This gentleman occupies the position of tax collector of Sacramento county and is a most capable official, his loyalty to the public trust being above question. His reputation in all life's relations is unassailable, and he justly merits the confidence reposed in him by those who chose him for the important and responsible office which he is now filling. He was born in Stafford, Connecticut, on the 3rd of September, 1827, and is descended from one of the good old Revolutionary heroes.
His paternal grandfather, John Bugbey, who was also a native of the Charter Oak state, joined the colonial forces when the attempt was made to throw off all allegiance to the mother country. Through seven years he fought for the independence of the nations and after the way was over he was granted a pension of ninety-six dollars annually throughout the remainder of his life. He died in Skaungamug--a little settlement south of Tolland, Connecticut in February 1838, at the age of eighty-six years and three months. His wife was in her maidenhood a Miss Peters.
Their son, Eleazer Wales Bugbey, was born in Tolland in 1793, and married Miss Hannah L. Norton, whose birth occurred in Suffield, Connecticut, and who was a daughter of Harvey and Miss (Loomis) Norton. They too were residents of Connecticut, where they spent their entire lives.
The father of our subject was a merchant and served as postmaster under Presidents Jackson and Polk at West Stafford, Connecticut. He served as a private in the war of 1812, and participated in the engagements at Saranac Bridge, at Plattsburg, New York, where the English bullets flew thick and fast, and at New London, Connecticut, manning a gunboat and peppering the British in that memorable fog. He also devoted much of his time to church work, in which he took a great interest, being a minister of the Methodist Episcopal denomination. His life was ever honorable and upright, commanding the respect of all with whom he came in contact. His wife died at Windsor Locks, Connecticut, at the age of eighty-eight years.
The family has always been noted for loyalty and patriotism, and when the Civil War was inaugurated, two brothers of our subject entered the service and fought to maintain the Union which their grandfather had aided in establishing. George H. Bugbey became a member of Company A, Hartford Light Guards, First Connecticut Volunteers, which was the first regiment from that state that went to the front. He was the first Connecticut soldier wounded, his left shoulder being shot away at Vienna, Virginia, on the 16th of June 1861. His brother, Charles E. Bugbey, was in Company K, Twenty-second Connecticut Infantry, in which he served with the rank of corporal. He was enlisted August 28, 1862, and faithfully defended the old flag and the cause it represented. William Bugbey, a son of E. W. Bugbey Jr, the eldest brother of our subject, enlisted December 2, 1861, re-enlisted December 13, 1863, was wounded June 3, 1864, and died on the 11th of the same month at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Three cousins, Clark, Sumner and Frank Bugbey, the last named a member of a Massachusetts cavalry regiment, also died in the service. Other relatives were numbered among the "boys in blue," and thus the military record of the Bugbeys is one of which they have every reason to be proud.
B. N. Bugbey spent the days of his boyhood and youth in his native village, acquiring his education in the schools of Stafford. At the age of nineteen he accepted a position as a commercial salesman, remaining upon the road until 1848, when he went to Quincy, Massachusetts, being connected with mercantile affairs at that place. In that year gold was discovered in California, and desiring to gain a fortune in that land of promise, Mr. Bugbey returned to his home and joined a party preparing to make the trip to the new Eldorado of the west. He started in December 1848, taking with him provisions for three years, machinery, tools and a house which was ready to join together on reaching his destination. The Hampden Mining and Trading Company, of which he was a member, chartered a vessel, the John Castner, and ran to Brazos, or Point Isabel, thence crossed through Mexico from Matamoras to Mazatlan. As a passenger on board the French bark Olympia, he finally arrived at San Francisco on June 12, 1849.
Immediately he made preparations to enter the mines and began his search for gold at Condemned Bar, on the north fork of the American River. In the fall of that year he went to the future capital city and at the first election held there aided in electing P. B. Cornwall to the general assembly. In February, 1850, he again returned to the mines and on the 5th of May, of the same year, began trading at different places. He was thus engaged at Rock Spring and Condemned Bar, and was the organizer of the Rock Bar Company, of which he was made the president. They built a mill-race for the first flour-mill in 1852.
In the fall of 1851 Mr. Bugbey returned to Connecticut, leaving California on the 4th of October, on board the old steamer Independence, bound for New York via Nicaragua, connecting with steamer Prometheus on the Atlantic side. The ice supply on Prometheus was exhausted during the voyage and all their fresh provisions were thus rendered unfit for use. On the way the vessel anchored in Havana Bay, off Casabianca, and without a guide Mr. Bugbey visited Morro Castle. He viewed the structure from all points and says no picture ever printed has given a correct idea of the old fort.
