John George is one of the early settlers of California, and is the builder and proprietor of the St. George Hotel, Redding.
He was born in Ligonier, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, November 16, 1828. His parents, John and Margaret George, were both natives of Germany, came to his country when children and were reared in Westmoreland County. His father was a farmer and a dealer in stock. They had five children, four sons and a daughter, three of whom are now living. When twenty-two years of age, Mr. George arrived in Placerville, El Dorado County, California, out of funds but with willing hands and a determination to work. That was in July, 1850. He engaged in mining on Weber Creek. His first pan of dirt had a piece of gold in it like a kernel of corn and it weighed one dollar. This he thought was encouraging, and he went to work with a vim, meeting with fair success. He dug there until the following January, when, hearing of the gold excitement at Gold Bluff, he went to that place only to find it was a hoax. He then returned to Sacramento and from there followed the tide of emigration to Salmon River and Shasta Flats (now Yreka). He purchased a train of fifteen mules and loaded them with a cargo of provisions, his destination being Bessville, on the Salmon River. He arrived at that place about the 20th of February, and sold his cargo and train and engaged in mining. This, however, did not prove a success. On the 15th of March there came a heavy snow storm, which completely closed the roads, so that no provisions could be taken across the mountains. Mr. George had only kept a short supply for himself, and the other miners also had short rations. They had a few dried apples, on which they subsisted for seventeen days, with now and then a venison, which disappeared like snow before a hot sun. Mr. Bess brought in the first flour – 600- pounds – carried by six pack mules. The camp in which Mr. George was at work was the first one he passed. They accosted him for a sack of flour, which he refused. They asked him where he was going and why he declined to sell it. He replied that he was going to Bessville and that he had a grocery store and some friends there. They remonstrated no more with him but fell in with the train. As they passed camp after camp the men all fell into line and followed him, and when they arrived at their destination there was a line of nearly 200 men all eager for the flour. They called a meeting and resolved to divide the flour equally. A man was appointed from each mess to receive the share his mess was entitled to, and if any one was found to misrepresent he was to forfeit his share. Then they appointed a weigher to give each camp its quota, which was two and a fourth pounds to each man on the river. The owner sat at one side trembling and not knowing what was going to be done with him. After the distribution, one stalwart man stepped up on a stump and said: “Now, gentlemen, what shall we pay this man for his flour?” A voice was heard to say, “One dollar per pound.” Another said “Two dollars,” and a third, “Two dollars and a half.” The last was put to a vote and carried. They paid him $1,500 and gave him three cheers.
When this supply gave out, Mr. George and his friend, Nick Meyers, went across the mountains to Orleans Bar to buy provisions. On their way they came to an Indian fishery, where they camped eight days. They traded the brass buttons off their breeches for salmon. When they arrived at Orleans Bar they found provisions plenty, flour fifty cents per pound and meals a dollar and a half at a restaurant, which was kept by an old colored man named Dickerson. After remaining there seven days, each of them purchased a sack of flour at fifty cents per pound and some bacon at the same price, and, with their packs on their backs and their rifles in their hands, they started back over the mountains to Bessville, a distance of forty miles. Upon reaching their destination they found that trains had been there with provisions, and flour was selling at forty cents per pound and other things in proportion. Mr. George continued to mine there till the month of June and then removed to Weaverville, Trinity County, where he was engaged in mining, packing and merchandising for three years, meeting with varied success. In 1854 he came to Shasta County and engaged in gardening, draying, farming and hotel-keeping, which he has continued up to the present time. He built the St. George Hotel in Redding in 1889, and has since been a resident of this city. He has invested in town lots, owns the livery stable and some dwelling houses.
Mr. George married Miss Sarah Bohm, daughter of Captain Jacob Bohm, of East Providence, Pennsylvania. They have had eight children, only three of whom are living: Oliver M. and James W., born in Pennsylvania; and Charles G., born in Shasta County, California. They are all worthy and respected citizens – one a miner, another a farmer and the third a blacksmith.
Mr. George takes pride in stating
that he is one of the seventeen Republicans that voted in Shasta County
for John C. Fremont, and that he has ever since been a staunch Republican. Mrs. George is still living. She is a member of the Methodist Church.
Source: Memorial and Biographical History of Northern
California, Lewis Publishing Co. , 1891 pages 771-772
Transcribed by Kathy Sedler, August 2004.