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 61 of 108)
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for a few months, but afterward established a mercantile store at Clinton,
Amador county, where he continued to cany on a successful business up to the
time of his death, which occurred September 24, 1863, in the fifty-fourth
3'ear of his age. His good wife, surviving him for a decade, departed this life
on the 17th of March, 1873, at the age of sixty-six years. Their other son,
Sylvester G. Spagnoli, is now the treasurer of Amador county.

Air. Spagnoli, whose name introduces this review, obtained his literary
education in Italy and in France, and pursued his law studies under the direc-
tion of Judge R. AI. Briggs and United States Senator J. T. Farley. He
has always been an active advocate of Democratic principles and on the ticket
of the iiarty was elected clerk and recorder of Amador county in 1869, filling
tlie ])osition for two years. Later he was admitted to practice law in the
district courts, the supreme court of the state and in the United States district
court, and in 1895 was licensed to practice before the supreme court of the
United States. The same year he had the honor of being appointed by Presi-
dent Cleveland to the position of United States consul at the city of Milan,
in the kingdom of Italy, and served his country in that capacity in a most
creditable manner for three years. On the expiration of that period he
returned to California and resumed the practice of law in Jackson, where he
now has a large and distinctively representative clientage. At the bar he has
won great honor by reasoii of his snperinr ability, his close application to his
business, his devotion to his clients' interests and the able manner in which
he handles his cases. His keen analytical power enables him to determine
easily the important points in the suit and these he presents in a forceful
manner to judge and jury.

In 1889 Mr. Spagnoli was united in marriage to Aliss Rose Isabella
Bryan, a native of Penobscot, Maine. To them were born five sons and a
daughter, but only two of the sons are now living: Sylvester Nelson D.. who
was born in San Francisco, served as United States vice consul to Italy during
his father's term and is now reading law in his father's ofifice: and the other
son, Urbano G. D., is a graduate of the School of Pharmacy of California, at
San Francisco. The mother died on the 8th of August. 1874, and in 1881 Mr.
Spagnoli was joined in wedlock to Miss Ida B. Kerr, a daughter of Professor
A. \V. Kerr, a prominent educator of this state. Their marriage has been
blessed with a son and daughter, — Ernest B. D. and Roma \"enetia, — both
attending school.

Mr. Spagnoli has nnt only been a successful law jiractitinner but has
also made profitable in\estnicnts in mining and other prnjierty interests. He


owns consideralile stock in large quartz mines, lias ti\e hundred acres of min-
ing and agricultural lands, and is the proprietor of a drug store in Jackson,
wliich business is now carried on Iw liis son Urhano. He also built and owns the
Spagnoli block building, opposite the court-house at the county seat. His
residence is one of the most tasteful and attractive homes in Jackson and he
enjoys the warm regard of a host of friends. Mr. Spagnoli is one of the
oldest representati\es of the ]Masonic fraternity in the county. He received
tiie sublime degree of Master Mason in Amador Lodge, No. 65. F. & A. M.,
of Jackson, in 1866 and is now a past master. He has also taken the Royal Arch
degree, and the thirty-second degree in the Scottish Rite, and is past patron
of Chapter Xo. 66. in the Order of the Eastern Star. He is likewise a mem-
ber of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has filled all of its offices, and
belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Chosen Friends.
He is well and favoraljly known by the citizens oi the county, being a pioneer
of the state, and merits honorable mention among the representative men of


Within the past few years, a period of less than a decade, many e\enis
have occurred which will ever find a place upon the pages of the world's his-
tory, and these events have clearly demonstrated the fact that the .\nglo-
Saxon race will become the dominant power of the world. The trium])h of the
American arms in the Spanish war not only overthrew the rule of a Latin
nation in the W'est Indies but also resulted in the establishment of American
influence in the islands of the east. .\t the present time a great war is being
waged in Africa by an English-speaking people, with which Mr. Isaac, through
the ties of nationality, is closely identified. It was the English race that laid
the foundation for the American republic, sending many of its best repre-
sentatives into the wilderness of the new world to found here a country whose
power and importance is now acknowledged by the oldest races of Euro]5e.
From an Anglo-Saxon lineage Mr. Isaac is descended, his birth having oc-
curred in London, England, on the 21st of September, 1840. For many
generations as far back as his ancestry can be traced, the family are English.

