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 41 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 41 of 108)
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of eminence in business circles. In all that he has undertaken through his
long career he has met with success, owing to his careful direction and per-
severance and his keen discernment. He commands the respect of his fellow
men by reason of his upright life, and Nevada county numbers him among its
\alued citizens.


L'nder the blue skies of Italy Carlo Soracco first opened his eyes to
the light of day, his birthplace being near Genoa, on the 21st of December,
1840. He acquired his early education in his native land and in 1855, when
only fifteen years of age, crossed the Atlantic to New York and then made
his way to San Francisco. He had a capital of only about one hundred dol-
lars and was ignorant of the language and customs of 'the people, but he
readily adapted himself to his new surroundings and soon mastered the Eng-
lish language. From the Pacific port he made his way to Sierra county,
where resided his brother Frank, who had come to California in 1850.
There JNIr. Soracco engaged in placer-mining, continuously following that
pursuit for ten years with the usual experiences of those wdio devote their


energies to searching for gold. Sometimes lie made money rapidly and again
was very unsnccessful. hut. ha\ing ac(|nired some capital, he turned his at-
tention to merchandising, in 1869 establishing a store in Sutter Creek, where
he had a small stock of goods. By close attention to business and honorable
dealing he built up an excellent trade, thus meeting with well earned suc-
cess, l^e now owns a large business block on Main street, one hundred and
six feet front, and in the building he carries a large, well assorted and com-
plete stock of general merchandise, the sale of which brings to him an ex-
cellent income. In addition to this property he owns nine dwelling houses
in the town of Sutter Creek, which stand as monuments to his thrift and

In 1S71 Mr. Soracco was married to ]\Iiss Johanna Binchieti, a native
of the Empire state but of Italian ancestry. They now have five children:
Peiter. who is studying medicine in San Francisco, in the medical depart-
ment <»f the University of California; Frank and Lawrence, who are in busi-
ness with their father: and Katie and Lena, who are still at their parental
home. The parents and children are all members of the Catholic church
and are highly esteemed as worthy citizens of the town in which Mr. Soracco
lias long be.^n known as a most reliable merchant. He exercises his right
of franchise in support of the men and measures of the Democratic party,
though he has never sought political preferment. Dependent entirely upon
his own resources since the age of fifteen years, and with the additional
obstacle of having to learn a new language and business principles, he has
steadily worked his way upward, and his example should serve as a source
of inspiration and encouragement to men who. like himself, are forced to
enter njxin a business career without capital or influential friends.


This prominent citizen of Dutch Flat came to California in 1849, arriving
in San Francisco July 28. He was lx)rn in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on the
banks of Red river. June i r. 1831, and is of Scotch descent. His grandfather,
William Ferguson, emigrated from Scotland and located in Chesterfield cmmty,
Virginia, on a farm adjoining the one on which George Washington was born.
(leneral Ferguson, who was killed during the Revolution, was our subject's
great-uncle. Mr. Ferguson's father. \\'illiam Ferguson, was born on the Vir-
ginia iarm. where the grandfather had settled. He married Miss Marsalete
LaFever. daughter of August LaFever. who fought under Jackson at the
battle of Xew Orleans and was also L'nited States Indian agent for some time.
This union was blessed with six children, five of whom are living.

In 1849 the family started for California. \\'hile on the isthmus of
Panama the father was stricken with cholera and died, at the age of fifty-two
years. He was buried there and the distressed family were compelled to make
the journey t<i California without the aid and protection of the husband and
father. Mr. Ferguson, then eighteen years of age. made the coffin in which his
father was buried. This was the first American familv that crossed the isth-


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mus. To ^Ir. Ferguson's knowledge tliere are but few survivors of that peril-
ous journey. The company numbered ninety-two; of this number five are
living, Mr. Ferguson, his three sisters and one brother. His mother lived
to be eighty-four years of age and is buried at Fresno, California.

