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 50 of 108)
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company at this point to the fullest satisfaction of the corporation.

In 1872 he was happily married to Miss Jane McNaughton, a native
of the province of Quebec, Canada, and they now have three children, as
follows: C. H., who is a mining engineer, born in Michigan; Robert, bom
in Nevada, now attending school at Berkeley, California; and Fannie, who
is a student in the same place. Mr. Munro has ever exercised his right of
franchise in support of the men and measures of the Democracy, but aside
from this gives no attention to politics, his entire time being devoted to his
business. He has won a very high and enviable reputation as an honora-
ble and successful merchant of Placer county, and his prosperity is due to
his improvement of his o])p(irtunities. to his keen sagacity and to his inde-
fatigable energy.


That fruitful and healthful Scotch-English ancestry which has done so
much to populate the United States worthily and which has carried success
to every state in the Union, produced James Russell Briggs, of Modesto,
California, one of the best known and most prominent retired farmers of


Stanislaus count}'. Mr. Briggs was born in I'ennsylvania, April 26, 1827,
3. son of John and Mary (Coulterj Briggs. His great-grandfather Briggs
came from England to Pennsylvania at an early date and there Mr. Briggs's
father and grandfather Samuel were born. Samuel Briggs was a soldier of
the Revolutionary war and was with General Washington at Valley Forge.
His mother was of Scotch descent and his father was a successful farmer
and for some years a class-leader in the Methodist Episcopal church. He
died when in his forty-first year, and his widow sur\-ived him to the ripe age
of ninety-eight years. They were the parents of ten children, of whom only
three survi\-e.

James Russell Briggs, the eklest sur\-iving member of his family,
received his early education in the public schools of Pennsyh-ania and was
later a student in public schools in Marion county, Ohio, where his
father remoxed with his family in 1834, when the boy was seven years old.
He had begun life on his own account as a farmer when the Civil war
began, and, inspired by the example of his father, who was a veteran of the
war of 1812, he enlisted in Company D, Sixteenth Illinois Volunteer Infan-
try, which was commanded l)y "Dick" Yates, afterward the celebrated war
g'overnor of Illinois, and was elected its first lieutenani. He fought under
General Sherman in several minor engagements ui Mississippi and Tennes-
see and participated in the five-days fight at Vicksburg. XMiile encamped
with his regiment on the bank of the Yazoo river, he contracted an incura-
ble kidney disease and was honorably discharged from the service by reason
■of disability: and he was injured also by a fragment of a shell which
exploded near him. He has never recovered from the chronic ailment men-
tioned and in consequence of it he is to this day in a sense an invalid. He
had volunteered for three years and had served gallantly for about nine
months, and he deeply regretted his inability to fight longer for the preser-
vation of the Union. After he had partially regained his health, his physi-
cian advised him to go to California, in whose glorious climate it was
hoped he would fully recover, and in 1864 he joined a large party of Cali-
fornia emigrants and crossed the plains with a mule team. They chose the
northern route, which, while it was more dangerous on account of Indians,
afforded more and better feed for their stock than the southern route, and
made the journey without serious adventure, and Mr. Briggs and his wife
and five children pushed on to San Joacjuin county, where they found a
temporary home at Captain Weber's place.

Mr. Briggs began farming on one hundred and sixty acres of land and
as he prospered he bought more land until he owned six hundred acres
adjoining the town of Modesto, which increased in value rapidly as Modesto
grew in wealth and population. The building of the railroad was also an
aid to Mr. Briggs in a financial way, and he eventually sold some of his
land, at one hundred dollars an acre, and more of it at sixty dollars an acre,
and was enabled to retire on a competency to pass his declining years in a
])leasant home at Modesto. He is well known as a member of the Masonic
fraternity, belonging to Santa Cruz Lodge, No. 38, Santa Cruz, California,


and lias been an nnswerving Repnhlican since the organization of that party.
lie has never sought or accepted any pohtical office. His career as a citizen
and as a soldier has sliown him to be a patriotic lover of his country, who
in his life and works has done it honor.

