PARDON BOWEN SMITH, SR.
California is under heavy obligations to the New England Yankee. He arrived here early in the history of her development and has been a potent factor in all her progress and prosperity. Pardon Bowen Smith, Sr., a native of Maine, arrived in California in 1850, and is yet living on a fine ranch near Jamestown, Tuolumne County, honored as a pioneer and respected as a citizen.
Mr. Smith was born in Kennebec County, Maine, October 18, 1831. His ancestry was English and the American progenitors of his family were among the early settlers of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and in Rhode Island, and he is of the eighth generation born on American soil. In the maternal line he is descended from those Wings who have taken their place in history as pioneers of New England and with the Smith’s as patriot solders in the Revolution. Mr. Smith’s father, Pardon Bowen Smith, was born at Readfield, Maine, and married Lucinda Wing, a native of Maine and a daughter of Ebenezer Wing, of Revolutionary fame, who fought for his country in the War of 1812, as his father before him had fought in the Revolution. He died in 1842, in his fiftieth year, his wife in 1884 in her eighty-third year, the latter at Colwich, Sedgwick County, Kansas. Mrs. Smith, who was of the seventh generation of her family born in Massachusetts, was a woman of good ability and education, and Mr. Smith was a man of much force of character, who bequeathed a good name to his children, of whom he had eight, five of whom are living at this time.
Pardon Bowen Smith, the subject of this sketch, lived on his father’s farm in Maine until he was twelve years old, when he began the battle of life for himself. He had received some education in the common schools near his home. In 1846, when he was fifteen years old, he secured employment in a bakery, in which he remained until 1849, under the influence of the gold fever, he sailed from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, around the Horn for California. He embarked September 1, 1849, and arrived at San Francisco, February 15, 1850, paying for his passage by employment on the vessel as a baker and receiving ten dollars a month besides his board. After staying two weeks at San Francisco, he went up to Stockton on the brig Vesta, the same which took the filibuster Walker to Nicaragua, and arrived there two weeks after leaving san Francisco. After a fortnight’s stay at Stockton he went on to Wood’s Creek, Tuolumne County, where he engaged in placer mining with considerable success and where in 1851 he bought a water ditch, since known as Smith’s Ditch, which he has owned and managed advantageously to this time. It is eight miles in length and in the early days supplied water for placer mining, but is now used to supply water for irrigation and for quartz mining at Jamestown, Campo Seco, Stent and Quartz. He also bought five hundred acres of land on which in 1855 he built his present good ranch residence. He has a quartz mine within a mile of his home on the Fleming vein and still mines extensively, taking out thousands of dollars each year.
During the Civil War Mr. Smith was the captain of a militia company organized for home protection and to aid in keeping the state of California in the Union. That period witnessed many exciting and trying events in Tuolumne County and is sometimes referred to as “days that tried men’s souls,” and a great debt of gratitude is due to the patriotic Union men who had the courage of their convictions and stood out boldly for the right regardless of personal consequences. Mr. Smith has been a Republican since the organization of that party. He is a man of much public spirit and takes high rank as a businessman. He and his wife have a wide and influential acquaintance and are held in the esteem of all who know them. He was married in 1854 to Miss Johanna J. Lyon, a native of Sidney, Maine, whom he had known since she was a little girl and who came out to California in 1856. They have had ten children, eight of whom are living. Matilda, their eldest daughter, was born at Augusta, Maine, and is the wife of Gilbert B. Neighbor. Pardon Bowen Smith, Jr., and George W. Smith, men of families, live near their parents. Abraham Lincoln Smith is a member of his father’s household. Johanna J. married H. H. Pease. Cynthia is the wife of Frank W. Mugler. Mary married Lemuel M. McRae. Walter H. lives at Columbia, Tuolumne County.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.