The father of our subject became one of the California pioneers of 1849.
He located in the cajjital city and for many years was connected with the
detective force of Sacramento, with which delicate and important service he
was connected from early manhood up to the time of his death, in 1877. His
wife, who bore the maiden name of Alice Cooper, died in 1S93. In their
family were eight children, the subject of this sketch being the fourth in
order of birth. He was ab<iut sixteen years of age when he came to Califor-
nia, and at different times he resided at Virginia City and Carson, Nevada,
spending about twelve years in that way. During that time he followed
clerking and was connected with the post-office in Carson for a number of
years. In 1873 he came to Nevada City and some years ago was appointed
deputy sheriff. He also filled the position of health officer for one year, and in


May, 1899, lie was elected assessor. He has been a member of the fire depart-
ment for t\vel\-e _vears : has held the office of chief engineer and secretary- of the
board of delegates, which position he still holds. He is a painter, paper-hanger
and decorator by trade, and in connection with his business he has discharged
the various duties entrusted to him by his fellow townsmen in a most acce]:t-
able manner.

While residing in Nevada Mr. Isaac was married, in July, 1870, to Aliss
Elizabeth Whilden, a lady of culture and refinement whose birth occurred in
Wales. Her father, Edward Whilden, came to California in 1854 and for
many years followed mining at Nevada Citv. His death occurred in April,

In politics Mr. Isaac is a stanch Republican, taking an active interest in
public matters, frequently serving as a delegate to county conventions.
Socially, he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has
passed all the chairs of the subordinate lodge, and also has become a mem-
ber of a lodge of the Rebekah degree. He belongs to the subordinate lodge and
uniformed rank of the Knights of Pythias, has filled all of its offices, and has
been secretary for twelve }ears. He is a valued representati\c i>f the Ancient
Order of United Workmen, lias been Imnnred with its various nfficial positions,
has been a representative at the grand lodge for se\-eral years and has taken its
degree of honor and become a member of the society of the Rathbone Sis-
ters. He is a man of marked ability and energy and therefore is always in
demand in connection with the important activities in business and public life.


The well known resident of Stent, Tuolumne county, California, whose
name appears above is not only a mining man but is also the son of a mining
man. His father, Dennis Kelly, and his mother, Ellen Llarrington, were born
in Ireland, were married there and there five children were born to them. In
1847, Mr. Kelly came to the United States and found employment in the
mines in \\'isconsin, and in 1848 he sent for his wife and children, who
joined him at New Diggings, in La Fayette county, that state, where Michael
D. Kelly was born September 30, 1850. Four other children were added to
Mr. and Mrs. Kelly's family after they came to Wisconsin and four of their
offspring are living at this time, including the subject of this sketch, two of
his sisters in Colorado and one on the family homestead in Wisconsin, where
the father died at the ripe old age of eighty-eight years, his wife at the age of

Mr. Kelly was educated in the public schools near his home in \\'iscon-
sin, and in October, 1868, went to Colorado, where he was for six years
engaged in mining, part of the time as the foreman of the Dolly Varden
mine. In the fall of 1874 he returned to Wisconsin and early in the follow-
ing year he went to Virginia City, Nevada, where he arrived on the 5th of
February. After mining there for a short time he went to Silver City, Idaho,
but soon returned to Nevada, where he mined with more or less success until


1877, wlien he went to Bodie. ^lono county, California, wliere lie was the
underground foreman of tlie Standard mine until 1880. Then going to Tomb-
stone, Arizona, he was employed there for some time in the same capacity.
In 1883 he became an underground foreman of the Bonanza King mine in San
Bernardino county, California. He attained some success also in working
mines of his own at Calico. In 1887 he assumed charge of the Dublin Bay
mine in Nevada county, California, and from there he came to Tuolumne
county, where for a year he was the foreman of the Buchanan mine. After
that he devoted five years to pocket mining at Sonora. In 1896 he came to
the Jumper mine at Stent and after two years' .service as foreman was given
his present position as superintendent. He is held in high esteem as a mining
man and his career as such has been active, successful and productive.

