Almost half a century has passed since Jonathan Sallee came to California. This history of pioneer life will ever compete in interest with that of the soldier, for it requires almost as great bravery and fortitude to meet the hardships and dangers of life on the frontier as those upon the field of battle. Conditions in California were peculiarly hard, for great stretches of barren and almost impassable mountains cut off the travelers from the comforts and conveniences of the east. As there was no organized government it gave excellent opportunity to the lawless element, who sought here the chance for committing crime. The pioneers thus had to meet not only the hardships brought to them through inability to gain the comforts of civilization, but also had to face desperate characters who had no regard for the rights of law and property. However, a band of resolute and earnest men, loyal in citizenship, faithful in friendship and true to right and honor, persevered in their purpose of founding homes on the Pacific slope and laid the beginning of the commonwealth that now ranks with the best in the Union. Mr. Sallee deserves mention among these honored pioneers, and it is therefore with pleasure that we present the record of his life to our readers.
A native of Lincoln County, Missouri, he was born on the 17th of June, 1832, and is of French Huguenot ancestry, who settled in the colonies at an early era in the development of the new world. His grandfather, Philip Sallee, was a pioneer settler of the state of Kentucky, and his son, William H. Sallee, the father of our subject, was born in Washington County, Kentucky, on the 2nd of March, 1806. He married Miss Sarah Neil, a native of North Carolina, who also was of French lineage. On leaving the Blue Grass state they removed to St. Louis, Missouri, and in 1881 the father came to the Shenandoah Valley, in Amador County, California, where he died in the eighty-seventh year of his age. His wife had departed this life in 1852. They were people of the highest respectability, their excellences of character winning them the confidence and good will of all. They had eight children, six of whom are living, two being residents of Missouri and four of California.
Jonathan Sallee, their second child, was reared on his father’s farm in Missouri, working in the fields through the summer months, while in the winter season he pursued his education in the public schools of the neighborhood. Attracted by the discovery of gold on the Pacific slope, he came to California in 1852, driving an ox team across the plains. There were eighty people in the party with which he traveled, and four months were consumed in making the trip, which, however, was rather a pleasant journey, as they were unmolested by the Indians and did not suffer from sickness. On the 13th of August they arrived at Mud Springs, El Dorado County, and Mr. Sallee engaged in placer mining in Weaver Creek, where he met with fair success, accumulating some money, although he did not acquire a fortune. In 1859 he made his way to San Francisco, where he boarded a steamer, and by way of the Isthmus route, he returned home.
In 1861 Mr. Sallee was united in marriage to Miss Mary Beach. They purchased a farm in Missouri, and two children were born to them in that state, namely: William Harvey, who is now a resident of Oregon; and Eleanor, the wife of George W. Easton, of Plymouth, Amador County, California. Mrs. Sallee was spared to her husband for only four years, departing this life at her home in Missouri, in March, 1865, leaving him with two little children. In April, 1866, he married Miss Sarah Jane Longfellow, a native of Ohio, and they became the parents of a daughter, Clara Nettie, who was born in Missouri and is now a teacher in Tulare County, California; also of a son, George Everett, who died in his infancy.
In 1871 Mr. Sallee returned to California, bringing with him his wife and children. They took up their abode upon his present farm, he preempting one hundred and sixty acres of land, to which he added by purchase another quarter-section. He built a nice residence and developed one of the best farm properties in the county, its improvements indicating his practical and progressive spirit. He raises grain and stock, and his industry and enterprise have brought to him a good profit. Mr. and Mrs. Sallee have not only reared their own children but have also given homes to two orphan children, Edward and Harriet Matthews.
Our subject and his wife are members of the Christian Church, in which he is an elder, and in the work of the church they have an active part. Mr. Sallee is also an old and valuable member of the Masonic fraternity. He was reared in the Republican faith, but his views on the temperance question have led him to give his support to the Prohibition Party for a number of years. The family are among the highest respected citizens of Amador County, being widely and favorably known. His life has ever been upright and honorable, consistent with his belief and professions, and those who know him esteem him highly for his sterling worth.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.
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