No apology need be made for collecting and recording the history of the men who were the pioneers and early settlers of the great State of California, for their adventurous spirit, fortitude, courage and persistency has not been excelled in the world’s history. The subject of this sketch has not only the honor of being one of these early settlers, but is also the pioneer merchant of the town of Cottonwood. He is a self-educated man, who by his own personal and industrious efforts, has gained for himself success and valuable property.
He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, May 18, 1821, the son of Isaac Price, who was a native of North Carolina, and Tabitha (Wilkenson) Price, who was born in Virginia, and was of English ancestry. They had a family of five children, two of whom still survive. Mr. Price’s sister, now Mrs. Emeline Bond, wife of William Bond, now resides in Wisconsin. When thirteen years of age our subject began his mercantile experience as a store boy in Illinois, and he not only learned good business habits, but from day to day picked up his own education in the dear school of experience. A kind lady, the wife of his employer, gave him some instructions at spare times, and it is to his credit to add that he remained there until he was twenty-one years of age. He then went to Galena, Illinois, where he was engaged as a teamster in hauling lead. He next removed to Wisconsin, and engaged in both mining and clerking for three and a half years, and at that time was attacked with the gold fever. He bought four good horses and a mule, and made the journey overland, bringing with him a man and a boy. They traveled alone, but camped near some company of emigrants every night, their journey occupying ninety-seven days.
They arrived at Placerville, El Dorado County, and at once engaged in the search for gold at White Rock, in which they were quite successful. Mr. Price and another man worked together on a claim 100 yards long, the dirt being from two to four feet deep over the bed rock, which they removed that winter, and on the whole of their claim took out $14,000 during the same winter. There were miners in the same gulch, both below and above them, for two miles in length. From that place to Montezuma Flats they were successful, and took out about $11,000. He and his partner then bought claims, in which they sunk their former earnings, and on leaving took away only $600. Mr. Price then went to Sacramento, where he remained but a short time, and in the spring of 1853 went to Yreka, where he mined and traded for ten years, with both good and bad luck. In one of his transactions he made $6,000, but lost it all in the mines. From there he moved to Virginia City, and engaged in mining in the Golden Courier mines, remaining two years and meeting with poor success. In 1864 he went to Red Bluff, and for a year rented the Star Ranch; then he accepted a position in the hardware store of Herbert Kraft, and was there at intervals seven and a half years. In 1874 he came to Cottonwood, and bought out the store of a man named Simon, and organized the firm of Price & Co., Mr. A. S. Schuman being his partner. At that time the railroad had only been built two years, and the town contained only a few houses, and their trade rapidly increased until they were doing a large mercantile business, both in the sale of merchandise and in the purchase and shipment of wool and grain. Their first store, a frame building, 22 x 56 feet, they were soon obliged to enlarge, and they are now building a fine brick store 50 x 80 feet. The firm of Price & Co. have been very successful, and they have done nearly all of the work of their large business themselves since its commencement. Hard, earnest work and close application to business has earned for them a fine property; the treatment of their customers have been so uniformly just that many of the men who first began to trade with them are still their customers. They have invested in lands, and own several thousand acres.
Mr. Price has never married, and resides with his partner. They are like brothers, notwithstanding that Mr. Price’s people were Southerners, he became a Republican at the organization of that party, and has remained with it ever since.
Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California,
The Lewis Publishing Co., 1891