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

. (page 108 of 108)
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 108 of 108)
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the last survivors in the vicinity. Alanson Stephens at one time owned the
farm which is now the site of the Mercy Hospital.

The original purchase of Hornellsville, which was formerly a part of
Canisteo, was no doubt made upon the recommendation and report of Richard
Crosby, Solomon Bennet, Captain Jamison and Uriah Stephens, who explored
this section in 1788. Early in 1788 Solomon Bennet and Captain John Jami-
son, Uriah Stephens, Benjamin Crosby and son Richard, from the Wyoming
valley in Pennsylvania, started on an exploring expedition up the western
tributaries of the Susquehanna. The company soon parted, some settling at
Bath and the rest at Canisteo. These explorers w-ere determined to become
the possessor of the two townships on the river. They were joined in the
purchase by the following: Colonel Arthur Erum, Urial Stephens and his
son John.

In tile fall of 1789 Urial Stephens, Sr.. and Benjamin Crosby, with
portions of their families, came from Xewtown to commence a settlement.
The provisions, baggage and families were carried in seven boats, w-hile four
sons of Mr. Stephens, Elias. Elijah, Benjamin and William, along the shore
droA-e the cattle belonging to the families who were in the boats. In the
spring of 1 790 (says ^McIMaster) they were joined by Solomon Bennet, Urial
Ste]")hens, Jr.. and Colonel John Stephens, his Ijrother. w'ith their families.
Solomon Bennet was said by the settlers of Canisteo to have been the captain;
John Stephens, the lieutenant; and Richard Crosby, the ensign of the first
militarv company organized in Steuben county. A little incident is related
in connection with Elias Stephens: The Indians one day were marching


around a fire, flourishing knives, battering drums and iiowling war songs.
The settlers, boys and men, were standing near watching the performance when
a iiigh-heeled young savage stepped out of tlie line and inepiired of one of

the bystanders, "What's your name?" The settler informed him. "D d

liar, d d hog," said the Indian. Elias Stephens, who was a high-tem-
pered youth, said: "Daniel, I wish he would just ask me that question!" The
Indian instantly turned and said. "What's your name " "hdias Stephens."

was answered. "D d liar, d ," said the Indian. A well planted

blow of the fist knocked the Indian headlong over the fire senseless. Strange
to say the chief patted Stephens on the shoulder and said : "Good enough
for Indian." Elias Stephens for his prowess and resolution became an oi)-
ject of respect to the red gentry. Urial Stephens. Jr., was a soldier in
General Sullivan's army in the invasion of the Genesee country in 1779.

In 1789 Solomon Bennet, Captain Jameson, Uriah Stephens. Sr., and
Uriah Stephens, Jr.. with others went to Canandaigua and purchased of Oliver
Phelps the township No. 3. etc.. Uriah Stephens, at the request of Phelps, being
made a party to the deeds antl afterward signing the notes given in consitlera-
tion of the money.

Judge Hornell married Martha Stephens in 1792. Hornellsville was
formed from Cani.steo April 1, iNjo. The town nfticers were: John Stephens,
town clerk; W'illiam Bostwick', collector; hlijiih Stephens. Jr., poor master;
William Stephens, school comnhssienier ; William Stephens. Jr.. fence \-iewer.
John Stephens was a very prominent man. at one time was a member
of the assembly, besides filling other offices. He owned fifteen hundred
acres of land. He was opposed to the Erie railroad, ami so made the com-
panv pav rent for crossing his farm. Many descendants still reside in Hornells-

Aledad Bostwick, primarily from New Haven. Connecticut, came from
Chenango county to the \-illage of Hornells\'ille. where he located his three
sons. Of these William and Truman were well known in the early days of
Hornellsville. The former was a merchant and the latter the proprietor of a
stage-house many years. Medad Bostwick went west to invest in land, tak-
ing a large amount of money with him for those times. Truman Bostwick,
a soldier of 181 2, was a man of considerable business ability, and but for
liis untimely death would cloul^tless have ranked among the foremost busi-
ness men of Hornellsville. He was a deputy slieriff (if the county and was
largely interested in lumbering. Truman married I larriet. daughter of Major Ackley Gaylord. Four daughters were liorn nf this union, namely: Flora,
(Mrs. Thomas Magee) ; Ann. who died at an early age; Eliza, widow of the
late Andrew Plimton ; and Harriet, widow of the late Peter Schyler.

