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Stanislaus County








            Philo Hamilton Medley, of Modesto, is engaged in the book and stationery business and conducts a well appointed store in which he receives a liberal patronage.  He was born in the town of Howland, Trumbull County, Ohio, on the 17th of July, 1836, and is of Welsh and Scotch ancestry.  His grandfather, Elijah Medley, emigrated to New York at an early date, and his son Elias Medley, was born in Ohio; whither the grandfather had removed during the pioneer development of the Buckeye state.  The father of our subject was educated in Ohio and in 1846 removed to Grant County, Wisconsin, having in the meantime married Miss Margaret Ann Espey, a native of Pennsylvania.  Her ancestors were Scotch and located in the Keystone state at an early date.  On his removal to Wisconsin Mr. Medley was accompanied by his wife and four children.  He purchased government land in Grant County and became a pioneer farmer there, continuing to devote his energies to agricultural pursuits until his death, which occurred in 1881, when he was seventy-two years of age.  His good wife survived him until 1894, when she passed away at the age of eighty-four.  Two children were added to their family in Wisconsin, and six of the seven children still survive.

            Philo H. Medley, being the only one of the family in California, was reared on his father’s farm in the Badger state, working in the fields through the summer months plowing, planting and harvesting.  In the winter season he conned his lessons in an old-time schoolhouse furnished with slab seats and heated by an immense fire-place.  In 1859, when he was twenty-one years of age, he crossed the plains to California with oxen, in company with three gentlemen.  They had one wagon and three yoke of oxen and were well armed, thus being prepared for any attack that might be made by the Indians or the desperate characters that then infested the west.  They made the journey by way of Salt Lake City and at length arrived safely at their destination, after five months spent upon the road.  Mr. Medley first located at Placerville, El Dorado County; thence came to the Sacramento Valley, working on a farm for four months at thirty dollars per month.  Subsequently, however, he returned to Placerville and for eight months engaged in driving three yoke of oxen from that place to the mountains hauling shakes.  For this service he received thirty-five dollars per month.  Later he began work at the blacksmith’s trade, which he followed in Placerville from 1861 to January, 1863.

            He then went to Aurora, Nevada, and opened a shop of his own.  Aurora was then a very rough town, in which crime was prevalent, being committed with a high hand and the lawless element was so bold that no man’s life or property was safe.  In 1864 a Peter Johnson, a farmer, and Mr. Medley was one of those who served on the coroner’s jury.  The deed was so bold and the gang was so daring that they had no trouble in ascertaining the perpetrators of the crime, John Daily being the leader.  Associated with him in this and other crimes, was “Black-leg” Gallagher and “Three-fingered” Jack and another man.  Two days after the verdict of the jury was announced a vigilance committee took those men out and hanged them in broad daylight in the presence of more than one thousand people, a company of volunteer infantry and a company of cavalry giving their assent to the execution!  When the rough characters of the community saw that the law-abiding citizens had taken matters into their own hands and that criminals were to be prosecuted, they fled the district and life was thus made more secure.

            Mr. Medley continued in business in Aurora until 1867, when he went to Columbia, Tuolumne county, where he carried on blacksmithing for a time, and subsequently conducted the Fallon Hotel.  In 1873 he came to Modesto, where he opened his book and stationery store and continued to conduct the same until 1885, when he sold out and retired from business.  He was not actively connected with commercial affairs again until 1896, when he again opened a book and stationery store and is now enjoying a good trade in that line.  He carried a large and well selected stock; and his earnest desire to please patrons, combined with his unfailing courtesy and honorable business methods, has secured to him a very creditable success.

            Mr. Medley is a prominent member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, has passed all the chairs in its various branches, and had the honor of being chosen district deputy grand master.  He is also a member of the Knight of Pythias fraternity.  His military connection began with his enlistment as a private in the National Guard of California, becoming a member of Company D, of the Sixth Regiment.  He was elected to serve as the second lieutenant for two years, and was then appointed on the staff of Colonel Eugene Lehe, with the rank of first lieutenant, and was the inspector of rifle practice.  After the termination of Colonel Lehe’s term he continued on the staff of Colonel J. J. Nunan, acting in the same capacity during the latter’s service of four years.  He was also for four years on the staff of Colonel S. S. Wright, and on the expiration of that period, at his own request, he was put on the retired list with the rank of first lieutenant.  He had efficiently and intelligently served in the National Guard of California for fourteen successive years, making an honorable record in connection with the military history of the state.  Mr. Medley has accumulated considerable property in Modesto and is living there amid a host of warm friends, whose confidence and good will he enjoys in an unusual degree.   


Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 620-622. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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