After his arrival in San Francisco, Mr. Ferguson mined and did carpen-
ter work. Later he, with a company of sixty, mined on the Mokelumne river
and when settlement was made received five thousand dollars as his share of the
profits. He then turned his attention to farming, but soon became interested
again in mining and was thus occupied at W'oolsey's Flat, in Nevada county.
He was later a second superintendent of a mining claim, at a salary of six
dollars per day. In 1862 he came to Dutch Flat, where he has been engaged
in mining for many years. He has been deputy sheriff and constable. As an
undertaker he has met with satisfactory success. At present Mr. "Ferguson
is the owner of a number of buildings, the large opera-house at Dutch Flat
being among them. He is a trustee of the public schools and takes an interest
in everything designed to benefit his town and is liberal, public-spirited and
esteemed as a citizen.

November 28, 1865, Mr. Ferguson was married to Mary Eliza DuFour,
who was born in New York city in 1848. She was the daughter of Antoine Du-
Four, who came to San Francisco in 1854 and to Dutch Flat in 1857. Mr. and
Mrs. Ferguson have had ten children, only three of whom are living : Mary
Hellena, the widow of William Niles ; Lucy Lucretia and Alice Arabella. His
son-in-law, William Niles, died in Alaska. The Knights of Pythias packed
his body sixty miles and Mr. Ferguson had it interred at Dutch Flat.

Mr. Ferguson is a veteran Odd Fellow, having joined the order November
19, 1856, and has passed all the chairs in both branches. He is now (1900) the
grand guardian of the grand lodge of the state. In other orders, K. of P.,
Improved Order of Red Men, A. O. U. \Y.. he has filled all the chairs. Polit-
ically he is a stanch Republican. Mr. Ferguson's parents were among the
country's early defenders ; his father fought under General Harrison at Tippe-
canoe and his mother cast bullets which were used in the battle of New Orleans.
As a patriot Mr. Ferguson enlisted in the L alifinnia Volunteer Infantry and
served over a year in the state, receiving an In m. .ralile discharge, and now con-
siders it his high honor to be a veteran of the Grand Army.


In the successful h(_itel pniprietor there are always certain elements
which distinguish him from the business man in other walks of life. He
must be a good judge of men, wide-awake and alert in his dealings and at
the same time a courteous and diligent host who carefully looks after the
comforts of his guests. The possession of these characteristics have made
Mr. Stoakes widelv and fa\-orablv known as the proprietor of the Mountain
View Hotel, of Colfax.

California had lieen admitted to the Union scarcely three years when
he arrived within her borders. He is a native of Indiana, born March 31,


it<47. "f English lineatjc. J lis father, Clements Stoakes, was a native of
Goshen. Indiana, and a prominent lawyer of that state. He married Lu-
cinda E. Griftin. wlio also was horn in the same state, and lier first child
was loiin Lawrence, who was only a year old when his father died. After
the death of her hushand \Irs. Stoakes renewed her acquaintance througli
a correspondence with .Asa \\'. Danforth. an old friend of the family, who
had come to California in 1849. Subseciuently she promised him her hand
in marriage and Mr. Danforth sent for her and her little son to come to the
GoUlen state. In Sacramento Mrs. Stoakes became Mrs. Danforth. This
was four years after the death of her first liusband, and John Lawrence
Stoakes was then only five years of age. Three daughters were born of the
second union. — Henrietta and Helen, twins, and Elizabeth. Helen became
the wife of Georsje Hackett and is now a widow livinjj in Hanford. Tulare
county. California. Henrietta married Thomas P. Shade and after his
death became the wife of Charles Casmore, their home being now at Forest
City. Elizabeth has for the past si.xteen years been a successful and promi-
nent teacher in the schools of Truckee. California. The mother is still liv-
ing, in the seventy-second year of her age, making her home at Gold Run.
She is respected by all who know her as a most estimalile lady and a worthy
representative of a pioneer family of the state. Mr. Danforth, who was
one of the first to locate in California after the discovery of gold, passed
away at Gold Run.