He was made a Master Mason at Bodie, California. In political affilia-
tion he is a Democrat, but while influential in the councils of his party he is
not an active politician and sought the office of sheriff of Mono countv in

Ocloljer 24. 1894, Mr. Kelly married Aliss ^lary Ryan, of Sonora, Tuol-
umne county, a daughter of Dennis Ryan, a respected pioneer. Their union
nas blessed with the advent of a daughter, whom they named May. Mr-.
Keily died January 11. 1900. deeply regretted by all who had known her.


Fifty }-ears have passed since James ^Median became a resident of Cali-
fornia, the date of his arrival in the state being February, 1850. Probably
no living resident of California has a more intimate knowledge of the min-
ing interests and the history of the mining development of this state than he.
Born in county Monaghan, Ireland, on the 1st of November, 1833. he is
descended from one of the old families of the Emerald Isle. His father.
George Meehan, was born in Ireland and there married Miss ]Mary McKenna,
a native of his own town. They were honest and industrious farming people
and devout members of the Catholic church. The father lived to be seventy
years of age and was twice married, his family numbering twelve children,
se\en by the first marriage and five by the second.

Mr. Meehan, of this review, was a lad of thirteen years when, with his
older brother, Patrick, he arrived in New Orleans, in the year 1846, and the
country was engaged in war with Mexico. The Crescent city was then but
a small town and he ()l)tained work on a milk-ranch, peddling milk throughout
New Orleans, receiving for his services nine dollars per moiuh and his
board. Later he was employed in a bakery, and in 1849, attracted by the dis-
covery of gold in California, be sailed for San Francisco, making the voyage
aniund Ca])e Horn on the ship Ontario. The trip was a very long one, con-
suming nine months, but at length arrived safely in port in February, 1850.
It was not until the 9t!i of September following that California was admitted
into the Union. Mr. Meehan at once made his way to the mines, his first claim


being on Poverty Hill, Tnolumue county. He was one of the first to secure
a claim in that ■"digging-." but the property yielded to hin-i a good return in gold.
With three companions he worked the claim, taking out thirty-six ounces of
gold daily. When the water supply failed them he was one of the company
that went to Downie\ille and sunk the first shaft on the old Durgan flat. They
found plenty of gold there, but having no adequate means to pump the water
they abandoned the work. The claim, however, has since been operated and
has proved very rich.

From that place ]\Ir. ]\Ieehan went to Goodyear"s Bar and was one of the
party that built the tunnel to Slate creek; but he continued there only a short
time, going to Horse-shoe Bend, on the .\merican river, where they began
to turn the ri\-er. They- whipsaw^ed lumber and pulled it down the moun-
tains by hand in order to build a flume; but even when this work was com-
pleted, at great expense, the water still leaked through and they were obliged
to abandon the mine. Some men, however, determined to continue their
labors there. Mr. Applegate was conducting a general merchandise store there
and agreed to provide such miners as had no money with provisions and to
be paid when they could secure gold, but the venture did not prove successful
and 'Slv. A])plegate therefore was a \'ery hea\'y loser. ■Mr. Alehan and his
partner, however, ahvays had plenty of money to provide themselves with the
necessaries of life, and moreover possessed a hopeful and courageous dispo-
sition which enabled them to press forward when many a man had grown

He then returned to Tuolumne county and again engaged in placer-min-
ing on Poverty Hill, where he secured a good claim and met with excellent
success. While here he took out a fine nugget, weighing two pounds. Later
he returned to Xew Orleans, leaving San Francisco in July, 1852. He arrived
at the Crescent city at a time when the yellow fever epidemic was raging, but
his strong constitution warded off the disease. When he once more reached
Poverty Hill he found that his claims had been jumped and he accordingly
made his way to Columbia, securing a claim on Chinaman flat. There he also
prospered, operating a claim on what is now the principal street in Sonora.
After prosecuting mining operations in various places in that locality he
removed to Calaveras county, wdiere, in company with Ben Thorn, he engaged
in mining on San Antonio creek.

