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 75 of 108)
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children were all Ixirn and educated.

William J. Richards was the eldest child and in the public schools of
Springfield and Columbia he acquired his education. He afterward mastered
the blacksmith's trade, working with his father. Sul^sequently he was deputy
postmaster for eight years in Sonora, filling the office with credit to himself
and to the .satisfaction of all concerned. He has always been a Republican
in his ])olitical aftilialions and in 1898 was nominated by his party for the
important office of county treasurer. Notwithstanding that Tuolumne county
is Democratic, he was elected to the office by an encouraging majority, show-
ing that he is popular in his native county. I lis fellow townsmen recognize
his ability and give their support, and. as in the post-office, he is proving
an obliging, efficient and capable officer.

In February, i8q6, Mr. Richards was luiiled in marriage to Miss May
^\■ight, also a native of Springfield. They were friends from childhood and on
the date mentioned their destinies were united by the marriage ceremony.
t)ne bright little daughter has come to bless their union, whom they have



OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. 573

named Ada Mae. Tliey liave a beautiful cottage in Sonora and are among the
most highly respected people there, enjoying the warm regard of a large circle
of friends, many of whom have known them from their earU' childhood davs.
Mr. Richards is a citizen of sterling worth. No trust reposed in him has ever
been betrayed in the slightest degree, and his fidelity to the public trust is never
questii-ined.

WILSON A. BISBEE.

In Calaveras county and throughout this section of California the Tower
& Bisbee ranch has a wide reputation and is a conspicuous factor in agricultural
circles. Mr. Bisbee, one of the proprietors, was born in Unity, Sullivan county,
New Hampshire, on the 5th of August, 1831, and is of Irish lineage, his
ance>t"rs lia\-ing become early settlers of the old Granite state and of Ver-
mont, taking up their abode in this country when the Atlantic coast was still
a province of Great Britain. When the yoke of British oppression became
intolerable and the colonies declared their independence, ancestors of our
suljject joined the army that established the republic. John Wilson, the father
of our subject, was born in the Green Mountain state, and about 181 5 he mar-
ried Miss Annie Perkins, also a native of Vermont. In 1850 he remo\'ed to
Ohio, accompanied by the subject of this sketch, who was then in his nine-
teenth year. An older son had preceded them to the Buckeye state. The wife
and mother died in Ohio, in the fifty-ninth year of her age, and the father after-
ward went to Michigan, spending his last days in Athens, where his death
occurred when he had reached the very advanced age of eighty-four years. He
had three sons, but only two are now living, one being a resident of Ohio.

Wilson A. Bisbee received his education in Vermont, accompanied his
father to Ohio, and in 1854 came to California, when twenty-three years of
age. He chose the Panama route and arrived in San Francisco on the 7th of
October. Like all the emigrants of the western coast he has given his atten-
tion to mining, following that pursuit for a short time in Calaveras county,
during which time he took out a few hundred dollars. In 1855 he came to his
present location and here met Jacob S. Tower, who had been his neighbor in
the east. They formed a partnership and began farming and stock-raising,
receiving good prices for their products. They made a specialty of sheep-
raising, having as liigh as two thousand sheep at one time on his farm. The
boundaries of their farm were extended by additional purchase until they
became the owners of two thousand four iiundred and eighty acres, and the
place was improved with many modern accessories and conveniences, including
a large residence and extensive barns. Their home became a popular resort
for teamsters and other travelers and the Tower & Bisbee ranch thus became
well known, gaining a \-ery desirable reputation for the cordial maimer in
which the guests were received and for the bounteous repasts serxed liy Mrs.
Tdwer and her assistants.

The partnership between ^Ir. Tower and Mr. Bisbee contiinied with the
greatest hannon\' and good feeling until it was broken by the death of Mr.



574 REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS

Tower in I\lay. 1880. Tliey conducted a bachelor's liall until 1863. when Mr.
Tower married, ^Ir. Bisbee continuing to live with them as one of the family.
The most pleasant relations always existed between them, unmarred Ijy any
words of disagreement or vexation, even own brothers seldom living in such
entire harmonv as did ]vlr. Tower and Mr. Bisbee, and the latter felt very
deeply the loss of his partner and his friend. In addition to his owner-
ship in the ranch our subject is largely interested in the Central Hill gravel
mine at ]\Iurphy's, from which considerable gold has l)een taken and on which
there is a twenty-fom^-hundred-foot tunnel.

