born May 8, 1857, on the Atlantic Ocean while the parents, Gottfried and Johanna Zeh, were coming to America. She was reared to young womanhood at the old Zeh home, three miles south of Roseville, where she was united in marriage to Charles Keehner on August 29, 1874. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at their home, 120 South Lincoln Street, Roseville, in 1924, surrounded by their five sons and daughters and families as follows:  Charles Keehner, wife and children, Evelyn, Carol and Alice of Berkeley; Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Teal and daughter Mary of Roseville; Mr. and Mrs. Edward Keehner and children, Elizabeth, Barbara and Huston of Sacramento; Mr. and Mrs. William C. Keehner and children, Lewellyn, Esther, Irene, Dorothy, Malcolm and Eleanor of Roseville; and Mr. and Mrs. Frank L. King of Roseville. Mr. and Mrs. Keehner have watched the growth of Roseville from its infancy to the large city it now is, with the greatest of interest.

KING, Annie C
Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928

Annie Catherine (Hellar) King was born in Hayward, Alameda County, California in 1862. Her parents were Thomas and Eliza (Knock) Hellar. She was united in marriage to Lewis Leroy King in 1880. Four children were born to this union:  Elva M. McBride of Antelope, Lelia E. Keehner of Roseville, Lewis Leroy King of Roseville, and the late Earl Elisha King. Thirteen grandchildren as follows:  Kenneth, Wesley, Cathrine, Donald and Arthur Thomas Jr. McBride, all of Antelope, California; Llewellyn, Esther, Irene, Dorothy, Malcolm and Eleanor Keehner of Roseville; Kathryn Mae and Jacqueline Dorothy King of Roseville. After being in the orchard business at San Lorenzo for ten years, Mr. and Mrs. King came to Roseville in 1890. Mr. King planted eleven thousand fruit trees on the eighty acres now known as Cherry Glen. In a few years time, the trees and vines were bearing luscious fruit and required from fifteen to twenty girls to pack and from twelve to twenty men to pick. Mr. and Mrs. King watched the population of Roseville grow from about three hundred and fifty to its present size. They labored and helped in many ways for the growth and prosperity of Roseville. Mr. King passed away in 1914. Mrs. King still lives on the old home place. She has been a faithful helper in the Roseville churches since 1890 and is a member and still sings in the choir of the Methodist Church of Roseville. She is a member of Minerva Rebekah Lodge, and a member of Rose Chapter Order of Eastern Star of Roseville, and at present is president of the Women’s Improvement Club, a charter member joined when it was organized in 1910.

McBRIDE, Mrs. Emma
Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928

Mrs. Emma McBride was born in Auburn, Lincoln County, Missouri, in 1856. She came to California with her parents, Andrew and Caroline Finley. In 1870 she went to Salinas for a short time, then moved to Santa Ana, Orange County, in the fall of 1878. She married Thomas McBride in 1879 and moved to their ranch of six hundred and forty acres of farming land in Antelope, Sacramento County, where their children were born. Mr. McBride passed away in 1892. Mrs. McBride courageously reared their children to maturity, the oldest son Arthur assisting his mother faithfully through many trying years. Four children were born to the late Thomas and Emma McBride as follows:  Arthur T. McBride of Antelope and five children, Kenneth, Wesley, Catherine, Donald, and Arthur Thomas Jr.; Mrs. Agnes Sprague of Santa Ana and two children Clarence and Weston; John Leslie McBride of Santa Ana and three children Elma, John and Maxwell; and Miss Bernice McBride, a teacher in Los Angeles. Mrs. McBride belonged and was a great worker in the United Presbyterian Church of Roseville, which was built about 1882 and in 1888 it was changed to the Roseville Presbyterian Church. Mrs. McBride is still a member of the church and Ladies’ Aid Society, although the last few years some of her time is spent in Santa Ana, her interest still lives in the Roseville Presbyterian Church.

Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928
Prominent Pioneers of Roseville

A. B. McRae, only son of Alexander and Elizabeth McRae, was born in Ontario, Canada, June 16, 1852, of Scotch parents, and came to California in 1873. Mrs. McRae, also of Scotch antecedents, was born in New Brunswick, Canada, January 17, 1856, was the daughter of Alexander and Elizabeth Kerr. She came to California with her parents in 1868, by way of the Isthmus of Panama route. They arrived in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day and came directly to Roseville, joining a brother of Mrs. McRae’s mother, who had a home here and land which later became a part of the city. Alexander Bell McRae and Miss Elizabeth Kerr were married in Sacramento in the old manse of the Westminster Presbyterian Church January 28, 1876, by Rev. H. H. Rice. They were attended by Miss Elizabeth McRae, cousin of the groom, and by Thomas McBride of Antelope, father of Arthur T. McBride of Antelope. They have resided in Roseville ever since their marriage, living in a house on the site of the McRae block on the corner of Lincoln and Main streets for over thirty years, moving then into their beautiful new home on the corner of Jones and Grove streets, erected in 1918. The McRae home was ever open to their many friends. Hospitality ever reigned supreme there. Filled with happiness among themselves, they scattered it freely with others in loving words, kindly deeds and charity. Their efforts and interests have ever been for the up building of Roseville, being affiliated with the churches, Odd Fellows, and Rebekah lodges, and many other things too numerous to mention. They did with their might any good their hands found to do. The Roseville public library stands on lots donated by Mr. and Mrs. McRae, and recently Mr. McRae has donated a furnace for the new Women’s Improvement club house under course of construction. Mr. and Mrs. McRae celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary January 28, 1926, in which the entire city of Roseville joined in congratulating the happy couple. All their children and grandchildren, with the exception of their beloved son Russell who passed away in 1919, were present at the anniversary, as follows:  Mr. and Mrs. Louis Engler and daughter and son Muriel and Keith of Berkeley; Mr. and Mrs. Clarence A. McRae and son Kenneth of Roseville; Mr. and Mrs. Lester A. McRae and daughter Margaret of Roseville; Mrs. Russell McRae and son Douglas of Sacramento; Mr. and Mrs. Cecil R. McRae and sons Duane and Russell of Roseville.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
The History of Contra Costa County, California:
Wm L Todd; Jos W Revere; William B Ide; Jose Castro; et al,
Berkeley, Calif.: Elms Pub. Co., 1917, Page 490

Edwin Merrithew M.D. has been successfully engaged in the practice of medicine at Martinez for the past eight years, and is widely recognized as one of the able and representative members of the profession. He was born at Gold Run, Placer County, California, November 23, 1880, son of Moses W., born July 4, 1837, and Annie Elizabeth Merrithew, born in 1854. His father is a native of Maine, and his mother was born in San Francisco. The parents still reside in Placer County. The subject of this sketch was educated in the public schools of Placer County. He also attended the Stockton Normal School. He then entered the Cooper Medical College and graduated in 1905, becoming intern at the Lane Hospital in San Francisco. He practiced his profession in Sonoma County, and in June, 1907, he removed to Martinez, where he enjoys the full confidence of the people of his locality. In March, 1911, Doctor Merrithew was appointed County physician, which office he has since held. He has served as health officer of the city of Martinez since January 1, 1914. He is local surgeon for the Santa Fe Railroad. Fraternally, Doctor Merrithew holds membership in the Odd Fellows, and the Knights of Pythias, and now serves as camp physician of the Woodmen of the World. He is especially interested in and a member of the Native Sons. He is a member of the Contra Costa Medical Society, the California State Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. He has served as vice-president of the County Medical Society. In politics the Doctor is a Republican. He was married to Miss Emma Kriner, of California, October 29, 1910. To this union one son, Wallace Kriner, was born on July 29, 1913. Mrs. Merrithew is a member of the Women of Woodcraft, and is active in all matters pertaining to promote the general welfare and growth and expansion of the community.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Hunt, Marguerite., History of Solano County, California
Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1926, Pages 441-442

Among the physicians on the medical staff of the State Hospital at Napa, Dr. Lena Geraldson Miller has for a number of years been recognized as one of the most efficient and capable, her record having gained for her general confidence and esteem, as well as the sincere respect of her professional colleagues. Dr. Miller is a native of Placer County, California, and is a daughter of Hans and Mary Greer (Sloan) Geraldson. Her father came to the United States from Australia, and her mother was a native of Pennsylvania, whence she came to California many years ago, their marriage occurring in Placer County.

