REPRESENTATIVE AND LEADING
MEN OF THE PACIFIC
ISAAC N. ROOP
By JUDGE A. T. BRUCE.
ISAAC NEWTON ROOP was born in Carroll County, Maryland, on the thirteenth day of March, 1822. His parents were natives of New York city, and of German origin. They lived for some time in the State of Pennsylvania, and in the year 1790, removed to the State of Maryland. Isaac was reared on a farm, and though his father was wealthy, he enjoyed such limited opportunities for education that, when he left home at the age of eighteen, he could scarcely write his own name. This defect, however, was in due time quite remedied, through the instrumentality of a Miss Nancy Gardiner, a graduate of the Transylvania College, with whom, in December, 1840, he established at once the twofold relation of husband and pupil. Under her tutorage he received a thorough English education, and laid the foundation work for that period of usefulness that succeeded to him in his later years.
Miss Nancy Gardiner was born in Pennsylvania, December 22d, 1822. In the same year of her marriage, she, with her husband, moved to Ashland County, Ohio. Ten years later she died, leaving her husband with three children, two sons and a daughter. Both of these sons enlisted in the service of their country, during the late war, and participated in the North-Western campaign under Gen. Rosecrans. The youngest, Isaiah Roop, was severely wounded at the terrible battle of Stone River, and died from its effects the following year. The remaining son, John V. Roop, is now living in the State of Iowa. The daughter, Mrs. Susan Arnold, came to California in the year 1862. She was much beloved by her father, and has stood by his side to cheer him and administer to his comfort since the day of her meeting him here. She resides in Susanville, Cal., in the home made beautiful by the hand of her illustrious father. On the ninth day of September, 1850, and but a few months after the loss of his wife, Gov. Roop started for California. He arrived in San Francisco on the eighteenth day of October of the same year, and in June following went to Shasta to keep a public house. His first three years in California were spent in Shasta County, in farming and trading. During this period he also held the situation of Postmaster and School Commissioner. He had accumulated in that time upwards of fifteen thousand dollars, worth of property, but in June, 1853, lost it all by fire. Stripped of everything but an unconquerable will, and being of an adventurous disposition, he turned his back upon civilized life, and journeying across the Sierras, took up his abode in Honey Lake Valley—at that time a long distance from any settlement, and solely inhabited by Indians. Here he located the land upon which the city of Susanville now stands, built a saw mill near by, and continued to reside here up to the day of his death, February 14th, 1869. During his residence in Honey Lake Valley he was engaged in lumbering, farming and trading, filled many offices of profit and trust, and, to a considerable extent, followed the practice of the law. The beautiful valley first settled by him has grown up into a flourishing county, and the little village which he laid out has become a large and prosperous commercial town, and the county seat of Lassen County. Honey Lake Valley, as lately as the year 1858, was considered by its settlers as a part of Utah Territory. Becoming indignant at the insolence and petty oppressions of the Mormons, these early settlers, with other residents of western Utah, resolved, in the year 1859, to cut loose from all political communication with a people they so heartily despised. Accordingly, a convention was called in July of that year, which, having drafted a Constitution for the new territory formed out of this part of Utah, and christened Nevada, the same was adopted by the people, and an election held in pursuance of its provisions for choosing a Governor and other territorial officers.
At this election, held on the seventh of September, Isaac N. Roop was chosen Provisional Governor of the proposed territory by nearly a unanimous vote. The first Legislature elected in this new territory met and organized in the town of Genoa, Carson Valley, on the fifteenth of December, 1859. O. K. Pierson, of Carson city, was elected Speaker, H. S. Thompson, Clerk, and the Hon. J. A. McDougal, Sergeant-at-Arms. To this Legislature Governor Roop delivered his first Message. The Governor adjourned the Legislature to the first Monday in January following, whereof he informed the people by proclamation. In that proclamation Governor Roop gave the reasons of the people of the proposed territory for the organization of a provisional government. The proclamation declared that “under Mormon rule they had no protection for life, limb or property. They had no Courts or County organizations except those controlled by the sworn satellites of the Salt Lake oligarchy. Their political rights were entirely at the will of a clique composed of those who were opposed to the first principles of our Constitution and the freedom of the ballot box. Under these circumstances all endeavored to secure relief from these impositions, and believing that a Provisional Government would best assure protection of life, limb, and property, an election was held and all necessary arrangements made for the formation of temporary government until Congress should insure justice and protection.”