John L. Stoakes acquired his education in Todd's \'alley, where his
stepfather conducted a hotel, for at that time the place was a large mining
camp and great quantities of gold were being taken from the various claims
in the locality. After the camp began to decline they removed to the lower
end of the American Bar. on the American river, and later to Michigan
Bluff. In 1865 Mr. Stoakes, then seventeen years of age, started out to
make his own way in the world alone. He came to Colfax and entered the
employ of the Central Pacific Railroad Company, acting as one of the rods-
men with a gang of the company's surveyors. Later he became foreman
of a gang of construction workmen on the road between Auburn and Emi-
grant Gap, and when that time had passed he engaged in mining at Gold
Run for a number of years. Subsequently he went to the Mayflower mine
and purchased the store and hotel there, conducting the dual enterprise with
gratifying success for a number of years. In Oregon he had charge of
workmen engaged in the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad and
became engaged in the hotel business at Silverton, Marion county, Oregon.
On selling that property he returned to California and accepted the position
of foreman on the work train from Sacramento to Truckee. In 1893 lie pur-
chased the Mountain View Hotel at Colfax, wliich has since been conducted
by Mr. Stoakes and his estimable wife. The hotel is a three-story building,
thirty by one hundred feet. The rooms are well lighted and ventilated and
arc tastefully furnished. Everything about the place is clean and attractive
and the guests are treated with the highest consideration.

Mr. Stoakes was happily married in Dutch Flat, in 1876, to Mrs. .Vnna


Laella Brown, who by her former marriage had a son and a daughter, —
Richard D. and LiUian r\lay Brown. They were well and carefully reared
b\ ]\Ir. and Mrs. Stoakes, who by their marriage have one daughter, Alice
Mabel, at home with her parents. They are also rearing a bright little grand-
son, Lawrence De Young Brown. The little boy was born on Christmas day,
and i\Ir. De Young had promised a silver cup to all the children born on
the 25th of December. The little one accordingly received the cup and they
gave him JNIr. De Young's name. He now has a pleasant home with his
grandparents, who are very devoted to the little fellow. Mr. Stoakes is a
Mason, an Odd Fellow and a Knight of Pythias, and is also identified with
the Ancient Order of United Workmen. For many years he gave an
unfaltering support to the Republican party, but is now independent in his
political atifiliations. His wife is a lady of excellent executive ability and
has given him \-ery eflicient aid in his hotel business,


William Charles Conroy is the owner and manager of the Conroy Hotel
at Auburn. Few cities of its size afford as elegant hotel accommodations
as does the house of which our subject is proprietor. Perhaps no other busi-
ness interest so clearly demonstrates the standing of a town or ciiy as does
the hotel. The enterprise and industr\- of its commercial life is indicated here.
for the traveling public who ]ia\e ti 1 ilo with its commercial affairs demand
certain qualities of entertainment. Metropolitan in its appointments, perfect
in its equipments and conveniences, and supplied with many luxuries that
add to the comforts of its guests, the Conroy Hotel has found favor with
the public and is accorded a very liberal patronage.

Its proprietor is a native son of California, his birth having occiu-red in
the city of Sacramento, and the 2d of March, 1857. His father, Michael
Conroy, was born in county Mayo, Ireland, and was married there to Miss
Ella Mvu'phy, a native of county Limerick, Before leaving the Emerald Isle
this worthy couple became the parents of a daughter who is now Mrs. William
H. Harrison, of El Paso, Texas. Crossing the Atlantic to the United
States, the father served as a railroad fireman for three years in the east and
then came to California, making the trip by way of the isthmus and arriving
in San Francisco in 1856. He engaged in placer-mining and also .secured a
ranch whereon he devoted his energies in the cultivation of the ground. Sub-
sequently he resided for a time in Rocklin, then he removed to Pine Grove.
In 1866 he came to Auburn, w^here he spent his remaining days, his death
occurring on the 6th of June, 1878. His wife and three children born in
California all survive him and are residents of AAuburn. Ella is now the wife
of John Davis; Mary, the wife of William H. Harrison; and William C. is the
only son in the family.

In taking up the personal history of \\'illiam C. Conroy, we presciU tn unr
readers the life of one wdio is widely and favorably known in California. He
was nine years of age when his parents came to Auburn and in the public


schools he pursueil his education. He entered upon an independent business
career as a baggage master and freight agent in the employ of the railroad
and was thus engaged for thirteen years. In 1890 he was placed upon the
Democratic ticket as a candidate for sheriff of the county, and the election
returns showed he was triumphant in his race. He was three times elected
and filled that important position with marked ability for eight years. He
discharged his duties without fear or favor, performing his services in behalf
of justice, and at all times winning the commendation of the law-abiding
citizens. He was very successful in capturing and bringing to justice many
high-handed and dangerous criminals and was the means of ridding the county
of an element that long threatened the safety of life and property. While
he was feared by men who have little regard for the law, he was, with the
majority, a most popular and capable ofiicial. He now has in his possession
a large and interesting collection of weapons and tools taken from criminals
whom he arrested, indicating something of the desperate character of the
crimes committed.

