PYAM BARTLETT BACON
††††††††††† Not only has the subject of this review witnessed the growth of California from a wild country with only a few white inhabitants to a rich agricultural, fruit-growing and mining country containing good homes inhabited by an industrious, prosperous and intelligent and progressive people, but has also participated in and assisted the slow, persistent work of development which was necessary to produce the change which is so complete that it has come to be popularly referred to as magical.
††††††††††† P. B. Bacon, better known as Pike Bacon, was born in Warrenton, Ohio, on the 23rd day of April, 1834, and descended from English and German ancestry.† His grandfather emigrated from England to America, becoming one of the early settlers of Kentucky.† When the country became engaged in the second war with Great Britain he joined the American forces and fought in what is popularly known as the War of 1812.† His son, John Bacon, the father of our subject, was born in Kentucky, in 1806, and married Miss Theressa Bartlett, a descendant of an old English and German family of large wealth.† He engaged in dealing in produce and died in 1838, at the early age of thirty-two years, leaving a widow and four children,--three sons and a daughter, all of whom survive.† For her second husband the mother chose Captain David Green, the captain of a large steamboat plying on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.† In 1853 the family came to California, making the journey by way of the Isthmus of Panama, where they took passage on the Tennessee.† Two vessels left the Isthmus at the same time, and were soon joined by the third, when they participated in a free-for-all race for the Golden Gate.† Two of them reached the Golden Gate before the fog set in, but the one which carried Mr. Baconís family was unfortunate enough to be in the rear and so dense was the fog that the captain mistook the entrance to the Golden Gate and ran on the rocks.† The passengers were safely landed and the next day was taken to San Francisco in tugs.† The Tennessee became a total wreck.
††††††††††† The Bacon family proceeded at once from San Francisco to Tuolumne County where Captain Green and his stepsons engaged in placer-mining at Nigger Gulch, a short distance from Columbia.† They got very little gold from the first pan, and, their money supply being limited, it was necessary that they work hard and find a good claim in order to provide for their support.† Prices were very high, potatoes, pork and beans selling at thirty-seven and one-half cents per pound.† Therefore they removed up to another gulch, where they began to take out from ten to thirty dollars per day to the man, notwithstanding the fact that they were compelled to pay ten dollars per day for water, and even then it was very scarce.
††††††††††† Here one of the first questions on riparian rights arose.† At the head of this gulch was a spring of water which had been flumed out by a miner named Jones and used below for mining purposes.† A certain miner informed the Bacon Brothers that the custom was that all waters in a gulch or creek belonged to the miners who were working in the said gulch or creek.† Upon this information the Bacon brothers removed Jonesí flume at the head of the gulch, causing a free-for-all fight between the Jones crowd and the Bacon brothers, the latter driving the former from the gulch.† The question was afterward settled by a mass meeting of five hundred miners, convened at the store at Gold Springs, where the water question was decided in favor of the Bacon brothers.† The same question was involved in a suit in the superior court of this county as late as 1899, in the case of Grant Brothers vs. Jarboe et al., wherein the testimony of P. B. Bacon was used to establish the right of certain waters used by the Gold Spring Marble Company.
††††††††††† In 1856 the Bacon brothers and a miner named John Stockdale erected and built the first hydraulic used in Tuolumne County, which was constructed as follows:† A flume was run into the branches of a large oak tree; at the end of the flume a large funnel made of canvas was nailed and fastened to the branches to receive the water; the pipe consisted of canvas sewed together with a nozzle at the end; and when the water was turned on the pipeline gave the appearance of a large sea serpent, twisting in a thousand different ways.† This was due to the different styles of sewing.† When the full force of the water was turned on, the man at the nozzle gave the boys an exhibition of the clown in a circus, the force being so great as to throw him all over the claim, and taking the combined efforts of three men to hold the bucking machine down.† However, the work was accomplished, all hydraulic hose being made after this pattern until finally supplanted by rubber hose.
