Search billions of records on



Amador County









            Perhaps no announcement has ever caused more wide-spread interest in business circles than that concerning the discovery of gold in California, and upon 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 section 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 businessman 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 official honors have been conferred upon him and these he has borne with signal fidelity.

            Mr. Voorheis 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 Dutch Reformed Church.  For several generations they were natives of New York. The great-grandfather of our subject was John Voorheis, the father of Isaac Voorheis, who was an active participant in the Revolutionary War and loyally aided the colonies in their struggle for independence.  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, 1815, and who was of Scotch ancestry.  Mr. Voorheis engaged in merchandising.  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 years.

            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 Governor Kingsley 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 eight-two years.  His wife survives him and is now in the eighty-fifth year of her age.  They were both devoted members of the Presbyterian Church, taking many an active part in its work, while Mr. Voorheis 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 Ann Arbor until his fourteenth year, after which he pursued a course in Swensberg Business 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 railroad 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 contributing 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 instrumental in establishing a number of industries which have brought good financial 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. Voorheis was also active in promoting the development of the Gwin mine in California, being associated in the enterprise with M. W. Belshaw, F. F. Thomas, Dave McClure, Jr., and Charles P. Eels.  They opened the mine, which has since been one of the best paying mines of the county.  Ten thousand tons of ore taken therefrom are crushed each month, yielding from fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars in gold.  In 1897, with the gentlemen above mentioned, Mr. 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 extensive plans for its operation, expecting to find a continuation of the rich mineral deposits which at one time made the property so valuable.

            In 1880 Mr. Voorheis was united in marriage to Mrs. Clara E. Keys, a daughter of E. B. McIntyre, of Sutter Creek, who removed from Lancaster, New Hampshire, to California.  Mr. and Mrs. Voorheis now have one daughter, Gertrude, who is attending school in Oakland.  They have one of the most delightful, attractive and commodious homes in Sutter Creek, and enjoy the warm regard of a very extensive circle of friends.  Mr. Voorheis is one of the prominent Knight Templar’s 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 lead to his selection for the office of state senator in 1890.  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 he has built a monument for himself of duty performed and of greatness achieved.  He was elected 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 above reproach, and his name is now conspicuous on the long roll of eminent men.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 470-472. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.



Golden Nugget Library's Amador County Biographies

California Statewide

Golden Nugget Library