A short time after, U. S. District Judge Cradlebaugh succeeded in establishing his Court in the new territory; a new Delegate to Congress, in the person of John J. Musser, had been elected and dispatched to Washington; extensive mines were discovered in the Carson Valley, which caused an influx of population wholly unexpected at the time of the meeting of the convention— and only a portion of the members of the first Legislature were present at its first meeting— wherefore, in the language of the proclamation, “I, Isaac N. Roop, Governor of the Provisional Territorial Government of Nevada Territory, believing it to be the wish of the people still to rely upon the sense of justice of Congress, and that it will this session, relieve us from the numerous evils to which we are subjected, do proclaim the session of the Legislature adjourned until the first Monday in January, 1860; and call upon all good citizens to support with all their energies the laws and Government of the United States.” During his gubernatorial term many wise measures were adopted for the better security of the early settlers in western Utah, and quite extensive campaigns carried on against the hostile Indians all along the border. He became very intimate with Gen. Lander, and was joined by him in many of his efforts for the suppression of Indian outrages upon the early settlers.
After the formation of the Territory of Nevada, in 1861, Governor Roop was elected to the Territorial Senate. There he acquitted himself honorably and won the lasting esteem of the entire population of the Territory. In 1862 he became the leading spirit in a movement to join Honey Lake Valley with the Territory of Nevada. For three or four years previous thereto the boundary line between California and Nevada had been in dispute. During that time many of the citizens of Honey Lake Valley acquiesced in the jurisdiction of Nevada. The Legislature of the Territory passed a bill fixing the boundaries of a new county to be called Roop, so as to include Honey Lake Valley, having its county seat at Susanville. A conflict of jurisdiction almost immediately ensued. The Nevada Legislature thereupon appointed three commissioners, R. M. Ford, Jas. W. Nye and I. N. Roop, to present its memorial to the California Legislature, with a view to obtain a change of the boundary line in accordance with the recommendation of Congress. The Legislature of the State of California refused to grant the request, and two years afterward Governor Roop had the satisfaction of seeing Honey Lake and its adjacent sister, Long Valley, erected into a separate, independent county government. If he could not succeed in placing his home where it naturally and properly belonged, he had been successful in making it independent of the snows and summits of the Sierras. With this he was partially content, as previous to this time the county seats of the Counties claiming jurisdiction over Honey Lake Valley were separated from it by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which were impassable two-thirds of the year. At an early day, as soon as a Post Office was established in Susanville, he was appointed its Postmaster, which position he held up to the day of his death.
In politics, Governor Roop belonged to the Whig party as long as it had an existence. In 1860 he voted for Stephen A. Douglas. At the outbreak of the civil war in America he heartily espoused the Union cause, and was identified with every movement among his neighbors, to render aid and comfort to the soldier in the field. In 1864 he supported Lincoln, both with his voice and his vote. In 1865 he was elected to the office of District Attorney for the County of Lassen, receiving the entire Democratic vote and nearly two-thirds of the Republican vote. In 1867 he was reëlected without opposition. From his earliest settlement in the country he took a leading part in all measures tending to the welfare of its citizens, and has had much to do toward shaping the affairs of this coast. He was man of enlarged mind and noble charities, true to his friendships, kind in his disposition, and manly in his character. He possessed the elements of popularity in a high degree, being frank, sociable and courteous, and of unbounded hospitality. Naturally he was a man of quick perception, sensitive, high-minded, and of approved courage. Though owner at various times of large property, and surrounded with a rude abundance, such had ever been his liberality in dealing, and so numerous his kind offices, that at no time was his condition one of financial independence. He was, moreover, a man of fine physical development, standing nearly six feet high, and well proportioned. He possessed regular features, and an intelligent, cheerful, good-natured countenance. His florid complexion and light-blue eyes indicated his active temperament and love of out-door pursuits. He died at his residence in Susanville, February fourteenth, 1869, after an illness of six days. He was buried with Masonic honors, and the following extract from the resolutions passed by the Lodge of which he was a member show the esteem in which he was held, and finds an echo in every heart that knew him.
“In the death of Isaac N. Roop the Masonic Order has lost an ardent friend, one ever attached to its precepts, one whose heart and hand were ever open to the melting appeals of charity, whose benevolence, knowing no bounds, seemed to embrace the vast sea of humanity, whose generous will extended itself for the good of Masonry, and whose enlarged mind was ever impressed with the controlling tenets, Charity, Relief and Brotherly Love. The benevolent impulses, the charitable disposition, the generous promptings—emanations of a noble heart—the persevering will and manly attributes that adorned the intellect and character of Isaac N. Roop, will ever be deeply esteemed, fondly cherished and remembered by his brethren of Lassen Lodge.”
Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.
Source: Shuck, Oscar T., “Representative & Leading Men of the Pacific”, Bacon & Co., Printers & Publishers, San Francisco, 1870. Pages 405-410.
© 2008 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor.