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 29 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 29 of 108)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of Amador county, in which they carry a large stock of general merchandise.
The sons are all men of good business ability, energetic and enterprising, and
their straightforward course in life's relations adds honor to the untarnished
family record.

W. A. Bennetts, who is acting as the manager of the store, is a native
of England, born June 29. 1847. He was educated partly in his native land,
completing his course, however, after his emigration to the United States in
1866. He is a graduate of Heald's Commercial College at San Francisco, and
immediately after his graduation he became a resident of Amador county. For
a time he was engaged in clerking in Amador City and Sutter Creek. In 1874
he was united in marriage to Eva Stewart, and he then became an assistant in
her father's store, where he has since remained. His wise business policy has
contributed in no small degree to the successful conduct of the business. Unto


Mr. and Mrs. Bennetts have been born six children, — five sons and one daugh-
ter. The latter is now a capable assistant in the lone postoffice.

^Ir. Bennetts is a member of the Masonic fraternity. He is twice past
master and is now the master of the lone Lodge, No. 80. He also belongs to
the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In politics he is a Republican and on
the establishment of the board of education he was one of the first appointed
to membership thereon. He was also his party's nominee for the ofiice of rep-
resentative and made a creditable race, but through a combination of circum-
stances was defeated. He is a thorough business man, widely and favorably
known in the county, and, as manager of the oldest store in lone, has mani-
fested marked ability.

In closing this record we can not refrain from mentioning in a brief man-
ner some of the characteristics of Daniel Stewart. He was an earnest, honest
and incorruptible man, with a frank, genial manner which won and retained
friendship, and in consequence his death was sincerely mourned by a large num-
ber of appreciatixe friends and acquaintances, with whom his long public ser-
vice had ])laced him upon terms of intimacy.

We lake pleasure in presenting the few facts of the foregoing sketch that
we were able to glean, because the subect fully deserves this honorable men-
tion and much more. Not only "line upon line and precept upon precept" are
needed, but also example upon example, properly to impress upon the minds of
most people the importance of all the excellencies of character.


One of the most popular and highly esteemed residents of Placer county
is John Chisholm, whose pleasant residence in Auburn is a favorite resort
of his many friends. Long connected with the public service, he has labored
for the benefit of his fellow men and at all times has been loyal and faithfu.l
to his duty. He is now filling the office of county treasurer, Ijcing elected lor
a second term.

A native of Scotland, John Chisholm was born on the 8th of December,
1839, in Haddington, and represents an old Highland family of the clan of
Chisholm, of Chisholm. His father, John Chisholm, Sr., was born in Lauder-
dale, Scotland, and married Isabell Pride, a native of East Lothian. He
devoted his energies to farming and stock-raising, and was not only prominent
in business affairs but also exerted a strong influence for good by reason of
an upright life. He and his wife held membership in the Presbyterian church
at North Burwick, in which he served as an elder for forty-two years. He
attained the age of seventy-eight years, and his wife passed away in the sixty-
eighth year of her age. They were the parents of thirteen children, five of
whom are living. All were reared in the faith of the Presbyterian church
and into their lives were instilled lessons of industry and honesty which have
borne good fruit in later years.

John Chisholm of this review was reared amid the refining influences of
a Ciiristian home and in his native county acquired a good common-school