Colonel John Stei^hens came from Connecticut. He married Olive Frank-
lin. Re\- Tedediah Stephens was born in Canaan, Connecticut, May 11,
1757. was married in (ioshen. Orange county. New York, to Abigail Corey,
was a volunteer soldier in the Revolutionary war and served six years. His
sixth child. Olive, was the first child born in Steuben county.

Nathan Stephens, familiarly called Captain Nathan, was born in Harders-



town. New Jersey, December 8. 1783, and was seven years old when the
family came to the valle}. His children are Elisha G., Jedediah, H. M.,
Ebenezer, C. Franklin and Joshua. Elisha Stephens, son of Nathan Stephens,
was born on the site of the village of Addison, March 21, 1805. Mr.
Stephens had been school commissioner and inspector, highway commissioner,
justice of the peace, and for tw^o terms represented his town in the board of
supervisors. Although retired from business, he is still active and possesses
a remarkable memory of the early events of Steuben county.

Joshua Stephens married Rhoda, daughter of Uriah Stephens. He was
murdered by the Indians. George Stephens was born in Canisteo, in 1803,
and was a grandson of Uriah Stephens. He died January 10, 1888. Colonel
\\'illiam Stephens came to Canisteo in 1791, and died November 4, 1855.
Hon. Alexander Stephens was Ixirn in Canisteo, September 8, 1801. He was
a son of Colonel John Stephens and Olive Franklin. He was married January
20, 1829, to Mary, daughter of Levi Davis. He erected the first frame house
in Greenwood. Connecticut. In 1848 he represented his assembly district
in the legislature of the state. ]\Ir. Stephens died April 4. 1879. Asa Horey
Stephens was born in the town of Canisteo. i\Iarch 14, 1820. He was the
son of Ezra Stephens and the grandson of Uriah Stephens, the first settler of
Canisteo valley. Ezra, Phineas and Uriah Stephens settled in Greenwood,
Steuben county, in 1825. Colonel John Stephens came the same year.

Nathan Stephens, the father of our subject, was born in Hornellsville,
Steuben county. New York, August 20, 1798, and after attaining his ma-
jority wedded Alba Lucinda Bostwick, who was born in New Fairfield. Con-
necticut, April 7. 1 798. They became the parents of the following named :
Jane Eliza, born June 15, 1819; Rebecca, wdio w'as born February i. 1821 ;
Jerome, who was born September 29, 1823, and died in Fresno, California.
October 28, 1889; Truman Barnes, who w'as born February 16, 1830. and
died September 25. 1841 ; Abigail Mary, who was born December 24. 1832,
and is now^ Mrs. Hood, of Sacramento, California; Russell Day. of this re-
view; Electa Ann. who was born February 7, 1841, and became Mrs. \\ater-
man and died in Sacramento, California, August 7, 1867.

The parents of this family left the Empire state on the 17th of ^larch,
1836, and removed to Canton, Fulton county, Illinois, where they made their
home for a short time and then went to Peoria, Illinois. On the 28th of
April, 1849, they started for California, and in this state the father died, on
the 25th of January, 1875, ^vl'liIe his wife passed away previous to the emi-
gration westward, her death occurring October 4. 1841. The journey to the
Pacific slope was made across the plains with two teams. They crossed the
^Missouri river at St. Joseph and continued the trip by the overland trail, by
Sublette's cut-ofif and by the Carson route to California, arriving at W'eaver-
ville, Eldorado county, on the i6th of October. 1849. The winter was passed
a mile and a half from that place, on Weaver creek, where the fatlier en-
gaged in surface mining. In February, 1850, he started with his family
for the valley country, for the purpose of locating land, and spent three weeks
at what was then known as Rhode's Diggings, more recently called Prairie


City. On the ist of April a location was made in Brighton township, nine
miles from Sacramento, on the American river. In his political views he
was a Democrat and always took an active interest in political aiYairs. He
held membership in the Society of California Pioneers and was also a prominent