^Ir. Bisbee is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having received the
sublime degree of Master Mason in Keystone Lodge. Xo. 161, F. & A. M.,
at Milton. He has since been an active and honored member of the order,
squaring his life by its tenets and manifesting in his connection with his fel-
low men the upright principles it inculcates. In his political affiliations he is a
Republican. His motto has been to be honest and to attend strictly to his own
affairs. This rule closely followed has gained him prosperity, and at the same
time has won him the respect of all with whom business or social relations
have brought him in contact.

BEXJAMIX HODGE LEWIS.

.\mong those who have been distinctively conspicuous in connection with
the substantial upbuilding and legitimate progress of the attractive little city
of Vallicita, Calaveras county, very definite recognition must be given to
him whose name initiates this paragraph. It has been his fortune to be
identified with the town from the days of its early establishment and with
every advance movement he has been connected, being recognized as one of
the leading and enterprising business men of the place and as one who has
contributed liberally and with enthusiasm to every cause which has had as
its object the growth and prosperity of Vallicita.

Air. Lewis arrived in the Golden state in 1853. He was born in Xash-
vitle, Tennessee, in the vicinity of the birthplace of James K. Polk, his grand-
father having been one of the first settlers of that portion of the state. The
natal day of our subject is .August 28. 1834. He is descended from \*ir-
ginian ancestry, related to the Lees, Washingtons, Greens. Houstons and
other prominent families of the Old Dominion who bore an active part in
shaping the policy of that state in colonial days and were participants in the
war of the Revolution. The ancestry may be traced back to Earl Lewis, an
English nobleman, who was the progenitor of the family in the smth. The
father of our subject was married, in Tennessee, in 1826, to Miss Eliza J-
Shaw, also a native of that state and a daughter <if Rev. Shaw, a Presbyterian
minister of Tennessee, who owned extensive property interests and many
negroes, whose services were utilized in the operation of the plantation. Three
children were born unto them in Tennessee. In 1849 the father came to Cali-
fornia, crossing the plains to this state, after which he began mining in Yo[-
cano, .\mador county. Subsequently he went to Sacramento and conducted a



OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. S75

race irack at Brightnn. Jn 1S50 he remixed U> Souuma C(.)nnty and fnuiuled
the town of Petahima, but the title was faulty liecause of a Spanish land
grant and he removed to Carson valley, where he purchased a large drove
of cattle from emigrants. He then put them out to pasture in the valley,
and when they were in good marketable ct)ndition brought them to Cali-
fornia, where he sold them at a fair profit. Later Mr. Lewis engaged in
mining at V^allicita, successfully continuing his search for the precious metal
for a number of years. His prominence as a citizen and his fitness for pulilic
office led to his election as one of the supervise irs of the county, in which
capacity he served for four years.

When the Civil war broke out he was a strong L'nion man and enlisted
in a company of which he was elected captain. He joined General Connor's
regiment, which was stationed at the fort southeast of Salt Lake city for the
purpose of quelling any insurrection among the ]^[ormons. He was thus
made chief of the stafif of General Patrick Connor, with the rank of adjutant
general, and while stationed there formed the acquaintance of Brigham Young
and uas a potent factor in keeping peace among the peculiar band of relig-
ious people there. Mr. Lewis continued in the service of the government until
the close of the war. after \Ahicli he returned to Vallicita and was again
elected super\isor of his district, serving four years. Being now well advanced
in the evening of life he retired from active business, and in 1891 he was
called to his linal rest, when eighty-nine years of age. His wife's interest
in her father's estate caused her to remain in the south for several years
after her husluind came fo California, and she .^i^ent only a portion of her
time in this i;tate. her death occurring in Texas, in the eightieth year of her
age.

