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 30 of 108)
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1 86 1 he was elected county clerk of Calaveras county and took up his resi-
dence at IMokelumne Hill. At the expiration of his term of office he went to
Reese river, Nevada, on a fruitless quest for precious metal. He returned to
California and in the fall of 1864 was elected township assessor and tax col-
lector. In this capacity he served for three years. Under a new law the county
sheriff became collector of taxes. Mr. Wesson again engaged in the saloon
business at Mokelumne Hill, and a year and a half later he was appointed
deputy sheriff under Sheriff Ben Thorn, and held that office four year.s, during
which time he had many exciting experiences in running down and capturing
dangerous criminals. After that he kept a saloon for four years, when Mr.
Thorn was again elected sheriff and Mr. Wesson again became his deputy
and removed to San Andreas, in April, 1880. After service as under sheriff
for a year and nine months, he opened a saloon at San Andreas, which he has
since managed in connection with his mining interests, and the sightly hill on
which his comfortable residence is located is considered good mining ground.

Mr. Wesson was married November 21, 1864, to Miss Mary Ann Con-
way, a native of county Mayo, Ireland, and a daughter of Richard Conway.
Mrs. Wesson's father died in his native land, and in 1843 her mother brought
her, an infant, to America. Some time after her arrival in the United States,
Mrs. Conway married Philip Kelly, who became a member of Stephenson's
regiment and came with that organization to California in 1847, bringing his
wife and stepdaughter with him. Mrs. Kelly died at Mokelumne Hill, at the
age of fifty-two, and Mrs. Wesson, who is the only survivor of her family,
was undoubtedly the first auburn-haired child in California. Philip A. Roach,
who became the first editor of the San Francisco Examiner, and some other
prominent gentlemen, passing the San Antonio mission, saw her playing with
some ^lexican children and were greatly surprised at her appearance, for they
never ex]3ected ^to see a white child so far removed from civilization. Mrs.
Wesson learned Mexican Spanish in her intercourse with her Mexican play-
mates and has since spoken it fluently. A child of Catholic parents, she
adheres to that faith. She has every right to the title of a pioneer woman
of California, for the ship in which she and her mother sailed around
the Horn, the Susan Drew, the first vessel of its class built for its peculiar ser-
\'icc. came in 1847. She attended school at Monterey and was an early teacher
in Calaveras countv. ;\Ir. and Mrs. Wesson have had five children, all bom at


Mdkclunme Hill. Two dictl of (li])lulieria. Those who survive are Henrj',
now the tax collector of Calaveras county; Fred, who is the proprietor of the
Aletropolitan Hotel, the leading house of entertainment at San Andreas; and
Tessie. a popular school-teacher of Calaveras county, who is at present filling
the office of deputy tax collector.

Mr. and Mrs. Wesson have both lived more than a half century in Cali-
fornia and are proud of having witnessed its development. They possess
many winning qualities of head and heart, which endear them to all who know
them, and have such a place in pulilic esteem as properly belongs to such old
and good citizens.


Joseph Benjamin Pownall is numbered among California's native sons and
i-?. now filling the imjwrtant position of secretary and superintendent of the
Tuolumne County Water Company, of which he is one of the heaviest stock-
holders. Through the years of his manhood, as well as through the period
of his youth, he has always resided in Columbia; therefore his history is famil-
iar to its citizens. His large circle of friends is an indication that his has been
an upright and honorable career, and his prominence in business circles is
widely recognized by all who know him. He was born on the 5th of Jan-
uary, 1858, and is of English descent, although four generations of the family
have been born in the United States.

His father, Dr. Joseph Pownall, was a native of Hackettstown, New
Jersey, born on the 8th of August, 1818, where he received his prmiary etlu-
cation. He was one of the California "Argonauts," joining a party which
started out in search of the "golden fleece" on the 28th of ]\Iarch, 1849, for
the tales of the wonderful discoveries on the Pacific Coast led many men to
believe that they might rapidly acquire a fortune in the far west. He crossed
the plains on the southern route, making the journey from Texas with a party
that traveled under the command of Captain J. H. Duval. There were between
one hundred and twenty and one hundred and thirt}' in the company and I. G.
Messec, who now resides in Gilroy, Californa, was their lieutenant. They
secured their outfit at El Paso, Texas, and started on the long journey across
the alkali plains of the south and over the mountains that had hardly been
trodden before by white men. They met a number of hostile Indians, but suc-
ceeded in purchasing their good will by gifts of food and tobacco, the latter
being in great demand by the red men. They swam the Colorado river near
the present site of Fort Yuma, where they arrived safely alxjut the 20th of
July, 1849. They then proceeded on their way to Los Angeles, and thence
to San Francisco.

