Sons of the Emerald Isle have made their mark in California in every field of human endeavor and in every generation since civilization began there, and venturesome and enterprising Irishmen were numerous during the days of the gold excitement. One of those who came in 1853 was Bernard Sheridan, long a respected resident of Mokelumne Hill. Mr. Sheridan was a son of James and Bridget (Comeskey) Sheridan, natives of Ireland and devout members of the Catholic Church. They were farmers, not faring very well in their native land, and they decided to seek better fortune in America; and their children all came to America at different times. Bernard, who was born in County Cavan, September 12, 1830, came in 1842, when he was twelve years old, sailing in the Olive Branch from Drohady to Boston. He fell in with one Captain Brook and was employed by him to do chores about his place, and performed his duties so faithfully that he was a member of the Captain’s household for eleven years, until 1853, when he came to California.
He sailed from Boston on the John L. Stephens, which landed him at Aspinwall. He crossed the Isthmus and secured passage for San Francisco, where he arrived on November 20. From there he soon went to Sacramento, where he found work at planking the streets, and at seventy-five dollars a month and board. He went from Sacramento to Jackson, Amador County, and mined on the Middle Fork Creek, with only modest success. After a short stop at Jackson he mined at different camps on the Mokelumne River until 1856, when he settled at Mokelumne Hill, where he entered to employment of the Mokelumne and Camp Seco Canal & Mining Company, in which he continued until 1899, a period of forty-nine years, when he met with an accident which disabled him somewhat and caused him to retire from active work. Soon after he came to Mokelumne Hill he bought a building lot, which he subsequently planted with trees, vines and shrubs and on which he has established a pleasant cottage home, where he is literally passing his declining years “under his own vine and fig tree.” In 1860 he voted for Stephen A. Douglas, the great war Democrat, but he voted for Lincoln in 1864 and has voted for every Republican presidential nominee since.
In 1851 Mr. Sheridan married Miss Catherine Blake, a comely Irish girl born in his own County Cavan. He sent for her and she came out to him in 1855 and five children were born to them in California: James, of San Francisco; Maria, who died at the age of twenty-four; Kate, who married Robert Randall and lives at Warner Creek; Rose, who is now her father’s housekeeper; and Frank, who is a member of his father’s household. Mrs. Sheridan died in 1869, in the thirty-eighth year of her age, and is remembered by her husband and children as a faithful wife and devoted mother. Mr. Sheridan has always mourned her death and has tried to rear their children as nearly as possible as he believed she would have done. His life has been an honest and industrious one and he is respected not only as a good citizen but as a pioneer who has given his years to the development of the interests of his adopted state.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.