Benjamin H. Lewis, whose name introduces this review, is now the
only survivor of the family. He was educated in the old Jackson College,
in Columbia. Tennessee, pursuing the law course there, after which he was
licensed to nractice. The year 1853 witnes.sed his arrival on the Pacific coast.
He made the journey with William T. Lewis, a relative, sailing from Xew
Orleans and arriving safely in San Francisco, where our subject secured the
piisition of delivery clerk in the San Francisco post-office. Later he obtained
a clerical position in the custom-house of that city. In 1855 he came to
A'allicita. where he engaged in mining at Kelly's gulch, taking out considcr-
al)le gold. He found one nugget worth one hundred and six dollars, and he
and his companion took out on an average of about two ounces of gold
each dav. Li 1857 lie was appointed tax collector, in which capacity he
served for some time, collecting all the different taxes on licensed money.
Subsequently he was elected justice of the peace, filling that office for eight
years, and through his fair and impartial administration he "won golden
o]5inions from all sorts of people." Since that time Mr. Lewis has engaged
in the practice of law. He was associated with John Reddick in all appeal
cases from justice courts in which he was interested, and later with Frank
Solonski. During the past forty years he has been recognizetl as a leading
member of the bar in his section and has maintained his high position by



576 REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS

reason of liis continued study and his comprehensive famiharit}" witli the
principles of jurisprudence. He has improved three fine liomes in Cahfornia
and came to his present place of residence in 1870. Here he has one hundred
and sixty acres of land, on which he is raising fruit and stock, and is spend-
ing the evening of a very active, useful and honorable life under the shade
of the trees which his own hands have planted.

In 1859 Mr. Lewis was united in marriage to Miss Mary Isabell, a native
of Missouri and a daughter of Ewin Isabel!, one of California's early set-
tlers. Ten children have been born vmto them, namely: Green Hampton;
Mary Auhaline. now the wife of Charles ]\IcPort; Ewin; Sarah, the wife
of Dennis Burns: Eliza, the wife of Clay Hallock; Robert E. ; IMartha, the
wife of Albin Lunberg; Hall, Ellen and Benjamin H.

^Irs. Lewis is a valued member of the ^Methodist church and the family
is one of prominence in the community. ]\Ir. Lewis gives his political sup-
port to the Democracy and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, thus
being able to support his position In- intelligent argiunent. The record of
Mr. Lewis is that of a man who has by his own efforts worked his way
upward to a position of afHuence. His life has been one of industry and per-
severance, and the systematic and honorable business methods which he has
followed, together with his diligence and ability in his profession, have won
him the support and confidence of many. Without the aid of wealth he has
risen to a position among the most prominent men of the state, and his native
genius and acquired ability are the stepping stones on which he mounted.

JOHN B. DOYLE.

A ])niminent resident of Tuolumne county. California, who is also a
public ofi'icial. is John B. Doyle, the clerk and auditor of the county. .Mthough
an old resident of the county, his birth took place in Janesville. Rock county,
\\'isconsin. July 11, 1857. His father. Edward Doyle, was born in Kilkenny,
Ireland, in 1829, coming to America when he was fourteen years of age,
completing his education in New York city. In 1856 he married Miss Ann
Pryor. also a nati\e of Ireland, in Granville. Washington county, Xew York.
Mr. and Mrs. Doyle removed to Wisconsin and in 1859 started to California,
by way of Pike's Peak, located finally in Tuolumne county, at Columbia. Here
Mr. Doyle engaged in mining and farming, taking out considerable gold,
which, however, was sunk in other enterprises. His farming was very suc-
cessful, enabling him to secure for his family a comfortable home, and at the
time of his death, July 4, 1899, he was the owner of five hundred acres of
land. Mrs. Doyle had i)asse<l away in 1890, and both of them had been devout
members of the Catholic church, good and worthy citizens. Their family of
five children grew to maturity, with the e.Kception of one. and our subject is
the oldest. The others are: 6. J., on the homestead; E. J., living in Somira:
T. P.. a musician: and F. J., who died at the age of seventeen, of apoplexy.

Our subject was educated in the schools of Tuolmnne countv and then
engaged in farming. In iSSA he was elected one of llic supervisors of the



OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. S77

county, whicli office lie filled satisfactorily until January. 1899. when he was
elected to the office of county clerk and county auditor, to fill the vacancy caused
by the death of the former official. His public service has been \ery accept-
able to all classes, although in politics JNIr. Doyle is a Democrat.

The marriage of ]\lr. Doyle took place in 1886, to Miss M. E. Duffy,
and two sons, Edward and John, have been born of this union. Socially he has
long been an active member of the I. O. O. F., and is also connected with the
Chosen Friends. He is well and favorably known in the community, where his
honesty and ability in the public service are recognized. He has made the
county his study for so long a time in official capacity that he is considered
peculiarly fitted for the position which he now fills.