Dr. Miller received her elementary education in the public and high schools of Placer County and then attended the Teachers State Normal College, at San Jose. During the two following terms she taught school and then matriculated in the Cooper Medical College, in San Francisco, after which she returned to Placer County and engaged in the practice of her profession. Soon afterward she was appointed assistant resident physician in the Fabiola Hospital in Oakland, where her record was so outstanding that she was secured for her present position as assistant physician in the State Hospital at Napa, where she is still serving, with marked success.

The Doctor became the wife of F.H. Miller, who is now a successful rancher and a highly respected citizen of Napa County. Dr. Miller is a member of the Napa County Medical Society and the California State Medical Society, and she is eligible for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. She enjoys a wide acquaintance and is well liked by all who have come in contact with her, for added to her professional ability she possesses charming graces of character which have commended her to the good favor of all whom she has been associated, either professionally or socially.

What the modern methods of undertaking have come to mean to society, desirous as men and women always are for the best that can be obtained, and anxious as people of sentiment ever will be for the most consoling and appropriate provision for the last rites of respect to the dead, may be seen from the operations, in accordance with scientific precepts and the most approved taste, of James E. Freeman, the well known undertaker of Monterey. He was born September 16, 1872, in Placer County, California, on a ranch where his parents, John C. and Catherine (Croke) Freeman then lived. His father was a master machinist, long in the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, having charge of certain responsible departments in the shops. He also had a ranch of several hundred acres near Rocklin, Placer County, and there made his home and reared his family. Hence the children attended the grammar schools of Rocklin; and when the family moved to Berkeley, they availed themselves of the advantages of the higher schools. A brother opened and conducted a large furniture and undertaking place at Rocklin, but the removal of the railroad shops, and with them so many people, made it necessary for him to seek a new location.

MORGAN, Mrs. Elizabeth
Roseville Tribune and Register, 5-2-1928

Mrs. Elizabeth Morgan was one of our beloved pioneer women. She passed away December 21, 1927, at the age of 79 years. Her mind was active and bright up to the time of her last illness. She gave the following sketch of her life to the writer and although she has gone to her heavenly home, I felt that this sketch would be treasured by her children, friends, and relatives for the lovely character she bore and her wonderful acts of kindness to every one connected or associated with her. Mother Morgan, as she was familiarly called by young and old, was loved by all who knew her. Up to the time of her illness, she was an active member of Minerva Rebekah Lodge of Roseville, taking part in the drill team and active in the sewing club recently organized by that Lodge. Elizabeth Helen Harris was born in Indiana October 4th, 1848. On the spring of 1851 she came with her parents by the way of the Isthmus of Panama to California. They settled on a large tract of land near Greenwood, El Dorado County, where she grew to young womanhood. At 18 years of age was married to J. W. Fairchild. They went to Austin, Nevada, where Mr. Fairchild edited a paper called the Reese River Revelry. When her oldest son was 21 months old, her husband died. She then made her home at Pilot Hill, El Dorado County. In May 1873 she married William Morgan, and they took up their residence in Georgetown. February 1874 their daughter, Mrs. J. E. Beckwith of Roseville, was born. They later settled on a ranch in the Penobscot District where three other children were born; Mrs. Hattie Dietrich of Roseville, Mrs. Nellie Cooper of Port Richmond and the late Jesse E. Morgan. Mr. Morgan died 1889. Mrs. Morgan came to Roseville September 1894. Mrs. Morgan was the first woman to cross the wire suspension bridge between Placer and El Dorado counties on the road between Auburn and Georgetown. She remembered distinctly the first railroad train that came into Auburn and Placerville. Mrs. Morgan had four sisters and two brothers:  the late Mrs. Adelia Terry, Mrs. Emma Glines, and Joseph and Charles Harris, one sister, Mrs. Josephine Goodpastor, still resides in Roseville, and Mrs. Hattie Heindell of Georgetown. Mrs. Morgan had ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
C C Goodwin; Horace Dunbar: sketches of the Inter-mountain States together with biographies of many prominent and progressive citizens who have helped in the development and history-making of this marvelous region
1847-1909, Utah, Idaho, Nevada. Salt Lake City, Utah: Salt Lake Tribune, 1909, Page 327