education. Hoping to benefit his financial condition Ijy emigrating to the
United States, he took passage on the saiHng vessel India, which weighed
anchor in the harbor of Glasgow. \^ery stormy weather and heavy seas
were experienced, and they had a rough voyage, finding great difficulty in
making the harbor of New York. Mr. Chisholm settled at Carbondale, Penn-
sylvania, and after his arrival in this country was converted under Methodist
preaching and joined the church. He was at once licensed as an exhorter,
as he had special ability in that direction, being a strong and convincing
speaker. He labored earnestly in behalf of the church during the time he
was working in the coal mines, earning his living by the sweat of his brow.
His marked ability as a speaker, liowever, led the Methodist Conference to
ordain him as a minister, and in 1880 he came to California, connecting him-
self with the Methodist conference at Petaluma. He has since filled the pas-
torate of various churches with great ability, was stationed for three years
ai Areata, and three years at Elk Grove and was then appointed to Auburn,
where he preached for four years. On the expiration of that period he spent
two years in charge of the INIethodist church at Nevada City, but the health of
himself aird his wife both failed and he retired from the pastorate there, return-
ing to Auburn. Soon afterward he was appointed the chaplain of the state
prison at Folsom and worked in that field for eight years, din-ing which time he
did splendid work among the unfortunate men whose tendency toward crime
had led them to forfeit their libert)'. While he is not now actively connected
with the conference, he often fills the pulpit and is an entertaining, thoughtful
speaker whose oratorical powers lend effectiveness to his utterances. In all his
work he is prompted by earnest Christian charity, deep human sympathy and
humanitarian principles. These qualities bring him the respect and love of
people of all denominations and thus he a great power for good. He
performs more funeral and marriage ceremonies in this community than any
other one minister, and he never refuses his services for the liurial of the dead,
no matter how arduous have been his labors or how small the chance of

Since coming to the United States Rev. Mr. Chisholm has been a stanch
advocate of American principles and has entered actively into campaign work
on three dift"erent occasions, deli^•ering many able addresses in support of the
principles which he believes contain the best element of good government.
In 1894 the party chose him as its candidate for treasurer of the county, and
he was elected and served so satisfactorily for four years that he was again
chosen for the same office, by the very complimentary majority of six hundred
and ten, which was a great increase over his first majority. Over the record
of his official career there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil.

In 1867 the Rev. Mr. Chisholm was married to Miss Johanna Poison, a
native of Scotland and a daughter of Donald Poison, a prominent Scotch mer-
chant. They were married in London, England, and had three children ere
his emigration to America. Mr. Chisholm came first to this country, and in
1872 sent for his wife to join him. She is still his devoted helpmate and
has been to him a faithful companion on life's journey, sharing with him


in the joys and sorrows tliat checker the lives of all. He is a member of the
Independent Order of Odtl Fellows, with which he became identified in Penn-
sylvania, and through the intervening years has been one of its active workers
and exemplary representatives, manifesting in his life the tenets of that char-
itable order. He also belongs to the blue lodge, chapter and commandery of
the }iIasonic fraternity, and has long been a chaplain in the craft. He and
his wife hold membership in the Order of the Eastern Star, and in many official
positions in these societies he has discharged his duties in a creditable and able
manner, reflecting honor upon the organization.

Air. and Mrs. Chisholm have a delightful residence in Auburn, stand-
ing in the midst of pleasant grounds, and they take great delight in cultivating
beautiful flowers and in adorning their place w-ith the arts of the landscape
gardener. They have a host of warm friends, and their social qualities and
sterling worth render them popular and highly esteemed residents of the
community. As has been truly remarked, after all that may be done for
man in the way of giving him early opportunities for obtaining the require-
ments which are sought in the schools and in books, he must essentially form-
ulate, determine and give shape to his own character; and this is what Mr.
Chisholm has done. His life is exemplary in all respects, and he has ever
supported those interests which are calculated to uplift and benefit humanity,
while his own high moral worth is deserx-ing of the highest commendation.


Prentice AI. Trask is carrying on farming in Tuolumne county, and the
years of his identification with the interests of this portion of the state covers
almost five decades. He arrived in the county in 1852 and is now residing
upon a good farm near the town of Columbia. Born in the far off state of
Maine, he is a native of the town of Industry, in Franklin county, his natal
day being May 9, 1829. The blood of English and German ancestry flows
in his veins, for from both the fatherland and the merrie isle came his ances-
tors to the new world, first establishing homes in New Hampshire and later
in the Pine Tree state. Jonathan Trask, the father of our subject, was born
in New Hampshire and was married in Maine to Miss Martha Jewell. They
were farming people and highly respected citizens, and tliej^ liecame the parents
of fourteen children, of whom thirteen reached maturity, although only four
are living at the time of this writing, near the close of the year 1900. One of
the sons, John ]\uggles Trask, came to the Pacific coast in 1853.

