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Is a native of Somerset County, Maine, and was born May 12, 1836.  At the age of fourteen, he moved to Brighton, Mass.  He came to California in 1857, and after residing in different parts of the State, returned East, and again com­ing to California in 1859, and settling at Columbia, where he now lives.  In the Fall of 1879, Mr. Hale erected his new sawmill, on the south fork of the Stanislaus River, and on the ranch once owned by the notorious Jim Lyons. The mill is 24x100 feet, has two circular saws, and its capacity is twenty thousand feet of lumber in twelve hours.  There is also a shingle machine in the mill, which turns out forty thousand shingles per day.  The prime industry of the region where Mr. Hale’s mill is located is the manufacture of lumber.  The pine forests of this part of the county are extensive, and for three decades men have been plunging into their depths and utilizing those stately trees.  Steadily, with the growth of the county, the business has increased, until it stands to-day a prime factor on the commercial cata­logue. Millions of feet are cut annually and yet the source seems practically inexhaustible.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 379.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Who is one of California’s pioneers, was born in London, England, on the 25th of September, 1816. He arrived in San Francisco in the ship “Brooklyn,” on the 12th of August, 1849. He at once proceeded to Mokelumne Hill, where he was engaged in mining, previous to his coming to So­nora, in December, 1849. He went to New York, but returned in 1850, and opened a store, and has followed mercantile pursuits in Sonora ever since.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 354.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Conducted the Methodist Church at Sonora for ten years; but now, in charge of the College at Washington Corners, has devoted himself to the cause of education, with good results. Lately, he is said to be contemplating a removal of the concern to Berkeley.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Pg. 397.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton





The subject of this sketch was born in Philadelphia, December 16, 1822, and resided there until 1853, when he came to California, by way of the Isthmus, and arrived in San Francisco October 20, 1853. From San Francisco he went to the redwoods of San Mateo County, and remained there until May 9, 1854, and then removed to Big Oak Flat, where he has resided since that time. He mined about eight years at Big Oak Flat and vicinity, and has followed his trade of carpenter since. He married Ellen McLaughlin, in 1872, and has two children, named Edwin F. and Charles F.



“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882.  Pg. 403.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






The subject of this narrative was born in Bedford County, Virginia, on June 1, 1820.  He went to the State of Georgia, thence to Charleston, South Carolina, and to New York City, and coming to this State via the Isthmus, arrived in San Francisco July 17, 1850. He proceeded to Marysville, and from thence to Ophir, or Oroville, and did some prospecting on the Cape Fear claim. He then came to this county in December, 1850, locating at Shaw’s Flat, where he worked at placer mining, as well as in other localities, until coming to Jamestown in the Fall of 1862, where he has since lived.  He is the owner of the “Little Gem” mine, on which there is a ten-stamp mill.  This mine is situated about one mile west from Jamestown. A little farther to the north is the Alabama, also owned by Mr. Harris, which mine is one of the best in the county.  There is a forty stamp mill on it which is kept running night and day, pouring into the hands of its owner a golden treasure from an inexhaustible vein.  Mr. Harris married Mrs. Clara A Hensley on October 9, 1871.  Her living children by a former marriage are: William F., Ellen L. and Edward.  James was killed at the Alabama mine, Feb 22, 1882.  The surname of these children is Hensley.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” Published by B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 324.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton






Joseph, William G. and Frank, have been important in the past years of the County.  Of these brothers, the tragic fate of Joseph has been told, while William died in Arizona.  They were public spirited men, and men whose words and actions were always on the side of the right.


Among their numerous acts of public spirit was the pre­sentation of the cannon known as the Heslep Gun to the City of Sonora.


This piece of ordnance, says the Independent, was cast at the Government foundry at Pittsburg, Penn., for the armament of a man—of—war, but fell into private hands shortly after, and was placed on a privateer destined for service in the Mexican War.  Subsequently seized by the U S. Marshal, the gun was sold, together with the ship bearing it, and it became the property of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, by whom it was placed on board of the old steamer “Panama,” for use as a signal gun.  On the breaking up of that vessel at San Francisco, the gun was bought by Mr. Joseph Heslep, and by him presented to the citizens of Sonora, being then placed on “Cannon Hill,’’ where it remained until the beginning of the Rebellion, when some discontented parties chopped up the wooden carriage, and hauled the gun down to Main street.  Indignation being evoked by this act, a meeting of citizens was held, and the mischievous parties were made to remove the gun to a suitable site.  Later in its history it was rolled down into Sonora Creek, where it remained for a half dozen years, or until 1873, which it is said to have been in use as a bumper to guard the corner of Oppenheimer’s store.  Dissatisfied with this, the citizens removed it thence in the Centennial year to a situation at Greaser Gulch, on the road to the “French Garden,’’ where it has since remained.  It lies at present on the ground, and is without carriage or protection from the elements.


Its dimensions are as follows: Outside length, ten feet eleven inches; length of bore, nine feet; calibre, five and two—tenths inches.  The weight of the piece is four thousand seven hundred and sixty pounds, and it is a naval Paixhan, or Columbiad, of the best pattern, and is calcu­lated to throw an eighteen pound round shot, it being smooth bore.


A portion of its history has been the endeavor of certain officials to sell it to the junkmen, half a cent per pound being offered; but as the reflecting citizens do not see in this a becoming way to treat a valuable and munificent present, which, at the same time, by its associations, has become really memorable, probably no such thoughtless or disrespectful act will be accomplished.


Sonora and Tuolumne possess many relics, which in fu­ture years will lend an interest scarcely felt now.  And should public sentiment strongly favor their preservation, future generations will gratefully thank the careful and considerate for their protecting care.


“A History of Tuolumne County, California” B.F. Alley, 1882. Pg. 385-386.

Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton


© 2002 Nancy Pratt Melton

Tuolumne County Biographies