Mr. Briggs was married March 29, 1849, in Crawford county, Ohio,
to IVIiss Elizabeth Bush, and of their children we make the following obser-
vations : Mary Jane is the wife of Reuben Pixley, of San Joaquin county.
Abraham is a resident of Modesto. John lives at Santa Cruz. Kate is the
wife of Charles Rice, of Modesto. Ora married James Sample, of Santa
Rosa. Albert is a member of his father's household in Modesto. After a
happy married life of forty-seven years, Mr. Briggs was bereft of his wife
by death November 28. 1896. His loss is an irreparable one and he refers
to her as lia\-ing been one of the best of women, — such a woman as is
"God's best gift to man."


The life story of Ira Harris, Jr., of ^lodesto, Stanislaus counry. Cali-
fornia, is that of the career of a self-made man, pushing, progressive and
l)atriotic, who has shrunk from no duty and hesitated at no obstacle, a
career of honest industry and a victory worthily won. ^Mr. Harris comes
from Revolutionary stock in both lines of descent, great-grandfathers of both
of his parents having fought for American independence. He was born in
Rhode Island, November 18. 1848. His great-grandfather Harris was an
early settler there, but Jeremiah Harris, grandfather of the subject of this
sketch, and his son Ira Harris, the father of Ira Harris, Jr., were both born in
Massachusetts. Ira Harris married IMiss Fanny Clark, a native of Massa-
chusetts, whose father had fought in the war of 1812, following in the foot-
steps of his patriotic fathers. Ira Harris was a wagon-maker during his active
years. He is still living at the age of eighty-four. His wife died at the age
of seventy-one, having given the work of most of her years to the Baptist
church. They were the parents of six children, four of whom are living.

\\'hen the subject of this sketch had attained his fifteenth year, the strug-
gle between the north and south was at its height and the need of more vol-
unteers to put down the slave-holders' rebellion was pressing. The boy had
inherited warlike blood, the demands of which would not be denied, and July
15. 1863, he entered the United States Navy, on board the frigate Ironsides.
He was on duty at the capture of Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg, helped to
silence the Cummings battery on Morris Island and assisted to batter down
Fort Sumter and partici])ated in the operations against Fort Moultrie and
other fortifications on Sullivan's Island. He was in the service about a year
all told, and received a slight injury from a fragment of a shell and another
from an iron lever attached to one of the guns on the Ironsides. He was hon-
orably discharged at Philadelphia, and returning to his home devoted himself
to acquiring a practical knowledge of the carriage-maker's and blacksmith's
trades in his father's shop. He went to Colorado in the fall of 1879 and from


there to San Francisco, California, in 1S83. Six months later he came to
Modesto, where for four years he was employed by Air. Englehart and for a
year afterward by Mr. Harter. In 1889 he opened a shop on his own account,
which he has since managed successfully, giving attention to carriage-making,
ironing and repairing and to general blacksmithing. making a specialty of
repairing all kinds of machinery. He has prospereil satisfactoritly and has
acquired considerable town property. He is an influential citizen and is iden-
tified with the orders of the Druids and the Artisans, and is a Mason, a member
of blue lodge and chapter, and is a past commander of the local post of the
Grand Army of the Republic. In 1899 Mr. Harris was elected by the citizens
of the town as one of the city trustees, in which position he is earnestly labor-
ing to administer justice to all.

Mr. Harris w'as married in 1869 t(.) Mary Muhlholland, of Irish ancestry
and a native of the state of Rhode Island, and the union has been blessed
l)y the advent of eight children. Their eldest son William, following in the
footsteps of his father and his ancestors, gave his services to his country as a
member of Campany D, of the Si.xth California Regiment, in the Spanish war.
The other children are named Emma Agnes, Fanny, Alary, Ellen, Josephine,
George and Genever. ,

Mr. Harris's brother, Thomas E. Harris, also served in the United
States Navy during the Ci\-il war and he also achieved a record of which
he had a right to be proud. Four of Mr. Flarris's uncles, — Jeremiah, William,
Abel and Oran Harris, — served in the Union army during the rebellion and
two of them gave their lives in defense of their country.