The subject of this review was educated in his native state, and with the
hope of bettering his financial condition in California he started for the Pacific
coast. He made the journey by way of the isthmus of Panama. Many of
the passengers had ship cholera and a number were buried in the sea. Such
experiences on those plague-stricken ships were very trying, but Mr. Trask
was fortunate enough to escape the disease and arrived safely in San Fran-
cisco on the nth of July. 1852. He made his way direct to Columliia, which
was then a town of miners, and much excitement existed owing to the rich


gold finds of this locality. The numlier of miners and settlers was so great
that the town was the third in size in the state, being exceeded in population
only by San Francisco and Sacramento. At that time and for years after-
ward the whole country for miles in every direction was considerecf good
mining property and vast quantities of gold have been taken from among the
rocks and in the gulches and ravines.

Mr. Trask at once engaged in mining in Coral Gulch, and for eight years
had numerous claims which he worked and sold. He has taken out from
eight to thirteen and a half ounces of gold in a single day, and after operating
his mine sold the property at from three hundred to five hundred dollars.
His experience, however, has not been altogether fortunate, for at times he
has met with failure and disaster, and like others, he has paid considerable
money for claims that proved to be of little value. Probably not a resident
of the entire state found that his career as a miner was altogether fortunate.
Periods of prosperity were followed by periods of financial depression, some
claims yielding rich dejiosits, wliile otliers gave nothing in return for labor.
Mr. Trask is "thurnuL^lily familiar with the history of the excitement in the
early mining camps and knows fully the story of the development of Cali-
fornia as it became settled with emigrants from all over the land. Many men
of worth came to the state, but there were others who had little regard for
law or for the rights and liberties of those with whom they were associaterl.
Such men were not deterred from the perpetration of any crime, and the
law-abiding citizens were forced to take matters in their own hands. \^igi-
lance committees were formed and without trial by court or jury the offenders
suffered summary justice. Although Mr. Trask participated in no hanging,
he witnessed several and endorsed the action, for the punishment was fully
merited. His career. howe\-er, was rather a peaceful one, as he was never
robbed or was never in any great danger that he knew of from that class of

In i860 the subject of this review turned his attention to farming, securing
one luuulred and sixty acres of land a mile and a quarter north of Columbia.
Here he is engaged in the raising of vines and fruits of many varieties. • He
has departed from the did niethdd of irrigating and cultivates entirely with-
out water. A visit to his fariu to see the luxuriant growth and the healthy erudi-
tion of his vines and trees, is all that is needed to convince one that his method
is practical, his returns larger and his labors and expenses much reduced.
He is the first man in Tuolumne county to have adopted this method of rais-
ing fruit, and is exceedingly well pleased with the results. His vineyard
contains twenty-five acres, or about twenty-five thousand vines, and has six
rxres devoted to fruit trees of various Icind.?.

His home is located on the summit of a large hill, being two hundred
feet higher than Gold Springs, of one hundred rods distance, and affords a
most commanding view of the surrounding country. The trees which adorn
his home and the fruit trees on the top of the hill are all of his own planting.
I^pon that farm he has since resided and he now has a good home and all
the needed comforts of life. His ])ros])erity is well merite<l. for it has been


secured bv honest effort and indefatigable energy. Throughout the long
years of his residence in this state he has been ably assisted by his wife and
children. In 1S54 he returned to Maine, to wed "the girl whom he had left
behind," and there he was happily married to -Miss Susie M. Pierce. He spent
nine months in the Pine Tree state and then, accompanied by his bride came
by way of the Nicaragua route to California, locating first at Gold Springs,
where he now resides. Four children came to bless his home, of whom three
are living, namely: George M., who is now the owner of a livery barn in
Columbia; Florence M., the wife of Adolphus C. Davis, the leading merchant
of Columbia; and Clara J., the wife of Edward Doyle. The mother departed
this life on the ist of January, 1897. She was a most highly esteemed lady,
a faithful wife, a devoted mother and an accommodating friend. Mr. Trask
has since remained single, living upon his farm, which he owns in connection
with some valuable mining interests, being one of the owners of the American
quartz mine, which is an excellent producer. He has been a life-long Repub-
lican and an enterprising, honest and industrious citizen, temperate in all
things, faithful to every trust, one of California's best pioneers.


