Biography of Harry A. Marks
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





HARRY ALBERT MARKS. - It is unlikely that there is any better known individual among the men who have been working or operating in the redwood lumber districts of Humboldt county than Harry A. Marks, whose connection with the industry covers practically the entire period since his settlement here, almost fifty years. His unquestioned popularity is coextensive with his wide acquaintance, and his familiarity with the business gained in thorough experience in various capacities includes an amazing knowledge of its details in all branches. At present he is interested in the business as the owner of valuable timber tracts, part owner of several vessels, and stockholder in a local railroad, and in spite of the fact that he has seen his earnings swept away in more than one unfortunate accident he has never lost his faith in its possibilities or cared to divert his efforts into other fields. No history of the development of the lumber resources of the county would be complete which did not include his part in the work as mechanic and capitalist, his achievements in the practical work and in executive positions in which he has again and again demonstrated his skill and versatility, and the influence which his high character has acquired for him among his associates. Personally he is a man of intrepid courage, powerful physique and endurance beyond the ordinary.

Mr. Marks is a native of the province of New Brunswick, Canada, and is of English extraction. His great grandfather, Capt. Abraham Marks, was a captain in the British army, with which he served in the war of 1812-15. His grandfather, Col. Nehemiah Marks, was a colonel in the regular army of New Brunswick, and was highly successful in the management of his private affairs, becoming one of the wealthiest men of the province. Abraham Marks, son of Col. Nehemiah Marks, lived and died in New Brunswick, holding an influential position by reason of his wealth and force of intellect. He owned portions of seven townships, vessels and other interests, and was a man of note in his generation. His wife, Mary Hitchings, was also a member of an old New Brunswick family of honorable lineage. Her father, William Hitchings, lived to the great age of ninety six years, her grandmother to the age of ninety four; her great great grandfather was an Englishman and married a Scotchwoinan. Oliver Hitchings, uncle of Mrs. Abraham Marks, removed to Aroostook county, Me., and enlisted and served during the Civil war in Sheridan's cavalry. The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Marks were: Nehemiah, who died when fourteen years old; William H., who lives at Eureka; Sarah, wife of Thomas McKnight, residing at Saint Davis, in New Brunswick; Harry Albert; Arthur A., deceased; and Mary M., Mrs. McKay of Eureka. The father married for his second wife the widow of Captain Williams, who resided at Saint Davis, and of the three children born to this union but one survives, Joseph.

Harry Albert Marks was born March 4, 1848, at Saint Davis, in the parish of Saint George, and was reared there, with the advantages for education afforded in the local public schools. In the year 1866 he decided to come to California, making the trip by way of Panama and continuing up the coast as far as Eureka, Humboldt county, where he landed the 21st of August. His first job was at crosscut sawing, at which he worked until the fall, and then he cut two hundred cords of wood strenuous labor for which, however, he was well fitted physically. He next entered the employ of Jonathan Freeze, who had extensive logging interests, working one year steadily for the firm of Freeze & Vance, after which he put in seven years with D. R. Jones, never missing a day's work in all that period. By that time he had acquired sufficient knowledge of the business to do contract logging on his own account, and was thus engaged at Freshwater, Humboldt county, logging two years for Mr. Jones. Getting in more deeply, he formed a partnership with David Evans, William Snyder, and John McKay, and together they built a sawmill on Salmon creek which they operated successfully for two years, until the price of lumber went down rapidly and they were also defrauded of the pay for their lumber so that they lost $32,000 in three months and were driven to insolvency. In the face of this discouragement Mr. Marks began anew. He logged one year for "Jim" Brown, and then took a position as head packer for John Chapman, on Lower Gold Bluff, working for him two years. From there he went down to Redwood, where he preempted a farm at the mouth of Prairie creek, living on that property for a time, clearing forty acres and proving up on his claim. For some time following he was boss for the Excelsior Redwood Company, at Freshwater, and has since been located at Eureka, directing his affairs from this point. Meantime he has come into possession of a number of good lumber claims, three on Prairie creek, one on the Elk river and one on Salmon creek. His investments are mostly in this line, and include a thirty second interest in two lumber schooners and a sixty fourth interest in three other lumber schooners; an interest in St. Helen's sawmill, and in the St. Helen's railroad. He also owns a dairy ranch of two hundred acres on the peninsula, across the bay north from Eureka, keeping seventeen cows and supplying milk to the town of Samoa. In the course of his varied career Mr. Marks has witnessed many innovations and improvements in lumber operations in this region, the successful working of modern plans for the conservation of timber and its more profitable exploitation as compared with the methods of former days, and vast changes in the transportation facilities. He was the first man in Humboldt county to introduce a bull donkey engine for hauling logs, and ran it for years. As a thoroughly capable mechanic he has been very valuable in all the mill work which has come within the range of his activities, and his strength has made it possible for him to accomplish much. He inherits the hardiness of his ancestors as well as their intellectual vigor and fearlessness in undertaking whatever seems necessary, never hesitating to attempt anything because of the physical labor or responsibility involved. Undoubtedly it is this combination of characteristics which has made him so well esteemed wherever his lot has called him, and he has a keen appreciation of his friendships. Mr. Marks has not entered actively into public life in any relation. He is a Republican on political questions, and in fraternal connection he is a member of Eureka Lodge No. 652, B. P. O. E., and of Humboldt Lodge No. 77, I. O. O. F., the latter since 1870; and is a member of the Veteran Odd Fellows Association; with his wife he also belongs to the Rebekah degree.

Mr. Marks was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Morton, born in Philadelphia, the daughter of William and Rozetta (Bair) Morton, who came to California in 1853, via Panama. "Billy" Morton bore a prominent part in the early history of Humboldt county, serving as postmaster at Elk camp, and was a stock raiser and farmer, but the Indians destroyed and burned the place at Elk camp. Mrs. Marks has shown the true spirit of her ancestors as her husband's efficient helpmate. She has always encouraged him in his enterprises, and when he suffered reverses came loyally to his aid, doing all in her power to help him recover his losses. They reside at No. 1015 B street, Eureka.

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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