After his retirement from ofticc Mr. Conrov ])urchased the hotel, remod-
eled, refitted and refurnished it in the. most modern style, making it one of the
best houses in the county, a credit to the owner aiwl to the city in which
it is located. He does everything in his jxjwer for the comfort and convenience
of his guests and has a large and remunerative patronagje. The building is
eighty by one hundred feet in dimensions and contains forty-two sleeping-
rooms, a fine large office, a beautiful parlor and a commodious dining-room
which is supplied with all the delicacies of the season, rendering this a first-
class hotel. In connection he also has mining interests and is widely recog-
nized as one of Auburn's enterprising business men.

In 1880 Mr. Conro}- was hapjjily married to Miss Ella Peacock, of Eldor-
ado county. They now have three children, — Walter. Grover and William.
Mr. Conroy is a gentleman of social disposition and lielongs to the Independ-
ent Order oi Odd Fellows, — in which he has also taken the Reliekah degree. —
the Red Men, the Ancient Order of Foresters and the Independent Order of
Foresters. He is also affiliated with the Native Sons of the Golden West.
Mr. Conroy has made good use of his opportunities. He has prospered from
year to year, but has conducted all business matters carefully and successfully
and in all his acts displays an aptitude for successful management. He has
not permitted the accumulation of a handsome competence to aflfect in any way
his actions toward those less successful than he. and he always has a cheerful
W(jrd and pleasant smile for those with whom ho comes in contact.


William Bingham Kcycs is the name of a prominent pioneer settler of
.Angel's Camp. Calaveras county. California, the owner of much valuable min-
ing ])roperty and one of the best known citizens of his section of country.

Mr. Keyes was born in Genesee county, Xew "S'ork, on January 2^. 1828,
of Scotch and Cierman ancestrv, who had made settlement in America long


before the Revolutionary war. His father was Luman Keyes, a native of
Massachusetts whq had been a soldier in the war of 1812, and his mother was
Nancy (Daily) Keyes, a native of Pennsylvania. The famil}- removed to
South Bend. Indiana, when our subject was but three years of age, in 1831,
being pioneer settlers of that section. Nine children were born to Mr. and
Mrs. Keyes, but at present there are but two survivors. At the age .of eigh-
ty-one years Mr. Keyes died, after a life of honest and perse\-ering industry,
but Mrs. Keyes had passed away in her seventy-sixth year.

William Keyes was reared on the farm in Indiana, working through the
summers and going to school for three months in the winter until old enough to
learn the carpenter's trade, at which he employed himself until the gold fever
attacked him. He was in ])iiiir health and his physician favored his plan cf
journeying to California ; hence, when Captain Elsworth, a friend of his
father, sailed for San h'rancisco, with his small merchant vessel and twenty-
six passengers, Mr. Keyes was one of them. The voyage was a long and
tedious one, with no accident except the sad death of one of the passengers.
Charles Green by name. Burial was made at sea and the vessel pursued her
way, finally safely reaching her destination.

Mr. Keyes first went to San Francisco, thence to Hangtown, now Placer-
ville, and began mining at Cedar river, toward the southern part of the state,
using first a pan. and later a rocker. He met with very fair success wdiich,
in part, he ascribes to his perseverance. His partner became very homesick,
so much so that he went to bed, but Mr. Keyes went to work and in less than
an hour had a pan of dirt worth three dollars which he took within to show to
his sick partner. In a short time he returned to the tent with a nugget worth
$48, and this was all the spur needed, chasing away homesickness from the
young man and causing him to go to work with as much interest as Mr.
Keyes. Success attended them, the largest day's work of Mr. Keyes' being
sixteen ounces of gold. After four months labor, they found themselves in
possession of seven thousand dollars in gold.

