In the history of a man who has devoted his energies entirely to business life there is little to awaken the interest of the reader in search of a sensational chapter, but Carlyle has said that “biography is the most profitable of all reading,” for therein are set forth the methods which have been followed to win success or which have led to failure. The careful student may therefore learn valuable lessons from such as career as Mr. Meinecke’s, for he is one who has worked his way upward, conquering all obstacles and advancing steadily on the highway to prosperity by determined purpose and ceaseless energy.
Mr. Meinecke was accounted a progressive farmer in Stanislaus County, his home being ten miles northwest of Modesto, and he is also one of the honored California pioneers who in 1849 became identified with the interests of the state. He was born in Germany April 28, 1823. His father, Frederick Meinecke, married Miss Margaret Allmeras. He served as a first lieutenant in the Prussian army at the Battle of Waterloo, and departed this life in the forty-eighth year of his age, while his wife attained the ripe old age of ninety years. They were both members of the Lutheran Church and in their family were six children, but only two are now living.
Mr. Meinecke, the only representative of the family in California, was educated in his native country, attending the forestry school. In 1848 he bade adieu to home and friends in the fatherland and sailed for New York City. He had learned to read English before his immigration but could not speak it, and therefore he was somewhat handicapped in the outset of his life in the new world. From New York City he made his way westward to Wisconsin. He had not been long in that state before the news of the discovery of gold in California reached him and he at once determined to go to the El Dorado of the west. He therefore joined a company of about sixty-five men, who traveled in a train of thirteen wagons drawn by oxen, having a plentiful relay of those animals. They had no trouble with the Indians and there were many interesting incidents and experiences in connection with the long journey across the plains. They killed buffaloes and were thus supplied with fresh meat, and Mr. Meinecke really very much enjoyed the journey to the Pacific coast, being ill not a single day of the trip.
In the latter part of October the company with which he traveled arrived at Hangtown, now Placerville and he engaged in mining on the northern branch of the Calaveras River. In connection with his partner he was the discoverer of O’Neal’s Bar, where he took out much gold; but he engaged in prospecting and spent much of his money in a fruitless search for better diggings. In the fall of 1850 he took up his abode on the Calaveras River, near Stockton, and was engaged in freighting from Stockton to Murphy and other camps in the mountains. That was then a paying business, which he followed until the spring of 1852. He then returned by way of the Nicaragua route to Wisconsin and purchased one hundred and fifty head of heifers and milch cows, at a cost of from fourteen to eighteen dollars each. These he brought out across the plains to California, spending the winter at Salt Lake and starting early in the spring for the Golden state, where he was assured of good pasturage for his stock. After his arrival in California he sold some of his cows, getting from one hundred to one hundred fifty dollars per head. However, he kept many of them and later the prices declined.
For a few years Mr. Meinecke resided at Liberty and thence removed to Georgetown, El Dorado County, where he engaged in the conduct of a meat market and in the butchering business for several years. Subsequently he removed to Murphy, in Calaveras County, where he engaged in the dairy business until 1858. In that year he returned to Germany and was married to Miss Sophia Hayssen. With his bride he then came again to his home near Stockton, where Mr. Meinecke operated a ferry on the Stanislaus River about ten miles northwest of Modesto, conveying teams and people across the river for a period of three and a half years. He then removed to his present location, ten miles northwest of Modesto, in Stanislaus County, and became the owner of eight hundred acres of very valuable land, which he has placed under a high state of cultivation. He erected his present delightful residence and surrounded it with shrubbery and shade and fruit trees of his own planting, and here in his comfortable home he is spending the evening of life, enjoying the fruits of his former toil and the respect of his fellow men.
He has four children, namely: Edward, who cultivates the home farm; Catherine, Margaret and Sophia. Mr. and Mrs. Meinecke have long traveled life’s journey together, their mutual love and confidence increasing as the years have passed by. Mr. Meinecke has been a life-long Democrat, and since 1852 he has been a valued member of the Masonic fraternity, being raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in Wisconsin. He now belongs to the blue lodge in Stockton and the Royal Arch chapter of Modesto. The hope of bettering his financial condition in America has been more than realized and he is now the possessor of a handsome competence, which is the merited reward of his earnest labor.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2011 Gerald Iaquinta.