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Calaveras County

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WILLIAM B. KEYES

 

 

††††††††††† William Bingham Keyes is the name of a prominent pioneer settler of Angelís Camp, Calaveras County, California, the owner of much valuable mining property and one of the best known citizens of his section of country.

††††††††††† Mr. Keyes was born in Genesee County, New York, on January 25, 1828, of Scotch and German ancestry, who had made settlement in America long before the Revolutionary War.His father was Luman Keyes, a native of Massachusetts who had been a soldier in the War of 1812, and his mother was Nancy (Daily) Keyes, a native of Pennsylvania.The family removed to South Bend, Indiana, when our subject was but three years of age, in 1831, being pioneer settlers of that section.Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Keyes, but at present there are but two survivors.At the age of eighty-one years Mr. Keyes died, after a life of honesty and persevering industry, but Mrs. Keyes had passed away in her seventy-sixth year.

††††††††††† William Keyes was reared on the farm in Indiana, working through the summers and going to school for three months in the winter until old enough to learn the carpenterís trade, at which he employed himself until the gold fever attacked him.He was in poor health and his physician favored his plan of journeying to California; hence, when Captain Ellsworth, a friend of his father, sailed for San Francisco with his small merchant vessel and twenty-six passengers, Mr. Keyes was one of them.The voyage was a long and tedious one, with no accident except the sad death of one of the passengers, Charles Green by name.Burial was made at sea and the vessel pursued her way, finally safely reaching her destination.

††††††††††† Mr. Keyes first went to San Francisco, thence to Hangtown, now Placerville, and began mining at Cedar River, toward the southern part of the state, using first a pan, and later a rocker.He met with very fair success which, in part, he ascribes to his perseverance.His partner became very homesick, so much that he went to bed, but Mr. Keyes went to work and in less than an hour had a pan of dirt worth three dollars which he took within to show to his sick partner.In a short time he returned to the tent with a nugget worth $48, and this was all the spur needed, chasing away homesickness from the young man and causing him to go to work with as much interest as Mr. Keyes.Success attended them, the largest dayís work of Mr. Keyesí being sixteen ounces of gold.After four months labor, they found themselves in possession of seven thousand dollars in gold.

††††††††††† Mr. Keyes has mined on Ranchero Creek, in Amador County, and in 1856-57 he tried the reputed rich mining region of the Fraser River, but that proved a failure, and he returned to Sutter Creek, Amador County, and engaged in a partnership with William Smith.They had there a rich claim, taking out from nine to ten ounces a day.From there he went to Walker River, which section was the scene of much excitement, in 1859, but his success here was indifferent and they started for Green River, and were turned back by the Indians, who chased them for four days, cutting them off from all provisions and water and for forty-eight hours they were without a mouthful to eat or drink.They made their way to Salt Lake and after a weekís stay they proceeded to Virginia City, Nevada.Here he was taken sick and returned to Sutter Creek, and worked in the Eureka mine for Haywood for two years and then kept a hotel at Cold Springs on Amador road to Silver mountain, which was a failure and caused Mr. Keyes to lose all he had, and went from thence to Angelís Camp in 1865, where he has since made his home, mining and working at his trade.

††††††††††† Mr. Keyes took up a quartz and placer mining claim of twenty acres adjoining the town, in a fine locality, built a fine residence on it with his own hands, planted trees and made improvements until he now has a most pleasant home in which to pass his declining years.He has constructed many of the houses and mills of the flourishing mining town of Angelís Camp and in 1866, in partnership with Mr. Louis McGaffy, George King, O. B. Kelly, Dr. O. P. Southwell and Mr. Leeper, he located the famous Utica mine, selling it in 1884 to Lane and Company for ten thousand dollars.It has proved one of the finest mines in the state and much of the growth of Angelís Camp is due to this mine.Mr. Keyes then spent some time in Tulare County, where he had charge of a large tract of land upon which he put down the first test artesian well in that county.It was located on the line of Kern and Tulare counties and was six hundred and forty feet deep, with a flow of nine inches of water over an eight-inch pipe.Two years were spent here, and then he returned to Angelís Camp, making, however, a trip through Oregon and Idaho, to see the country.He is one of the proprietors of the Eureka Consolidated Mining Company at Jennie Lind, who owns one hundred acres of quartz land, the owners being Keyes, Collins and Hoffman.

††††††††††† Mr. Keyes was married January 23, 1867, to Miss Mary A. Lindsey, a native of Boston, Massachusetts.She was a daughter of Thomas Lindsey, a pioneer who died at Angelís Camp at the age of seventy-five years.Mr. and Mrs. Keyes have one child, Eva, who is now the wife of James Barney.Since the organization of the Republican Party he has been an ardent Republican, casting his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and staunchly upholding the principles of that organization.Honesty and integrity have marked the career of Mr. Keyes through life, and he considers the following of the Golden Rule a sufficient moral law, free from creed.

 

 

Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: ďA Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern CaliforniaĒ, Pages 316-318. Chicago Standard GenealogicalPublishing Co. 1901.

© 2010Gerald Iaquinta.

 

 

 

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