Biography of G. Canning Smith
Big River Township, Mendocino County, CA Biographies





G. Canning Smith. Born September 13, 1827. Brought up and educated in Massachusetts. Left Boston, November 3, 1848; arrived in San Francisco, in June, 1849, via Cape Horn. Went to the mines on the American river; remained there a few months; then to Sacramento City, stayed there a short time, then to San Francisco; was Cashier for Macondry & Co. In the fall of 1850 went to Hangtown, now Placerville, and purchased some emigrant teams; went with them to Bodega, Sonoma county, via Sacramento, Putah creek, Suscol ferry, Petaluma valley, to the Boclega ranch owned by Captain Stephen Smith. In the following season went into the farming business, near Bodega Port; failed. Went to Hank's steam saw mills, about two miles above the ranch house of Captain Smith, in the redwoods; as clerk. In 1850, accompanied Noble of the firm of Keyes & Noble, the first settlers of Tomales, Margin county, to make his first settlement in that place. Left Bodega in 1852; went to San Francisco and engaged in the foundry business; failed. In 1853 was in Lower California and Sonora, returned in 1854. Arrived at Big River, now called Mendocino, Mendocino county, on the 4th day of July, 1854. Was clerk and storekeeper for the mill company until October, 1854. When Harry Meigs left the State the mills were seized under attachment and all business stopped. Then bought a small ranch on the south side of Big river, and just below what is now known as Little River and lived upon it. In 1855, whilst Mendocino county was attached to Sonoma county for judicial purposes, was elected as Justice of the Peace; jurisdiction, the whole of Mendocino county; re elected in 1857. Appointed Clerk and Commissary of the Mendocino Indian reservation; served into 1857. Removed latter part of 1857; started an express between Mendocino and Cloverdale, it being the first connection between the two places ever made; carried express on horseback and pack horse, no roads, only trails and fearful ones at that; sold out express business. On the first Monday in May, 1859, was elected County Clerk. exofficio Recorder and Auditor of Mendocino county as a Democrat, under the Act organizing said county; was reelected to said office in 1861 as a war Democrat. In 1864 he went to San Francisco in time to vote for General G. B. McClellan and the Democratic ticket. In the following spring returned to Mendocino In 1866 went to Arizona Territory, by the way of the mouth of the Colorado river by vessel; up the river by steamer to Fort Yuma; thence to La Paz; thence to Camp on Date creek, with company H Second Battalion Fourteenth Regiment Regulars, in which company he held an appointment. Contracted fever; surgeon at post said he must leave or die. 1867 left for California by way of La Paz, at which place crossed the Colorado river by ferry; thence across desert via San Bernardino and Los Angeles to San Francisco; almost dead Remained in San Francisco several months, recruited, and returned to Mendocino. In 1872 appointed as Deputy Clerk of Mendocino county, under H. J. Abbott, and removed to Ukiah. In 1874 returned to Mendocino again. During these years has been Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, County Clerk, and practiced law. His early education had qualified him to follow the profession. In 1870 married; no family. In 1871 received a position in the employ of the Wilmington and Los Angeles Railroad Company, was stationed at San Pedro; remained in said employ only a month, was removed on a change of superintendency. Like all old '49ers, Mr. Smith has seen many ups and downs, and unfortunately for him, now that the decline of life has come upon him, he finds when the ledger is balanced up, that the downs have the best of it; but he is such a worthy man and so highly respected by all, that he is in a measure reimbursed.

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


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