Chicago Standard Genealogical Publishing Company.

A Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away online

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Online LibraryChicago Standard Genealogical Publishing CompanyA Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away → online text (page 10 of 108)
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other points in the state. A man of resourceful ability, he did not contine
his etTorts to one line, but extended his labors into many fields and was prom-
inent in the development .if the rich resources of the state. He became one
of the owners of the Seati.n ([uariz mine, and had various other mining in-
terests. His worth and abiluy also led to his selection for public service, and
he was appointed postmaster of Drytown, filling the oftice during the adminis-
tration of President Buchanan, and holding this position until 1872, and he
was also placed in charge of the first telegraph office in Drytown, which posi-
tion he held till he came to Jackson. For more than forty-two years he acted
as the agent of the Wells-Fargo Express Company, and in 1871 he was again
chosen for public office, being elected the county clerk of Amador county,
and in 1872 he removed to Jackson. He proved a very efificient and capable
officer, and upon his retirement from that office he received his party's nomi-
nation for state senator, being always found equal to any trust the people of
the county or state chose to repose in him, but declined the honor ofYerecl him,
preferring to give his undivided attention to his personal affairs. At the time
of his retirement from public life (in 1874) he was again appointed agent for
the Wells-Fargo Express Company, and he became the owner of the Jackson
water works, both of which he successfully conducted until his death. He was
a man of resolute purpose, of keen discrimination and of sound business judg-
ment, and carried forward to successful completion whatever he undertook.
Soon after his term expired as county clerk he was again made agent for the
Western Union Telegraph Company, this time in Jackson, and in connection
with other duties he was a notary public and was for seven years agent for
the Home Mutual Insurance Company of California.

On the loth of September, 1855, ^I""- Richtmyer was united in marriage
to Miss Celina Vannatter, a native of New York and a daughter of Jacob
Vannatter, an honored patriarch wdio now resides with his daughter, Mrs.
Richtmyer. He has reached the very advanced age of ninety-seven years, but
his mental faculties are unimpaired and he yet enjoys good health. Mrs.
Richtmyer is devoted to her aged and honored father, doing all in her power
to make his last years pleasant. Her only child, a little daugiiter named Emily
Helen, died at the age of four months. The home life of I\Ir. and Mrs. Richt-
myer was ever pleasant. He possessed excellent musical ability, performing
nicely upon the violin and other instruments. Thus many a pleasant hour in
his early life was passed. He was very domestic in nature and when business
hours were over he could always be found at his home where his happv dis-
position was shared by his amiable wife. It seemed that he could not do too
much to promote the welfare and happiness of his wife, and at his death he
left to her a good income. She has a host of warm friends in Jackson where
she has so long resided, and the hospitality of the best homes is extended to
her. :Mr. Richtmyer was called to his final rest in 1899. His life had been
one of ceaseless activity in business aff^airs, of loyalty in citizenship and of
fidelity in friendship. All who knew him commended him for his sterling
qualities of character, being unexceptional)le in liis habits and if possessed
with any faults at all, they were the amiable ones of being too generous and


unsuspecting; and in his death Jackson and .\madnr county lost one of their
most vakied representatives. Since his tleath. ^Nlrs. Richtmyer lias as-
sumed tlie responsible charge of the water works, a business which her hus-
band labored with such untiring efforts to perfect, and under her careful at-
tention and wise discrimination it continues to prosper and grow in volume.
She has absolute control of and personally superintends it m all its depart-
ments, which affords her a great deal of pleasure in furthering the good work
which her husband begun.


The ancestors of Colonel William Thomas Robinson, of Mokelumne Hill,
Calaveras county, California, came from old England to New England. His
great-grandfather, John L. Robinson, of Virginia, was a captain in the
Re\-olutionary army under General Washington and afterward settled in
Kentucky, where he was a friend and companion of Daniel Boone and was
Avith him on many a desperate fight with the Indians. His son, John L.
Robinson, the father of Colonel Robinson, was born at Lexington, Ken-
tucky, in 1788, and was married at St. Louis, Missouri, to Miss Elizabeth
Bryan, who was a daughter of Dr. Jack Bryan and an aunt of Hon. Will-
iam Jennings Bryan, the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1896 and
1900. Colonel William T. Robinson was born at Frederickstown, j\Iad-
ison county. Missouri, September 7, 1839, one of ten children of John
L. and Elizabeth (Bryan) Robinson, born in Missouri.