In 1854 Mr. Meehan came to Amador county and purchased an interest
in the old Georgia claim at Volcano, where he successfull}- engaged in mining
for thirteen years, getting out gold in lumps valued at from three to five dollars,
and he also owned other mining interests there. In 1867 his fellow townsmen,
recognizing his worth and ability, elected him as a nominee on the Democratic
ticket to the position of county treasurer, after which he removed to Jackson,
filling the position in a most acceptable manner for ele\-en years. On the
expiration of that period he was appointed by President Cleveland postmas-
ter of Jackson, and administered the afi^airs of the office for four years and two
months, during all this time, however, being still interested in mining. He
is now the sole owner of the quartz mine in Echo county. Xevada. which is


being operated with good returns, and he also has a paying mine at Crown
Point and valuable mining property in Amador county.

In 1857 Mr. Meehan was united in marriage to ^liss Mary A. Kawlc, a
native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of Matthew Rawle, one of the early and
brave California pioneers. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Meehan,
but two died from that dread disease, diphtheria, in early life, and one son.
Emmett James, passed away when twenty-four years of age. John, died at the
age of fourteen, and one died in infancy. The four still living are George M.,
a mining engineer; Raymond, who also is connected with mining interests and
resides in Jackson; ^Irs. Nellie Fontenrose, also of Jackson; and Loretta,
who is still with her parents.

Mr. Meehan and his wife have a very pleasant home situated on one of
the beautiful hills. The spacious grounds are eleven acres in extent and form
a pretty setting to their residence. Mr. ^leehan belongs to the Ancient Order
of United Workmen and the Chosen Friends, and both he and his wife are
communicants of the Catholic church. From the early age of fourteen years
his life has been one of ceaseless activity and all that he has acquired is the
reward of his own labors. He is a man of strong purjxise and resolution who
brooks no obstacles that can be overcome by earnest and honorable efforts,
and it is this laudable quality that has led to his success.


Perhaps no announcement has ever caused more wide-spread interest in
business circles than that concerning the discovery of gold in California, and
ujwn the growth and development of the nation it has had a marked effect,
causing the tide of emigration to flow steadily westward and making this sec-
tion of the country one of the most potent in the affairs of the Union. From
the time when Marshall first found the precious metal, the development of
the rich mineral resources of the state has been one of its leading industries,
and for many years Mr. Voorheis has been actively identified with the mining
interests of Amador county. As a business man he is energetic, indefatigable,
resolute and possessed of keen discernment and marked executive power.
These qualities have insured him success, and at the same time he has been
classed among the representative American citizens who, while advancing
individual success, contribute largely to public prosperity and welfare. High
ofticial honors ha\e been conferred upon him and these he has borne witli
signal fidelity.

Mr. \'"oorheis is a native of Michigan, his birth having occurred in the
city of Ann Arbor, on the 7th of August, 1850. He is of Holland Dutch
ancestry, the progenitor of the family in America having been Stephen Coert
Voorheis, who left his home in Dreith, Holland, in 1660, sailing for the new
world in company with his wife and seven children. From them are descended
many of the name in this country. The early members of the family in
America were farming people and were members of the Dutcii Reformed
church. For several generations they were natives of New York. Tlie great-


grandfather of our suljject was Juhu \'oorheis, the father of Isaac Voorheis,
who was an active participant in the Revohitionary war and loyally aided the
colonies in their strug-gle for intlependence. His son, William C. Voorheis,
the father of our subject, was born in Ovid, New York, in March, 1813, and
married Sophia Garland, of Bangor, Maine, whose birth occurred in April,
181 5, and who was of Scotch ancestry. Mr. Voorheis engaged in merchan-
dising. He had made his way to Detroit, Michigan, in 1825, immediately
after his father's death. He was then only twelve years of age, but from that
time forward he was dependent entirely upon his own resources. He worked
his way to the west, and from Detroit removed to Ann Arbor, where he later
embarked in merchandising, which he carried on for a number of ^-ears.

