James Mason Hutchings Home
James Mason Hutchings was the first settler in the Yosemite
Valley in California.
He was born in 1820 in Towcester, the son of a carpenter, and attended the Free School
in the Chantry House. He later went to Edgbaston Proprietary
School, staying with one
of his older married sisters. He emigrated to the States in 1848, on the ship Gertrude from Liverpool, and travelled
extensively, arriving in California
in the Gold Rush of 1849.
failed to make and keep his fortune from the gold, he set up a publishing
business in San Francisco.
In 1855, hearing of a magnificent waterfall in the Yosemite Valley, he
organised a party to explore, taking with him an artist, Thomas Ayres, who drew
the first ever picture of Yosemite.
later, he moved himself and his family into the valley, opening a hotel. Very
basic by today’s standards, it accommodated 28.
His daughter Florence
was the first white child to be born in the valley.
James died in his beloved Yosemite
Valley in 1902, following an accident. He is buried there, under a
stone calling him “Pioneer, Patriot”, a long way from his roots in England.