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Tuolumne County







            One of the most prominent men of Tuolumne County, California, is John Barry Curtin, a lawyer of unmistakable ability and the representative of the twelfth senatorial district of the state of California.  He is a native son of Tuolumne County, born at Gold Springs, on the 15th of May, 1867, and is a son of John and Ann K. (Cochrane) Curtin, natives of Ireland.  They came to America in 1848, settling in Boston, Massachusetts, until 1852, when Mr. Curtin made the trip to California, coming by way of the Isthmus.  He first engaged in the lumber business at Bodega Bay, and located at Columbia, in Tuolumne County in 1852, his wife reaching California in 1854.  Mr. Curtin engaged very successfully in mining until 1857, at which time he and his partner, Thomas Reed, had accumulated capital of eighteen thousand dollars.  Unfortunately they were induced to loan this money to the Ditch Company, which finally failed, entailing upon them the loss of everything.

            The time which followed the loss of the savings of years was a dark and discouraging one for Mr. Curtin.  He sought to repair his fortunes, but no claims in which he worked seemed to pay for the labor, and he finally engaged in peddling fruit to make a living.  In 1860 he entered into what has proved a very successful enterprise that of teaming and transporting freight from Stockton to various points, and since that time has been actively engaged in the business.  It was enlarged and extended until many men and teams were necessary to properly conduct it, until the advent of the Sierra Railroad in Tuolumne County, when he then ceased that business.

            Mr. Curtin now resides at Cloudman’s, where he has a ranch of twelve hundred and eighty acres of land, which he purchased in 1879, and here he entertains teamsters and has as high as seven hundred head of cattle.  He is in the sixty-ninth year of his age, while his estimable wife lived to be forty-seven, dying in February, 1891.  Mr. Curtin has seen many hardships incident to the early life in the county, but can now take much comfort in his advancing years.  Of their seven children two have passed away, the survivors being: Mary Hannah, the wife of John C. Weyburn, of San Francisco County; Margaret Ellen, the wife of Joseph Warren, a mining engineer; Michael J., in San Francisco; Robert Andrew, who is on the ranch with his father, while the residence of our subject is in Sonora.

            John Barry Curtin received as many educational advantages as it was in the power of his parents to bestow, attending the public schools and later receiving instruction from a private tutor employed by his father at the ranch.  His mind early displayed a legal bent, and he began the study of law under the supervision of Col. E. A. Rogers, passing in 1892 a most creditable examination.  He was admitted to practice in all the courts of the state, soon displaying such ability and legal acumen that he was chosen by the Democratic Party as its nominee for prosecuting attorney of the county, to which office he was elected with a handsome majority.  He entered into the duties of the office, immediately meeting with such success as the public prosecutor that his name became well known throughout the state, preparing the way for his present prominence.  His services were early engaged for the Great Raw Hide Mining Company, where he is in legal connection with some of the brightest lawyers of the state; and at the close of the celebrated Golden Gate case he was accorded the honor of making the closing appeal to the jury, fulfilling every expectation and displaying rare powers of oratory as well as deep legal ability.  On November 8, 1898, he was elected to the state senate, having the largest majority on the state ticket and also the largest vote cast for any senator from that district.

            Mr. Curtin was married November 22, 1897, to Miss Lucie A. Shaw, the youngest and accomplished daughter of John Shaw, a citizen of Sonora, and one child has been born to Senator and Mrs. Curtin, which has been named Milton Barry.  The home which the family owns and occupies is the most attractive among the many beautiful ones of this city, and there is dispensed a most delightful hospitality, worthy of the esteemed subject and his charming wife.

            Socially, Senator Curtin is connected with the Foresters, and is a past president of the Native Sons of the Golden West.  In his position as an earnest, honest and worthy citizen, as well as an able lawyer and incorruptible public servant, Senator Curtin receives and deserves the esteem and unqualified respect of the residents of Tuolumne County.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 541-543. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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