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Calaveras County









            The subject of the present writing is a prominent resident of Angel’s Camp, Calaveras County, California, where he is engaged in the dairy business.  He is a son of an old pioneer who crossed the plains in 1850, with an ox team, and met with many and exciting experiences.  Mr. McCauley was born in Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois, January 1, 1831, and was the son of James McCauley, of English and Irish ancestry.  Pioneer blood was in his veins, his grandfather McCauley having been a pioneer of Licking County, Ohio.  James McCauley was married to Sarah Janes Taylor, of Ohio, and removed to Galena, Illinois, in 1818.  At that time Galena was unknown to fame and was but a hamlet.  He removed to Carrollton, Greene County, where Mrs. McCauley died, and the bereaved husband took his three boys, Edward, Thomas and Isaac, and started in the spring of 1850 on the long journey to the land of gold.  Misfortune met the company on the Platte River in the form of Asiatic cholera, where Isaac McCauley almost lost his life.

            Upon reaching the Humboldt River, he met with an exciting experience, which he yet remembers.  In company with a member of the company he left the train in order to enjoy a little duck shooting, and crossed the river where game seemed most abundant.  Their pleasure was of short duration, however, as they soon discovered some Indians in a clump of willows, some three hundred yards distant.  They suddenly lost interests in duck shooting and debated the best and most expeditious way in which to reach their companions.  Hastily re-crossing the river, they ran as rapidly as possible in the direction of the companions, but the Indians were mounted and soon gained upon them.  Discarding coats and shoes, the unlucky men flew onward, the savages in the meantime pausing to pick up the garments, thus giving Mr. McCauley and his companion a few minutes’ more chance of escape.  When they saw their enemies gaining upon them they would stop and point their guns at them, thus frightening them away for a short time, but they were pretty nearly exhausted before they came up with the train.  Assistance was then procured and the Indians gave up the pursuit.  Soon after, however, some forty Indians surrounded the company, all well armed and ready to fight; but the captain of the migrants made peace with them by giving presents, and the train was permitted to pass.  It was learned later than another party of emigrants had met the band and been murdered by them.  The horses now began to show signs of exhaustion and the journey was necessarily slow, many days passing before pause was made on Placerville Creek.  Mining was engaged in at Placerville with fair returns, and successful efforts were made on the Mokelumne River.  James McCauley’s health began to fail and when chronic dysentery broke out in the camp on the north fork of Jackson Creek he succumbed and died, in the fall of 1850.

            Our subject, Isaac McCauley, also had the disease, but recovered and in the spring of 1851 located a camp about three miles from the town, on Angel’s Creek, where success attended their mining efforts.  Those were lawless times and a Mexican was killed in some brawl which resulted in a feud and our subject’s party was the object of attack by a band of Mexicans in the night.  They were made prisoners and told that they must appear before the authorities in the town.  In the march in that direction another tent full of miners was captured and the whole party was marched onward, being overcome by the superior numbers of the Mexicans.  However, news of the capture had reached the Americans in the town and some three hundred came to their rescue, capturing three of the Mexicans, to whom they administered a whipping, driving the rest of the party so effectually away that there was no later trouble with them.

            After trials of many of the mining districts, Mr. McCauley finally settled on his present farm of one hundred and sixty acres of land near Angel’s Camp, and has been successfully engaged in conducting a dairy for a number of years.  He keeps from thirty to forty cows and supplies milk to the greater number of the residents of Angel’s Camp.

            Mr. McCauley was married April 25, 1867, to Miss Sarah J. Selkirk, and they have had four fine sons.  The eldest son, James, died in infancy; the others, Burton H., Edward O. and William A., assist their father in his business.  Mr. and Mrs. McCauley own a pleasant home, shaded by trees of their own planting, and enjoy the respect and esteem of the community.  They take great interest in the tales of pioneer life, few having had more thrilling experiences than the genial subject of this sketch.

            Mr. McCauley is a member of the Masonic fraternity and in politics is a Democrat, although he votes generally for the man rather than the party.  In religion he and his excellent wife follow the Golden Rule, making that their line of conduct; hence their influence is felt for good in the neighborhood.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 305-307. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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