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Edwin H. Clough was born in Sonora, February 11, 1854. His early boyhood was passed amidst the beauties and grandeur of Tuolunme’s everlasting hills at a period when “the first low wash of civilization,” had begun to flow back from her borders—a period of aftermath, when the mad race for wealth that seemed inexhaustible had settled to a spasmodic search in which hope did not spring eternal in the prospector’s breast.  It was a boyhood among men whose names and deeds are prominent in the history of the State and Coast. The impression which these surroundings made upon his mind have already borne fruit in graphic delineations of the life and character of this section of California. Mr. Clough is the eldest son of James Perry Clough, at one time County Assessor of Tuolumne, and subsequently associated with Jesse Hanson in the stationery business in Sonora. He was a grandson of Luke Wheelock, a well-known pioneer of the county. In 1863 his parents removed to San Francisco, where he attended the public schools until 1871, when he entered upon the career of journalism as a reporter for the Chronicle. He was afterwards employed on the Call, was the first city editor of the Evening Post, and subsequently took a posi­tion as city editor of the Sacramento Bee. In 1875, in partnership with W. H. Roberts, Mr. Clough purchased the Union Democrat, published at Sonora. During two years he acted as editor of this journal, finally disposing of his in­terest to Judge C. H. Randall. During the legislative ses­sions of 1880-81, Mr. Clough reported the business of the Legislature for the Sacramento Bee, contributing to the columns of that paper a series of satirical and burlesque sketches descriptive of the scenes, episodes and actors of the session. At the close of the “hundred days,” Mr. Clough, assisted by Hugh J. Mohan and John P. Cosgrove, published a volume of “pen pictures” of senators, assemblymen and State officers. The authors wrote without fear or favor, and the result was a fair exposition of the nature and motives of the men of whom they wrote. Mr. Clough was city editor of the Stockton Independent until April, 1881, when he was engaged on the Evening Tribune of Oakland, where he is at present city editor. While connected with the Union Democrat, in 1876, he began the publication, in the Argonaut, of a series of sketches and short stories based upon scenes, incidents and characters native to Tuolumne and the adjacent mountain counties. Among his best known productions are “The Bad Man of Bodie,” “A Singed Cat,” “The Man From Arizona,” “Chispa,” “Ah Choy—Barbarian,” “ Sing Lee—Prose­lyte,” and” The Pard’s Epistles,” the latter creating wide­spread comment on account of the keen satire and broad humor which they contained. The quaint philosophy and childlike simplicity of “James Snaggleby, Esq.,” of Raw­hide Flat, and the ostentation, hypocrisy and sham of the people among whom he fell and who fleeced him mercilessly, won for the author a fame that extended beyond the borders of the Pacific Coast. In December, 1877, Mr. Clough married Miss Llewella H. Pierce, also a native of Tuolumne, and the daughter of Llewellyn Pierce, one of Tuolumne’s oldest pioneers. Since his marriage he has resided almost continuously in Oakland, where he has engaged in literary and general newspaper work.  He is still young, and with fine natural advantages and the encouragement of past success gives brilliant promise of achieving a proud eminence in the lengthening list of Tuolumne’s favorite sons.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Pub’d by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 341. 

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






The life and soul of Columbia for years, the originator of the Columbia and Stanislaus Ditch, and the promoter of nearly every enterprise of the day, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Before he was twenty-one he had learned the printer’s trade and was already foreman of a printing office.  He came to California in 1849, and to Sonora in ‘51, where he was employed by Dr. Gunn as writer on the Sonora Herald.  His taste was to poetry, and he published in the Herald and the Columbia Gazette a considerable quantity of that kind of literature, rather medium in quality.  Practicing law, later on he entered politics, and, aided by his popularity, overrode all competitors excepting J. M. Mandeville, with whom he had to divide the honors; they holding the State Senatorship alternately for several years.  Later still, Mr. Coffroth left the county, after achieving many signal successes and rising to the highest wave of prosperity.  His later history is identified with that of the State which he served.



“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Pg. 396.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton





Who is classed as one of the most successful and able of the pocket miners of Tuolumne, is a native of Bucksport.  Maine, having been born there in 1840.  A seafaring life was his choice, which he pursued from the age of eleven until his coming to California, which took place in 1864.