Mr. Keyes has mined on Ranchero creek, in Amador county, and in
1856-57 he tried the reputed rich mining region of the Fraser river, but that
proved a failure, and he returned to Sutter creek. Amador county, and engaged
in a partnership with William Smith. They had there a rich claim, taking out
from nine to ten ounces a day. From there he went to Walker river, which sec-
tion was the scene of much excitement, in 1859, but his success here was
indifferent and they started for Green River, and were turned back by the
Indians, wlio chased them for four days, cutting them off from all proxisions
and water and for forty-eight hours they were without a mouthfullo eat or
drink. I'hey made their way to Salt Lake and after a week's stay they pro-
ceeded to Virginia City, Nevada. Here he was taken sick and returned to
Sutter creek, and worked in the Eureka mine for Haywood for two years and
then kept a hotel at Cold Springs on Amadcir road to Silver mountain, which
Avas a failure and caused Mr. Keyes to lose all he had, and went from thence
to Angel's Camp, in 1865, where he has since made his home, mining and work-
ing at his trade.


Mr. Kcvcs took up a (|uartz and placer mining claim of twent}- acres
adjoining the town, in a fine locality, built a fine residence on it with his own
hands, planted trees and made improvements until he now has a most pleasant
home in which to pass his declining years. He has constructed many of the
houses and mills of the Hourishing mining town of Angel's Camp and in 1866,
in i)artnership with Mr. Louis McCiaffy. George King-, O. B. Kelly, Dr. O.
I*. Southwell and ]\Ir. Leeper, he located the famous Utica mine, selling it in
1884 to Lane and Company for ten thousand dollars. It has proved one of the
finest mines in the state and much of the growth of Anel's Camp is due to this
mine. Mr. Keyes then spent some time in Tulare county, where he had charge
of a large tract of land upon which he put down the first test artesian well in
that county. It was located on the line of Kern and Tulare counties and was
six: hundred and forty feet deep, with a flow of nine inches of water over an
eight-inch pipe. Two years were spent here, and then he returned to Angel's
Camp, making, however, a trip through Oregon, and Idaho, to see the country.
He is one of the proprietors of the Eureka Consolidated Mining Company at
Jennie Lind, who owns one hundred acres of (luartz land, the owners being
Keyes, Collins and Hoffman.

Mr. Keyes was married January 23. 1867, to Miss Mary A. Lindsey,
a native of Boston, Massachusetts. She was a daughter of Thomas Lindsey. a
pioneer who died at Angel's Camp at the age of seventy-five years. Mr. and
Mrs. Keyes have one child, Eva, who is now the wife of James Barney. Since
the organization of the Republican party he has been an ardent Republican,
casting iiis first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and stanchly upholding the prin-
ciples of that organization. Honesty and integrity have marked the career
of Mr. Keyes through life, and he considers the following of the (ioldeu
Rule a sufficient moral law, free from creed.


As we look back over the life record of John B. Linn we note there
are many elements in his character worthy of emulation, and from the time
he came to California as one of its pioneers in 1852 until his death he ever
merited the high regard of those with whom he was associated. He was
born in Mansfield, Ohio, on the 9th of August, 1825, and was of Scotch

Attracted by the discovery of gold in California, he made the long and
arduous journey across the hot and arid plains with oxen, and the company
with which he traveled suffered both from smallpox and cholera: but he
was fortunate enough to escape both. The train was a large one and there-
fore was not attacked by the bands of hostile Indians who rendered life very
insecure \o many of the western iiilgrims who journeyed toward the Mecca
nf their hopes in California. While on their way a man and his wife died,
leaving his two little girls, and Mr. Linn and his three companions brought the
little ones to California and secured for them homes in Placerville. This
is but one of the many indications that might be given of his kindness of


heart and liis broad human sympatliy. He first engaged in mining at Placer-
ville, but after a short time secured work at driving oxen used in liauling
logs. After four years spent in California, in which his labors brought to
him an excellent money return, he again went to the east by way of the
water route to visit his friends and relatives there. During his stay he was
happily married, on the 12th of April, 1857, to Miss Kate M. Park, a daugh-
ter of William Park, of Ohio, who resided six miles from Tiffin. Two weeks
after the wedding the young couple started for Caifornia. Thev made their
way over the Atlantic waters, crossed the isthmus of Panama to tlie Pacific
ocean and proceeded up the coast to San Francisco.

They then continued their journey to Jackson, Amador county, where
Mr. Linn again engaged in mining, but soon after resumed his old occupa-

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 41 of 108)