JOHN H. LAKAMP
Forty-six years have passed since John Henry Lakamp came to California, and thus through more than four decades he has witnessed the growth and development of the state. To those who saw California in its early mining days and now travel over the beautiful state, rich in all the natural resources and in all the improvements that man has made, it is no wonder that her citizens feel a deep pride in her progress and upbuilding, a pride that is amply justified by what has been accomplished. Each community has its leading men who have been foremost in promoting the work of advancement, and among this number is classed Mr. Lakamp.
A native of Hanover, Germany, he was born on the 16th of October, 1835, his parents being Joseph and Margaret Lakamp, also natives of the same country. The father died when his son was only six years of age. The mother afterward became the wife of Adam Hespa. In 1845 they came to America, bringing with them her son John. He was afterward afforded the educational privileges of a religious school in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also learned the shoemaker’s trade as a preparation for life’s practical duties, but was later obliged to abandon that vocation because of his health, and in 1854 he came to California by way of the Isthmus. He sailed from New York on the George Low. Subsequently that vessel was brought around into the Pacific waters and was finally wrecked and sank the passengers and crew all being lost.
Mr. Lakamp arrived at Dutch Flat on the 27th of March and worked on a ranch, being employed at the manufacture of charcoal and “shakes.” He was willing to accept any employment that would yield him an honorable living until he could get a start. A little later he began mining on the river and was among the first to engage in hydraulic mining, in which enterprise he met with success. His largest find was a nugget of gold worth four hundred and twenty-one dollars and twenty-five cents. There were five of his party working at that place and they used to take out about one hundred dollars each in a week. They worked the mine until they supposed its mineral resources were exhausted, after which it was jumped by others and for some time still proved to be a good producer. In 1861 Mr. Lakamp resumed mining on the same river where he had worked for three years, and then sold his property to good advantage. He has since operated and owned several mines, and like most mining men he has made and lost much money; but in the aggregate of his career has been a prosperous one and he has now retired from active business with a good competency, having a commodious and comfortable residence in Dutch Flat, where he enjoys the esteem of his fellow citizens to a high degree. He is still interested in various mining properties, but leaves their operation to others.
Mr. Lakamp has been a lifelong Democrat, but has never sought official preferment as a reward for party fidelity. In 1860 he was made a Mason and has since continued an active and valued representative of the fraternity. He has also taken the Royal Arch and the Knight Templar degrees and is a worthy representative of the beneficent principles upon which the order is founded. His home relations have been very pleasant. He was married in 1876 to Miss Margaret Hild, a native of Germany, and they became the parents of six children, of whom four are living, namely: Esther; Emma, the wife of M. S Skeagan, by whom she has two children—Milton and Margaret; Frank, who has also gone to Cape Nome, Alaska, to try his fortune there; and Augusta, who lives in Chicago, Illinois. The mother died in April, 1879, and her loss was deeply felt by her family. Mr. Lakamp has since remained single. He has a nice residence in Dutch Flat and Mrs. Skeagen with her husband and children reside with him. He is one of the well preserved early settlers of California who can relate many interesting incidents of the pioneer government of the state when California was largely the home of the mining population and when the seeds of civilization were being planted. He is highly spoken of in the town in which he has so long resided and justly deserves mention among its leading respected citizens.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.