Mr. Bugbey remained in the east until May 1852, when he returned to California arriving at San Francisco on the 25th of June. He engaged in the hotel business for a short time and afterward purchased another hotel, the Monte Cristo, on the old Coloma road eighteen miles east of Sacramento.
Later he established a furniture store in Sacramento and built a shop for the manufacture of his goods. The big flood and fire which swept over the city caused him severe loss, and the overcrowded conditions of that branch of business also led him to turn his attention to ranching. He removed to a ranch sixteen miles from Sacramento, on the American river and there carried on agricultural pursuits until the spring of 1856, farm products at that time bringing high prices. In the operation of his land and for the purpose of conveying his goods to market he used a bull team. On his way home he would frequently go to sleep and the team would stop, standing quietly in the middle of the road until he would awaken and start them again on their way.
He was early recognized as a leader of the better element in the community and was chosen constable, which position he filled for five years. Immediately after being elected constable he commenced a war on the thieves and robbers, and the following June arrested thirteen in one gang. He continued in this work, during his entire term, completely ridding the section of this class. He was elected on the 5th of November, 1861 sheriff of the county. At the close of his term it was his desire to enlist in the Union army after the breaking out of the Civil War, but Hon. F. F. Low, the governor of California, said he wanted home guards, and as Mr. Bugbey was filling the office of sheriff of Sacramento county he felt that he was doing good service for the government at home. He was chosen for the position in September, 1861, and on October 6th following, entered upon his duties, and with fearlessness discharged every task devolving upon him until his retirement in 1864. Every Saturday night he would return to his home at Folsom. He had during his incumbency established a vineyard, and for sixteen years was extensively engaged in the cultivation of grapes, being one of the pioneers in the industry in the state. His efforts were so successful, and the fruits which he raised of such a high grade that he won three gold medals from the state and two from the Mechanics' Institute. He was the first man to produce raisins in America. He is yet regarded as high authority on matters of horticulture, and has written many letters and articles setting forth his manner of producing fruits and other articles in this locality. His methods are very practical, yet progressive, and he is a recognized leader in this line of business.
In February 1879 Mr. Bugbey took up his residence again in Sacramento, and engaged in the real estate business, which he continued for two years. He then accepted the position of under sheriff, under Sheriff M. M. Drew, and at the same time was connected with mining and farming interests. He has met many difficulties and obstacles, his buildings having at three different times been destroyed by fire, and on one occasion, his loss amounted to over one hundred and forty-six thousand dollars! Such disaster would have utterly discouraged most men, but with determined purpose and renewed energy he resumed his work and has conquered adverse fate.
Other political offices have been accorded him, including the appointment to the position of United States commissioner. Great trouble had arisen on account of the opposition to Chinese immigrants, and the objection to the "Celestials" was carried into the realm of violence. It was necessary that law and order should be maintained, and in order to do this Mr. Bugbey placed eighteen of the prominent leaders in jail, which was an intrepid act and one which many a man would not have performed, for influential citizens thus aroused might use their power against him; but he never for a moment shirked his duty. He served as under sheriff under Lee Stanley for one term, and during a portion of Mr. O'Neil's term. In November, 1898, he was elected to the office of tax collector and ex officio license collector on the silver Republican ticket. There were fourteen candidates against him and he made a very bitter fight, but his popularity and well known reliability triumphed over all opposition and won him the office.
He cast his first presidential vote in 1848, and since that time has manifested an active interest in political affairs, keeping well informed on all the issues of the day and earnestly supporting every measure which he believes will advance the welfare of the American people. He is now the secretary of the silver Republican county committee and is one of the leaders of the party in this state; is a member of the state central committee and was a delegate to the national convention of that party that met July 4, 1900. Socially he is connected with the Masonic Lodge, in which he has attained the Knight Templar degree. He attends Oak Park Methodist Episcopal church and gives his aid and cooperation to all measures for the public good. He well deserves mention among the honored pioneers of California, for through more than half a century he has resided in this state, and his efforts have been potent in the development and upbuilding of this great state. His business interests have ever been conducted in an honorable manner, and in public office his capable, impartial and faithful service has gained him the respect of even his political enemies.
Source: “A Volume Of Memoirs And Genealogy of Representative Citizens Of Northern California” Standard Genealogical Publishing Co. Chicago. 1901. Pages 435-438.
Submitted by: Betty Tartas.
© 2003 Betty Tartas.
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