At the age of nineteen Dr. Pownall commenced the study of medicine,
under Dr. William Rea, and in the spring of 1841 attended a course of lec-
tures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at New York city, followed
by another course during the summer and fall at Pittsfield. Massachusetts:
then returned and entered the medical department of the University of the


City of New York, at its first session in the fall and winter of 1841-2. at which
he was graduated on the 9th of March, 1842. After graduation he went
south to practice his ijmfessinn, locating first at Savannah, Georgia. Then
he went to Laurens count}-, (Jeorgia, where he remained for six months. He
then went to Micanopy, Alachua county, Florida, remaining there until about
July I, 1846, wdien he went to New Orleans. He then went with the American
army to Matamoras and Monterey, Mexico, intending to join the staff of sur-
geons connected with the army. Not liking this kind of practice, he returned
to New Orleans January i, 1847, where he remained until September, 1848,
when he moved to Keachie, E\e Soto parish, Louisiana, where he practiced
until his departure for California.

Notwithstandin'g the fact that Dr. Pownall was a practicing physician,
lie eiiga-cil in mining at Goodyear's Bar, near Marys\-ille, where he took out
aliiiiu litieen hundred dollars. He also mined on Marijiosa creek, with good
succes-^. and the same fall followed the business of "packing" provisions to
the mines from Stockton, after which he returned to Mariposa and again
engaged in mining, securing about sixteen hundred dollars. Later he fol-
lowed mining at Red Mountain Bar on the Tuolumne river and also mined
at Big Oak Flat, where he arrived March 18, 1850. He was there at the time
of the Indian uprising, when several white men were killed. In 1852 he
became interested in an enterprise for procuring water for the miners and
became one of the organizers and incorporators of the Tuolumne County Water
Company. One of the greatest difficulties connected with the development
of the rich mineral resources of California was to secure water sufficient to
wash the gold. In the mountains and hills were never failing springs, and
this ditch company was formed for the purpose of bringing the water from
the mountains to the mines. From the inception of the plan he was the sec-
retary of the company, and w'as also secretary and superintendent at the time
of his death, wdiich occurred on the 30th of November, 1890, at the age of
seventy-two years. He was likewise the owner of valuable mining interests,
and his w^ell directed labors brought to hiTn good success.

In his political views he was a Democrat, but he declined office, not w'ish-
ing to have political duties interfere with his business affairs. He was an
honored member of the Society of California Pioneers, being one of its earliest
members, and also belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, wdiich
he joined soon after his arrival in California, becoming a member of Sacra-
mento Lodge, No. 2. He was a man of superior intelligence, of high integ-
rity of character, and during his long residence in Columbia he was identified
with every enterprise that had for its object the promotion of the w-elfare and
progress of the town. He enjoyed the respect and confidence of his fellow
men in an unusual degree and he left the impress of his individuality upon
public progress so that his name should be inscribed high upon the roll of the
honored pioneers of the Golden state.

He was married after his arrival in California, the wedding ceremony
being performed in Columbia which united his destiny with that of ]Mrs. M;iry
C. Newell, a daughter of Benianiin Harrison. Their union was l)lcsse(l with


one son and one daughter, the latter now being Airs. Lucy A. H. Senger, Hv-
ing at Berkeley, California. Mr. Senger is an assistant professor of the Ger-
man language in the University of California. Mrs. Pownall is still living,
in the seventy-second year of her age, and has a pleasant home in Columbia,
where she is most highly esteemed by reason of her many excellencies of char-
acter and her long identification with the interests of the town.