United States Senator Geo. S. Nixon is pre-eminently a self-made man. The record of his experience indicates how industry applied to Western opportunities enables one to be decidedly successful notwithstanding the manifold obstacles one must overcome. He was born in Placer County, California, April 2, 1860, and worked on his father’s farm until 19 years of age. He secured a very fair education in the schools of his native State and in 1878 he became an employee of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company at New Castle, California. After acquiring a knowledge of telegraphy in a railway station office, he was transferred in 1881 to Nevada points, serving as an operator on the Central Pacific Railroad and the Carson & Colorado Railroad. After three years of this service he was offered and accepted a clerical situation with the First National Bank of Reno, an institution that afterwards became the Washoe County Bank. Doubtless this new vocation was Mr. Nixon’s proper sphere, as he rapidly grew into prominence and public confidence and is now representing Nevada in the United States Senate.

Mr. Nixon succeeded the late Senator William M. Stewart, having been elected on January 25, 1905, for the term beginning March 4, 1905. Prior to his election to the United States Senate Senator Nixon was a member of the legislature of Nevada during the session of 1891.

Senator Nixon is one of the most prosperous business men of Nevada. For years he was the most active mine operator and is now largely interested in banking, stockraising and farming. He is the president of the Nixon National Bank of Reno, the First National Bank of Winnemucca and the Tonopah Banking Corporation of Tonopah.


Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Rolin G Watkins, 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, Pages 162-163

Mark A. Pixley of Monterey, an expert painting contractor, familiar with and proficient in executing all the demands for twentieth century decorating, is a native of Placer County, California, born at the mining camp of Bath, May 11, 1872, the son of Marshall and Ellen (Moss) Pixley. He has always been proud of the fact that his father crossed the great plains in the winter of ’49, with a team of oxen, and thus, after untold hardships, reached the mines of Placer County, California where he remained for two years. He then removed to the town of Pixley, so named in honor of his father, Mark A. Pixley. In 1874 Marshall Pixley removed to Milpitas, and from that year until 1891 conducted the Milpitas Hotel. From 1891 until 1910 he was in San Jose and served as deputy sheriff. Then he returned to San Francisco, to live with his daughter, his wife having passed away.

Mark A. Pixley attended the public schools of Milpitas and San Jose, and afterward worked for J. Lasky in San Jose until 1898 when he went to Nevada, to join the Nevada Rough Riders and participated in the Spanish-American war. After being discharged he went to Elko in 1902 and engaged in painting, in which he had previously had some experience. He remained there until 1907, when he returned to San Jose, and on the 27th of May he came to Monterey, where he is now conducting a successful and growing business as a painter, his patronage having assumed substantial proportions. His building, the Pixley Block, stands at the corner of Lighthouse and Prescott streets, and Pixley Hall, a room on the second floor, sixty by seventy feet, is the finest hall on the peninsula.

Mr. Pixley was married to Mrs. Alice Kelling, proprietor of the Pacific Ocean House, a comfortable and popular inn which he assisted his wife in managing until December, 1919, dividing his time with his painting. Four children have blessed this union: Raymond W., Edwin W., Alice M., and Margie A. Pixley. The family attends the Christian Science church. Mr. Pixley is a Knight of Pythias, and he finds his recreation in hunting and fishing, at which he is an adept.

RAGAN, D.F., M.D.-
Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
The Bay of San Francisco: the metropolis of the Pacific Coast and its suburban cities : a history.
Daniel Webster: Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1892, Page 582 Transcribed by: Martha A Crosley Graham

