Biography of John T. Grigsby
Napa County, CA Biographies





JOHN TYLER GRIGSBY.
That period of the nineteenth century embracing the years between 1845 and 1865 was characterized by the immigration of the pioneer element which was so largely influential in developing the great state of California to its present high standing. These immigrants were sturdy, heroic, sincere and, in the main, upright people, such as constitute the strength of the commonwealth, and among the true pioneers of the section of the state of which this work treats was John Grigsby, a native of Missouri, who came to California in the same year as did General John C. Fremont, the great "Pathfinder." He had married Miss M. Shields in Missouri, and together they made the long and dangerous trip across the plains, arriving here in 1845. During the ensuing years he took a prominent part in the upbuilding and improvement of this section of the country. He first located in Sonoma county but in 1846 moved to the vicinity of Yountville, where he bought a tract of land and applied himself to the task of creating a homestead, doing his plowing with the aid of his oxen. The wild oats grew as high as a man's head, the only roads were goat trails, and conditions in general were exceedingly primitive. Mr. Grigsby fought throughout the Civil war, and he spent his last days in the state of Indiana, where he died at the advanced age of ninety-five years, secure in the respect and love of all who knew him.

The late John Tyler Grigsby, a son of John and M. (Shields) Grigsby, was born on the 24th of July, 1845, on an ox wagon, just back of the old mission Ain Sonoma county, California, his parents having but recently reached that locality after their journey from Missouri. The family moved to the vicinity of Yountville when he was about one year old, and there he lived until 1857, in the meantime receiving such education as could be secured in the schools of that period. After his mother's death the ranch was sold, and he was thereafter reared by Jesse Grigsby until he reached the age of twenty-one years. He then, in 1866, bought fifty acres of land just east of the old Grigsby place, which is now known as the Fauver ranch. His farm was located in the Salvador district, and he made his home there until 1913, a period of forty-seven years, devoting himself closely to the cultivation and management of the ranch, in which he met with very gratifying success. During this eventful period he observed and aided in the wonderful transformation which took place here during the early part of his actives life, and he was influential in the adoption of many measures which effected a betterment of local conditions. In 1913 Mr. Grigsby relinquished the management of the ranch to younger hands and went to live with his son, at the latter's home on the Napa valley highway, where he spent the golden sunset years of his life in peace and comfort.

In 1869, in the city of Napa, Mr. Grigsby was married to Miss Helen Mathews, who was born in Ireland, July 14, 1843, and came to the United States in 1867. To them were born four children, two sons and two daughters, namely: Mary, born July 25, 1870; Lizzie, born January 29, 1872; Henry, born July 1, 1873; and James, born January 31, 1875. Of these, the only survivor is Henry, who owns and operates a ranch just south of Yountville and also owns the old home place, where he was born. On his land is an old log cabin, once occupied by a squatter, who was run out at the point of an old musket by Captain Grigsby when the latter bought and occupied the place. Mr. Grigsby was a stanch supporter of the democratic party and always maintained a deep interest in public affairs. He was a man of fair and honest business methods, generous and accommodating according to the ways of the old pioneers, who were usually open-handed and liberal in their mutual helpfulness, and all through his life he so ordered his actions as to earn the confidence and highest esteem of all who knew him. In the early days he performed his farm operations under the most difficult conditions, but he succeeded by the exercise of persistent effort and lived to see the advent of modern labor-saving machinery and implements. In all matters concerning local history Mr. Grigsby was a veritable encyclopedia of information, his reminiscences having been very interesting and valuable from a historical viewpoint, and his life was one of usefulness and accomplishment.

From:
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
and Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1926


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