Biography of Isaac Minor
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





ISAAC MINOR. - The president of the First National Bank of Arcata, which institution he organized and opened for business in October, 1913, is Mr. Minor, a pioneer of December, 1853, and through all the intervening years an associate in movement for the permanent building of Humboldt county. Whether the elements entering into his success were innate personal attributes or whether in part they were quickened by the circumstance of his early identification with California, it would be impossible to determine. Suffice it to know that he reached the success and that Humboldt county has been the center of his large enterprises. To him belongs the credit for the building of the Warren Creek standard gauge railroad, which makes possible a convenient connection with the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. Also to him may be given credit for the development of a granite quarry near Arcata, a plant mining a fine quality of granite that splits like wood, but hardens when exposed to the air. Sawmills, creameries, electric lighting systems, freight vessels, timber lands and farms represent the varied character of his commercial connections and the remarkable change that has come into his life since he arrived in Arcata, friendless, without money or influence, and in the frontier environment of the then Uniontown, the original county seat of Humboldt county, took up the task of rising out of day labor into independence. How well he succeeded in reaching the goal of his ambitions is a matter of common knowledge throughout the entire county, whose resources have been developed under his sagacious supervision and whose opportunities he believes to be as great as those offered by any section of the state.

Descended in the third generation from Gen. Ephraim Douglas of Revolutionary war fame, Isaac Minor is a son of Samuel and Louise (Keller) Minor, natives respectively of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and during early married life residents of the last named state, where their son, whose name introduces this article, was born on a farm April 8, 1830. The wife and mother died in the Keystone state at forty years of age, and later the father became a pioneer of Iowa, where he spent his last days in the home of a daughter. During the fall of 1851 Isaac Minor came via Panama to California. The voyage up the Pacific to San Francisco on the old ship, Monumental City, consumed forty nine days and was filled with peril. More than once the passengers had to take turns in pumping the water out of the unseaworthy craft. The vessel cast anchor in safety, but on its next voyage was lost. March of 1852 found Mr. Minor in Sacramento, where the great flood was in progress. All night he worked for $1 an hour, carrying off goods that were being destroyed by water. In the morning he waded out through the water and walked to Chinese Camp in Tuolumne county, where he spent eighteen months in prospecting and mining. Chance brought him to Humboldt county during the latter part of 1853. Being young, energetic and capable, he had no trouble in securing work, but his independence of spirit led him to prefer to work in his own interests rather than in the interests of others.

A store at Orleans bar on the Klamath river would have brought Mr. Minor large profit and permanent employment had it not been for the hostile Indians, who killed all of his neighbors and threatened his life, so that after two years at that place he was forced to leave. It was during the same period of Indian hostility that he became a warm friend of Ulysses S. Grant, then a lieutenant, who ten years later was one of the most distinguished figures in American military affairs and general of the entire army, but who at that time was unknown and obscure, stationed at Fort Humboldt to provide protection for settlers against the Indians. For seven years Mr. Minor operated and owned a pack train and sold goods at the mines, meanwhile meeting with many thrilling adventures. His savings were invested in a stock ranch at Camp Anderson on Redwood creek and he operated the property until the savages burned his buildings and killed a number of his neighbors. To guard against further depredations soldiers were stationed on the Minor ranch during the winter of 1859. When the troops left conditions remained quiet until 1863, when a further outbreak on the part of the Indians caused Mr. Minor to leave that district and to join his family at Arcata. At the beginning of the Indian war he owned one thousand head of cattle and at its close he scarcely had one hundred left, but even more disastrous was the damage done to buildings of his own and his neighbors, while the greatest disaster of all was in the loss of life, his brother, Samuel Minor, being among the many to fall victims to the hostility of the savages. When peace had descended upon the valley and peaceful vocations were once more possible, he bought one hundred and forty acres one mile from Arcata on the bottom land and there he lived for sixteen years, meanwhile not only farming but also building and operating two sawmills with Noah Falk as a partner. Next he built a mill at Warren creek four miles north of Arcata and operated it for fifteen years until the plant was burned to the ground. About 1885 he built the Glendale mill, from which power is furnished for the Blue Lake electric light system. About 1898 he built a creamery and other buildings on his ranch six miles north of Arcata and established a station which he named McKinleyville. A corps of employes was put to work at the creamery, store, hotel and farm, as well as in the Glendale store and on the broad acres of timber land. About the beginning of the twentieth century he sold twenty six thousand acres of redwood land in Del Norte county for $960,000, ten thousand acres in Lawrence creek in Humboldt county for $250,000, and three thousand acres on the north fork of Mad river for $180,000, and the money received from these sales he invested in fifteen thousand acres of sugar pine land fifteen miles from the Yosemite valley, considered the finest tract of such land in the entire state. This he afterwards sold at a good profit. However, he still retained four thousand acres of redwood timber, with mills for the sawing of the lumber, as well as one fourth interest in five ships used for carrying lumber, and stock in the tugs used in towing vessels 'over the bar. Later on he turned the property, with mills and vessels, over to the children, who worked the timber all out. In 1914 Mr. Minor completed the Minor Theater, opposite the First National Bank Building. It is said to be the finest theater in the county, in fact as well equipped as any in the state, and he has also completed three store buildings adjoining it. This is now the best portion of the business section of the town.

Mr. Minor was married in Arcata to Hannah Caroline Nixon (a sister of William Nixon), who was born in Fayette county, Pa., December 28, 1839, and at the age of three years was taken to Iowa, coming in 1852 via Panama to California, where her marriage was solemnized December 20, 1855. Twelve children were born of the union, six of whom grew up, as follows: Theodore H. and Isaac N., who became capable assistants of their father in his large business operations, the former now an extensive oil operator in Bakersfield, and the latter owning the Glendale mill property, where he has a large dairy; Mary E., Mrs. H. D. Pressey, of Petaluma, this state; Bertha A., Mrs. L. D. Graeter, of Arcata; David K., who was also an assistant of his father, but now lives in Oakland; and Jessie Irene, Mrs. Waters, who resides in Santa Rosa. The mother of these children passed away in 1906, and in 1908 Mr. Minor was married to Miss Caroline Cropley, a native of Michigan. The Cropley family subsequently came to California and Mr. Cropley became proprietor of the tannery in Arcata. In regard to fraternities Mr. Minor has made no associations except with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Politically he votes with the Republican party. His personal qualities as a man of sterling worth, together with his exceptional business qualifications, have given him prominence and prestige throughout the county where, after over sixty years of intimate identification, he is still in the forefront of financial, agricultural, logging, quarrying and railroad affairs, a man among men, and a citizen of whom his adopted county may well be proud.

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


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Humboldt County, CA
Biographies

California
Biographies

Online
Biographies

New York
Histories

New York
Biographies

Maine
Histories

Pennsylvania
Histories

Pennsylvania
Biographies

For all your genealogy needs visit Linkpendium

Family Tree Maker 2012