Prominent among the distingished members of the bar of Placer county
is numbered William Branson Lardner. He is actively connected with a pro-
fession which has an important bearing upon the progress and stable pros-
perity of any section or community, and one which has long been considered
as conserving the public welfare by furthering the ends of justice and main-
taining individual rights. In political circles Mr. Lardner has also gained dis-
tinction and in 1899 and 1900 represented the thirteenth district of California
in the general assembly, and is now state senator from the tifih senatorial

A native of )ilichigan, he was born in Xiles. on the i_nh of December.
1850. and is a representative of an old English family. His great-grand-
father. Lynford Lardner, emigrated to Philadelphia in 1740. He was a
brother-in-law of Richard Penn and went to Philadelphia in the interest of
the Penn heirs, having charge of the estate there. He settled at Lansdowne
and had one hundred acres of land at Holmesburg, on the Delaware river.
His son. William Lardner. the grandfather of our subject, married Miss Ann
Shepherd, of North Carolina, and their son. Lynford Lardner, was born in
Philadelphia. Having arrived at years of majority he married Sarah K.
Moore, also a native of the Keystone state. In 1832 he removed to Cincinnati,
prior to which time he was in the United States Bank in Philadelphia, with
Nicholas Biddle. a cousin and one of the most distinguished financiers the coun-
try has produced. Later in life 2ilr. Lardner engaged in the wholesale grocery
business in Cincinnati. In religious belief he was an Episcopalian, while his
wife was identified with the ]\Iethodist church. They became the parents of
nine children. The father died in 1882. at the age of seventy-six years, and is
buried at Auburn, California. His wife passed away October T3. 1899, at


the aihanced age of eig'ht}'-one years. Only four of tlie family yet sur\'ive.

William Branson Lardner, whose name introduces this review, was edu-
cated in Cornell College, Iowa, being graduated in that institution with the
class of 1875. Determining to enter the profession of law he prepared for the
bar by pursuing a course in the law department of the State University of
Iowa, in wdiich he was graduated in 1877. Previously he had engaged in teach-
ing school for five years in Iowa and in California, and when he had mastered
the principles of jurisprudence sufficient for admission to the bar he came
direct to Auburn and opened a law office, in which he has since continued.
He has a close and discriminating nature, with keen powers of analysis, is
logical in argument, forceful in delivery and convincing in his appeals before
court and jury. He is now well known as a well-read lawyer and an able
advocate, having been connected with much important litigation whereby his
ability has been demonstrated. In 1879 he was elected district attorney and
served in that office most capably for two years and ten months, during which
time he prosecuted the train-wreckers who had wrecked the train at Cape Horn
Mills. This was a very celebrated case, and two of the men were con\icted.
The able manner in which he handled the suit won for Mr. Lardner consider-
able celebrity as an able criminal lawyer.

In 1898, while he was in the east, he was nominated by the Republican
l)arty here as a candidate for the assembly, and returning home he entered upon
the campaign, making a capable canvass of his district. He received the flat-
tering majority of eight hundred and ninety-three over his competitor, a most
excellent man. Mr. Lardner possesses marked energy and determination and
is an active factor in political circles. Since coming to Auburn he has frequently
done able work on the stump for his party, and has also been one of the most
influential promoters of the interests of the tow'n and county along many
lines which have contributed to the material upbuilding and progress of this
[jortion of the state. His is a loyal devotion to the county's good, and his
efforts have been of benefit in many directions.

Mr. Lardner is a member of the Miners' Association and lalnn-ed for the
mining interests of California through his membership on the mining com-
mittee of the legislature. He is also a prominent Mason, holding member-
ship in lodge, chapter, council and commandery. He is also a Forester and is
identified with the Improved Order of Red Men, and in all these organizations
he takes an active interest, being imijucd with the helpful and benevolent
spirit of the fraternity.

