Biography of Samuel S. Silkwood
Humboldt County, CA Biographies





SAMUEL SIMPSON SILKWOOD. - The possibilities of Eureka have called forth the most creditable ambitions of a few men who were destined to make their way in the business world, and whose strength of character and conservative judgment have served as the fundamental growth of the commonwealth. This has been emphatically true of Mr. Silkwood, whose well directed energies have not only placed him among the men of means in the city, but have invested him with an invariable reputation for business sagacity and integrity.

A native son of California, Mr. Silkwood was born in Sacramento, May 21, 1864. His father, Obadiah S. Silkwood, was a native of Greene county, Ill., while his grandfather, Thomas, hailed from Kentucky. The latter was of English and Welch descent and, on making his home in Illinois, met with success in his agricultural operations. When a young man of twenty years, the father left home, and without means or influential friends started out to fight the battle of life with a sure hope of victory. Purchasing ox teams he drove across the plains in a prairie schooner, arriving in Sacramento in 1851 and for several years thereafter prospected in Sacramento, Placer and Amador counties with indifferent success. Failing to meet with the hoped for good fortune in the mines, Obadiah S., in 1867, came to Eureka, the little hamlet at that time having but one steamer a month visiting its port. On his arrival he purchased a tract of raw land, but was engaged in its cultivation for only one year, then entering the employ of a lumber company as woodsman. So efficient were his services that it was not long before he was made foreman, remaining with the company for some time, or until he again began mining. This was in the year 1879 and for three years he was engaged in hydraulic mining on the Trinity river, Humboldt county, and also on the Klamath river, Siskiyou county, with his son, Samuel S. At the expiration of that time he returned to Eureka, making his home with our subject until his demise, in 1904. His death was mourned as a general loss. Humboldt county lost a typical citizen, one who had started in life with nothing but his own talents and upright character, and who gained the respect and confidence of his fellow men. Fraternally he was a Mason.

The mother of Samuel S. was Catherine (Fay) Silkwood, a native of Ireland. After coming to the United States she was married in New York City, to a Mr. Foley, by whom she had one son, Michael Foley. On the death of her husband she joined her three brothers in California, making the journey to the Golden State via the Isthmus of Panama. While living in Sacramento she met and married Obadiah S. Silkwood. To them were born four children, namely: Thomas P., an engineer in the State Hospital at Ionia, Mich.; Mrs. Margaret Smith, residing in Eureka; Samuel S., of this sketch; and Mary S., Mrs. B. O. Hart, of Oakland. At the time his parents moved to Eureka, Samuel was a lad of three years. Here he completed his education in the public schools and began work as an apprentice at the carpenter's trade, soon becoming one of the recognized contractors and builders of the city, attaining a success greater than is reached by many men, even though they are persistent, industrious and persevering. This is doubtless due to the fact that he has the qualities just named and has besides a well balanced mind and sound judgment.

About 1894 Mr. Silkwood operated the Rock Creek mine, on Klamath river, Siskiyou county, in partnership with his father, but three years later returned to Eureka and resumed his profitable business of contracting and building. Aside from building numerous residences and business houses, he erected the Union Labor Hospital and remodeled the court house. July 6, 1911, he was appointed harbor master of the Port of Eureka by Governor Johnson and since that time has devoted his entire time and attention to the duties of the office. The port includes all of Humboldt Bay, extending from Fields Landing to the Arcata wharf.

Mr. Silkwood was married in Eureka to Miss Kate Waters, a native of Canada. They occupy a most attractive home which Mr. Siikwood built at No. 1929 B street. Fraternally he is a charter member of Eureka Aerie No. 130, F. O. E., and was elected a trustee at its organization. Three months later he was honored with the position of secretary, holding this office for nine years, or until made chaplain of his lodge. Indeed in such esteem was he held that he was elected president and during his incumbency of this office had the pleasure, in 1913, of dedicating the new Eagles' Eureka home, which is one of the most beautiful and complete lodge buildings in the state. During its construction he was secretary of its board of directors. He is likewise a member of Humboldt Parlor No. 14, N. S. G. W., a member of the Druids, is past arch and was for two years grand trustee of the Grand Grove of California. Politically he is a Progressive and works for the interest of that party.

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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