Dr. D.F. Ragan whose office is at No. 8 Sixth Street, San Francisco, has been engaged in the practice of medicine in this city since 1886. He was born at Iowa Hill, Placer County, California, in 1861, the son of Denis Ragan, who was one of the pioneer settlers of California, and who was early interested in placer and quartz mining in Placer and Nevada counties. Our subject received his early education in the public schools of Grass Valley, Nevada county, California, graduating at the high school of that city in 1878. He then took a pre­paratory course for admission to the State University, and soon after engaged in teach­ing in Nevada county, reaching finally the grade of teacher of the junior class in the Grass Valley .high school. This position he resigned to accept the principalship of the commercial department of the Lincoln evening school in San Francisco. While engaged in in this position Mr. Ragan commenced the study of medicine, entering the Cooper Medical College in 1883, at which institution he graduated in 1886, after a full three-years course. The position of house surgeon of the City and County Hospital was open to the three students standing highest in their classes, one of whom was Dr. Ragan, and he still retained the position of principal of the Lincoln evening school, but which he resigned in 1889, after having taught ten years, and after having received a life diploma from the State of California. Meanwhile he had resigned his place in the hospital in 1888, and engaged in private practice in his present location. Dr. Ragan is now assistant to the Chair of Nervous Diseases at the Cooper Medical College, and is also Secretary of the Alumni Association of that college. He is the first Grand Medical Examiner elected by the Young Men's Institute, which office he still holds.

Sacramento Bee, 5-15-1998
A Shrine to the Past in Placer Hills

Between two well-groomed holes at the Whitney Oaks golf course in Stanford Ranch is an unkempt acre of tall grass, poison oak, and gnarled trees. Among the trees is an oddity not well-known outside the immediate area. It is a 20-foot granite pyramid, overgrown with moss. The pyramid was built 85 years ago, when today's Rocklin subdivisions were grazing lands and oak-dotted, stream-cut valleys.

Its history goes back even further. It is the final resting place for J. Parker Whitney, who arrived in California in 1852 with gold mining dreams and made a fortune without prospecting a single nugget. Whitney once owned more than 20,000 acres in Placer County, including a ranch with 80 miles of roads and a mansion known as "The Oaks." His legacy is recognized today in the names of two golf courses. Whitney Oaks carries his name directly, while Twelve Bridges refers to the 12 granite bridges that once stood on his ranch. Only three remain. Like many other Argonauts of the Gold Rush, Joel Parker Whitney came to California virtually penniless. In fact, he had just 10 cents when he arrived here from Massachusetts at the age of 17, according to historical accounts. His brothers had come west earlier and, when he arrived by ship in San Francisco, they tried to dissuade him from heading to the goldfields. Whitney set out anyway, taking a boat to Sacramento and heading on foot to Auburn's mining camps. On the way, he passed through an idyllic area and swore to himself he would settle there if he could. When he got to Auburn, he saw that the gold camps were filled with outlaws and decided against mining. He felt he could use a gun in better ways than defending a gold claim. He returned to the Bay area and began hunting wild game to sell to merchants. When he had earned a big enough stake, he went back to Boston. There, he purchased all the supplies he knew miners needed - and would pay high prices for. He sent the supplies by ship around the Horn and met them in San Francisco. That was how Whitney made the fortune to buy land in Placer County stretching from Rocklin nearly to Lincoln. The last lots purchased between 1868 and 1873 were 30 homesteader properties costing $3 to $4.75 per acre. Whitney was once on a boat on a river crossing Central America when the boat ran aground, stranding passengers for days. After a while, the only fresh food was native fruits, and Whitney discovered the soup served to passengers was made by recycling the meat bones repeatedly. "(It) satisfied me to be content with the nutritive qualities of the banana," he wrote, according to Richard A. Miller's biography, "Fortune Built With a Gun: The Joel Parker Whitney Story." Many such facts are known because Whitney was a constant journal writer and his papers were discovered on his ranch in 1935, 22 years after his death. "He kept a daily diary for years and years and years," said Eric Heuermann, Whitney's great-grandson. Heuermann, 70, lives in Sacramento. That's not all Whitney kept. When his papers were discovered in the 1930s, they included a letter from Theodore Roosevelt, an 1889 bill for Christmas candy ($109) and news clippings of the scandal that resulted when his daughter Beryl ran off with a Harvard football player against her parents' wishes. In 1906, Beryl Whitney also made the cover of Sunset magazine, showing off some of the fruit grown on the ranch. In the late 1800s, her father was renowned for demonstrating that superior citrus could be grown in Northern California. It is said that the first shipment of raisins from California came from his ranch. Parker Whitney died in 1913 in Monterey, where he had been living in the Del Monte Hotel. He was 77. He was entombed in the pyramidical, marble-lined granite mausoleum built on his land, near where he had built a rough granite play castle for Whitney children. "The kids used to play in it," Heuermann said. "They called it "The Fort.' " It was a beautiful setting - even famed photographer Ansel Adams was attracted by it - but the ranch was ultimately broken up and developed into neighborhoods, golf courses, and shopping centers. "It used to be (beautiful) when you didn't have all the development," Heuermann said. "It's still a pretty area." In 1944, one acre surrounding the pyramid was dedicated to the family in perpetuity. The fenced acre is surrounded by undeveloped neighborhood open space and the bucolic golf course. Neighbors walk the area and marvel at the structure. Teens occasionally party there. And someone, possibly a family member, leaves flowers from time to time. Vandals also harmed the tomb's interior. About 10 years ago, after one particularly disturbing incident, family members had the entrance sealed with granite. Now it stands closed, quiet, and undamaged. Family members will visit the site again in May for a picnic reunion.