On the nth of January, 1881, Mr. Lardner was married to Miss Jennie
Mitchell, a native of Essex county, New York, and a daughter of \Miliam
H. Mitchell, now a prominent citizen and leading politician of Beloit, Kansas,
who served as a delegate to the national convention held in Philadelphia in
1900. Mr. and Mrs. Lardner have five children, all born in Auburn, namely:
Mabel Frances, Mary Bidille, ^^'illiam Branson Penn, Georgia Florence and
Effa Elvira.

The parents are active members of the Protestant Episcopal church, in
which Mr. Lardner is serving as the senior warden and superintendent of the


Sunday-school, having occupied both positions for many years. He is a mem-
ber of the Monday Night Club, whose object is to study and cultivate a taste
for literature, science, art, music and patriotism. This is one of the leading
organizations of the city and in its work he takes a deep interest. He has a
nice home and finds great pleasure in improving its grounds and in caring
for his fruits and flowers there. His is a well-rounded nature, in which devo-
tion to a single interest alone has not produced a one-sided development. His
career, both public and private, is marked by the strictest integrity and faith-
fulness to every trust reposed in him. The record of his life is unclouded by
any shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. He is known as an honorable man.
a pleasant, social companion, a devoted husband and father and as one who
holds friendship inviolable.


Those of the pioneers of the days of gold who still remain in California
are honored by their fellow citizens as pioneers are honored in all parts of the
country. One of the most conspicuous of this class in San Andreas, Calaveras
county, is George Frederick Wesson, a brief narrative of whose interesting
career it will be attempted here to give. iMr. Wesson, who arrived at San
Francisco November 19, 1849, ""^'^^ ^'^ t^i^t time between nineteen and twenty
years of age. and he has been a witness to nearly all of the wonderful develop-
ment which has placed California in a proud position among the states of the

He is of English ancestry and his first American progenitor came over
before the Revolution and some of his forefathers participated in that great
struggle for independence. Phineas Wesson, his father, was born in New
Hampshire, in 1794. and married Miss Lucy Smith, a native of Shrewsbury,
Massachusetts, whose father, Daniel Smith, died there at the age of one hun-
dred and nine years and has a place in history as a soldier of the Revolution.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Wesson settled at Providence, Rhode
Island, and there George Frederick \\'esson was born March 29, 1829, and
there Phineas Wesson, who became well known as a hotel-keeper, died at the
age of sixty-two j^ears and his wife at the age of fifty-two. Of their seven
children only three survive : George Frederick Wesson, of San Andreas, and
two of his brothers who live at New Haven, Connecticut.

George Frederick Wesson was educated and learned the jeweler's trade
in his native city, and on the 3d of March, 1849, was one of sixteen pas-
sengers who sailed from there aboard the bark Nahumkey for the
long voyage around the Horn to San Francisco. When they arrived at
their destination they were eight and a half months out from Providence
and had suffered much discomfort and privation, each passenger having been
for some time on an allowance of only a pint of water a day.

After setting foot on the soil of California, Mr. Wesson lost no time
in getting to the mines. His first mining was at Long Bar, on the Yuba ri\er,
where bv hard work he made six or seven dollars a dav. From there he


went to D(j\vnie\"ille, where he met with less success. Then he was taken in
by the Feather river excitement and had no success at all, and retired to Tony
Bar, where he was taken sick and went to San Francisco for treatment ! After
his recovery he went to Chinese Camp, Tuolumne county. There was no water
there, and he went on to Vallicita, in Calaveras county, and spent a year in
clerking in a store at Vallicita and mining near there, and after that he gave
his attention exclusively to mining for a time, with discouraging results, and
drifted into the saloon business, in which for nine months his average receipts
were sixty dollars a day with a good percentage of profit.

In 1854 he was appointed deputy sheriff and tax collector, and under the
law then in force collected four dollars a month from each foreign miner. In

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 29 of 108)