Sons of the Emerald Isle have made their mark in California in every
field of human endeavor and in every generation since civilization began
there, and \-enturesome and enterprising Irishmen were numerous during
the days of the gold excitement. One of those who came in 1853 was Ber-
nard Sheridan, long a respected resident of Mokelumne Hill. Mr. Sheridan
was a son of James and Briclget (Comeskey) Sheridan, natives of Ireland
and devout members of the Catholic church. They v.^ere farmers, not faring
very well in their native land, and they decided to seek better fortune in
America; and their children all came to the United States at different times.
Bernard, who was born in county Cavan, September 12, 1830, came in 1842,
when he was twelve years old, sailing in the Olive Branch from Drohady
to Boston. He fell in with one Captain Brook and was employed by him
to do chores about his place, and performed his duties so faithfully that he
was a member of the Captain's household for eleven vears. until 1853, when
he came to California.

He sailed from Boston on the John L. Stephens, which landed him at
Aspinwall. He crossed the isthmus and secured passage for San Francisco,
where he arrived November 20. From there he soon went to Sacramento,
where he found work at planking the streets, at seventy-five dollars a month
and board. He went from Sacramento to fackson, Amador couniv, anil


mined on the Middle Fork creek, with only moderate success. After a short
stop at Jackson he mined at different camps on the Mokelumne river until
1856, when he settled at Mokelumne Hill, where he entered the employ-
ment of the Mokelumne and Campo Seco Canal & Mining Company, in which
he continued until 1899, — a period of forty-two years, — when he met with
an accident which disabled him somewhat and caused him to retire from
active work. Soon after he came to Mokelumne Hill he bought a building
lot, which he subsequently planted with trees, vines and shrubs and on which
he has established a pleasant cottage home, where he is literally passing his
declining years "under his own vine and fig-tree." In i860 he voted for
Stephen A. Douglas, the great war Democrat, but he voted for Lincoln in
1864 and has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since.

In 1 85 1 Mr. Sheridan marrietl Miss Catherine Blake, a comely Irish
girl born in his own county Cavan. He sent for her and she came out to
him in 1855 and five children were born to them in California: James, of
San Francisco; Alaria, who died at the age of twenty-four; Kate, who mar-
ried Robert Randall and lives at Warner Creek; Rose, who is now her
father's housekeeper; and Frank, who is a' member of his father's household.
Mrs. Sheridan died in 1869, in the thirty-eighth year of her age, and is
remembered by husband and children as a faithful w'ife and devoted mother.
Mr. Sheridan has always mourned her death and has tried to rear their
children as nearly as possible as he believed she w^ould have done. His life
has been an honest and industrious one and he is respected not only as a
good citizen Ijut as a pioneer who has gi\en his years to the development
of the interests of his adopted state.


John T. Morgan is the ca.shier of the Citizens' Bank of Nevada City, a
leading and reliable business man who has been prominently identified with
the .growth and prosperity of this favored section of California since 1853.
He is a native of the old world, his birth having occurred in the little
rock-ribbed country of Wales, on the J4th of June, 1830. On both sides he
represents families that for many generations had resided in that land. His
parents w'ere John and Rachel (Thomas) Morgan, the former born in 1785.
the latter in 1787. 'Uliey had nine children. John T. being the eighth in
order of birth. The father died Alarch 27, {859, and the mother passed
away on the 27th of March. 1865.

Mr. ^Morgan, of this review, was reared and educated in the land of his
nativity and at the of fourteen entered ui)on an apprenticeship at the
blacksmith's trade, which he followed for many years. In 1851 he bade
adieu to home and friends and crossed the Atlantic to the new world, mak-
ing his first location in Milwaukee, \\'isconsin. Subsequently he removed
to Dodgeville. Iowa county, that state, where he followed his trade until
1852. when, attracted by the discovery of gold in California and other sec-
tions of the Pacific coast, he crossed the plains and after a long and tedious


journey of six montlis reached his destination. He first went to Volcano
Bar, Middle Fork of American river, where he located for a few months.
He then visited what is now A^ew Castle, Placer county, but again returned
to Volcano Bar. In the fall of 1853 he came to Nevada City, since which
time he has been identified with the various interests of this section of the
state. In 1871 he was elected county assessor, serving for four years, and
since 1876 he has occupied his present position in connection with the Citi-
zens' National Bank. The success of the institution is largely due to his
efforts. He is thoroughly familiar with the banking business in all of its
departments, and his conservative methods and keen discernment in busi-
ness affairs have placed the bank on a substantial basis that has secured to
it a large patronage. During his residence in Nevada county he has also
made judicious in\-estments in mining property and his incume is materially
increased thereby.

