El Dorado County
DAVID E. NORTON
The memory of David E. Norton, a California pioneer, who successfully engaged in mining, ranching and merchandising and was a forceful factor in the early development of El Dorado County, is enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him. He was born in Ulysses, Tompkins County, New York, September 3, 1829, and when a child of five years went to Ohio with his parents, Joseph and Betsey (Hall) Norton, who settled in Seneca County in 1834. There he was reared and educated and in 1852, when a young man of twenty-three years, started for California, making the long and hazardous overland journey with W. H. Parks. Mr. Norton first located in Sacramento but in 1853 removed to El Dorado County and embarked in general merchandising, also becoming a miner and stock raiser. In 1855 he turned his attention to horticultural pursuits, purchasing land in the town of El Dorado, where he developed a valuable fruit farm of fifty-seven acres. He was one of the earliest orchardists of the Sacramento valley and through his courage, foresight and initiative aided in bringing to light the natural resources of this region. Methodical and systematic, he carefully planned every detail of his work and his methods of farming and fruit raising were both practical and progressive. As the years passed he added many improvements to his place, transforming it from a wild tract into a highly productive ranch, and on that property he continued to make his home until his death in 1885. He belonged to that class of men who have constructive faculties largely developed—the natural leaders who are absolutely essential in a new country and who prepare the way for the oncoming thousands. He lived to see much of the actual “winning of the west” and was a man of kindly nature and high moral worth, esteemed and respected by all who knew him.
On the 3rd of November, 1856, Mr. Norton was married to Miss Elizabeth Dorian, who passed away in 1869. For his second wife he chose Mrs. A. B. Gardner, to whom he was married in 1871. The daughter, Dora Norton, was married in 1880 to Stephen Cocking, of Cornwall, England, who was a native of England and acquired his education in that country. As a young man he sought the opportunities of the United States, becoming a foreman in the mines of El Dorado County and occupying the position until his death. By his marriage he had a daughter, Lois V., who in 1902 became the wife of Ralph Sutton, now connected with the state highway department of California. With their daughter, Dorian, Mr. and Mrs. Sutton reside on a portion of the old Norton estate, occupying the home which was built by Mrs. Sutton’s grandfather sixty years ago and hospitably entertaining their many friends there.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 2 Pages 263-264. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.
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