Spending three subsequent years in various cities in Cali­fornia and Oregon, Mr. Colby finally began mining at Table Mountain, so continuing until he removed, in 1871, to So­nora.  Here he commenced pocket mining in leased claims, his first laborers having been done upon his present rich location, where he worked for two years, afterwards continuing the search upon adjoining claims, but finally re­turning to the original claim, which he has purchased, and has continued working up to the present time.  This mine which is known as the “Big Nugget,” is situated near the head of Washington street, and is upon the same lead as the Bonanza Mine of J. G. Divoll, and is considered to be one of the richest claims that was ever opened.


Personally Mr. Colby is an extremely popular man, and his good fortune is being hailed by all as the the proper reward for years of arduous labor.



“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Pg. 399.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Was born in Ellsworth, Hancock County, Maine, on September 10, 1833. He received his education in the common schools of that place. He went to Boston, and from that port sailed for California via the Isthmus of Pan­ama, landing in San Francisco on September 25, 1856. He came direct to this County, settled at Springfield and went to digging gold, following that business for ten years, when he moved on his present ranch, north from Spring­field, where he has since resided. He married Alvira J. Cushman, a native of St John’s, New Brunswick.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 337. 

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






“Jack” Coles, as his many friends love to call him, was born on Long Island, New York, but was reared and edu­cated in New York City. His early training, which was thorough, dealt more particularly with matters relating to mechanism and architecture, and of which Mr. Coles is unquestionably a master. In the Fall of 1854, he resolved to sail for California, and arrived here in the Spring of 1855. His first halt was at Jamestown, where he very soon became associated with a company to work a mine on the Tuolumne river, near Jacksonville, and at which he spent his first Summer in California. In the Fall of the same year he went to the town of Sonora, and there form­ing a copartnership with Mr. Charles Bunnell, soon established a lucrative business in architectural contracting and building. They also became interested in many mining claims, and were soon surrounded by a large circle of very warm friends, “Jack” being ever ready for anything that would advance the interests of the town, or promote fun, and never tardy about paying his full share of all costs, or too busy, or hard up, to lend a helping hand in any worthy cause.  In the Summer of 1859, he became the happy pos­sessor of the hand and heart of the youngest daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Soulsby, the discoverer and then principal owner of the famous Soulsby Quartz Mine. At the beginning of the war, Mr. Coles, accompanied by his wife and brother, sailed for New York, and very soon after their arrival, he was tendered the position of Lieutenant-Colonel of a regiment then being raised in New York City, which he immediately accepted, and entered upon the discharge of his duties. Soon, however, it was ordered that their men should be consolidated with another regi­ment; but Colonel Jack not being pleased with the order, resigned his command. He then hoisted his banner in the city of Brooklyn and organized a battery of Light Artil­lery, which he was to command. But at this juncture a partnership in a very lucrative business presented itself, and Jack was persuaded to drop the Colonel and accept the merchant, forming the firm of Coles & Ramsey, whole­sale dealers in Army Supplies, Washington, D. C., with a branch store in Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Coles, however, soon tiring of this tame life, resolved to return to Califor­nia, and in the Summer of 1863, when about to start, was tendered the command of a regiment to be sent to Arizona for Indian service, which he partly accepted, but on his arrival in San Francisco, hearing of the immensely rich quartz discoveries in Idaho, resolved to go there. At Owy­hee, Idaho Territory, he, with others, formed a company, and in the Summer of 1864, built the well-known “Morning Star” Quartz Mill, which is believed to be the first of the kind in Idaho Territory, and although costing what would now be considered a fabulous sum, all concerned reaped a golden harvest.  Next we find Mr. Coles located again in New York City, a member of the firm of Ramsey, Coles & Co., importers and wholesale dealers in white goods, laces, hosiery, etc.  In the Summer of 1868, they dissolved the firm, and Mr. Coles and brother turned their attention to inventions, and we find there names appearing in many places in the Patent Office Reports, as the invent­ors of several very valuable and now almost indispensable improvements.  At this time reports of the fabulously rich mines at White Pine, Nevada, caught Jack’s eye, and soon the monotony of New York became irksome, and in 1869 we find him located at Mineral Hill, Nevada, vindicating the law of that district as Deputy District Attorney, and handling a mining property valued at over a million dollars.  Eighteen hundred and seventy-five finds Mr. Coles again in New York as  President of a large and flourishing Ice Company. Eighteen hundred and eighty Mr. Coles and wife and their loveable little daughter returned to Sonora, where they are now happily living, surrounded by many of their old friends. Mr. Coles, throughout his eventful and active life, has always shown himself the scrupulously honorable gentleman, and enterprising to an extent which the average man not only cannot appreciate, but cannot understand.  Going into may ventures for the love of venture and for the sake of doing, he has met many reverses, but with a becoming self-confidence and command, he immediately recovers himself, and gathering up the wrecks strewn about him, begins again, without loss of tune or diminution of energy, thereby verifying his phrenological chart as written up by Messrs. Fowler & Wells— “one of the favored few, created superior to mis­fortune.” His career, full as it is with incidents and nota­ble phases, is not to be satisfactorily sketched within the limits of an article brief as this must necessarily be, and here is given only the more salient points of a biography which, written out in full, would richly repay the historian.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 330-333. 