In 1849 the family crossed the plains to California. Colonel Rob-
inson, who was only ten years old at the time, remembers that the whole
family had the gold fever and that one of his brothers, who was only four-
teen years old, quietly outfitted himself with crackers and sugar and started
on ahead of the others, filled with an ambition to reach the gold fields first.
The party was made up of Madison county people and numbered one hundred
and twenty-five men, women and children. The Sioux Indians gave them
much anxiety and at one time a party of them formed in front of the
emigrant train and demanded tribute. They were given flour and sugar and
the emigrants were permitted to go on. Emigrants who set out for Cali-
fornia in 1849 loaded themselves down with provisions to such an extent
that they were obliged to throw them awa\- and they were left to decav or
to be utilized by people who needed them more. Buffalo were numerous
on the plains, large herds of them were seen frequently, and the emigrants
were in some danger of being trampled down by them if' the animals should
happen to be stampeded in their direction. After a hard journey of seven
montiis, the Robinsons arrived, September 7, 1849, ^t Potter's rancli on
Deer creek, near the site of the present city of Chico. The family located
at Sacramento city, but were driven out by the flood which came soon
afterward and went to Plumas on Feather river, where they settled on land
Avhich afterward become known as Plumas ranch. There Mr. Robinson died
in 185 1, aged sixty-three years, and his wife died two weeks later, aged


fifty-five vears, and there two of their daughters also died. The farm con-
sisted of a section of land upon which some improvements had been maile
by this time, and the family, kept together by Jesse B. Robinson, the eldest
son, remained there for a time. Jesse B. Robinson, now aged eighty-two
years, lives at Upper Lake, Lake county, California.

Soon after the arrival of the Robinsons in California, Colonel Robinson
and his brother next older leased a placer-mining claim at Mormon island,
on the American river, and in two months cleaned up two thousand dollars.
They were lucky enough one day to get seven hundred dollars. In 1850
they went to the present site of Nevada City, wdiere they took out about
an ounce of gold a day each. They returned home before the death of
their parents and at the request of the latter went back to Missouri to com-
plete their education at Arcadia, that state .making the trip by way of
the isthmus of Panama. They remained at school until 1855, when Colonel
Robinson was fifteen years old and his brother was seventeen, and then
started to cross the plains alone with pack animals. At the Platte river
they were overtaken by their brother, Frank, who was returning from a
trip east, and after they reached the Humboldt river they were followed several
days by a party of Lidians, but saved their scalps by sleeping in the dark
a mile or two away from the fire by which they had cooked their supper,
night after night, until the pursuit was abandoned. As the boys had guns
and the Indians had no weapons of longer range than bows and arrows the
latter did not dare venture too near in the daytime.

At Soda Springs, on Bear river, they met Captain Grant of the Hud-
son Bay Company, who told them to go to a certain point where the)- would
find one Adams and his two sons in charge of a store, where they ccadd
procure supplies; but \vhen they arrived there they found that the three men
had been killed by Indians and they had to subsist on fish until they reached
the trading post of Sam Black further on. There they got provisions and
went on by way of Donner Lake and Downieville, and when they arrived
at Plumas ranch they found it still in charge of one of their brothers.
Colonel Robinson and his brother John took up land adjoining Plumas ranch
and started a wood yard and sold wood to passing steamers an mined from
time to time with varying results, as opportunity presented. Later John
returned to Missouri and in November, 1859, Colonel Robinson went to Old
Mexico to operate the Nacacharama silver mine in Sonora, in which he had
become a stockholder. Eventually he sold his interest in this property and
bought another mine, which he operated on the Mexican plan and in a year
and a half had a profit of eight thousand dollars. While in Mexico he
acquired a good knowledge of that country and its resources and of the
habits and customs of various tribes of Indians. This knowledge he
embodied in a book of one hundred and ninety-two pages entitled Sonora.
which was copyrighted and published in 1861 and came to be recognized as
an authority on the subjects treated. While he was yet in Sonora a party
of Californians. of whom his friend Judge David S. Terry was one, ])assed
through there en route to Texas to join the Confederate ami}-. He c|uickl\-


disposed of his interests there and joined them at Mazatlan. They traveled
by way of Durango and Monterey to Texas, and from there they went on
to Tennessee, where Colonel Robinson joined Company B, Eighth Regi-
ment, Texas Cavalry, popularly known as the Texas Rangers, attached to
Bragg's army, which was at that time retreating from Stone river to