Russell Day Stephens, whose name introduces this review, is a native
of Illinois, his birth having occurred in Fulton county, that state, April
14, 1837. He was a lad of twelve years when with his father he came to
the Golden state. He was familiar with the pioneer history of the common-
wealth and experienced all the hardships and trials that fall to the lot of
those who establish homes in a new and wild region. The first school which
he attended in California was held at Brighton, three miles from his home.
Later, however, he had the opportunity to pursue his studies nearer the
parental roof, Init his education has been largely acquired outside of tlie
school-room, and to his powers of observation, his retentive memory and his
broad experience in the affairs of life he owes the wide knowledge whicli
now makes him a well informed man. His boyhood days were spent on the
home farm. His labors, however, were not to be limited by the confines of tlie
farm, for his worth and ability led to his election to public office, and for many
years he figured prominently in connection with the public service, and he
still exercises wide influence in Democratic circles. In the fall of 1859 he
was first elected to office, becoming constable of Brighton township. In 1869
he was elected to the state legislature and was warrant clerk in the state
controller's office from 1875 "iit'l 1880. Two years later he became a can-
didate before the convention of the Democratic party for the office of con-
troller of the state. On the 21st of September, 1885, he was appointed by
President Cleveland to the office of postmaster of Sacramento and entered
upon his new duties on the ist of November of that year. His record in the
office was most creditable and his course attracted wide-spread attention.
eliciting high compliments from the postoffice department in Washington,
from which came the report that the Sacramento office was equal in the man-
ner of its conduct to any in the United States. j\Ir. Stephens introduced
se\-eral innovations in the methods of handling and distributing mail, wliicli
lia\-e been of great advatage to the business men and public generally and
which have since been followed.

Perhaps the subject of this review, however, is best known through-
out California in connection with the fruit-growing interests of the state,
for in his line he has achieved remarkable success, and as he has made no secret
of his methods he has done much to improve the industry in the state. He
has a farm of one hundred acres, of which seventy acres are planted with
fruit trees, while twenty acres are comprised within his fine vineyard. His
grapes are of the best varieties and are well cared for. the result being that
they bring prices ranging from thirty to forty per cent, higher than any
grapes shipped from California. A contemporary publication states that lie
has become the possessor of a handsome competence from the proceeds of
forty acres of orchard and vineyard. In one year he obtained from fifteen


acres of shipped grapes twenty thousand four hunch-ed dollars gross returns,
the goods being sold uniler his brand in the eastern auction houses, mostly,
however, in the city of New York. His orchards yielded him about twenty-
six thousand dollars, thus making his gross income for the year over forty-
six thousand dollars. Some of the grapes sold at the rate of three hundred
and fifty dollars per ton. Mr. Stephens has made a careful study of the
vines he cultivates and the market to which he ships. His Tokays are care-
fully trained on high stakes, secured so as to permit the air to circulate freely
about the clusters, and his pruning is done with the same end in view. His
vineyard is annually flooded and is laid off in "checks" of about an acre,
each surrounded by a levee. The water is let into one check at a tinne and
permitted to stand a foot or eight inches deep for some hours and then
run off into the next check. This is done once or twice a season,
and it forces the vines to great yield and has not apparently injured them.
He pumps his water for irrigation from a well by means of a centrifugal
pump of large capacity, throwing twenty-four million gallons every twenty-
four hours. Another element in his success is that he personally superintends
everything. Every crate of grapes which leaves his vineyard is personally
inspected by himself, and many crates are often packed by him. In this way
his brand has established a reputation in eastern auction houses and commands
prices in excess of the high market rates. He has, in short, applied intelli-
gence, energy, experience and business qualifications to the fruit business,
and has won the success that numbers him among the leading representatives
of the industry throughout the state. Recently through his instrumentality
the Fruit Grov/ers' Association of California was organized. This resulted
from his tireless energy and his comprehension of the needs and best methods
of horticulture. In this way he has done much to promote the material pros-
perity of the state, and he well deserves mention among the representative and
honored residents of Sacramento county.


Standing at the head (jf his profession in Sacramento. Frederick Conrad
Chinn is a member of the well known Chinn-Beretta Optical Company, whose
business has assumed extensive proportions, stores being conducted in the
capital city, in San Francisco, Oakland and Stockton, California. Mr. Chinn
is the president and manager of the company and is a gentleman of marked
skill and ability in the line of his chosen vocation. He has long since left
the ranks of the many to stand among the successful few. his comprehensive
knowledge and accurate skill gaining him distinctive jireferment in connec-
tion with optical work.