††††††††††† Captain Green and his stepsons continued to engage in mining until the big fire in Columbia, in 1857, when they (except the subject of this review) assumed charge and control of the City Hotel at Sonora, also the management of the stage route from Sonora to Stockton.† The subject of this review then accepted a clerkship in the general merchandise store at Columbia and continued in that employment for three and one-half years, first as salesman, after which he purchased an interest in the business, continuing the same until May, 1865.† During this time he was appointed the first agent for giant powder in this county, by the firm of Bandman, Neilsen & Company, who were the first manufacturers of giant powder in the state, their place of business being at San Francisco, California.† Mr. Bacon made the first test of this powder in the placer claim owned and worked by Schwartz & Company near Columbia.† A large rock weighing about forty tons was drilled into and about five pounds of powder used, breaking the rock in a thousand pieces.† This test demonstrated the fact that giant powder was far ahead of the black powder then in use, and was afterward universally used by the miners.
††††††††††† In 1865 Mr. Bacon became interested in the hardware store in Sonora now run by J. J. Collins, having exchanged his interest in the Columbia for the same and remaining at the Sonora store for a year.† He then returned to Columbia and became the sole proprietor of the mercantile establishment with which he was formerly connected, and which he continued to run and manage until 1872.† He was very successful, carrying on a large business, which brought him an excellent financial return.† He was also the postmaster for four years, receiving his appointment under the administration of President Andrew Johnson.† He was also elected a member of the Republican ticket to the California state legislature, overcoming a large Democratic majority then in this county.† He served for one year in that position, with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his constituents.† In 1873 he removed to San Francisco and occupied a position in the United States Mint until 1876.† Subsequently he owned and operated a blacksmith and carriage business on Howard Street in San Francisco, but later sold that enterprise and resumed mining in old Tuolumne.† He is now the sole owner of the Joe Hooker Consolidated Mine above Soulsbyville.† In 1889 he removed to Sonora, becoming identified with its business affairs as hardware and grocery merchant, buying out the firm with which he had formerly been connected in 1865.† He carried on this store until 1896, since which time he has given his undivided attention to his mining interests.
††††††††††† In February, 1865, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Bacon and Miss Marion Helen Bowne, a native of New York but reared in the state of Michigan, and a daughter of John Bowne, a pioneer of that state.† Two sons have been born of this marriage,--John Bowne and Charles Gorham Bacon.† Mrs. Bacon departed this life on the 15th day of November, 1899, after a married life of thirty-four years, proving to her husband a most faithful companion and helpmate.† To her children she was a loving and indulgent mother and to those who had the pleasure of her acquaintance she was a faithful friend.
††††††††††† Mr. Bacon is a member of both branches of the I. O. O. F., and is also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.† His first presidential vote was cast for Stephen A. Douglas, but since that time he has been a reliable and loyal advocate of the Republican Party.† He has a good home in Sonora, and is highly respected in this portion of the state as a straightforward and enterprising businessman and a citizen whose devotion to the public good is widely recognized.† He has left the impress of his individuality not only on the industrial and commercial interests of this section of the state but also on the legislation of California, and has borne no unimportant part in shaping the policy and advancement of the state.
††††††††††† J. Bowne Bacon was born September 17, 1865.† In July after her marriage Mrs. Bacon returned to New York, by the Isthmus route, the voyage being a most unpleasant one, for she was sick the entire trip.† At Little Falls, New York, occurred the birth of her first son.† After spending about ten months in New York and Michigan visiting, she returned to California, crossing the plains from Atchison, Kansas, to Placerville, California, by the overland stage route.† J. Bowne Bacon is at present in charge of the Keltz group of mines near the Stanislaus River, which are owned by a Scotch syndicate; and is also the owner of many undeveloped mining properties.† He still retains his position and appointment as deputy assessor but at present is not in active service.† He is a most pleasing you man and has inherited strong traces of his fatherís keen business ability.
††††††††††† Charles Gorham Bacon, the second son, was born in Columbia, Tuolumne County, on March 25, 1868.† He is at present the manager and secretary of the Sonora Land & Mining Abstract Bureau, which is the leading abstract bureau of the county, and working under the two most approved abstract systems, namely the Rice and the Durfee, and having a complete transcript of all the records of the county.† He is also the manager and an owner of the B. B. B. Stone Company, the quarry being located about four miles north of Sonora.† The granite produced from this quarry has been pronounced by the best experts as excelling all other granite in this state for monumental purposes and equal to the Barre (Vermont) stone, which is considered the best in the United States.
††††††††††† He is an agreeable young man, strong in his friendships, having inherited these traits of his mother, and in business the character of his father.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010† Gerald Iaquinta.