Back to the staunch old Irish stock does Mr. Gleason trace his lineage, and that in his character abide those sterling qualities which have ever marked the true type of the Irish nation, is manifest when we come to consider the more salient points in his life history, which has been one marked by consecutive industry, invincible spirit, sturdy loyalty and unwavering honor, all of which have eventuated most naturally in securing him a position in the respect and esteem of his fellow men.
James Gleason has been a resident of California since 1855 and is now living at Iowa Hill. He is a native of county Tipperary, Ireland, born on the 25th of October, 1825. His parents, Michael and Elizabeth (Hannay) Gleason, were also natives of the Emerald Isle were industrious and respected farming people and were devout members of the Catholic Church. The father departed this life in the sixtieth year of his age and his estimable wife attained the very advanced age of ninety. They had six sons and three daughters, four of whom are living; two at the old home in Ireland; Mrs. Margaret Brenan, of Rhode Island; and James, of this review.
The last named was educated in his native country, but in 1851 he bade adieu to home and friends preparatory to sailing for the new world. He crossed the Atlantic to New York, where he arrived on the 5th day of April, 1855, when, imbued with a commendable desire to better his condition, he sailed for the El Dorado of the west, making his way to California by way of the Nicaragua route. He arrived safely in San Francisco on the 8th of May, his capital consisting merely of a good constitution and a pair of willing hands. He worked on a farm for four months for sixty dollars per month and then, desiring to try his fortune in the gold diggings, he went to Murphy’s Camp, in Calaveras County, working for wages in placer mines. Later he started on foot for Iowa Hill, working his way to Carranto and finally reaching his destination. He carried with him seven hundred dollars in gold in a belt. He was strong of limb and fearless of heart and he carried no weapons, unlike most of the men of the time, feeling that if he needed to defend himself he could do it with the stones which were plentifully strewn over California’s surface. He arrived in safety, however, at Iowa Hill, on the 12th of November, 1855, and for forty-five years has been one of the intelligent, industrious and successful citizens of the town. When he reached this place he began working for wages as a miner but later secured the position of manager of the ditch which conveyed water to the mine and to the town. In 1883 he became the owner of the ditch and the water-right and has since been sole proprietor and manager. The ditch is about fifty miles in length and is a very valuable property, owing to the fact that the water supply for this section of the country must be brought from the mountains.
In 1861 Mr. Gleason was united in marriage to Miss Marcella Reid, a native of county Tipperary, Ireland. She came to California in 1859 and has been a faithful helpmate to her husband, a good wife and a loving and indulgent mother. They have three children: Michael, who is now in charge of his father’s large ditch interests and is also connected with mining; Mary, an accomplished daughter who is at home with her parents, caring for them in their declining years; and Eliza, who is now the wife of P. J. Sullivan, of San Francisco.
The parents are strong adherents of the Catholic faith. They are a worthy old couple now well advanced in years and in the evening of life are enjoying many comforts which have come to them through the efforts of Mr. Gleason. He did not win a fortune in a short time by finding rich gold deposits, but through his earnest and persistent labor he has year by year added to his capital until he now has a very comfortable competence.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.