In this county, on the 20th of June, 1857, Mr. ^Morgan was united in
marriage to iliss Elizabeth J. Eddy, a lady of English birth, who accom-
panied her parents to Pennsylvania in 1849. The father died in the Key-
stone state, but the family came to California in 1857. Mr. and Mrs. Mor-
gan are the parents of ten children, seven of whom are living, as follows :
Da\id E. : Gracie A., now the wife of F. T. Nilon; Rachel J.; Edward J.;
Frank F. : Aha N. : Bessie C. ; Grace and Rachel, who are deceased; and
William I'., who died in 1893, at the age of thirty-one years. The family
are consistent members of the Methodist Episcopal church.

In politics Mr. Morgan is a Republican, and socialh- he is affiliated
with the ]\Iasonic order, belonging to lodge, chapter and commandery, and
with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, holding membership in both
sulxirdinate lodge and encampment. He has filled many offices in both fra-
ternities and for many years has been the treasurer of the former. He has
twice visited his native land, the second time in 1893, and amid the associa-
tions of boyhood and the friends of his jxiuth he spent many pleasant hours.
He has, however, greater love for the land of his adoption, with its bound-
less opportunities, its great liberties and its principles of republicanism. He
is most true and faithful to all that is best in our American go\'ernment,
and his loyalt_\- is ecpial to that of California's native sons.


George Washington Towle. of the firm of Towie Brothers, Towle. Pla-
cer county, California, is the only survivor of the three brothers who estab-
lished the above named firm and who built up the largest and most success-
ful lumber-manufacturing business in northern California.

Mr. Towle was born in Corinth, Orange county. Vermont. February
2, 1836, of W'elsh ancestry who settled in Londonderry, New Hampshire,
at a very early day and were identified with the early history of that town
and later with that of the colonies. Grandfather Brocket Towle served
tln-oiigh the Revolution, comini^- out with the rank of colonel, and after the


uar settled on land in Orange county, X'ermont. There Ira Towle, the
father of George \\'., was born and spent his life, and the property is still
in the possession of the family. Ira Towle married Miss Annie Doe, and
the following named children were born to them: Edwin \\.; Allen; George
\V. ; Mrs. J. H. Robie, of Aubtn-n, California: and ]^Irs. Henry Rubie. of
Lincoln, Placer county. The father died in the fifty-ninth year of his age;
the mother in her seventieth year.

George \\". Towle received a public-school and academic education in
his native state, and until he was past twenty-one his life was passed on his
father's farm. Then, in 1857, he came to California, making the journey by
way of tiie isthmus of Panama. His brother Allen was already here, located
at Dutch Flat, having come the year before, and the next two years the
brothers worked together, mining for wages at the rate of three dollars and
fifty cents per day. In 1859 the third brother, Edwin \\., joined them and
shortly afterward the brothers became associated together in the sawmill
business, an association which was formed under the name of Towle Broth-
ers, and which firm style is still used, though two of the brothers are
deceased. Constant industry and honorable and upright business methods
brought phenomenal success to the company. July 14, 1889, it was incor-
porated, and to-day the Towle Brothers, recognized as the largest concern
of its kind in California, ships its products to all parts of this state, to vari-
ous points in the east and to Europe. Their first mill, built in 1859 at Blue
Canyon, had an upright saw and a capacity of about foiu' thousand feet of
lumber. The product was sold at good prices to the miners, but as mining
at that point proved a failure the lumber was never paid for. Afterward
they bought a mill at Dutch Flat, with a capacity of ten thousand feet of
lumber jier day, and equipped with a circular .saw. This mill was abandoned
after the timber in its vicinity had been cut. Here it was, however, that
the success of the company l)egan. Their next mill they built on the creek
about where Towle now stands, it being known as the Kersage mill and hav-
ing a capacity of twenty thousand feet of lumber per day. Subsequently
they built a mill at Cisco and two at Donner Lake, the three having a capa-
city of about seventy-five thousand feet, the product from same being used
in railroad construction. The Canyon Creek mill, with a capacity of thirty
thousand feet per day, was the next mill erected by the company. They
took a contract for and built thirty-five miles of railroad for the Southern
Pacific Railroad Company, from Towle to within three miles of Washing-
ton, Xe\ada county, having during the period of construction five sawmills
along the line. They now have two sawmills in the Texas district and they
manufacture as high as fifteen million feet of lumber jier season: also they
manufacture doors, sash, blinds and mouldings of all kinds, and they ha\e
a box factory at Towle and one at Sacramento. From time to time they
liave acquired large tracts of land. Recently they .sold eighteen thousand
acres of land for grazing and mining purposes, and at this writing they
have eight thousand acres of timber land. They have nine lumber yards in
Placer and Nevada counties. The town of Towle was named in lionor of


