Biography of James T. Fraser
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





JAMES T. FRASER. - It is not a misstatement of fact to say that there is no work in which one may engage which has greater possibilities for benefiting and uplifting humanity along broad and deep lines than has the teacher's profession. This had been the life work of Mr. Fraser's forebears for several generations, and while he himself is not engaged directly in that occupation, he is still interested in educational matters and exerts an important influence in Eureka as a member of the school board. As the name might suggest, the family is of Scotch origin, and the grandfather of James T. Fraser, also James Thomas Fraser, a native of Inverness, Scotland, was closely related to the MacDonalds and MacGregors of that shire. He was a man of splendid learning, a college graduate and it was with this training that he came to the new world and became a school teacher in Nova Scotia, teaching in both the English and Gaelic languages. His love of learning he bequeathed to his children, and his son Donald became a noted geologist. Another son, Abraham, the father of our subject, and a native of Pictou county, Nova Scotia, was also an educator of note, and a graduate of the college in Pictou. In addition to teaching the general branches he specialized on music, making a specialty of teaching in classes, in which he proved unusually successful. He was also a valued leader in religious work, especially in the Presbyterian church, of which he was a member. His usefulness to the world was cut off when he was comparatively a young man, his death occurring when he was only forty nine years of age. His wife was in maidenhood Susanna McIntosh, a native of Smithfield, Nova Scotia. Her family had also originated in Scotland, her father, George McIntosh, a native of Greenock, establishing the family in Nova Scotia, where he became a farmer. The mother still makes her home in Caledonia, Guysborough county, Nova Scotia.

Five children were included in the parental family and James T. Fraser was the third in order of birth. Besides himself two others of the family are residents of Eureka, Mrs. Margaret Zerlang and J. M. James T. Fraser was born in Caledonia, Guysborough county, Nova Scotia, August 24, 1869, and his boyhood and youth were passed in his native heath. After attending the public schools of that place and obtaining a good education he began working on the farm and in the woods, and still later became interested in mining there. He was about seventeen years of age when he left the family home and started out in the world independently, coming to the United States at that time and locating in Minneapolis. There he found employment at teaming and log driving on the Mississippi river, as well as in the woods. Altogether he remained in that section for about three years, then setting out for the far west, and his advent in Eureka dates from July, 1889. During that summer and following ones he was employed in the redwoods, while during the winter seasons he devoted his time to learning the boiler maker's trade in Langford Brothers' boiler works. After completing his trade he continued in the employ of the firm under whom he had had his training. During 1896 and '97 he had charge of the pump station of the Eureka water works for the Ricks Water Company, but at the end of this time he returned to his old employers, continuing with them and becoming one of their most trusted employes. So trustworthy was he held to be that he was sent by the firm to various places in this and other states in charge of important work that needed the supervision of an expert.

In 1914 Mr. Fraser was elected justice of the peace of Eureka township and January 4, 1915, he assumed the duties of the office, his term covering four years. It is Mr. Fraser's intention to fit himself for the practice of the law, and for this purpose he has been reading law for some time, and will continue his studies while holding the office of justice.

In Eureka, on July 31, 1896, Mr. Fraser was united in marriage with Miss Dora Zerlang, a native of this city and the daughter of Charles Zerlang. The latter, a native of Prussia, Germany, immigrated to Nova Scotia, and from there came to California, becoming a pioneer settler. In 1871 he came to Eureka, where he owned and ran lighters, and it was while pursuing his daily duties that he was accidentally drowned in Humboldt bay. In Nova Scotia he married Elizabeth Williams, who was born in Guysborough county, and of her eight children Dora, Mrs. Fraser, was next to the oldest. Some time after the death of her husband Mrs. Zerlang became the wife of Fred Haase, of Eureka. Three children have been born of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Fraser, A. L., Elizabeth Zerlang and James Thomas. Mr. Fraser was made a Mason in Humboldt Lodge No. 79, F. & A. M., of which he is past master, and with his wife is a member of Camelia Chapter No. 63, O. E. S., he being past patron. In the Loyal Orange Institution of the United States, of which he is a member, Mr. Fraser is past grand master of the state, and both himself and wife are active members of the Presbyterian Church.

From:
History of Humboldt County, California
With a Biographical Sketches
History by Leigh H. Irving
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1915


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