The son, Joseph Benjamin Pownall, acquired his education in the schools
of his native town, in the schools of Sonora, in the San Francisco Boys"
High School, in which he was graduated with the class of 1879, and in the
University of California. Of the last institution he is a graduate with the
class of 1883. He had taken an extra course in chemistry, intending to pursue
a course in medicine, but on account of his father's failing health he was
obliged to return home and take his father's place in the office. He has since
been a stockholder and the superintendent of the Tuolumne County Water
Company and is also a member of the board of directors. He is prom-
inently interested in the mining industries of Tuolumne county. In the man-
agement of the water company he has displayed splendid business and execu-
tive ability, showing that he is well qualified for the important duties which
devolve upon him.

January i, 1896, Mr. Pownall was united in marriage to Miss Sadie
Arnold, a native daughter of Sonora, and they have three beautiful and inter-
esting little children, viz. : Elaine, Josephine and Ruth. They have a charming
home in Columbia and theiir circle of friends is limited only by the circle of
their acquaintance. An air of culture and refinement pervades the place and
its hospitality is proverbial. In his fraternal relations Mr. Pownall is an Odd
Fellow, belonging to both the subordinate lodge and encampment, and is a past
noble grand of the former. He is also an interested member of the Native
Sons of the Golden West.

In politics he is an independent. In Inisiness he is following closely in his
father's footsteps, fully sustaining the untarnished family reputation for integ-
rity and luisiness honor. He deserves mention among the most prominent
of the citizens of Tuolumne county and should find a place in the history of
the men of business and enterprise in the great west whose force of character,
sterling probity and marked success in conducting important industries have
contributed in such an eminent degree to the solidity and progress of this
entire section of the country.


Forty-eight years have passed since Stephen Clark Wheeler came to Cali-
fornia and the work of transformation has been almost that of magic, such mar-
velous changes have occurred during that period. The best type of citizenship
of the east came here to found the great commonwealth, and their labors have
resulted in the formation of a state which ranks with the best states in the
east. Mr. Wheeler has been a witness of the wonderful growtli and develop-
ment of Califurnia and de.^^crves honorable mention among her pioneers. He


is now residing on a farm two miles northeast of Plynioutli, where he is carry-
ing on agricultural pursuits, having a valuable and inipro\ed property.

A native of Indiana, he was born in Jackson county, on the 14th of
November, 1828, and traces his ancestry back to Edward Wheeler, who was
born in England. He emigrated to America in 1726, locating at New-
Haven, Connecticut. There Zebadiah Wheeler, the great-grandfather of our
subject, was born, and New Haven was also the birthplace of Nehemiah
Wheeler, the grandfather v.ho became one of the hei-oes of the Revolution.
James Wheeler, the father of our subject, was born in Rutland, Vermont, July
15, 1803, and married Druzilla Brown, a native of Kentucky, wdio also was
of English lineage and a representative of an old Virginia family. Her father,
Jacob Brown, removed from Virginia to Kentucky at the time when the
"dark and bloody ground" was first becoming the home of the white race.
]Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler had two daughters and a son, but our subject is now
the only survivor of the family. The mother died in the twenty-eighth year
of her age. but the father, long surviving, attained the age of eighty-two years.
He was a farmer and merchant and in his community was known as a very
reliable business man.

Mr. Wheeler, of this review, was reared to manhood in Indiana and to
the public-school system of that state is indebted for the educational priv-
ileges he enjoyed. At the age of fourteen years he entered upon his business
career as an employe in a flouring mill, continuing in that occupation until
twenty-two years of age. He was married on the 21st of February, 1850, to
Miss Mary Ellen Thompson, a native of Jeiifersonville, Clark county, Indiana,
and a daughter of Benjamin Thompson. One child was born to them in the
Hoosier state, Laura E., who is now the wife of Nelson Hinkson, of Eugene
City, Oregon. In 1852 Mr. Wheeler with his young wife and their daugh-
ter started on the long and hazardous journey across the plains to California,
making the trip in a wagon drawn by oxen. There were fourteen in the com-
pan3% and, after six months and eleven days spent upon the way. arrived ;it
their present location in what is now Amador county. Mr. Wheeler engaged
in placer-mining three miles north of Plymouth, and also followed quartz-
mining for a time. In connection with his father he erected a four-stamp mill
and developed the Wheeler mine, which proved to be a very profitable prop-
erty, as they secured thirty thousand dollars in three months. This mine is
now owned by the Bank of California and is called the Alpine mine, but is
not being worked at the present time.