tliem and to tlieni owes nnicli of the prosperity wliich it enjoys, they hav-
ing erected good residences and a first-class hotel, and also having estah-
lished a mercantile business, which they are conducting.

Edwin W. Towle died in 1888, leaving a widow and two children,
Arthur and Edwin, who reside in Oakland. Arthur is a member of the firm
of Towle Brothers. Allen Towle died in 1896. His children are: G. G.,
a ])artner in the above named business; Ora, now ]\Irs. Stevenson; and Aline
and Sadie. (Jeorge W. Towle was married, in 1874, to ^liss F. A. Staples,
l.)y whom tw'i) children were born, both now deceased.

Fur the past thirty years Mr. Towle has been a member of the I. O. O.
F., and politically he is a Republican. Throughout his long and success-
ful business career he has maintained a reputation for integrity and honor,
a reputation in which his brothers shared.


Scotch and German blood has always produced gootl pioneers. The
ancestors of Samuel L. Prindle, one of the most prominent citizens of Mokel-
umne Hill, Calaveras county, California, were of such stock and settled
early in Xew England. Nelson Prindle married Lydia Everett, a member
of the prominent family of Everett, of which the Hon. Edward' Everett
was a representative, and was an early settler in Ohio, where he became an
extensive land-owner. Samuel L. Prindle was born at Girard, Trumbull
county, Ohio, June 7, 1823, and w'as there educated and made a fair start
in life. February 12, 1849. he sailed for Aspinwall on the brig IMay, com-
manded by Captain Hayes, and after a long delay at Panama he obtained
passage on the steamshii) i'auama for San Francisco, wdiere he arrived in
August, 1849, with the party known as the Gordon company. From San
Francisco he went to the mines at Downieville, and from there he went to
Calaveras county, in 185 1, to mine at Big Bar, on the Mokelumne river,
where he says he and four others took out half an ounce each in a day and
at the end of a week had two hundred and sevent3 - five dollars to dixide
among them. After that he mined at other places and eventually was
appointed collector at Campo Seco for the Mokelumne & Campo Seco Canal
& Mining Company and was later collector at Buckeye; and in 1862 he was
elected the secretary and general manager of the company and became an
active factor in its important operations and filled the position ably until his
death. He served for several years as a member of the board of su|3er\isors
of Calaveras county and in that Ofiice was influential in bringing Calaveras
county from a state of virtual bankruptcy to a sound financial basis, and
for that achievement was given a warni place in the memory of his fellow

Mr. Prindle was married February, 1863, to Miss Xancy M. X'cwhall,
a native of Washington, INIaine, a daughter of William Xewhall and a rela-
tive of George Peabody. a banker and philanthropist of Massachusetts.
^Irs. Prindle, who came to California in 1862, bore her husband four chil-


dren : Charles Everett, of r^Iokelumne Hill; William Xewhall, now in the
state of Washington; Ira Nelson, of Rich Gulch, Calaveras county; and
Alice Augusta, who married Joseph Dell' "Orto. Mr. Prindle was long a
prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and always
connected himself with any movement which he believed would benefit the
people of Calaveras county. He prospered in life and left a fine property to
his familv. including Buena Vista ranch, which is given up partially to fruit
of different varieties, including raisin grapes, and which is the home of ^Irs.

Charles Everett Prindle was born December i, 1864, and at his father's
death, January i, 1889, took his place as the secretary and manager of the
Mokelumne and Campo Seco Canal & Alining Company, which owns one
hundred and sixty-five miles of ditch pipe and all the water of the Mokelumne
river and its branches. The construction of its works was begun in 1856
and it has since sold water for mining and domestic purposes; and in this
way and for the admirable motive power which it supplies the enterprise is

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 50 of 108)