Mr. Chinn is a native of Louisiana, his birth having occurred in West
Baton Rouge parish on the 2d of November, 1870. He is descended from old
and influential southern families. On the ]3aternal side his ancestry can be
traced back to Chichester Chinn, of Virginia, whose wife's maiden name was
Jane Scott Withers. She was a representative of a prominent family of the


Old Dominion. Their son, Thomas Withers, was horn in Lexington, Ken-
tucky, in 1790, and died at Cypress Hall, Louisiana, his plantation home, ia
1852. Early in life he, with his widowed mother, sisters and younger brother,
of all of whom he was the sole support, emigrated to Louisiana, making the
trip down the Mississippi ri\-er in their own flat-boat, as was the custom in
those days. En route they were attacked by the Indians and plundered of
e\erything they had, the savages even taking the feathers from their beds in
order that they might make use of the ticks.

Mr. China, therefore, began life in Louisiana poor and hea\ily handi-
capped, but in a few short years, by his untiring energy and superior
ability, he amassed a large fortune, becoming the owner of a fine estate. He
married Miss Elizabeth Johnson, and for some years they resided near St.
Francisville, in West Feliciana parish, wbere he practiced medicine success-
fully until 1827, when he removed to West Baton Rouge, where he was en-
gaged in sugar-planting. His fitness for leadership called him to many public
offices. Soon after his removal to Baton Rouge he was appointed the judge
of the district, and in 1839 he was elected to congress, where he served for
two 3'ears. He was one of the leading members of the constitutional con-
vention of Louisiana in 1845, ^"^1 was subsequently appointed United States
minister to the four Sicilies. He was a statesman of power, possessing marked
individual ability and a ready grasp of afifairs that made him prominent in
the councils of the nation. He was a warm personal friend of Cla)-, Webster
and Taylor, and ranked among the leading W' big statesmen of his day. Dur-
ing the Lidian wars he served his country under command of General Har-
rison, and also fought in the war of 1812, participating in the battle of Tip-
pecanoe. He was a near relative of Sir Walter Scott, and his father was a
schoolmate of the famous novelist and poet. Thomas Withers Chinn was
united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Johnson, who was born in Mississippi
in 1792, and died in 1877. She was a daughter of Isaac and Mary (Routh)
Johnson and a granddaughter of William and Mary Johnson, the former an
eminent English clergyman.

Boiling Robertson Chinn. a son of Thomas W. and Elizabeth (Johnson)
Chinn, was born in West Feliciana on the 23d of June, 1825, and in 1827
lie was taken by his parents to Baton Rouge. During the RIexican war he
joined the service as a volunteer and with distinction aided in maintaining
the rights of the American government throughout that struggle. V\um the
breaking out of the Civil war he organized the Lemmon Guards, of which he
was made the captain. In the battle of Baton Rouge, in which he was
wounded. Major Chinn. in charge of Bynum's brigade, displayed a degree of
Ijravery and coolness under the most trying circumstances that elicited the
warmest admiration from his comrades. He was taken jjrisoner at Port
Hudson and was sent to Johnston's island, where he remained until a short
time prior to General Lee's surrender. Upon l>eing exchanged he was im-
mediately promoted to the rank of major, and made every effort to get his
old command together, but before he had accomplished that task peace was


'Sld.jov Chinii tlien returned to his old home in West Baton Rouge, and
there found ruin and desolation where once had been peace and prosperity.
Nothing daunted, he began with determined purpose to retrieve his lost
fortune and conducted his plantation in a successful manner until 1885, when
he removed to East Baton Rouge, where he remained up to the time of his
death. In 1866 he was elected to the legislature, being the first representative
from his parish after the war. Patriotic and loyal in his devotion to his
native state, firm and courageous in any cause he espoused, he never faltered
in the discharge of his duty, however trying the ordeal. He was a typical
southerner, a distinguished member of the school of courtly and polished
gentlemen that is rapidly passing away. Brave, charitable and generous to
a fault ; kind and indulgent as a husband and father ; conscientious in the
discharge of all his duties as a citizen, he embodied within himself those
admirable traits and virtues that go to make up the highest type of man.