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton







Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on March 11, 1821, he went to Dundee when quite young, and there learned the machinist’s trade.  In Dundee he married Elizabeth Mc­Gregor, on September 8, 1851. She was also born in Scot­land, on the 26th of November, 1830. They came from their native country to California, rounding Cape Horn, and landing in San Francisco in February, 1854.  Here they resided for a time, then moved to Benicia, Solano county, and thence to this county, in March, 1858, and settled finally in Sonora. Mr. Cowie employed himself in the Gem mine, constructing and erecting the necessary machinery to carry on the work.  Mr. Cowie lost all his possessions while engaged in this mine, however, and moved to Angels’ Camp, taking charge of the Altaville Foundry. He bought an interest in the Sonora Foundry in 1863, and returned to this place, where he has since resided.  Anna (now Mrs. Denniston), William B., Wallace McGiven and Marietta E. are the names of their children.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 388.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Mr. Culbertson, now a prominent citizen of Tuolumne, and who has served the County in public offices, was born in Salem, Massachusetts. Coming to California in ‘49, by the Cape Horn route, he mined in Mariposa County until 1851, when he came to Chinese Camp, and there continued the same occupation.  Five years later he located himself at Moccasin Creek, and commenced agricultural and horti­cultural pursuits, at which he has succeeded notably. Con­tinuing until the present time in that locality, he has engaged in the manufacture of wines and brandies of a superior quality.  In fact, it is held that articles of his own make are unexcelled in this State; which fact speaks volumes both for Mr. C. ‘s perseverance and fitness, and also for the adaptability of the soils of this region for viti­culture.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg 322.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton 






The subject of this notice is a Virginian, having been born in Page County, Virginia, in 1837. He made his ap­pearance on the Pacific Coast in 1853, coming by the famil­iar Isthmus route. Directing his steps toward the South­ern mines, he began digging at Yankee Hill, remaining there for the almost unprecedented time of sixteen years! His next and final location was Confidence. Mr. Cullers en­joys the esteem of his associates in a remarkable degree holding as he does the office of Worthy Chief of the large and flourishing Lodge of Good Templars at the above place. His wife, Miss A. M. Eastwood, to whom he was married in Sonora, together with the following named children, form his family: Robert F , William C., Henry M. , and Laura B.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 369.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Was born in Pittston, Kennebec County, Maine, on September 10, 1832.  At the age of twenty-four he left New England for California, selecting Springfield, Tuolumne County, as his residence.  Here he remained, working at his trade of blacksmithing, until 1864, when he decided to try the State of Nevada.  One Summer, however, in Esmeralda County satisfied him, and the same year saw him set­tled in San Francisco, where he has since remained.  Mr., Cunningham married Miss Martha Winslow, of Lewiston.  Maine, and has two children.  His son, William L., is as­sociated with him in his extensive smithy, on Mission street, San Francisco.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882. Appendix Pg. 3.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton





© 2002 Nancy Pratt Melton

Tuolumne County Biographies