COLUMBUS W. HATCHER
For over three-quarters of a century Columbus W. Hatcher has been a resident of Yolo county, witnessing and participating in the wonderful development which has characterized this section of the valley. He was born in the state of Missouri, on the 5th of September, 1850, and is a son of William and Sarah F. (Mullins) Hatcher. His father was a native of Tennessee, having been born in Sevier county, that state, February 6, 1828. When six years of age he accompanied his parents on their removal to Missouri, where he was reared and educated. When eighteen years of age he began teaching school, but in the following year enlisted and served in the Mexican war. After the war he engaged in farming in Missouri until 1852, when, with his wife and son, he started across the plains with ox-teams, his destination being California. He located in Yolo county September 5, 1853, and bought a part of the Knight land grant, on which he spent his remaining years. On March 27, 1849, in Linn county, Missouri, Mr. Hatcher was married to Miss Sarah F. Mullins, who was born in Howard county, that state, in 1833. They are both deceased, the father dying in 1913 and the mother passing away in 1927.
Columbus W. Hatcher crossed the plains with his parents in 1852, and on September 5th, of that year, located at Dry Creek, Amador county. He attended the district school and was also a student in the Pacific Methodist College, at Vacaville, this state. He remained on the home ranch with his father until he obtained his majority, in 1871, when he engaged in farming on his own account on eighty acres of land at Plainfield. During a part of the time he had William Garrette as a partner, but he later rented land north of Blacks, on which he farmed until 1874, when he returned to the home ranch. Here he took charge of eighty acres, his share of the land, and carried on active farming operations. He also owns a sixty-four acre ranch, a part of the home place, as well as forty-eight and a half acres of the Bowers ranch. He has always been industrious and energetic and even now, at the age of eighty years, is remarkably well preserved. In 1873 Mr. Hatcher was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Ellen Hatcher, who, though of the same name, was not a relative. She was born in Missouri and came to California in 1866. They had three children: William Rawlings; Mrs. Hannah Braham, who has a son, George B.; and Mrs. Grace Algeo, who is the mother of two daughters, Eleanor and Valera. On October 3, 1930, Mrs. Hatcher passed on.
During his earlier years Mr. Hatcher took an active part in local public affairs, having served as a trustee for Liberty school district for thirty years. He also ran for the state legislature on the socialist ticket and spoke in every town in the county during that campaign, but was defeated. He served two years as road master of his district and has shown a commendable interest in the general welfare of his community. For forty-two years he has been a member of Yolo Lodge, No. 81, F. & A. M., and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Yolo. The old homestead on which Mr. Hatcher lives still has on it the old stage coach barn in which the coaches were stored in the early days. They were used on the route from Sacramento to the valley prior to the coming of the railroad and the barn was erected in 1850. It is well constructed and the nails and hinges which entered into its construction were made on the farm. In the barn there is also an old two-seated surrey, which is still in excellent condition considering its age. The surrey, which originally cost eight hundred dollars, was bought by Mr. Hatcher for one hundred and fifty dollars. It appeared in the parade of the ‘Forty-nine celebration held in Sacramento in 1928 and attracted much attention. Mr. Hatcher’s son, William R., is a collector of old shotguns and rifles and has some splendid specimens, twenty-five in number.
Mr. Hatcher is an interested attendant at the at the Pioneer Society meetings in various California counties and frequently makes addresses and reads papers relating to his experiences of early days. His last appearance was at Ione, Amador county, where he delivered the following address: “My family landed at Drytown, Amador county, September 5, 1852, having crossed the plains by ox team from the state of Missouri. I was two years old the day we landed. My mother and father erected a tent or cloth house on the north bank of Dry creek, about a quarter mile upstream from Drytown. Father mined through the water, and mother cooked for some of the miners. The gold that we dug out of the mine averaged about sixteen dollars per day, but living was very high. We paid fifty cents a pound for flour, which Chinamen carried out from Sacramento on a pole on their shoulders, fifty pounds on each side of the pole.
“In the spring father rented some land from a man by the name of Hornet and planted a garden and during the summer of 1853 peddled the vegetables to the miners up and down Dry creek. For a time he took in one hundred dollars a day for vegetables. We sold vegetables to the Chinamen, of whom there were about five hundred mining on Dry creek. On a good morning he took me with him, as mother was kept busy gathering vegetables for the trip next day. On one trip the boss of the Chinamen, who name was Alang, invited us to have dinner with him. We were seated at the table with a number of Chinamen, who were eating with chopsticks, but they gave father and me spoons to eat with.
“On one trip with the vegetables we across a crowd of excited men. Father stopped his team and asked one of the men what the trouble was. ‘Look out under the tree and you can see what’s the trouble,’ came the reply. On the south side of the tree were two men hanging by a limb, a white man and a Spaniard. They were hung for robbing a man who crossed the plains with us. During the hanging a man ran up to another with a gun, grabbed the muzzle and pulled it against the horn of the saddle, killing him instantly.
“One night father went down to Drytown to get some provisions. Our dog, we called him old Sport, began barking and growling. Mother went to the door and called him, but he never answered, and from that day we never knew what became of him. In the fall of 1853, we moved to Yolo county, crossing the river at Sacramento on a ferry boat. Anchored out in the river was a large sailing vessel, which had come around the Horn, called the ‘Preston Brig,’ and it was the county and city jail. We passed through Woodland, where at the time there was only one house. It now has five thousand five hundred population. We settled eight miles northwest of Woodland. Father, aged eighty-five years, passed on in 1913, and mother, aged ninety-three years, passed on in 1927.”
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.