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Calaveras County







            This is an age of advancement when all movement is in a line of progress and primitive methods are rapidly giving way to improvement, and when all natural resources are turned to account for the benefit of man.  It is interesting to note the line along which progress is made and to learn of those who have been most active in promoting the upbuilding of localities with which they are connected.  Associated with Calaveras County in this way is John K. Pattee, who is living at Valley Springs and who is numbered among the honored pioneers of the state of 1849.  The experience of Argonauts who started out in search of the golden fleece in the mythological days of Greece were not more interesting and unusual than those with which the pioneers of this state underwent in their attempt to gain a fortune in the newly discovered gold fields of the Pacific coast.

            Mr. Pattee is a native of Fort Covington, Franklin County, New York, born on the 26th of September, 1821.  His English ancestors on crossing the Atlantic took up their abode in New England at an early period in colonial development, being among the first settlers of Salem, Massachusetts.  They took an important part in the events which formed the annals of that historic town.  Dr. Moses Pattee, the grandfather of our subject, was a prominent physician of New Hampshire, later practiced his profession in New York and subsequently became a member of the medical fraternity of Canada, in which country he attained the ripe old age of ninety-four years.  Joseph Pattee, the father of our subject, was born in the old Granite state, and when he arrived at years of maturity wedded Lucinda G. Kellogg.  They removed to Wisconsin and her death occurred in that state, leaving six children, of whom four are still living.  The father afterward removed to Dakota and in 1875 came to California, living with his son John for nine years or up to the time of his death, which occurred in the eighty-fourth year of his age.  He had held the office of justice of the peace in Wisconsin and was recognized as a man of intelligence and worth, commanding the regard of all with whom he associated in business and social life.

            John K. Pattee, the second of the family, pursued his education in New York and Canada.  He was a young man when the news of the discovery of gold was received, and with the hope of gaining a fortune without waiting through the interval of a long business career he sailed from New York for the Pacific coast on the Crescent City, but the vessel landed its passengers on the Isthmus of Panama and Mr. Pattee proceeded to Gorgona.  He aided in hauling a lifeboat to Panama with a rope, a distance of about thirty-six miles.  Later he took passage on the whaling ship Sylph for San Francisco, and the voyage was successfully accomplished.  One of the passengers, however, died of the Panama fever and was thrown overboard into the sea.  After reaching the Golden Gate the subject of this review made his way to Mokelumne Hill, in Calaveras County, and engaged in placer mining on Two Mile Bar working for wages.  Subsequently he went to Angel’s Camp and followed mining at the present Utica mine, but with poor success.

            He therefore decided to abandon his search for gold and located on a ranch in San Andreas Township, Calaveras County, obtaining a squatter’s claim, and after the land was surveyed he pre-empted it.  As the years passed and prosperity came to him he purchased land from other settlers of the neighborhood until he became the owner of seven hundred acres, a very valuable property, and built thereon a substantial residence and outbuildings and engaged successfully in raising stock.  He is still the owner of one of the valuable farms of Calaveras County.  For some time he engaged in conducting a little wayside hotel, where all travelers were made welcome and were well treated.  He was also engaged for a number of years in buying stock at Los Angeles and San Jose and in driving them to the mining claims of Calaveras County, where he sold them at a good profit.  He was out in all kinds of weather on these trips and was exposed to many hardships, but his resolute spirit enabled him to bear these and eventually success came to him.

            He had stock stolen from him by the Joaquin Murietta band, who took horses principally.  On one occasion Mr. Pattee and two of his friends started in pursuit of the robbers.  They came upon them at Yankee Camp, but discovered that there were too many of the robbers for them to attack and Mr. Pattee returned to San Andreas, where he formed a company, with whom he returned to Yankee Camp.  The band had gone to Anton, where they had shot a man, but our subject and his company attacked them.  They found a big Mexican riding one of Mr. Pattee’s horses.  The horse was shot and they and they captured the Mexican, whom they hung by the neck until he was dead.  The band then retreated to the Phoenix quartz mill where they killed two men, and Mr. Pattee and his company again attacked them, and in the fight one of the men was wounded in the shoulder, after which the Mexicans retreated.  Our subject and his party, however, could see the blood and followed the trail in that way.  One of the parties cut off his boot tops and threw them down and the Americans picked them up.  Continuing on the trail they saw a tent in the distance, out of which a man ran.  On reaching the tent they found the wounded man still there and found that the boot tops fitted the ones which he wore.  They took him to Cherokee Flat, near Angel’s, and hung him also, but the others escaped.  Such was the summary justice which was needed in those days in order to hold in subjection the lawless element which had invaded the state, knowing that there was no organized government which could prevent them from perpetrating their deeds of violence.

            Mr. Pattee dates his settlement upon his ranch from the fall of 1852, and resided there continuously until 1893, a period of forty-one years, when he retired from the farm and purchased a good residence, in which he is now living with his esteemed wife, surrounded by the comforts and many of the luxuries which go to make life worth living.  All have been attained by his own efforts.  He was elected a justice of the peace January 1, 1895, and served four years, ending January 1, 1899; was appointed a notary public on the 26th of August, 1896, by the Hon. James Budd, Governor of California, and at the expiration of four years was reappointed by the Hon. T. C. Gage, Governor of California, which office he is still filling.

            Mr. Pattee was married on the 10th of January, 1859, to Miss Margaret Lonergan, a native of County Waterford, Ireland, who came to the United States in 1853, and has been a resident of California since 1858.  They have had seven children, all born to them upon the ranch.  They were educated in the county and are a credit to the untarnished family name.  In order of birth they are as follows:  Edgar, who is married and has four children; Leander, who was married and died in 1892, leaving one child; John K., who is married and is a prominent merchant in Valley Springs; Calvin, who died at the age of thirty years in Central America; Joseph, who is married and has two children and is now engaged in merchandising in Paloma; Lottie E., who is in San Francisco; and Franklin B., who is in partnership with his brother at Valley Springs, under the firm name of Pattee Brothers, dealers in general merchandise.

            For forty-one years Mr. and Mrs. Pattee have traveled life’s journey together.  They still enjoy good health and are honored and highly esteemed pioneer people who have witnessed the wonderful development of the state as it has emerged from a collection of mining camps to a splendid commonwealth.  They have just pride in what has been accomplished, and have every reason to do so, for they have borne their part in bringing about the conditions which have led to the present prosperity and advancement of California.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 149-152. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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