James Mahon, of Colfax, Placer County, California, came to the state in 1849. He was born in Oswego County, New York, in 1832. John and Catherine (McLaughlin) Mahon, his parents, were both born in Ireland. Leaving Dublin, in which city they were married, they came to the United States in 1826 and located in Oswego, New York, where Mr. Mahon was engaged as a ship chandler. There were seven children in the family, of whom two are now living. Both the father and mother are now deceased. Mr. Mahon died in 1864, having attained the age of sixty-eight years, and his wife passed away in 1870, aged sixty-five years.
The subject of this sketch was educated in the public schools of his native city. When seventeen years of age he went to New York City, intending to become a ship carpenter, but on his arrival there he heard of the great gold discoveries in California and determined to seek his fortune in the west. With a friend he embarked on the ship Queen of the West and worked his way around the Horn to the Golden Gate, the journey requiring six months’ time. On the 12th day of July, 1849, he landed in San Francisco and on leaving this city went to Sacramento and finally to Murphy’s Camp. At the latter place he was paid seven dollars per day for his labor. He next went to Coloma, where he worked for a short time and then took up his residence in Auburn, Placer County, where he was engaged in carrying water to the mines at a salary of five dollars per day. Later he worked in several of the early mining camps, Michigan Bluff, Forest Hill and Yonker Jim’s and also had claims of his own, which paid from ten to fifty dollars per day. Occasionally he found nuggets worth one hundred dollars. He continued mining until 1859 and then engaged in teaming, hauling brick to Auburn. In 1863 he became the proprietor of a saloon in Auburn and later was interested in saloons at Clipper Gap, Colfax and Alta. He now owns the Railroad saloon at Colfax.
Mr. Mahon was married, in 1873, to Miss Ellen Ballen, of San Francisco, a native of New Orleans. They have one son, James Thomas Mahon. Although Mr. Mahon is a Democrat, he is nevertheless liberal in his views. He is a well preserved ‘49er and an excellent specimen of the many brave sons Ireland has furnished the United States and California.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.