Mark McCormick, who is the owner of a large ranch in the Milton District of Calaveras County, was born in Ovid, Seneca County, New York, on the 27th of March, 1822. His paternal grandfather, David McCormick, was a native of Edinburg, Scotland, and on taking up his abode in the new world located in Ovid, New York. When the colonies, no longer willing to stand the oppression of the mother country, entered upon a war to sever all allegiance to Great Britain, he joined the army and loyally fought for the independence of the nation. He lived to enjoy the freedom of the republic for a long period, passing away at the very advanced age of one hundred and five years, while his wife lived to be ninety years of age. They were Presbyterians in religious faith and were people of the highest respectability. Their son, Alexander McCormick, the father of our subject, was born in Ovid, New York, and as a companion and helpmate on life’s journey he chose Miss Polly Nichols, a lady of Pennsylvania-Dutch ancestry, born in the Keystone state. In 1847 they removed to Michigan, settling in Washtenaw County, where they spent their remaining days, the father dying at the age of seventy-four, while his good wife attained the ripe old age of eighty-five. They were the parents of five children.
Mark McCormick, the only survivor of the family, was educated in the common schools of the Empire state and with his identification with California’s interests came through his desire to gain a fortune in the gold fields. In order to reach the Pacific coast he sailed on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and gulf of Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama, where he took passage on the George Law, which afterward sunk off Cape Hatteras and all on board were lost, together with much treasure, which was being taken to the east. At the time that Mr. McCormick made the voyage there were ten hundred and twenty-five passengers aboard the vessel, and a first-class cabin passage cost him three hundred dollars. He arrived in San Francisco on the 9th of March, 1851, and went directly from that city to Stockton. He began mining at Boston Bar, on the Calaveras River, and in eight months he took out forty-two hundred dollars, never losing but one day in the whole time. His partners recklessly expended their money, while he saved his and was thus enabled to get a good start in business life. However, that fall he was taken ill and his doctor bills and other expenses amounted to one thousand dollars. He continued to mine until 1854 and then engaged in merchandising until 1856, making some money in that way. In the spring of 1857 he returned to the east by water, and again by the water route came to California, locating at Jenny Lind. In the collection of a debt he was obliged to take a saloon, but, not liking the business of running it, he soon sold out, going to Rich Gulch. Through the succeeding ten years he engaged in mining on North Hill, and then turned his attention to other pursuits, becoming a representative of the sheep raising industry in 1871. He was successfully connected with that enterprise for seventeen years, having as high as three thousand sheep at a time. He made considerable money and continued in the sheep raising business until the election of President Cleveland, when he sold his sheep and retired. He owns two thousand acres of land, and on the place is a commodious and pleasant residence and many of the most modern improvements. His fields are under a high state of cultivation, and in addition to farming he is the owner of some valuable mining interests.
In 1881 Mr. McCormick was united in marriage to Mrs. Ellen Long, the widow of Daniel Long. They have one daughter, Annie, who is the wife of William H. Perry and resides near her parents on land which Mr. McCormick has given to her and her husband. Throughout his entire life Mr. McCormick has made it his rule of action to do right to the best of his ability and his name in synonymous with integrity and honorable business transactions.
He has been a life-long Republican and has been honored with several local offices. He served as a supervisor for four years, was a constable and for a time a deputy sheriff for four years, during which time he proved himself a most active and fearless officer, doing much to rid the county of the highwaymen and murderers that then infested it. He was an excellent shot and had many battles with the lawless class, and on a number of occasions narrowly escaped with his life. At one time he came upon four desperate criminals. He was alone, and before he could draw his revolver fifteen shots had been fired at him. He decided to stand and fight, for if he ran he would likely be killed. So he gave battle to the men, killed three of them and shot the fourth through the body, but from the wound the man ultimately recovered. Mr. McCormick also was injured. His hat was pierced by a bullet and he was shot in the neck just above the collar bone, while another bullet was imbedded in his hip. No time-tried veteran upon the field of battle has displayed greater bravery in the face of danger than did Mr. McCormick during his service as a deputy sheriff, and it needed such men to subdue the lawless element which then menaced life and property in the early days of California’s development. He deserves the gratitude of his fellow men, for his services were very valuable and recommended him to the highest regard of all who recognized fidelity to law. In his business affairs he has prospered, gaining that success which is the reward of honorable effort. He is well and favorably known by the citizens of the county and the pioneers of the state, and merits honorable mention among the representative men of the locality.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.