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Tuolumne County









            The subject of this sketch, Andrew Jackson Elsbree, is a well known and highly esteemed early settler of Sonora, Tuolumne County, California, who came to this state in 1855.  He was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, September 18, 1828, his ancestry being easily traced to the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock.  His parents were John and Susan (Sanford) Elsbree, the mother also descending from an old New England family.  Her sister, Mrs. Martha Tinkhan, is still living near Boston, Massachusetts, at the age of eighty-nine, showing remarkable vigor for one of her advanced years.  Mr. Elsbree was a nailer by trade, an industrious and temperate man, but his death occurred at the early age of thirty-eight, and our subject is the only survivor of the four children.  Mrs. Elsbree died at the early age of twenty-nine years.

            Andrew J. Elsbree was educated in his native town, and at the age of seventeen began a seafaring life, going almost over the world.  He cast anchor in forty-two seaports, sailing on commercial vessels and on the warships Albany and Franklin, and following the sea for nine years.  He then took passage from New York to San Francisco, by way the Isthmus, arriving there June 7, 1855, and thence making his way to Jamestown, Tuolumne County.  Here our subject began placer mining, remembering his stepmother with a gift of the first gold he took out of the river.

            Mr. Elsbree worked at various claims in Columbia with the usual amount of success and failure familiar to the California placer miner, but finally came to the spot in Sonora upon which his pleasant home now stands, known as the Greaser Gulch.  A small ravine runs through the rear portion of the property, and in 1858 he took from this ravine from thirty to forty dollars per day, taking out forty-four ounces of gold in one week, and in ten weeks he had taken out three thousand, four hundred and eighty-one dollars.  He is still engaged in mining on his own place, and upon one occasion took out a nugget weighing six and a half pounds!  Upon one part of his property stands his fine residence, the fruit and ornamental trees surrounding it having been planted by his own hands.

            Mr. Elsbree was married November 23, 1867, to Mrs. Pamelia C. Tucker, a native of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the widow of a soldier in the Civil War, who suffered at Andersonville and finally gave up his life for his country.  His one son, George Tucker, resides in Oakdale and is a splendid specimen of manhood, being considered the strongest man in Tuolumne County.  Of the family born to Mrs. and Mrs. Elsbree, Andrew Eugene was killed in a mine accident at the age of twenty-seven; he had been successful in his mining operations, taking out as much as five thousand dollars in one month; Alonzo E. is a cigar manufacturer of Sonora; Susan S. is the wife of Eli Miller; Fannie, the wife of Henry Ball; and Sadie, Charles, Hattie and Laura, are at their parental home.  This is a highly respected family, well known throughout the community.

            Our subject has seen many changes in this locality.  He has often been placed in positions where he was obliged to exert great shrewdness to avoid personal violence.  Being well known as a man of courage, he was made deputy constable, with full power to keep the peace, and for twenty-three years and seven months was the night watchman for the city of Sonora, being the oldest night watchman in the state.  Many thrilling experiences and hairbreadth escapes has he had in the prosecution of his duty, and ever has he been loyal to those whom he served.  At all times he was assisted by his faithful dog “Rover,” which on a number of occasions was instrumental in the saving of his life.  Night Watchman Elsbree and his dog “Rover,” are widely known in their section of the state to both desperado and the law-abiding citizen.

            Socially Mr. Elsbree is an Odd Fellow, joining the order in 1856, and is one of the oldest members in California.  He is also connected with the Chosen Friends.  In politics Mr. Elsbree is a staunch Republican and has done much for his party.  Although seventy-two years old, our subject is as well preserved as many younger men, his vigor testifying to a life of virtuous activity.  He is one of the best representatives of the early settler to be found in Tuolumne County.



Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.

Source: “A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California”, Pages 279-280. Chicago Standard Genealogical  Publishing Co. 1901.

© 2010  Gerald Iaquinta.




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