JOHN G. BISBEE
John Gould Bisbee, one of Auburn’s old and highly respected citizens came to California in 1858, arriving in San Francisco December 28, the same year, and coming to Placer County January 6, 1859.
He was born in Lisbon, Maine, March 31, 1837, and is of old English ancestry who were early settlers in New England. His great-grandfather Bisbee was the progenitor of the family in America. He settled in North Adams, Massachusetts. The Bisbee’s were active participants in the early history of the country and in the Revolution. Mr. Bisbee’s father, Arza Bisbee, was born in the town in which his ancestors had first settled and where several generations of the family were born. For a number of years he was the foreman in the weaving department of a large woolen factory. In 1850 he came to California, having sailed from Boston around the Horn, the journey requiring six months’ time. He was first employed in a sawmill in Napa, but soon went to the mines at “Hangtown,” now Placerville, where he met with moderate success at mining and for a time was also engaged in mechanical work. He prospected and had various mining claims and made and sunk money in mining speculations like many of the pioneers of the state. He was three times married. By his first wife there were two children, and by his second wife, John Gould Bisbee’s mother, there were four children, three of whom are now living. There were no children by the third marriage. In his death, which occurred in the seventy-sixth year of his age, California lost an honest, upright, industrious citizen.
The subject of our sketch was educated in the public schools of his native town and after his arrival in California was employed with his father at blacksmithing and wagon and carriage making. Later he operated the Morning Star mill and was for some time its superintendent. He established a sawmill for the Iowa Hill Canal Company and while at work there was elected treasurer of the county of Placer and came to Auburn to reside in 1880. As the first treasurer elected after the adoption of the new state constitution, he filled the office acceptably for two years and ten months, after which time he embarked in blacksmithing and wagon and carriage manufacturing in Auburn. He has since carried on the business successfully, giving the fullest satisfaction to his patrons, accumulating a competency and, what is better, retaining a good name as one of the worthy and reliable citizens of the town.
He was married November 17, 1858, to Miss Elizabeth Madden. Almost immediately after their marriage he came to California with his wife and during the pioneer days she was his faithful helpmate. There were born to them at Iowa Hill seven children, five of whom are living: Clarissa, the wife of Lewis Joninon; William, associated with his father in business; Hettie, the wife of Henry McCann; George W., prominently interested in fruit raising; and Minnie, wife of S. K. Clement. The faithful wife and kind and indulgent mother departed this life on April 21, 1878. She was very much beloved by all who knew her and her loss was seriously felt by her family. Mr. Bisbee married for his second wife Miss Morgan, who, unfortunately, was only spared to him two years. December 25, 1896, he married Mrs. Lola Van Auken, who is now the valued partner of his old age. They reside in a delightful home which he has built in Auburn.
Mr. Bisbee is a prominent and esteemed member of the I. O. O. F. and has passed the chairs in both branches of this order and was district deputy for many years. In the Masonic fraternity he also stands very high; past master of the blue lodge, past high priest of the chapter and past thrice illustrious master of the council and past patron of the Eastern Star. He is now (1900) principal conductor of the works of the Grand Council and an eminent brother in that branch of the order; for several years was district inspector of the blue lodges in his district, and at the present time is deputy grand lecturer of the chapter in his district. In politics Mr. Bisbee has been a life-long Republican. His record as a citizen of California is as bright as the sunlight of her skies.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.