]\Ir. \\'heeler purchased his farm in 1859, has built thereon a good resi-
dence, has planted a fine orchard and made all the other improvements and
accessories necessary to a model farm. His well-directed efforts have brought
to him a comfortable competence which enables him to surround himself and
wife with all the comforts of life and many of its luxuries. In 1872 he erected
a ten-stamp mill on his farm, which he conducted for four years, when he sold
it and ceased his mining operations. In 1891, however, he and his sons con-
structed a five-stamp mill, which they conducted for five years, meeting with
a fair degree of success in the enterprise. In 1896, however, he bonded it to


Salt Lake parties for twelve thousand dollars, 'and they have since erected a
twenty-stamp mill and expended twenty-eight tliousand dollars in improve-
ments. Owing to a default in payment all rights were forfeited and it has
thus reverted to Mr. Wheeler, who is in full control of same.

Through the forty-eight years of his residence here Mr. Wheeler has
given the greater part of his time and attention to the development of the rich
mineral resources of the state, making farming a side issue. He is a thor-
oughly informed and practical miner, being an excellent judge of gold-pro-
ducing minerals and an expert in handling the same.

Eleven children ha\e brightened the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler diu -
ing their residence in California, and, with one exception, all are living. These
are Laura E., now^ Mrs. Hinkson; James Nelson; Norman E\erett; Julia, the
wife of Benjamin A. Downey; W'illiam T. ; Orpha Ellen, the wife of William
E. Wise; Arthur Alvin; Mamie D., who is a graduate of the Normal School
of California and a successful teacher; Mabel E.', who also is engaged in teach-
ing; and Cecil, who is the proprietor of a barber shop in Plymouth. Mrs.
Wheeler is a member of the Christian church and was one of the brave pio-
neer women of California who courageously met all the hardships and difficul-
ties of a frontier life, assisting their husbands in making homes on the Pacific
slope. She has reared an interesting family of eleven children and is an intelli-
gent and entertaining lady who commands the respect and good will of all
with whom she comes in contact.

Mr. Wheeler is an active member of the Grange, of the Friends" Alliance
and of the People's party, being one of the delegates to the convention which
was held in Los Angeles in 1891 to organize the party. He received the
nomination for county treasurer, but its numerical force was not sufficient to
elect him. He has, however, taken an active part in many movements which
have contributed to the prosperity and development of this region. He aided
in organizing the school district in which he has so long resided, and his
labors have been effective in promoting the educational standing of the com-
munity. For thirty-eight years he has been a school trustee and has done all
in his power to improve the condition of the schools. He served two terms as
a member of the county board of education. He and his wife were worthy
pioneer people who fully merited the high regard of their many friends and
deserve mention in the history of their adopted county.


John Butler, the Colfax druggist and an ex-sheriff of the county, was born
in Canada May 17, 1833. He is descended on one side from the noted Poore
family, who were prominent in the early history of Massachusetts. His father.
William Butler, was born in New Hampshire, March 8, iSoo. He married
Elizabeth Coltman, a native of Canada and descendant of L'nited English
Loyalists. The father had gone to Canada when he became of age and met his
wife there. Six children, of whom five are living, were born to Mr. and Mrs.
Butler and were reared in Canada. The father died in 1875, aged seventy-five


years, and the mother passed away three weeks later, sixty-ti\-e years of age.
During all their married life they had resided in l^righton, Canada, where
j\lr. Butler was engaged in the lumber business. Both he and his wife were
members of the Methodist church and people of the highest respectability.