FRANK J. SOLINSKY.

The bar of Calaveras county, California, has long had a high reputation
for the attainments and character of its legal practitioners. One of the best
known of these at this time is Frank Joseph Solinsky, of San Andreas, a
native son of California, who was born at Chinese Camp, Tuolumne county,
August 17, 1857. Mr. Solinsky comes of Polish ancestry, and C. W. H.
Solinsky, his father, was born, reared and educated in Poland, and in 1838
came to the United States and in 1849 to California. His father served with
the rank of captain under Generals Scott and Taylor in the war with Mexico,
and was proud to liave fought in that invincible army, which knowing not
defeat never paused in its onward march until the Mexican capital had fallen.
He came from New York around the Horn and located in Tuolumne county,
and was a miner and banker at Chinese Camp, where he represented the
^^'ells-Fargo Express Company as its agent until his death, which occurred
April 5, 1896, when he was eighty-one years old. He was made a Master
]\Iason in 1857, was an unswerving Democrat and was long a leader in public
aft'airs, whose advice was sought and respected. He married Miss Mary

A. Sprague. a native of the gtate of JNIaine, of New England ancestry, and
the daughter of Joseph Sprague, an early settler in California, and they had
three children: William H., who is a druggist in San Francisco; Margaret,
who married T. \\'. Jackson, of Sonora: and Frank Joseph, the immediate
subject of this sketch.

Frank Joseph Solinsky, was educated at the University of California, at
which he was graduated in the class of 1877, with the degree of Ph. B. After
his graduation he taught mathematics in that institution for two years, and
in 1 88 1 he was graduated at the Hastings Law College with the degree of

B. L. He began the practice of his profession in July of that year, and dur-
ing the eighteen years that have followed has been very successful, giving
his attention to general practice and making a feature of mining law, and has
been connected with many ])niniinent cases in this and other courts of the
state.

Pnliticallv he is a Republican, and as such he was elected district attorney
of Calaveras county and served four years in that office, in the performance



578 REP RES EX TAT IV E CITIZEXS

of tlic duties of wliicli he prosecuted several noted criminals, most of whom
were convicted and sent to the penitentiary and one of whom expiated his
crime on the gallows. In 1890 he was nominated for the state senate, but
as the late J. B. Reddick, his law partner, was that year nominated for lieu-
tenant governor of the state, he decline<l the honor in order to give his atten-
tion to their large and increasing law practice. Mr. Reddick was elected
and Mr. Solinsky devoted himself so assiduously to his legal work as to make
it markedly successful.

^Ir. Solinsky is well known as a Mason and is a member of the blue
lodge and chapter and has seven times been elected master of his lodge. He
is a charter member of the order of the Sons of the Great \\'est and has the
honor of having been its first president ; and he is a past master workman of
the local lodge of the .Ancient Order of United \\'orkmen. He married, in
1882. ^liss \\innie Syme. a native of Calaveras county and a daughter of
the late John T. Syme. and they have three sons. — Frank, Elbert and Edward.

FRAXK BROWX.

I'rank Brown, who is occupying the position of postmaster at Milton, is
also ;i prominent factor in commercial circles there as the proprietor of the
leading mercantile establishment. He was l)orn in Cornwall, Addison county.
Vermont, on the 2d of December. 1857, and therefore almost the breadth of
the continent lies between his birthplace and his present abode. He is a son
of I'Vank and Nancy (Dwyer) Brown, and is of English and Irish lineage.
His parents, however, were both natives of the Green ]\Iountain state, and to
them were born seven children while they were residing in Cornwall. Five
of this number are yet living. The mother died in 1887, in the fifty-seventh
year of her age. but the father is yet a resident of Cornwall, Vermont, and
is now eighty-six years of age. The sons are Alexander, who came to Cali-
fornia in 1872 and is now a prominent citizen of the state, residing at Milton:
he has served in the general assembly and is now a member of the state board
of eciualization : and Daniel, who is a well known business man in Stockton.

