John Bemmerly, who closed his eyes to earthly scenes on the 8th of August, 1872, was a man of strong character, earnest purpose and great energy, his industry and good judgment in practical things enabling him to acquire one of the leading estates in the Sacramento Valley. He was equally prominent as a public-spirited citizen, who commanded the highest degree of respect and esteem of his fellowmen. Mr. Bemmerly was born in Wurttemberg, Germany, on the 24th of February, 1824, and was educated in the public schools of his home neighborhood. In 1847, at the age of twenty-three years, he immigrated to America and located in New York state, where he worked as a farm hand. In 1849 he joined the gold rush to California and for a time worked in the gold mines. In 1851 he squatted on one thousand acres of land in Yolo County, which had been purchased from the United States government and was located about three and one-half miles north of Yolo. This was a portion of the Knights grant and Mr. Bemmerly took an active and effective part in assisting his neighbors to fight the claims of the Knights heirs to the lands then occupied by the settlers. In this fight the latter was successful, thus perfecting their title to the land in question. The home ranch was originally one thousand acres and is still in possession of the Bemmerly family. Mr. Bemmerly also became the owner of a sheep ranch of three thousand six hundred acres near Dunnigan and at the time of his death was one of the largest sheep owners in the country.
On October 14, 1860, Mr. Bemmerly was united in marriage to Miss Agnes Wimmer, who was born in Baden, Germany, February 3, 1833. She immigrated to the United States in 1854 and made her home in New York until coming west. The death of her husband left her with four small children and another one was born soon afterward, so that she reared and educated five children. From the first she demonstrated her superior business ability and in a few years she was able to pay off all the indebtedness on the property and to increase the Dunnigan tract to four thousand acres. In 1897 she turned this property over to her children, keeping in her own name the home ranch. This she handled so wisely and judiciously that she was able to increase her holdings to three thousand acres. Her death, which occurred in 1913, was the occasion of deep regret among her acquaintances, for she possessed to a marked degree the character and the charm of manner which make for friendships and esteem.
Mr. and Mrs. Bemmerly were the parents of five children, three sons and two daughters. John F., who died in 1906, married Amelia Weber and had one daughter, Emily, now the mother of two children, Elizabeth Mary Abele and Frederick Bemmerly. William J., who died in 1928, married a Miss Davis and had one daughter, Beatrice. Ernest, whose death occurred November 23, 1929, married Miss May West and had one daughter, Margaret. Mary and Agnes H. Bemmerly, the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. John Bemmerly, were closely associated with their mother in the management of the extensive ranch holdings, and at the death of the mother they took full charge of the estate. They inherited from her the distinctive business ability which characterizes them and have been very successful in supervising the estate. They are members of the Roman Catholic Church at Woodland and are generous givers to all worthy benevolent and charitable causes, as well as to such local measures as are calculated to promote the civic welfare.
John Bemmerly was a staunch Republican in his political views and took a keen interest in public affairs. His religious connection was with the German Lutheran Church. He was a man of kindly and unaffected manner, was consistent and dependable in all the relations of life and commanded the confidence of his fellowmen.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 2 Pages 353-354. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.