The son, John Butler, was educated in Canada. He was engaged in a
mercantile business for a brief period and worked in his father's carding-mill
for a number of years. In 1863 he came to California and located at Iowa
Hill, Placer county. He was appointed the assessor of that district and was
afterwards elected to the office and served efficiently for seven years. In 1877
he removed to Colfax and became interested in the drug business, in which
he has continued. He was the postmaster of Colfax nine years, during the
administrations of Presidents Hayes and Garfield. In 1886 he was elected the
sheritY of Placer county; after serving a term of two years, acceptably, he
was re-elected to succeed himself and served a second term of two years, acquir-
ing the reputation of having been one of the most successful sheriffs of the

In 1856 ^Ir. Butler was married to IMartha Ann Lyon, a native of his
own country. The union was blessed with four children : William J., residing
in Marshfield, Oregon; Walter L., residing in Reno; Elizabeth L., the wife
of H. \V. Nash, of San Francisco; and John L., in business with his father at

■ Mr. Butler is a valued member of the ^Masonic fraternity, — blue lodge
and chapter. He is a past master of the blue lodge and a past high priest of
the chapter. As soon as he became of age he presented his application for
membership and received the sublime degree of Master Mason in 1854. He
is also an esteemed member of the I. O. O. F. and is a past high priest of the
Encampment, and is a charter member of the A. O. U. W. and its financier for
the past ten years. He has been a stanch Republican since the organization
of that party. As a citizen, Mr. Butler is of the highest reliability and as a
business man is friendly, good-hearted and obliging. He thoroughly appre-
ciates and understands the tenets of the orders to which he belongs and is
leading the upright life which they inculcate.


Mi:>re than half a century has passed since John Thompson Kinkade came
to California. He has the honor of being numbered among the '49ers, — those
resolute men of determined purpose and high spirit who came here to seek
a fortune and bent their energies toward the upbuilding of the commonwealth
whose position in the Union is in many respects second to no state that forms
the galaxy of the republic.

He was born in Virginia in Holiday's Cove, on the 24th of January.
1828. and is of Scotch ancestry. During the reign of King James his ances-
tors suffered persecution in Scotland and were banished to the north of Scot-
land, whence representatives of the name came to the new world and aided
in the early settlement of Virginia. They bore their part in the upbuilding


of that colony, and when the yoke of British oppression became intolerable
the grandfather of our subject joined the American army, becoming a valiant
soldier in the war of the Rexolution. For seven years he was at the front
and was with Washington and his army of patriots during the memorable win-
ter at Valley Forge, where they suffered hardships almost indescribable. Mr.
Kinkade held official rank, and lived to enjoy the peace of the republic, his
death occurring in 1847, when he had attained the extreme age of one hundred
and eleven years. His wife was a Miss Taylor, a cousin of Zachary Taylor,
and to their family of nine children John Kinkade, the father of our subject,
belonged. He was born in Virginia on the old homestead which had been
in the familv for generations. In his native state he was educated and mar-
ried IMiss Isabella Adams, wdio belonged to one of the "first families" of the
Old Dominion. Her father, William Adams, also served with distinction in
the Revolutionary war. He was also the captain of a company of ligTit
dragoons in the war of 1812. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Kinkade have been born
three children. Both the father and mother died of yellow fever, the former
at the age of fifty-two and the latter at the age of forty-two.

John Thompson Kinkade, who is the only survivor nf the family, was
then an infant. His uncle, E. Kinkade, was appointed guardian of the chil-
dren and had charge of the estate. Our subject was educated in the schools
of Virginia and in Bethany College, that state, but failing health forced him to
put aside his text-books and he traveled with his uncle through the western
states, after wdiich he resumed his studies in Wesleyan University, at Dela-'
ware. Ohio, where he was graduated in the class of 1844.

Subsequently Mr. Kinkade returned to Virginia and prepared for the
legal profession in Wellsburg. In the fall of 1848 he was admitted to the bar,
and the following year, with a w-ell-armed and equipped company, he crossed
the plains to California. Their thirty wagons were drawn liy oxen, while the
men of the party rode horses and mules. They had numerous fights with the
Indians, but their custom on the journey was to place the w-agons in a circle
at night, then get under them and shoot between the spokes, thus being
enabled to keep the Indians off no matter how numerous they were. They
were all young men, many of them being expert with the rifie, and the savages
soon learned it was safer to let the party alone. They were just four months
in reaching Hangtown, now Placerville,.for they left Missouri on the ist day
of May and on the 31st of August reached their destination.

Like otjiers who had come to California in search of a fortune, Mr. Kin-

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 30 of 108)