George Withington, deceased, who for many years was a leading resident of Ione, was one of the most highly respected pioneers of California. The town of Shingle Spring, El Dorado County, stands as a monument to his memory, for he was its founder and to it he gave its name. He was born in the state of New York, at the foot of Lake Geneva, Seneca County, on the 10th of May, 1821, and when two years of age accompanied his parents on their removal to Monroe, Michigan, which state was then under territorial government and was situated almost upon the border of civilization. There he grew to manhood amid the scenes of pioneer life, and on the 3rd of December, 1845, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Kirby. Their union was blessed with three children, but Mrs. Augusta Welsh is now the only survivor of the family.
In the spring of 1849, attracted by the discovery of gold in California, Mr. Withington crossed the plains, arriving at Sacramento on the 15th of August that year. He made his way to the present site of Shingle Spring and there he built a shingle mill in September, 1849. In the following month he erected the first shingled house in the town and in upper California. His home formed the nucleus around which sprang the village, and he called the place Shingle Spring, but the post office is simply known by the first name, Shingle. In 1851 he sold his property there and removed to Ione Valley, in Amador County, settling on a farm on Dry Creek, between the Sift and Perkry places. This property was afterwards declared by the court to be a part of the Arroyo Seco grant, and with many others he was dispossessed of his farm. In 1855 he removed to Muletown and built the first shingled house in that place. Two years later he took up his abode in Ione and in 1857 erected a good brick residence on the banks of the creek, just below the town.
In 1877 Mr. Withington was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife. They were charter members of the Presbyterian Church at Ione, which was erected in 1862, and in its work they took an active part, Mr. Withington long serving as one of its officers. Seven years passed and on the 3rd of December, 1884, he was united in marriage to Mrs. S. J. Maddux, the widow of James Maddux, an early settler of Sacramento, who was widely and favorably known as a businessman and citizen. She had four children by her first marriage. Mr. Withington attained the ripe old age of seventy-eight years, and was known among his friends as “Uncle” George Withington. He was one of the first elders in the Presbyterian Church at Ione and was an exemplary man, enjoying the unqualified confidence of his fellow citizens by reason of his honorable career. Mrs. Withington, a most estimable lady, still survives him and enjoys the warm friendship of many of the leading people of the county.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.