In 1848 Boiling R. Chinn was united in marriage to Miss Frances S.
Conrad, a daughter of F. D. and and F. S. (Duncan) Conrad. She was
born on her father's plantation near Baton Rouge, November 20, 1828. Her
father, Frederick Daniel Conrad, was a representative of the Avell known
family of that name and was of English and German extraction. He was
born near Winchester, Virginia, but his family removed to Lxjuisiana dur-
ing his early boyhood, and while still a young man he participated in- the
battle of New Orleans. Determining to engage in the practice of law, he
was graduated at a law school, and for several years successfully prosecuted
his chosen profession. In the latter part of the '20s he married and removed
into the country, where he conducted a large plantation, thus acquiring a
handsome fortune. There he resided until the beginning of the Civil war,
when he became a refugee. On account of being a wealthy and prominent
citizen and a brother of Charles W. Conrad, of New Orleans, who was very
prominent in Confederate affairs, he was much harassed by the federals,
and with his large family and his slaves sought safety away from his home.
He also sent two of his sons to the war, and one of them Avas killed in the
service. When he returned after the cessation of hostilities he found his
estates in ruin, and he died shortly afterward in New Orleans.

His wife, who bore the maiden name of Frances S. Duncan, was born
in the early part of the nineteenth century, and died in 1870. She was a
(laughter of Abner L. Duncan, of Philadelphia. Pennsylvania, who came
to Louisiana and for many years was a distinguished lawyer at New Orleans.
He also served as aid-de-camp on the stafif of General Jackson at the battle
of New Orleans. He married Frances S. IMather. a daughter of the younger
branch of the house of Northumberland. One of her brothers inherited the
title of Duke of Northumberland, but as he was living in this country in
the greatest wealth and affluence he refused the honor, preferring to be a free-
born American citizen rather than accept an empty title. Mrs. Boiling R.
Chinn, the daughter of Frances Conrad, was a woman of the highest refine-
ment, culture and education. She possessed, too. great courage and fortitude.
She was reared in luxury, being- the eldest daughter <:if wealthy parents and


having but to express a wish to have it granted. She was married in early
life, and at- her husband's side also enjoyed all that wealth could procure,
but when the Civil war was inaugurated and he went forth to battle she took
her little children and throughout the struggle lived in a rough pine-wood
cabin in the woods, surrounded by dangers, deserted by her servants, some-
times scarcely knowing where the next meal would come from, but all the
time cheerful and untiring in her efforts to support her little ones. When
the v.3.r was ended she returned to their once magnificent home, then in
ruins; but, stopping not to bemoan former grandeur and wealth, she took
up the battle of life with a cheerful Christian spirit, which amid her many
trials never seemed to desert her. She commanded the highest respect and
admiration of all who knew her and enjoyed the lov,e of many friends. She
was to her husband a faithful helpmate and her own courage and cheerful
spirit inspired and aided many in their work. He passed away in 1888, and
she was called to her home beyond early in the winter of 1893.

Frederick Conrad Chinn, their son and the subject of this review, was
the eighth in order of birth. His boyhood days were spent under the parental
roof, and he acquired his education in the schools of Louisiana. In 1887 he
came to California, locating first in San Francisco, where he engaged in
business until 1897. In that year he came to Sacramento and organized
the Chinn-Beretta Optical Company, which is now doing a large and suc-
cessful business at four different points вАФ Sacramento, San Francisco, Oak-
land and Stockton. He is a graduate of the Chicago College of Ophthal-
mology, and in January, 1899, he became one of the organizers and the first
president of the California Association of Opticians. His business is con-
stantly growing, fostered by careful and conservative yet energetic manage-
ment. He is thoroughly versed concerning his profession, his knowledge
being based upon scientific principles, which he applies with readiness and
accuracy. His pleasant store at No. 526 K street. Sacramento, is splendidly
equipped with all the various apparatus needed to remedy defecti\e vision,
glasses being ground especially to meet the requirements of the individual.

Mr. Chinn was married in San Francisco, February 22, 1893, t" ^I'^s
Rose McKenna, a native of New York, and to them have been born two
sons. Socially IMr. Chinn is connected with the Benevolent and Protecti\-e
Order of Elks. He is a gentleman of broad general knowledge. Of genial
manner and unfailing courtesy, wherever he is known he commands tlic re-
spect and esteem of those with whom he is brought in contact.


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 108 of 108)