Sacramento Bee, 3-26-2000
Visionary Rancher Leaves his Mark on Placer

J. Parker Whitney was a 19th-century Placer County success story. He had come west as a 17-year-old with a common dream -- getting rich in the Sierra Nevada foothills. "I had visions of those lumps of gold said to be lying about the mines," he said of his 1850 arrival in San Francisco by ship. "Hearing that near Auburn in Placer County, more than 150 miles north of San Francisco, miners were making great pay, I went up there." Whitney expected to find gold nuggets "the size of hen's eggs." He found none but liked to say that he found another kind of riches in the land along the way to Auburn. "The country beyond Sacramento to the Placer mines of Auburn was the most attractive I had ever or have since seen," he wrote. It was here, on a 21,300-acre site bordered today by Rocklin, Roseville and Lincoln that he built what became a Placer County showcase -- Spring Valley Ranch. A curved driveway led to The Oaks, a 20-room mansion overlooking the ranch estates that included tennis courts, a stable and servants’ quarters. A tired guest could drop jewels into a concealed case at the base of a bed. A nine-hole golf course was ready for play. Along with Whitney's pet grounds, it all gave the property the feel of an English manor. But this vast estate was close enough to Sacramento that on a clear night, standing on the balcony in front of his bedroom, Whitney could see the Capitol dome. Family, not California gold, helped make Spring Valley possible. His father, a seven-generation Bostonian, followed J. Parker and other sons to California in 1855. He would claim more than 20,000 acres for the ranch. Spring Valley covered so much land that the younger Whitney, who inherited the ranch in 1872, boasted that he could ride horseback all day and never leave the property. Visitors took a tour of the property on a carriage ride over 12 granite bridges -- inspiration for the name of the Twelve Bridges Golf Club -- that crossed the creeks of the ranch. A wealthy man who on the railroad traveled by private Pullman car with his servants, J. Parker Whitney downplayed his status and called himself "a plain farmer from Rocklin, California." But he spent several months a year in Europe, much of the time in England. He was a friend of the royal family. Whitney and the Prince of Wales enjoyed hunting as well as a mutual interest in breeding horses. The Placer Argus newspaper called Whitney "a natural leader of men" and cited the $4,000 in taxes he paid in 1889 as "some idea of his financial ability." Whitney sent a son to Yale University and was president of the county Board of Trade for Placer. He boosted the county and its agriculture. Sunset magazine ran his article "Educational Fruit Growing." Whitney's vision of the future was keen: In an 1879 brochure on farming -- decades before the development of agribusiness in the Central Valley -- he said Fresno was destined to be a great farming center and the San Joaquin region the most important agricultural district in the state. His interests included promotion of the Placer County Citrus Colony in Penryn, an agricultural settlement designed to lure the English to the Sierra foothills for a life as orchard growers. An advertising campaign begun in England among the upper class promoted the nearly 8,000-acre site in South Placer. As the book and later the movie "Out of Africa" chronicled Europeans attempting agriculture on that continent, so the citrus colony in Penryn was an opportunity for the English in California. Farming success eventually eluded the new arrivals, but they seemed unsurpassed at socializing and sports. A colony team played an Army squad from San Francisco in a football game that in play was closer to the game of soccer. Before a crowd of more than 1,000 the colony team won 3-2. A colony party featured dancing until 3 a.m. with a supper including "caviar sandwiches." A depression that gripped the United States from 1893 to 1897 left all foothill ranchers hurt by low fruit prices. But the English settlers, inexperienced in fruit growing, were particularly vulnerable. The citrus colony ended within a decade. Whitney remained bullish on California. Land in the state could only increase in value, he argued early in the 20th century, when California's population didn't put the state in the top half-dozen states in the country. "The fruit lands of Placer County are all right," he wrote. "Let the owners hold on to them, clear them up and improve them. There is no risk in holding on to them. The great demand has not come yet. The appreciation of value is in its incipiency. The present so-called 'boom' is only the rustling of the wind." The former Bostonian was a believer in the county. "I pinned my faith to Placer County lands when they were begging purchasers at nominal prices," he recounted of his early days. The foothills most famous resident died in 1913. He was 77.