When the Republican party was formed under the oak trees at Jackson,
Michigan, he was made a delegate to that meeting and took an active part in
the formation of the new organization, which has since made such a glorious
record in upholding American institutions and in establishing the supremacy
of the flag throughout the Union and on the islands of the sea. He was a
friend and contemporary of Zachariah Chandler, Jacob M. Howard and Gov-
ernor Kinsley S. Bingham, all prominent in the formation of the Republican
party. Later in life he removed to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where his death
occurred in 1895, at the age of eight3 - two years. His wife survives him and
is now in the eighty-tilth year of her age. They were both devoteiljiiembers
of the Presbyterian church, taking an active part in its work, while Air. \'oor-
heis served as a deacon for many years. In the family were seven children,
of whom three sons and three daughters are yet living.

Edward C. Voorheis, the fourth child, was educated in .\nn Arbor
until his fourteenth year, after which he pursued a course in Swensberg Bus-
iness College, in Grand Rapids. He graduated in 1868. Subsequently he
accepted a clerkship in the manufactory of W. H. Powers, and for a time
engaged in clerking in a store. Later he was connected with office work for
a railway corporation, and in the spring of 1877 he came to Sutter Creek,
California, becoming connected with reduction works. Since that time he has
been an active factor in reducing ore in this section of the state and has
largely promoted the mining interests of northern California, thus contribut-
ing to the general prosperity. For several years after his arrival he was in
the employ of C. J. Garland, and in 1880 he associated himself in business with
E. S. Barney, purchasing some very valuable mining property. In 1898 the
partnership was dissolved, Mr. Voorheis purchasing Mr. Barney's interest,
since which time he has carried on operations alone.

A man of resourceful ability and marked enterprise, he has been instru-
mental in establishing a number of industries which have brought good finan-
cial returns to the stockholders. He is one of the founders of the Amador
Electric Railway & Light Company, in which he was associated with C. R.
Downs. They furnish electric power for illuminating purposes at Sutter Creek,
Jackson and Amador, and the business is constantly increasing. Mr. Voor-
heis was also active in promoting the development of the Gwin mine in Califor-
nia, being associated in the enterprise with ]M. W. Belshaw, F. F. Thomas,


David McCliire, Jr.. and Cliarles P. Eells. They opened the mine, which has
since been one of the best paying mines of the county. Ten thousand tons of
ore taken tlierefrom are crushed each montli, yielding from fifty to seventy-fiv e
thousand dollars in gold. In 1897, with the gentleman above mentioned,
Mt. Voorheis organized the Lincoln Gold Mining Development Company,
and is now actively concerned in the work of the corporation. The Lincoln
mine was formerly owned by Leland Stanford and R. C. Downs, and in the
early days was one of the best producers in California. The new mining
company is making e.xtensive plans for its operation, expecting to find a con-
tinuation of the rich mineral deposits which at one time made the property
so valuable.

In 1880 Mr. \'oorheis was united in marriage to Mrs. Clara E. Keys, a
daughter of E. B. Mclntyre, of Sutter Creek, who removed from Lancaster,
New Hampshire, to California. Mr. and Mrs. Voorheis now have one daugh-
ter, Gertrude, who is attending school in Oakland. They have one of the
most delightful, attractive and commodious homes in Sutter Creek, and enjr.y
the warm regard of a very extensive circle of friends. Mr. X'oorheis is one
of the prominent Knight Templars of his state and has also attained the
thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite of Masonry. He likewise belongs to
the Ancient Order of United Workmen and is ever loyal to the benevolent
principles of those fraternities. In politics he has been a life-long Republican,
and his fitness for leadership led to his selection for the office of state senator,
in i8go. Four years later he was re-elected and proved a very competent and
prominent member of the upper house. He was the chairman of the financial
committee for three consecutive sessions, during which time he labored most
effectively and beneficially in the interests of the constituents of his state. He
has made a close study of the political issues and questions of the day and lie
has built a monument for himself of duty performed and of greatness achieved.
He was elected the president of the California Miners' Association November
20, 1900. This association is a state organization, composed of men from all
parts of the state who are engaged in the mining industry. The people of
California are to be congratulated upon a character so splendidly developed
that has conserved the best interests of the commonwealth, justly gaining a
place among the able statesmen of California. His public and private life are

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 61 of 108)