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Calaveras County








            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 ancestors having become early settlers of the old Granite state and of Vermont, 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 subject joined the arm that established the republic.  John Wilson, the father of our subject, was born in the Green Mountain state, and about 1815 he married Miss Annie Perkins, also a native of Vermont.  In 1850 he removed to Ohio, accompanied by the subject of this sketch, who was then in his nineteenth 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 afterward went to Michigan, spending his last days in Athens, where his death occurred when he had reached the very advanced age of eight-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 attention 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 high 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 hundred and eight 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 very desirable reputation for the cordial manner in which the guests were received and for the bounteous repasts served by Mrs. Tower and her assistants.

            The partnership between Mr. Tower and Mr. Bisbee continued with the greatest harmony and good feeling until it was broken by the death of Mr. Tower in May, 1880.  They conducted a bachelor’s hall until 1863, when Mr. Tower married, Mr. Bisbee continuing to live with them as one of the family.  The most pleasant relations always existed between them, unmarred by any words of disagreement or vexation; even own brothers seldom living in such entire harmony as did Mr. Tower and Mr. Bisbee, and the latter felt very deeply the loss of his partner and his friend.  In addition to his ownership in the ranch our subject is largely interested in the Central Hill gravel mine at Murphy’s, from which considerable gold has been taken and on which there is a twenty-four-hundred-foot tunnel.

            Mr. Bisbee is a member of the Masonic fraternity, having received the sublime degree of Master Mason in Keystone Lodge, No. 151, 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 the fellow 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.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 573-574. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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