Transcription by Dana Smith & Martha A Crosley Graham
Lockley, Fred: History of the Columbia River Valley
Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1928, Page 475

Samuel L Woodward received his educational training in the public schools of Iowa, and in 1877 went to California. In September of the following year he came to Portland, in which city lived an uncle, Tyler Woodward, who had come here in 1870, after spending five years in Montana. He was at the head of the Portland street railway system and Samuel L. Woodward entered his employ on that line. In 1883 he became superintendant of the street railway, filling that position until 1891, when he turned his attention to the ice manufacturing business, which he followed for several years. He served two years, 1896-97, as a member of the city council, and then made large investments at Kenton, which community he helped to develop, taking a special interest in the establishment of the schools. He has also been actively interested in North Portland enterprises, in all of which he has been enabled to realize a fair degree of success. Mr. Woodward’s outstanding achievement, however, as relating to the public welfare, was in securing the construction of the Columbia River Bridge. He was president of the North Portland Commercial Club at the time and devoted himself tirelessly to promoting the proposition, which required much hard and continuous work to put through. He has been highly commended for his successful efforts in securing what has proven a distinctive benefit to the public. The Columbia River bridge, which has heretofore been operated as a toll bridge with substantial profits, was opened in 1915 and the income derived therefrom has paid off all bonds and interest and all operating expenses and moreover, Multnomah County will profit to the extent of four hundred thousand dollars as its proportionate share of the net surplus, this being a three-fifths share, while Clark County, Washington, will receive its two-fifths of the surplus. Mr. Woodward and J.H. Nolta were the prime movers in promoting the building of the bridge. There were many difficulties to meet and much opposition to overcome. They began agitating the project in 1909 and worked through several legislative sessions in Oregon and congressional sessions in Washington to secure the necessary legislative enactment. Finally success crowned their effort and the bridge has proven to be the greatest boon to interstate traffic. In January, 1929, it will cease to be a toll bridge.

In 1891 Mr. Woodward was united in marriage to Miss Caroline Helfst, who was born at Dutch Flat, Placer County, California, and whose father, Ferdinand Helfst, was a pioneer miner of that state. Mr. and Mrs. Woodward have a daughter, Constance, who is the wife of A.R. Bohoskey, represented elsewhere in this work. Mr. Woodward is a member of Washington Lodge, No. 46, A.F. & A.M.; Washington Chapter, No. 18, R.A.M.; Washington Commandery, No. 15, K.T.; Al Kader Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S.; Portland Camp, No. 77, W.O.W.; and the Kenton Business Men’s Club. He is also a member of Lang Syne Club of Portland, Oregon, whose requirements are that members must have been in some business prior to 1891, or held some important position. Politically he is a staunch republican and has taken an active interest in public affairs, particularly such as concern the prosperity and welfare of his community. Strong mental endowment, invincible courage and a determined will, coupled with honesty of purpose and high ideals, have so entered into his composition as to render him a dominant factor in the business world and a leader in important enterprises, and he commands the unqualified confidence and respect of his fellowmen.