Biography of John S. Reed
Ukiah Township, Mendocino County, CA Biographies





John S. Reed. The subject of this sketch, whose portrait it affords us much pleasure to present to our readers, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 6th day of October, 1832. Of Irish descent, his father having been born in Ireland, and his mother of Irish parents, in Philadelphia. Being the eldest of a numerous family, and the family being in poverty, he was early called upon to assist in its maintenance. At eight years of age he was hired out to drive on the canal, and among canal boatmen, and similar associates, about eight years of his extreme youth were passed, toiling early and late, with no help or encouragement in the way of schooling or careful training, and with little hope of the future bettering of his condition, under the ban of the galling and incessant necessity that was his immediate incentive to work. After leaving his situation on the canal, he was apprenticed to a carriagesmith in Philadelphia, and there for some two years worked at that trade. At the expiration of that time, the abuse of his employer, combined with the condition of those near and dear to him, so wrought upon him that in a state of mind bordering upon desperation, be resolved to leave the city of his birth, to seek somewhere in the world, a better opportunity than had yet been afforded him. Without a cent in his pocket, and with only the clothes that covered him, he made his way to New Bedford, by the way of New York, and shipped for a whaling voyage to the South Pacific. Finding that he would realize no money for his time and labor, he escaped from the whaler, with two companions, at the Marquise Islands, and with the aid of a small raft, sufficiently large to hold their clothing, swam about three miles to the shore. How they escaped death, upon the rocks in the surf, seemed almost miraculous. They were soon retaken by the French authorities and returned to their ship. Finally, after reaching Peru, he was discharged by the captain who seemed to appreciate his great determination to better his condition. He then sailed upon another whaler for the port of San Francisco, where he arrived safely, as well off as when he started upon his eighteen months voyage. The first work he engaged in when he got ashore was shoveling sand, in grading the streets, at the rate of $50.00 per month. But he remained in San Fransisco only about three weeks, and then went to Butte county, walking from Bidwell's Bar to the Fairfield claim on Feather river, working there by the day for about two months. He then continued his way to Elizabethtown, in what is now Plumas county. Mining there with varying success for about one year, he returned to San Francisco, and after remaining there a short time, went by the way of steamer to Trinidad, and walked from there inland, with his blankets and provisions on his back, for over one hundred miles to Sawyer's Bar, on Salmon river, in old Klamath county; now divided, and annexed to Humboldt and Siskiyou. Here he made his home for eighteen years. It did not take him long, working by the day and month, and mining here and there, to earn and save four thousand dollars. This he loaned to a company, whose enterprise was a failure, and it proved a total loss. With this poor encouragement he commenced once more, mining in bar and river claims, and by 1862 had realized a fair competency. In 1866 he invested in the Black Bear quartz mine, eight miles from Sawyer's Bar. During the following year, in company with John Daggett and J. D. Coughlin, he bought out all the original owners of the claim, and under their skillful management the mine acquired a wide reputation and favorable name. Much credit is due all three of these gentlemen for the industry and energy with which they manipulated this claim, in an almost inaccessible region, where everything to work with must be manufactured on the spot, or packed on mule back over one of the most mountainous regions of the State. In this wild and broken region they built the only two miles of wagon road in Klamath county. In 1870 Mr. Reed went East, and had the great pleasure of removing his aged father from toil and privation to a comfortable home in this State. His mother, whose early precepts he had never forgotten or disregarded through years of hardship and temptation, had in the meantime died. He also brought to California two orphan nieces, the children of the only sister who had survived to womanhood. One he educated in our best private schools. They both married within three years after their arrival here. The Black Bear Mine, now being numbered among the reliable and paying mines of the State, was sold in June, 1872, to a company of Capitalists for $200,000. In August, 1872, Mr. Reed was married to Miss Anna M. Morrison, a young girl whose childhood was passed in the mines of Butte county, and who, in behalf of her father's family, and in order to assist them, and also to cultivate a literary taste, and talent, which had developed itself at a very early age, had adopted, with much success, the vocation of writer and lecturer. For the first year of their married life, they traveled in the East, and various parts of this State. At the end of that time, they took up their permanent residence in Ukiah, Mendocino county. It was at this time, that the prudence, foresight and good judgment of the subject of this sketch, most clearly displayed then selves. With ample means to tempt that fortune that had already favored him so much, he turned away from the fascinating inducements held out, both by stocks and legitimate mining enterprises, and loaned only on good security, at a fair per cent, some forty or fifty thousand dollars, securing for himself and family a safe income, and aiding in the development of the county by the furthering of many enterprises, public and private, and various improvements that would not have been made but for the use of his means. He became interested in the Bank of Ukiah, of which he was president for two years, and is still one of its directors. He has also purchased a sheep ranch in Long valley, worth some $40,000, where he thinks some of building and eventually making a permanent home. Although known to many as only a capitalist and money lender, he still has money invested in gravel and quartz mines to the amount of many thousands of dollars. Although in Mr. Reed's life there has been some adventure and romance worthy of note; and though he has gained among business men a place of trust and honor, yet it is not to these facts alone that we wish to call the attention of the reader of this article, but rather to the development of a character so widely different from the examples that surrounded his early youth, and so free from the stain of unlimited indulgence in various dissipations, that marked the history of many of California's pioneers. A Catholic in faith, but never claiming to be devoutly religious, and never having been a member of any temperance society, he yet is moderate in all his habits, has his first cent to bet at any banking game, and has not for several years used tobacco in any form. The inherent force and pure instincts of his own nature have been his aids, and they have saved him from excess and dissipation, and removed him from the cramping restraints that in other cases have crushed out from manhood all noble aspirations. Depending on no man's friendship, and without the aid of education, he has overcome every obstacle and made his life an eminent success. Not seeking public favor, or the questionable honors of public position, where so many sacrifice much to gain but little, he is today a type of prudent, just and generous manhood, exemplifying the truth, that the proudest and most perfect independence is to owe no man a dollar and to be able to sustain himself and those dependent upon him, without asking of the world any favor but to be allowed to make the best of its opportunities, and of his God only the boon of health and strength. It is known beyond a doubt to the writer of this sketch, that within ten years he has devoted to private charities more than $20,000. We take the greatest pleasure in writing these facts of one so deserving of them, not alone because it is his due, but for the reason that they may encourage some other brave, true man, in carving out his fortune from the hard rock of circumstances. He is of fair complexion, with blue gray eyes, brown hair and auburn beard; is five feet seven inches in height, with small bands and feet and large head. His weight is about one hundred and eighty pounds.

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


Privacy Policy for OnlineBiographies

NAVIGATION

Mendocino County, CA
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