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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.


Having 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.


Several years 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.