George Opel was born in Germany, July 20, 1831, of German parents, John and Margaret (Keslevey) Opel, and one of a family of seven children. In 1849 the Opel family immigrated to America, locating at St. Louis, Missouri. Subsequently the father died of cholera, while on his way from St. Louis to New Orleans. The mother resided there with her children in Jefferson County, Missouri, and reached a good old age, being ninety at the time of her death. Of the children only two are now living.
George Opel, at the time he came to this country, was eighteen years of age. He remained with the other members of the family until 1853, when with four other young men he came to California. Their journey was made overland in a “prairie schooner” drawn by oxen, and it was six months before they reached their destination. The leader of the little party had been to California before and it was at his suggestion that they traveled leisurely, his idea being to reach the mines about the time the fall rains set in. Their first stop in California was at Grass Valley. There they mined during the winter, but with little success, however. Subsequently they were more fortunate on the north fork of the American River, where Mr. Opel had a claim of his own, in which he worked from 1858 until 1894, and during that time took out a great deal of gold. He sold his claim in 1894. Since then he has been more or less interested in mining, and still owns a good drift mine, but for the past ten years he has not been engaged in any active business, on account of ill health, being troubled with bronchial asthma.
Mr. Opel was married in 1885 to Mrs. Drusilla Barber, the widow of William Barber. By Mr. Barber she had ten children, five of whom are living, and in the support and education of this family Mr. Opel has shown as much interest as if they were his own. The eldest, Amelia, is the wife of Charles Kellogg, of New Castle, California; Maria H. is the widow of E. Towle; Jennie is now Mrs. Val Curran; Louise is the wife of James W. Jameson, postmaster and merchant of Dutch Flat; and the only son is Charles E. Mrs. Opel has been a resident of California since 1861. She was born in England, a daughter of James Sherrin, and in her girlhood was brought to the United States by her parents, their settlement being in Pennsylvania, where she was reared.
At the time he came to California Mr. Opel was a poor young man, with nothing but his pluck and energy and his willing hands for capital, and as a result of his industry and good management he has acquired a sufficient amount of this world’s goods to make him and his family comfortable; they occupy one of the best homes of Dutch Flat and are held in high esteem by the people of the community. The only fraternal organization with which Mr. Opel is connected is the I. O. O. F., and with this he has been identified for a number of years.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.