Ireland has furnished many of her sons to the new world, whose versatility, adaptability and enterprise have been important factors in the upbuilding and progress of the communities with which they have been associated. Among the sons of the Emerald Isle now residing in California is Alexander Hemphill, a citizen of Lincoln, who arrived in the Golden state in April, 1854. He was born in county Donegal, in 1832, and is of Scotch-Irish ancestry. The religious faith of the family was that of the Presbyterian Church. His father, Richard Hemphill, married Miss Sarah McCann, and two sons, John and Alexander, were born unto them. The mother died when the subject of this review was only thirteen years of age, and in 1843 the father came with his two boys to America, sailing from Londonderry to New York. They located in Adams, Clark County, Ohio, and the father died there in the sixty-fifth years of his age, spending his last days in the home of his brother, who had preceded him to the new country. He was a man of means and of the highest integrity and responsibility.
Alexander Hemphill acquired his education in the schools of his native county and in the public schools of Ohio. When nineteen years of age he entered upon his business career, and determining to try his fortune in the far west he sailed from New York for San Francisco, making his way from the Atlantic to the Pacific waters over the Isthmus of Panama. He took passage on the Independent, having six hundred people on the vessel. Off Marguerite Island she ran on the rocks, caught fire and were totally destroyed, two hundred and fifty of her passengers being drowned by the swamping of her boats in the surf! Mr. Hemphill battled with the waves, swam ashore and thus saved his life, but lost all of his possession save a pair of trousers and a coat. They were three days upon the island before relief came. It was supposed that the old ship was heavily insured and that she was run aground on purpose; but the perpetrators of the fearful crime were never brought to justice.
After his arrival in San Francisco Mr. Hemphill came to Placer County and engaged in mining. He has since made his home in this county and has aided in the search for the precious metal at Auburn, Iowa Hill and Dutch Flat. He was engaged in lumbering with the Towle Brothers for fifteen years and in all of his enterprises his efforts have been attended with success. In 1879 he came to Lincoln and has since devoted his energies to farming. He now has sixteen hundred acres of valuable land and is extensively engaged in raising the various cereals best adapted to this climate. He has erected one of the most pleasant and commodious homes in Lincoln and there he is now spending the evening of an active and prosperous life, surrounded by many of the comforts and luxuries that have been secured to him through his well-directed efforts.
Mr. Hemphill was married in 1878 to Miss Eliza Disque, a native of Iowa and of French lineage. They have only one son, whom they have named Wallace George. He was born in Lincoln and is now making a tour of Europe, including a visit to the World’s Fair in Paris. Mr. Hemphill was made a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Olive Lodge, No. 81, at Dutch Flat, in 1867, and is still identified with the organization. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In politics he is a stalwart Republican, but has never desired or held office, preferring to give his entire attention to his business.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.