Frank Brown, the third son. was educated in the public schools in his
native town. FTe continued his studies in the Middleburv high school, after
which he graduated in the Mi<ldleton College, with the class of 1882. Sub-
sequently he spent two and a half years in the Empire state, as a traveling
representative for a Middlebin\v marble house doing a wholesale business. Tn
1885 Mr. Brown came to California and accepted the position of salesman in
the mercantile house of his brother .\lexander. On the expiration of three
years he became a partner in the business and in 1890 he purchased his brother's
interest, becoming sole proprietor of the store, which he has since successfully
conducted, and is enjoying a large jwtronage. He deals in men's furnishing
goods, boots, slioes and notions and is recognized as an enterprising merchant.
lie has made a close study of the public needs and is thoroughly in touch
with the progressive methods of the west.

In 1886 Mr. Brown was appointed postmaster by President Clexeland,



OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. 579

filling the positimi until after the change in the presidential administration;
but when Cleveland was again elected as chief executi\-e of the nation he
was once nK)re honored with the appointment and is now serving in a manner
creditable to liimself and highly satisfactory to his constituents. He has 1)een
a life-long Democrat, being prominent in the work of the party and doing
cver}thing in his power to secure the adoption of its principles. He has been
a member of the Democratic county central committee for twelve years, and of
the Democratic state committee for eight years, and liis opinions carry weight
in political councils, his sound judgment and comprehension making his ideas
of value in party management. He was elected a justice of the peace by tlie
Democratic party in 1886, "88 and '90. Socially he is a member of the Inde-
jjendent Order of Odd Fellows, in which he has filled all the chairs. He also
b.elongs to the D. K. E.. a college fraternity. j\Ir. Brown owns one hundred
and sixty acres of land in Fresno county and has a business building and lot
in Mendota, California, in addition to his property interests in Milton. Suc-
cess lias crowned his well-directed efforts, and industry has been the key which
has unlocked for him the portals of prosperity. He is a gentleman of broad
education and genial manner, of sterling worth, and is both popular and
l^rnminent in social, business and political circles.

BELTAZA SFIARP.

There are probabh' few pioneers remaining in California who have \'\it(\
here longer than has the subject of this sketch or who more richly deserve
the honors accorded to those who earliest subjected themselves to the trials
and privations of this then wild and savage-peopled land of gold and of
infinite promise. Beltaza Sharp came of good old German ancestry and was
born in 1821. in that part of France which is now a part of Germany. His
])arents died when he was a small boy and he attended school in his native
town until he was about sixteen years old, and then, in 1845, came to Amer-
ica and located at Xew York. In 1846 he enlisted as a marine in the United
States service in the war Avith Mexico. He served under Captain Harvey
and was present at the taking of Vera Cruz. After that historic engage-
ment be was transferred to Commodore Perry's vessel, which went to Tishen
and Elzado and thence to Santa Cruz and back to Havana, whence it went
direct to the Brooklyn navy yard, where it was outfitted for a trip around
the Horn to San Francisco. This vessel, the Ohio, then the largest warship
in the United States navy, was manned by tweh-e hundred men and arrived
at San Francisco in 1848.

Tn 1849 ]Mr. Sharp began mining at Wood's creek. From there he went
to Whiskv Hill and thence to Cooper's Flat. Later he mined on the Amer-
ican and Feather rixers. taking out about an ounce a day. \\niile working
on the Feather ri\er. furty nfiles above Marysville. he and others determined
to go to Gold Hill. The winter season had set in and at Independence Bar
thev were obliged to turn back because of deep snow, and they sold their
jirnvisions, receiving for their tlour one dollar per pound. Returning to their



5 So REPRESENTATIVE CITIZENS

claim tliev mined there from 1852 to 1855, when Mr. Sharp went to New-
ark, New' York, and married Miss ^^largaret Bare, who was horn in his own
native town and after this marriage came out with him to Cahfornia. They
located at Jamestown and tliere Mr. Sharp built a good residence, in i860,
on a thirty-acre farm, which he devotes to the cultivation of fruits and veg-
etables and on which he has established a profitable dair\-. Mrs. Sharp lived
until July, 1896, and their married life, covering a period of forty-one years,
was a" most happy one. They had thirteen children, of whom nine are living,
namely : Eddie, \\'illiam and Annie, all of whom are members of their father's
household and the last mentioned of whom is his housekeeper; Tillie Julia;
Elizaljeth, who married Joseph Delear; Maggie, who is the wife of William
Fitzgerald ; Emma, who married James Barry ; Mary, who married C. F.



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 75 of 108)