After the battle of Chickamauga, where Colonel Robinson received a
wound in the right hip, which disabled him for four months, the Confederate
secretary of war ordered him to report to General Magruder, commanding
the department of Texas, and he was given command of the Partisan
Rangers with headquarters at Bastrop on the Brazos river. In December,
1863, he was ordered by the secretary of war to proceed to the frontier of Ari-
zona and New Mexico and there organize a cavalry regiment for the Confed-
erate service. At Chihuahua he learned that thirty-two Californians had come
from San Francisco to Mazatlan and wanted to join the Confederates. He
swore them into service and marched them to the Arizona border and thence
to Chihuahua, where he met the president of Mexico, who expresseil sympathy
for the Confederate cause and received him with great hospitality.

January 21, 1864, Colonel Robinson and his thirty-two recruits from
California fought a party of Indians at Sivello, near Del Xorte, and were
repulsed and he was wounded in the right side. His men retreated, his horse
was shot under him and he fought so desperately on foot that he won the
title of "the demon." One of his men returned on a big mule to rescue
him. and he mounted behind the soldier and the latter was shot dead as the
mule dashed forward. Colonel Robinson held the dead soldier before him
on the saddle, and as he urged his mule forward to rejoin his men he was
shot in the side by the gun of an enemy hidden in the bushes, the muzzle
of which almost touched him and the powder from which burned his flesh
around the wound, and when he reached a place of safety he found that
his overcoat had fourteen bullet-holes in it ! They escaped to the desert, but
other troubles followed fast. Treatment for his wound was necessary and he
remained with an escort of four men and sent the rest of his command to Fort
Clark. Eighteen days after the fight at Sivello, he and his guard were cap-
tured by the Mexican imperial army, charged with being spies, and might
have been punished as such but for the intervention of the Confederate
consul at ]\Ionterey. The capture was a mercy to them, however, as they
had ])reviously been in an almost starving condition, and Colonel Robinson
had saved their lives by killing his horse, on which they had subsisted for
fourteen days. It was not until thirty days after the battle that they readied
Fort Duncon, Texas, and at that time Colonel Robinson was barely able to
report for duty. In 1865 he surrendered to General Andrews at Shreveport,
Louisiana, the last Confederate officer to lay down his arms, and received
his parole of honor and transportation to St. Louis, ^Missouri, where he had
relatives living.

At St. Louis he met Dr. Tweddlc and was employed by liim to go to
Xcw Brunswick and report on a cojipcr mine there. .\l'ter spending lour


months in Xew Brunswick he went to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and accepted
tile superintendency of tlie mines of the Pittsburg & Sonora Alining Com-
pany in Sinaloa, Mexico. War in Mexico put a stop to mining for the
time being, and he returned to CaHfornia and thence to the Comstock in
Ke\-ada. Next tlie White Pine excitement claimed his attention until he
\\-as drawn into the Diamond-mine excitement, and was one of tweiity-one
picked men sent out by the i)romoters of the Diamond-mine swindle to
endure the hardships of a trip with pack mules through Colorado and New
Mexico and into the Arizona desert. In 1883, while exploring between Rio
Puerco and the Little Colorado river, in Arizona, he discovered a petrified
forest and took several tons of petrified wood to San Francisco, specimens
of which are on exhibition at the Academy of Sciences. Next he became
the superintendent of the celebrated Mono mine, at Dry Canyon. Utah, which
in eighteen months paid dividends amounting to six hundred thousand dol-
lars and was sold for as much more.

Returning to California, he worked mines in this state and in Ne\-ada,
with more or less success. In 1879 he was one of the purchasers of the
Esperanza or Boston mine, in Calaveras county, California, which he oper-
ated for some time. In April, 1892, he was elected the superintendent of
the Alaska Coal Company, whose mines are on Kachamack Bay, Alaska.
Within three montns after his arrival there, he loaded the vessel by which
he had gone out with fourteen hundred tons of coal, which was the first
brought from Alaska to San Francisco. Since then he has been the su])er-
intendent of the Esperanza mine, the mines 'of the Hexter Gold Mining
Company and the mines of the Emerson Gold Alining Company, with head-
quarters at ]\Iokelumne Hill.

