WILLIAM R. DEES
There is ever an element of interest in the history of the self-made man, one who starts out in life empty-handed and wrests fortune from an adverse fate. Obstacles and difficulties are encountered, but to the man of resolute purpose these but call for renewed effort and serve as stepping-stones to something higher. The life record of Mr. Dees stands in exemplification of what may be accomplished in this free land of ours where the man of ambition and determination is unhampered by caste or class.
A native of Georgia, Mr. Dees was born on the 3rd of October, 1835, and represents one of the old families of that state. His father, John Dees, was born in North Carolina and married Miss Keziah Taylor. For a number of years they were residents of Alabama, and both departed this life in 1865. They had seven children, of whom only two are living.
Dr. Dees, the only one in California, was reared in the state of Alabama, where he received but limited educational privileges, his knowledge having been acquired mostly in the school of experience. He has, however, become a well informed man of practical learning, and through the exercise of sound judgment he has worked his way steadily upward. Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, he made his way to the Pacific waters, having previously sailed from New Orleans to the dividing land between the continents. Making his way to the Pacific coast on one of the vessels in use in that day, he arrived in San Francisco on the 1st of April, 1852, and thence went to Coloma, in El Dorado County, and later to Cold Springs and Placerville. He first engaged in mining at Alabama Flat, where he met with very gratifying success, making as high as one hundred dollars in a single day. He continued to mine for a number of years with the varying luck of the gold-seeker, and then turned his attention to raising sheep, having a large ranch on which he had from two to three thousand sheep at all times.
He continued that industry for thirteen years and then sold his sheep for nine thousand dollars, after which he was engaged in the livery business for three years at Milton. In that enterprise, however, he lost nearly fifteen hundred dollars and, then turned his attention to other affairs. He purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land a half mile from Milton and is now cultivating wheat, barley and hay. He keeps a number of horses and cows and has a well improved farm supplied with all the modern accessories. His home is one of the pleasant residences of Milton and there he resides with his family, contentedly passing the evening of an upright and consistent life.
In 1855 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Dees and Miss Helen Virginia Burdis, a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Two children have come to bless their union, Cora Elizabeth and John W. In his political affiliations Mr. Dees is a Democrat, but has never sought or desired public office. In 1880 at Copperopolis, he was made a Master Mason, and has since been identified with that fraternity, filling the various offices in his lodge. He now holds membership in Keystone Lodge, No. 161 F. & A. M., of Milton. He and his wife are devout members of the Methodist Church and are people of the highest respectability.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.