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Alameda County




Varney William Gaskill, United States Deputy Surveyor of the Port of San Francisco, residing in Oakland, was born in Forbestown, Butte county, California, January 11, 1857, a son of Rollin Carolus and Pettie A. (Rice) Gaskill.  The mother, a native of Kentucky, is living, in 1890.  The father, born in Vermont, July 26, 1833 (for parentage and ancestry, see sketch of his brother, D.W.C. Gaskill), and a graduate of Castleton College, came out in 1852 to Forbestown, California, where his brother was carrying on a general miners' supply store, as Gaskill & Bogardus.  After a brief experience in mining he entered the store as clerk, and when D. W. C. Gaskill retired for a time from active business in 1853, Rollin C. was put in charge of his interests in Forbestown until his return in 1854.  Bogardus had meanwhile withdrawn from the firm, and the business was carried on in the name of D. W. C. Gaskill. When the latter again went East in 1856, Rollin C. became owner of the store, and carried on the business until 1860, when D. W. C. re-purchased it.  Rollin C. Gaskill had meanwhile been elected to the State Senate from his district and became actively engaged in politics.  He was re-elected State Senator for a second term, and was afterwards appointed Superintendent of Railroad Mail Service of the Pacific Coast.  He held that position two years, and then went into business for a short time in San Francisco.  About 1867 he engaged in farming for two years in Napa county, where he owned 360 acres.  In 1869 he came to Oakland and for twenty years filled the position of agent of the Wells, Fargo & Company's Express, until his death November 3, 1889.  Fluent in speech and strong in debate he was recognized as a leader in politics.  He was also an enthusiast in Masonry, a member of Oakland Lodge, No. 188, F.& A.M., Eminent Commander of Oakland Commandery, No. 11, K.T., Grand Worthy Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star in the United States, and P.C.C. of the Chosen Friends.  His surviving children are Varney M., George, Margie, Bessie and Edith. 

     Varney M. Gaskill, the subject of this biography, received his early education in Forbestown and after 1869 in the Oakland High School.  He entered the University of California at the age of seventeen, being a member of the graduating class of 1878.  After three and one-half years in the university, he took the position of clerk under his father, in the office of Wells, Fargo & Company, where he remained two years.  He was then appointed Chief Deputy County Clerk, holding the position from 1880 to 1882.  He then embarked in the real-estate and insurance business with Luke Doe, under the style of Doe & Gaskill, continuing two years, to 1884.  In 1885 he was appointed Chief Deputy Sheriff, which he soon resigned to take the position of Auditor and Paymaster of the South Pacific Coast Railroad Company, which he held until they sold out to the "Southern Pacific" in 1887. He was then appointed Secretary of the State Board of Railroad Commissioners, which he held until his appointment to his present position of Deputy Surveyor of the Port of San Francisco, March 15, 1890.  He is actively interested in politics and was Chairman of the Republican County Committee in the campaign of 1884.  He is a member of Live Oak Lodge, No. 61, F.&A.M.; President of Oakland Parlor, No. 50, N.S.G.W.  He is a member of the Press Club of San Francisco, and was at one time Captain of the University Base Ball Nine.

     Mr. Gaskill was married in Oakland, in 1880, to Miss Annie F. Porter, a native of this city, the daughter of J. J. Porter.


Transcribed 12-18-04  Marilyn R. Pankey.

Source: "The Bay of San Francisco," Vol. 1, pages 673-674, Lewis Publishing Co, 1892.

2005 Marilyn R. Pankey.