Colonel Robinson, as he is familiarly known, was promoted from a
captaincy to the office of lieutenant colonel for desperate valor on the field
of battle and those who know how faithfully he served the Confederate
cause know how well he earned his honorable title. His whole command
had been either killed or captured and he had been shot in the breast and
left on the field for dead, but he recovered consciousness during the night
and with great difficulty made his way to the headciuarters of General Bragg,
to whom he ga\-e information which saved his army from defeat. In poli-
tics he is a Democrat, inlluential in party councils, and he is a prominent

He was married March 2^. 1873. to Miss Pauline H. Conway, a daughter
of Dr. Conway, of San Francisco, who like Colonel Robinson's father was
a "forty-niner," and brought eleven children to the Golden state, but who
also brought a slave girl named Melvina, who at the Doctor's death chose
to live with INIrs. Robinson and has since been a faithful servant in the
Colonel's family. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have had six children, two of
whom died in infancy. Their son Bryan, who died at the age of twenty
years, June 7, 1900, was a young man of much promise and popularity.
The surviving children are William Thomas. Jr., Mae Belle (Mrs. William
"Werlel, and Ida, who is a menilier of her lather's household. Mrs. Rob-


inson \vas Ijorn at Los Angeles, California, in 1S52. The family have a
pleasant home at ^lokelumne Hill and are held in high esteen by a wide
circle of acqnainlances.


Xot only has the snbject uf this rex'iew witnessed the growth of Cal-
ifornia from a wild country with only a few white inhabitants to a rich
agricultin-al, fruit-growing and mining country containing good homes inhab-
ited by an industrious, prosperous and intelligent and progressive jjeople,
but has also participated in and assisted the slow, persistent work of develop-
ment which was necessary to produce the change which is so complete that
it has come to be popularly referred to as magical.

P. B. Bacon, better known as Pike Bacon, was born in Warrentown,
Ohio, on the 23d day of April. A. D. 1834, and descended from English and
German ancestry. His grandfather emigrated from England to America,
becoming one of the early settlers of Kentucky. When the country became
engaged in the second war with Great Britain he joined the American forces
and fought in what is popularly known as the war of 18 12. His son, John
Bacon, the father of our subject, was born in Kentucky, in 1806, and mar-
ried Miss Theressa Bartlett, a descendant of an old English and German
family of large wealth. He engaged in dealing in produce and died in
1838, at the early age of thirty-two years, leaving a widow and four chil-
dren, — three sons and a daughter, all of whom survive. For her second
husband the mother chose Captain David Green, the captain of a large
steamboat plying on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. In 1853 the family
came to California, making the journey by way of the isthmus of Panama,
where they took passage on the Tennessee. Two vessels left the isthmus
at the same time, and were soon joined by the third, when they participated
in a free-for-all race for the Golden Gate. Two of them reached the Golden
Gate before the fog set in, but the one which carried Mr. Bacon's family
was unfortunate enough to be in the rear and so dense was the fog that the
captain mistook the entrance to the Golden Gate and ran on the rocks. The
])assengers were safely landed and the next day were taken to San Fran-
cisco in tugs. The Tennessee became a total wreck.

The Bacon family proceeded at once from San Francisco to Tuolunme
county where Captain Green and his stepsons engaged in jilacer-mining at
Xigger Gulch, a short distance from Columbia. They got very little gold
from the first pan, and, their money supply being limited, it was necessary
that they work hard and find a good claim in order to provide for their
support. Prices were very high, potatoes, pork and beans .selling at thirty-
seven and one-half cents per pound. Therefore they removed up to another
gulch, where they began to take out from ten to thirty (lollars ]5er dav to
the man, notwithstanding the fact tliey were compelled to pay ten dollars
per day for water, and even then it was verv scarce.

