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Nevada County









            Charles F. Macy, who for the past thirty years has been the druggist of Iowa Hill and for a half century has been a respected resident of the state, was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on the 4th of October, 1828, and has therefore passed the Psalmist’s span of three-score years and ten.  Although his has ever been an active and useful career he has not yet put aside the cares of life, and his close identification with commercial pursuits at this time should put to shame many a man of younger years who, grown weary of life’s toils and struggles, would relegate to others the burdens that he should bear.

            Mr. Macy is of English lineage, representing a family that was founded in New England in early colonial days.  When his ancestors left the merrie isle to seek a home in America they took up their abode in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which place they were obliged to leave to avoid persecution for the acts of harboring and protecting Quakers.  Pursued by a fanatical force of officers, Thomas Macy and wife took refuge in an open boat, and, subjecting themselves to the mercy of the ocean wave, they followed down the coast until they discovered and reached the island of Nantucket, which was inhabited by friendly Indians (a detailed account of which may be found in John G. Whittier’s poem, “The Exiles”).  Others followed them and there they found a home of religious toleration.

            The Macy’s were among the prominent, respected and reliable citizens of the place and were members of the Quaker Church.  The grandfather, Job Macy, and his father, Alexander Macy, were both born in Nantucket, and the latter was for many years the captain on a whaling ship, but for some years before his death he left the sea and took up the quiet life of the farm at the old home of his youth where he attained the ripe old age of eighty-eight years.  His wife, who bore the maiden name of Maria Pinkham, was also a native of Nantucket, and they became the parents of five sons and one daughter; but only two of the number are now living, namely:  Alexander, a resident of San Jose, California, now in his eightieth year, and Charles F.  The mother passed away in the eighty-sixth year of her age.

            Charles F. Macy acquired his education in the schools of his native town and remained in the east until allured by the discovery of gold in California.  He started for this Mecca in 1849, making the long voyage around Cape Horn.  He joined a company of twenty-four young men who purchased a ship and started out with food and such an outfit as they supposed they would need in their search for gold.  They were each permitted to select a young man to sail with them and who were permitted to work their passage.  It was expected that they would be able to sell the vessel advantageously on reaching their destination, but after several futile attempts they were obliged to take a merely nominal sum for it.

            Mr. Macy went first to the slate range on the North Yuba, but met with unsatisfactory returns in his labors there and again went to San Francisco, where he spent the winter of 1850-1.  In the spring he made his way to the big bar on the middle fork of the American River, and in the winter of 1852-3 went to Lowell Hill, in Nevada County.  There he and three companions had small mining claims and on one occasion they were fortunate enough to take out a nugget worth nine hundred dollars.  At this place they met with very gratifying success, but, like the majority of the brave California pioneers, they invested their money in the hope of securing still greater returns and lost much that they had made.  At times they were prosperous and again met with reverses, and in this manner Mr. Macy’s mining operations continued until November, 1866, when he arrived at Iowa Hill.  Ten years previously this place had been the fifth in population in the state and was a very prosperous mining camp until the law put an end to hydraulic mining.  Mr. Macy opened a store and carried on general merchandising for a number of years, but at length closed out that enterprise and for thirty-three years has conducted the only drug store in the town.  In this he has been very successful, enjoying a liberal patronage which comes from Iowa Hill and the surrounding country.  During all the years of his residence in Iowa Hill Mr. Macy has continued interested in mining, and in the development of the mineral resources of this part of the state he has done his full share.  He is still a part owner in a number of valuable mining properties, among which are the Orion, the Rule, the Success and the Juno.  He was one of the organizers of the Iowa Hill Canal Company, which was formed in 1872 and brought water to the mines, a distance of twenty-five miles, for hydraulic purposes.  This enterprise proved a very valuable one at the time they were permitted to engage in hydraulic mining, but at present the great outlay is completely useless.

            Mr. Macy’s first vote was cast for Franklin Pierce for president of the United States, but his love of liberty and hatred of oppression led him to support John C. Fremont for the presidency in 1856.  He became one of the organizers of the Republican Party, and during the Civil War was a strong Union man.  He has never wavered in his allegiance to the grand old party and has been chosen by his fellow townsmen on that ticket to the office of justice of the peace, in which he has served continuously and well for a number of years.  He has also been notary public for a number of years and is thoroughly acquainted with the law connected with justice courts.  He has won a favorable comment by his ability in drawing up legal papers and contracts and does all that kind of work in the town.  He has also made out the papers for mining parties and as their attorney has procured many United States mineral patents to their lands, and is thoroughly acquainted with judicial principles concerning all such subjects.  He is likewise well known for his ability as a Fourth-of-July orator, for his patriotism and loyalty are of a high order, and his love for his country has inspired him with an eloquence that cannot be obtained from beautiful rhetorical phrases, but must rise from the occasion.

            In 1873 Mr. Macy selected for his wife, and was happily married to, Miss Mary E. Nahor, a native of Nashua, New Hampshire, born June 25, 1845, of English and Scotch lineage, her ancestors being among the noted early settlers of that colony.  She is a direct descendant of Captain Aquilla Chase, who came to America in 1603.  She is also a descendant of the Shattuck family, which traces its history back to the year 1500 in England.  Her great-grandfather, Captain Joseph Chase, fought in the battle of Bunker Hill and participated in the entire struggle for independence.  General Miles, who now stands at the head of the American army, is also a member of the family.  Her father, Joseph Nahor, came to California in 1849 on the ship Edward Everett, with Alexander’s geological surveying party, their purpose being to locate all the gold in this state; but nearly all of them died poor.  Soon after arriving in the state he left the party, and in the winter of 1850-1 he located at Auburn, camping in front of the present site of the American Hotel.  Mrs. Macy came to California in 1857, when she was twelve years old.  Her father died at or near Iowa Hill in 1871 in the sixty-fifth year of his age.  Her mother still survives and is now living with Mrs. Macy, in the eighty-ninth year of her age.  The esteemed wife of our subject spent her early girlhood days and acquired her education in the schools of Massachusetts.  For forty-three years she has been a resident of California, living at Iowa Hill during the greater part of the time.  She is a lady of marked intelligence and a splendid representative of the brave pioneer women who came to California in an early period in its development and are entitled to great credit for the part they have taken in the settlement of this great commonwealth.  Mr. and Mrs. Macy have had three children, but their daughter Ella died in the twelfth year of her age.  The sons are Waldo S., who is now in charge of his father’s mining interests, and C. Everett, who is now in school.  The family occupy a pleasant home in Iowa Hill and the parents and their sons are highly respected in the community in which they live.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 644-646. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.





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