Biography of William Isbell
Ukiah Township, Mendocino County, CA Biographies





William Isbell. A native of Tennessee; was born July 4, 1829. When but a child his parents moved to Arkansas, bought a farm and remained two years. The country being so unhealthy they sold out, and moved to Oliver's Prairie, Newton county, Missouri, at which place William was raised and educated, being raised on a farm. On the 1st day of May, 1850, in company with William Shannon, a school mate and intimate friend of his, started on horseback, with pack mules, across the plains. They traveled alone until they reached the Big Blue river, where they were overtaken by Thomas Isbell, a brother of William Isbell, and A. J. Wright, a brother in law of Thomas Isbell. These two gentlemen had a wagon and team, and being anxious to accompany William Isbell and William Shannon, they cut up their wagon and made themselves pack saddles out of it; then the happy company journeyed together and alone from any other company through to California, arriving at Mud Springs, Placer county, on the 4th day of August of the same year. The party being broken up here they run " jawbone" for a week's provisions, and at the end of the week the party of four had made enough in mining to pay for the provisions they had bought, and had $3.50 over. William Isbell told his brother Thomas and two other friends that he should try some other occupation; whereupon he borrowed some money of the Bullard boys, at Mud Town, rigged up a team and went to freighting on the road; and in a short time he made enough to pay the borrowed money, and had enough over to keep himself and his team through the winter, which he spent in the mountains near Cache creek, in Yolo county, California. With his brother Thomas and two other friends, in the spring of 1851, he went to Weaverville, Trinity county, with six mules loaded with provisions, which he sold. Returning to Sacramento City he loaded his mules again and went to Yreka, Siskiyou county. He continued the business of packing until in December of the same year, when he bought, in Sacramento City, seed barley, plows and equipage for farming, and winter's provision for four men; then went to Cache creek, in Yolo county, took up a claim, and put in one hundred acres of barley. In the spring he sold it out, and put a stage line on from Colusa to Shasta, known as Isbell's Accommodation Line He continued the business of staging on different roads until January, 1854, at which time he returned to the States via Panama and New Orleans, arriving at his father's, in Olivers' Prairie, Newton county, Missouri, about the 20th of February. After visiting his parents a few weeks he bought up some two hundred head of cattle, and on the 1st day of May started with them across the plains, and arrived on the Sacramento river in August of the same year. He kept his cattle until the following year, and then sold them in Shasta county, California, in November, 1855 ; and returned home in the spring of 1856. During his absence in California his father died, leaving his mother alone with some negroes on the farm. He remained with her, and married in the winter of 1856, on the 9th of December. He engaged in farming and stock trading until 1861, when the late war broke out, in which he took an active part; was Captain of Company E, Fifth Regiment, Eighth Division, Missouri State Guards, in General Sterling Price's army, in which he continued for four years, or until the surrender, distinguishing himself on many occasions. In 1865 he moved to Benton county, Arkansas, bought a farm, and, in 1870, was elected Sheriff of said county. In 1872 he was reelected to the same office, which he held until September 15, 1874, at which time he returned to Ukiah City, California, bought the flouring mill known as the Ukiah City Mills, which he thoroughly renovated and made anew ; built up a very thrifty business, and the mill is crowded to its utmost capacity at the present time. As above stated, William Isbell married Miss Mary W. Gibson, of the same county and State as himself, who was born July 9, 1831, in Rutherford county, Tennessee, by which union they have four children, three boys and one girl, viz.: Thomas D., born September 27, 1857; Nannie E., born January 11, 1859; William G., born September 27, 1865; and Sterling Price, born April 20, 1867.

From:
History of Mendocino County, California
Alley, Bowen & Co., Publishers
San Francisco, California 1880


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