Here one of the first questions on riparian rights arose. At the head


of this gulch was a spring of water which had Ijeen llumed out by a miner
named Jcjnes and used below for mining purposes. A certain miner
informed the Bacon Brothers that the custom was that all waters in a gulch
or creek belonged to the miners who were working in the said gulch or creek.
Upon this information the Bacon Brothers removed Jones' flume at the head
of the gulch, causing a free-for-all fight between the Jones crowd and the Ba-
con Brothers, the latter driving the former from the gulch. The question was
afterward settled by a mass meeting of five hundred miners, convened at the
store at Gold Springs, wdiere the water question was decided in favor of the
Bacon Brothers. The same question was involved in a suit in the superior
court of this county as late as 1899, in the case of Grant Brothers vs. Jarboe
et al., wherein the testimony of P. B. Bacon was used to establish the right
of certain waters used by the Gold Spring JMarble Company.

In 1856 the Bacon Brothers and a miner named John Stockdale erected
and built the first hydraulic used in Tuolumne county, which was constructed
as follows: A flume was run into the branches of a large oak tree; at the
end of the flume a large funnel made of canvas was nailed and fastened
to the branches to receive the water; the pipe consisted of canvas sew'ed
together with a nozzle at the end ; and when the water was turned in the pipe
line gave the appearance of a large sea serpent, twisting in a thousand differ-
ent ways. This was due to the different styles of sewing. When the full
force of the water \\as turned in, the man at the nozzle gave the boys an
exhibition of the clowai in a circus, the force being so great as to throw
him all over the claim, and taking the combined eft'orts of three men to
hold the bucking machine dow'n. However, the work was accomplished,
all hydraulic hose being made after this pattern until finally supplanted by
rubber hose.

Captain Green and his stepsons continued to engage in mining until the
big fire in Columbia, in 1857, wdien they (except the subject of this review)
assumed charge and control of the City Hotel at Sonora, also the manage-
ment of the stage route from Sonora to Stockton. The subject of this review
then accepted a clerkship in the general mercliandise store at Columbia and
continued in that employment for three and one-half years, first as salesman,
after which he purchased an interest in the business, continuing the same
until May, 1865. During this time he was appointed the first agent for
giant powder in this county, by the firm cjf Bandman, Neilsen & Company,
who were the first manufacturers of giant powder in the state, their place
of business being at San Francisco, California. I\Ir. Bacon made the first
test of this powder in the placer claim owned and worked by Schwartz &
Company near Columbia. A large rock weighing about forty tons was
drilled into and about five poimds of powder used, breaking the rock in a
thousand pieces. This test demonstrated the fact that giant powder was far
ahead of the black powder then in use, and was afterward universalh- used
by the miners.

In T865 'Mv. Bacon became interested in the hardware store in Sonora
now run h\ ]. ]. Collins, having exchanged his interest in the Columbia


store for the same and remaining at the Sonora store for a year. He tlien
returned to Columbia and became the sole proprietor of the mercantile estab-
lishment with which he w'as formerly connected, and which he continued
to run and manage until 1872. He was very successful, carrying on a large
business, which brought him an excellent financial return. He was also the
postmaster for four years, receiving his appointment under the administration
of President Andrew Johnson. He was also elected a member on the Repub-
lican ticket to the California state legislature, overcoming a large Democratic
majority then in this county. He served for one term in that position, with
credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents. In 1873 he
removed to San Francisco and occup^ied a position in the United States minr.
until 1876. Subsequently he owned and operated a blacksmrth and car-
riage business on Howard street in San Francisco, but later sold that enter-
prise and resumed mining in old Tuolumne. He is now the sole owner of
the Joe Hooker Consolidated Mine above Soulsbyville. In 1889 he removed
to Sonora, becoming identified with its business affairs as hardware and
grocery merchant, buying out the firm with which he had formerly been con-
nected in 1865. He carried on this store until 1896, since which time he has
given his undivided attention -to his mining interests.

In February, 1865, was celebrated the marriage of 'Sir. Bacon and Miss
Marion Helen Bowne. a native of New York but reared in the state o*-'
Michigan, and a daughter of John Bowne, a pioneer of that state. Two
sons have been born of this marriage, — John IBowne and Charles Gorbam
Bacon. Mrs. Bacon departed this life on the 15th day of November, 1809,

Online LibraryChicago Standard Genealogical Publishing CompanyA Volume of memoirs and genealogy of representative citizens of northern California, including biographies of many of those who have passed away → online text (page 10 of 108)